My last two weeks have been about testing lenses because in just seven weeks I will be off to Kenya for 10 days of safari shooting. So, I have been out practicing for the trip.
One big change has been the availability of the Nikon D800 camera. One can switch between FX and DX shooting quite easily, which means if you have a 300mm lens, by shooting in DX mode, one is now shooting at 450mm! But, of course, in so doing one is giving up lots of resolution.
The settings yield different resolutions.
- FX format (36 x 24): 7,360 x 4,912 (L), 5,520 x 3,680 (M), 3,680 x 2,456 (S)
- 1.2x (30 x 20): 6,144 x 4,080 (L), 4,608 x 3,056 (M), 3,072 x 2,040 (S)
- DX format (24 x 16): 4,800 x 3,200 (L), 3,600 x 2,400 (M), 2,400 x 1,600 (S)
- 5:4 (30 x 24): 6,144 x 4,912 (L), 4,608 x 3,680 (M), 3,072 x 2,456 (S)
So, a DX format shot will yield a 15.3 Megapixel image, as compared to a FX format shot which will yield a 35.1 Megapixel image. The DX format is a tradeoff, but it is there for those of us who simply cannot afford to buy a 400mm lens.
There are other choices as well. One can choose the 1.2x mode, shoot in FX format, and get a 25 Megapixel image. This means that a 300mm lens becomes a 360mm lens.
Or, if you really need reach you can shoot in 1.2x mode, FX format, use a 1.4x extender, and wind up with a 882mm lens! (300mm X 1.2x X 1.5x X 1.4x = 882mm). Cool, huh?
In sum, the D800 and 300mm f/4 Lens along with a 1.4x extender is one heck of a great combination. And, what I like about it, is that the combination is thousands of dollars less than buying a Nikon 400mm lens alone.
So, how good is the 300mm f/4 lens? Well, I gotta tell you, it is simply awesome, one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used. It is simply superb.