Well I managed to pick my dozen or so favourite shots from today. There were quite a few more that I consider solid keepers, but to keep this post at least somewhat interesting, I cut down to the ones I'll post here.
My general review on the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM is this: Buy, beg or steal to get this lens. Fantastic sharpness, great AF, stellar IS, and loads of reach on an APS-C sensor. It's so price prohibitive but I have no doubts that the f/4 version at about 55% of the price would give very similar performance minus the one stop of aperture.
The S5 IS I had at my last zoo trip was actually 'zoomier' at 12x optical, but this lens gives you something in the range of 9x on an sub-frame sensor like my XSi and I only found one or two instances where I could have used more reach. The only downside of this lens is the weight. I felt somewhat uncomfortable letting the body support the lens, so I spent the day cradling the lens and letting the body hang off of it. Slightly annoying with an active three year old running around and stroller to push, but my wife and I managed just fine.
Without any further yammering, here are the pics.
A Red-billed Hornbill. This was taken indoors, through scratched plexiglass, handheld at a full 200mm focal length. Not too shabby although the focus is a bit soft.
Just one enclosure over is a swarm of these rat snakes. The focus tightens up quite a bit without the scratched plexi in the way.
These Greylag geese wander around the Winnipeg Zoo's "farm" area. They are absolutely huge, roughly turkey sized. I like this shot for the layered texture of the feathers on the neck. The fact that he has a feather lodged in his nostril is just a plus too.
Is there a rule that says if you run a zoo you need six million peacocks running all over the place? There must be. Every zoo has these guys. Hundreds of them.
Of course this is the first time that one has neglected to show it's plumage for me. I still like the iridescence of the feathers though and the strong natural sunlight in this picture brings it out nicely.
Still pissed that they didn't fan out their tails though. Bastards.
Oh hello, I didn't expect you to come by today. Please excuse the dirt on my face, and the big dried up leaf stuck in my belly fur. I am just a SCRUFFY PRAIRIE DOG.
Nothing special about this pic, but the leaf makes it for me. Love that leaf.
This guy is interesting, a white bison. It's a genetic abnormality, and a pretty rare one. THey are not, however, albino.
He's just chewing his hay. Waitin' for the ladies that don't mind a genetic freak.
Little known fact: In the wild, this is last thing you see before you die. I love this Amur Leopard because it is the one big predatory animal that looked right at the camera for me.
This shot was also taken through a wire mesh enclosure, so there are a few lines of aberrant focus, but they aren't significant. Get the aperture down enough on this lens and you can shoot right through the stuff. Happy with this shot, you need these sorts of shots to have a successful zoo trip in my mind.
Another shot through wire mesh, this time a Snowy Owl. One of the most majestic animals at our zoo, in my mind. The mesh crosses it's face in this photo, and it's a bit more noticeable so this shot is not as nice as I'd like. On the plus side, most times I see these guys at the zoo, they are eviscerating small rodents. So it evens out.
Pardon me sir, where would I find a heaping pile of cod?
Just missed this pelican extending his beak/neck/sack thingy.
Striking eye colour on this Diamond Dove. Shot through plexi again, so a bit soft on the focus, but the contrast is solid and I liked the blurred foreground branch. Excellent bokeh on this lens.
Time for my three favourite pictures from this trip!
This is a Rainbow Lorikeet. I love the bird, and I love this shot as it was taken indoors, through wire mesh, in very low light conditions, at 200mm, handheld. The Lens just nailed the shot though, great bokeh, sharp focus, saturation and contrast, EVERYTHING. This is the shot that made me turn to my wife and ask her if she would divorce me if I bought one.
Cutest animal of the day, a baby Lynx. Taken through wire mesh again, so some softness in the focus, but an adorable subject makes up for it. The two adults in the enclosure had just been fed and actually engaged in a ten-minute-or-so dominance display to decide who got to eat first. I tried, and tried to get a pic of them, but it just didn't work. I moved to one of the babies who was watching the parents, and got this shot.
I think this is my most striking shot of the day, a Stellar's Sea Eagle. I moved within the chair barrier for this shot, I had to try it. This eagle was very calm and let me get this shot.
As a testament to the sharpness of this lens, the reflection in the eagle's eye shows me standing there with the camera...
Finally, the most unusual critters I saw at the zoo today.
Friends came with us to the zoo today, and this is their son. He was rather excited to ride the zebra-swingy-springy-ridey thingies.
Their son again, climbing up into the camel-shaped slide. Love his expression, he's such a handsome little guy.
Every year the Winnipeg Zoo hosts 'Boo at the Zoo' and they are already setting up the displays. My dear Daughter decided that playing hide and seek in them would be fun, but I spotted her :)
Towards the end of the day, little legs get tired, and I snapped this as my daughter took a break on a bench by the snowy owls. I may be biased, but I think she's just a doll. She makes me work hard to be a better man.
That's it, my day at the Winnipeg Zoo.