Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Building Your Lens Kit For Digital Action
With the autumn migrations and rutting season approaching fast, now is the time to put together a set of lenses to help you capture all the action
Panasonic’s Four Thirds System D-SLRs and Micro Four Thirds System cameras can use all Four Thirds System lenses (Micro Four Thirds models require an adapter and lose some features when using Four Thirds System lenses; Micro Four Thirds lenses can’t be used on Four Thirds cameras).
Panasonic offers two lenses of interest to wildlife photographers. The Lumix G Vario 45-200mm ƒ/4-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. is equivalent to a 90-400mm on a 35mm camera, yet measures just 2.8x3.9 inches and weighs 13.4 ounces. The Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm ƒ/4-5.8 MEGA O.I.S. zoom provides silent continuous autofocusing during HD video recording with the Lumix DMC-GH1 camera, as well as 35mm camera-equivalent focal lengths from 28-280mm.
One item that belongs in any wildlife lens kit is a teleconverter. Also known as a tele-extender, it fits between the camera body and lens, and increases the focal length by a factor of 1.4x, 1.7x or 2x. A 2x converter costs $200 to $350, and turns my $1,200 300mm lens into a $1,500 600mm—quite a deal. Another teleconverter advantage is that the lens’ minimum focusing distance doesn’t change when you use one—with the 2x converter, my 300mm lenses that focus down to five feet become 600mm lenses that focus down to five feet. (In comparison, a typical pro 600mm prime lens won’t focus closer than around 18 feet.)
Of course, teleconverters have their drawbacks, too. For one thing, they cause a slight loss of sharpness, especially at the edges of the image. This can be minimized by using a quality converter that’s designed for the lens (or focal length range) with which you’re using it—wildlife pros use converters quite successfully. The second drawback is a loss of light—a 1.4x converter cuts light transmission by one stop, a 2x by two stops. Thus, my 2x converter turns my 300mm ƒ/4 lens into a 600mm ƒ/8. Since my D-SLRs require an aperture of at least ƒ/5.6 to autofocus, I have to focus manually when using the 2x converter. (This is most easily done using the camera’s Live View feature, since the viewfinder image at ƒ/8 is pretty dark.) Some pro D-SLRs will autofocus with an ƒ/8 lens-converter combo, but autofocusing is noticeably slower than with a faster lens or combo.
Page 4 of 7
Get 11 Issues of Outdoor Photographer for only $14.97!
That's 77% off the cover price!