Nikon 400mm f/2.8E VR – Initial Impressions

Windblown Male Lion

We have just returned from 13 days in the Botswana bush with our good friend Moses Ntema, owner of Unlimited Tours and Safaris operating out of Maun, Botswana. This mobile tented safari was designed to take advantage of the late dry season predator/prey action in three diverse areas of Botswana: The Savuti Marsh in the Mabebe Depression (Chobe NP), the Khwai riverine ecosystem and the rich flood plains from The Blackpools to Third Bridge in the Moremi Game Reserve (including the Bodumatau area). This was our third trip with Moses and Unlimited Safaris having previously visited The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and Duba Plains in addition to other locations in Tanzania and the Okavango Delta.

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Nikon D750 for Wildlife and Landscape Photography

Verm-white-pyramid-San-Juans-1663

Just when my wallet was getting over the hangover from buying a D810, along comes the Nikon D750, a 24mp full frame DSLR with an improved AF-system and 30 percent faster burst rate than the D810. Both are great attributes for the wildlife shooter. Moreover, the D750 sports a new 24mp sensor that’s touted as even better than that in the D600 and D610. I always liked the files my D600 cranked out – could the D750 files look just as yummy and have even less noise? I told myself not to touch the D750, that nothing good could from having a fling while still on my D810 honeymoon, but the D750 was so light and sleek and I was oh so weak…

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For Love Of The Moose

Too Close For Moose Comfort

In the popular movie, “For Love Of The Game,” starring Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston, an aging major league baseball pitcher makes the gut-wrenching decision to retire from the game of baseball. The title of the movie reflects the pitcher’s response to the club owner regarding his decision. He walks away because he cares too much about the game to stay on beyond his time. A recent event in the Grand Teton National Park, the area where my wife, Tanya, and I recently vacationed, reminded me of the sentiment behind this movie title.

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Nikon 200-400mm With and Without Filters

Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G VR II

The Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G VR is a very versatile and sharp lens and those that own it or previously used it know that is a great choice for close action photography, such as photographing bears in Alaska. I recently saw a comment by a photographer, who claimed that the lens gets even sharper if its front protective filter is removed. Both the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G VR and its newer VR II version have a removable front protective element, as well as a 52mm drop-in filter that most other super telephoto lenses have. While I was testing my 200-400mm f/4G VR in my Imatest lab, I decided to compare the performance of the lens with and without the front protective and the 52mm drop-in filter to see if the above claims were true or not. It turned out to be an interesting study. I apologize for the geeky nature of this article!

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Canon Announces Three New Lenses

Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM

In addition to the 7D Mark II, Canon also announced three new lenses this week at Photokina: EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM, EF 24–105mm f/3.5–5.6 IS STM and EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM. The first two are designed to work on both full-frame and APS-C cameras, while the 24mm f/2.8 is designed to be only used on cropped sensor cameras. The EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM is an update to the first model of the lens that was produced back in 2000, and this time Canon put a lot of new technology into the lens and has updated the lens design. The letters “DO” stand for “Diffractive Optics“, which not only reduce chromatic aberrations thanks to their different light dispersion path, but also allows for much smaller lens design. As a result, the EF 400mm f/4 is significantly smaller and lighter than the regular 400mm f/2.8L lens. In addition to the above benefits, the 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM now has better coatings to reduce ghosting and to improve color balance. Just like the professional “L” lenses, the lens has both dust and water-resistant construction and a 3 mode Image Stabilization system that offers up to four stops of vibration compensation. At $6,899 it is not a cheap lens by any means, but at the size a little bigger than a 70-200mm lens, it is surely an attractive choice for those that want to be able to hand-hold a 400mm lens.

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Two Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lenses Announced

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 OS DG HSM C Lens

Tamron’s new 150-600mm lens created quite a lot of stir. Let’s be honest, it is a cracking lens for its class, and even more so for its price. We covered it in detail in our review. We then covered it again, and again. And… yes, again. And each time, it earned a healthy amount of praise. But someone at Sigma obviously had the same idea, because today they announced not one, but two different 150-600mm lenses. I have a slight feeling they want some of that love their main third party competitor has been receiving lately.

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Photographing Aircraft in Flight with the Tamron 150-600mm Lens

Photographing aircraft with Tamron 150-600mm (2)

On Labour Day weekend, I had the opportunity to go to the International Air Show at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto and photograph various aircraft in flight. I arranged for use of a new Tamron 150-600mm VC lens (see our detailed review) and used it with my Nikon D800. This article provides some thoughts on how that combination performed, as well as sharing some of the techniques I used to capture the images in this article.

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How I Stepped in Front of the Line to Get my Tamron 150-600mm

Lovebird Hill Garden

My post about my one night stand with the Tamron 150-600mm generated a lot of comments. A lot of people bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t get one because it was backordered at B&H, Adorama and the like. In 10 days, I’m departing on an exciting 18-day raft trip down the Grand Canyon and didn’t want to lug my expensive 500mm down the river in the raft. Nevertheless, I really wanted to shoot the wildlife down there and felt the more compact Tamron would be ideal. So yesterday, while out shooting ospreys, I ordered one and will have it in a couple days.

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My One Night Stand with the Tamron 150-600mm

Squirrel Jumping

Maybe my self-esteem was dipping that day or maybe I was just feeling like seeing how the little people lived. Whatever the reason I decided I needed to humiliate myself a bit so I decided to slap a third party lens on my Ferrari, er, I mean Nikon D4s. The choice – the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD. For the last 30 years I’d never shot anything but Nikon glass – no cheap third party lens would dirty up my cameras.

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Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Review

Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD

This is a detailed review of the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, an ultra-telephoto zoom lens that was announced in November of 2013 for enthusiasts and professionals that are looking for a high quality, versatile zoom lens for a variety of needs, including wildlife photography. Although many DSLR lens manufacturers have been making telephoto zoom lenses that cover long ranges, whether looking at Sigma’s 50-500mm / 150-500mm lenses, Canon’s 100-400mm or Nikon’s 80-400mm, none of them can reach the focal length of 600mm natively without teleconverters. And as we have discovered in our Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR review, attaching teleconverters on slower zoom lenses is generally not a good idea, since there is a bit too much of sharpness loss / image degradation, or even potential loss of autofocus capability. Thus, the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 is a rather unique lens in this group, which is why our team at Photography Life has been anxious to get a hold of the lens for a while now.

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