In fact, the Tarsier, or Carlito syrichta, is one of the world’s smallest primates, measuring between 8 and 16 centimeters.
…And they look just like little gremlins! :).
I recently had the opportunity to visit two Tarsier sanctuaries on the island of Bohol in the Philippines. Tarsiers are nocturnal animals: they are on the hunt at night, and during the day they prefer to stay in their own little hiding place, under some palm leaves hanging on to a tree branch to cover them from the daylight and sun. This is also where the photography challenges come in. Let’s name the factors: ‘small’, ‘dark’, ‘relatively distant’ (up t0 about 5 meters) and distance changes with the subject (some closer, some further away). Well, at least they’re not moving (too fast)! (which would make things even worse…)
“Hiding in sight”
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 E @ 500mm on Nikon D4S, f/5.6, 1/100 s., ISO 1400
So how do these factors translate into photography equipment? If you shoot full frame (like me; I don’t have the D500 -yet) you’re looking at up to 500mm to capture these little furballs nicely in your frame without having to crop too much afterwards in post processing (cropping an image you took at up to ISO 10.000 or so does not exactly help in bringing down your noise…) However, sometimes you find 300mm is OK, sometimes 400mm, so anything between 300-500mm typically works. Ideally you’ll be carrying a 300mm f/2.8 and 400mm f/2.8 with you, but if you want to stay alive a little longer in the Philippine jungle with temperatures towards 35 degrees centigrade and something that feels like 100% humidity, you’re better off with a zoom to save some weight (and yourself from dehydrating).
“In the jungle”
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 E @ 500mm on Nikon D4S, f/5.6, 1/60 s., ISO 360
Off course I used my 200-500mm f/5.6 for the job – yes, the lens that has received quite some negative feedback in various forums and test sites… I did actually start with my Nikon D750 + trusted 70-200mm f/2.8 combo. The results were pretty bad: the little gremlins weren’t filling my viewfinder enough @ 200mm and the D750 was struggling to focus in the dark. I got a few shots, but soon turned to my D4S in combination with the 200-500mm f/5.6 super-telephoto zoom lens.
“Through the leaves”
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 E @ 500mm on Nikon D4S, f/5.6, 1/100 s., ISO 2200
Soon, I noticed the ISO (which I always have on ‘Auto ISO’ – I shoot fully manual) jumping to 10.000 and over 12.000 ISO in the middle of the jungle. So it was time to test the VR of the 200-500mm f/5.6 E to the max: I was setting my shutter speed to 1/60 sec. and sometimes less to bring ISO -and noise- down. Not all show were sharp off course, but much to my surprise, I got a remarkable high number of tack sharp shots.
“Looking at you”
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 E @ 450mm on Nikon D4S, f/5.6, 1/50 s., ISO 4500
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