NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E Sample Shots – Field Test

I thought I would post this short and sweet article with my experiences so far with the new Nikon 800mm f5.6 Lens.

This lens is just an engineering marvel, but then that is not the purpose of this short article. I mainly just wanted to share my experience with it so far and a few sample photos taken with it in the field. I have actually hand held this lens in a couple instances where the action happened in such a manner there was no time to tripod it or the bird was moving way to erratically.

First, here is a photo of the 800mm attached to the Nikon D4, all dressed up and ready to go. I have many Lens Coat products and I must say they have done a marvelous job on the lens coat for the 800mm, almost every inch of this delicate baby is totally covered and protected, more so than the lens coat for my 600mm.

The Arca handle is a nice touch when dragging this thing around in the field. For those that are interested in side stories, I named the lens Conan which is a play on words as its the biggest lens Nikon has, but yet in Irish it means ‘little wolf’ or ‘little hound’, both of which I find appropriate.

Nikon 800mm on D4

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Using Nikon DX Lenses on FX Cameras

Because the glass elements in a camera lens are round, lenses project a circular image onto a camera’s sensor plane. This projected image circle must be large enough to cover the rectangular sensor, like so:

FX Image Circle

Lenses designed for Nikon DX generally project a smaller image circle because they only need to cover the smaller DX sensor. This enables a DX lens to be smaller and lighter, but also means that these lenses are not suitable, by design, for FX cameras. For the Canon ecosystem this law is absolute, as EF-S lenses, designed for a smaller APS-C size sensor, cannot be mounted on full frame EF bodies.

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Raptor Photography Tips Part Two

I got a lot of feedback and questions from my last two posts and it seems like there is some interest in my articles, so I am yet again inspired to give this writing thing another shot. I just want to re-iterate that what I suggest or talk about here is what I do and what works for me – you will have to find your own way to your photography success.

1) Focus Point

I am going to start with focus point and where it should be, and that would be on the eye of the subject. There are many things that can be forgiven in photography, but a blurry eye is not one of them. All the power is in the eyes and your own eye will always be drawn there without you thinking about it. I am shooting with a Nikon D4 so this is Nikon terminology, I use Single Point AF Mode, because I am a control freak and don’t let the camera make the decisions for me. There is Dynamic Area AF Mode you might want to consider trying and see if it works for you, but don’t try it on a once-in-a-lifetime shot.

The insert in this photo will show you what I mean about ideal focus point location. The longer the focal length of your lens is and the shorter the distance to the subject, it becomes that much more important to precisely place your focus point on the eye. In a multiple subject shot, your focal point should be on the animal that is the closest to you.

Bald Eagle Catching Fish

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Nikon 1 V2 at the Auto Show

Having shot well over 10,000 frames since I got my Nikon 1 V2 in late August 2013, I thought it would be interesting to test this little mirror-less camera and two of its most popular kit lenses under some very difficult shooting conditions. So, I headed off to the International Auto Show in Toronto Canada with my Nikon 1 V2 and a couple of kit zoom lenses to see how this CX gear would perform. What makes an event like this challenging is the wide variance in lighting conditions. At times you’re shooting feature cars with numerous flood lights beaming down on them and lens flares can be a challenge. Other subjects can be in quite poor light, requiring either shooting at high ISOs, fast apertures, or slow shutter speeds.

Nikon 1 V2 with Lenses

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Nikon Df Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Nikon Df, a retro-style digital SLR camera that was announced in November of 2013. The Df is a very controversial release, I would say perhaps the most controversial one in Nikon’s DSLR history. After Nikon teased the public with its short videos that slowly revealed parts of the camera, many were excited to see something completely different than a traditional DSLR. Videos titled “it is in my hands again” and “no clutter, no distractions”, with constant repetition of “Pure Photography”, hinted at a camera that combines old style Nikon film cameras with a modern digital sensor. Nikon “Df”, a “Digital Fusion” of retro style and modern technology, became an instant hit on the Internet and one of the hottest topics of discussion and speculation on photography sites and forums. As we got closer and closer to the release date, enthusiasts from all over the world started speculating on the features of the yet to be released Nikon Df and pointed at possibilities of seeing a mirrorless camera, electronic viewfinder and a myriad of other technologies we now come to expect from modern mirrorless cameras. Film shooters had their own list of must-have features, including a large bright viewfinder with a split focusing screen for easy focusing with old manual focus lenses. In a very short period of time, the Nikon Df, a fusion of technologies, became an over-hyped camera with very high expectations…

