Thursday, May 21, 2015

Practicing my Telephoto Technique - Nikon 70-300mm AF-S VR and the Ducklings

I am anxiously awaiting delivery of a used Nikkor 200-400mm f4 zoom lens that a friend and I have decided to co-own. It's an expensive lens, so this made it possible for both of us to have access to it.
Most of my lenses, especially telephotos, are older technology. Starting with the Ai-P 500mm f4, which is my longest lens, it's manual focus. It's a true beauty, and makes wonderful photos, but clearly doesn't have the latest AF-S focusing. Then there's my 300mm f4 AF-I, which does have autofocus, but not the blazing fast AF-S.
In fact, the only long lens I have with AF-S is the 70-400mm f4.5-5.6 G VR zoom lens. So, I decided to take that lens out for a quick shoot before work yesterday, to practice my focusing technique. Based on the video by Steve Perry that I posted yesterday, I set up my D700 for back button focusing and gave it a try.
Not an action shot, but here's the best shot I made in that fifteen or twenty minutes of shooting yesterday.
Spring Ducklings, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G AF-S Lens
iso 800, f8, 1/500 sec
I wanted to test out the back button method, in which you leave your camera set to continuous AF, and use the button on the rear of the camera to decide when to freeze the focus, if at all. When photographing action (e.g. birds in flight), you just keep the button pressed, and the camera will focus through the entire shooting sequence. For static objects (e.g. these ducklings), you get the focus point you want, then release the rear button, locking the focus at that point. This worked very well for me here.
This 70-300mm lens is very good. It's not as sharp as I expect the 200-400mm to be, which should be obvious when you compare the specs and prices. But, I think it did a pretty good job for me in this case. And, it's very light and fast.
I can't wait to see what the 200-400 can do!