Shortly after Christmas I decided to head up to a red squirrel hide in the Yorkshire Dales, allowing me to put my recently purchased Sony a7R III to work shooting some very cute and pretty crazy creatures.
The hide is run by wildlife photographer Simon Phillpotts. You can find full details on his website. Note that he will be closing the hide in April this year.
Quick Red Squirrel Facts: The red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel species, and was once a common sight across the UK. Today, red squirrels are sadly absent from most of the UK, largely affected by the spread of the non-native grey squirrel which carries the parapox virus. This virus does not appear to affect the health of the greys, but often kills red squirrels. There are estimated to be only 140,000 red squirrels left in Britain, and well over 2.5 million grey. I’ve counted 16 grey squirrels in my parents garden alone!
I arrived in the Dales the night before and was greeted by a beautiful blanket of white snow. That night I dreamt about photographs of red squirrels against a beautiful white snowy background. Sadly it wasn’t to be, as overnight the heavens opened and a lot of the snow had turned to slush by morning.
I took the Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM lens with me, the FE 70-200 F2.8 GM, and the 1.4x teleconverter. Although I shot most of the shots with the 100-400, I did throw on the 70-200 later in the day.
The day itself was pretty wet and miserable, and under the canopy of the forest there was very little light. So these were ideal conditions to test the high ISO performance of the a7R III.
Without further ado, here are some of my favourite images from the day of these beautiful and extremely charismatic creatures. Note: noise reduction in camera was turned off.
The pixel peepers amongst you may have noticed that some of the images have a little mark on them. I think this was either a drop of rain on my lens of a speck of dust on my sensor. Thankfully it’s not so bad, but I really must learn to check my gear more closely during the day!
I could honestly spend all day, everyday shooting these little guys, they provide so much entertainment. This most definitely will not be the last time that I’m shooting red squirrels.
As for the a7R III, it just continues to impress me and has already justified my reasons for upgrading. I took over 600 images this day and still had 20 percent battery life remaining, it was also below 3c all day. I would easily have gone through 3 batteries at least with the a7R II.
It’s hard to say if the autofocus speed is 2x faster like Sony claims, but it’s definitely an improvement. The 10 frames per second is also very welcome, as is the joystick to easily move the focus point around, this was always a nightmare with the a7R II. I’ve also recently switched to using back button focus, so having a dedicated button for this is most helpful.
Have you upgraded to the a7R III? If you have, please let me know your thoughts so far in the comments below.
If you also love shooting wildlife with your Sony Alpha camera, then I’ve setup the Sony Alpha Wildlife Shooters Group on Facebook where you can share your photos with fellow wildlife shooters. Please only post genuine wildlife shots, no zoo shots, pets or animals held in captivity that aren’t free to leave, genuine conservation centers are the exception here.