Category Archives: Photographs

Gambel’s Quail

Fat and happy.

There’s a bushy tree in my front yard which is home to maybe two dozen Gambel’s Quail. Startle them and they explode out of their cover, flying noisily. Quail are poor fliers – as many a dinner plate confirms – and much prefer walking to flying. One hour before sunset they make their way to the back yard and invade the small ground level feeder I have placed for them, filled with feed high in sunflower seeds. Typically a dozen or more of these communal chaps have at it.

My covered patio is some forty feet from the feeder, so some serious reach is called for if photos are to be made.

Panasonic GX7 with adapted 500mm f/8 Reflex Nikkor.

The Reflex Nikkor is capable of delivering excellent results but there’s no way you are going to keep it steady or focussed on an MFT body – where it’s effective focal length is 1,000mm – without sturdy support. To that end I use an old but massive Linhof tripod. Sorry, lightweight, poncy carbon fiber does not cut it. You need weight to stop vibration. To further help matters, I use the vibrationless electronic shutter option in the GX7 which has the added advantage of being silent. The Panny GX7 is attached to the no less massive Sirui ball head using an Arca-style QR plate bolted to the Nikkor. The weight and bulk of the support hardware greatly exceeds that of the very compact and lightweight lens + camera combination.

The Reflex Nikkor is a manual focus lens, a focus movement which is a delight to use, light and stiction free. For critical focus I depress the ribbed (programmable) aperture wheel on the back of the GX7 which greatly enlarges the central area; click again and that enlarged central area fills the viewfinder. With depth of field – even at this optic’s modest f/8 aperture – just a few inches at forty feet, this focus aid is invaluable.

Here’s the result:

The male quail has the red head.

You can just make out the typical mirror lens doughnut rings in the out-of-focus area, caused by specular reflections of the bright evening sun from the gravel in the garden.