We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Some readers have asked what tools my pal used for his fine outdoor Churchill photos which I have been posting for the past week.
He says "I only use Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400 zoom, f4 straight through." I don't know what any of that means, but readers might. I don't do photography - I take snapshots. When I was young, I drew pictures and painted pictures.
Well, I'm no expert photographer either but that sort of lens means you can get good composition from a considerable distance (as much as 1000 feet away probably), and the f4 means you can get the subject to be very clear and with great contrast even at that distance. It's a helluva photograph in other words. Which we already knew.
If you hang out with photographers for any length of time, you'll learn quickly to not ask them how their "pictures" turn out.
Photographers take "photographs", not "pictures".
I'm sure glad I'm a picture taker...
What it means is that your friend has damn fine gear, probably the best DSLR available today and one of the most exquisite lenses in the Nikon repertoire, weighing just over 7 pounds and costing $1K per pound. I own the D800 plus the poor man's version of his 200-400mm lens, the Nikon 80-400mm.
How's the 80-400? I have the d800 and have been curious about the new 80-400. I'm very fond of a beat up old 300 f4 I got cheap fr keh that does well w the d800 but not enough reach for ferocious or shy animals. For those I use an olympus e5 w the spectacular 150 f2 and a tele converter. Or the 50-200. Four thirds cameras are much cheaper and smaller than Nikon and give you a 2x multiplier and the e5 is good inRain snow sand etc. it handled Iceland glacier hiking and inside waterfalls and the Grand Canyon well. But Nikon has the best image quality, fastest autofocus and lowlight ability so if you're rich, it's the way to go. Time to get a second job to save up for the 200-400. But BD's friend, I suspect, is just a rare talent. Awesome pix! Those foxes were to die for. Please pass my admiration on...(and can I have the lens if he/she dies?!)
I haven't done a thorough test of it yet, but I did shoot some pictures of the moon at f=400mm the other night and found my copy to be extremely sharp straight OoTC for a microadjustment of +6. In general shooting around the local neighborhood, the colors and contrast I'm getting are very good. My 70-200mm VR II is very sharp over its entire zoom range (it requires a microadjustment of -3 for the absolute best performance), but I haven't compared the two lenses at the focal lengths where they overlap. I hope to do a complete comparison test next month after I've used the latest version of Michael Tapes' "Focus Tune" software to tune both lenses.
My original plan was to stick with the 70-200mm throughout its zoom range and then switch over to the 80-400mm when I needed the 200-400mm range, e.g., in shooting photos of surfers or when birding. The 70-200mm doesn't have quite enough range for that. Based on the moon photos, I'd say the 80-400mm is definitely a superb choice for the total solar eclipse trip I plan to take in 2016...although I actually got terrific shots of the November 2012 total solar eclipse using just a Panasonic FZ200 superzoom camera.
oops. I forgot to mention that the Nikon TC20EIII tele-extender, which I've used on my 70-200mm, is pretty mediocre, hence I bought the 80-400mm. I also have a Panasonic G6 MFT along with quite a few MFT lenses, including Panasonic's superb 100-300mm, a combination that also yields excellent moon shots. However, the resolution of even the best MFT sensors falls short for landscapes, of which I do a lot, especially panoramas, and there is nothing like the D800 for that kind of work. Once you've used the D800, there's nothing that will compare. It produces the most glorious photos.
I agree that the d800 spoils one because of its resolution. I've been surprised by how some older lenses do well with it (e.g. my 300 f4, and others do not e.g.: my 70-200 VR I (that had vignetting with the D700 also). It does well with the 70-200 f4 but one can't get super low light shots with it.
My spouse is sick of my whining about the IQ of the Olympus shots I get with MFT when we travel (the OMD EM5). You can get the shots with it, and it's a discreet system in camera shy environments,and the fast primes are great, but nothing quite as detailed.
Maybe after your recommendation I'll put the 80-400 on my Xmas list...(and some joker in the family will give me a coffee cup model).
"Nikon D800" -- extremely good digital SLR
200-400mm = zooms from 4x to 8x magnification
f/4 = a wide aperture, which yields good detail and a shallow depth of field. Translated from the jargon, that means it does really good at making the subject sharp and the background blurred.
"I don't do photography - I take snapshots."
The difference between "snapshot" and "photograph" has nothing to do with your equipment. It's entirely a matter of the subject and the viewer's reaction to same.