Friday, July 19, 2013

Dinner with eagle and lens (and Shelley)

Our first night in Prince Rupert we walked up the hill to the Crest Hotel for supper. I took my camera and brand new telephoto lens with me, just in case.

We had a great corner table looking over the bay and shortly after we had sat down I realized there was a bald eagle on a crane down by the water. At first I wasn't going to get my camera out but eventually I couldn't resist. I took a few shots through the window and then moved out to the deck. I'm afraid Shelley (and my food) got somewhat ignored!

A bit later (halfway though salad) the eagle left its perch and flew up to land in the tree much closer to us. Out came the camera again. These shots were a bit better.  He flew away again, but during dessert he showed up back at the original spot. And then flew up to the tree. And from there to a tree on the other side of the hotel where I got a few last shots.

(click to view 4 photos)
Bald eagle

Tech Notes

Obviously, I finally took the plunge and bought a bigger lens - a Sigma 150 to 500mm. I've resisted for a long time, not wanting the size and weight and having to change lenses. But much as I like my small Tamron 18 to 250mm, it just isn't quite long enough for birds and other wildlife. (Note: The K5ii has a 1.5 crop factor so the Tamron is equivalent to 27-375 and the Sigma 225-750)

Originally I put the Pentax 300mm f4 and a 1.4 teleconverter on order. But then I found out that autofocus doesn't work with teleconverters on the K5ii. I'm not prepared to manually focus so I scrapped that idea. I looked around for other options and found the Sigma. It gets mostly good reviews, especially in terms of value for money. It's not cheap, but you could easily pay ten times as much for an equivalent "pro" lens. It's not a fast (bright) lens at f5-6.3, but that's the same as the 18-250. You can mostly get around that with the ability to shoot at high ISO.

Don's in Saskatoon didn't have the Sigma in stock, so I emailed McBain's in Edmonton and they had it. I knew it was big, but I was still a little shocked when I first saw it. Zoomed out to 500mm, with the lens hood on, it's long!

Tamron 18-250
Sigma 150-500
Sigma 150-500 at 500 with lens hood
I took a few test shots with my camera in the store. It seemed to autofocus well, and even hand held at 500mm I could still get some reasonably sharp images. The lens has built in optical image stabilization in addition to the image stabilization built into the camera. I was afraid I'd be forced to use a tripod to get decently sharp shots, but with a little creative use of trees and railings for support it's not bad.

So far I've been pretty happy with it. I wouldn't have been able to get these eagle shots with the old lens.

See also: other posts and the collection of photos from this trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment