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Old Aug 7, 2007, 5:17 PM   #1
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I realized that I had yet to try using my cheapie Takumar 135mm f/2.5 + 2x tele combo while using the focus trap technique. Ever since learning it, I've been using my Sears 80-200 f/4 pretty exclusively for telephoto. I thought I'd give the old combo another try.

I started by comparing the two side by side to make sure there would actually be some usable increase in detail. I was concerned that the combo would be so soft that the extra 70mm reach wouldn't actually pick up any additional detail. What I found was that it can be quite sharp, but only at f/5.6 or smaller, meaning I'd be shooting at f/11 equivalent or darker.

Since it was sunny out, I thought I'd go ahead and try it out. Nearly all these shots are taken at f/5.6, ISO 400. Many were underexposed and brightened up a bit.

Before I even got to the swamp, I happened upon this guy. He popped out of the bushes while I was trying to snap a few shots of some Redwing Blackbirds.

100% crop. You can see that it is decently sharp. Being an uncoated lens though, it is quite prone to purple fringing. I used noise reduction to eliminate it where it appeared on the brighter hairs.

Here's another shot I managed on the way.

A closeup crop.

A closeup crop of another shot.

Every time I go to the swamp it seems I scare a bunch of things out of hiding. First was a turtle that slid off a log the instant I saw it. Next was a Green Heron that took off when I arrived. I managed to get these shots of it:

These aren't terribly sharp, probably due to me moving the camera with the SR on, but I still like them.

These black and white dragonflies are all over the place. I tried to shoot some in flight but they were much too quick.

Here's a snapping turtle surfacing it's head. This is the first one I've ever seen live.

Apparently the Green Heron came back. Either that or this is another one that I didn't notice earlier, but I think there's just one that made it's home here.

I tried creeping to a better vantage point where the trees and bushes weren't in the way but it was in a pretty tricky spot.

I left for a while and then came back. I saw these two sitting on a log and made my way closer to them, snapping shots every few feet. This was the closest I got before they went into the water.

Here's a 100% crop of one of them.

Well that's it. I think the results were pretty decent for about $40 worth of glass. Hopefully next summer I'll have something sharper and faster to work with. If I'm lucky maybe I'll get my hands on a decent 300mm prime.
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Old Aug 7, 2007, 7:47 PM   #2
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Hey Corpsy,
I would agree, I think you got your money's worth with that lens, especially with a teleconverter on it. I don't have great success with teleconverters even on my best lenses.

The df came out real nice. The shots I like best, though, are of the bird. You did a great job focusing through that tiny window in the trees and shrubbery and I really like the way the foreground OOF elements frame the subject.

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Old Aug 7, 2007, 8:56 PM   #3
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Very nice shots!..You got a real bargain there.The dragonfly is my favorite..altho I am really partial to the birds,too..
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Old Aug 7, 2007, 11:10 PM   #4
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Great series, what a wonderland that swamp looks for photographers.
The first shot cropped plus the dragonfly shows what a good lens you have there.
What is that creature in the first shot ?
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Old Aug 8, 2007, 12:30 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comments!

Tim, the teleconverter is a Vivitar 2x Macro TC. I've heard it has a very good reputation, and from my experience it's well deserved. I got some very nice closeups of spiders with it attached to a 50mm.

Subject matter aside, I agree the shot of the bird in the bushes is the best composition. I certainly wasn't trying to frame the shot that way, it's just how the situation was. I was pretty surprised with how well it came out, and that's the only reason I posted a shot of such a plain bird. I think it would make a nice poster.

Rodney, the animal in the first shot is a groundhog (aka woodchuck). They're extremely common around here, though they tend to be a bit shy and I was surprised this one got so close. I'm guessing it didn't know I was there and froze when it saw me.

Funny thing about the swamp, it's really just an oversized puddle. You can walk around the whole thing in like 15 minutes. About 5 or 6 years ago it was just a marshy area that became a small pond when it rained. Then after a heavy rainstorm some beavers dammed it up which caused it to get much deeper and now it seems to be permanent. All these creatures moved in and now it's like a miniature wildlife refuge that hardly anyone knows about.

The Takumar 135mm f/2.5 that I used is widely regarded as a piece of crap. Personally I've always been impressed with it's sharpness and I like it's built-in lens hood, though I'll admit it certainly has a problem with CA. Does anyone know if using a UV filter or some other filter can cut down on CA?

Something interesting of note, the lens combo seemed to be more responsive when using focus trap than the 80-200 lens zoomed all the way. I was surprised because I'm pretty sure the 80-200 is sharper wide open than the 135mm, but maybe I just don't understand how the focusing works.

I was rather impressed with how sharp most of the photos came out so I think I'll give it another go. I could probably get away with using f/4 when shooting birds, an extra stop would definitely be nice.
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Old Aug 8, 2007, 9:48 AM   #6
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Great shots Corpsy!! Love that dragonfly, and the herons are very good too. Just shows what one can do if one knows their stuff - and you obviously do!....cheers..Don
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