Gull vs Crab – First 500mm Lens Shots

Gull vs Crab – First 500mm Lens Shots

These are some of the first pictures I took with my new, used Canon 500mm L f/4.0 IS monster lens.  I could not wait to get out there and show off my big new log.  I am now swinging some serious Japanese lumber and I could not wait to hang with the big length club out there in the nature reserves.

Birder Brain to the rescue!

I headed out to a popular salt marsh without a tripod to test out my new lens.  I quickly learned that I cannot hand hold this thing.  Just can’t.  Sure, I can swing it into action, peel off a few shots, but that is about it.  I then need a short refractory period to get the strength up to do it again.  My excellent Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 tripod and 222 pistola head has trouble with the weight of my smaller 70-200mm lens so there is no way it will hold this beast.  A 500mm lens is powerful enough to see right up the nostrils of a goose at 100 feet so any minor shake at the hand turns into a major quake in the viewfinder.  You will need a serious tripod to steady this heavy piece of timber.

I then bump into a fantastic Birder Brain friend of mine, Susan.  Who is Susan?  She is an avid bird and nature photographer I run into every once in a while out in the marshes.  She must be good.  She spent way more money than me and has an inventory of equipment that will make your eyes well up with desire.  She was kind enough to let me try out her tripod with my new lens.  See, you can’t just buy a lens… no…. you have to buy a bunch of other cool and expensive gear like a new tripod to go with it and Susan had the Birder Brain elite model: a Gitzo tripod with a Wimberley gimbal head.  Whoa……… I am not worthy.

So she kindly removed her massive camera and lens and mounted up my large but-less-than-her rig.  You see, out there “in the field”, it’s all about size and Susan is Queen; she can really handle some big guns.  I then took my place and stood behind this big system like a B29 tail gunner looking out over Tokyo.  Yea, yea, yea….

All hell breaks loose 

As I am looking through my camera and new lens, spinning this thing around, upside down, inside out, guess what happens?  Nature goes nuts.  A grebe pops up out of the water with a fish in its beak!  I snap away easily with this fantastic tripod.  Susan looks on…. a bit annoyed she is missing the action.  Then, a gull dives and pulls up a crab!  Wow!  I spin around, take aim, and peel of shot after award winning shot.  Susan well…. I think it’s time I give back her tripod.   

The pics above are what I shot within oh, probably 30 seconds.  Sometimes it happens that fast and without that big tripod and gimbal head, I would have missed the shots.  So, I ordered a Gitzo tripod and Wimberley gimbal head that week.  Thanx Susan, you are a drug dealer.


Sorry, I can’t offer any good tips on how I snapped these pics because this was my first real day out shooting with this lens.  I did start off with my standard settings.  From there, I was experimenting trying to understand this monster.  The fact they turned out OK, is more a testament to the engineers at Canon than my applied knowledge.

The Equipment:

  • Canon 5D Mk II
  • Canon 500mm f/4.0 L IS
  • Susan’s Gitzo tripod with Wimberley head
  • Lotsa luck and some Old Bay seasoning

Location Types: Jersey Shore and Nature Reserve. Galleries: Birds and Seagulls. Tags: 500mm, 5D Mk II, and Gitzo Wimberly.

One Response to “Gull vs Crab – First 500mm Lens Shots”

  1. Mike June 17, 2012 11:11 pm #

    That crab just had a bad day.

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