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jamespetts
9th June 2014, 03:41 PM
I had a day out to the London Wetlands Centre (http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london/) yesterday, which is rather an excellent place for photography. However, whilst I managed to get good photographs of the captive ducks with my E-M1 and 50-200 f/2.8-3.5 and 1.4x teleconverter:

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3873/14377125822_ac488675e3_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nUswBG)Smew (https://flic.kr/p/nUswBG) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3846/14192146807_540e476f39_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nC7sNk)European goldeneye (https://flic.kr/p/nC7sNk) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3851/14191980538_608b8a1cb0_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nC6BnC)Tufted duck (https://flic.kr/p/nC6BnC) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr

and one or two lucky strikes with a tern and some herons:

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5119/14194242427_a9e5741071_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nCicKH)Common tern, diving (https://flic.kr/p/nCicKH) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3868/14194076930_85194a00f5_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nChmyj)Heron (https://flic.kr/p/nChmyj) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5532/14357489056_e40c3950f2_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nSHThL)Heron (https://flic.kr/p/nSHThL) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr

many of the birds were so distant as to be a little small even at 283mm:

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2937/14377172111_ff21de6596_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nUsLnM)Great crested grebe, nesting (https://flic.kr/p/nUsLnM) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3869/14194223977_7b5806bf93_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nCi7gB)Plover (https://flic.kr/p/nCi7gB) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3857/14357612956_d4ac797fdc_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/nSJw7Y)Unknown bird (https://flic.kr/p/nSJw7Y) by James E. Petts (https://www.flickr.com/people//), on Flickr.

I was thinking of going back some time and hiring one of the very large Olympus Four Thirds lenses, either the 300mm f/2.8 or the 90-250 f/2.8 with the 2x teleconverter.

Has anyone had experience doing this and have any useful tips?

Zuiko
9th June 2014, 03:48 PM
No experience of using those lenses but I do know that they are very big and heavy and are probably best used with some form of support. The hire service is excellent. The shots you have posted using your current set up are very impressive. :)

StephenL
9th June 2014, 03:54 PM
I tried these lenses for a few hours at an Olympus day many years ago, on an E510. Excellent quality, heavy, but not uncontrollable. Well worth hiring.

jamespetts
9th June 2014, 04:10 PM
Thank you for your feedback. I had guessed that they would be heavy - I had brought a tripod with me yesterday, too, and spent most of the time using that: although the 50-200 works well hand-held, it is difficult, even with stabilisation and a fast shutter speed, to get a sharp image with the teleconverter, and the tripod made things much easier. The Wetlands centre is happy for people to use tripods (a goodly proportion of their visitors are photographers; I saw quite a few people with very sizeable lenses).

gazza95
9th June 2014, 05:21 PM
Have hired the 300m and several other lenses, great service! The 300mm is heavy so transport cost both ways needs to be factored in, if not close enough to Hemel Hempsted to pickup/return in person.

However image quality is very good even with 1.4 converter. I did not have 2x convertor. As its a f2.8 lens it does help to get higher shutter speeds needed for sharp images.

I find using these heavy lenses with monopod makes them much more manageable, although BIF is some what tricky.

Certainly worth trying.

Gary

jamespetts
9th June 2014, 05:58 PM
Ahh, thank you for the helpful tips. I had not considered transport; I had imagined that (although not really considered in detail whether) it would be possible to collect and drop off the lens, but I suppose that that depends on where the facility actually is and whether they accept in person collections. Looking at the price list post (http://e-group.uk.net/hire/hire_info.php), I see that only shipping by post is mentioned. How much was shipping when you used the service? How practical is post for shipping for a 3 day hire?

StephenL
9th June 2014, 06:03 PM
Can I suggest you PM Ian Burley? I feel sure he will be amenable to you collecting, and I don't think it will be too far for you!

Ian
9th June 2014, 09:01 PM
Hi everyone, yes we can arrange collection and return in person. We received one lens back today this way.

Ian

jamespetts
9th June 2014, 09:50 PM
Ahh, splendid. Of course, that will only work for me if you are conveniently located; where are you based?

Ian
10th June 2014, 06:36 AM
We're based in Apsley, Hemel Hempstead on the London Road (A4251).

Ian

Melaka
10th June 2014, 07:15 AM
My experience is that the IQ of the 300 + 1.4 is excellent but not so good with the 2. On a separate thread my Sigma 135-400 is for sale and another option is the Bigma if you need that much reach, as you often do at Barnes.

jamespetts
10th June 2014, 11:02 PM
Thank you both very much for your responses. Ian - I have no car, but Hemel Hempstead is on Thameslink, which is a convenient railway route for me; but the reference to a place called Apsley suggests that it is away from town centre and therefore probably the railway station; are these inferences correct? If so, is there a 'bus?

