Nature,  Photo Gear,  Wildlife

Birds in Flight Photography with the Canon 100-400 Mark II Lens

On a bird photography trip to Florida, I put the Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6 Mark II to the test for birds in flight photography.

Osprey Water Take Off

Osprey Water Take Off, with 1.4x Telephoto Extender, ISO 320

I paired the Canon 100-400mm II Lens with the Canon 5D Mark III.  I also tested the 100-400mm lens for birds in flight both with and without the Canon 1.4X III Telephoto Extender attached. On a Canon 5d Mark III, Canon 7D Mark II, and the Canon 1DX, the Canon 100-400mm Mark II lens will focus at the center focus point with a maximum aperature of f/8.

To test the Canon 100-400 Mark II for birds in flight photography, I set the Canon 5D Mark III to AI Servo Autofocus Mode and the Autofocus Area Selection Mode to AF Point Expansion (Manual Selection).  All photographs were shot hand held.

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a terrific place to photograph birds in flight.  The best places to photograph birds in flight in Ding Darling are pull offs where Wildlife Drive is open to water on both sides.  The birds can be photographed as they fly across the road from side to side to join the flocks.

Wood Stork in Flight

Wood Stork in Flight, without 1.4X Telephoto Extender, ISO 800

The Canon 100-400mm II performed very well for birds in flight photography.  In this blog post, I've posted the ISO and use of the Telephoto Extender for each photo.  Click on each photograph to see a larger version or purchase the image. 

Roseate Spoonbill in Flight

Roseate Spoonbill in Flight, without 1.4X Telephoto Extender, ISO 800

The overall keeper ratio for birds in flight was pretty good with the Canon 100-400mm lens.  On one morning the weather was cloudy and overcast. The photos of the Roseate Spoonbill and White-crowned Night Heron were taken in these less than ideal lighting conditions and the photos came out pretty well.

White-crowned Night Heron In Flight

White-crowned Night Heron In Flight, without 1.4X Telephoto Extender, ISO 1000

For low light conditions like early morning, late afternoon, and heavy overcast days, I’d try to avoid using the 1.4x Telephoto Extender on the 100-400.  When using the 1.4x Telephoto Extender In these conditions, I really had to raise the ISO for a fast enough shutter speed and my keeper ratio also went way down.

Written by Martin Belan

Related Blog Posts
Florida Bird Photography with the Canon 100-400mm Mark II Lens
Bird and Wildlife Photographers, Should you Upgrade to the Canon 7D Mark II
15 Tips for Better Bird Photography

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × 3 =

error: Content is protected !!