Elusive Eagles in Squamish with Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
It had been a while since my last trip to Paradise Valley in Squamish, so I was excited go again and try Fujifilm's, on specs, impressive XF 100-400mm f/4.5- 5.6 R LM OIS WR lens. What a name for a lens, but what do the abbreviations mean? R = ring aperture on the lens, LM = fast auto focus, OIS = optical image stabilizer, WR = weather resistent. A 100-400mm lens on an APS-C sensor gets you close to the action and is a 150-600mm equivalent on a full frame sensor. I have always been a bit weary of these types of lenses, promising to do all things well. My experience has often been they do nothing really well. I was sharing the lens with fellow shooter, Simon Svane Als. It was good to get his opinion as well.
I have done some wildlife photography in the past but would not put myself in the category of avid or hardcore. My Canon kit with the 5D Mark III, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS + a 1.4x extender giving me a focal length of 420mm, was my go to. I have had brief encounters with Canon's EF 500mm f/4L, EF 600mm f/4L and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L Mark II lenses. Both Canon super tele lenses are incredibly good but cost 5-6 times as much as Fuji's 100-400mm. Price wise Canon's EF 100-400mm is more equally matched.
As the head line suggests, the eagles remained somewhat elusive compared to previous visits but we did spot about five or six as we walked up the river bed in a foot of snow. It is was very near the end of the season. It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed the sunshine but we struggled to get close enough despite the impressive reach of the 100-400mm.
First impressions of the 100-400. It feels good in the hand and is well balanced on my X-Pro2, until you start working the zoom. I should have brought my MHG-XPRO2 grip which would have helped. The zoom felt a bit jerky to me. I am sure this is something you would get used to over time. The lens is light considering your are holding an effective 600mm lens. My old 300mm f/2.8 Canon weighed in at about 2.5 kg, the fuji at 1.375 kg. As for the image stabilizer, I think it may be the best I have ever tried. Things look rock solid in the view finder. Image quality in this very limited test fell a bit short of expectations. I have been spoiled using good primes over the years so this may not be a fair comparison. In my day to day shooting I do not need a lens like this, which may affect my opinion. The upcoming Fujifilm 200mm f/2 however looks quite interesting, although I am preparing myself for sticker shock.
We knew it was not going to be easy to capture a great eagle shot. Simon and I left Squamish with a new found respect for the avid wildlife shooters out there who put in the time, have patience and the ability to get close enough to get the shot.
Below, a few photos (including a few non 100-400mm shots).