David - that is useful information. Do you happen to know of any samples taken with the 300mm and the 2x teleconverter? I had thought that the 300mm worked with the 2x converter well, but perhaps I had misapprehended the position.

The "Bigma" lens (a Sigma zoom lens with a maximum focal length of 500mm if I remember correctly) does not seem to be available to hire from Ian's service, as it seems to offer only Olympus lenses, which might be a difficulty with that option.

gazza95
11th June 2014, 05:58 AM
James, I'm sure Ian can provide more travel information.

Ians office is on opposite side of London Road to Apsley Station, which is one of two stations serving Hemel. Looks like Ian office is just a short walk from the station.

Gary

Ian
11th June 2014, 07:19 AM
Indeed, Apsley Station is on the West Coast Main Line from London Euston although only the 'slow' London Midland trains stop (usually twice an hour each way) at Apsley. With Thameslink you will probably need to change at Watford Junction but we're less than ten minutes up the line (two stops).

Once at Apsley you only need to cross the road and walk around to our building. You could also visit us by canal barge :) about 50 yards from our office is the Grand Union Canal.

Ian

Melaka
11th June 2014, 07:24 AM
This is a pack of wigeon taken at Barnes with the 300/ec20 using a bean bag from the tall tower with no PP oyher than resizing. The IQ isn't bad but not IMHO as good as with the ec14. Partly, of course, that is because you're using 1200mm equivalent instead of 850mm. I can't say I entirely mastered using such a huge focal length off a bean bag and that too will have affected the IQ.

http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/P5240148a.jpg (http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=74353)

In the past there have been some very good photos posted here taken with the Bigma but it's a 10x zoom and that is bound to compromise the IQ somewhat. Notwithstanding that you'll see plenty in use at Barnes, albeit on other makes of camera.

jamespetts
11th June 2014, 09:51 AM
Thank you all - that is most helpful.

Bikie John
11th June 2014, 02:05 PM
James - if you are thinking of picking lenses up on the train, bear in mind that the 300/2.8 and 90-250 are chunky beasts, to say the least. I don't know whether Ian supplies them in their soft cases, or in the boxes (which are e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s) - worth checking with him before making the trek!

Ciao ... John

Ian
11th June 2014, 07:21 PM
The big lenses come in a soft carry case that includes a shoulder strap but we normally box them up for shipping.

Ian

jamespetts
17th February 2016, 11:20 PM
Apologies for reviving this over 18 months later: I ended up buying a house shortly after this discussion took place and did not have a great deal of time for photography for a while, however I am still keen to have a go at the London WWT centre with a very long lens.

Firstly, does anyone have any idea of the cost of a courier out and back for the very heavy 300mm f/2.8 or 90-250mm f/2.8 plus the EC-20? I see on the hire web page that there are actually somewhat generous terms as to the hire time (i.e., the hire starts the day after the item is received, and the item must be returned the day after the hire ends).

Secondly, I see that some of the people who posted on this thread have some experience of visiting the London WWT at Barnes. Does anyone have any recommendations as to when is a good time of year to go? I should rather wait until the weather is a little warmer, but perhaps not go in June again so that I can see a different range of birds.

Thirdly, does anyone have any views on whether the 300mm f/2.8 would be more or less suitable than the 90-250mm f/2.8, each paired with the EC-20? (I have my own EC-14 which I could use if the EC-20 was too much for some situations). Do people who have experience of these things find it useful to be able to zoom out to find the birds in question or take things closer by, or is the important thing just to get as much reach as possible? Is there much between those two in image quality? Also, is the latest 300mm f/4 Micro Four Thirds lens an option (is it even available to hire yet?)? I suspect that f/4 might not be quite enough when paired with a 2x teleconverter (taking it to f/8).

Thank you all in advance and apologies again for necroposting.

Graham_of_Rainham
17th February 2016, 11:41 PM
Having used both the 90-250 and the 300, I would say the versatility of the 90-250 far outweighs the extra reach of the 300.

The new mZuiko 300 f/4 will only accept the matched 1.4 TC

Ian has a 90-250 for sale at present, so if you are going to do a lot of work at this distance, you may want to consider making him an offer... :cool:

jamespetts
17th February 2016, 11:53 PM
That is helpful, thank you. I can't imagine taking a lot of photographs with this lens (hence looking to hire one); I see that Ian has not mentioned the price, but if he is selling it for anything like the price that some of these things go for on eBay, it will be a four figure sum, which is unlikely to be justified by a biannual trip to Barnes.

