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Old Aug 3, 2007, 1:21 PM   #1
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So last week I had decided I was going to drive over to Rochester with my bike to ride along the canal there. I used to live there and so far, it's the best bike path I know of in WNY. I thought it would be a good idea to take the camera with me. I used to do that a lot with my FZ30, I got a small bag that is easy to take along while riding. Since I don't have a lot of zooms, and figuring I would mostly be shooting scenery, the 18-55 kit lens was my best option.

Before leaving though, I started shopping around, thinking how nice it would be to get something with a bit more range. It seemed the perfect lens would be a 24-135 as it would cover probably 90% of what I'd need, but maybe one of those ultrazoom, 18-200's would be nice as well. Anyway, I can't really afford anything right now so I just took the kit lens.

After riding for probably an hour and a half and on my way back, I was surprised to find that there was a Red Tailed Hawk sitting by the side of the path, eating a squirrel. I immediately stopped, took out the camera and began shooting. It seems he wasn't very shy and I was able to get very close to it. The problem was, even from 10 feet away, here's what the full frame shot looked like zoomed all the way in:

While the situation was rather stunning, the lack of even moderate telephoto was quite frustrating. I was really wishing I had the FZ30 with me, though at around 8 PM I'm sure I would have had to use a much slower shutter speed.

Here's some shots showing other people watching the bird:

And here are a few 100% crops:

I had dozens to choose from. Here's a gallery with a bunch more:


So, I'm starting to consider possibly getting a more versatile lens for this kind of shooting, but I don't really have much to spend at the moment. I mentioned a 24-135, which I could get by either Tamron or Sigma for $250, which would pretty much cover most of my needs, but I'm also curious about how some of the 18-200 lenses are. I don't think I'd like a 28-200 as they are bigger lenses and I don't think they're quite wide enough.

I guess a second possibility would be if there was some better way to carry around multiple lenses on a bike. I don't want to put a basket on it (I'll never get it in my car that way), but perhaps there's some kind of attachment that could store my old 80-200, or at least the 135mm/f2.5.

Any ideas would be appreciated.
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 1:51 PM   #2
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why not just slip a 1.4x teleconverter in a pocket and go?
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 5:35 PM   #3
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Lucky opportunity, Just be glad you had a Camera at all.

I know the feeling, I carry my K10D with a 28-70mm f/2.8 and Af540FGZ ALL the time.When I have the chance I also carry a 10-20mm and If I am serious about my wanderings I take a 300mm lens too.

I am still waiting for my 70-200mm f/2.8 to arrive this month, then I wil be in trouble, I will have to carry both 28-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8. :G

The Sigma 70-300mm is a good lens and not overly expensive.

Lastly, I would have been tempted to gently lay down as close as I could and very slowly over a period of 10 mins slowly creep forward taking shots asyou go. I reckon you might have been able to get within a few feet. As you said he wasn't very shy, you had nothing to lose. If he flew off, you could leave and he would have come back.

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Old Aug 3, 2007, 6:46 PM   #4
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I know what you mean. If I go for a hike I tend to take my 100-300mm zoom and the 100mm macro. It does not matter whether I see a bird or a bee, I will always have the wrong lens on the camera and often miss the opportunity.

I think you did pretty well and your crops look real good. Don't look at it as a once in a life time chance, instead, these are just the best shots of a red shouldered hawk you have gotten so far!

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Old Aug 3, 2007, 7:10 PM   #5
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You did whatever it takes to get impressive images (as above). You did great and should be proud of it.

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Old Aug 3, 2007, 7:42 PM   #6
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You have some great shots here. We can never be prepared for every possibility.

Before I went digital my typical 35mm kit ranged from 35mm (sometimes 28mm)to 210mm. That required two, or sometimes even three, lenses to cover. This was typical of all but the dedicated nature photographer. My 24-135mm lens now covers 36-202.5mm equivalent, most of the entire range I used in film. I now usuallygo out witheither a 28-80mm (the light weight FA f3.5-5.6 model) to travel light, or the Sigma 24-135mm f2.8-4.5 when I don't mind the extra weight. I was one of the lucky ones who got this lens from Cameta when they were cheap ($70US) and mine actually worked with the electronics of my Pentax.

My suggestion is simple, until you can afford to get a wide range "walkabout" lens (like those that you mentioned), look for an old 28-80mm f3.5-5.6 FA lens. These are not terribly good lenses either in construction or optical quality BUT, they are very inexpensive (usually less than $40US), they have the SMC coating and with the smaller sensor of the digital SLR they actually perform much better than they did on film. Why bother? Because if you are out walking or cycling you are more likely to need a slightly longer lens to capture that surprise moment than you would be to need a wider angle. 28-80mm works out to 42-120mm, a slightly wide normal to a medium telephoto.

I think your images are marvelous, because we sometimes get lucky. Don't fret over lens choice, you have the image and the memories.

BTW, please, no comments here about crop factor vs magnification vs film equivalent, I only use the film equivalent coverage to illustrate the fact that a lens that covers 18-125mm, like the Sigma that is so popular, actually covers all but the longest range that most of us were forced to live with in the early 198os.


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Old Aug 3, 2007, 11:06 PM   #7
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I have my 300 on my DS all the time, with my 28-70 in the front pocket of the bag and a 1.7 TC in the bottom pocket. That covers most of my needs for almost everything.

I don't care about the 35mm crop factor, those two lenses fit my needs for most of my shots.

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Old Aug 4, 2007, 1:19 AM   #8
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I go nowhere without my Sigma 70-300mm DG APO .

Terrific series.
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Old Aug 4, 2007, 11:55 AM   #9
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Thanks for the comments and suggestions.

The cheap 28-80 seems like it would be a decent compromise. I have to wonder how big a quality difference there would be with the 18-55 though since when biking most of my shots are of the scenery and the 24-55 range tends to cover what I need.

I'll shop around Ebay and see if anything looks appealing. In the meantime, I think I'm going to try to find something I can attach to my bike to perhaps carry around the 135mm lens. I've been wanting to get a new telephoto lens, and now I'm thinking of a good walk-around lens, but already being so late in summer I'm probably going to wait and see what comes out later in the year. I'm also guessing my odds of getting a very good deal are much better if I wait.

Thanks again!
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Old Aug 5, 2007, 6:47 AM   #10
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I just got rid of 2 lenses on eBay which would have suited what you need. A Pentax F28-80 and a Pentax 28-105.

Personally, I found that while they were great at the long end, with a digital camera, they just weren't wide enough, which then means carrying 2 lenses again.

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