Yes, the Sony 70-200mm F/4 FE zoom is a great close-up lens…

Close-ups from a distance

Most of us like to pack a full set of lenses so we’ll be ready for anything.  Yet, I’ve found that many people will happily settle into one of two camps…either they are a Telephoto Person or a Wide-Angle Person. Although either group will frequently travel into the other’s territory, they tend to “see” many picture-taking opportunities either from a telephoto or a wide-angle perspective, and tend to approach their subjects from one “angle” or another.   With a telephoto view, selective focus and emphasis on fine details or textures often takes precedence, as shown in this shot of a blue and yellow macaw in Islamorada, Florida.  Wide-angle lenses may be favored by those who want to use apparent perspective distortion for effect (the distortion is only apparent, not real, because it is not due to a defect in the lens), or who wish to take in a broad expanse of the surroundings.

I wanted to isolate this macaw against a busy background, and used my Sony 70-200mm f/4 lens at 200mm to capture the bird from a distance of about 40 inches, wide open at f/4 and 1/800th second at ISO 200.  As you can see from the inset, this lens can be used as a great macro lens, too.  The telephoto let me keep my distance from the macaw (although it was more likely I’d get bitten than frighten the bird), while the wide open aperture and lovely bokeh of this lens de-emphasized the background.  And for this “macro” shot, no tripod was required.  The fast shutter speed and the lens’s optical image stabilization was all I need for a sharp image.

With 36 megapixels, you don’t always need a telephoto lens…

With 36 megapixels, you don’t always need a telephoto lens


My Sony a7r and a6000 were two of my mainstays while I was shooting down in the Florida Keys during my January-March escape from the bitter Winter we had up North as 2015 opened.  Although I favored the a6000 with the Sony 70-200mm f/4 lens for wildlife, sometimes I found myself with an opportunity to shoot an interesting creature, such as this heron, when toting only my a7r and 24-70mm f/4 Zeiss Vario-Tessar FE 24-70mm f/4.  As you can see from the slightly cropped main image at left, I really was able to get no closer than about 50 feet from the bird at Long Key State Park before it began to display skittish tendencies.  I was already knee-deep in murky water, so I shot away.   Back at my Winter “headquarters” I was pleased to see that 36 megapixels were plenty to allow some judicious cropping.  Exposure was about 1/800th second at f/5.6 at ISO 100 and OSS active.   I can’t remember whether I was more concerned about my feathered friend flying away, or slipping and giving my mirrorless camera a salt-water bath.