Get the most from your super-tele with these tips and tricks
Try these with your NIKKOR Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR and up your long lens game
Don’t poke the shutter release
Although the in-lens VR on the NIKKOR Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR is a powerful 5.5 stops, you still want to give yourself every opportunity to avoid any shake in your images. When depressing the shutter button, roll your fingertip on and off the button, but always stay in contact with the camera body. Lifting your finger up and down and poking the shutter button can lead to unwanted camera movement.
Use the reciprocal rule for shutter speed
The reciprocal rule means you should set the shutter speed to at least the value of the focal length of the lens – so for a 600mm lens it should be at least 1/600s. But that’s a minimum. For a bird in flight you might need to go to 1/2000s to get a sharp image.
Balance your aperture
The NIKKOR Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR has a great aperture range for wildlife. Open up to get some of that creamy bokeh and background separation but beware of going too wide on the aperture – with larger animals it could lead to the head facing you being sharp but the rear being blurred.
Set your ISO last
When shooting with long lenses small changes can make big differences, so spend some time getting your settings right for the environment you’re in. Start with a fast speed for shooting unpredictable subjects such as birds and other wildlife (see ‘Use the reciprocal rule’). Then set your aperture and only then set the ISO for the best possible exposure results.
If you’re new to super-tele lenses and you’re using a tripod, always attach the lens via the tripod collar. Don’t attach the camera to the tripod when using a super-tele – the uneven distribution of weight can damage both the camera and the lens. For even greater stability, rest a hand on top of the lens to absorb any tiny movements caused by depressing the shutter.
Ditch the tripod and get down
The angle you approach a shot from can make all the difference to a composition. For animal shots, try getting down low to take them at the animal’s eye level, made easier with this lens’ light weight. Use a tripod with the legs splayed out to help keep your gear stable when you’re on the ground. This technique can really add drama and a sense of being with the animal rather than just observing it.
Forget front light
Leading wildlife photographer and Nikon Ambassador Roie Galitz is a big fan of ditching front lighting for wildlife. Take a leaf from his book and find a spot where you have side lighting or even back lighting of an animal to add interest and drama.
Don’t forget your composition
Shots of birds, wildlife, planes and sports action are not just about capturing the subject. Framing and composition make the difference between a good shot and a great one. Experiment with different types of composition styles and shooting positions to see how you can create better results.
For limitless creativity