This was my second visit to Brazos Bend and this time I was there to do some bird photography. Bird photography is one of those areas where gear does matter – in particular you need the longest telephoto you can afford since birds tend to be far away and on the small side. For me, my longest telephoto lens is my Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D lens which is great for most things as it is a fast f/2.8 lens and very sharp; however, it’s not quite long enough for bird photography, especially on a full frame camera like the D600.
If I did bird photography exclusively, I would probably go for the new 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR (Sells for around $2600). It’s a consumer lens, but has very good reviews. If I were on a budget then I’d go with the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR which I actually used to own. In an ideal world, I’d go with the 200-400mm f/4 VR but that’s a $6000 lens so unless I win the lotto, or get hired by Nat Geo, then no.
My choice since I use the 80-200 far more than the above lenses was to try the Tamron SP 2x teleconverter. The SP designation is their pro quality stuff and from what I hear the Tamron and Kenko are rebranded and exactly the same (don’t quote me on that)…It’s not going to be as good as the lenses above for this particular purpose, but I found that if there is enough light, and I use a tripod and stabilization techniques, I can get some very sharp pictures.
Most of these were taken with that combination and cropped a little here or there. I thought about using the D90 and getting the 1.5x magnification but the D600 in crop mode gives me roughly the same resolution (it’d be 10 MP pictures vs. 12 on the D90). In that case, 2 measly megapixels wasn’t worth losing the dynamic range and high ISO capabilities of the D600. Since the 2x teleconverter changes my 80-200 f/2.8 lens into a 160-400mm f/5.6 lens, losing 2 full stops of light, I was shooting many pictures in higher ISOs like 800-1600 because I wanted to use a faster shutter speed to negate any camera shake (even with the tripod) and freeze motion of the moving subjects. Here are the results:
My favorite part is coming home and googling the names of the birds I photographed earlier. Learning something new every day 🙂