Fall in the Rocky Mountains… it’s a heavenly and target rich destination for photographers. For this trip I had the expectation of using my new Fuji XT-1 exclusively for landscapes and leaving the wildlife duty to my trusty Canon gear. The Fuji is a magnificent little camera and there are many reasons to love it but for wildlife photography you want superfast autofocus and the longest lens you can afford. My strategy was to use the Canon body attached to a 100-400mm zoom for wildlife- a setup has served me well on previous national park trips and even though it’s not the ideal wildlife lens it works well because of the zoom capability. Plus it’s a fraction of the weight (and cost!) of the 600mm lens that professional wildlife photographers use. With my plans all made and the car loaded up off I went to the great white north!
When I found the first bull elk of the trip I had a Canon 1D Mark3/100-400mm zoom ready to go but I grabbed the Fuji instead! I guess my subconscious decided that being able to shoot handheld coupled with the better low ISO performance of the Fuji won out over the longer reach and faster autofocus of the Canon. The Fuji lens is a 55-200 (77-300 equivalent) so less reach but slightly faster (f4.8 v 5.6) and much lighter and smaller than the Canon. The image stabilization is much better too so I can get pretty sharp results down to about 1/40th of a second. My Canon 1D Mark 3 does not look good at 3200 in my opinion (or anything above 800 really- the newer Mark 4 generation does, alas I do not own the newest body) so not only would I need to use a tripod, greatly increasing the time from when I first spotted the elk to the actual taking of the picture, but the photos would also be a whole lot grainier. This is a shot from that first morning- made with the Fuji XT-1, 55-200 at f4.8 at, 3200 ISO.
I missed quite a few opportunities because of the slower autofocus but overall I’m extremely impressed with how the XT-1 performed. If I were a full time wildlife photographer I’d be using Canon gear but for the serious non-pro on a budget the Fuji is an outstanding choice in my opinion. So that was it for the Canon- never snapped another shot with it the whole trip. It wasn’t all peaches and cream with the Fuji though- not only did I miss several opportunities because of the slower AF the XT-1 just doesn’t have the overall speed of a professional DSLR- shutter lag and a slower power-up are two other biggies. But now that I’m back home and have gone thru all the images I’m happy with my decision to use the Fuji for everything.
This next photo is another elk from a few hundred kilometers further north- the bull had attracted the attention of a roaming crew of professional photographers who all had 600mm lenses on tripods. The bull ran thru the colorful underbrush very close to us so all the guys with the giant telephotos could only get head shots while I was able to quickly zoom out to 77mm and get this:
For the landscapes the XT-1 performed beautifully. It worked well when the temps went below freezing too- something I was a little concerned about. This photo was taken at sunrise on a freezing morning along the Athabasca River:
The rest of the photos from that trip can be seen here.