Canon R3 — Flying Birds

The Canon EOS-D1X was my workhorse camera for years. It focused fast, held focus, and never hesitated. That what I hoped from the new Canon R3.

So far, my hopes are reality.

I grabbed a couple of hours during sunny weather this weekend to photograph at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. My goal was to photograph ducks and raptors in flight at high shutter speeds.

Blue-winged teal in flight. Canon R3, 100-500mm RF lens, 1.4x extender, shutter speed 1/8000th
Blue-winged teal flying low along the cattails. The Canon R3 kept focus on the bird and didn’t get distracted by the cattails. (100-500mm RF lens, 1.4x extender, 1/8000th shutter)
Blue-winged teal in flight. Same equipment and settings as above.

Below is a series of a black-bellied whistling-duck that I tracked across the marsh. The camera is set on large zone autofocus versus a small cluster of focus points.

When the bird flew behind the reeds, the Canon R3 didn’t lose focus. The camera stayed locked on the bird and didn’t get distracted by the brush.

Red-tailed hawk under similar circumstances. Tree limbs come between the bird and me. The Canon R3 doesn’t get distracted by the limbs. It stays focused on the bird.

During my time in the field, I aimed the camera at any bird that flew nearby. I aimed the camera at hawks and vultures in the distance. Not once did it fail to acquire focus on the bird.

One or two times the camera lost focus during a burst but it reaquired focus by the next click of the shutter. I used to see this same thing with the EOS-D1x.

I missed a couple of birds but those were “operator error” versus the Canon R3. The R3 is living up to the hype and I’m a happy photographer!

Female blue-winged teal comes in for a landing.

Please feel free to post questions below. Would you like me to test something during my next outing with the Canon R3?

Canon R3 — First Look

Canon R3

After a long wait I finally got my Canon R3. I’ve used the Canon R5 and R6 for the past two years. Use the “search” feature here to read my reviews of those cameras.

The Canon R3 was advertised as a mirrorless equivalent to the Canon D1X. The D1 line and particularly the D1X have been my preferred camera for over 15 years.

This first review of the Canon R3 is with minimal set-up. I took the camera out of the box and set the following menu items: (1) date and time, (2) copyright, (3) Raw, (4) animal eye focus, (5) AF Servo AF Case 2, and (5) High speed release. That’s it! The bare minimum for this first test run.

There’s a northern mockingbird in this bush. The Canon R3 locked onto the eye and held focus despite all the tangle of brush in front of the bird. No coaxing on my part. The camera did all the work.
Ruby-crowned kinglet is a hyper-active little bird that never sits still. The Canon R3 found the eye and stayed with the bird as long as I could keep the bird in the frame.
Uncropped image of a white-throated sparrow in the brush. The Canon R3 found the eye and stayed with the bird. This is an easy one because the sparrow wasn’t very active. The Canon R3 didn’t get distracted by any of the round leaves nearby as we’ve seen with the R5 or R6.
There weren’t a lot of flying birds during my test run. The wind was blowing hard and erratic. A few black vultures flew across, though. I raised the Canon R3 and the camera immediately found the bird. No hunting or hesitation. The Canon R3 stayed with the bird as long as I could keep it in the frame.

The Canon R3 works like the Canon D1X! I feel that I finally have a D1X back in my hands but with all the bells-and-whistles of a mirrorless camera.

The Canon R3 is a big camera so it has a different feel in the hand. I’ll write about that in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.

I’ve been asked to compare noise between the R5 and R3. I’ll do that comparison in another post. Keep watch for that one.

The Canon R3 has Eye Control. This is a new feature where the camera uses my eye to determine where to focus in the frame. Can’t wait to explore that feature!

INITIAL IMPRESSION:

  • The Canon R3 looks and feels like a D1X
  • Minimal set-up is needed to get this camera up and running. Yea!!
  • Precise auto focus that allows us to photograph birds deep in the brush with Animal Eye activated.
  • Birds in flight are tracked on par with the D1X.
  • Exposure Simulation allows us to over or under exposure to get the picture right in the camera. This is expected in today’s mirrorless cameras.

Stay tuned as I work with the Canon R3.

Ask questions below or suggest items that you’d like to see tested. Thanks for reading!

Nature Photography Event

NANPA is the North American Nature Photography Association. It’s a leading organization for nature photographers. NANPA events should not be missed.

I’ll be leading the birds track at NANPA’s Nature Photography Celebration in Asheville, NC, April 19-21.

Join me and my colleagues in bird photography, night photography, landscapes, flowers, fine art, and conservation for an unprecedented amount of field time with other photographers as well as classroom sessions and opportunities to share images. 

My friends save $75 on registration with the FriendOfKathy promo code. More info: nanpa.org/celebration

Northern parula might be a migrant we find during the NANPA Celebration in Asheville, North Carolina.

Bird Photography: Flash & No Flash

It always amazes me how much impact the flash can have on photos of birds in the forest.

Palm tanager; with a flash Costa Rica; Sarapiqui
Palm tanager; with no flash; Costa Rica; Sarapiqui

Both were photographed with the following settings: Aperture Priority, F/8, 1/400 sec shutter speed, ISO 800, Canon 580 flash, 100-400mm lens.

The flash is set to TTL and high-speed.

Tanager & Other Birds — Ecuador Photo Tours

Tanagers are one of my favorite families of birds in the tropics.  They are colorful, rather large, somewhat slow, and plentiful.  The Ecuador birding field guide lists about 66 species with tanager in their name.  We didn’t photograph that many during our Strabo Photo Tour Collections trip in March but we got a lot.

 

Black-capped tanager; Tangara heinei; Ecuador; Mindo Valley
Black-capped tanager — Mindo Valley, Ecuador

Blue-capped tanager KAC9857
Blue-capped tanager in the Mindo Valley.  This was a new bird for me.

Blue-capped tanager KAC9864
Blue-capped tanager

Blue-winged mountain-tanager KAC9997
Blue-winged mountain-tanager

Golden tanager; Tangara arthus; Ecuador; San Tadeo; Mindo Valley
Golden tanager — Mindo Valley, Ecuador

Flame-faced tanager; Tangara parzudakii; Ecuador; San Tadeo; Mindo Valley
Flame-faced tanager — Mindo Valley. What a great name!

White-lined tanager KAC9389
White-lined tanager — See the white line?

We found a nice variety of birds along the way.  These are all from the Mindo Valley of Ecuador on the western slope of the Andes Mountains.

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Buarremon brunneinucha,
Chestnut-capped brush-finch

Crimson-rumped toucanet KAC9716
Crimson-rumped toucanet

Crimson-rumped toucanet KAC9740
Crimson-rumped toucanet — here you can see the rump

Dusky Chlorospingus KAC0091
Dusky Chlorospingus — Love that name!

rufous-collared sparrow KAC0035
Rufous-collared sparrow — so common but so pretty.

Swainson's thrush KAC9427
Swainson’s thrush on wintering grounds.  It will be arriving in my area of Texas in mid-April on its way to breeding grounds in the north.

 

Here are a couple more hummingbirds from the last day of the trip.  The birds in Ecuador are amazing.

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My 2018-2019 photo tour schedule is on the Strabo Photo Tours site or on my website.

Antisana Reserve — Ecuador Photo Tour

Antisana Volcano KAC8540-Pano

My husband, Gary Clark, and I got a chance to return to Ecuador earlier this month to lead a Strabo Photo Tours Collection trip.  Our trip visited the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains, the western slope, Quito, and the Antisana Reserve.

Antisana is a large tract of undeveloped land surrounding the Antisana Volcano.  The reserve protects Quito’s water supply and is prime habitat for the Andean Condor.

The Antisana Ecological Reserve covers 120,000 hectares or 296,000 acres.  The Antisana Volcano is 5758 meters or roughly 19,000 above sea level.  Most of the reserve is above the tree line and covered in low grasses called paramo. Rolling hills, cliffs, deep valleys, and even a lagoon round out the habitat.

Antisana Volcano KAC0634

Permits are required to enter the reserve so access is limited.  This means it can sometimes feel like you have the place to yourself even on a busy Sunday afternoon

 

Our first stop was a coffee shop near the entrance to the Antisana Reserve.  It’s called Tambo Condor.   www.tambocondor.com  This is a great place to stop for coffee or a snack but we were there for the hummingbirds.  The feeders attracted giant hummingbird (on the right above) and shining sunbeam (on the left.)  Andean condors roost on the cliffs across the valley.

On the day we visited, the skies were clear and sunny.  Wind was howling, though, but we were prepared and dressed for it.

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Gary and I got everyone out of the motor coach when we were high on the paramo for a fun time chasing and photographing carunculated caracaras and Andean lapwings.  It was cold, the altitude was killing us, but it was fun.

We ate box lunches at the lagoon.  It was too cold and windy to eat outside so we used the coach as a shelter.  We got in and out depending on the birds outside.

Andean condor; Ecuador.; Antisana Reserve; Vultur gryphusGary and our guide Nelson were great spotters.  We saw Andean Condors six times during our visit.  The last sighting was the best when an adult condor flew right over our heads and gave everyone a perfect opportunity for incredible photos.

 

 

Andean condor; Ecuador.; Antisana Reserve; Vultur gryphus;
Andean condor on the Antisana Reserve in Ecuador

Tomorrow — Hummingbirds of the Eastern Andes.

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