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How to get the maximum from your telephoto lens

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by inukshuk, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Some good info I got from a member on Nikoncafe and thought I'd share it with you. Especially informative for anybody getting a super telephoto lens.
    I got the new 150-500mm and was a bit discouraged, but feel a bit better now. I have been shooting between 100-300 yrds and have to do heavy cropping which gave me a soft image. But when no cropping is necessary it looks pretty good.
    Now I got this response from Dave "Telecorder"
    Good for you! You're learning the limitations with your understanding.

    Many people move up to a long lens with unrealistic expectations; They soon find (or not) that user technique and subject distance are two critical issues that work against them if they're not fully understood. Add in OS/VR and the circumstances/expectations are compounded.

    In most all cases at the long end of a lens' reach, new users moving up belatedly find that their technique needs dramatic improvement that will only come with extensive use/experience. I firmly believe a lot of new user reporting issues with, and 'blaming' a new long lens as being poor, have more to do with their techniques than the glass.

    Likewise, subject distance seems to be dramatically misunderstood. Its been my experience that an image needing to have more than ~30-40% of the original field of view cropped to compose an image is where the image quality begins to suffer. There are just not enough remaining pixels covering the subject for the desired detail.

    Take a 2-3' tall Bald Eagle. The vertical FOV of a 3008w x 2000h image at 200' is only ~6' or 72" for my Bigma at 500-mm. To fill the vertical FOV, one would need to crop out 1/2 - 2/3 of the FOV.

    Thus, my 'rule of thumb' is to employ as good of user technique, 1/focal length shutter speeds or faster and recognize that I'll get few good-great images if my subject distance vs subject size will require more than 30-40% FOV cropping. Any more than that will usually result in merely an ID snapshot.

    A good site to get an appreciation of these issues is by Mothman13 at-- http://www.texasmothman.com/photography-tutorials/birding/birding.asp

    While there are exceptions to most everything, I believe recognizing and understanding these critical aspects and addressing them will go a long way to enjoying imaging with a long lens.

    If anybody wants to add to this please do so.
  2. x272221713x

    x272221713x Guest

    hmm interesting information, thanks for sharing!!
  3. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Andre: There is a concept called the Image chain. Every link on the chain integral to the final Image. With super Telephoto's (No IS) camera movement caused from the camera/lens platform when you press the shutter, which can also cause movement(tripod, monopod, Gimble,Go pod, or the ground) is the main cause of non sharp Images. Focus is another important factor. Sometimes focusing on the wrong part of a subject can give the impression that the Image is not sharp.Than you have atmosphiric considerations(Air, heat, mist, rain, snow...OO. Than you have subject motion and camera panning. A subject can be going across the frame it will take a shorter shutter speed than if you pan with the subject effectively keeping the subject in the same spot in the frame.
    Another one is instints. Being able to anticipate where and when your subject will move and having the correct support platform to enable you to get the shot. Also setting up at the right location or elevation can really make or break a capture. And if like me you are using Nikkor AIS getting the zone of focus in your mind /hand when the subject hits that spot. One more thing getting these big guns to one place to another is also part of the Image chain. Iv got a couple differnt long lens case but if I want to bring more than one Im stuck slinging them over my shoulder or carrying them by there handle's. Im thinking of getting one of those beach carts. I like the idea of rolling 50 pounds plus of glass rather than carrying it.
    Breathing or in my case holding my breath the moment of pressing the shutter( roll the finger dont jerk). Its somthing I learned shooting a rifle when I was young and its still somthing I still do.
    I hope this helps

  4. Gregory

    What you just mentioned I was already aware of, but thanks for adding it. For myself not used to large lens like the 150-500, Dave's info was re-assuring for me. It's that confirmation that I'd pretty well deducted on my own that I needed. Now If I can just get out and do some shooting.

  5. :redface:
    Why thanks; that was my intent in posting my insights. I'm glad that they gave some small bit of assurances that your investment was worthwhile.

    FWIW, I started into digital photography back in 2005 when the wife & I were watching a TV show about Bald Eagles making a come back. She commented that one of her desires in life was to see a Bald Eagle in the wild. Having just read of a count in the local mountains in SoCal the previous day, I packed up some binoculars and we drove up to find a mating pair flying around.

    We rented a boat and had them do some gyrations 50' above us -- so close one could hear their wings 'whoosh'. That led me to research and purchase my first Pany -- the FZ5 with the intent to get some nice images for printing.

    I soon found that wildlife imaging in general and birding in particular was not as easy as I had hoped for...

    A couple of my first attempts at a BE in the wild w/the FZ5 left a lot to be desired...
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    As time progressed, I moved to my Pany FZ30 and then to my D50. Likewise,
    I eventually invested in my Bigma. Throughout the years and thousands of images, I realized that the user technique; 1/focal length shutter speed and subject distance has more to do with getting good images than most any other issue.

    Others have commented on additional issues/aspects that are certaintly pertinent but, having run the gamut of initially blaming my equipment only to find that consistantly addressing these three contributing issues usually gave me good results.

    Noticing your location in thje Arctic, the stabilization of the cold air mass should be of a tremendous aid for longer distance subjects... I remember seeing Portage Glacier years ago and being blown away at how far away it really was.

    Having said all of the above, I still consider myself more of a 'snapshot' styled photog that sometimes gets a few good images that have made for some great 20x30 prints...
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