Conowingo Dam Fighting Eagles with Tamron 150-600mm Lens

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1/2500 f8 ISO 2500 260mm Nikon D750

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.

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1/2500 f8 ISO 2500 500mm Nikon D750

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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20 Responses to Conowingo Dam Fighting Eagles with Tamron 150-600mm Lens

  1. that next-to-the-last shot is my favorite! even if you weren’t totally comfortable with your lens, you did an amazing job!

    since ‘chikunguny’ my hands hurt/cramp easily, so i totallly understand how an 10 hours of shooting would be challenge.

    heading to the other site to see the rest of the beauties!

  2. How far away from you were these eagles interacting?

  3. Hillechien says:

    wow stunning pictures, beautifully captured

  4. Bill says:

    Beautiful shots Donna, you had better luck with that lens than I.

  5. Amazing photos! You even caught the fish dropping! Was either eagle able to get the fish in the end?

  6. alesiablogs says:

    wonderful photos. so much fun to look at Donna

  7. These are beautiful, love the action!

  8. dave3xr says:

    Hi Donna….I wondered if you resolved the camera issues you were having with the D750 and/or the Tamron 150-600mm G2. The reason I am asking is that I just got the G2 Tamron, and have been using it on the Nikon D750 too, and I have also been having issues with very slow or not focusing at all. I wonder if there is a compatability issue with this new lens and the 750. I have used the first generation Tamron with this camera for the past year with no issues, in fact I love the lens and the camera…..And by the way, great photos. You captured the action beautifully.

    • donna213 says:

      Yes I did resolve it and both camera and lens are performing perfectly. My post for Jan. 10 at 8pm EST will show you how the lens really performs. I also had on the 1.4 TC which you likely know degrades quality and light a bit for the shots of the Wood Ducks. I needed a firmware update which added or made compatible with the new Tamron G2 lens. It is funny, but I knew about the firmware update before I went to shoot eagles, but neglected doing it because I thought both were working well and it was my fault somehow on focussing. Another thing that helped with shooting eagles was not using the Vibration Control in some cases and also setting the camera to d9 or 9 focus points. If you do use Vibration Control, make sure on the lens it is set to panning. The manual for the lens will tell you how. A bird in flight, it will be easier to hold focus if set to panning. I did that for some of the eagle shots.

      • dave3xr says:

        Thank you Donna for responding so quickly, and for the advise on using the new Tamron. I am happy you got it worked out. I will try your suggestions this weekend. A group of us are going to try to get some shots of eagles here in Ontario, Canada. Next fall, latest, I will get down to Conowingo. Happy New Year to you and hope you keep getting lots of great shots.

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