Nikon Df

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New Nikon Lens Rebates – Up to $400 Off

You are going to like this. Each time Nikon did a rebates program for its lenses, one had to buy a DSLR body first to take advantage of the savings. It has really been a while, but not this time. The savings range from a welcome $20 for the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens all the way to frankly impressive $400 for the likes of AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR. More than that, there are a total of 15 lenses that are part of the rebates program. The offer expires on the 1st of March.

Told you you’d like this!

Nikon Lens Rebates

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Equipment for Sale

It has been a while since I have cleared out my stack of camera gear. After going through everything last week, I decided to put a few items that I no longer need on sale. Although I initially thought about keeping most of it, I just hate to see lenses and cameras gathering dust for too long – I am sure someone else could find better use for it. Most of the money will be used for upgrades and other equipment for the business. If you are interested in multiple items, feel free to make me an offer via the contact form. I am the first and only owner of all below items and I have all the original manuals, boxes, soft cases, warranty cards, etc. A few extras are included, see more below.

Shipping: while I can ship internationally, my preference is to sell to US customers, since it is less risky. Credit card / PayPal fees are included, but shipping and insurance are not. Colorado residents are welcome to contact me for a face to face sale. All sales are final and are on first come first serve basis.

1) Nikon D3s (SOLD)

The Nikon D3s has been my wildlife workhorse and Lola’s favorite wedding camera for the past couple of years. Its ISO performance is amazing – as good as on the D4 (see this ISO comparison) and the shutter speed fires like a machine gun at 9 fps. Autofocus is top notch and the build quality is Nikon’s best. But I have not been using it as much lately and Lola already chose the Nikon Df as her wedding/portrait camera. That’s why I want to sell it. See my detailed Nikon D3s Review for more information.

Nikon D3s Front

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Raptor Photography Tips

I recently wrote an article on hand-holding large and heavy lenses, which attracted quite a bit of attention and some nice comments and questions from PL readers. I am not really a writer, but a few people asked me about my technique for getting those shots. Let me start by saying that I am not an expert and there are many ways to skin a cat. So this is the way I get my shots and you will have to find your own way to achieving what you want. Let’s start with a “money shot”: what I would say is the shot of the day, the shot that made it all worth it.

Snowy Owl Launching from Rock

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Nikon Df – a Hipster’s Review from Fstoppers

Our friends over at Fstoppers.com posted this funny review of the Nikon Df yesterday. Regardless of which side of the Df debate you’re on, you will find this video entertaining. While we don’t typically re-post other people’s work here at PL, we enjoyed this one so much that we thought we’d share it with our readers:

Let us know what you think!

Hand-holding Large Lenses vs Using a Gimbal Head

I recently bought the Nikon 800mm f/5.6E VR (see Nasim’s review) and took it out for my first field test. It turned out to be extremely poor light and rough snowy weather, but sometimes that’s when you get some great photos. I have some samples to show here and even though they are not tack sharp because the conditions didn’t really allow that, they are moody and show nature in its true beauty. I also wanted to talk about gimbals on tripods versus hand-holding on large lenses to get flying or action shots. I hear so many times you cannot hand-hold that 600mm, but I do and some of my best shots are because I hand-held.

Since the snowy owls have moved to the Seacoast of New Hampshire and Massachusetts because of a shortage of food on the tundra, we have been travelling down to photograph them and here are some sample images taken with the new Nikon 800mm f/5.6E VR lens. This first photo is taken on a tripod with the Wimberley II gimbal, there was no real panning involved and the conditions for photography were pretty terrible. The light was low, the snow was in the way but I would try anyways because the Nikon D4 has shown me it can handle tough situations. It was captured at ISO 2000 @ f/5.6, resulting in 1/1000th second speed. I needed at least a thousandth of a second to stop motion as I was hoping for a landing pose:

Snowy Owl with Rodent Landing Shot

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