Monday, January 31, 2011
My Favorite Lens? Currently My 70-300mm Nikkor f/5.6 Zoom
No matter which lenses come and go though, there are a few that just become my favorite go-to lenses and currently (and for the past few years) one of those has been my Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras. For around $500 it's one of the best lenses I've ever used. Yes, it's a bit slow in terms of maximum aperture, but compared to the $2,000 80-200mm f/2.8 Nikkor (which, admittedly, was a sharper lens and had a constant maximum aperture but you're talking a lens that costs two grand!) that I used to carry everywhere, it's much lighter (I can carry it in my photo vest pocket easily) and it's perfect for using in nightclubs and theaters when I'm shooting concerts. I sometimes sneak it into theaters in the inside pocket of my denim jacket.
There is just something about that focal-length range that attracts my eye--I love that it allows me to fill the frame with relatively distant subjects (like the animal trainer working with a beluga whale shown here and shot at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut--one of my favorite photos, by the way) and that it focuses very quickly. For a lot of the subjects that I shoot (lots of travel and wildlife), it's tough to get as close as I'd like, but I just can't afford to buy a 400mm or 600mm lens. When I use the 70-300mm on my Nikon D90 body, it becomes a 105-450mm lens! That is a whopping amount of lens for that price. If you add a 1.4x tele converter (Kenko makes an affordable converter that fits it) Kenko 1.4X PRO 300 Teleconverter DGX Nikon AF Digital SLRs it has a max focal length of 630mm (but you lose a stop of speed). Just be sure that any converter that you buy fits the specific model of lens.
I shot this photo of the Blue Angels at an air show in Rhode Island using the 70-300mm and I could never have done it with my 80-20mm because it simply weighed too much to hold over my head for an hour or more.