A Squirrel and A Bird

When Fujifilm announced in their lens roadmap back in February 2015 that the XF 100-400mm long telezoom will be available sometime in March 2016, I thought my days of shooting wildlife with the ‘short’ XF 55-200mm telezoom and not having sufficient reach to fill the frame will be coming to an end soon. Well, not just yet, unfortunately, as I heard today that the lens will be delayed (no new dates announced yet) as the Fuji-sans are not satisfied with the image quality of the lens design. Back to the drawing board and a longer wait for me :(, till then I will just have have to be content with shots like these below 😦 or figure a way to get closer without scaring them away. Any ideas for me to try?

A Black-banded Squirrel Running Up A Tree

The Malaysia black-banded squirrel (callosciurus nigrovittatus) is easily identified by the white and black bands on its sides and belly. These small rodents (up to 50 cm) are found in both secondary and primary lowland forest and feed on fruits and seeds.

An Olive-backed Sunbird Gazing At A Bee

The olive-backed sunbird (cinnyris jugularis), also known as the yellow-bellied sunbird is part of the sunbirds group of very small Old World passerine birds which feed largely on nectar. Its flight is fast and direct due to its short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering (as the little fella above was doing while I was observing it), but usually perch to feed most of the time. They are small songbirds, at most 12 cm long. In most subspecies, the underparts of both male and female are bright yellow, the backs a dull brown colour. Originally from mangrove habitat, the olive-backed sunbird has adapted well to humans, and is now common even in fairly densely populated areas, even forming their nests in human dwellings.

All photos: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF 55-200mm

Text excerpted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive-backed_sunbird and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borneo_black-banded_squirrel

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22 thoughts on “A Squirrel and A Bird

      • What most birders recommend is 500mm/600mm if your planning on not going into hiding. I would look for that maybe? That’s what I read when I bought my 400mm lens, but I felt the focal length was not good enough. So now I am considering a extender, but we will see, maybe I just have to go into hiding. πŸ˜€

        • I think your choice of a lens depends on how you envision your nature photography. I have a wide spectrum of bird photographs shot in the Everglades, the mountains of Western Maryland, the cotton and rice field on Arkansas, and up and down the California coast. My longest lens is 300mm. I like photographing birds in a slightly wide vista, close enough to capture their color and eyes, but not so close that it feels at home in Ornithology Monthly. A photograph of a bird that fills the entire frame feels like something out of a 19th century chromo-lithograph. Its too clinical. Too in-my-face. Of course you need to to be close enough to compose a decent photograph (you don’t want a speck or a vague blur, or a blue fuzzy lump) and this means relaxing in the environment, moving slowly and in small increments without making the birds and other critters aware of you, and always being ready for that moment of spontaneity and luck. As Pasteur said, “Luck favors the prepared mind”. I once moved up on a great heron until I could reach out a touch it. It let me take all sorts of pictures. We shared the remains of a snicker bar and finally left only when a late afternoon south Florida thunderstorm moved in and soaked us both.

          • hehe, yes. I believe 200mm is enough for standard use if your hiding, but sometimes you want that extra reach. If you are going for a big lens anyways and if the price difference is not to extreme, I think I would go the longest reach possible which are still practical for your use(consider weight / bulkiness and money). I would believe you get more encounters were you wish longer reach than shorter reach. I would definetely spend a lot of time figuring out what I want before I purchase, and maybe try/borrow a lens if possible to see if it is what you want.

          • hi earl,
            many thanks for your sharing your thoughts and experience. much appreciated. like you, generally, i am also inclined to photograph wildlife within the context of its surrounding/habitat rather than up close; but with small sized creatures like birds/squirrels, without much success thus far. hearing you are able to do so with a 300mm gives me hope ;), sharing your snickers bar with a heron, that’s amazing, i should have one handy too for my next bird shoot, that may just be the missing piece of the puzzle.
            have a good weekend.
            ken

  1. I’m not very well-versed in photography, but I thought these two shots are excellent. Clear, crisp and bold colours all round. Especially like the bird shot, very steady. At first I thought the squirrel was a monkey until I read your words – my eyes, not your shots, lol. I’m sure it will be worth the wait for the lens when it does come out. Meantime, I’m sure you’ll still get a bucket load of decent shots πŸ™‚

    • at one glance, it does look like a monkey! the colour, shape, texture, tail … rest assured, your eyes are not failing you. actually, i deliberated if i should include a monkey shot in the post, in a future post maybe. oh well, there’s a whole lot of other stuff to photograph in the meanwhile, i can wait for the fuji sans to get it right.
      have a good weekend, mabel.
      ken

  2. Actually I agree with neihtn2012, your photographs are excellent. The sunbird, for example, is crisp and well composed. The only alternative to a longer reach lens is to follow the practice of The Smithsonian and NatGeo by actually building a small blind in an area populated by your subject. Then you can sit for hours in the heat amid swarms of biting flies and the occasional rain storm until the next bird or squirrel stumbles past your camouflaged lens. At this point, of course, you can take the perfect picture of the yellow-beaked this-or-that’s left eye. 😊😊😊

    • thanks, earl. you had me in stitches with this one. i think i will enjoy the ‘building a blind’ part (boy scout stuff) but not what comes after that, but if and when a bird or a squirrel stumbles past, all may be forgiven πŸ˜‰ . have a good weekend.
      ken

  3. All I can say is that you never have enough reach in bird photography, unless you can afford to spend a small fortune. I’ve seen bird photographers lugging around long and heavy lenses, and I am sure they put them to good use. However, for us mere mortals we often have to do with what we have, and I am a case in point. Your photos look superb right now, so I would not worry about that Fujifilm lens.

    • it’s never enough, blame it on GAS :(. you are right, them ‘bazooka’ lens cost a fortune to own, with a hefty size and weight to boot, not to mention the brawn needed to use them. something i am not keen on doing and one of the reasons i went mirrorless, which also allows for smaller lens design with a longer reach. so. a longer mirrorless telezoom i can contemplate, and would be nice.
      thank you for commenting and your kind words, hien. have a good weekend.
      ken

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