Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Using A Phase One 240 LS and a Schneider 2x Extender

The 240LS with 2x Extender attached next to the Mamiya 300
 240LS without the 2x Extender next to the Mamiya 300
240LS and the 2x Extender side-by-side
I've written prior about using the 240LS along with the 2x Extender and wanted to wrap things up in case I've left anyone hanging. 
Here's the bottom line.  The lens is heavy; add the extender and it's even heavier.  Okay the slightly negatives are out of the way.  The positive is that the lens is wicked sharp.  Add the 2x extender and you have the ability to reach out and feel like you'll touch your subject.  Knowing the extender doubles the f/4.5 to a 9, caused me some concern at first; however I feel there's a very fast work around when shooting outdoors.  My normal ISO for my IQ160 is 50 and I rarely like to go above 100 when shooting landscape.  Add the 2x extender and now you have a great wildlife combination and 100 ISO isn't enough in many situations so I went either 200, and on one particular day shot ISO 400 and achieved fast shutter speeds and actually raised the f/stop.  After several days and several 100 frames I in no way feel the extender harms the work flow. 

 240LS & 2X Extender (Handheld)
1/125 @ f/9 ISO 200

240LS & 2X Extender (Handheld) Full Frame
1/250 @ f/9 ISO 200

100% Crop
I wasn't certain in the beginning as I opened the boxes and felt the weight.  I quickly turned into a believer when on the very first day of testing I was able to get a gallery print.  If you've kept reading this far I'll tell you now that I've bought both the lens and extender and sold my older Mamiya 300 4.5.
Otter Family (100% Crop, shot off truck window mount)
1/400 @ f/16 ISO 200

240LS (Handheld)
1/400 @ f/.16 ISO 200

Moose Train (100% Crop, shot off monopod)
1/320 @f/20 ISO 200
I never considered myself a true wildlife photographer thinking that those folks normally used 35mm with extreme long lens like a 500 or 600mm.  I have shot wildlife with my DF/IQ160 in the past and was able to achieve good results.  This past September I was able to capture a Bull Elk two mornings in a row and had stunning detail with the 300 Mamiya.  This got me thinking of a longer lens such as the older Mamiya 500 however that's old technology when used on a IQ160 60 megapixel digital back and I was afraid it would not give me what I hoped for.  So, I started to think of the 240 and 2x extender which would give me 480mm focal length.  Now I'd have new technology in the lens and back so any problems would be on me.

240LS Handheld
1/160 @ f/4.5 ISO 400

240LS & 2x Extender
1/100 @f/9 ISO 400

240LS & 2x Extender (Window Mount)
1/100 @ f/9 ISO 400

240LS (Handheld)
1/320 @ f/16 ISO 400
I spent the past month in the Jackson Hole WY area.  The initial thought was to shoot winter landscape which I did to an extent.  That thought was quickly banished when Dave Gallagher of Capture Integration let me know he had a 240LS and 2x extender sitting on his desk and that I could use it for a couple weeks (it was supposed to be returned January 6th).  I began using the combination the day after receiving it capturing Rams, Buffalo, Elk, and Moose.  I learned a couple days later that a family of Otters had showed up at Oxbow Bend (inside the Grand Teton National Park).  Shooting from very small to very large the combination proved that with just a little thought ahead of time (changing the ISO and making certain of a very steady platform) manual focus became easier each day.  I ended up using the combination both handheld and mounted on a combination of a very steady Kirk window mount, RRS monopod and my RRS tripod and like what I captured from each.

240LS (Full Frame, Handheld)
1/250 @ f/16 ISO 400

100% Crop from above

Cold & Hungry
240LS (Handheld)
1/160 @ f/4.5 ISO 800
I used the 240LS with the 2x extender for most of the time as I had heard how sharp the lens itself was.  The last couple days I began using the 240LS itself and found it was very sharp.  Shooting in AF with the 240LS in both dirty air (snow or blowing snow causing difficulties between the lens and subject) and very calm, clear I quickly saw just how good the lens is. 



Using both the combination and the lens itself I ended up shooting moving objects (wildlife) from distances of several feet to several hundred yards.  The body is an old Phase One DF with a Phase One 60 megapixel IQ160 digital back. 

The last day of shooting I found a Buffalo herd as it was coming off the snow covered plains onto a portion of the Grand Teton National Park near Shadow Mountain WY.  I drove up on the herd as it was still coming into the area and stopped alongside the snow covered road.  The main body of the herd had stopped to eat and rest while waiting for the stragglers to catch up.  They of course were very interested in what just invaded their space however the longer I stayed there the more accustomed they became.  I very quickly turned off the motor and rolled down my window setting up my Kirk window mount.  I ended up staying with the herd for over an hour in sub-freezing temps shooting first with the 240LS 2x extender combination and later with just the 240LS itself.  218 images on a full 16GB card later I left as the herd began to move once again.
Looking out the front window of the truck....
Here's a thought on the equipment used.  Some mornings were temps of -14 degrees and rarely went above the teens.  Most of the shooting was performed from a window mount with the engine off and window(s) open; in other words no heat.  Some shoots were on foot, either handheld or using a combination of monopod or tripod.  In all cases, I gave up way before any equipment failure.  I went through batteries due to the cold however that's to be expected; however they were no problems nor concerns with the body, back or lens.  Everything worked as they should.   
In the end I have at least 2-gallery prints and maybe one or two more.  I'm very impressed with both the lens and the extender and feel they are well worth the expense (and weight).
Otter Family Outting (blowing snow, window mount, 100% crop)
1/500 @ f/12 ISO 200

Buffalo Razzberry
240LS & 2x Extender (Window Mount 100% crop)
1/320 @ f/11 ISO 400
Side Note:  As I was testing/falling in lust with this lens combination, Sandy was doing the very same with a Sony A7r and 55mm lens.  So much so that we have now just sold all of our Canon bodies and lenses that we've been using for many years.   
Stay tuned for more information on the Sony A7r and what it does for both landscape and wildlife. 
Thank you once again for allowing me to share.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

And lastly, a huge thank-you once again to my friend and camera dealer, Dave Gallagher.
Some may notice that I capitalize when naming wildlife; e.g., Buffalo, Elk, Otter, etc.  I do that as a sign of respect to the many wildlife that we are fortunate to see and capture with our cameras.