Coming into Focus

A couple of years ago I bought my first “bird” lens. There were a couple of options for my camera set up and budget played a big part in my decision. I read a lot of reviews and there were some who leaned towards the more expensive option as being a bit sharper, while others said that the small increase in sharpness was not worth twice the price. I went for the budget option and it served me well – until recently.

I began to have focus glitches – the lens didn’t seem to be communicating with the camera. So I sent the lens in to the manufacturer who cleaned it and told me it was fine and sent it back. Perhaps the glitch was always there and I just didn’t notice it – perhaps I just got a less than great version of the lens – these things happen. I have read of people returning a lens and buying the same model and seeing a major improvement. I decided it was time to make a change.

The higher end lens I opted not to buy has been discontinued – but they have come out with a quieter and thankfully much more economical version.ย I went through my bag and reviewed all of my lenses – anything I hadn’t used in a year was fair game. I put a list together and sold them to fund the purchase of that new bird lens.

My new lens arrived last weekend and I am seeing a significant change in sharpness – maybe I am the only one who sees it – but I like the look of what I’m seeing so far…

Bird on a wire

Bird on a wire

Goldfinch face off

Goldfinch face off

Posing sparrow

Posing sparrow

Cowgirl at the feeder

Cow girl at the feeder

A cardinal ignoring me

A cardinal ignoring me

Out on a limb

Out on a limb

Woody in the myrtle

Woody in the myrtle

Bringing home the bacon

Bringing home the bacon

Bluejay in the walnut tree

Bluejay in the walnut tree

Titmouse in the house!

Titmouse in the house!

Up on a roof

Up on a roof

The biggest difference I see is that I am getting more sharp shots in the trees – shooting in the trees has not always gotten me good results because of the distance. I am fascinated by feathers so seeing this detail really encourages me. I started shooting birds to teach myself to make faster decisions and I it has grown into a genuine interest in birds and their habits – this new lens looks to let me look deeper into the world just off my porch.

69 thoughts on “Coming into Focus

  1. Lorri, this looks like a great lens. And your pictures are fun and beautiful. I don’t believe you said what the lens was. I just bought a new Tameron 18-270, and I love it. Originally I traded in my other lens, but after dropping my camera with my BRAND new lens on it, I decided it was worth more to have a spare lens, than the money I got for a trade in. Now I’m curious as to whether I can get some of the birds we have around here with my new lens. You have inspired me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It’s an Olympus 75-300. It’s mirror less so the equivalent is about twice that. You should be able to get birds with a 270. I thought about keeping a spare, I do have a manual focus 90-230 that works in a pinch, but I can see the value in a spare. I have spare bodies, but most of my lenses are pretty specific. You’ll need to post some of those birds. The Tamron is a great lens.

  2. Great shots. Getting a new lens is always fun, especially if you are pleased with the result. I went through a process of reducing the number of lenses a while back and that has worked well.

    • Thanks – at one time I thought I needed more variety, but I really just need a good zoom and a macro and a portrait lens. I keep the kit lens around, but hardly ever use it.

  3. It’s hard for me to tell a difference because it seems like already one of the qualities of your best close-up work is exceptional clarity, but these do look fantastic! I really like the birdhouse/feeder at the end of your post. What is that, an old fuel can? Is it only for show or is there a little platform on it somewhere with seeds?

    I envy all the visitors to your yard. We have a nice environment in our backyard for birds and they do pass through a lot on their way to an arboretum below where we live, but I had to stop putting out feeders because we’d get big ol’ rats literally camping in broad daylight under the feeders to catch the leftovers. A drawback to living in the city and having next door neighbors with chickens……

    • Thanks – I try to get the tightest possible focus on their eyes. The birdhouse is an old oil can with a piece of ceiling tin riveted on as a roof. The spout acts as a perch. I have had several birds check it out, but I don’t think anyone has moved in yet. Lots of birds lite on the roof or the handle and swing.

      I have never had an issue with squirrels or rodents – mostly because I have terriers. They are unconcerned with the birds, but they are serious ratters – so no rodents or even snakes.

  4. I always thought your bird photos were great anyway, but the ones in this post do seem a bit sharper. I think the wood grain in the 3rd photo looks more sharp to me.
    The sparrow feathers also look sharper to me.
    (but I wouldn’t go by my vision too much. It’s night here at the moment and I still have to re-assess my night lighting in my lounge room. Despite the new glasses, I’m still struggling to edit photos at night and I’ve been too busy to do photo editing in the mornings at the moment).

    • It’s probably just a bit sharper than the last lens, but it does focus for me when I want it to ๐Ÿ™‚ You know – at work I use a special bulb in my lamp – it’s color corrected so it matches daylight. It makes it easier to get colors right. I find editing easier in the daylight personally – but I move fast and just do basic exposure or WB correction for the most part.

  5. I love birds, and I so love these photos. I especially like the first one. You make me want to go out there and take pictures of birds too. Just not sure where/how I’d spot them ๐Ÿ˜‰ I used to have a bird tray, but my boyfriend tossed it away. Apparently, he doesn’t like birds as much as I do ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Awwww. You know it doesn’t take any special feeder – I have an old plate on a ladder that I fill with seed – birds will come. I enjoy them so much – after a crazy day at work I like to just sit outside and watch them.

      • I’ll look into getting a new feeder ๐Ÿ™‚ We do have deers passing by, behind the house though. I posted a picture in case you’d like to see ๐Ÿ™‚
        Here is still a little to cold, but yeah, nothing beats sitting outside after work ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. These birds are exquisite! One day, perhaps, I will get around to the bird in watercolor. I just love the way they come into focus with just a few of the surrounding accouterments. I especially love the one on the curved wire. Outstanding eye you have. Well-done!

    • Thanks David – I like to shoot them with the aperture wide open so that the background becomes less detailed – isolating the subject. Sometimes it feels painterly in the right light. That fellow on the wire was just staring me down ๐Ÿ™‚ I think birds would be amazing done in your technique!

  8. Great photos and they do look sharper. I recently went through the same decision process and traded in a lens to buy a new one. Congrats on your new lens! What focal length did you decide on?

    • Thanks, I shoot mirrorless so the focal lengths are equivalent to twice the standard – I went with a 75-300. It’s the same max length as the last one, but I think the IQ is a bit better.

  9. Wonderful, Lorri! I think I can tell a small difference – maybe in the first photo in particular. LOVE the bluebird! Did you get washed off the ridge? I am so glad I didn’t put my mulch out in the garden – it would be in the lake by now! K

    • I am OK up here on the mountain top, but I have this gash in the lawn from a plumbing repair that is becoming swamp like. I love that blue fella – he is a fixture in the walnut tree these days.

  10. Maybe it’s just suggestive seeing, but I think they are sharper also. I love the bluebird one! Of course they are all wonderful and so detailed. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. The expressiveness of your subjects always comes through. The clarity does seem to be more sharp. Maybe it’s because you said something, but I do think the detail in these shots does pop more than usual.

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