An island adventure: first shoot with the Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM

Adventure photographer Lucia Griggi shares her journey through Scotland's dramatic Inner Hebrides with the new RF lens.
Lucia Griggi holding a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens.

Wildlife and adventure travel photographer Lucia Griggi took the compact Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM on a journey through Scotland's Inner Hebrides. "Although this lens is lighter, the quality is still there – I knew as soon as I put it in my hand," she says. © Andrew Ford

From the sun-drenched beaches of Fiji to the frozen wilds of Antarctica, wildlife and adventure travel photographer Lucia Griggi has toured the globe, initially as a surf photographer and more recently on wildlife shoots in some of the world's most dramatic landscapes. Such diverse environments demand rugged and versatile kit – so Lucia was the ideal pro to test the capabilities of the Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM.

With the Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM and a Canon EOS R6 in her kitbag, Lucia took a voyage to the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland to photograph its landscapes, its wildlife and its people. The RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM's light weight, compact design and versatility enabled her to access an abundance of photo opportunities unique to these special islands.

The perfect adventure travel lens

Lucia's goal was to photograph her exploration by boat, car and foot, embracing spontaneity along the way. The adventure took her to the Isle of Mull with its rolling hills and diverse marine life. She also toured the outcrops of Iona by boat – capturing its bird cliffs and the resident seals, dolphins and cormorants.

"The shoot consisted of landscape, wildlife and portraiture," explains Lucia. "I was excited because I've always had a 70-200mm lens in my kitbag – it's such a staple lens. I was keen to see how a setup that I'd use on say my Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III) would translate with the RF lens.

"The fact that the lens is so light meant it was really versatile – but the quality is still there. I could hold it with one hand, so it offered me the flexibility to get into positions which might have been more of a struggle with a heavier lens."

A low-light portrait of a woman holding a cup and smiling at her companion.

The combined IS from both camera and lens enabled Lucia to shoot sharp handheld portraits, even in low light. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens at 112mm, 1/500 sec, f/4.5 and ISO1600. © Lucia Griggi

A pair of cormorants perched on a cliffside.

The Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM features weather-sealing and fluorine coatings to protect against dust and water, making it ideal for this adventure shoot in the wilds of the Inner Hebrides. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens at 200mm, 1/1600 sec, f/4 and ISO800. © Lucia Griggi

Staying agile with handheld shooting

The high-speed communication between camera and lens made possible by the innovative RF lens mount means the 5-stop optical Image Stabilizer (IS) in the Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM works with the in-body IS in the Canon EOS R6 to deliver up to 7.5-stops of combined IS. This dramatically reduces image blur caused by camera shake and results in sharper images.

With camera and lens working together to correct camera shake, Lucia was able to select even longer exposures. This was particularly useful when photographing in low light and enabled her to shoot handheld with confidence – even from moving boats and platforms.

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An otter emerges from the water, looking straight at the camera.

The lens’s incredibly quiet autofocus enabled Lucia to photograph a skittish otter. "I was really putting the lens through its paces and it performed well," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens at 200mm, 1/1250 sec, f/4 and ISO500. © Lucia Griggi

An otter peers over rocks strewn with seaweed.

Thanks to the lightweight Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM and the eye-tracking technology in the Canon EOS R6, Lucia was able to track the otter with pin-sharp results. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens at 179mm, 1/1250 sec, f/4 and ISO500. © Lucia Griggi

The Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM also features weather sealing and special coatings to guard against dust and water, plus heat-resistant paint to reflect harsh sunlight. This durability in all weathers enabled Lucia to photograph a rare encounter with an otter while hiking through wetlands in the rain.

"The otter was quite an incredible, emotional experience,” explains Lucia. "You spend a lot of time walking, spotting the wildlife, tracking and then getting in the right position. I've spent a lot of time photographing otters in Alaska or trying to – but they're very elusive and with a 70-200mm lens you've got to be pretty close to get a detailed shot.

"I'd seen a few otters out to sea, but I'd kind of given up. Then on the walk back, I saw what looked like seaweed. I sprinted down and spotted an otter making a beeline for the shore."

