It’s been years since I visited Artis, a classy old zoo in a throbbing ventricle of Amsterdam, and I’d got this new lens to test, so…

Artis has always been a delightful place just to walk around and explorer, and hopefully encounter some interesting creatures. While some of the big cats, to my mind, could do with a bit more space to play, I’ve been fairly impressed with the efforts made to provide comfortable, engaging environments for the zoo’s ‘guests’.

By and large, the animals were chilled-out and mellow on this lazy sunny Saturday, even the normally fidgety rodents. One intrepid wolf had apparently spotted the post-noon moon in the sky and had himself a good old-fashioned howl-a-thon until he realized nobody was impressed and sat down to have a snooze with his pack.

David really wanted to meet the giraffes as well and we were fortunate that they became quite interested in the corner of the enclosure we were passing. They were eager to accept treats from the kids, whose parents cautioned them only to feed the animals leaves that had fallen to the ground around the fence, and even then only the fresh ones.

The aquarium and insectarium were of course filled with horrible monsters that reaffirmed my eternal relief at having been born a land-based mammal. Lemur island, where those thieving little bastards run free, was the usual gauntlet of watch-your-purse and don’t-stand-still-or-they’ll-poo-on-your-head, and when we dashed for safety we met a little margay sleeping in his basket who was NOT impressed at all this racket.

Then lens I tested, a 100mm f/2.8 image-stabilized macro, handled itself manfully, delivering the crisp picture and gorgeous colours I’m used to from the 85mm f/1.2 it’s intended to replace. Lighter, quicker, faster-focusing and substantially more flexible, it helped me to isolate a distant stretching wolf one moment and an OJ-slurping butterfly the next.

– Nico