My long birding lens is a 100-300mm whose lowest f stop is f-4. There is no faster lens this long. This IS the faster lens. The other was f-4.8.

If you don’t take pictures and use lenses, you probably have no idea what an f stop is, but for the rest of you, you know that an f stop indicates how “open” the lens diaphragm is and how much light will allowed in. Are you still with me? To make this even more entertaining (and confusing), the bigger the opening, the smaller the number is for the f stop. Do not ask me why. Whoever invented cameras way back when made that decision. The numbers never made any sense to me. You just memorize them, or at least you did when I started photography, fifty years ago.

Despite the fact that almost all cameras work well in automatic and if your eyes are like mine, probably better, some of us persist in trying to take pictures based on the lens aperture or “film speed.” There is no film, but it used to be film speed. Today, it’s ASA or something like that. I let the camera take care of it.

The manual camera I used when I began taking pictures had no battery. It had no electronics, not even a light meter. We used handheld meters. Also, there was a piece of paper inside the Kodak film box that told you what settings to use for different kinds of light. We called it “the paper meter” and it worked surprisingly well. There were only three things (other than what film to choose) you needed to learn: f stop (lens aperture), shutter speed (how long the shutter stays open), and of course, remembering what speed the film is. It was easy to forget which film you loaded, especially if you often changed the kind of film you used.

The camera didn’t inform you. You couldn’t open the camera because it was film, so if you forgot, good-bye photos. In those days, you had to pay for all those blurry, bad pictures. Photography was more expensive. Now you pay for the camera and lens, but you can take thousands of pictures and you don’t have to keep paying. That’s huge. No wonder we moved with such enthusiasm into digital photography.

So this is about light. Not the light in the picture, but the light I didn’t have enough of when I took the pictures. Not to mention the nearly dead battery that I should have changed before I started taking pictures. The battery marker was flashing orange, a bad sign because if the battery is nearly dead, there’s not a lot of zip in the camera,

The light was low. It was a few minutes before sunset. There was some light, but not much. My 50mm f-1.8 lens would have worked. Even an f-2.8 lens would probably have been okay. The f-4 long lens didn’t do fine. Every picture I took of the lovely Cardinal was blurry. Twenty shots, twenty blurs. I deleted them.

So there’s starlight in all of us, but it isn’t always enough to take a clear shot at sundown in mid-winter using a 100-300 f-4 telephoto lens. So if your camera needs a fresh battery? For heaven’s sake, put one in. If the bird flies away, so be it but the pictures you take with your nearly dead battery aren’t going to be great anyway.

These are not the same pictures I’m talking about. These are better, but I couldn’t publish the others.

Photography is all about light. If you don’t have it, pictures don’t happen.

Categories: #animals, #Birds, #gallery, #Photography, Cameras

Tags: , , , ,

17 replies

  1. Pro quality shots Marilyn.
    Just Beautiful !


  2. A shame about the photos that didn’t work, but these are great, especially the cardinals. I play with the ISO in low light but like you I’m sometimes disappointed with the results. I recently invested in Topaz Sharpen AI and I find it does a good job in rescuing ‘almost’ sharp shots 🙂


  3. I like every single one of your photos. I bought one last Minolta super camera about 15 yrs ago but already then couldn’t really use it to my needs. My eyesight was already too poor and also I couldn’t carry the weight of the heavy camera any longer. From then on my only ‘demand’ in a smartphone was that it had superb cameras and the one I have now has 3 cameras, weighs three times nothing and I have resigned to have no longer stellar pics but the best I can hope to manage. And this has to be enough. I now gorge on your wonderful bird pics.


    • Most cameras do very well on automatic, but if the cell works for you, why not? It’s a lot less to carry. Weight gets more difficult to handle each year, so I carry as little as possible.


  4. Unless the light is perfect I always have to move to higher ISOs for telephoto shots. Noise isn’t a huge problem, but I know it isn’t the best the camera can do. Of course if I won the lotto I could afford that $7500 super-zoom Olympus now has… Anyway, nice shots. I really like the bluebird and the woodpeckers are nice.


    • Those are ALL using the Panny 100-300 mm which is sharper than the Oly. I had both, but this was the better lens, Granddaughter got the Oly. My eyes are not what they used to be. I have such a lot of trouble shifting from close to distance, I always seem to have the wrong glasses on — and I can’t even SEE the LED screen with any glasses — for that I need NO glasses. I have given in to using autofocus a lot more than I ever intended. I do most of the sharpening on the computer. The Topaz Sharpen and Denoise filters are a huge help. A bit slow, but they do a really good job. Some of my lenses almost always need denoising rather than sharpening, especially the 12-200 which lives on the Pen F. It’s fine in bright light, but not so great otherwise. Still, it’s an exceptionally convenient lens. I think they are making a Pro lens in that range, but I doubt I could afford it. Many of the pro lens prices are over the top for me though I’ve had some luck getting a few second hand. Not many, though. People hang on to them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Most of uses are on a computer screen, so it is hard to see a big difference in the sharpness, but I do know that my old Oly 75-300 (I think that is what it was) really showed how soft it was when I moved from EM-5 to EM-1! I have one Pro lens, the Oly 12-40 F2.8 that I got as a kit lens. It is great, but… Yeah, just priced out lenses and all the Pros are so, so expensive.


        • I also could see the difference when I got the EM-1. It was obvious. The Oly is soft — and kind of noisy. I didn’t need both lenses, so Kaity has the Oly and I kept the (more expensive) Pan 100-300. I’ve never regretted it. I had to save for that one, too. It’s about 50% more than the 80-300 Oly.

          I could get a 12-45 pro for under $500, but I think I need a camera more than I need a lens. If only I could afford both.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been relying on my phone for taking photographs, but thinking of reverting to a proper camera again… your images are so inspiring!


  6. These are superb! I especially love the last one ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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