Why I love my 100-400mm lens: Richard Pohle

For news photographers, the lens is everything. You need the reach to be able to frame your subjects, you need the speed to be able to freeze the action in all conditions, you need the build that means that carrying the lens all day isn’t going to give you chronic back problems (though some are willing to compromise on that last one). Which lens you end up favouring will depend on the precise nature of your discipline – many photographers who work in all sorts of conditions will favour the workhorse 70-200mm, while those who find themselves needing pin-sharp image quality at a distance will plump for a 500 or 600mm prime.

Some, however, prefer the best of both worlds. At Fixation we’ve long rated the 100-400mm lens as the ideal jack-of-all-trades lens for a working press photographer, and someone who firmly agrees is Richard Pohle, staff photographer at The Times. Winner of the 2019 Arts and Entertainment Photographer of the Year at the UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards, Richard is a familiar and highly respected face in the industry

Richard’s lens has covered a huge range of the news sphere, from political party conferences to state visits by foreign leaders and huge military ceremonies, and he swears by his Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS II USM Lens as the tool to get the job done in a huge number of situations. We were intrigued, so we got in touch to find out why this lens works so well for what Richard does…

EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L IS II USM


Thanks for talking to us, Richard. So how did you get started using the 100-400mm lens for press work?

I cover a lot of events – things with the royals, a lot of military ceremonies. I always used to have to carry around the 400mm f/2.8 and then also have the 70-200mm by my side. And the 400mm f/2.8 especially was always so lumbering and heavy, it was very unwieldy. I saw some of the royal-photography guys use the 100-400mm when it first came out, and I thought, “Wow, what an absolutely practical lens for the type of thing that I need to do.” 

That scope, from 100mm to 400mm in one lens, was exactly the thing that I needed – one, to cover royals, and two, to cover what I especially like doing: military ceremonies and state occasions. 

I’m one of these photographers who doesn’t always necessarily have my camera pointed at the main event – I’m always looking off to the side to see what’s happening there. And when you suddenly turn a 400mm f/2.8 lens away from the main subject to something you’ve seen on the side, you’re knocking out three photographers next to you, and getting a load of abuse for it! So the 100-400mm lens just allows me to be more flexible in where I’m pointing, and means I’m able to go from middle distance to reasonably far distance no problem.

That’s definitely evident from your portfolio – you have a real eye for the moments that are happening a little away from the main action.

When I’m doing state ceremonies or military ceremonies, I arrive early, and I walk around trying to find the moments of people getting ready, which for me always makes for a better picture than the actual event! So I like to wander around and look a bit incognito, but with a large 400mm or a 600mm lens, you can’t do that. With a 100-400mm lens, you can quite easily stand off to the side, and when you see something happening, happily shoot away. You can have it dangling on one shoulder and another camera on another shoulder

Have you seen other photographers making the jump? From the way you describe it, it sounds like a no-brainer!

It does – from the point of view of a practical news photographer, which is what I am. If you’re, say, a royal photographer, you will want to stick with your 600mm or 800mm prime lens, because they’ve got more reach. Also, while it’s less of a problem these days with digital cameras, the f/5.6 aspect of it puts some people off. It’s an incredibly sharp lens all the way through, but if there is a degradation, it would be at the f/5.6 end. For me as a news photographer, it doesn’t matter – for a magazine photographer, it might. 

It’s been a wrench to move away from the 70-200mm, absolutely, and I still find myself going to the 70-200mm when I know I’m not using it for big occasions, but the 100-400mm is the go-to lens when I’m doing state ceremonies or events like that.

What body do you use with it?

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. 

Okay, so that’s a setup that’ll do basically anything.

Yes, if I’ve got a 100-400mm lens on one shoulder and my 24-70mm on the other – that’s it. I’m completely made up; I’ve covered everything from 24mm all the way up to 400mm in two bodies.

