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.
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.
These two shots are all the same distance, straight overhead, hand held and highly cropped. Not too shabby!
In another “test shot”, here is one of my nemeses, the Common Yellowthroat. Look how tiny he is in the frame.
The same photo, cropped down.
Okay, I’d only crop this tightly in “shoot first and ask questions later” situation. ISO250 F/5.6.
How is it with bugs under normal shooting conditions? Here is a Pearl Crescent in the grass at about 6 feet.
Another reason I got this lens is to get higher quality Dragon images. Here is a Stream Cruiser shot from about 10 feet…
…and cropped for a nice portrait.
Now a ridiculous tight crop and you can see pollen on the dragon and on the grass!
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.
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!