Miscellaneous Birds and Some More Words on Aperture (Three Photographs)
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A Flicker, Green Heron and a House Finch. All of these were taken at apertures between F5.6 and F8 with a 200-500mm lens on an APC cropped sensor. Telephoto lenses have always been important for bird photography. Long zooms have been available for a while with variable apertures depending on the zoom (e,g, F5.6-F8), with the smallest aperture at the long end of the zoom. More expensive and heavier lenses have a constant and smaller aperture such as F2.8. With all of these lenses the farther away the subject, the more depth of field you get for any given aperture. So with an expensive and heavy lens, I could shoot a bird at F2.8 (which on my camera is actually F4 – due to the cropped sensor) with some confidence the bird would be in focus. Nikon and others have come out with lenses that compromise, such as a 200-500mm lens that has a constant F stop of 5.6. Lenses are always sharper one F stop or more from the smallest aperture, so an F5.6 lens might be shot at F8 or F6.3, depending on whether you set your camera up for half stops. This minor compromise, more depth of field, has an impact on the background and foreground of the photograph, but on the other hand the lenses are cheaper by a large margin and less heavy. Indeed the Nikon 200-500 is more than half a kilo and thousands of dollars less than the Nikon 300 2.8. In photography there are always compromises.