70-200: Animal attractions

_DSC7334This week my wife and I took advantage of the good weather and took a trip to Twycross Zoo. This gave me a great opportunity to use the Tamron 70-200 in one of the most popular circumstances for a lens of this type.
The beauty of using a telephoto lens in a situation like this becomes apparent the instant you start to shoot through a wire fence. As long as the light is coming from the right direction, the fast aperture and minimal depth of field allows you to make a fence disappear entirely from shot. The high quality glass takes care of the rest, picking out pin sharp detail. Similarly, dirty glass goes from being a distraction from the main subject, to a contrast-reducing soft-focus filter, as in this shot of a female bonobo.

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I’ve always quite enjoyed using a 70-200 when visiting zoos. The ability to zoom is a real bonus when composing an image, as you are often limited in where you can stand and how much you can move around your subjects. I was able to focus on an area of interest which allowed me to highlight the behaviour of the elephant, and not just the enclosed nature of its surroundings.

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On the day we went to Twycross, there wasn’t much need for the Vibration Compensation system. The shutter speeds I used were all sufficiently high not to require it, although there was no impairment on image quality from leaving it on. Later in the week, the weather changed considerably. When shooting this red tailed hawk in the middle of a downpour, I was able to use the VC to reduce my shutter speed to capture streaks of rain, making a more interesting backdrop for the photograph without the need for a tripod.

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I’m finding the VC to be quite serviceable. It works differently to other systems I’ve used in a lens of this length. It can’t lock on quite so well as the Nikon system, but once it’s activated, it works consistently until you release the shutter button, without resetting itself and jumping back to a central position. I see this as a plus, as it’s a little more predictable in its operation than my existing 70-200. My ability to hold a lens steady has been honed by excessive use of high magnification macro shooting, so this way of working suits me better. Others may feel differently. Either way, its inclusion in this lens does allow me to be more flexible with my settings.

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