Tuesday, April 24, 2012

5D Mark III and 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM at the Zoo

1/320 at f2/8, ISO 12,800, 300mm
Shot through nasty dirty zoo plexi-glass and edited in
Photoshop CS6

Recently I had the luxury of having a Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (Adorama, B&H, & Rent from LensRentals.com) on loan from Canon. This is an outstanding lens, but my lens had a little bit of a back focus issue that I didn’t have a chance to correct before I took my family to the zoo this past weekend. Despite that fact, the laser focus of the Canon 5D Mark III’s spot focus has been blowing me away shot after shot.

In the shot above I was pretty far back in the crowd of people with their faces against the Plexiglas to look at this cute fellow. I had to shoot through the crowd and try to get a bead on his eye (actually a little offset due to the back focus issue). What you see in the above shot is a scaled down (but click for a larger full size) version of the photo I edited in Photoshop CS6. It’s basically been treated to Noiseware, Color Efex Pro 4’s Tonal Contrast & Skylight filters, and a little content aware patch tool work on the teeth. You can find the un-retouched original in-camera JPEG here, or click the photo for the full size edited version.

I’m pretty impressed especially considering that I could barely see through the nasty scum on the Plexiglas with my naked eye and that distraction at the bottom of the frame is one of the many kids popping in and out of my frame while I tried to take this shot.

The light was brutal as we were there during the brightest part of the day to have fun, so taking photos was kind of a secondary thing despite my lugging this huge beast of a lens around. Here’s a shot of a giraffe that I took in brutal light and edited lightly in Lightroom 4.0:

1/800 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100 – Minor Lightroom Edits

The environment for this shot had nothing going for it, so it was a brutal shot to try to get in super harsh sun. However, I thought the 5D Mark III did a reasonable job. This is after all only 30% of the original image and the best I could do given the nasty cage he was in. You can click here to see another uncropped in-camera jpeg with no edits of his next door neighbor.

1/320 at f/2.8, ISO 100, 300mm
Lightroom 4.0 – Crop (keep 30%) from In-Camera JPEG with Punch & Sharpen Faces Preset

1/320 at f/2.8, ISO 400, 300mm

I’ll spare my wife and not show you the original, but this edit only features skin corrections in Photoshop (mostly Portraiture and Content Aware Patch Tool in CS6). The rest is the in-camera JPEG, but I’ve only made a small version available. Overall though I was very happy with this lens as a portrait lens even if the working distance is a bit far.

A Few Untouched In-Camera JPEG’s

All of the following have had ZERO post processing beyond what happens in-camera for the creation of the JPEG. Again, I’m pretty happy with the astonishing spot focus system in the 5D Mark III which has given me more perfect frames with this camera than anything I’ve ever used. All of these shots were taken with the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (Adorama, B&H, & Rent from LensRentals.com) on loan from Canon:

1/250 at f/7.1, ISO 1250, 300mm
In-Camera JPEG with No Edits

1/1250 at f/2.8, ISO 100, 300mm
In-Camera JPEG with No Edits


While none of these are exactly portfolio shots, and most were simply quick snatches for the family photo album, I was super impressed with the performance of this combo.  The back focus issue was as pain to deal with, but I managed. However, the spot focus AF of the Canon 5D Mark III shouldn’t be overlooked as it really seems to be one of the greatest features of this new body. I just can’t believe how many perfectly in focus shots I keep getting with the focus point being EXACTLY on my intended target.

I highly recommend the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens. You can pick one up from Adorama or B&H, but if you can’t afford its steep price then it’s a little more affordable to rent it from BorrowLenses.com or LensRentals.com.

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I was provided this lens by Canon as part of my CPS membership and was not obligated in any way to feature my findings on my blog. I shared just because I enjoyed the results I got under tough conditions. If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission.

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