So, after the disapointments on day one I went back out to try again. I reset the AF fine tune to zero for the lens and the teleconverters and started from scratch.

This time the AF seams to be fairly spot on. Not sure what to make of the strange AF fine tune values the D500 software was giving me. Most likely my process was not correct. I didn’t use a special AF target, rather a pill box with fine writing on the label. This is probably not good enough.

Here is a shot at 550mm f/4.5 @ 1/2000s


Here is a 100% crop:

Screenshot 2019-02-15 at 21.11.06.png

This image was focused manually as the grass made AF difficult.
550mm f/5.0 @ 1/1000s


Here is a 100% crop:

Screenshot 2019-02-15 at 21.13.47.png

550mm f/5.0 @ 1/1000s


Here is a 100% crop:

Screenshot 2019-02-15 at 21.20.07

These shots where with the AF-S-14TC and the sharpness and contrast holds up really well.

One thing I learned on this outing was that my long lens technic needs some refining. Many of the images have some motion blur. When looking at the way I handle the camera on the gimbal I realise I am not supporting the lens the best possible way.
My Gitzo gimbal has a fluid design and a handle for smooth panning – similar to a video head. I have been holding the camera by my right hand and the gimbal handle with my left. I found this very comfortable and panning with flying birds was very easy.

Now that I look at this I realise I am not really supporting the lens very well. Photographers often like to rest their left arm on top of the lens to dampen any vibrations. I wasn’t doing this as I was holding the handle.

Here is an example of the motion blur I was getting:


Screenshot 2019-02-15 at 21.34.44

So moving forward I will change my gimbal technic and try to support the lens better.
This is particulary important when using the lens at 800mm.

Overall I am really happy with the quality. Very sharp and great contrast and colour. The size and weight is an issue, but I feel it is worth it for the results it can deliver. I am looking forward to my next shoot this weekend.




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