Sunday, January 3, 2021

AF-S NIKKOR 300MM F/4E PF ED VR AF-S Tested - Updated



Tested - UPDATE - LOVE IT!!

Back in October 2018 the good folks at Nikon (thanks Tony) loaned me an AF-S NIKKOR 300MM F/4E PF ED VR AF-S lens to try out.

The timing was great as I was heading  north to run my North Queensland Bird and Nature Photography workshop with Dick Jenkin and, from what I had read, this lens held a lot of promise.

To cut a long story short, I bought one on my return. It still remains the lens that is usually sitting on my camera ready for action. I have since purchased the Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Lens which is also a beauty but for lightweight convenience, the 300 remains in front.

So, a bit about this lens.

The first thing you notice is its size and weight. For a 300mm lens its small and very light coming in at around .7kg. In fact its lighter than a 24-70 f/2.8 zoom and almost identical in size. So, it fits very easily into a camera bag.

The lens comes with all the usual things we expect these days like VR (vibration reduction) with normal and sport modes. You can also limit the focus to 3m to infinity which speeds up focusing on more distant subjects. And it has instant manual focus override, always nice to have when you need to tweak the focus manually.

The lens has Nikon's ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens elements as well as Nano-crystal coatings and fluorine coating on the front element to repel water, grease etc. But the real secret to this lenses' performance is a PF (Phase Fresnel) lens element. This element does some magic mumbo jumbo to keep the weight down and reduce chromatic aberration. The lens also has Nikon's SWM (Silent Wave focus Motor) for ultra quick and quiet auto-focus.

The filter thread is 77mm which is the same as Nikon's 24-70, 16-35, 70-200 and probably quite a few others. So your existing polarising or ND filters will screw straight on.

So that all sounds wonderful but how does it perform in the real word?

It is sharp! Very sharp and from edge to edge. I couldn't discern any noticeable fall off towards the edges of my images. I tested the lens on a Nikon D850, a Nikon Z7, a Z6 and more recently a Z7II  and combined with the resolution of those camera the results were outstanding.

My primary target during the test has been birds, both stationery and in flight. I have been rewarded with superb fine feather detail and excellent auto focus capturing birds in flight.

It is an f4 lens so there is a 1 stop light penalty when compared to a 300 f/2.8 but the light weight and the brilliant high ISO performance of modern cameras makes the 1 stop almost meaningless. The light weight will appeal to travellers who constantly hold their breath when checking in at airline counters and also to people who are finding the heavy weight of big primes or zooms is getting more difficult to handle. The light weight also makes this lens so easy to wield when photographing birds in flight or other moving subjects.

You can check out more details and pricing from Camera Pro here.

Well that pretty much covers it so here are some sample images with the settings used for each.

Amazon Parrot
Nikon D850 Nikkor 300 f/4 PF
1/800s @ f/4 ISO 720

King Parrot
Nikon Z7 Nikkor 300 f/4 PF
1/320s @ f/4 ISO 560
Brown Honeyeater
Nikon Z7 Nikkor 300 f/4 PF with 1.4tcIII
1/320s @ f/5.6 ISO 1800

Juvenile Male King Parrot
Nikon Z7II Nikkor 300 f/4 PF with 1.4tcIII and SB910 Speedlight
1/60s @ f/5.6 ISO64 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

13 Day South West Queensland Outback Wide Open Spaces, Birds and Wildflowers Adventure Tour and Workshop Saturday 27 March - Thursday 8 April 2021


20200915 090529 Kilcowera Station DSC 1504

On again in 2021

13 Day South West Queensland Outback Wide Open Spaces, Birds and Wildflowers Adventure Tour and Workshop

Saturday 27 March - Thursday 8 April 2021

Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-42

Hi Everyone,

Join me again in 2021 as the weather begins to cool as I take you to the real Queensland Outback. We'll stay at working cattle properties and a few country pubs along the way. 
There will be dust. 
There will be the odd fly. 
Accommodation will be modest. 
But, there will be birds. Lots and lots of birds. 
There will be stunning outback sunsets. 
There will be incredibly clear outback night skies. 
And you'll enjoy country style home cooked meals and of course good country hospitality. 
This will truly be an amazing outback adventure!

Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-43
Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-47

The first two workshops were outstanding successes and I am very keen to share the experience with you again.

