I have been looking for a good zoom lens to attach to my Nikon D3100 DSL camera. I have been going to the bird hides in Manea, Cambridgeshire to watch the various birds of prey we get over the fenland at this particular spot.
The trouble was; how much to spend. The cheapest I saw was on Amazon and EBay. Cheap is not always good and there are, of course, drawbacks.
My zoom lens that I got with the Nikon D3100 only goes up to 200mm. This is of little use when Marsh Harriers come over the fenland at distance. Therefore, I decided to chance £70 on an adaptable and compatible zoom lens called a TOP MAX 420mm to 800mm.
There were a number of very important things I had to learn in order to make the best of this lens. It is not a Nikon product but is adaptable to fit on the end with a screw on piece which comes with the telescopic lens. Unlike the Nikon lens' there is no computer bar chip on the telephoto lens to connect with your camera. In short there is no communication. Therefore, the one touch focus button is no use once the telephoto lens is screwed onto the Nikon. That first little touch as the focus becomes clear is not there. You are back to basics using the hand turner at top of the telescopic lens to focus upon a topic. Once you get the hang of it, you'll find it is rather easy and, in my opinion, enjoyable.
You will need a tripod because of the wobble when shooting and focusing at distance is more extreme. With birds of prey in flight, you have a battle on your hands with focus and wobble, but its great fun when you get it right.
My biggest problem was not taking into account the light deficit upon the telephoto lens. My first trip ended in disaster because it was a glorious day and I got some wonderful shots with the lens and was able to focus well. However, when I got home and inserted the photo chip into the laptop, every single photo was dark. In some case pitch black.
Back to the drawing board and a very knowledgeable work friend who I explained my dilemma to. On the Nikon, there is an ISO sensitivity function that is accessed via the menu at the back. It comes up on the screen. The light needs to go up to 800. I think the automatic setting is at 200. This is no good for light exposure. Some would say 400 is good, but I went to the next setting on 800. Just below this there is the shutter speed. This must also be increased considerably too.
When this is done, just go outside the front of the house and take a few shots and then look at the light improvement when you put the memory card into the laptop. The results were very pleasing.
Below are some of the shots I took out front and across the fields to my house. I was able to focus in on a combine and tractor. Happy with the result, I went back to the bird hides and tried for a few things across the fen. There are shots of a heron with swans, a hobby (small hawk/falcon) and a marsh harrier. They are not perfect shots, but I'm sure one will say the light is better.