Thursday, 5 April 2012

I've Finally Bitten the Bullet

You may have noticed a distinct lack of photographs in this blog over the last few months. The reason for this is twofold:  firstly I became very unhappy with the quality of the photos I was producing, mainly due to the limitations of my lens, and secondly because the iMac computer I use for picture-editing developed a software fault that rendered it unusable. So the last few posts have been sent from a different computer until now, when I have found a working solution for using my iMac again.

So what about the photos? Well, last week I finally bit the bullet a bought a secondhand lens which nearly cost me both my kidneys.  It's a Nikon 300mm f2.8 AF-S VRII and all you need to know is that means it's a professional quality lens that's bloody expensive.

The reason I bought this lens is that, after fieldcraft and experience in getting close to birds, I believe that lens quality is the next most important thing for a bird photographer, more important than the camera body or any other piece of equipment. I wanted to take the lens out of the equation in sorting out why my photographs are not sharp enough for me.  I also need to be able to carry the lens about all day and so it mustn't be too big and heavy - the 300mm f2.8 fits the bill for this although I will need a 2x teleconverter to get some of the shots I'm looking for.

Here are some of my first attempts at Pennington Flash on a sunny April day, all shot at just 300mm with some cropping and slight sharpening, but no teleconverter as I haven't got one yet:

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Common Snipe

Common Snipe

Common Snipe

The birds did come surprisingly close on this trip today and so the 300mm was just about long enough to get decent photographs when cropped.  I'm now on the lookout for a secondhand Nikon TC-20e III teleconverter which will give me an easily portable 600mm lens for both handheld and tripod shots.  And before you warn me about this choice (as many have already), this lens is one of the few such lenses that works very well with a 2x teleconverter - in fact I believe it was designed with this lens in mind.

I think you can easily tell the difference in the quality of these photos and what I've put on my blog previously, so from a photographic point of view, this blog will be almost like starting again from scratch.  I can feel a renewed vigour for going out a taking bird photos and writing this blog, so come back soon.

1 comment:

  1. Bought this lens a month ago after using a Sigma 'Bigma' for two years. Remarkable piece of equipment which crops better @ 2.8 than the 500mm @ 5.6. Unfortunately my ego got the better of me and a week later got the 2x converter. Then decided my tripod was not up to scratch so got a manfrotto and now I can't wait to get out at weekends. Will let you know in the future when the divorce papers come through.
    John Brookes.


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