Taylor Glenn's photo safari in Africa not long ago marked several firsts for him: first visit to Tanzania, first photo safari with his Z 6 and first use of the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens.
Taylor's take on the capability of the equipment came down to this: "Because of that camera and lens I was able to get hand-held photos I could never get before."
The photos he got caught and held our attention, largely because Taylor presented us with a stark landscape of beauty and danger in images that often depicted the level of alert awareness it takes for wildlife to survive. One look at the photos and we wanted to know more.
The Lure of Tanzania...
For Taylor, a lifestyle, travel and advertising photographer, Tanzania was a personal project. Known for the remarkable ecosystem of the Serengeti region, which is among the natural wonders of Africa and one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world, Tanzania is, as Taylor says, "one of those places that you just have to see."
Which means it's also a popular travel destination. "But we really wanted to be in places where there wouldn't be a lot of other people," he says, and he was fortunate to be able to book a tour that made that possible. "It was important to me to show how the lives of the animals are dictated by their environment, and I wanted an experience that would let me really see what surrounds the animal life there."
I wanted to travel light, but I knew I'd need a telephoto lens for the wildlife shots I wanted to get. The 500mm took care of both.
...and the Realm of the Possible
Taylor had been working with the Z 6 off and on for about two months at the time of the safari; now one of "the main tools" in his kit. One of the main convincers was, he says, "to be able to see basically a preview of what the image is going to be because of the EVF [electronic viewfinder]. You're essentially seeing a finished image while you're working, and that really got me excited about the possibilities of mirrorless. What that viewfinder was doing was changing the way we use cameras."
Equally important on this trip was the 500mm f/5.6 lens, which solved a particularly tough problem. "I wanted to travel as light as possible," Taylor says, "but I knew I'd need a telephoto lens for the wildlife shots I wanted to get. The 500mm took care of both, and in combination with the Z 6 it was absolutely insane. I cannot believe how good that camera and lens combo did on the trip."
He balanced traveling light with versatility by adding a NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S and an AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR to the lens lineup, but it was the 500mm that enabled him to make hand-held images he would have once found impossible.
"With the 500mm, you've got a compact lens with Vibration Reduction," Taylor says. "Now, combine that with the sensor on the Z 6 and you have incredible image quality at higher ISOs. So you have the ability to confidently increase the ISO to match the exposure to allow for hand holding the lens for high-quality files."
Taylor cites one photograph in particular: an image of two wary bat-eared foxes. "I shot that at 1/500 second at ISO 3200, and that file is just amazing. I shot it in early morning, before the sun had come over the hills. There was not a whole lot of light, and it was amazing to be able to hand hold the camera and get that photo. I could not have made that image a few years ago."
In truth, Taylor was confident from the start. "I didn't take a tripod, not even a beanbag on the trip. I had nothing. I move around a lot when I'm shooting. And when I'm in the confines of the vehicle, where slight movements completely change a composition, that's another benefit of this camera and lens setup: it's so small and light I can make quick, subtle adjustments. That was a powerful experience for me on this trip, and I was just blown away by what was possible."
Seems the realm of the possible just keeps getting larger, doesn't it?