Testing the photographer, not the lens

I have used Olympus gear almost exclusively since Jan. 2016. But I did not get rid of the Nikon camera and lens I used most frequently before I purchased the Olympus equipment. Last month I saw the 500mm f/4 G lens in the closet and wondered if, after 3+ years of using lighter gear, I could still handhold that 8.6 lb monster and get reasonably sharp images. So, I grabbed the D500, a couple of teleconverters, and the 500mm lens and headed to a local park - without a tripod. I was reasonably optimistic. I was still doing 100 curls with 12 lb weights and holding one weight in shooting position periodically most mornings. I think that helps even with the lighter Olympus gear. I acquired images that were not bad (in my opinion). But I’m not sure how I would do handholding the lens over a longer time period and I know my aged knees complain when I carry it over long distances.

Say’s Phoebe - D500 + 500mm f/4; 1/2500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 900

Click on images to see a larger view.

Double-crested Cormorant; D500 + 500mm f/4; 1/2500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 720

Snowy Egret; D500 + 500mm f/4; 1/2500 sec at f/7.1, ISO 320

Snowy Egret; D500 + 500mm f/4 + 1.7x teleconverter; 1/3200 sec at f/8, ISO 400

Snowy Egret; D500 + 500mm f/4; 1/2000 sec at f/6.3, ISO 125

David Sparks

I retired in 2005 after 40 years of research and teaching at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (24 years), the University of Pennsylvania (8 years) and the Baylor College of Medicine (8 years). Photography is my retirement hobby.

Nature photography, especially bird photography, combines a number of things that I really enjoy: bird-watching, being outdoors, photography, travel, messing about with computers, and learning new skills and concepts.  I now spend much of my time engaged in these activities.

David Sibley in the preface to The Sibley Guide to Birds wrote "Birds are beautiful, in spectacular as well as subtle ways; their colors, shapes, actions, and sounds are among the most aesthetically pleasing in nature."  My goal is to acquire images that capture the beauty and uniqueness of selected species as well as images that highlight the engaging behaviors the birds exhibit.