Today I thought I’d try to catch a dragonfly in flight, something I’ve tried many times before with little success. Whilst I still had the perennial problem of not getting quite close enough as they zipped past, I found that my hit rate was surprisingly high. Because there’s only a two-inch rotation of the focus ring from minimum distance to the infinity marker, it’s very easy to focus manually. I’d never attempt to use auto focus for these anyway, as they are way too quick, but I came away with several shots that I was quite happy with. I compared this against my 70-200 with a 1.7x converter (setting it to 270mm at f/8 to keep it fair), and didn’t even get one shot.
I’m aware that if I got a shot with that combination, it would be much sharper than this one, but any shot is better than no shot at all.
The wider maximum aperture (f/4.8) of the fast lens meant that when the dragon flew out of hyperfocal distance, I lost it completely. The Tamron’s f/6.3 allowed me to follow the insect in the viewfinder for longer, resulting in more photos. Amazingly, I think I may have just found the sole advantage of a slower lens! And again, easier to hold up to your eye for long periods.
Nikon D300; Tamron 18-270mm @ 270mm; 500 ISO; f/8; 1/640 second. VC on.