The wonders of the 300 2.8 1

Hey! So, it’s been an awful long time since I’ve given a bit of blog, and I figured I should bring you up to speed on the wonderful 300mm f2.8 VR. There have not been many photos from it on here yet, due to its absence in Madagascar. Next time, I promise I’ll bring it with me.

Anyways, I figure it would be a good idea to show you some of the stuff I’ve done with it! Good time for that. Also gonna try to bring you up to speed on what’s been happening in the past few months in the next post. For now though, lots to show, let’s get on with it!

So, the 300mm VR, eh? I know most of you don’t care about the technicalities behind it, so I’m going to try to throw as many pretty pictures in here as I can.

Firstly, it’s sharp. How sharp? Wicked sharp. If I could figure out how to put Zoomify into this blog, I would, but right now I can’t. Anyways, it’s great what it can do.

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/500s f/2.8

The thing about 300mm’s is that they are usually the sharpest lens in the arsenal of a camera company, and this one is no exception. The problem though, is that 300mm sounds good, and looks good, but it really isn’t that much reach. When shooting small birds, say, sparrows and the like, you have to be either really close, or have a teleconverter to get them to a satisfactory portion of the frame:

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/100s f/8

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/2000s f/2.8

These sparrows were shot at maybe 1m from me. The other solution is also practical sometimes, especially with more cautious birds:

D300 + 300mm VR + TC-14E @ 1/160s f/8

D300 + 300mm VR + TC-14E @ 1/640s f/8

Now I’m not really complaining: the need to get closer to your subject means you have to know the biology and the species better. You have to understand what their limits are and how to accomodate them. It gives an excellent opportunity to learn behaviour. That’s what I did with the crows at the foot of Arthur’s Seat here in Edinburgh. I went out just before sunset, down into the shadow while the light was still just there. They let me approach. I sat down some 8 metres away from them, and they came to me, to the point of minimum focus. Here is where that VR – vibration reduction – comes into play. Low light. No tripod at the time. Big, heavy lens. Nikon got it right:

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/40s f/4.5

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/50s f/2.8

So the light was low. But there are other limits to low light photography, best tested in another media range: concerts. Now I am not a concert photographer – I don’t claim to be. But sometimes, I get lucky:

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/50s f/2.8

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/50s f/2.8

Back to the real photography though, and another aspect of the lens to discuss: 2.8. What does that number mean? Well to the non-photographers, let me give a brief explanation. 2.8 is a big hole. 22 is a small hole. That is the range of the lens – at 2.8 a heck of a lot of light floods into the camera and exposes the picture in a short time. At 22, a tiny hole lets a tiny amount of light into the camera, and a long exposure is needed. What does that matter? Well, the longer the exposure, the greater the depth of field, or area in focus. 2.8 gives awesomely tiny depth of field. That means isolation power is wicked; meet Fidget:

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/200s f/3.5

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/250s f/3.5

Fidget is a captive Kestrel who I had a great opportunity to shoot. More on that shoot in future posts however.

So that’s it basically: the 300mm F/2.8 VR is a wicked sharp, wicked fast, wicked stable lens. And it’s newer version I imagine is even more so. Why do you care? You don’t, unless you’re like me and a gear junkie. Let’s just say that me loving my gear makes me take pictures that you love more šŸ˜‰

A parting image, another taste of Madagascar, this time from Zurich Zoo:

D300 + 300mm VR @ 1/40s f/2.8

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One thought on “The wonders of the 300 2.8

  • Lukas

    Hello Mark,
    very nice pictures and a good way of writing, sorry i meant typing. Go on, I hope you are going to be the lucky winner of the Photocontest.