The videos look very good - that was Autofocus ON, I presume? The first one looks as though it is using 'tracking' AF, as it holds the focus very
The lens is obviously high quality, and having that range of zoom feels good, don't it!! BTW, may I offer a small word of caution about
magnification... At the extremes of the zoom range, the lens will be pushing the limits of its design, so you can expect a little softening, perhaps
some CA (chromatic aberration, usually visible as blue/purple fringing around high contrast edges), maybe some vignetting (outer edges darker than the
centre)... Noww that's just the start..
Add on the immense diffculty in holding the lens/camera steady, the rapid angular movement which makes it hard to track objects and keep them in
frame, and then there are the inevitable atmospheric effects, haze/dust/smog/fog, thermals, 'shimmering'... Then add on the low-light levels at
Basically, once you get up to 15x and greater, the old 'diminishing returns' thing starts to bite.. HARD. You'll need a VERY sturdy tripod - image
stabilisation only gives you about a 2-3 stop advantage (ie not as much as you might think, especially at night). Plus, going higher and higher in
zoom will eventually simply get you a more blurry and unsharp result. A bit like the silly way people are endlessly zooming in on images here at ATS,
and blowing them up 4, 10, 20 times... All you end up with is the shapes and artefacts created by whatever interpolating algorithm you used - ie
So, what's my point? Well, I have TWO.
Get a decent one. I'm afraid the words light and mobile and tripod do NOT go together! Now I realise you are working to a
budget, but here's what you do. Whenever you see a bunch of tripods at a photography store, go and poke them and play with them. If the head is
easy to flex around, try the next bigger one. At least ONCE, try a big heavy high quality tripod (Manfrotto, Gitzo, Benbo, Velbon) to find out what
they feel like. Then look for something cheaper that gets close...
Seriously, you won't believe the difference a good steady tripod makes. Out
of interest, my favorite hiking tripod is a cheap and cheerful Optex T560 - it's big, but strappable to a backpack... It looks like it is still
available - maybe give it a try if you see it. If you are serious, I would NOT get anything less than that sort of thing. It's not only pretty
steady, it has a *really* good head - uses some sort of damping grease that makes it pan & tilt ever so smoooothly. Again, try panning and tilting on
a quality tripod and you'll see what I mean.
In regard to tripod use:
- do not extend the legs any further than you must. The lower YOU can get - lie on the ground if you can! - the more steady your platform. NEVER,
ever wind up the centre column, unless you simply want to show someone how high it can go...
- when using it, try to operate the camera controls as lightly as you can, and let go of the camera as much as possible so it remains still
By the way, have you tried a bean bag (20-30cm-ish)? A good bean bag (home built if you like) works great on car roofs, fence posts, tree branches,
and is obviously much more portable. Some camera shops sell them (at ridiculous prices), but there are instructions on the web to make your own.
2. DON'T be tempted into a 'tele-extender'.
Tele-extenders are add on lenses that give you, supposedly, extra magnification..! Yeah,
well, they sorta do.... But they reduce your lens quality, increase all the issues above, make the camera heavier and more wobbly, all for the sake
of, at best, maybe a 1.5x increase in magnification. (They might be rated 2x or 3x, but the actual increase in resolution is nothing like that.).
Just remember that your lens is designed as well as it can be, There are very good reasons why your camera doesn't zoom further than it does...
I'll confess I'm being a little unkind - there are a couple of half-decent extenders out there, but if they don't optically 'gel' with your lens
(and you won't know that until it's too late..), the experience will scar you and your camera for life..
I'll further admit I'm being a hypocrite -
- I own a couple of t-e's!! But I normally only use them to demonstrate things to other camera