13th July 2008 The Queen and Donald Trump photography by Richard Pohle
Queen and Trump 13th July 2018 by Richard Pohle using the EF 100-400mm L mark II lens

Do you think about mirrorless at all? The RF mount has that nice-looking 100-500mm…

All the time. It’s the number-one source of conversation at the moment. It’s just the cost implications of moving over; you’ve got to think about these things carefully, financially speaking. But it is the future, there’s no question. The idea of being completely silent is very very appealing, especially for some of the things I have to photograph, and the tracking mechanism seems absolutely awesome. I’ve had a quick play with it and I was very, very impressed. It is the future, there’s no denying it.

Finally, is there a particular image taken on the 100-400 that you’re proudest of?

The picture that I think of as the best picture I’ve taken on the 100-400mm is when Donald Trump visited the UK and he inadvertently walked in front of the Queen. The Queen had to sidestep out from behind him because he suddenly stopped, and she nearly collided with him. I was the only photographer who got that, because I was on the 100-400mm and I could manage to get it framed and shoot it. And it’s gone on to be exhibited and things like that.

It was actually taken on a hire-in 100-400mm lens; my one was in for repair because I’d dropped it. I was so panicked about doing this event without the 100-400mm that I hired it in. And thank god I did!

Richard Pohle was talking to Jon Stapley. See more of his images at his website, www.richardpohle.com


Flagship Cameras Compared from Canon, Nikon and Sony

When Nikon announced their flagship DSLR the Nikon D6 following the Canon EOS 1DX mark III and the Sony A9 II, the “big three” camera manufacturers had each released a flagship full-frame camera body in the space of six months. In this article we compare the main specifications of all three bodies.

The Nikon D6, Sony A9 II and EOS 1Dx mark III compared

We have not yet had our hands on a Nikon D6 so cannot do a working comparison of the cameras. However, now the specifications are released, we can put the stats of each camera side by side. There are some similarities as the manufacturers compete for the same audience: The cameras all feature built in wifi connectivity as well as Ethernet ports for Wired LAN connections. The resolution is low across all bodies, they are made for fast and high quality image recording, and fast transmission which a low file-size helps with. Mirrorless technology is the main differentiation in the bodies with those brands adopting newer technologies achieving higher burst rates for continuous shooting – significant for sport photography in particular.

Full write ups on the cameras are on our blog for further reading:
[gdlr_button href=”https://www.fixationuk.com/nikon-launches-the-d6/” target=”_self” size=”medium” background=”#FFE100″ color=”#000000″]Nikon D6: Feb 12th 2020[/gdlr_button]
[gdlr_button href=”https://www.fixationuk.com/canon-launches-the-eos-1dx-mark-iii/” target=”_self” size=”medium” background=”#BF1920″ color=”#ffffff”]Canon EOS 1DX mark III: Jan 7th 2020[/gdlr_button]
[gdlr_button href=”https://www.fixationuk.com/sony-a9-mark-ii/” target=”_self” size=”medium” background=”#FFA500″ color=”#000000″]Sony A9 II : Oct 3rd 2019[/gdlr_button]


Nikon D6Sony A9 IICanon EOS 1DX mark III
Camera TypeDSLRMirrorlessDSLR
Launch Price£6,299£4,799£6,499
Sensor SizeFull FrameFull FrameFull Frame
Video (Max)4K UHD 30p
XAVC S 4K 30p
4K Raw 59.94fps
ISO Range100 – 102,400100 – 5,1200100 – 102,400
Extended ISO50 – 3,280,00050 – 204,80050 – 819,200
AF Points105693191
Shooting Rate14fps20fps16fps
Memory CardsDual XQD / CFexpressDual SD UHS-IIDual CFexpress
Lens MountNikon FSony-ECanon EF
USB PortUSB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type C)USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type C)USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type C)
LAN Terminal1000BASE-T Ethernet1000BASE-T Ethernet1000BASE-T Ethernet
Wireless LAN built-inYesYesYes
Weight (g)12706781440
Size WxHxD mm160 x 163 x 92129 x 96 x 76158 x 168 x 83
Battery life (CIPA rating)35806902850
Canon EF versus RF: Why use RF lenses image

Canon EF versus RF: Why use RF lenses?

