Subscribe with Bloglines Greg's Photo Diary - the 365 project: February 2009

Friday, 27 February 2009

Is the Sigma 120-400 os any good?

I would have to say yes. The more I use this lens the more I like it!

Now there are pros and cons to this lens.

It is big and quite heavy. Lugging this bad boy around all day puts some stress on the neck. I am definitely going to invest in a better strap than the free nikon one that came with the camera - any suggestions welcomed.

It is not a super fast lens and in low light but still preforms pretty well. I have read reviews where people say it tracks badly, but I haven't noticed it. I guess it would not work well for indoor or night time sporting events under poor light. However, In full sunlight it is pretty good. Saying that, this lion was taken in poor light and the lens did behave quite well.

I took the following picture of a dragon fly in full sunlight. Now getting a shot of a dragon fly is never easy at the best of times. It took ages to get this shot, but not bad at 400mm.

It preforms well as a telephoto as the following moon shot and Lilac Breasted Roller show. The OS system, although quite noisy and sometimes a bit rough works very well.

Not great for macro or close ups, but not terrible.

Check these out!

Anyway, I hope this helps you if you are making a decision to buy this great lens.


Can using a screw on lens be "that easy"?


I guess if you are going for the pro level clarity and colour then a screw on is not going to cut it, but if you have a limited budget then £24 for some screw on's is the way forward.

All the recent macro shots I have posted here and on flickr have been with the normal gear, using a tripod and remote and the d90. I think this set up works pretty well, but also worked on my d70 and handheld.

All the following shots are handheld and some - the black and white flower and the yellow flower with the bug (not the moth) are from my old d70.

So I think you can get a decent macro shot using them and you can't go wrong with the price.



Thursday, 26 February 2009

Top 15 Tips to my Macro photography

I have just had a comment on a previous post asking what gear I use for macro photography, so I thought it would be a good idea to share that here with a couple of recent pictures I have taken.

Remember, I am not a pro and all that I have learned is from trial and error.
The Kit I Use - I think this is essential kit for better shots

1. Nikon D90
2. Nikon 18-105mm vr kit lens
3. Screw on macro lens kit - +1, +2, +4, +10
4. Manfrotto 190cx3 Tripod and 804rc2 head
5. Nikon ML-L3 remote
6. Nikon SB-600 Flash
7. Large white artist canvas
8. Spot Light

Why I use it:

9. The d90 and 18-105mm - Have you used one - need I say more???? A great camera and excellent lens. Get one now!!!!

10. The screw on lenses are great for getting up close and personal with your subject. It shortens the focal length and magnifies the subject. Allows some interesting pictures and they can be used in different combination's to get differently framed shots.

11. The screw on lenses mess up the auto focus and also make the focus area tiny. Shooting handheld is very difficult, unless you are as stable as a statue. You need a tripod and a decent one at that. One that is easily adjustable in all directions. You need to get up close to the subject and can mean weird angles.

12. With the margin for error being so small, the act of pressing the shutter release, can mess up your shot. So a remote is essential. Set the shot up, get the focus right, press the remote button and viola!!!

13. Now, the lenses also make the kit lens slower and cut out a lot of the light. I must admit I do not use this too much for my macro. When attached to the flash shoe on the camera, it will probably sit too high to be of use when you are really close up. The built in flash is not great. I have not yet worked out how to use it off camera and that is where it will come into it's own.

14. Unless you have a lightbox or mini studio - it is on my wishlist - your backgrounds are going to be either dark, or messy. Using an artists canvas allows a nice, clean, white background and has the added benefit of reflecting more light onto your subject.

15. If you can get your flash gun to work off camera, you have a mini studio then no need for the spot light. If not, then an adjustable spotlight is needed. This will focus plenty of light onto your subject allowing you to get some great detail.

Well that is it for now, here are some recent shots I have taken.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Back on the net

OK, I am back online. It has been frustrating but also quite nice to be offline for a while. I have not had my laptop out of it's bag in 2 weeks, other than at work.

Anyway, as promised here is the first pano that I have taken of the view from my balcony. I am going to refine the art of taking night time skylines and will post some better ones later, but here is one for now.


Monday, 2 February 2009

How not to break your lens, soak your camera, break a vase!

So, sunday was a quite afternoon after a hard mornings packing up for our move next week. I am quite excited about the move as we are moving into a two bed flat in the city of london. It has awesome views - to be photographed later - and an extra bedroom, which is going to double as my "studio".

Anyway, on Sunday evening as the snow started to fall over South West London, I took the opportunity to set up my tripod and do some macro work. I got the nikon D90 on my new Monfrotto tripod - which is great by the way - and attached my nikon 18-105mm vr. I have a set of +1, +2, +4 and +10 screw on macro lenses which I made use of in various combinations.

I switched off the overhead lights and just used an adjustable spotlight to light my subject - a vase of flowers from Sainsbury's. If you are planning on giving this a go I suggest the wireless remote for the nikon d90.

The two shots at the bottom are two of the shots I managed to get. The rest weren't that great!

Anyway, I was packing up, and as I was unscrewing the macro lens, I fumbled and dropped it on the floor with an almighty crack. Not great!!!

In my rush to pick it up, I managed to bump my tripod, camera still attached. It fell over, crashing into the vase, which fell over onto the table, spilling water on my remote and on my camera.

I am happy to say, I was able to repair the lens, and dry off the camera and remote. Everything is working, but I am yet to test the remote. Fingers crossed.

Moral of the story, hold on to your lenses!