Join me as we tour in air-conditioned 4x4s west along the Adventure Way right out to Thargominda and beyond.

We'll kick off with a magic three nights at 'Wagganba Station', a working cattle station situation between Surat and St George. 
Wagganba is not open to the public so this is an exceptional opportunity to visit an amazing location.

Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-50

But that's only the start. We'll head much further west where that landscape, wildflowers, vegetation, crops and birdlife continue to change.

We'll stay in country pubs in Eulo and Thallon. There will be more working cattle stations for us at Charlotte Plains and Kilcowera Station teeming with birdlife.

Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-52

This tour is not just about visiting new and exciting locations. It's also about learning new techniques and honing your skills. 
Aside from lots of birds we'll look at focus stacking for landscape and macro photography. We'll do a number of astro shoots with incredibly clear outback skies. 
Time permitting we'll look at post processing techniques and I'll use your images to show you what you really can achieve. And much more.

To find out more and book, click on the button below to go to the website.

Spaces are limited with a maximum of 6 participants.

If you'd like even more information feel free to call me on 0459 221 678.

Until next time, please stay safe and I hope to see you in the outback.



Live, Laugh, Photograph

Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-36
20200918 062021 Thallon Silos DSC 0520-Edit HDR
Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-38
Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-51
Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-49
20200911 180507 Charlotte Plains Birds DSC 5012
20200911 123351 Charlotte Plains Wildflowers IMG 6603
20200911 143154 Charlotte Plains DSZ 1438 HDR
Wildlife Birds Landscape Outback Queensland-1-19
20200909 164400 Wagganba DSZ 1379
20200910 170501 Bollon and Charlotte Plains DSC 3808

Monday, November 23, 2020

New Zealand - South Island - New Revised Itinerary 3 - 17 March 2021 - Open for Bookings


20170303 050241 Moeraki Boulders MR21725 HDR

New Zealand - South Island - New Revised Itinerary

3 - 17 March 2021 - Open for Bookings

New Zealand - Land of the Long White Cloud

Hi Everyone,

Subject to Covid-19 restrictions and Australia - New Zealand travel bubble opening up please allow me to invite you to join me as we explore New Zealand's magnificent South Island for a jam-packed photographic adventure.

This new photography tour encompasses previous favourites but now includes exciting new destinations and an off-shore pelagic charter trip.

This really is the ''Best of New Zealand" south island photography tour. Check out some of the details below or go straight to the website for all the information -> HERE

New Zealand Photography Workshop and Tour-7
20170224 060906 Moeraki MR20602

We start in Christchurch for our first get together and then we head north to Kaikoura for an amazing photographic opportunity photographing albatross and other pelagic birds.

Continuing north we visit Blenheim before traversing the very scenic Wairau Valley and Buller Gorge as we make our way to our next overnight stop at Westport.

Heading south from Westport is New Zealand's answer to the famous Californian Big Sur. A truly magnificent coastal scenic drive with many, many landscape/seascape opportunities along the way.

After a night in Greymouth we'll head south stopping at Lake Mahinapua to demonstrate the use of 'Big Stopper' neutral density filters to good effect, to remove ripples from the water to create a mirror-lake surface.

Further on the Whataroa River fed by blue glacier water will captivate you.

New Zealand Photography Workshop and Tour-32
New Zealand Workshop Tour Photography-1-13

Along the way you'll have the opportunity to take an optional helicopter flight south over the glaciers. As well as Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers you'll see many others that are to all intents and purposes, inaccessible other than by air.

A stop at Okarito lagoon and a bird walk and then onto our accommodation at Franz Joseph Glacier.

You'll take an easy hike through other worldly terrain to the base of Franz Joseph Glacier and Fox Glacier. The grandeur and scale of these massive flows of ice will astound you.

Heading further south, we have a day of waterfalls and streams in store. Hidden gems just begging for your tripod and camera await along our route. We'll shoot Jimmy's Falls, Haast Falls, Fantail Falls and others.

Then the famous Wanaka Tree. Sunset will be a special treat as we photograph the famous icon. For those who are keen we'll re-shoot the tree after dinner with the Milky Way as our backdrop.

New Zealand Workshop Tour Photography-1-5

On our way to Queenstown you'll visit St Bathans to photograph the Blue lakes.

We'll lunch at the wonderful old hotel where there will ample time to photograph the old buildings and farm machinery.

