Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Toys, New Toys! The Viceroy

I’ve been a little frustrated with the performance of my 70-300mm lens over the last few years. It does a good job, but I tend to push the envelope with my gear. I’ve made excuses to myself for some less than stellar results from time to time, but it had come to a head in my universe. I went through warbler migration wishing that I had some better glass.

It has been an long time observation that when I’ve got a zoom and I see a critter, I slam it to the longest focal length. And such it was with my 70-300mm. Zooms are fun, they are great, I love them…but the tradeoff is a reduction in image quality.

Enough is enough. I bit the bullet and tried “the experiment”. I picked up a prime 300mm lens. Would it make a difference? Last Saturday, I went out to give it a test run. Below are pictures that I normally wouldn’t bother taking. The Viceroy and Common Yellowthroat pictures not only push the envelop of the lens, they really ask too much.

The first field tests:

I saw what I thought was a Monarch way over head and thought that this would be tough for any lens. How would the lens do? Here is the first shot, which is full frame, un-cropped so that we have a reference.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Here is a second shot taken with the same conditions. First thing that I notice is that this “Monarch” looks a little odd. When I got back home, I found out that it is a Viceroy. I’ve been looking for one of these for a long time.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

These two shots are all the same distance, straight overhead, hand held and highly cropped. Not too shabby!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

In another “test shot”, here is one of my nemeses, the Common Yellowthroat. Look how tiny he is in the frame.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

The same photo, cropped down.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Okay, I’d only crop this tightly in “shoot first and ask questions later” situation. ISO250 F/5.6.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

How is it with bugs under normal shooting conditions? Here is a Pearl Crescent in the grass at about 6 feet.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Another reason I got this lens is to get higher quality Dragon images. Here is a Stream Cruiser shot from about 10 feet…

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

…and cropped for a nice portrait.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Now a ridiculous tight crop and you can see pollen on the dragon and on the grass!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Pushing the envelope, I think I’m limited by the camera’s sensor at this point. The sensitivity was set at ISO400. (400? What was I thinking?) Aperture was set to F/8.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

I think that this lens and I will get a long. I notice that in some situations it does over expose by 1/3 of a stop, but since I’m shooting raw it’s an easy correction. This lens does not have a Vibration Reduction feature, but I’m having good luck hand holding it when the light is strong (it’s much heavier than the 70-300). When the subject cooperates as this Stream Cruiser did, and I have time to use the tripod, OMG!


Roy said...

Case proven really Steve, you can't beat a prime.
I guess the next move will be a 1.4 or 1.7 converter.?

I find with the 70-300 that setting it on f8 most of the time is about the best I can achieve with it.

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Interesting Steve, now you have me thinking, which I hope will not prove costly - $$$. When I use my VR70-300mm, 90% of the time I have the monopod or tripod attached. Are your less than desirable photos with the 70-300 hand held or with some support? I agree that prime lenses are sharper but I was under the impression the quality of zooms today, especially a Nikon are up to par with a prime. Even so, extended to the max at 300mm is less than ideal than the other numbers in the zoom's range. I would like to see comparison photos of the zoom at 300 and the prime 300. Then again, maybe I would not. Good post.

Frank said...

Interesting to see the results Steve as I have been having similar thoughts about my 70-300 over recent months. I'll probably have to bite the bullet ... sonner than later.

Steve Borichevsky said...

All good comments. The Pearl Crescent and the Common Yellow Throat shots were hand held. The Stream Cruiser was on a tripod. As mentioned, the Viceroy was hand held.

With my 70-300, my favorite f/stop is f/8. At 300mm, the max aperture is f5.6. The 300mm has a maximum aperture of f4.0.

Sylvia K said...

Case proven indeed, Steve! These are awesome captures! I love the butterflies and the those happy, singing birds! Those gorgeous, clear blue skies make the perfect back drop! Terrific! Enjoy your weekend!


Arija said...

Absolutely, what a difference a lens makes. Love the intently singing bird.

Black Jack's Carol said...

I'm not a camera or lens expert but shoot a lot, handheld, with my 150-500 lens (Sigma). It and the Nikon 18-105 are my two most used lenses. (My 70-300 Nikon sits it out most days.)

I found your post fascinating and will be back. I was really, really impressed with the detail after the crops on the dragonfly. Happy shooting :)

Janet said...

OMG I gotta get me one of those lenses!! I have been looking at getting a I must rethink after seeing these spectacular images!! Bravo!

chubskulit said...

Captured so beautifully!

My Sky Shot, have a great weekend.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Excellent post. Always helpful to read these comparisons by someone knowledgeable. I've spent too much money on lenses recently, so nothing new on my horizon, and pretty happy with what I have.

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