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Last week, I used a Canon 400 mm lens with a 2X extender to shoot photos of a snowy owl displayed here. Using the extender gave me an effective 800 mm lens at a much cheaper cost than that of a large zoom lens, but it has serious drawbacks. Aperture was decreased by two stops and I could not go any wider than f/11. Autofocus was lost, forcing me to manually focus every single shot. Worst of all, image quality decreased significantly and visibly, even with the Canon 6D I was using.

Yesterday, I left the extender at home and went with my first camera, the Canon 7D, which has a 1.6 cropped sensor, meaning that the 400 mm lens has effectively a 640 mm reach. On the other hand, the 7D has lower image quality than the 6D with a larger full-frame sensor.

The snowy owl was there at Holgate, at almost the same location at the end of the island. There was only one other photographer around, and he left soon after I arrived. Thus I had the owl to myself and for almost two hours I took many shots of it. The sun was high, so lighting was not at its best, and the owl kept his eyes semi closed most of the time. The following photos show him with eyes open. Please comment and let me know if they are any better than those taken last week.

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl: There he is again with his camera.

Snowy Owl: why are you following me?

Snowy Owl: Why are you following me? Enough already!

Another problem: after a few shots, the camera indicated that its memory card was full and would not allow any more shot. Without a spare, I had to spend precious minutes deleting a couple of hundred older images, one by one… Fortunately, the owl did not mind and remained at his station, patiently waiting. Don’t leave home without a spare memory card!

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