5 Frames - At A Lake With A 800mm Sigma And A Nikon F5

Once upon a time, in a bout of temporal insanity (happens more often than I dare admit), I bought an 800mm f/5.6 Sigma behemoth of a lens. Why, you ask? To scratch one of those annoying “I want that!” itches, that beset one’s mind without rhyme or reason. I started testing the darn thing with my trusty Nikon D600 and a full moon. The lens came with a 1.4x teleconverter made by Sigma. With a bit of file work, I could adapt my 2.0x Nikon made teleconverter, too. With both attached, I get a neat little focal length of 2240mm. But with my otherwise decent tripod, my tests at those focal lengths were off to a shaky start.

I got a better, sturdier tripod and a gimbal head for quick and accurate turns. A big improvement. Pictures of the Moon now were usable, though not that impressive. The lens is of an older make and model (which I only noticed, after it had arrived). It is not the sharpest tool in the box, unfortunately. I had a suspicion that the lens was made back in the film days. So I decided to try it out with a film body, the Nikon F5. Off I went with tripod, gimbal, lens and camera in my luggage, and drove down to a nearby lake to meet with a friend who wanted to play around with his self-built camera slider.

We set up at the shore of the lake and stayed there for the whole duration. The lens is darn heavy, so I could not be motivated to move around much. And the camera slider was used to try out some time-lapses, which meant that my friend had a lot of time at his hands, while bound to one place.

As it turns out, if you have a long telephoto lens, you do not need to move around much, anyways: Everything appears close by. Often way too close. We joked with people passing by (you don’t see people with weird camera equipment too often around here, and passersby sometimes like to comment) that I should take photos of their friends at the other side of the lake (a couple kilometres away).

By my judgement, the lens is not very sharp on film either. Somehow I manage to see past that in this case, though. And some of the blur is down to motion, e.g. when I tried to catch a bird in flight, or a dog playing. An aperture of f/5.6 is not that fast, and the film I used was Fomapan 100, which means it was not a very sensitive emulsion. Thus, slightly too long shutter times mean some motion blur, too.

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