Oh the excitement of having a new and beautiful piece of glass! I have so much to say, and so little to show for it, but I will show you what I can, and just give you some general first impressions of what is my best and already favourite lens.
Okay, so as soon as I got this thing, I attached it to my camera. Needless to say, the only time in the interem that it has NOT been attached to my camera, was when I removed it for a few seconds to attach the TC-14E II to it, making it a 420mm f/4 – and a gorgeous one at that.
So, what are the thoughts on the lens?
First off, this lens is HUGE. A lot larger than I had expected. It’s amazing really. I love the weight and the feel of it. It’s just the right size for handholding, though it can become an arm sore after a few hours. I can already see that a new support system and a wimberly sidekick are going to soon be on my shopping list. In the meantime however, I just enjoy the feel of it, so I’m happy handholding.
VR really works! Nikon know what they’re doing when it comes to stabilisation systems, and this is by far the most functional VR I have ever come across. It is not a small lens, and you can hear the motors kick in to stabilise the image, but I got no jutters or shakes while stabilising, and I could leave it on on the tripod without a problem, which was great. I am extremely impressed and pleased with the VR.
The autofocus on this lens is absolutely stellar. It works instantaneously, and only slightly slows when the 1.4x tele is on it. Wonderful.
AF memory set
One of the things Nikon loves putting on their longer lenses are the memory set buttons. It took me about five seconds to learn how to use them, and I am suitably impressed. They are responsive and intuitive, and although I don’t see myself needing them too much in wildlife photography, when I occasionally venture over into the lands of sports, I will certainly be putting these little buttons to good use.
Now, I know this is something that I really shouldn’t talk about because it’s not part of the lens, but I have to say, when it comes to bags for lenses, Nikon have hit the nail on the head here. The bag is large enough to fit lens+teleconverter+camera body+battery pack inside. The padding is great, and it carries beautifully. I am going to be using the bag a lot, I can already tell.
Well, I’m going to let you be the judge of that. Suffice to say, they are sharp sharp sharp. I really need to work on my long lens and tripod technique, but it will come with practice, and that is something that finally finishing highschool is going to give me a plethora of opportunity to pursue.
So how did I put this lens to the test? Well, my father, my gilfriend and I headed off to the Petit Camargue Alsaciene today (a nature reserve just across the French border). I was fully expecting the lens to be put primarily to shooting birds, but I found that under the time conditions that we were sticking to, and of course my passion and fascination for all things reptilian and amphibian, I spent nearly the entire time shooting frogs. Now is perhaps also a good time to mention that today was a day for two firsts for me. The first time I have ever seen a snake in my region, as it slithered away from us in the water, and also the first time I have seen a pheasant in the region, as my father and I were flying in for a touch-and-go at the airport.
Now, having said I spent the entire time shooting frogs, it’s not true. For the first time I managed to shoot some dragon and damsel flies, which was extremely exciting. Oh, and I did some “macro” work, working with the isolation of the f/4 to see how well the lens pulled off flowers and things. Here are a few shots from the Petit Camargue:
A very impressive quasi-macro performance. I’m eager to test this lens with kenko-tubes.
The light was very hard, making the shadows in these shots accentuated, but it was great too because it gives extremely fast shutter speeds, which really helps when shooting the damsels and dragons.
There was also an incessive racket from frogs, giving great opportunities to shoot some action shots:
I mention that this is cropped becasue I have forgotten in the past to mention that I do not crop any of the pictures shown here unless I say so. I like getting the picture right from the start. I guess it’s a blessing and a curse. Also, my post process relies on the pictures having the right dimensions… Anyways, more frogs for you:
After shooting for what must have been an hour or so, we headed off to take the woman home, and then to the aerodrome to do a bit of flying, and then home.
On the way home, we passed two storks in a field. We turned around and I got a few shots. Beautiful birds, both tagged.
And that is essentially that. I am in love with this lens already, and tomorrow I hope to be able to go to the zoo and do some more shooting of a few more exciting animals. I’ll blog again if I find anything particularly interesting or exciting. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pictures, and if you have any advice or requests or critiques or anything to say really, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me (which is easily done by heading over to the Contact tab above).