One Lens Plus Two Teleconverters Equals One Superb Safari
August 20, 2023
Fast query: what’s the perfect lens for photographing wildlife at completely different distances? A telephoto zoom, after all, as a result of then you possibly can zoom for the focal size and framing you need. But when that’s true, then why did I take a set telephoto with me on the safari I simply led to Africa? As a result of, paired with two teleconverters and one digicam characteristic, it truly gave me MORE focal lengths to work with. Let me clarify…
I’ve been taking folks to the Serengeti, in Tanzania, for practically twenty years now. Up till this journey, I’ve at all times used Nikon’s 200-400mm f/4 or 200-500mm f/5.6 lenses. However images is a inventive course of, and meaning making an attempt various things. So as an alternative of selecting between those self same two lenses as soon as once more, I made a decision to carry the comparatively new Nikkor Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S lens.
Pretty compact, mild, and really sharp, it’s straightforward to hand-hold. Plus, paired with two Z teleconverters and capturing with the Nikon Z 8 (switching out and in of FX/DX crop mode for both 45-megapixels or 19.4-megapixels), I now have a alternative of those focal lengths:
400mm (simply the lens)
560mm (with 1.4X TC)
600mm (equal utilizing the 400mm in DX crop mode)
800mm (with 2X TC)
840mm (equal utilizing the 560mm in DX crop mode)
1200mm (equal utilizing the 800mm in DX crop mode)
So as an alternative of carrying a bigger, heavier zoom, I’d have a lens that’s smaller and simpler to deal with, and with a little bit further effort (swapping out teleconverters and biking between FX/DX), find yourself with extra choices. Positive, I used to be giving up finer compositional management by not having the ability to zoom, however there’s one other means to take a look at that as effectively. By not having the zoom, I used to be pressured to shoot tighter or looser than I’d have in any other case, which in actuality, pressured me to be extra inventive in my framing.
Right here’s one other large purpose I made a decision to take this lens, as an alternative of the zooms I’d used up to now – Nikon’s bigger Z mount has allowed them to construct their Z lenses to an excellent greater degree of high quality and sharpness. This meant this one lens, paired with these two teleconverters (and the Z 8), might give me even higher high quality pictures than I’d made up to now. Lastly, because the 400mm, paired with both teleconverter may be very sharp extensive open, I not often used a smaller aperture. And that, after all, allowed me to raised isolate my topics utilizing shallow depth of area (and keep away from going to unnecessarily excessive ISOs).
After all, making footage with this equipment wasn’t simply in regards to the lens, teleconverters, and focal lengths. I leaned closely into Nikon’s new autofocus choices, repeatedly altering them based mostly on framing and topic. The 3D AF-area mode was my default, with “Animal” topic detection turned on. However I generally switched to Auto-area AF, or a customized Vast-area field, relying on what I used to be capturing.
For birds, I typically switched to Pre-release seize, to simply catch them taking off. Body charge was one other setting I repeatedly modified, shortly biking between 6, 8, 15, 20, and 30 frames-per-second, once more based mostly on topic and sort of motion. In different phrases, I leveraged as most of the goodies packed into the Nikon Z 8 as I might. In any case, what’s the purpose of getting a state-of-the-art digital digicam if you happen to’re not making the most of all of its options?
In actual fact, talking of options, chances are you’ll be questioning why I didn’t take my Nikon Z 9 and Nikkor Z 400mm f/2.8 TC? In any case, the Z 9 gives a number of extra options and longer battery life. And that lens is quicker (wider aperture) than the 400mm f/4.5, plus the 1.4X teleconverter’s already inbuilt. So why not that mixture, together with the 2X teleconverter?
Easy. Measurement and weight.
I’d be taking a number of flights by a number of airports to get midway all over the world, then loading out and in of safari vehicles and capturing from a restricted area inside them. Carrying and managing greater gear would make my life harder. As I like to inform my college students, images is all about selections. You’ll not often end up with just one means of doing one thing. The secret’s in selecting the one which’s best for you, for that scenario.
All of it comes right down to the type of footage you wish to make and the way you’re going to try this. For me – for this journey – the Z 8 paired with the 400mm f/4.5 and teleconverters was the right mixture.
This gained’t be the final time I take a gaggle to Africa, and guess what? I’m positive that subsequent time I’ll carry a unique equipment. As a result of once more, what’s the purpose of doing the identical factor the identical means time and again?
So now what gear I used on this photograph journey and why. Now let me present you a number of extra photographs, and clarify how I made them:
In regards to the writer: Reed Hoffmann is a photographer and images teacher who has been within the photograph trade for many years and who has used each Nikon DSLR (and taught most of them). The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the writer. Observe together with Hoffmann’s newest workshops here. You may also discover extra of Hoffmann’s work and writing on his website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This text was additionally revealed here.