Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Big Dog Gets A Big Brother

Image courtesy of NK Specialist
Say hello to my new leetle fren. Man, it's hard to peck away at the keyboard as I look at the image above and drool. It's my new/used Nikon 600mm f4 AF-S lens, which should be all boxed up and on its way to either FedEx or UPS this morning for expedited delivery from Cambridge MA. The much awaited delivery should be Friday, just in time to give the Bigger Dog a good workout this weekend.

Nikon 600mm f4 with lens hoods. Photo courtesy of Mark Jayne
For many years, my trusty 400mm f2.8 AF-I (below) has been the Big Dog in my arsenal of lenses, faithfully producing images for me at football, baseball, golf, tennis and other sporting events. It has logged in many miles in the air and on the ground in a myriad of luggage compartments and overhead bins. It has photographed bears, wolves and bald eagles at Yosemite; Shuttle/Atlas launches at Cape Kennedy; surfers on the North Shore; and kayakers on the Occoee. But the time has come for it to pass the torch of Big Dog to its new/used soon-to-be big brother.

I've had to console the 400mm since pulling the trigger on the 600mm. I made sure it knows that it will still get plenty of use as it has one thing that the 600mm doesn't - it's faster (f2.8 versus f4). Any time light is a factor, the 400mm will be on the monopod in lieu of the 600mm,  as in e.g. night football games. Going from f4 to f2.8 means twice as much light is getting through the lens and that translates to not having to push the ISO as much in order to get the needed shutter speeds. So, the 400mm will still get plenty of opportunities to shine. But now that I'm almost entirely converted to full frame camera bodies, a longer lens was a lens long overdue in my rollaboard.

Before the full frame days, any lens I threw on a camera body had an effective focal length of 1.5 times the stated focal length due to the smaller sensor size in the camera bodies. The beauty of dx-sensored camera bodies was what amounted to a free 1.5X teleconverter without any of the negatives inherent to TC's -  the slight loss of sharpness and the slowing of the speed of the lens (i.e., when using my 1.4X TC, the lens goes from f2.8 to f4. But dx-sensored bodies have a drawback - the smaller sensor means all those megapixels are being crammed into a smaller area than is available on an fx-sensored body. That equals greater noise levels when the ISO is pushed.

Now that my primary camera bodies are full frame (or fx-sensored), I get considerably less noise in images (and thus better quality) when I push the ISO to 1600 and often 3200. The tradeoff was losing the 1.5X focal length multiplier which made my 400mm a 600mm (1.5 X 400 = 600) at f2.8. So when I went to full frame, I couldn't reach down the field as far as I could with the dx-sensored bodies. Sure, I could simply throw the 1.4X TC on the 400mm, making it a 600mm f4 combo, and that's what I've been doing to compensate. But the TC, even the priciest Nikon TC, causes an ever so slight loss of sharpness and I am anal enough to see the difference in images.


Part of the Olivella Long Lens family, the Nikon 300mm f2.8 (L) and Nikon 200-400mm f4 (R) 

No more. On Friday, the 600mm arrives to join the Olivella long lens family, dovetailing nicely with the 300mm f2.8 and the 200-400mm f4. It's arrival comes at a great time, because it will be getting lots of use this weekend when I will be....

Image courtesy of the Indiana University Athletics
Team Photographer for the Indiana Hoosiers

Yesterday afternoon, I received confirmation from Indiana University that I will serve as their team photographer during the NCAA Baseball Super Regional beginning on Saturday at noon. The Hoosiers travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State in a 3-game series to determine which team will advance to the College World Series in Omaha. IU selected me to shoot on their behalf after considering several other photographers who offered their services and I am flattered that they decided to use my services. I'm looking forward to being their photographer during their first Super Regional appearance. Shooting for the Hoosiers is especially cool since I spent a good bit of my childhood years living in Terre Haute and Nappanee, Indiana. The bittersweet aspect of this is that I will not be available to shoot on behalf of my Florida State Seminoles but while the cameras are focused on the Hoosiers, my heart will be with the 'Noles.


1 comment:

Charles J said...

Who wouldn't love a big brother like that. Congrats