One wonders why there is a need for Ian to sell it - a decline in the popularity of hiring these larger lenses?

Ian
18th February 2016, 12:03 AM
It can be about 18 each way with Parcel Force but I would need to check to confirm.

I have three 90-250s and I just don't need that many.

Ian

jamespetts
18th February 2016, 12:05 AM
Thank you, that is very helpful indeed.

Any thoughts from anyone as to a good time of year to visit Barnes? I was thinking perhaps April.

Melaka
18th February 2016, 07:00 AM
See my earlier posts for images with the 300/2.8. Graham is right about the versatility of the 90-250 (which I also used to own) but I found the reach of the 300 more useful than the versatility.

There are birds at Barnes all year round. In April the migratory birds will have left but you should start to see the natives nesting. There will probably be a few young, especially mallard. It's good at any time of year - it's what you see that varies.

birdboy
18th February 2016, 04:39 PM
Thank you, that is very helpful indeed.

Any thoughts from anyone as to a good time of year to visit Barnes? I was thinking perhaps April.

Its probaly best to follow their Wildlife sightenings page to see whats there and plan from there.

I went at the end of March in 2010 saw cranes carrying nesting material. I had a 50-200swd lens and thought the reach was all I needed apart from one shot of a grebe wrestling with a fish when I wanted more than 300mm so I would think the zoom lens would be the more versatile. I have never liked the telephoto adapters the increase reach is at the considerable expense of a drop in quality. But then I have only used both the 1.4 and 2.0 with my 50-200mm f3.5 lens. I have tried them with the bigma as well now rarely use them for daylight use.

jamespetts
19th February 2016, 12:09 AM
Thank you both. I did look a the wildlife sightings page, but only saw things that people had just seen, which is not much use for planning months ahead. I do want to go when the weather is a little warmer, when there will be a good range of interesting birds, and when there will be something rather different to what I would have seen in June.

Walti
19th February 2016, 06:24 PM
James just to assist you a little:

I rented the 300 2.8 from Ian for a holiday to the Farne Islands and while it is a big old beast it is not too bad...

I used to with my Panasonic G3 which is around the same size as the E-M1 I know own:

http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/1975/IMG_1003_74822.jpg

I found it too heavy for more than one hand held shot at a time so it lived on the tripod:

http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/1975/IMG_1010_78902.jpg

But the results were OK!

http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/1975/P1020886.jpg


http://www.e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/1975/P1030166.jpg

Ian
19th February 2016, 08:24 PM
And the 300 is not ideal for use with a Panny :) So kudos to you Walti!

Ian

Walti
19th February 2016, 08:35 PM
And the 300 is not ideal for use with a Panny :) So kudos to you Walti!

Ian

Indeed - I still regret not taking the EM-1 body you tried to convince me to use as the Panny really was VERY slow to focus so much I used MF most of the time!

I think I'd like to have another go with it sometime with the EM-1!

PeterBirder
19th February 2016, 08:53 PM
Thank you both. I did look a the wildlife sightings page, but only saw things that people had just seen, which is not much use for planning months ahead. I do want to go when the weather is a little warmer, when there will be a good range of interesting birds, and when there will be something rather different to what I would have seen in June.

Sorry but you can't plan a birdwatching/photography day months in advance and have any certainty of what you will see. These are wild birds and their movements depend on migration patterns, weather patterns, daily weather variations, tides, availability of food (insects and plants) etc. many of which are highly variable even within one day.

This page on the WWT Barnes website will give an indication of what you might see in different seasons but it's pot luck what you will see in any given day/week.http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london/wildlife/wildlife-guide/
Actually Autumn/Winter would be regarded as "better" times by many birders. Birds unfortunately don't operate to accomodate our perception of "nice weather".:)

Regards.*chr

jamespetts
19th February 2016, 09:54 PM
That's interesting - thank you. If autumn/winter are potentially better, I had perhaps better prepare to go sooner rather than later. Is the first week-end of March still "winter" for these purposes?

PeterBirder
19th February 2016, 11:07 PM
That's interesting - thank you. If autumn/winter are potentially better, I had perhaps better prepare to go sooner rather than later. Is the first week-end of March still "winter" for these purposes?

