I visited Conowingo Dam for eagles at the end of November, staying into the beginning of December. The first day we were there, the eagles really put on a show. Eagles are maybe the epitome of photographing raptors, exhilarating, and I admit that the majestic presence of these birds with their elegance in flight makes for exciting action photos.
You definitely need a telephoto lens. The Tamron G2 150-600mm was a new experience for me being a bit heavier than my Nikkor 80-400mm. Considering these were eagles coming right towards us, I did not have the lens fully zoomed out. Some images were at 260mm with no tele-converter like I used in the next few days. I am uncertain why with the same setting the lower image has the pale sky. Maybe it was the angle of shoot. I was having trouble with my camera so that could explain the difference. The whole sequence of flight and fight of about 20 images only took a number of seconds.
I was going to review this lens, but feel I may need some additional time using it to garner a good opinion. Having camera trouble may tarnish my review. The camera was freezing up or not focusing when I could even depress the shutter.
I need to do a firmware update to see if it fixes the issue. I would have liked shooting at f/5.6 to blow out the background for a stronger shot, but the camera or lens would not stop up beyond f8. The camera was set to Continuous and AFC d9, which means 9 rather than one focus point. More than 9 focus points may have not made the eagles focused easily or properly.
You can see the lens performed rather well hand holding it, but a tripod is recommended for shooting fast and erratic moving birds of prey. Most photographers had a professional tripod. I am thinking of getting one myself.
After 10 hours each day, the lens did become heavy to hand hold. I have images on GWGT that were taken on a tripod. At over a quarter-mile across the Susquehanna, the eagles were relatively in focus for that distance, and even having on a 1.4x tele-converter the second and third day.
I am glad I did not have the tele-converter on for these images. The eagles would not have been in the frame. I also had the full-frame camera sensor set at 1:2, giving me more “distance” on the eagles.
One nice thing about this Dam, the sun is behind you most of the day and since big birds like to take off into the wind, I was already standing downwind for these shots, getting a decent shot of the head and wingspan as the eagles flew towards me.
Combining the great zoom range, vibration control and USD AF in this lighter lens of reasonable price, this lens is rather a great addition for any wildlife photographer. While I would prefer to have a prime lens for better quality, this lens is much lighter weight to cart around. When I use it more, I will do a more thoughtful review.
Considering how fast-moving these eagle interactions occur, the lens did a nice job. I have more eagle pics to show since I took over 1800 photos. A lot of sorting to do though.