Sunset at the Zoo with Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 VR2 AF-S lens on a Nikon D7000 Body

Sometimes the best way to test gear is to take it out for a camera date.

Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR2 at f2.8 1/160 Sec, VR on, With Monopod, Pink Flamingo

Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR2 @ 180mm f2.8 1/160 Sec, VR on, ISO 100 With Monopod


Why is testing gear different than using it?  Well, a test is an opportunity, when the meter isn’t running with a nervous playing client, to learn camera, lens accessories etc.

Take your camera out on a date.  You can afford the luxury of trying things you would never do in a production shoot.  In a production shoot, we must do what we know, unless that is completely failing, in that case, try what ever it takes to get the shot.

A test date allows experimentation.  If it doesn’t work out, no one needs to know.  No refunds need be issued, or worst, clients disappointed.  Caulk it all up to learning.

In this case, I was experimenting with shutter speed, bokeh and aperture priority vs manual exposure modes using my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G ED VR II AF-S at the Phoenix Zoo.

The camera is my usual Nikon  D7000.

Also along is the  Manfrotto 334B Automatic Monopod and the Manfrotto 234RC head.

A monopod is essential for a more stable and therefore more clear shot.

Why not a tripod?  Tripods are much slower to readjust for moving objects like birds and monkeys.

The Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G ED VR II AF-S has buttery smooth bokeh.  Quick and accurate to focus, and with lots and lots of detail in images of far away animals, some of which move very quickly.

The croppings shown are the central parts of the actual images,  click here to view or purchase a high resolution image of the flamingo.  Great details, what?

Time is about 4:30 PM.  The sun is already low in the southwest sky and the light is getting warm.

Only post processing of images is to adjust for exposure, contrast, recovery and the like.

And, each image is cropped to get the most interesting final compositions.

Monkey with blood on its hands, fresh kill, Phoenix Zoo, Nikon 70-200 VR2 f2.8 zoom AF-S

Note the red blood on the Monkey's fingers, Nikon 70-200 VR2 f2.8 @ 165mm f/4.0 ISO 400, 1/1000 sec

There is no additional saturation.  These colors are very vivid.

There are lots and lots of detail in these cropped images, click here to view or purchase a high resolution image of the monkey with the bloody hands.  Do look at his hands …

The flamingo colors were brought out mainly by dialing down exposure a tad in Lightroom. Wow, are they pink!

The monkeys had gotten their hands on, or rather had throttled and torn asunder, a black crow like bird.

Monkey at zoo with fresh killed bird in trees

Wait for the catch light of the sun in their eyes to give a more alive look. Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR2 @ f/4.0 ISO 400, Aperture Priority Pattern Metering, 1/1000 sec

The red of its flesh, and its blood on the monkey faces and hands is not enhanced.

Why did I shoot the monkeys at f/4.0?

I wanted a bit more sharpness and depth of field (DOF).  They were often moving fast inside the branches.  The ISO was cranked up to 400, this allowed me to shoot a bit faster.

The monkeys move bits of themselves at speeds which blur their motions.

As you can see, click here to view or purchase of a high resolution image, there is lots of detail with the D7000 and 70-200mm f2.8G VR II set to f4.0.   Even in this cropped image, the bokeh is still pleasant, though not razor thin.

If you miss the action with monkeys, you cannot ask them to do it again … It’s not every day you can catch them catching a bird.

I find the 70-200mm f2.8G VR II is perfect for this kind of reach out and bokeh someone photography.


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