|Nikon D7000 w/300mm f/4 mounted on the Induro CT214 tripod|
With springtime here it's been enjoyable to see all the critters come out again. Birds at the feeder, squirrels running through the yard, robins looking for insects, hawks flying overhead, etc. To help capture some of these moments I purchased the Nikon 300mm f4 last year. It was the most affordable and best telephoto lens I could find that didn't cost $5K +. Mounted on my D7000 it is equivalent to 450mm focal length.
|Nikon 300mm f/4, 1/200 @ f/5.6, ISO 100|
|Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Macro VR, 1/125 @ f/5.6, ISO 100|
|Nikon 300mm f/4 @ f/4, 1/1000, ISO 1400|
The squirrel was shot with the 300mm @ f/4, 1/1000, ISO 1400 hand-held. At this speed I was able to get a clear, sharp photo and the D7000 handles the noise at this level very well.
|Nikon 28-300mm VR, 1/40 @ f/8, ISO 500|
Here's a different lens for comparison. I shot these two bucks at 300mm and 1/40 hand-held with a lens that has built-in vibration reduction. I can consistently get sharp photo's at very low shutter speeds with this lens. Unfortunately, the image tends to be quite soft when racked out to 300mm but it does make for a versatile carry lens.
|Nikon 300mm f/4, 1/800 @ f/4.5, ISO 100|
I saw this hawk fly into the tree at the back of the yard and quickly grabbed the 300mm f/4. This was shot hand-held. Seems like they know we're watching so they stay partially hidden by branches all the time. When he finally dove out of the tree I tried to follow but didn't do a very good job partly because it caught me be surprise and because I just need more practice using this lens on fast moving subjects.
|Nikon 300mm f/4, 1/200 @ f/4.5, ISO 100|
He had disappeared from sight briefly and then I caught him heading for the woods. This was the best shot I was able to get as he appeared very quickly, was flying low and amongst the trees. Certainly not an award winner but at least I can tell what it is and can see what is in his beak, so by a loose standard it's not a total loss. No doubt this would have been better had I not had ISO compensation turn off and been in Aperture priority. But because I was, the camera lowered the shutter speed to 1/200 to maintain proper exposure for f/4.5 and ISO 100.
|Nikon 300mm f/4, 1/1250 @ f/4, ISO 250|
Here's a blue heron I captured with the 300mm f/4 hand-held this past fall. See the big difference between the clarity of this shot and the previous one of the hawk. Same camera and same lens but on this day I had the ISO set to regulate between 100 - 6400 because of the different conditions I was walking in and out of. And I was using Shutter priority on the camera to ensure a fast shutter speed. This was a grey, fall day and I was walking through a wetlands area and amongst the woods. But I was ready with the camera when this bird took flight and I think I captured it pretty well.
|Nikon 300mm f/4, 1/1250 @ f/4 ISO 200|
So, not having VR built into the lens can certainly pose some challenges but it's not a deal breaker. If hand-held, just make sure the shutter speed is high enough to make a clean capture. The easiest way to do this is to use Shutter priority on the camera - you set the shutter speed and the camera will adjust the other parameters as needed for proper exposure. Till next time, enjoy.
|Nikon 300mm f/4, 1/800 @ ISO 160|