Yesterday was the first day I took my new telephoto zoom lens (Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM) out for a spin at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in Escondido. Especially when taking pictures of animals there is nothing that can substitute for a zoom lens. That said using a zoom is not as easy to use as a regular lens. First it is much heavier and so harding to keep still. That is where the mechanical image stabilizer (IS) comes handy. Then it is much harder to focus and even the auto focus can be slightly off or even fully off if it focuses on the wrong piece. Quite often I end up focusing manually to make sure that I get the right focus when I need it rather than being late because the AF is not ready or the focus is off. But then MF can be difficult as well foremost when the subject has not much contrast (an all white bird).
Even when mastered these problems some pictures can yield funny and unexpected results. Here I took a picture of two parrots on a tree branch against a dark background – at least that is what I saw. When I downloaded the pictures to my computer I got quite a surprise when the background was quite bright and vivid:
Even though it gives the picture some special character it distracts from the parrots. Here is another picture where the background is very nervous and also where the focus within the bird is a problem:
All in all the telephoto zoom is really great but I need some more experience especially in low light environments which I did not encounter so far. There is definitively a need to do everything on MF because the AF is even more error prone and takes way too long. That said the year-end performances in my older boys school is a good venue for that.
BTW if you want to see the pictures in a bigger resolution or other pictures from that day please check it out on my MobileMe gallery.