It is interesting changing systems. Things I took for granted on my Canon camera are not available on the Nikon and the Nikon has certain features that the Canon doesn’t have. I still feel that the ergonomics of the Canon are better suited to wildlife photography due to the layout of buttons and the readout of certain information, and the ability to save camera setups to the C1, C2, and C3 settings on the mode dial. But I haven’t had the opportunity to see if I can get better birds in flight images due to the tracking in the Nikon that others report.
On the Nikon side, especially for landscape, the sensor’s dynamic range, the high ISO capabilities and the built in focus stacking are wonderful.
So here is what I have been up to and my observations. My first order of business was to micro adjust, or in Nikon terms, AF-fine tune, my two long lenses; the Tamron 150-600mm and the Tamron 100-400mm. Nikon had a built in tuning program, which I didn’t actually use I used a Datacolor, Spyder LENSCAL and a technique I learned from Art Morris and his The Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide, using focus peaking on Live View to quickly calibrate the lens. If you don’t already one a Spyder LENSCAL, like I did I would recommend the LensAlign Mark II, that Art Morris discusses because I think it’s wider ruler would be easier to read in the focus peaking method. Instead of all the lights, etc., that the guide mentions, I just set mine up outside and did my alignment with no problem. Once I am done aligning, I test my focus by shooting cans with small type and a stuffed teddy bear to see how sharp the focus has become. The fine “fur” of the stuffed bear simulates what I would expect from real wildlife. Here is a test shot after alignment from the 100-400mm lens.
I had noticed when using the long lenses that the camera would not focus well, using Single AF Point, when the lenses were at the full zoom. Both of these lenses are variable lenses and when they reach maximum zoom they become f/6.3 lenses. I am guessing the Nikons do not have as many cross type AF sensors spread out around the frame as the Canon does, because this was not an issue on my Canon cameras.
The issue was so bad that I was thinking of returning everything and going back to Canon. But I had lunch with a friend, and Nikon shooter, that has the same setup as me, Betty Sederquist (PS this is who I am co-leading the trip to Namibia with next year), and she told me she didn’t have issues moving her focus point off center. She brought her camera, and sure enough, in the dimly lit restaurant, I was able to move the focus point off center and get good focus. I noticed she had her camera set to d153 (a Nikon thing) and yet I could move the focus point and it would focus wherever I set my point. I quickly switched my camera to d153 and my focus situation greatly improved. Now I had to field test it.
Saturday morning I went out to Effie Yeaw Nature Center in pursuit of deer and turkey. I spotted a doe in some thick brush and realized that would be a great test. The deer was in the shadow, so the light was low, the contrast between the deer and the surroundings was low and there were lots of obstacles between the deer and me. I moved the focal point off center and was easily able to focus around the obstacles and lock onto the deer. I was in Manual exposure mode with a shutter of 1/640 and an aperture of f/10 and Auto ISO. Depending on the light the camera choose ISO’s from 900-2800. Here are a few examples:
Then on Sunday I took the new gear out on the kayak for the first time.
Again I had great success.
As I go into the 3rd week, I am feeling much better about the switch. In the next blog I will talk about my new wide-angle zoom and the built in focus-stacking feature.
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