On Saturday I planned a visit to my favorite state park (Brazos Bend State Park) here in Southeast Texas and with the development of my FrankinPack I was able to take both lenses with me. The weather report originally had rain in the forecast so I was excited for the day, but it ended up being a decent morning with scattered clouds. I am not sure if the recent flooding of the park (most of the park had 10-20 feet of water covering it a few months back) or the heat has killed the bird action, but a week ago Friday as well as this Saturday there were few birds hanging around in areas you could get to. I do know the heat is keeping the gators under cover, I only saw 3 and none of them were in areas I could get a good perspective to photograph from. Thankfully the bullfrogs have been out in force the last few weeks and I even spotted a few snakes that allowed me to get a photograph or two. Believe it or not, bullfrogs are really hard to get close to and typically jump into the water right as you spot them unless moving very slowly. Not only do you have to spot them before they jump so you can crawl towards them (they will jump if you try walking up to them), you have to find one that’s in a position that will allow a good perspective. I have learned that even if one jumps not all of them will, many times you will find 2+ hanging out together. If I see one in a good spot I will attempt to get close, even when I have to pass close by another one that will more then likely jump as I approach in hopes that my chosen subject does not follow his friend. I have been working hard at stalking them and was pretty successful Saturday getting into position to photograph a number of them. I even managed to find two that were very cooperative and allowed me to not only get fairly close but also to move around more then I thought possible. One of my goals for the day was to try and take some comparison shots between the two lenses using the same subject from the same location. I also wanted to do some comparison shots using all the combinations of TC’s and using various apertures. I was lucky enough to find a frog that allowed me to shoot him with both lenses and later a frog that allowed me to shoot him with all the combos of the 150 as well as at different apertures with those combos. Unfortunately I was not able to find a willing subject to allow the various combos of the 50-200 SWD. I would have loved for all the combos to be the same subject but that would be asking a lot from a wild subject. I could go to the zoo and do this, but I really wanted to test the difference in a real world shooting situation where I have to deal with terrible lighting, ugly water and the obstacles that are encountered in the field. I will say that the 1.5lbs difference between the lenses is noticeable, something I had never really noticed until Saturday when I was switching between them constantly. Before getting to the comparison shots here a few photographs I captured on targets of opportunity with the two lenses. As usual, full resolution versions are available if you click thru to my Flickr account. I have also done little editing to these, just a quick trip thru LR with my EM1 preset and few tweaks here and there. Some of the shots I will go back and do spot editing to fix problem areas, but the real reason for the shots was my own testing of the lenses. First successful frog stalk of the day, he spooked when I tried to get a better position without leaves in the way. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20: ISO 1250, 1/400 @ ƒ5.6, Handheld ZD 150 w/EC20 @ ƒ5.6 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr The above photograph demonstrates how well Olympus IBIS performs in the field. I was laying in the muck along the bank and was at about a 45-degree angle (maybe a bit steeper) and bracing the camera with my elbows. I was not very steady as I framed and took the shot and at these close distances with 600mm of reach the smallest movement can cause blur. The day also showed me that when you get close enough to your subject, even the higher ISO’s can produce useable images. I typically don’t like ISO above 800 for wildlife as I feel it loses too much detail. But….. when you get close the camera/lens can resolve so much more detail that the higher ISO’s are useable. This was a good thing because I spent a lot of time in the higher ISO range, especially with the slower 50-200 SWD and EC-20 combo, which is typical when shooting under all the trees and overgrowth in the swamp. First I will show you my shooting location for the next frog photograph. After getting my photos I got my EM5 out to shoot some location shots, I decided to start taking some gear in action photographs to show the abuse my camera and I take while in the swamp. In the next two shots my EM1 w/ 50-200 SWD are on my skimmer pod with the skimmer and