A day of rest (maybe) in Queenstown jet boating, chair lift or just relaxing.

You will visit historic Arrowtown where you can wander and explore the Old Chinese Settlement.

20170215 072740 Fox Glacier Chopper Flight DSC2905

Leaving Queenstown we make our way across to Dunedin where the Otago Peninsula Albatross colony is a must-see. You'll have the opportunity to photograph these magnificent birds as they soar on the coastal updrafts. We'll visit a colony where you'll have access to see some of the albatross nesting.

New Zealand Workshop Tour Photography-1-4
New Zealand Photography Workshop and Tour-38

As we head north we'll visit the Orokonui Ecosanctuary (great bird opportunities) before making our way to Moeraki.

The Moeraki Boulders will be a landscape highlight of your New Zealand adventure. A sunset shoot will see these incredible structures at their best.

A sunrise shoot at the Moeraki Boulders will be followed by a visit to photograph Yellow-eyed Penguins and seals.

You'll visit the Tasman Glacier and take in magnificent Mount Cook.

20170217 041046 Wanaka Tree DSC4088 HDR
20170217 111520 St Bathans DSC4164 HDR-Edit-2

This New Zealand photo adventure will fill up very quickly. We are keeping it to a maximum of 8 photographers to ensure your comfort and access to photography guidance and tuition.

Please get in quick and book your spot today.

Your photography tour Includes :

Accommodation for 15 nights starting in Christchurch night of 3/03/2021 ending in Christchurch night of 16/03/2020
All Meals (except lunch on Day10)
Entrance fees to all Parks
Cruise fees at Kaikoura
Otago Peninsular Albatross Colony fees
Entry to Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Exclusions :

All incidental personal items.
Optional helicopter flights at Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers
Flights to / from New Zealand

For more details and detailed day-to-day itinerary please have a look on the Trekabout website -> HERE

To book your spot please call Mark on 0459 221 678 or email.

New Zealand Workshop Tour Photography-1-8
New Zealand Workshop Tour Photography-1-10

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Australia Zoo Experience Photography Workshop Book your safari now! Sunday 6 December 2020


Aus Zoo028

Australia Zoo Experience Photography Workshop 

Book your safari now! 


Sunday 6 December 2020


Hi Everyone,

If you dream of photographing giraffes and zebras in Africa but haven't quite made it there yet, then this is the next best thing. Join me on this photography adventure shooting wildlife at our very own Australia Zoo at Beerwah near the Sunshine Coast (with cameras of course).

Our day starts just after 9:00am where we meet inside Australia Zoo. Once everyone has arrived, we will board the next "train" to Africa. During the train trip our guide will explain about the different areas of the Zoo to prepare you for a terrific day ahead.

When we arrive in Africa, there will be a brief session on best-practice wildlife photography techniques, which will include specifics that are relevant to photographing animals in captive situations and in the wild. After the briefing, meerkats, giraffes, rhinos and zebras are all fair game for your lenses.

A quick morning tea (on the run) and then we are off to the Asia to photograph tigers and gorgeous red pandas with a quick detour to Madagascar to shoot the Lemurs along the way. Lunch is a treat where we will visit the eatery above the Crocoseum where you can view the Wildlife Warriors show.

20140802 152734 Australia Zoo MR23226-Edit
20180602 111542 Australia Zoo

After lunch the cute otters are due to be fed and will be sure to put on a show. Australia Zoo’s famous crocodiles are next , followed by Tasmania devils, dingoes, koalas, cassowaries and much more. Mark will be on hand throughout to talk to you one-on-one, and make sure you are utilising your camera to its potential. There is no planned afternoon tea break but there will be time to grab a drink along the way.

We also venture to ‘Roo Haven’ where there are different species of kangaroos and wallabies to photograph at close range. There are also echidnas nearby, which always make for great photos. To finish off the day, we will spend time in the huge walk-through bird aviary, where there are many varieties of birds to photograph.

20180602 160318 Australia Zoo
20180602 144014 Australia Zoo-2

At the end of the last session in the walk-through bird aviary, we will do a wrap-up of the day and Mark will answer any questions or help with any niggling problems you may be having with your photography. We finish off around 4:00pm. (During the day, there will be ample opportunity for you to talk to Mark and ask any questions you may have in regards to wildlife photography or photography in general).

To book, email or hop online and complete the booking form -> here.

20120105 112450 MPR 6021