Snowy Owls and the NEX-7…WOW! By Rob McKay

And now for something completely different…

For years I have shot with large DSLR lens and bodies, mostly wildlife and mostly birds in-flight. Not long ago I unloaded it all for various reasons and picked up a Leica. I also picked up a Sony NEX7 + kit lens last winter and shot some snowy owls with it. Yes, snowy owls with a kit lens equipped NEX7, it worked like a charm and I think it gave me some unique images, some stock agencies even thought so. Using the wide angle, I used the 10 FPS to my advantage because at f/8 and 18mm (27mm equvelent), everything is in focus. Its amazing what you can accomplish with the small camera systems that is out there now.

The EXIF data in tact, thanks for looking!

Rob McKay



  1. interesting inages,indeed, but too bad you chose to bait the owls.
    The practice is illegal in many jursdictions and, very often, baited owls lose their natural fear
    of humans and cars and experience increased mortality as the grow to associate humans and
    cars with food.

    • Exactly Mark. Getting the picture at the expense of the subject is NOT nature photography. And not admitting, or divulging the obvious baiting/using a lure on fishing pole….guilty by silence. I am glad I choose to photograph birds without such disregard for the subject.

      Unfortunately, in bird photography, ethics has gone out the window with many photographers such as this. And being showcased on this site might be something Steve should reconsider.

  2. These are great shots but you have been asked several times how you got these shots with such a short lense? Can you please share your methodology??

    • Hi Mike,
      This wasn’t a techniques read or a “how to” photography lesson, was just a fun post that shows what you can do with small cameras these days.

  3. So this was a mouse-baited shot? I am guessing from the short focal length and the only way to get an owl flight shot inbound on a frozen lake 😉 Many birders are not a fan of this but it is what it is.

  4. I think it’s really cool to see a perspective of Wildlife being shot very much in context like this because it’s all about the creature AND the environment it lives in.

  5. Very nice Rob, I really like 2 and 3. I’m a bird fan myself and have watched the snowy owl special on PBS several times in the past few weeks. Those are some beautiful birds and beautiful pictures. Also, love the depth-of-field. I’m not a big fan of shallow depth-of-field, it takes all the “realness” out of the photo and looks like something out of a magazine. I really don’t get all the hype about bokeh, there’s nothing natural about it. I wonder how people who complain about deeper depth-of-field manage to look out of their own eyes without being distracted!

  6. I can see from your site that you have a trackrecord of shooting great pictures. I would also be interested to hear you tell us how you got so frikkin close to the owls?! Did you use a camouflage hideout with fresh rodents on top or what? Great pictures, thanks for sharing them with us!

  7. Nice. Do you get in the icy water with a mouse over your head, or do you know this particular owl well enough that she will do a friendly flight on command ?
    Amazing work !

  8. I’ve seen these a number of times on Flickr, as well as your different “Bokehenstein” images. Amazing – Glad you shared here.

  9. Great photos. Maybe more like this will put an end to the nonsense about the “lenses not being good enough”, and maybe some might look to the photograper instead!. Well done!

    • I agree that the photographer remains pivotal in what makes a great photograph, but I believe that people are complaining about Sony’s lens offerings because it lacks options for specific areas of photography. While Rob certainly got some amazing results from his NEX-7, he mentions shooting at f/8 which may not be sufficient for other situations.
      The problem with those short blurbs that are being posted as comments on blogs and photo/video sharing sites, is that they usually do not include the context in which the posters expressed their opinion. A lens isn’t just “not good enough”; it may be “not good enough for shooting xyz” though.

  10. Wonderful shots! Are you in a blind? These almost look like remote control photography, or are these owls less afraid of humans than I imagine.

      • It also works from behind. you just need to tape a L type mirror in front of the IR sensor. ( works best on the night ) works like a charm . Amazing photos 🙂

  11. Holy excrement.. very nice, especially shots one and two. I’m guessing those shots required heavy cropping or you are on a first name basis with the owls.

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