D800, vulture sunbathing and 70-200mm f/2.8 VR shortcomings

It’s been a while since I last updated my blogsite. Things have been hectic, really hectic.

Work in Paris has been increasing to one of those “crunch” times where you just have to get the work done. I’ve been a bit stressed out, but things are better now fortunately 🙂

In terms of making sure I strike that work / life balance, I’m spending more time down in the Pyrénées with my mum and having those lovely relaxing weekends. Staying at the bergerie helps too – it’s pure bliss and the view from the house never gets tiring – ever!

Last time I went down there, I brought my tripod and 70-200mm lens to put together another great pano. Having just treated myself to a D800 which I justified by the increased resolution, base ISO of 100 and proper, full, h.264 1080p video, I wanted to get an even higher resolution panoramic stitch together.

And whilst I was there, setting it up early morning, I spotted three rather strange looking objects in the field in front. Zooming to the 200mm, I get this shot.

Vultures sunbathing in the distance

Having taken the photo, I zoom in to get a better idea, and it was just three vultures who I guess decided to spread their wings to get some morning sun heat into them!

After a while they eventually flew off and I went on setting myself up for the pano.

After taking around 100 shots, I download them onto the computer and do a quick check. I couldn’t do much with the large files as I hadn’t updated my work laptop with the latest Lightroom meaning it couldn’t read the D800 RAW files (around 42-43 MB each!). So I had to content myself with the small JPEGs.

Whilst checking those JPEGs, I noticed some horrible softness in the corners. I check on multiple shots and it’s the same :O I had never noticed that softness before and after a bit of digging on the internet, it became apparent why. The first version of the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR has this optical quality issue when focussing at infinity (which I was for the pano). It can result in horrible mushy corners. I’ve had the lens for a couple of years but had never really noticed this before because I had always used it for portraiture and so focussing at closer distances.

Having returned home and transferred the photos onto my desktop where I can read the RAW files, I’ve put a stitch together but it isn’t really quite as sharp as I’d like, mainly due to that corner softness. It could also be that with the awesome 36MP resolution of the D800, that softness is all the more apparent when pixel-peeping than when I was using it with the D3s or D700.

So all in all, I’ve decided not to play around with that particular set of photos in stitching them together. As it turns out, I’ll be back in the Pyrénées this weekend and will take my 200mm f/2.0 VR lens with me. Yes it’s overkill for doing landscape photography, but at least with that lump of glass, I know it’s just perfect corner to corner, whether at f/2.0 or f/5.6, whether focussing at 2.2m or infinity 😀

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