New toy for Christmas
I do enjoy photographing wildlife. What I'm not good at is getting close enough to make an animal the obvious subject of an image. I find myself having to crop extensively to get that "up close and personal" look I admire from people who do this for a living. So what does one do when one doesn't have a place to creep around in the woods or access to a blind in a place where wildlife lingers? You have to reach out to a subject wherever it is with enough magnification to make it the star of the composition.
To that end I've filled out my lens kit for the Nikon D800 with their 500mm f/5.6 lens. On the full format, 36 megapixel sensor (that gives me all the cropping space I need) this lens really excels at filling the frame. Why this one? Nikon removed some of the glass lens elements and replaced them with a single Fresnel element. Fewer glass-to-air interfaces means less distortion and better contrast, and the removal of multiple glass elements means the lens is significantly lighter than comparable 500mm lenses. So light that handholding is possible with a high enough shutter speed.
How good is it? Here are a couple of images, both made on cloudy days and handheld. I'm expecting with more light (and a faster shutter speed) the sharpness of these type images will improve.
The turkey almost walked into the lens' minimum focusing distance because when the flock is in my backyard and when I go outside they come walking toward me expecting birdseed. It's odd to have an entourage of birds this big but they don't seem to mind. This image is uncropped.
The sandhill crane was in a cornfield by the road in a small flock. I pulled over and made this image through the car window. Putting the glass down a bit gave me a nice support for the camera. This bird was probably 20 feet away at the time and I've cropped out all the other birds to result in this image, which is about 10% of the original. Staying in a car is the best way to photograph cranes in a field, otherwise you'll get lots of pictures of their back as they walk away from you.
My biggest challenge has always been birds in flight so I'm hoping to practice on the local Canada geese to be ready for the spring migration of all sorts of birds. Very sharp subjects in flight are images I really like and I'm hoping this lens will help overcome the disappointment I usually have for my pictures!
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