Rafael Nadal, Indian Wells, California

Rafa 01

NIKON D300, Nikon 70-200 VR f/2.8, Nikon TC14IIE

I am a big sports fan…basically any sport is ok with me!   Tennis is one of my favorites to play and to watch.  This was taken at the BNP Paribas tennis tournament in Palm Springs, CA this past week.  We have attended many tournaments through the years and this is the best tournament to go to for tennis!   It is about 80-85 degrees and sunny everyday in Palm Springs in March…one day we even had a cool breeze!   The stadiums are well spread out and food and drinks are located perfectly.  As you walk into the event there are about 10-15 practice courts next to the stadiums.   We attend the early rounds in order to see all the players.  But another advantage in this tournament is that most all players practice in front of the fans.  You are basically 10 feet away from your favorite players.  If you are lucky…autographs are not too hard to get!  We met Maria Sharapova…she is of my favs….got a few autographs…my daughter gave her a red flower she was holding and Maria thanked her kindly!  Thanks Maria for being so nice!   I’m sure its hard being famous.

As I knew we were going to this tournament…I had been eyeing a new Nikon lens.  The 70-200 VR f/2.8.  I had read all the reviews and wanted to give it a try.  I listen to photogrpahy podcasts as I am always trying to learn everyday and just recently in the TWIP Podcast the mentioned a company called Lens Rentals.  They have a web site  www.lensrentals.com  ..here you can basically rent any lens you want!  The prices are pretty good!   This lens costs $1700+ dollars if you by it from a store.  To me alot of money to just buy it hope it works for you.   This service was a great opportunity to give it a try and test the performance of the lens.

I rented the lens for 2 weeks….$163.00…including shipping to you and back!  It arrived via Fed Ex in 2 days and my first day with the lens was at my daughters soccer game.  I already had in my possesion a teleconverter…the Nikon TC14IIE. So it added about another 100mm focal length to the lens.    You can get different teleconverters to add distance to your lenses (mostly they only work on the bigger lenses).  But in some cases you may lose quality and performance.   Read up before buying one.   The TC14IIE is one of the best for adding equal quality and barely losing any preformance.   So at the soccer game I took 400 pics that day.  Addded to that it was photo day for the team and I gave the lens a try for portraits as well.  All of my action shots I used the lens hand held.  Its big, but I had no problems with the weight. 

After the first day….one word…AMAZING!  The lens was the best lens I had ever used and seen in action!   The portrait shots had fantastic bokeh (background blur)!!   The action shots with the correct shutter speed were unreal…add the f/2.8 and it adds bokeh even to the action shots.   So with one day of action in my pocket I was ready for the tennis tournament!

It was the second day we were were there…all the favs had practiced…I have lots of pics of Sharapova, Federer, Blake, Ivanovic, Jankovic, Safina, Hewitt, Tsonga, etc…..and I had not seen Nadal yet.  I saw a big crowd gather on one practice court…there he was…Nadal.   He is the mens number one player in the world and could possibly become one of the greatest of all time.   Just watching this guy is unreal.  You get the sense of power, drive and the feeling that even at number one…he is trying to improve his game.  Great characteristics to emulate!

So the crowd was 3-6 people deep…I had to fight in to get about 1 person back…luckily I am somewhat tall…I could stand tippy toe over most peoples heads.  I had the camera, lens and teleconverter all set to go!  I took about 50 shots of Nadal.   I wanted to capture action….to truly test the lens.  Going through the pics…I can easily say…its a must buy!!!   The clarity and quality of my pics are wonderful!   I had some blurry ones (due to hand held and tippy toeing the shots)…but overall most were great…so practice makes perfect…but having a lens ike this definately helps!   The hood of the lens fully extended occasionally bumped a few guys on the head while I was trying to get some shots…sorry dudes!  LOL

The day I sent this lens back, I was a bit sad.  I want this lens surely in my camera bag!   Not only for sports and animal shots….but also portaits!   It may take me week or so…but check my www.talkephotography.com site….I’ll add some more tennis pics from the tournament.  Lens Rentals.com gets my thumbs up!!!   Nikon 70-200 VR f/2.8  …one word…WOW!!!!!!!!!!!