600mm is a long lens, once the preserve of super-telephotos that cost as much as a small car, the market sector for big zooms is filling up fast. The Tamron 150-600mm is joined by 2 different versions of the Sigma 150-600mm and the just released Nikon 200-500mm.
Having had a couple of outings with the Tamron, shooting it back to back with the Nikon 80-400mm AF-S I also own, I’d like to give my very quick initial impressions.
At the moment, I cannot really find anything too bad to say about it, and I have a sneaky feeling that it will replace the 80-400mm as my go-to long lens. I have a forthcoming trip to Sri Lanka, where amongst other things I will be looking for the elusive Leopard, and giving this lens a workout on both the wildlife, as well as the landscapes. I will then decide which lens is coming to South Africa for a month.
I got mine here – Tamron 150-600mm on Amazon
OK, let’s get this out of the way – I shoot Nikon, and I have very little (almost zero) knowledge of the Canon lens line up, and even less for other manufacturers, so my apologies to any non-Nikon shooters reading this, as it may well have zero relevance to you!
When I first started with a DSLR, it came with a kit lens. Being a D70, this kit lens was the Nikon 18-70mm.
When I upgraded to the D90 I had a 10-24mm, 50mm f/1.8 and the 70-300mm VR, all Nikon glass.
I decided then that I would stick with just Nikon (Well, Nikkor to be precise) glass for my Nikon camera – better quality, better resale value, guaranteed compatability etc.
This however didn’t last long, as a friend was selling a Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.0 zoom, which I bought. I found it a great lens, very sharp and great in low light, with a great range for a travel lens. And it was cheap, oh so cheap! £120 used, versus around £1000 for the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8.
This was followed by a Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom, which became my go-to wide angle lens for underwater photography. Nobody else at the time made a fisheye zoom.
Recently, I have bought the Tamron 150-600mm, with a view to replacing my Nikon 80-400mm (the new version). Nikon does not offer a zoom that gets out to 600mm, it’s less than half the price of the Nikon 80-400mm, and first impressions are that the lens is as sharp at 550mm as the Nikon is at 400mm.
As with everything in life, there are pros and cons with using an off brand lens, but for someone like myself who doesn’t earn all of their money from photography, good value is also important, and I feel that if you can look past their shortcomings, then third part lenses are a great option.
At the end of the day, for me, as long as I can get a nice sharp image then more pounds in my pocket means more trips to nice places. One of the below images was shot on a £2000 lens, the other on one that was £750 – can you really tell which was which?
PS – the reason for 2 bird photos? They usually need long focal lengths, and feather detail shows up a lack of sharpness quite well.
You can buy either of these lenses at Amazon, using the below links;
Dust spots are an unfortunate fact of life when shooting with a DSLR. Thankfully, Lightroom has tools that help to remove ‘dust bunnies’ from your images. However, dust is not the only enemy, especially for underwater photographers. We also have to contend with backscatter.
In the (rather ordinary) image of a nudibranch above, we can clearly see lots of spots and speckles. These spots are not dust spots, they are backscatter – the light from my strobes hitting some of the tiny particles suspended in the water, reflecting the light back into the camera
Hopefully, if you use Lightroom (and you really should be as it is a great all-in-one image editing and management package) then you already know about the spot healing brush (Shortcut Q)? As the name suggests, this is the tool to use if you are trying to clone out or heal parts of an image, maybe due to dust spots, backscatter, or even a piece of rubbish spoiling a pristine beach (although it would be better to actually remove the offending item before taking the photo)
Whilst working on this spotty image I remembered an additional option that is often overlooked when using the healing brush. Visualise spots (Shortcut A, when the clone brush is activated – or use the tickbox that is highlighted in red in the above image) presents a very basic black and white image, where dust spots show up as white specks on a black background, making them glaringly obvious.
As can be seen in the image above, finding the blemishes is much easier when the image is in such a contrasty black and white format.
The strength of this negative style image can be adjusted simply by moving the slider, highlighted in red in the above image. This helps to find the smaller specks that were not so obvious with a lower setting. It is down to you as to how far you go with spot removal.
I hope this post helps you with the thankless task that is dust removal.
You can buy (for instant download) Lightroom 6 from Amazon here.
Today, Wednesday 12th August, is World Elephant Day, and what better excuse to share a few images of these remarkable creatures?
In 2008 I spent 3 days working alongside retired working elephants with Elephantstay at the Royal Elephant Kraal & Village in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
This non-profit organisation is dedicated to conserving elephants, many of whom now find themselves unable to work due to the ban on logging. Many of these animals have worked for 20 or more years, now, unable to earn their keep, their retirement is financed through people staying in the village and having the opportunity to feed and look after these wonderful animals.
With over 90 elephants, ranging in age from just a few months old to over 80, it is a busy place.
I have also been fortunate enough to visit Southern Africa several times on safari, where I have experienced many encounters with elephants, ranging from single bulls through to herds of over 50 animals.
Seeing these stunning creatures in their natural habitat is unforgettable, and it saddens me that in this day and age such a beautiful creature is still so affected by poaching.
Today, I went up to London, and as I knew I would be near Euston, I had a look on Calumets website to see if anything took my fancy.
I saw on their site a used Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC for the lovely price of £215, instead of the £360 it usually retails for, so decided to pop in and have a look.
Attentive staff who were happy to talk cameras and gave me plenty of time to test the lens made me feel comfortable, they were providing 12 months warranty even though it was used (but mint), so I bought it. I had a pleasant surprise when it rang through at £199.
Calumet is a store I have used several times in the past, both online and in-store, and they have always been great.
I did enquire whilst there into price and availability of a Sigma 105mm macro for the other half’s camera (she finds the 180 macro too heavy) which was “out of stock, but it’s £379 and we can get it by Tuesday if you want one”. I declined, as it’s not urgent, but there was never any pressure or hard sell.
Walking down Tottenham Court Road, I noticed a Sigma ‘Pro dealer’, so popped in to see them and enquire about said macro lens.
The conversation lasted under 2 minutes;
“Hi there, do you have the 105 macro OS HSM in a Nikon fit?”
“Yes, we stock it, but it’s a lot more than the £369 everyone else is claiming they can sell it for as none of them have stock”
“So, what price are you doing it at?”
“£650 RRP and we have stock”
“OK, thanks, bye”
No preamble from him, straight in with the price, and lying about availability so I would think the only place to get it was there.
A quick check when I get home shows that several stores I have used in the past (all have both online and ‘real’ stores) have stock, and the price is £379.
“The internet is killing off retail shops” according to some sources. Well, it’s high time the rubbish shops with surly staff did close down.
Why should I, the paying customer, pay over and above for poor service and a rubbish attitude, when I can go online, get what I want at a good price, and have it delivered to my desk at work, with easy returns and no hassle?
I love good camera shops, and have visited some great ones (Grays of Westminster is a simply magical place for a Nikon shooter), but the attitude from the guy at the “photographic shop that speaks sense” stank, and is part of the reason that I rarely buy retail, preferring to shop online.