Broadly speaking yes. The Vernal Equinox which is, for human purposes the first day of spring is 20th March but birds don't know this and start their migration when the weather conditions are "right" for them. In practice as the first weekend in March is only a couple of weeks away the sighting reports from WWT Barnes now will give you an idea of what is around and you can check over the next two weeks to see if there are any sudden significant changes. Having had a mild Winter so far it looks from the number of daffodils in flower that "Spring is early" this year but given the variability of our weather in the UK it is still possible it could all change. Snow well in to March is not unknown.

Regards.*chr

Wee man
19th February 2016, 11:17 PM
We have magpies carrying branches already!

Ian
29th February 2016, 07:11 PM
James just to let you know there is another email waiting for you :)

Ian

jamespetts
2nd March 2016, 10:39 AM
I have now arranged this hire, and went for the 300mm f/2.8 and EC20 in the end (I already have an EC14 if 600mm proves too much in some situations): from my recollection on the last occasion of me going, what I needed to maximise was reach.

Has anyone any tips on using such a combination? I do not think that I have ever used a camera lens with such a narrow angle of view before.

Walti
2nd March 2016, 05:18 PM
I have now arranged this hire, and went for the 300mm f/2.8 and EC20 in the end (I already have an EC14 if 600mm proves too much in some situations): from my recollection on the last occasion of me going, what I needed to maximise was reach.

Has anyone any tips on using such a combination? I do not think that I have ever used a camera lens with such a narrow angle of view before.

Definitely plan to use a tripod or monopod... (see my photo's a few posts up from here!)

Start by not being too greedy! and work into static situations and then as you get practiced move into the closer and moving targets... You'll note there's no birds in flight on my post, I simply struggled too much as the Panasonic body I was using wasn't up to the job! I'd be trying with my EM-1 though!

jamespetts
4th March 2016, 12:17 AM
The lens arrived to-day, and I spent some time testing and getting used to it in London (without the teleconverter; I did not have my tripod with me) during my lunch' break. It really is quite a lens - this is the only piece of photographic equipment that I have yet used that doubles as a piece of gymnasium equipment. It is also fantastically sharp and really rather wonderful.

I have not had time to upload much so far, but here is one picture that I managed to take with it of some daffodils in Gray's Inn:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1529/25365338512_ba660c51c4_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EDrZqC)Daffodils (https://flic.kr/p/EDrZqC) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

Ian
4th March 2016, 02:13 PM
Nice to see the 300 getting used by another hire customer!

Ian

jamespetts
4th March 2016, 02:32 PM
Some more photographs from yesterday:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1545/25499499465_816994957f_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ERiANv)Somerset House (https://flic.kr/p/ERiANv) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1522/25117090029_a69a59eb74_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EgvDNn)Crow, crowing (https://flic.kr/p/EgvDNn) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1499/25499453595_84199e6645_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ERinaD)Daffodils (https://flic.kr/p/ERinaD) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1499/25499522165_294a55d23b_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ERiHxT)St. Paul's (https://flic.kr/p/ERiHxT) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1545/25499499465_816994957f_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ERiANv)Somerset House (https://flic.kr/p/ERiANv) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

jamespetts
6th March 2016, 12:25 AM
Some initial results and observations from my day at the London Wetland Centre (many are yet awaiting post-processing):

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1666/25241833680_8fb2f969bb_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EswZJY)Equipment for photographing birds (https://flic.kr/p/EswZJY) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

The lens is splendid and in many cases is plenty long enough with the 2x teleconverter:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1536/24906879934_f28be71f4c_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/DWWgEo)Common shoveller (https://flic.kr/p/DWWgEo) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

However, in many cases it is still not possible to get close enough in the hides to fill the frame:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1469/24906901814_58b8381a63_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/DWWoaC)Plover (https://flic.kr/p/DWWoaC) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1476/25241845410_b88cabe57e_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Esx4ed)Cormorant on a bouy (https://flic.kr/p/Esx4ed) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

This must be a technique/strategy issue rather than equipment issue, as one cannot get much longer than this.

On the subject of technique, I think that I need to use a higher shutter speed, as some lack of sharpness is evident in a number of cases:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1521/25241837690_794ecf6400_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Esx1W7)Common shoveller (https://flic.kr/p/Esx1W7) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

There appears to be some sort of conference for cormorants, gulls and herons on this island:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1576/24906968554_7eac56b63e_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/DWWJ1j)Cormorant conference (https://flic.kr/p/DWWJ1j) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

Otters are very cute:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1443/25511603046_47b824f652_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ESnCLW)Asian shortclaw otters (https://flic.kr/p/ESnCLW) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

(even when taken with the 60mm lens)

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1572/25444772821_e5fea99745_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ELt7tF)Asian shortclaw otters (https://flic.kr/p/ELt7tF) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