One of the biggest, best surprises of 2018 was Canon’s announcement of its full-frame mirrorless EOS R system. No longer was Sony the only full-frame mirrorless game in town — suddenly photographers who wanted a small, fast camera with a large sensor were spoilt for choice.

Canon have updated the range with two professional full frame camera bodies and four new lenses. Read all about the EOS R5 and EOS R6 bodies here and the new lenses here.

Given how long Canon has been in the game, many photographers have of course built up substantial collections of EF lenses for its EOS system, and it therefore came as something of a surprise for some that the new EOS R system would be debuting with a new lens mount — the RF mount — and a selection of new lenses for it that would be arriving throughout 2018 and 2019. No doubt as a way of mollifying some photographers’ concerns, Canon assured everyone that the EOS R would be released with an option EF-EOS R adapter, allowing old lenses to be used on the new camera.

So, many photographers have got to wondering — why use RF lenses at all? Surely I can take the plunge on the EOS R system and keep using my EF lenses as well, right?

Well, we reckon that would be a mistake. RF lenses have many distinct advantages, and are specifically designed to compliment the EOS R and EOS RP cameras, allowing your images to reach their full potential.

To that end, we’ve assembled a list of the top five reasons to use RF lenses with EOS R cameras…


1. The short, wide lens mount

When designing the RF mount and the way that RF lenses connect to EOS R cameras, Canon managed to reduce the flange-back distance (the distance between the lens mount and the imaging sensor) from 44mm to 20mm, bringing it in line with comparable systems like Sony FE or Nikon Z. The lenses are also physically wide, with a large 54mm inner diameter.

Why is this advantageous? It allows for a large element to be placed at the rear of the lens, which reduces the scope for optical aberrations and means lenses can be designed with fewer overall elements, which means they can be made smaller.

These large lenses can also provide other advantages. Let’s take a look, for example, at the upcoming RF 28-70mm f/2L. Its nearest EF equivalent in focal range terms would be something like the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, and you’ve probably already spotted the difference between the two — that large constant aperture of f/2 throughout the zoom range. It’s the design specific to RF that makes such things possible, and opens up your options in low light and more.

2. Super-fast lens/camera communication

RF mount lenses employ a 12-pin connection between the camera and lens — for comparison, the EF-mount uses 8 pins. What does this mean? Faster data transfer, which means lightning-fast autofocus, enhanced image stabilisation thanks to better communication between the camera and lens, and also provides general optimisation of image quality.

3. RF mount can provide superior image stabilisation

Let’s expand for a moment on the above point and explore how and why the RF mount provides better image stabilisation. RF lenses with image stabilisation (and it’s worth noting that not all of them have it) use a dual gyro sensor system to detect inadvertent movement, and this information is relayed across the fast connection to the Canon camera’s DIGIC 8 processor. At the same time, the sensor is also on the lookout for blur that is caused by these movements, and it also sends this data to the processor, essentially providing confirmation that the inadvertent movement is occurring, and allowing the camera to correct for it. It’s a well-engineered system, augmented by the super-fast connections of RF mount lenses.

4. The DLO (Digital Lens Optimizer)

While this interesting feature has made it onto some EF-mount lenses, it’s on RF mount lenses as a matter of course. The DLO uses the lens’s built-in memory capacity to allow it to store data on any aberrations that occur, meaning it can instantaneously and automatically correct these aberrations in the future.

5. It makes sense to have a dedicated second system

It’s unlikely that any working professional is planning to jump ship wholesale from the EOS system to EOS R. These mirrorless cameras make sense as a second system, whether that’s for jobs where a bulky DSLR would be a disadvantage or simply when shooting for pleasure. As such, it makes sense that if you’re going to have a dedicated second system, you have a dedicated selection of lenses for it. Laboriously swapping your EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens from the EOS 5D Mark IV to the EOS RP every time you want to switch systems is going to be a cumbersome process, and you’ll find you get much more use out of the second system if it’s always set up and ready to go.