Lucia had just seconds to set up for her shot on the seaweed-covered rocks before the otter resurfaced, so lens portability was paramount. "If the otter had seen me it wouldn't have come in. I sprinted along the slippery rocks and then just dived down. I was camouflaged on the rock and the otter swam right up in front of me. The lens was so lightweight I could hold it with one hand, so I didn't have to move. Anything heavier would have required two hands and I wouldn't have got the shot. It was very spontaneous."

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A dolphin leaps out of the water. A boat is just visible coming into shot.

The Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM is designed for stable handheld shooting and Lucia was able to capture sharp images, such as this leaping dolphin, even from a moving boat. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens at 70mm, 1/3200 sec, f/5.6 and ISO800. © Lucia Griggi

Quiet, fast autofocus

The rapid, quiet and precise autofocus made possible by the Dual Nano USM (ultrasonic motors) in the Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM meant Lucia was able to photograph the wildlife on her journey in its natural habitat, without causing a disturbance. This near-silent continuous focusing, combined with the eye-tracking technology of the silent Canon EOS R6, enabled Lucia to achieve sharp tracking shots of the swimming otter.

"I could hear the otter breathing. It was so silent, just me, the otter and the stillness of the water. They're the moments that I take home. That's what drives me and keeps me alive. The lens focused quickly and the fact it was so quiet helped me to get that shot. Every single texture on the otter was pin-sharp," she says.

A boat skipper looks at a notebook.

Closer focusing down to 0.6m made portraits and detail shots achievable while out on a boat trip, a situation where changing lenses isn't ideal. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens at 91mm, 1/640 sec, f/5.6 and ISO200. © Lucia Griggi

A man in blue gloves holds a crab.

Lucia says she wouldn't have been able to get this shot if she hadn't been using the Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens. "I wanted to be able to focus close to the subject and get the detail shot of the crab in the hands," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens at 169mm, 1/2000 sec, f/4.5 and ISO200. © Lucia Griggi

Close focus portraits

Ocean-obsessed Lucia spends up to six months at a time on board expedition vessels documenting the last frontiers, from Siberia to Antarctica, and is just as at home photographing underwater as she is above it. On the Isle of Mull, she got a chance to put the Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM to the test shooting multiple portraits aboard a fishing boat. The lens really came into its own for Lucia thanks to its versatile focal length and its closer focusing down to 0.6m.

"We were on the water with local fisherman in their 80s, who had fished all their lives. I was planning to shoot portraits of the guys on an adjacent boat, but then I turned around and saw this beautiful portrait of the man driving the boat I was on. The light was coming through and he had this sketchbook. Then he spontaneously picked up one of the crab pots to show me the crabs," says Lucia.

"Without this lens that would have been a missed shot. If I'd had a wide-angle, I'd have needed to get really close and it wouldn't have worked. The Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM is fantastic for that kind of shooting. To be able to focus closer eliminated the need for another lens."

Photographer Lucia Griggi stands on the back of a boat, her camera in hand, silhouetted against the setting sun.

"As a photographer, I rely on my equipment and I need to be able to trust it. I tested the Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM in low light, at sunset and in direct light and I was thoroughly impressed," says Lucia. © Andrew Ford

Travel slow, travel light

"What I love about an expedition is that, in my eyes, it's more about the journey than the destination," says Lucia. Adventures force her to slow down, take in the sights and use different modes of transport.

"When hiking, you can access little nooks or spot otters! When driving you're able to stop on the way and get your landscape shots. The nice thing about travelling this way is that you can see the progression of where you're going and the slightly different climate or times of day.

"When I sailed back from Mull to the mainland, it was the most stunning evening. The sky was blood red and the light turned the hills into layers of shadows." Proving that when you embrace the journey and pause to absorb the moment, that's when the magic unfolds.

Lorna Dockerill

Lucia Griggi’s kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their photographs

A Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 70-200MM F4L IS USM lens attached, sitting on a map of Iona.



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