One has to be extremely close to a small bird such as a robin to fill the frame, even at 600mm:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1460/25421316802_3073cecdbe_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EJoTPy)Robin (https://flic.kr/p/EJoTPy) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1478/25172312959_28cfa59ec5_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EmoFDR)Robin (https://flic.kr/p/EmoFDR) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

(This robin was no more than about 3m away at the time)

And finally, the weather sealing seems to work fine, but taking good photographs in the pouring rain is challenging:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1462/25539979225_6fc9315eb2_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EUT52p)Camera (https://flic.kr/p/EUT52p) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1451/25244659440_383f4b5ac3_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EsMtJY)Coot in the rain (https://flic.kr/p/EsMtJY) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

I plan to have another go at Rainham Marshes to-morrow, which is a little closer, to see whether I can improve on some of the techinque issues from to-day. I do plan on getting my money's worth out of the hire!

Ian
6th March 2016, 08:49 AM
I think other bird specialists will concur or otherwise but I have always assumed that to be able to fill the frame with your target is very much an occasional and fortunate luxury :)

Ian

jamespetts
6th March 2016, 11:11 PM
Yes, I suspect that you are probably right. There is much to learn in the field of wildlife photography, one of the most challenging genres of photography of all from my understanding.

A few more observations after having spent a day to-day at the Rainham marshes with the lens.

It is seriously heavy for walking around: Rainham marshes is more spread out than the London Wetlands Centre, with a two mile circular walk and, even with long breaks in several of the hides, I spent the second half of the walk just wanting to return to the visitor centre and have lunch' and a rest. With this lens, transport is a serious consideration.

A monopod would probably have been better than a tripod for photographs outside the hides, of the small birds near the feeders, but the tripod was useful in the hides for being able to relax for a while and not constantly have to support the camera.

My tripod (a Vanguard MT 100 bought circa 14 years ago and which I have generally found to be sturdy) is not quite up to the job of dealing with such a huge lens (and it is showing signs of age in any event, although I am reluctant to replace it in part because it was a present from my grandmother).

It is very useful to have the second body, the E-P5, as the Rainham marshes lent themselves well to a spot of landscape photography, too, and I was able to have the E-P5 with the 12-40mm around my neck whilst lugging the vast 300mm f/2.8 with E-M1 attached:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1591/24942291603_3d428c3c51_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/E14Ljp)Interior, hide (https://flic.kr/p/E14Ljp) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1651/25569004395_f1dbfc38c7_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EXrQcn)Reed beds (https://flic.kr/p/EXrQcn) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

Using the exposure compensation dial is important for getting proper exposure where there is much water in the background; to-day's pictures of that sort have come out rather better than yesterday's for that reason:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1602/25201389329_d534283ec1_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EoXH3z)Lapwings and golden plovers (https://flic.kr/p/EoXH3z) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

Bird feeders are splendid places to take pictures of small birds:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1492/25568979825_d08c4505d1_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EXrGTK)Sparrow (https://flic.kr/p/EXrGTK) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1454/25569038115_1d21724763_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EXs1dK)Finch (https://flic.kr/p/EXs1dK) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1624/24942325883_1382d53229_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/E14Wvr)Blue tit (https://flic.kr/p/E14Wvr) by James Petts (https://www.flickr.com/photos/14730981@N08/), on Flickr

I think that I should like to go to Rainham marshes again, perhaps in the warmer weather, although I am rather wary of doing so carting around the weight of the 300mm f/2.8 around the whole walk; I might either go with my own equipment and get the best that I can with 283mm, consider hiring a different, slightly lighter super telephoto lens, such as the Micro Four Thirds 300mm f/4 whenever that becomes available for hire, or the 90-250mm f/2.8 (which I understand is a bit lighter than the 300mm f/2.8; does anyone have any idea how much lighter), or use the 2x teleconverter (either bought or hired) with the 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 (although this would only be feasible in good lighting), which would get me 400mm at f/7, which is not too far off the 400mm f/6.3 of the new Panasonic 100-400mm lens or the 420mm f.5.6 of the Olympus 300mm f/4 with 1.4x teleconverter.

Ian's hire service is rather good so far as my experience so far goes (everything other than the sending it back part; I am dropping it into my workplace to-morrow morning before the courier arrives); it is quite a thing to be able to hire very specialist lenses of high quality, and the process seems efficient and straightforward. I should certainly consider hiring a lens again if an occasion arose for it.

Also, they do sell good cake at the visitor centre at Rainham marshes.