6. You’re future-proofing yourself

It’s an exciting time to be an EOS R photographer. Canon has mapped out the future of lenses for the system and it looks fantastic. To name just a few, there’s the upcoming RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS, covering the workhorse focal range beloved by many pros, which incorporates Canon’s Nano USM lens motors for the fastest autofocus possible. It’s definitely a sign that the firm is taking this system seriously, and the best part about it? It’s tiny. Remember how fewer elements means that lenses can be made smaller? We’re certainly seeing that with the RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS, which is practically half the size of its EF counterpart. Also upcoming are the RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM, a great all-rounder for travel, and the RF 24-70 F2.8L IS USM we’ve already mentioned, a high-performing standard zoom that’s perfect for weddings and documentary.

This is clearly a system that’s going places, offering features and functionality that you simply won’t get anywhere else. That, more than anything, is why we reckon you’re best off pairing EOS R cameras with RF mount lenses.

Chris Schmid shooting natural world with Alpha Mirrorless image

Chris Schmid shooting natural world with Alpha Mirrorless

Wildlife pro Chris Schmid tells us why his Alpha mirrorless cameras have changed the way he shoots the natural world.

The advantage of EVF

“One of the benefits of an electronic viewfinder,” says Chris, “is that the exposure you see in the EVF is what you’re going to get in the picture.” Chris always shoots in manual exposure mode, so the EVF has an added benefit – in tricky lighting, it means not only does he have total control, but also there is no need to shoot additional frames because of guesswork.

©Chris Schmid

With old-fashioned optical viewfinders on DSLRs, there’s often guesswork involved which can put some photographers off working in manual mode, but with an EVF nothing is left to chance. “So when I’m shooting a subject that’s backlit, or in shadow,” says Chris, “I don’t need to shoot extra frames to get it right – I can concentrate on capturing the moment.”

Silent Shooting

“Sony’s Silent Shooting mode is perfect for me,” Chris tells us, “because even a small shutter noise can cause an animal to react”. Total silence means a more truthful image – it’s more natural and that’s when you know that you’re capturing the animal’s real behaviour.

“Last year I was photographing gorillas, and with the silent shutter it was an amazing experience. I could enjoy that moment without any noise from the camera, just hearing the birds, the wind, and with no intrusion on feeling. It was just perfect – a pure joy really.”

©Chris Schmid

Image quality

“To shoot the way I do, you need a big dynamic range,” Chris explains “because I often like to capture the animal’s environment, rather than a straight portrait. When I compare the shots from my α9 and α7R III to cameras from even five years ago, it’s amazing. All the details in the highlights of skies or the shadows of the bush are much easier to retain.”

Something else Chris relies on from his Alphas is great noise performance at higher ISOs. He explains that, “because I’m shooting early or late in the day I often need to push the ISO, maybe to 1600 or more. It’s vital for hunting and other behavioural shots that take place at those times of day.”

©Chris Schmid

Fast, reliable focus

Moving subjects or those hidden by the environment need fast and accurate Auto Focus to find and follow them, because, as Chris says, “the magic is only there for a couple of seconds and you need to react quickly to catch it.”

Most of the time, he relies on the proven Continuous AF of his α9 and α7R III, using the tracking mode to follow an animal, and only switching occasionally to Single AF when an animal is static and he can place the focus point on the eye.

Even the Focus Peaking mode comes into play on some occasions: “If I’m shooting, say, a lion in the bush, the leaves and grass in front can confuse the focus, so if that’s the case I just switch to focus peaking in manual and can see clearly what’s sharp in the EVF. There’s something for every situation.”

