Tuesday, March 5, 2013

CHANGING CAMERA LENSES

The rain was belting down this morning at Beech Creek.  If you carefully look at the pictures here, you'll see it splashing onto the surface of the water.  As a matter of fact it hasn't let up all day and it's 6:30 PM as I write this and it's raining as hard as ever.  A Canada Goose was slowly paddling along ignoring the hard rain.  I watched the water running off his back.
I sometimes do things on the spur of the moment and when I get something in my head - I can't let it go until I research, inspect, go see it, attempt it, discount it as useless or go buy it.  It's just how I am.  The first thing this morning I thought about when I got out of bed was to try a different lens on the camera today.  I didn't know it was raining as hard as it was or I probably wouldn't have fooled with any camera today at all.  I have a really neat 75 mm X 300 mm Canon telephoto lens that I attach to the camera at times, usually when I'm going to be walking distance.  It's very light weight and can be carried on the camera over the shoulder all day long.  I wanted to compare the image clarity and sharpness of that lens as compared to the monster 150 mm X 500 mm Sigma telephoto lens I usually keep on the camera.
You can readily see the difference in the size of the two lenses.  The 500 mm is a tank that weighs a ton.   This lens will break my shoulder in under an hour if I'm hiking.  I rarely take it these days.  I have a 400 mm that's a bit lighter weight but, it's not a whole lot lighter.  Most of my photography is accomplished from the deck of a boat and the weight is unimportant other than actually holding it on the subject.  I have hefted that thing up to my eye and held it for over five minutes focused on a bald eagle, waiting for that exact moment when the big bird launches from his perch on a limb.  You get the idea that it's a very heavy lens.
The Canon 75 mm X 300 mm is an ultra light.  I can actually hold the camera, focus and take the shot one handed.  Everything has a down-side though.  The 300 mm obviously lacks the ability to enlarge distant objects as well as the 500 mm.  But, if the 300 mm lens delivered a sharper image than the 500 mm - I should be able to crop (enlarge in the computer) the picture to a larger size and maintain the crisp, sharpness of the image, at least with minimal degradation.
The picture below was taken at the lower magnification of the lens at the 75 mm setting.  The shot above was taken on the long end of the lens at 300 mm.  The goose above was the same distance away as the two geese in the picture directly below.  So, you have an idea of what a 300 mm lens will do.
Now, lets take the upper shot of the goose shot at 300 mm and crop it in the computer and we'll see if it loses it's sharpness.  The cropped shot is below:
The picture looks really good.  The 300 mm lens delivers really nice crisp, sharp images.  The 500 mm would deliver an image right out of the camera a bit larger than the cropped shot but, the image wouldn't be as crisp and sharp.  It has to do with the fact that the longer the lens - the more glass lens sets are required housed within the lens tube to achieve the image magnification.  The kicker here is that there are two qualities of lenses on the market.  The first type of lens is the commercial grade lens designed for poverty stricken people with less than adequate incomes that barely support a comfortable life.  That's me.  The second type lens is termed prime or professional lens.  Those are made for the Mitt Romney's of the world.
Look for the red winged black bird in the shot below:
That bird shot at 300 mm is shown directly below:
That means that the lenses I buy, since I'm poverty stricken and a poor state worker are all commercial grade.  The big 500 mm lens ran around $1300 as I remember.  That lens in prime grade would set a fellow back $6000 to $8000 depending upon the brand and other considerations such as how fast it is and quantity and quality of glass elements and overall build quality of the lens.  I'll never, ever own a prime lens.  I may someday run across a used one that someone must absolutely have to sell within two hours and will accept any less than reasonable amount for it.  But, I doubt it.   There are a lot of technical corrections that may be applied to images that are less than perfect when downloaded into the computer.  The less an image is altered the better, however.  Any time a digital image is altered, for any reason - the overall original quality is degraded in some fashion.  I try to post images as they come from the camera.  Sometimes I crop them if the sharpness is not compromised.  Many times it is and I'll back off on the crop sizes.  Oh well - you get the idea.  
The bottom line of my little test is this:  The 75 mm to 300 mm delivers sharper, crisper shots but, the shots, even when cropped, are not as large as the 500 mm shots but are sharper.   The 500 mm pictures are not as sharp out of the camera as the 300 mm but are acceptable. They can not, however, be enlarged to maximum possible size without losing the integrity of the sharpness of the image thereby requiring computer intervention for the final cropped image.  Whew!  Getting technical.  Don't want to do that.  I'll leave it there for now as I don't want to turn this little, ridiculous test into a college exam.  Lets go to Douglas Lake, or, rather the French Broad River section at Walters Bridge.
This section of the lake is so very depressing!  Look toward the tops of the bridge piers at the dark line on every one.  That's the normal summer water level.  Is that not amazing that the water can be regulated to that extent by a dam?  The entire area is nothing more than acres of pure mud with a trickle of water, the French Broad River, running through it.
Below is a gorgeous shot of what the residences' of the area have to look at every winter of their lives.  I guess they're used to it by now:

Yep - it's still planet earth.  What a ridiculous mess!  

Winter is holding on this year for some reason and it's starting to get to me.  I have some really great plans for the warm season so please hang in and keep check on the blog.  Thanks in advance.  See ya.