Lens addiction and bird call app. (Guest appearance by Lulu)

Can you use a lens too much? I have been told in the past that I am over-reliant on my Noctilux when using the Leica M9. The exact comment was: its a very limiting lens in most respects and actually hinders progress by the fascination with wide open apertures, although I agree it does look cool! I am beginning to think the same about my 800mm F5.6 birding lens but the limitation factor is weight not aperture. Recently I have simply balked at the idea of carrying it around with me. It travels with me in the car in case I find something that genuinely demands it. Mostly though recent photos have been taken with either a 400mm F5.6 or F4 lens. I can add 1.4x or 2x extenders if I need them.

I may finally have kicked the Noctilux habit only to acquire a similar penchant for the 35mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH. Whether I have kicked the 800 habit will be tested when I go somewhere like Long Valley. The wide-open spaces and lack of cover make close approach difficult. It demands a different thought process and visualization of the frame you want. That is in itself a positive outcome. It moves me away from ‘how big in the frame can I make this?’ as a starting point.

I have enjoyed working with less weight to carry around. In some respects I feel I am losing my fascination with long lens portrait photography. It dampens the enjoyment and limits the aesthetic side. Yes, you can find the perfect background and it will look stunning but its not exactly creative. It is demanding only to the extent of stamina and endurance. Maybe I lack the technique but I struggle to do birds in flight with an 800mm lens.

Now with the philosophical musings behind me I discovered today a new bird recording app. Facebook Friend Tom Tarrant (with whom I have birded in the real world… or is FB the real world nowadays) posted about a new Android app called Bird Sounds. This derives from the amazing Xeno Canto collection. Of course I don’t have an Android phone but immediately someone said there is an iPhone equivalent (produced by Max Allan and also Xeno Canto based). It is called Aves Vox. It is free. The pro version is a whopping HK$38 (about US$5) and I may give that a go if someone can convince me it is worth the outlay. These apps allow you to listen to the call of a bird and check whether it matches with what you have heard in the field. I tested it on Red-flanked Bluetail. There. Asian Stubtail. There. Grey Treepie. There. So 3/3 so far. Brilliant. I am a very happy bunny. There is only one downside I have discovered so far. I tested it in the dining room rather than in the field and Lulu clearly was not impressed. She barked at each bird. There is no pleasing some dogs. I’m sure if I played a Pheasant call to a gun dog it would wag its tail and ask which direction. Not Lulu. She clearly sees a potential threat to her biscuit supply. And in the absence of a bird today, I think I should offer Lulu’s groupies a picture from her past.

Lulu with kermit


19 thoughts on “Lens addiction and bird call app. (Guest appearance by Lulu)

  1. Depends on the gun dog Andrew, 🙂 my brother had two, and one of them was erm, how shall I put it? not quite there,but he was so loveable that Our Rob kept him,(Gamekeeper @ Belvoir Estate ) anyway, ’tis good to have a looksee @ younger Lulu, the li’l sweetie. The Bird sound app sounds amazing, handy eh? I’d be playing it just to brighten my day. xPenx

  2. I agree, it’s no fun carrying around heavy equipment! Takes the joy out of it for me.
    Lulu is a stunner! I can only imagine the joy and personality she brings to your family.

    • Have you not met Lulu before Caroline? She is much liked by the followers who have been with me for some time. If you type Lulu in the search box you might even find some posts she has written herself.

  3. Fortunately, I don’t have any “lens addiction”. I used to carry with me a DSLR camera whenever I travelled but the weight really got to me. Plus I hardly ever plan enough ahead of time to change lens, which defeats the purpose of having a camera with interchangeable lens. Nowadays, I’m much happier walking around with my x100 and its fixed lens, and I let my feet act as my manual zoom lens 😉 Of course that would be much trickier for birding photography!

    • A Leica M9 and a Noctilux F0.95 Yvonne. If the cost of the 1Dx scared you the Noctilux will be considerably worse. About twice the cost plus a bit.

      • Well you wrote 44,000 HK dollars and I’m not sure what that is in US money. I know that the body of 1XD canon is about 7K here in the states. I’m assuming that some of the canon lens are interchangeable with the body but I did not look for that possibility.

        Thanks for the info. I’m always curious about cameras and lens. I read some photo blogs that always give the camera, lens, F stop and ISO info. It just seems to add a lot the photo/blog.

      • Yvonne, HK$44,000 is about US$5,600. So it is cheaper here than in the USA. But prices dropped recently so maybe I timed it well after waiting for 18m.

      • B& H Photography has this camera priced at $6,799.00. There is a bit of difference dollar wise at a couple of other stores. Some were 5K plus. Don’t know what the difference could be but it is apparent that a person must shop wisely and know exactly what they are doing when buying camera equipment.

        Thanks for the info Andrew. It’s interesting to know what is going on in other parts of the world.

  4. I wish I had an 800 mm lens to leave in the car…Still struggling with my 300 mm zoom. But that’s heavy enough with the other stuff. The bird APP sounds like a useful one (no pun intended) I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip.
    Lulu is a looker – we saw a Lulu wannabe at the dog park today – getting her hair all sandy on the beach.

  5. Goodness, how did I miss this post? Now I understand why you mentioned the bird app in the other post. And btw, I’m still playing that recording of the Asia Keol, you are so kind to have found it for me, Andrew.
    And now to Lulu, how very good it is to see her again! She’s the prettiest dog in the world but don’t tell C.Snout that I said so 😉

  6. I don’t grok the idea of relying on a lens too much….. If the tool does the work required then it is the tool for the job. As an exercise it may be nice to adopt others for the same task but as long as one is pleased with the results …if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 🙂 Maybe the 800 can initiate the apprentice action.
    Any post is made better by a cameo by the princess. I’d post Murphy more, but he is camera shy. As far as Lulu is concerned, if you got it, flaunt it. 🙂

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