©Chris Schmid

Chris is a Sony Europe Imaging Ambassador and you can see more of his work at www.sony.co.uk/alphauniverse


Micro Four Thirds | What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages images

Micro Four Thirds | What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

In a world of full-frame mirrorless cameras and DSLRs with ever-spiralling megapixel counts, do Micro Four Thirds cameras have a legitimate claim on the professional photographic market? The system that was launched by Olympus and Panasonic in 2008, was an evolution of the original Olympus Four Thirds concept and is still going strong today. New cameras and lenses are continually being released for the system, however, it can be difficult for photographers to get a sense of whether this system is right for their needs.

We’ve put together a quick, contemporary guide to highlight the pros and cons of the Micro Four Thirds system in an attempt to make things a little easier for you.

Like every camera system, Micro Four Thirds has its advantages and disadvantages. Use this guide to figure out how these pros and cons would correspond to your needs as a photographer and/or videographer, and whether that means Micro Four Thirds is right for you…. .


Smaller and lighter – This is something Micro Four Thirds cameras have been known for since their inception, but it does bear repeating. Most Micro Four Thirds cameras are significantly smaller than their DSLR counterparts and smaller than most full-frame and APS-C mirrorless cameras. This also goes for the lenses, a Micro Four Thirds telephoto tends to be noticeably lighter than a telephoto for DSLRs. If you’re the type of roaming photographer who needs to carry their gear around a location, this reduction in weight can really add up over the years. The smaller form factor of the cameras also provides an advantage in situations where you want to be unobtrusive, such as wedding or street photography.

Longer focal lengths – The sensor size of a Micro Four Thirds camera provides an equivalent focal length of 2.0x that of a full-frame camera, providing the same field of view as a full-frame lens with twice the focal length. A 300mm lens acts like a 600mm focal length on a full-frame camera. For shooting distant vistas or easily spooked wildlife, this is a godsend, allowing you to achieve focal lengths that wouldn’t be possible on full-frame cameras without spending massive amounts of cash.

Mix and match lenses – The co-operative, collaborative nature of the Micro Four Thirds system is something we’d like to see more of as it’s so useful for photographers. Panasonic Lumix users can snap up the latest Olympus lens, stick it on their camera and start shooting, and vice versa. No adapters, no fiddling – it just works. How nice would that have been during the great Canon vs Nikon wars of the 1990s, eh?

Unique technological innovations – All cameras have their individual quirks, flairs and features that make them worth buying. It’s worth taking a detailed look at Micro Four Thirds cameras to see if they suit your photographic preferences. Panasonic Lumix cameras, for instance, come equipped with 4K Photo modes that allow the user to extract 8MP stills from 4K footage and the flagship GH5 even ups this to 6K Photo. Before deciding on your system, it’s worth looking into whether the camera you’re eyeing up has interesting features that might find their way into your workflow.

Comparatively lower cost – Again, it’s all relative. But in general, you’re shelling out significantly more cash for full-frame DSLRs, large-sensor mirrorless cameras and their paraphernalia than you will for a Micro Four Thirds system. If budget is a concern, this is worth considering.


Small sensors means inferior low-light performance – The nature of the Micro Four Thirds standard means that its models are wedded to a specific size of sensor, across all of the models which use the system. There’s no getting around the fact that it is a smaller sensor than full-frame or APS-C. This confers some advantages, such as the crop factor mentioned above. However, it also means the cameras are unavoidably poorer in low-light, with inferior dynamic range compared to their larger-sensor counterparts. In most lighting situations the cameras will cope just fine, but if you’re regularly going to be shooting in situations that require the use of high ISOs, this could well be a deal-breaker.

No optical viewfinders – Electronic viewfinders are getting better and better, to the point that many photographers will happily say they prefer them. But, they still cannot quite match the ‘in-the-moment’ immediacy of an optical viewfinder and this is something Micro Four Thirds cameras will not provide.

Weaker autofocus (for stills) – This is a gap that is closing, with Micro Four Thirds manufacturers having done a lot of work on their autofocus systems. However, if this is an important feature for you, autofocus on DSLRs will still be reliably superior when it comes to stills shooting faster and more accurate. This situation may change in a few years, but hasn’t got there yet.

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