It’s always interesting to see what cameras and lenses the winners use. Since these are pictures of birds, it’s no surprise that long telephoto lenses (400 – 600mm, to 1200mm with 2x teleconverter) feature prominently in the mix. It’s also interesting to note the use of Canon EF (DSLR) lenses on their mirrorless cameras (RF mount) using the Canon EF to RF mount adapter, which is a ringing endorsement for the RF mount. As far as the cameras are concerned, we see the following: The mirrorless Sony A1 (2021), Sony A9 II (2019), Canon EOS R5 (2020), and the DSLR Canon EOS 7D II (2014), Canon EOS 6D (2012), Canon EOS 5D IV (2016), Canon EOS 5DS R (2015), Nikon D850 (2017), Nikon D500 (2016), and Nikon D3500 (2018).
Here is the list of the 8 winners and 5 honorable mentions, and the gear they used:
1. Grand Prize: Jack Zhi – Sony a9ii with Sony 600mm f/4.0 lens and Sony FE 2x Teleconverter
2. Amateur Award Winner: Peter Shen – Sony A1 with Sony FE 600mm f/4 lens and Sony 1.4x Teleconverter
3. Professional Award Winner: Liron Gertsman – Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
4. Video Award Winner: Liron Gertsman – Canon EOS R5 with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and Canon EF to RF mount adapter
5. Plants for Birds Award Winner: Shirley Donald – Canon EOS 5DS R with Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO II USM lens and Canon 1.4x Teleconverter III
6. Fisher Prize: Steve Jessmore – Sony Alpha 1 with Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS
7. Female Bird Prize: Alan Krakauer – Canon EOS 6D with Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD
8. Youth Award Winner: Jayden Preussner – Nikon D850 with Nikon AFS NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED
1. Plants for Birds Honorable Mention: Warren Johnson – Nikon D500 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
2. Video Honorable Mention: Xiao Hu – Canon EOS R5 with Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM, Canon 1.4x Teleconverter and Canon EF to RF mount adapter
3. Youth Honorable Mention: Amiel Hopkins – Nikon D3500 with a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED
4. Amateur Honorable Mention: Ankur Khurana – Canon 7D Mark II with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary
5 Professional Honorable Mention: Liron Gertsman – Canon EOS R5 with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM and Canon EF to RF mount adapter
But more interesting than the gear used is the “Story Behind the Shot” section for each photograph. Be sure to read them. One I especially liked is the following: “I scouted a location the afternoon prior. Waking up at 3 a.m., I hiked for 45 minutes to reach my hide … This shot was one of thousands I took that morning.” We’re talking about careful planning, patience and taking lots and lots of shots to get that one winning shot.
My favorite is the “Video Honorable Mention: Xiao Hu” with a slow-motion clip of a Great Blue Heron flying with a branch in its beak and feathers blowing in the wind. Witness the impressive AF tracking of the Canon EOS R5 at work — and that’s with the Canon EF to RF mount adapter attached.