Sunday, 7 February 2016

Weather for ducks

Even ducks get sick of rain

Had my 1st opportunity yesterday to go out with my new toy, my 150-600 Tamron zoom.

Now I know this blog is about photography on a budget and such lenses are expensive, but I had my reasons for getting this lens.

Firstly I had a windfall that had to be used before it was frittered away with life essentials. Secondly this lens is fantastic value (so I told the wife anyway). To get this sort of reach, normally you are looking at 2 or 3 times the cost. Thirdly, you sort of know when you need a certain lens because you are constantly frustrated by the inability to do what you want.

In the last case, my longest lens was 300mm, which was just too short for decent wildlife shots.

On the downside, apart from the cost, is that for this price you are not going to get a really fast lens. Also this is quite a specialist piece. It is not a lens you would carry every day so limiting its use. Finally annoyingly it appears that Sony lens always cost 10/20% more than the equivalent Canon/Nikon lens from the same manufacturer. This is despite unlike the Canikon models it does not have the optical stabilisation(Sony A-Series have it built in ).

I've had the lens for about 3 weeks now, but my chances of trying it out have been limited by circumstance and weather. Taking pictures at birds in the garden through double glazing were never going to show the lens in its best light(sic). So the only thing I managed to take a photo off was my perennial target, the moon, Saying that, the results were quite impressive.

However yesterday I had a chance to go on a photography session at a local nature reserve at Attenborough so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try it out.

Of course I was hoping for good light. What we actually got was par for the course this winter which was torrential rain. So it wasn't exactly perfect conditions. However despite this the results  were really quite good.

The extra reach really helped to get photos I would never of managed before. The downside were that because this was not that fast and the light was awful, I was forced to push the ISO higher than I wanted so had more noise.

The other impressive thing is the speed of the zoom and focusing, plus how quiet it is which is essential for birding.

In terms of handling, I had taken a monopod, but in the end I found I could handhold it or rest it on the  hide wall quite well. The downside is that it is a big lump to carry around and because of the weather I was forced to have the camera under the coat most of the time which definitely was not comfortable and probably made me look a bit weird. Also this is not a camera to take photos of birds in flight easily.

I did buy a sling strap for it, but I have not built up enough courage to risk it with such an expensive bit of kit, but in the long term I will have to use it if I go out a lot with this lens

Anyway here are some of the results

A young Grebe from the hide.

A red crested pochard. This was a bit of a cheat, since this is obviously a escapee and relatively tame, but the long lens allowed me to get far greater detail

A tufted duck. Not rare but nice to get close in

Probably the best 'bird on a stick' image that I have ever taken. A still subject, plus the extra reach really helped. This was handheld, even so it is sharp. The bokeh is nice too, being blurred but not indistinct.

An Egyptian goose giving me the evil eye

A female mandarin duck

A long range shot of a Goldeeye. While no a keeper, no way would I have got anything close to this before

Similarly a pair of widgeon


For the money this lens is fantastic value. While it is not going to get you the same image quality as a fast prime, in good light it will deliver and at the same time give you the flexibility a zoom provides.

However this is not a lens you carry around all the time. It is bulky and large. A sling type strap is essential to carry comfortable and a rain cover is useful too.

So all in all i am very happy with the lens. All I need know is the opportunities to use it in good weather

Thanks to Iain McMillan for spending the morning with us and providing advice, feedback and humour on a pretty awful day weather wise

P.S if anyone finds a Lens case at Attenborough its mine!

No comments:

Post a Comment