Saturday, September 14, 2013

I didn't need that kidney anyway....

Thanks to Q I have developed a desire to photograph birds. Combine that with my penchant for getting  the best breaching whale shots I can get while in Hawai'i and I decided I needed to make the leap into the "Big Glass" pool. It's all Q's fault! LOL

I didn't actually have to give up a kidney but after searching all summer long for the best deal possible it was a little painful to part with my hard earned cash. With that said, here is my new bird and whale rig.

"Say hello to my little friend"


This is the Nikon 600mm f4 AF-S ED-IF lens (the non-VR version, I did say I didn't  have to sell a kidney) The lens is connected to a Nikon D700 which is all securely attached to a Manfrotto 393 gimbal head and sitting  on an Induro CT-214 8X carbon fiber tripod. Because the lens is such a monster and the overall weight of the rig is around 25 pounds,  I had to step up to a stronger tripod and the gimbal head.  The lens with the two piece hood attached is eight and a half inches in diameter and twenty seven inches long. Add the camera to that  and you have just over two and half feet of camera and lens. There's no hand holding this thing, I can just barely carry it!

After playing with the lens for a few hours I have come to learn that the logistics of shooting with such a massive lens are a little different than anything else I have ever done. Because of the  weight and size of the rig you have to plan your shots a lot more and not move around too much. You also have to take into consideration the amount of magnification and small field of view  the lens has. Any, and I mean ANY movement at all when taking photos will show up in the shot. Being able to shoot at f4 and a really fast shutter speed comes in handy just so the shots aren't  blurry from vibrations or tiny movements, epecially when trying to track birds. You also need a Sherpa to get from the car to where you want to take photos!

I was wanting some really nice bird photos to show  with this post but the temps here shot back up to 100 last week so the birds didn't want to move around too much.  I had to agree with the birds, especially when trying to lug this behemoth of a lens around. I had to wait about a week for the temps to drop a little and Aaron and I went out to the nearby lake this morning looking for birds. We found pelicans! (and an eagle but we won't tell Q, shhhhh)


And just in case 600mm isn't a long enough reach I also acquired a Nikon 1.4x teleconverter which will get me out to 840mm at f5.6 with auto focus!  Even with the teleconverter the auto focus on this lens is fast, snappy and accurate.  Even though I haven't had a chance to take very many photos with the new rig I am extremely impressed with how this lens works and the photos it takes.  Now all I need is a whale to jump out of one of my ponds. Maybe I should be looking for birds?

All of the pelican photos were taken with the teleconverter on, shooting at 840mm handheld.  No, I'm just kidding about it being handheld. I tried shooting just with a monopod and I couldn't even keep the lens steady with it. I had to mount it on the tripod for any hopes of getting a good photo. I really need to go to the gym more often! These photos are straight from the camera with no editing except for cropping a couple of them and resizing them for the blog.


  1. armed and dangerous! i'd never manage without VR. may the force be with you!

  2. You certainly stepped up your long distance game with this lens. Bird and whale shooting just got interesting. Definitely setting up shots and patience will be the rule. Caution! Big Gun Zone! LOL

  3. Wait till you see this thing in person. You can describe it and give dimensions but until you're right there with it you just don't get the feel for really how monsterous it is. Even I'm amazed! LOL

  4. Wow!! You got yourself a cool point and SIT!! Going to have to renew that gym membership and pay that extra bag fee when you come to shoot the whales!! Can't wait to see what you capture.

  5. My gosh. What splendid photos! And I have to say that when I saw the thumbnail on the Blogger Read List and ready the caption, I thought, "Oh, no. There's been a bad bicycle accident!" I thought the red inside of the camera strap was a warp bicycle wheel. Thank goodness it turned I was completely wrong.

  6. Well that's it... My wife took one look at the lens Q made you buy and she said I can't hang out with Q any more. Ha ha!

    Very nice piece of glass and teleconverter combination you have there! I've seen these same lenses used to get nice close in surfing shots also. Your initial pictures came out beautifully!

    Hook that combo up with a nikon DX format body and you would have an effective 1260mm to work with!

  7. Aaron and I talked about putting the D300 on the lens just to see what it would do but we didn't. I will have to try that just to see what it looks like. Since the 1.4x teleconverter works so well I am thinking about getting a 1.7x teleconverter also just to see what the photos will look like.

  8. I envy you on that camera gear, but am also glad to see so many great images from you :) All the best luck with it!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  9. Those photos of the pelicans are very sharp. It does look like you are carrying a bazooka around with you though.

  10. Oh my, that's not a camera and lens....that's a CANNON. LOL. Sure does take great pics though. Congrats.


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