I don’t often write about my equipment, but I shall make an exception for my brand new lens. It’s a Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 macro DG lens and I thought it was about time I moved into a new area of photography while I am still able to get out and put it to good use.
I have never had a lens as long as this before. The zoom lens I still have for my old film camera is just 75-150mm. The lens that came with my DSLR is 16-105mm or the same at the longest end for a 35mm camera. I was once given a Nikon with a 200mm prime lens, but I found that far too heavy and anyway… it focussed in the opposite direction to my old Olympus OM2n, which made life a tad complicated. I gave them both to a collector at work.
The guys in my photography forum are keen on bird and insect photography and for the most part, they all have the right gear for the job. I’ve posted images in here of bugs that I have found in the garden, but they were all taken on the Coolpix that I originally bought to take to the Holi festivals last summer. The little camera only cost me £25, but it has the first true macro lens I have ever owned. I’ve had enormous fun bug hunting in our fields, but there are limitations when the macro only works at 28mm and you have to be two inches from your subject.
I’ve photographed birds in our garden too, but I rely on them being tame enough to get within a few feet. The blue tits and great tits are very co-operative, but they are too small to get anything worthwhile. Of course, I have no chance with any of our woodpeckers – we have a pair each of the green and the great spotted. Clearly if I wanted to take things to the next level, I needed a longer lens.
It arrived the other week and the first night I put it to the test by photographing one of the great spotted woodpeckers outside the study. It was late evening and the light was poor. I had to push the ISO as high as I dared and to be honest, I still wasn’t close enough. The results were truly awful. I lost heart, but reading a bit more about the lens a few days later, owners seemed to agree that it really doesn’t perform well in these conditions.
So, the next bright sunny afternoon I was out in the fields again and here are some of the results. The featured image above shows that this isn’t really the lens for small bugs, but it will do at a push. The images below are of our llamas enjoying themselves in the long grass. I find it amazing that using this lens has also changed the way I process images. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but rather how they developed naturally. It will be interesting to see how things progress over the coming weeks and months.