Saturday Evening Post# 188: Elusive

There is so much about photography that is elusive. Sometimes like Eastern Spinebills, it is the subject. Our friend Rodger has been photographing them at Royal Park with varying degrees of success and as we were in the area we decided to go have a looksee.

After several hours it was sad to conclude that they would remain elusive. 🙂
We did manage a brief glimpse of one that came by, settled on a branch, and frustratingly was surrounded by small twigs and branchlets.


We did see one.

I’ve only just received back from repair my 300mm f/4 PF lens. It is a great little lens to be walking about with and, as here, I use it almost exclusively with the teleconverter TC 1.4 which gives me a fine 420mm focal length.

This one I’ve owned since the get go. I received one of the first of the lenses in Australia. The dealer could only get an allocation of one lens. It’s been one of my go-to lenses for birds ever since. It does have a software issue with the D810 and vibration reduction settings, but as I’ve retired that camera it is no longer a concern. EE uses one and it never comes off her D500. That lens I’ve always thought has a little more highkey contrast than mine. Not much, but just noticeable if we shoot side by side.

Earlier this year mine started to look a little soft and rendering fine detail and feather markings became a problem. It came to head when I was working with a Little Egret that had some fine breeding plumage feathers and they all looked doubled-edged and soft. Strange. So began the usual: check focus accuracy, suspect the camera, increase contrast in the camera and turn off first one setting then another.

But to now avail. Then one morning when I was going to try again, I picked the lens up and it had a distinct rattle. ???
Seems that one or more of the glass elements had worked loose. The local authorised repair centre was about to close its doors and it seemed that I’d have to send the lens to Nikon Techs in Sydney. I managed to find a repair centre in Adelaide. DigiCam seemed to have some very good reviews, and I filled out a form on line, and the following day received details of how to ship the lens. It went the following day with their arranged courier.

DigiCam came back quickly with an initial report and it seems that several retaining rings had worked loose and needed replacement.
Yes Please!

They kept me updated regularly on the progress, the need to order parts, and the likely turn around time. Great to have a good story to tell.

And about three weeks later the lens was returned looking very fine. They had even replaced a damaged element (which I have to say I put my hand up as culprit), so what I had was pretty much new out-of-the-box. Given all this happened over the Easter break, it was a super quick turnaround.

Tentative first test on the tv antenna across the road showed it looked as good as ever.
Now that it has had several trips to the bush, and made some special images I must say that DigiCam have won me as a customer and I’m delighted to tell the story of exceptional service.

Now all I need is to find some more Spinebills to work with.

(From the Election Free Zone)

11 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post# 188: Elusive

  1. Great to hear of the good service, David! And great to hear you have an as new new lens!
    Yes, Spinebills can be notoriously elusive and when found rarely sit still for long! Lovely to see!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yes – the Eastern Spinebills! I still remember that thrill when they visited my Mexican Salvia right in front of our dinner table three years ago. Then they were regulars during the salvia’s blossom times. Alas, this year I spotted them only once in front of the house on just flowering Abelia bush. The Mexican Salvia is still being tormented by the giant Red Wattlebirds but no spinebill in sight.
    I’ve already thanked you for the info on DigiCam on Flickr. I’ve used the Camera Clinic services twice and they were good, so I was sad to hear about them closing down the shop. So far my photographic gear is healthy but, as we all age, I expect some problems sooner or later and I’d rather avoid buying any replacement after leaving the workforce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we too planted lots of salvia and waited…. No spinebills yet. Camera Clinic have over the years provided some great service for gear. Like you I’m not going to be in the ‘replace gear just because I can’ group anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the mention. I’m afraid that on too many occasions I see the spinbills with lots of twigs and branches as well, but after years of shooting them I do have a few good shots where they are in the clear.
    Good to hear you got your lens issue fixed.



    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wholeheartedly concur David regarding the elusive and difficult to get a clear unobstructed photo of the Spinebill, they are a challenge. Also to get them in full sun without being too dull or overexposed is also, they have a beautiful plumage when it can be captured. Some of my best photos came from a nursery in the Blue Mountains where the owner told me they were everywhere and they were moving around the flowering pots of tubular introduced flowers in winter, as there was little nectar up there at this time. It is a blessing to find a local tech who can do a good job on your camera, I have one in Sydney who is one of the few here that most use.


    1. Short of doing a side by side, on one camera, I don’t know how valid a guess is. And also I’ve been wrestling with the quality of quite awhile so its been deteriorating slowly I suspect. At present I think there is a much better spread of contrast in the high key values.


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