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Ambassadors Programme


Jonathan and Angela Scott


High Speed Chase...

By Jonathan and Angela Scott, Thursday August 29, 2013
The fact that the cheetah’s eyes are tightly shut is the extra element that makes the shot from this chase on the Mara Plains that little bit special.

The fact that the cheetah’s eyes are tightly shut is the extra element that makes the shot from this chase on the Mara Plains that little bit special. © Jonathan and Angela Scott

The Canon EF500mm f/4L IS Series II USM telephoto is one of our favourite lenses – great for both high-speed action and landscapes. It balances nicely in the hand and is comparatively light. This, combined with superb image stabilisation, makes it easy to handhold - and to carry in hand luggage. That’s why we prefer the 500mm to the 600mm telephoto. Add the EOS-1D X with its 12 frames-per-second rate and you have the perfect camera/lens combination.

The ultimate test presented itself recently when we were photographing a mother cheetah hunting impalas in the Masai Mara. It was tempting to use our razor-sharp EF800mm f/5.6 telephoto to get in closer to the action, but we already knew this lens would be slower to lock-on and track a rapidly moving subject than the 500mm.

The 1D X's continuous shooting mode revealed far more than the naked eye could see. With the cheetah sprinting flat out after its quarry it was only when we reviewed our images that we realised it had been forced to briefly close its eyes as it blasted through a clump of long grass at over 100kmph.

We used AI Servo tracking mode and the Central Focus Point, with the cross pattern of four surrounding focus points to assist, and kept on the cheetah from start to finish. The cheetah’s eyes being tightly shut is the extra element that makes the shot that little bit special.