Laura Macky Photography

Journey of a body on this earth

Bird, Zoom, Crop!


I was wandering around our house a few days ago during the Golden Hour and came across this little cutie pie called a Black Phoebe.  I was not too far away, but even with my 300mm lens I couldn’t fill the frame.  It’s amazing how it seems there is never a long enough lens for bird photography lol.

Zoom lenses are usually not sharpest at the extremes of the zoom range.  For example, if you shoot a 28-300mm lens (which I used for this shot), you will get sharper photos at 280mm than 300mm.   Almost all lenses are sharper somewhere between the extremes of the zoom range.  This is especially important if you are shooting a less expensive zoom lens or a kit lens.  Spend just a minute and take a picture of a newspaper taped to the wall across from you at different focal lengths and apertures.  You’re likely to find quite a variation in sharpness levels depending on the focal length.

Backing off the full range of a zoom lens doesn’t cause much issue with presenting a close up image because it’s necessary to crop whether it’s shot at 300mm or 280mm.  I’ve included a screen shot of the original picture size so you can see how much I cropped it.

I hope you enjoy this little cutie pie!

Black Phoebe - Bird Photography

Black Phoebe – Bird Photography



Author: lauramacky

Journey of a Body on this Earth

43 thoughts on “Bird, Zoom, Crop!

  1. Beautiful photo! Such a cute bird!

  2. Lovely light, and he is a cutie! Great image! I agree there’s never enough reach when photographing birds!

  3. You’re right about not getting full sharpest with the zoom fully extended and you’re right that your Phoebe’s a cutie. 🙂

  4. So that’s how you do it. Lovely.

  5. Nice shot and post. Many photographers are surprised when the concept of a zoom lens and not using the full focal length.

  6. Agreed. Good points. Excellent shots.

  7. Pingback: confessions of a blog binge reader | Riddle from the Middle

  8. Poor birdy! You chopped off his world!! 😉

  9. It is true that there never seems to be a long enough zoom for bird photography! And yes, the image is much sharper somewhere before the zoom’s capacity. I always end up cropping my bird portraits.

  10. He really is very cute and the lighting is perfect 🙂

  11. Very cool and cute shot, Laura. Heard about a little trick for a full frame system to capture animals. Change the camera to APS-C mode. Turns your 300mm into a 450mm (if the crop factor is 1.5). But you get a “smaller” raw file. If you still have to crop, I don’t know if it is worth it. Can’t try it. No FF anymore. Smiles. Reinhold

    • Yes that trick is ok but I think the image is degraded somehow in doing that, so then I think it might be comparable to do what I did and crop. I’m not quite sure about that though. I remember looking into this when I got my first full frame and remember deciding not to do it. But I can’t remember why lol.

  12. I thought your title was Bird, Zoom, Crap. That’s the only reason why I looked. (I must get these glasses checked!)

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