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on Jun 4, 2014 in Gear Head Wed

GearHead Wednesday 14 – 21


Got a gear question you want/need answered? I want to help and answer it. Send your gear questions to me at Gear Questions and I’ll do my best every Wednesday to answer as many questions as I can. Questions are really light this week, you run out of them? Keep in mind the answers are just my $.02 worth and you have to take what works for you and your photography and embrace it and ignore the rest. So here’s this weeks questions ….

I have a Nikon 800mm 5.6 VR and use it most of the time with the 1.25 attached. Have you ever used the 1.4 or 1.7 on yours and, if you have, how much sharpness do you feel you lose?

Randy, that’s a cool, great lens, huh?! I shoot with the 800f5.6 pretty much all the time and have tried it every way you can imagine. So ya, have shot it with the 1.4x, 1.7x and 2x and all with great success. I have not seen any “loss” in sharpness with them and use the 2x quite a bit. What I do experience is a “slower” lens with the 2x making it a f/11 and the AF non-operational lens. With autofocus so critical to my work, I only use the 2x on a subject, like a nesting raptor, when I don’t expect any real subject movement. One of the great things about the D4s is that with the dedicated 1.25x that comes with the 800mm, you have Group Auto Area AF (since you loose Auto Area AF when you attach a converter D3/D4/D4s) and that is simply a killer system! The issue most photogs run into when attaching a teleconveter to a 500mm or 600mm is a loss in sharpness and that is usually attributed to the converter. I think if they locked down the lens and camera body with two separate tripods and shot a target, they would find the combo does deliver a sharp image. The narrow angle of view the teleconverter creates makes even the slightest movement magnified. So the sharpness issue is what we politely call, pilot error. Hope this helps and keep that gorgeous lens eating up the pixels!!

Hi Moose
I have a couple of questions.
1. Do you tune your lenses? If so what do you use. What do you think of the Dot Tune method?
2. In a previous post you mentioned that you use UV filters on the front of all of your lenses to protect the front element from scratches etc. My question is- Do you leave it on when you put on a polarizing or neutral density filter or do you remove it before putting the filter on. I use B+W filters on the front of my lenses and I have been removing them before putting on a polarizer and I’m wondering if I need to.


Al, this is a real common question, tuning lenses. And the simple answer is, no. I have not found any lens I own, rented, or borrowed, that wasn’t sharp and requiring tuning. I know many folks who do and swear by it and if that works for them, most excellent. Sorry, never seen or tried the Dot Tune method.
When it comes to the Nikon NC filter, I leave it on all my lenses when attached the polarizer or the split grad. Your questions all center around the basic common concern and issue most photographers have and that’s sharpness. My peers and I have one huge advantage when it comes to sharpness then everyone else, and that’s decades behind the camera. Little things like proper handholding and long technique are two big things like knowing where to focus and DoF make getting not only a sharp image but how to lead the eye through the frame with sharpness second nature. KISS is something I firmly believe in as the best way to get a sharp image that grabs the viewer’s heartstrings.