Home > Birding, Photography > Closing out 2011 on a good note

Closing out 2011 on a good note

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I determined long ago that nothing ever gets accomplished during Decemeber. I am proud to say that I correctly predicted this again. But with nothing on my plate for the next two months, I hope to make up for that. Day 6 of Scotland should be up by tomorrow.

With perfect weather upon us this week, I decided to make one last birding trip for the year. Today I hit up Mills Pond, Hornsby Bend, and the Walnut Creek Wasterwater Treatment Plant. It will take me awhile to ID everyone, but the highlights were easily a Wood Duck (!!!) and a Northern Harrier an American Kestrel. I may or may not go to Pedernales tomorrow morning. I will have a full post on today’s birding another time.

The year ahead shows a ski trip (probably Breckenridge) and a one week fall trip to Oregon. That still leaves one more week. Most likely we’ll extend Oregon for another week, but all options are open. I had hoped to visit the Rio Grande Valley in January, but I’m pretty sure my personal leave is currently negative, so that’s not happening.  Hopefully in 2013.

So part of what’s been keeping me busy is the hunt for a new camera system. It’s not going well, due to there simply being no good options:

Pocket Camera

DPReview has their review up of the new Canon S100. The image quality is not showing the improvement I was hoping for. However, DC Resource shows noticeable improvement. I am going to look into this some more, but will likely get the S100 once the price drops. The GPS is logging would be nice, and the HD video even nicer. A side benefit is that it uses the NB-5L battery, which is the same as what Doris’ new SX230HS uses. Less parts is part of my goal this year.

Super Telephoto

I’ve been looking for something that can shoot 400mm f4 at a reasonable cost. This actually didn’t take long, as there is nothing out there. Manufacturers seem to have abandoned the f4 market, which we will discuss at a later time. Canon’s 400 f4 retails for $6100. No…. The only other option is a 300 2.8 with a 1.4x extender, which makes 420 f4. Unfortunately, these lenses start above $3000 and weight at least 5 pounds. Well I guess I’ll be saving money! I might upgrade my 1.4x from version 2 to 3, as the new one is showing better performance. If I upgrade to full-frame, I will likely replace the 300 with something that includes 400 f5.6. Slower, but I’m pretty much always shooting at 5.6 anyway with my teleconverter always on. And with FF, I don’t mind shooting at a higher ISO to help compensate.


This is a pretty tough decision. I have the Canon 17-55 f2.8. I would like something that is wider and has less chromatic aberration (purple fringing). I’ve looked through the reviews of existing lenses and I cannot find anything better and wider for a non-full-frame camera. This likely means moving to FF. There are at least a few good options: Canon 16-35 f2.8, Canon 24-70 f2.8, and Canon 24 f1.4. The latter is not cheap, but there is nothing better without moving to a more expensive tilt-shift. Which is what I should do, but dang it’s expensive :)


I really wanted a 550D, but with the wide-angle issue, that looks like a non-starter. Right now the 5D Mark II is the likely path. I’m hoping it will drop to $1500 this year. I would be tempted to get the 60D as a backup, just to not have to deal with different batteries :)

Categories: Birding, Photography
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