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Old Dec 15, 2010, 5:30 PM   #1
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Default First Birds with the Sigma 120-400 OS HSM

I drove down to the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve the other morning to give the new Sigma a field test. The day was pretty much of a bust because the place was crawling with busloads of school children on field trips - great outing for the kids, but lousy for photographers because anything that had not been scared away was nowhere close enough for decent pictures. I only found a couple of the less optimum spots where i could get anything at all.

Except for the sparrow, for which I had to back up to get in minimum focusing distance, all are crops, and all were hand held.

1 Song Sparrow

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2 Male American Wigeon

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3 Female American Wigeon and a Coot, all looking for a handout.

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4 Cinnamon Teal bathing

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Last edited by penolta; Jan 13, 2011 at 2:52 PM.
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 5:36 PM   #2
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Great Egret hunting

5 Ready

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6 Aim

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7 Fire! Got one!

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8 Distant flock of Willets

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9 Overhead grab shot of Gas Hawk taking off from John Wayne Airport

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Old Dec 15, 2010, 6:06 PM   #3
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What are your impressions of this lens? How do the full size images look in terms of sharpness?
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 8:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jelpee View Post
What are your impressions of this lens? How do the full size images look in terms of sharpness?
I found I was better able to handle the weight of the lens with the K20 and grip (6 1/2 pounds) than I had expected. By rotating the lens' hand grip to the top, I could carry it that way at my side and pop it onto the monopod cradle without it getting in the way. In this instance, however, I was just snapshooting in P mode to get the feel of the lens. EXIF shows the apertures were pretty wide and most shutter speeds not too fast, so without steading the lens, all required some sharpening, but the amount of detail recoverable in the cropped images is impressive.

The sparrow shots were hurried, and I had failed to center the bird (which was right of center), so the camera must have center focused on the leaves in front and to the left of it because they were tack sharp, and the bird's head required some sharpening because of the shallow DOF (more of the left side of the frame is cropped off to center the bird). I had gotten up from the bench preparing to leave when the sparrow popped up in the bush close in front of me - I don't know which of us was more surprised, but I backed off until the lens could focus and fired off a few quick shots before it took off (without removing my sunglasses, hence the failure to center the bird in the frame). A smaller aperture would have made the shallow focus less of an issue.

A few more (different) pictures are in the Wildlife Forum:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wi...wport-bay.html
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 8:36 PM   #5
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That lens looks tack sharp. Very nice!
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 8:57 PM   #6
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Nice series, Pen.
Hey... isn't that the same gas hawk as Jelpee's?
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 9:22 PM   #7
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Exceptional! VERY well done!
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 9:30 PM   #8
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It looks like you have finally found what you were looking for in long glass. Pictures look great.

It is nice to see the Cinnamon Teal as they do not reach our area. My favorite picture is the American Wigeon. This one was nailed. Nice feather detail and color.

Happy times with the new lens. I look forward to seeing more west coast birds.

Lou
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 10:05 PM   #9
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Very nice shots! It does look like you'll do well with it. Did you use the lens stabilization or camera stabilization?

The American Wigeon I've only seen a couple of times, managed one shot of a flock of them taking off, and their shape is different than what I remembered. Interesting. All of you posting these lovely bird pictures are driving me nuts, getting me to think how great it would be to have something longer.

Keep posting these!
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Old Dec 16, 2010, 1:22 PM   #10
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Thanks jalpee, mtnman, GW, Gary, Lou and Harriet. Much appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
Very nice shots! It does look like you'll do wellwith it. Did you use the lens stabilization or camera stabilization?

The American Wigeon I've only seen a couple of times
I used the lens IS on the first position. It does seem to drain the battery faster, though, if you leave things turned on for any length of time (which you have to do or you will miss the grab shot when a bird flies by), so having the battery grip is helpful.

If you want another look at the Wigeons, look at the other Wigeon shots in the Wildlife Forum thread (also mentioned above):

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wi...wport-bay.html
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