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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in La Jolla (1)


Brandt's Cormorant Portrait a la Sony a9 100-400 and 2X Extender

Brandt's Cormorant Portrait (Phalacrocorax penicillatus, Cormoran de Brandt, BRAC) La Jolla, California ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE100-400mm F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS Lens with Sony 2X tele-extender @ 800mm Full Frame image. ISO 800 f/11 @ 1/640s Manual mode.


Hi Chris,

I'm a huge fan of your work and have been following your transition to the Sony mirrorless system since your first post about it from your Puffin Workshop last August. It seems that you have sold all of your Canon equipment and I am interested to hear what you are using for your long lens? I don't imagine the Sony 100-400 lens with their 2X could come anywhere near the quality of a Canon super telephoto. I imagine that you will need to manually adjust the focus with the combined maximum aperture of f/11? Even if it produces sharp images, I just don't see f/11 producing those wonderful out of focus backgrounds which seem to be part of a signature Dodds image. Please help a guy see....

Thank you, J.D. from New York

Hey J.D.,

Thank you for your great questions. This image is a portrait of a Brandt's Cormorant on the cliffs of La Jolla, California. I suspect you can see from the image that the Sony a9 with the Sony 100-400 G Master lens AND the Sony 2X tele-extender produce the same amazing quality as the lens alone. The Sony a9 does autofocus with a maximum lens and extender combination of f/11. All in all, the system continues to impress me. As for those out of focus backgrounds, there are two ways to improve your results while using smaller apertures which traditionally produce larger depth of field and more distracting backgrounds:

1. Work closer to your subject. The closer you are to your subject, the smaller the depth of field.

2. Choose a more distant background. In the case of the image above, I used the beach below the cliff as my background.

I used both techniques to produce the portrait of the Brandt's Cormorant yawning with it's spectacular blue gular skin on full display. It is so easy to get close to birds with the silent shutter of the a9!