Friday, July 1, 2011

D7000 and 70-300VR – Let’s try this one in the garden, shall we?

I had just finished blogging the 18-200VR as garden lens (along with its many other talents) and thought that I should take 5 minutes and explore its bigger brother, the rather excellent 70-300VR. This is the lens to get with a shorter lens if you want a very nice long lens on the cheap.

I left the previous post (the one before the talking dog :-) with a couple of images of the False Spirea buds and the pool ladder in the background. These images showed a bit of a weakness in the zoom lens with VR, that being slightly busy bokeh. In fact, there are donut shaped circles all over the second last image, and that is a big off.

Here’s a reminder of the second last image from that post:

The 70-300VR brings two advantages to the table when shooting a scene like this. It pulls in the background, spreading it out so we see much less of it, and it gets us closer to the subject if we prefer that. Even if we walk backwards to get a similar magnification on the subject, the background will still be better. As shown here …

That’s just waaaaay more pleasant to look at and the bokeh is much smoother too. The donuts are barely hinted at and the circles are larger. It’s no longer an overly “busy” image.

At 300mm, the Daisy looks quite nice against a fairly smooth background. The lens is decently sharp, although a macro lens should give more “bite” …

Since this is a zoom lens, and since it is regarded as having superb image quality from 70mm through 200mm, I dialed it back to 200 and shot again.

The Daisy surely looks as sharp as can be, yet the loss of the perspective of the extra 100mm makes more of an overall difference. The 70-300VR is good enough at 300mm (in the center for sure) to compensate for the slight loss of sharpness over the shorter focal lengths.

Here, we see the Annabelle Hydrangea with a budding flower in front of a flower in full bloom. I really like how this plant brings it flowers out one by one, creating an ever-changing mosaic of colors. The color differences are again visible in this portrait of a single flower:

Again, really smooth bokeh. I turned a bit to my left and shot the False Spirea, a freshly bloomed flower in isolation. Very smooth background. A little busy near the top of the image, though, as this lens cannot render the closer bokeh as perfectly smooth. I’m not sure how a macro lens would have handles that. I’ll have to try in the next few days.

I backed out then and shot the two Hydrangeas as a solid field. Here you can see the varying stages of the flowers and this is augmented by the excellent of my plant maintenance with many grey flower heads from last year adding to the cacophony of color. That was planned, yes it was.

Moving to the mystical … when I was trying to keep my pathetic snow fence from falling down (to avoid a tragic drowning), I had to buy a couple of these trellises from WalMart. I figured I could use them later in the garden for climbing vines. We’ll see …

And lastly, as I was getting ready to come in to write this dazzling blog entry, I noticed a Porter Air flight approaching my yard. I’m on the flight path for these guys on certain days (depending on wind direction of course) … Porter flies these turboprops from Ottawa to the Toronto Island airport, the one not far from the foot of the CN Tower.

I waited a moment and caught it again as it passed overhead:

The extra reach of the 70-300VR is really appreciated when shooting far away items …

So there you have it. Another tour of my garden. Boring, I know. Not a lot of flowers these days … I really need to get some more variety back into the gardening. Maybe once my new fence is up I can redo the part of the garden that Karen and I leveled last weekend …

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