Photographing Bald Eagles at the Conowingo Dam

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Once you fall for bird photography, the Conowingo Dam in Maryland beckons. The hydroelectric dam on the Susquehanna River is known to attract dozens of bald eagles in the fall. In their wake, an equal number of photographers and long, fast teles show up for an annual ritual of fishing, photographing and freezing.

The eagles, opportunists that they are, come for the fast food delivered to them courtesy of the Exelon Power Corporation which operates the dam several times a day, in the process stunning the fish that make the trip through the generators and making them easy prey for the big birds.

Like few other places, this predictable ritual allows photographers multiple spray-and-pray runs at fishing eagles and thus increases the chance for the money shot. One hour at Conowingo can deliver more payback than many freezing hours along the Hudson in mid-winter, as I can attest based on personal experience.

The season starts at the end of October and runs through the beginning of December, although there are always some eagles around. The height of the hunt is apparently around the Thanksgiving holiday. On weekends, the crowds of photographers, fishermen and onlookers do get large and parking space limited, but weekdays are manageable.

I was there at the end of October for two days and will return later this week for three days. I will write a detailed guide based on my experiences and talks with local shooters who have photographed here for years. For now, a few quick impressions and images.

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Zeiss Introduces Milvus Manual Focus DSLR Lens Line

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Shortly after the launch of its Batis lenses for the Sony full-frame E-mount, Carl Zeiss is rolling out yet another lens line, this time a series of manual focus lenses for Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras, called Milvus.

The Milvus series will initially consist of the following focal lengths:

  • 21mm f/2.8
  • 35mm f/2
  • 50mm f/1.4
  • 85mm f/1.4
  • 50mm f/2 Macro
  • 100mm f/2 Macro

Prices range from a little over $1,100 for the 35mm to $1,843 for the 21mm and the 100mm. They’re expected to ship mid-October.

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Impressions of the Canon 7D Mark II

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Curious fellow that I am, I decided to rent a Canon 7D Mark II to see how it performs and to what extent I’d be blown away by its speed.

It’s been interesting, not so much what I learned about the camera, but what I learned about myself and cameras.

The first thing I noticed as the camera was lying on my desk, was that I didn’t reach for it that often. Currently, I also have two Zeiss Loxia lenses on loan and I had just received the new Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens. These were all vying for attention and I tended to veer toward the smaller, mirrorless options instead of the larger DSLR.

This is not a negative against the camera itself, but merely yet another reflection on how my own use of cameras has changed. Taking my own 5D Mark III with me is always a conscious decision, whereas I often quickly grab one of the smaller cameras as I head out the door. So it was with the 7D II.

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Rubbing it in at PhotoPlus Expo

While Nikon and Canon as always steal the show at this year’s PPE, with their enormous booths and prominent speakers, the ‘little’ guys poked some fun at the big boys.

Samsung’s reps wore t-shirts promoting the new NX1 with ‘Ditch the DSLR’ emblazoned on the back:

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And Olympus went through the trouble of buying a Canon DSLR and some L zooms so it could show us how much smaller and lighter its solution is:

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Nikon D750 vs Canon 5D Mark III: Part 2


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Canon 5D Mark III 

In the end it all comes down to one question: is the Canon 5D Mark III worth $1,000 more than the new Nikon D750?

In my last post on this topic, I compared the specifications and concluded that on paper these cameras are basically the same. In handling, they’re basically the same. So, without actually shooting with them – say when you’re browsing an online camera store or standing at the counter of your local camera shop – you’d have a hard time giving Canon your money when these cameras are so similar.

Does that change when you start shooting with them?

With that question in mind, I set out to shoot these two machines side by side and see whether the Canon can realistically continue to command the premium price.

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