Yard Birds at 5.6 - 11 Aug 2022


Never in my wildest dreams. I had the opportunity to try out a Sony 600mm f/4 GM lens with the 1.4TC in the yard. Wow, this lens is everything and more. Not only is it the lightest of the big primes (compared to Canon and Nikon) but it feels quite comfortable to hand-hold. And the focus is fast! With plenty of positive reviews there is no wonder that this lens is a dream purchase of all Sony wildlife photographers.

I will say the 15' mininum focusing distance is a bit of a downer. I spent a few minutes in the prairie and was unable to focus on any butterflies because they were too close. So, I gave the yard birds a try.

Its been awhile. It was sunny and warm with little humidity. The hint of autumn is approaching. Mourning Doves were basking in the mulch under the feeders and this fella posed nicely atop the neighbor's roof next door. 

A juvenile Bald Eagle soared overhead in the stratosphere. It was a speck, and initially thought to be a Golden Eagle until I was able to see white patches under the wings.

Northern Rough-winged Swallows are about as non-descript as possible. I was able to catch several birds circling over the house before landing on the power lines. The Sony a1's autofocus and tracking ability allowed me to capture many a spread wing despite the speed of these tiny birds.

For static subjects, like our Red Maple, the Sony 600mm f/4 provides ultrasharp detail, even at 30'.

A bedraggled Song Sparrow foraging in the shadows below the feeders.

One of our resident Mourning Doves.

Common Grackles raised young this year. An adult came by for a snack.

I had the chance to test the bokeh of this lens when a young male House Finch came in and perched on one of the shepherd's hook. I was shooting from 35' away.

I got to test the autofocusing capabilities of this lens with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female). Eye-Autofocus did not fail, even in flight!

Baby Northern Cardinals are frolicking in the bushes all day long and even come out for a moment or two.

Another House Finch (young male).

I had been worried that such a lens would inhibit my ability  to move around in the field. How would I carry it? How heavy is it to hand-hold? Can I ride my bike at Pt. Mouillee with it? Will I be forced to leave my scope at home? Well, the answer to all of these questions were in the positive!

I needed to check how transportable the lens is, so I mounted the bike with my Cotton Carrier harness, the a1/600mm lens, a 100-400mm lens and Sony a9 attached to the side holster, binoculars, and scope/tripod/backpack. I made a short ride out to the ponds in front of Bridgewater and found that the entire 30+ pounds of added weight were nicely balanced and allowed freedom to pedal and steer!

A pair of Double-crested Cormorants were on the grass and offered some nice, creamy-smooth images even in low-light and at ISO 3200.

Three Mallard were nearby and the closest allowed a few pics.

Canada Goose posing for a head-shot.

The lens fits nicely in my Cotton Carrier (I tuck it in the top rather than using the mounting cleat) and it stays vertical with the camera barely touching my chin so its actually EASIER to ride the bike without the lens wanting to swivel to a horizontal position (a problem I had w/ the A1 + 200-600mm lens). The scope can still be carried mounted to the backpack/tripod so no worries there, either. I can switch between scope and camera should I need to use the tripod, so I'm even more happy.

Having only used it for less than 2 hours I am already convinced that this lens is a keeper. Image quality is beautiful, and coupled with the Sony a1 the images are razor sharp. High-ISO (up to ISO 3200) and ultra-fast autofocus will allow me more captures at 1/4000 sec. in lower light. Time to sell a kidney!

Must. Keep. Lens.


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