That Curious Little Symbol

That Curious Little Symbol

In the heading image – the symbol engraved into the side of the Nikon camera lens. Looks like an expanding rectangle. Never knew what it was until a few weeks ago. I often wondered if it was a warning about biological hazards…

Oddly enough, it was Nikon’s great rival, Canon, that provided the answer. I was asked to help a Canon shooter to become familiar with the menu settings and capabilities of her new camera. It was one of the long-zoom-range compacts – in some respects like the Nikon Coolpix A 1000 we see here. Smallish sensor but a long zoom range – perfect tourist camera for big animal safari shooting.

These might also be thought of as a great choice for bird photos – particularly of them on the wing…or of aircraft in the air. Long lens, clear skies, how easy could that be?

It could be very easy if the bird or airplane would stand still in the air. However unless the airborne object is made by Bell or Sikorski, you are going to have problems – they don’t stay still at all. They move at a deceptively fast pace and most of your attempts to focus on them unravel as you are unable to get them in the frame fast enough. You swing too slow or too fast and they disappear.

That’s where that button does the trick. If you start from a long focal length setting on your zoom lens – ideal for bringing the bird or plane closer to you – and then press the button, it widens the zoom out until you are able to see the target clearly. You let the AF dot encompas it, then release the button, and the lens zooms to the longer setting with that AF point in the centre of the frame. Bingo, you’re on target and ready to fire the shutter in focus. Lose the target, pull out again, and repeat if nescessary.

Short of a trained Bofors crew and a lot of ammunition, this is the best way to bring home the prize.

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