Same park, new toy

For those not into to photography, join me a bit further down - we'll get to the birds shortly.

I got my new toy on Thursday, so as you might expect, we had freezing fog all day on Friday and rain yesterday! Today, I actually got out in the local park to test it. The back story is that I started with a zoom telephoto. Then, I eventually got an f2.8 prime lens whose image quality is just on another level. However, I kept the zoom as it was lighter and easier to take around when birding wasn't the prime motive for being out, but I wanted something just in case ... but you sort of get spoiled by having the big prime lens! So, I finally decided to get rid of the zoom and got a tiny f4 prime instead. There's no way I will getting rid of the big one, but this is the new walkabout system.


You can see a 1.4x TC on there, which means it is a 420mm f5.6 at less than 2kg! Now, that should be handy when yomping over the moors or just wandering around the park!

Luckily, the first thing I saw was a pair of Stonechats. So just to test the lens, this is the uncropped shot of a fairly distant male.

And just to see what it's like, this has been cropped from that.

It's just one test, but that's pretty much the improvement I was looking for ... and lighter and easier on the hip too!

Non-photographers can join in again! Stonechats are always a photographer's friend because they will pose for you and in this case, the female was more obliging than the male.

They say that dragonflies are the most efficient hunters, with an 80+% hunt success. I think this Little Grebe was giving them a run for their money. It took a small fish almost every dive while I was watching. Of course, when it came over to say hello, it was already full so I didn't get a shot with fish!

I haven't seen a Willow Tit for months and not in this location before, but I found a couple today, which is good news. I didn't get to photograph them though. This is apparently Mistle Thrush field. A pair are nearly always in residence at the moment.

The stars of this park, for me, are the Kestrels though. Almost guaranteed to see them and quite often with good views. So, I wasn't too surprised to find Madam watching me.

Luckily, she decided I wasn't worth bothering about and gave me a lovely view of her technique

Before anyone asks, she is spoken for. I found her partner just around the corner, although he was a bit more circumspect and maintained his distance.

I think they must nest on the neighbouring modern warehouse estate but anyway, long may they reign over this park because I love watching them.

A good walk and I have to say my first impressions of the new toy are excellent. Excellent image quality for such a small, lightweight thing. I'll try it with the 1.7x TC next to give a 510mm f6.7. The 2x TC may be a step too far but I will try it sometime (luckily I have the full series of teleconverters anyway).


Nige   Flickr

  • Beautiful photos Nige and love the lighting on the Stonechats; your new lens is giving wonderful results with the added bonus of having lug less lens weight around. The Kestrels are really lovely and show their wing/tail feathers off well whilst in flight or hovering. The L.Grebe looks quite puffed up and about to burp LOL


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • That looks like a very good new toy, love the water droplet detail on the LG

    Cin J

  • oooh boys and their toys! You lost me after "telephoto" lol
    Its certainly doing a fab job Nige..super sharp pics...Kessie shots are what I dream of taking one day! Little grebe pic complete with water droplets who is showing off lol

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • Some fantastic pictures in there. I've just started Birding and learning the different species.
  • You've excelled yourself again Nige, lovely shots. Out of interest, where do you buy from?
  • It's good to see new toys getting an outing, even if the weather gods aren't always on the photographer's side :-) Looks like that will be a great walkabout combo


    Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index

  • Hi Nigel, You have invested well with your new prime lens producing lovely sharp images, Great to see the Stonechats and Kestrel.
  • Thanks all.
    I'm certainly pleased with the results of the new toy so far. In theory, it has less reach than the max 500mm of the old zoom, but the ability to crop better more than makes up for that and I've yet to test it with the bigger teleconverters. Given that all my usual reserves are off limits, I think this set up will probably get the most use in the near future!
    PB: There's no really local shop so I'm not particularly loyal and often go for the cheapest on the day of the big names. I also have a lot of second hand stuff so I've used a fair number of suppliers, including Wex, MPB, LCE and Camera Jungle.


    Nige   Flickr

  • Lovely Nige, the Kesterel ones are especially lovely, glad you like the new toy, it certainly takes good pictures and of course the man behind it!

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • It looks as if you have chosen well, fabulous pictures Nigel, and light gear to carry around, sounds a good combo to me. The Stonechat and the Kestrel are superb as has been said, can't wait for the dragons later in the year.

    Lot to learn