Canon Professional Services (CPS) provides priority service to photographers and videographers with the appropriate qualifying kit. Canon UK CPS also hold a number of events for the CPS members to attend. These events provide a way for Canon to get feedback from their professional users, and for the CPS members to try out new kit or get some guidance with their camera configuration. Earlier this week I joined a group of nearly sixty CPS members at the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey.
Wildlife photographers gave advice and tips
With a wildlife theme Canon had also secured the skills of Canon Explorer Danny Green and wildlife photographer Mark Sissons to share some stories of their work as professional wildlife photographers. Then it was time to get outside with the wildlife at the centre and try out all kinds of Canon kit in the field.
Cameras and lenses to test
There was a wide range of longer lenses available with EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X bodies for people to use, though many had brought their own camera kit too. I started off picking up the EOS-1D X and an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM 1.4X Extender lens as my group were due to photograph a range of owls including a barn owl in flight. Most of the photographers present were using back button focus, but interestingly was one photographers approach of having both the AF-ON button and the shutter button set to activate focus, but the exposure lock button / * button set to stop the AF.
Owls posing for the camera
The guidance was to use a wide aperture and really separate the owl from the background. Using the EF 200-400mm lens close to the birds made that pretty simple to do. Even with the 1.4x extender switched in to give 560mm focal length the challenge in the wind was holding the lens still. Good job the Image Stabilizer works well.
Canon UK’s Pro rep, Frankie Jim, was keen to help out the photographers trying out new or different kit with plenty of helpful tips about setup of the AF options for different subjects.
Barn owl in flight
The final challenge of the morning was to photograph the barn owl in flight. I handheld the 200-400mm for this; where as all the static shots above are with the lens on a monopod. It was a windy day and the owl flew a somewhat less predictable path in the wind. It was a challenge to keep the AF point on the bird, but I had some success.
For these flight shots I moved the 1.4x extender out of the way, so as to give the EOS-1D X more of a chance with the AF at f/4 instead of f/5.6.
A mixture of British mammals
After a break for lunch it was time to swap over and photograph some mammals at the centre; stoats, weasels, wildcats, foxes and otters. Together with the keepers we were allowed in the enclosures to get really close. I handed back the 200-400mm lens – reluctantly – and put my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM on the EOS-1D X and also borrowed an EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM to put on my EOS 5D Mark III just in case we were really close 🙂
This stoat was running around his enclosure and making plenty of use of the wire mesh tunnels that linked several enclosures. I decided that the shot to the end of the wire tunnel looked interesting. Even with the lens wide open and right up against the wire the result is slightly soft, but still pretty interesting with the wire mesh just blurring in to a tunnel to the animal at the end, some three metres away.
Not you usual family friendly felines, these are British wildcats and we were in their enclosure lying down in the grass too.
The wildlife days at the British Wildlife Centre were one of three options offered to CPS members by Canon UK. In the weeks prior to the wildlife event CPS had arranged Portrait/Fashion and Landscape days too.
So a big thanks to Canon UK & CPS for a grand day out.
Find out about Canon Professional Services (CPS)
Canon Professional Services membership is available to all photographers who have the required professional equipment, typically 2 pro cameras and 3 pro lenses.
Check out the program requirements, benefits and if you qualify join for free at the CPS website.