Birds with the Tamron 18-300 Zoom for Sony

Pictures date: February 22, 2022

After my quick set of pictures of the wood duck box the day before, Jay, John, and I headed up to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington to see how my new Tamron 18-300mm f/3.5 – 6.3 Di III-A VC VXD (what a mouthful) would do with some birds in flight. We are still in the middle of winter so we didn’t see a lot; but I was lucky enough to grab a few.

A few notes on the pictures and the birds. The best I can do in identifying birds is to say “Yes, that is definitely a bird” or “I think that is a bird.” Thankfully I have some expert birder friends; Frances O – a friend from high school – has graciously accepted my request to help me with bird identification. And my neighbor Jon S has looked through some of my pictures to help. If there are any mistakes, it’s all on me and my inability to transfer the words from others.

I took these pictures with the Tamron lens mounted on my Sony A6600 APS-C camera. I shot on Aperture priority with a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 second. I imported the pictures into Adobe LightRoom Classic, made tonal adjustments and cropped to taste. For the closeup bird pictures I then used Topaz Sharpen AI to, well, sharpen the images. You can read this post for more details on my experience with Topaz Sharpen AI. Spoiler alert: I love it. Focal lengths are the full frame equivalents; the 18-300 crop-sensor range is equivalent to 27-450 in full frame.

As I packed up the car for the drive I spotted this little spotted towhee on the tree in our neighbors’ yard. The background bokeh is nice.

Spotted TowHee. 1/500 sec; f/6.3; ISO 640. 382mm

Before heading off to the refuge we stopped by our local MurrayHill Cafe for breakfast. Then jumped in the car for the 45 minute drive to the refuge. The refuge has a large driving loop that affords plenty of vantage points. Our first siting was a family of river otters, but they weren’t interested in posing.

Now, when I think of swans I think of them floating along on some river or pond in England, but we saw this small flock of swans across the way a bit.

Swans. 1/500 sec @f/6.3; ISO 160. 262mm

It wasn’t all birds, I also stopped for a couple of landscape pictures. I’m impressed by the sharpness of the foreground and the blurred background.

1/500 sec @ f/5.6; ISO 100. 168mm

Towards the end of the drive I was able to capture three images of birds in flight. Well, dozens, actually with my camera set on high speed continuous shutter. I’ll spare you by showing just one of each set. You’re welcome. First up was this majestic Bald Eagle. I doubted it was an eagle at first. Every time prior when I think I caught an eagle, my birds potter friends let me know it’s an osprey. But WOW! I caught one. As Frances said: “Check out that honking beak!”. Indeed. Click on it for a larger version.

Bald Eagle. 1/500 sec @ f/9.0, ISO 125. 348mm

We also saw a Northern Harrier hawk flying over the buffet in the fields looking for lunch. Click for a larger version.

Northern Harrier Hawk. 1/500 sec @ f/9.0, ISO 100. 340mm

As we were close to the exit, a V formation of geese appeared.

1/500 sec @ f/9.0, ISO 100. 340mm

On the way home, we took a detour to the other side of the I5 freeway to a spot I’ve grabbed nice pictures of Mt. St. Helens in the past. This was a beautiful day and the volcano showed off her latest white dress.

Mt. St. Helens. 1/500 sec @ f/16, ISO 500. 262mm

As you can see, we picked a beautiful day for our outing. I’m happy with my choice of lens; I wasn’t sure how the relatively narrow f-stop settings would manage. But I had workable ISO numbers and was able to get some blurry background. It’s a keeper.

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