70-400G lens

Started Feb 3, 2013 | Discussions thread
rob_b
Contributing MemberPosts: 516Gear list
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70-400, a bit more practice, and recent experiences - feeling much happier
In reply to Ed at Ridersite, Apr 28, 2013

Hi All,

I want to thank you all for such helpful and constructive advice. A few things have happened in the meantime, all to the good.

First, a big shoutout for Les Pickstock who also has a 70-400. He and I met in a local park, and tried various shots using both lens. The subjects were not great, the lighting very flat and 'UK', but the conclusion was clear. If I shuffled the images, neither I nor my SO could tel the difference between the shots taken with either lens. Since the probability of two equally bad lens is so low (multiplication of two low probability events), I conclude that my 70-400 is fine, after two trips to Sony.

More significantly, those tests preceded a trip to UCLA (research collaboration), Huntington Beach (conference) and Encinitas (vacation). Lots of light for the vacation, and plenty of bird opportunities at San Elijo Lagoon and the beach, as well as San Diego Zoo and Botanical Gardens. This is coming from Encinitas.

I'm not going to post many images yet, because these are all barely tweaked jpegs from a RAW + JPEG capture (actually tweaked in Preview, I know, the shame). I need to get home to do the proper processing, but expect them to only be even better.

A few pointers based on the excellent advice I received:

Mostly shot in APS-C (since images mostly in centre of frame, smaller file size, with no other consequences). Thanks Michael!

More light. Emphasise shutter speed, even art the expense of aperture, and at a push ISO. I still find lower ISO has less noise.

Practice, practice, practice! Hand holding this lens and a A99 is no mean feat. I have a much stronger left arm now! I did not want to use a tripod, I find it a problem with active birds.

Fill the frame! Indeed, and I worked hard at this. Limitations are 'stay on the trails' and jittery birds (if my shooting scares a bird off, I consider that to be a fail on my part - I'm not there to disturb).

Accept a lot of failures. Indeed, I can do this, provided there are some winners in there too. And here's a few I consider to be winner (below).

Nearly all the time, the lens was fully extended to 400mm. Makes me wonder if I would have been better off buying a prime lens.

All of you who contributed reassured me that this lens needs practice, and I should put the timer in. During this weeks vacation, I have spent perhaps 3-4h a day practicing, and I am going home rested, much happier with the lens, and wanting to live in Cardiff-by-the-Sea! Having been born in the original Cardiff, it has a nice resonance as I head towards the big six-oh!.

honeycreeper, San Diego Zoo

Whimbrils Cardiff Beach

Brown pelicans, bit overprocessed, needs work

Avocets in three stages of flight

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