Jumping ahead, Lost Lake again
Even though I have photos from last week to use up, I’m going to jump ahead, and do a post on my day at Lost Lake in Muskegon State Park today. For one thing, I shot a series of photos of Atlantic Blue-eyed grass using three different lenses, and I want to put them in a post before I forget which images were shot with which lens.
Some of you may find so many photos of the same flower boring, but I’m doing this for any budding photographers who may read this, or for more experienced shutterbugs that may be considering what lens(es) to purchase. It was also a learning experience for me, so I’d like to document it.
I may as well start out with the lens test that I did, even though I did it in the middle of my day.
First, Canon 300 mm L series lens with Tamron 1.4 X tele-converter, at near the limit of how close it can focus. The image wasn’t cropped at all.
I forgot to shoot one to crop, so here’s a cropped photo from last week, taken with the same lens/extender combo.
Next up, my Canon 15-85 mm lens, as close as it will focus.
Sorry about the tripod leg being in the background, I was using the it to hold the stalk of the flower still in the wind, and I thought that it would be out of focus for a nice dark background. 😉
Here’s the cropped version from the 15-85 mm lens.
Finally, two from the Tokina 100 mm macro lens, neither of them cropped at all, I didn’t have to. I could have, and maybe should have, gotten much closer.
Because I reduce the quality of the images that I post here, you may not see how much of a difference that there is between the three lenses. The Tokina is the clear winner, followed by the 300 mm L series lens, with the 15-85 mm lens lagging slightly behind. That’s more or less what I had expected, but I had time to play, so it seemed like something worthwhile to try. If there was anything surprising about this test, it was how well that the 15-85 mm lens did compared to two lenses with the reputation for being extremely sharp for macro photos.
Even though I tried to use the tripod to hold the flower still, I think that it moved a little in the wind during the last photo. I was using the servo mode of auto-focus because of the wind, and the Tokina’s auto-focus is extremely slow, it may not have been able to keep up with the movement of the flower. That’s the nature of most macro lenses, because the focusing mechanism allows for very fine focus adjustments, they are very slow to auto-focus.
The images from the Tokina point out another problem that I have, the viewfinder of the 60 D body only shows 96% of what ends up in the image. I wanted the flower to almost completely fill the frame, but I mis-judged how much difference there is between what I see and what I get. But, that’s minor, I’ll learn as I go along how close to get to subjects to fill the frame the way I would like.
Anyway, the test showed me what I wanted to know, which was, how much closer the Tokina macro lens would allow me to get to a subject. Like I said before, I probably should have gone even closer, since I could have.
I am a little surprised, according to the specifications, the 15-85 mm lens will focus to 1.15 feet, the Tokina 100 mm focuses down to 11.8 inches, I didn’t think that there would be as much difference between the two lenses as there is. But, that’s measured from the focal plane, not the end of the lens.
Okay, with that out of the way, a few other photos.
The 300 mm L series lens has a reputation for being “soft” at longer distances, so I shot this heron and haven’t cropped the photo to test that out.
It looks darned sharp to me when looking at the trees in the background. I would say that from 5 to 20 feet, there are few lenses that can match the sharpness of the 300 mm lens. It seems to go soft from 25 feet to around 75 feet, then, it stays sharp all the way out from 75 feet. And, soft is a relative term, most people would be very happy with the performance of the 300 mm lens. I am, but I can see its weaknesses, and to get the best photos, I have to find ways to work around those tendencies.
The Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) is a bit soft up close, it is at its sharpest from 20 to around 80 feet, then it gets a bit soft from there on. That’s what makes it such a good birding lens for me, it’s at its best at the range that I normally shoot at.
Along with testing lenses, I also did an eyesight test. I stopped by the eagle’s nest, even though I was fairly certain that any eaglets had fledged and left the nest by now. I didn’t see any eagles, but I did see a scarlet tanager hunting bugs in the eagle’s nest, see if you can spot him.
I’ll crop an image down for you.
The tanager’s mate was also there, but she stayed hidden most of the time, so I didn’t get a photo of her. But, it dawned on me that my eyes must be pretty good yet to watch such small birds at so great a distance, remember, the first photo was shot at 420 mm, and the second one was cropped to bring the tanager even closer.
That reminds me, I hadn’t stopped at the eagle’s nest at all this year as it was getting hard to view the nest because of other trees in the way. Some of the trees blocking the view of the nest came down this past winter, so now there’s a clear view of the nest. I’ll have to remember that next spring.
I shot a few photos of a song sparrow.
Then, I went for a close up.
The sparrow was not amused.
I also got a red-eyed vireo, even though its red eye doesn’t show up in my photos.
A little later, the heron from the earlier photo came flying across the lake for these photos.
A few of the other things I saw.
Some one spooked the heron again, sending it my way for a second time.
And to wrap this up, a few photos of the wild iris growing around Lost Lake. I was busy fending off swarms of mosquitoes while I shot these, so I didn’t spend much time on composition, it was shoot and run.
I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t find any of the wild orchids blooming yet, but that gives me an excuse to go back again in a week or two.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!