ball head underwater and in the 2nd shot my subject is marked with an arrow. EM1 w/ ZD 50-200 SWD by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr EM1 w/ ZD 50-200 SWD by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr I was right at the minimum focusing distance for the lens, had gotten to close and had to backup to get the camera to focus (this frog was very cooperative, I spent close to an hour photographing him). This is also the frog that allowed me to do the comparison shots between 150/2 and SWD, at that time he was facing towards the bank and I was to the frogs right (from the shot directly above) looking down the bank at him. This is not the best shot, the light was pretty terrible and the water looked super ugly from this location. I include it because the IQ of the 50-200 w/ EC-20 just really impressed me on this shot. I have used the SWD for a lot of close up shots in the past but either bare lens or with the EC-14 and loved the IQ, did not think it would be so good with a 2x TC attached. Both the SWD and EC-20 (with either of my lenses) really does continue to impress me. EM1 w/ ZD 50-200 SWD + EC-20: ISO 1250, 1/320 @ ƒ7.0, Skimmer Pod Used ZD 50-200 SWD w/ EC20 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr When I got up from taking this shot there were several people watching me from the trail. This one older gentleman commented that I must be really brave to lay like that in the swamp because we have a lot of 12 foot plus gators that could easily pull me into the swamp to never be seen again (you can see from the location shots that I was laying more or less in the swamp, did have me feet kick over to dry land to keep my boots from getting wet. Hate walking around all day in wet boots and avoid it if at all possible). My reply was that my friends call it stupid but I will gladly take brave over stupid any day. We chatted for a bit and I found out he is a spider expert and was out shooting spiders, he had found 30 different species that morning at the park. Got his info for when I photograph a spider I can’t ID. Prior to the above shot I was shooting that same frog for the 150/2 and SWD comparisons. In between lenses (had to crawl up the bank to swap lenses then crawl back into location) this couple came by and said down the trail was a Water Moccasin aka Cotton Mouth sunning on a log. So I quickly got the SWD shots and went looking for this snake but could not find him and returned to my very cooperative frog. They came by again and asked if I got any shots of him, turns out he was back on the log so they took me down there but he was again gone. So I returned to the frog to take the above photograph and while talking with the older gentleman they came by again and told me the snake was there again. So off I go again to look for this snake. He was there this time, but turns out he was a Broad-Banded Water Snake and not a Cotton Mouth as I was hoping. I was able to get a close up shot at 400mm and another environmental shot at 100mm before he took off. EM1 w/ ZD 50-200 SWD + EC-20: ISO 320, 1/320 @ ƒ7.0, Skimmer Pod Used ZD 50-200 SWD w/ EC20 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr EM1 w/ ZD 50-200 SWD + EC-20: ISO 250, 1/200 @ ƒ6.3, Skimmer Pod Used ZD 50-200 SWD w/ EC20 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr On the way back to the Jeep I spotted this frog in a unique location, I liked the weeds sticking up behind him and shading him. The shot did not turn out as I envisioned (light was terrible as was the water color) but I include it because of the worm you can see coming out of his nose and going under his jaw. I did not notice this until I got home, if I had I would have done some shots with focus on the worm. Will ask one of my frog experts about this when I get a chance to speak with them. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20: ISO 2000, 1/400 @ ƒ5.6, Handheld ZD 150 w/EC20 @ ƒ5.6 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr When I got to the log where the water snake was hanging out I looked for him again. I did not find him but I found a Ribbon Snake hanging around the log and spent a good 10 minutes trying to photograph him. He would not stay still for more then a second and trying to get a good perspective of him thru all the vegetation was difficult. When he started going along the edge of the swamp I got about 30 feet in front of him and waited for him to approach. He saw me just after I took this shot and turned around, but I got my shot. EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 + EC-20: ISO 1000, 1/320 @ ƒ4.5, Handheld ZD 150 w/ EC20 @ ƒ4.5 by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr That was the last shot of the day. Next post will have my comparison shots from the 150/2 and SWD and the posts following that will be the 150/2 with different combos of TC’s and apertures.