Long Lens Technique

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by adebartolo, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. As members of this board I'm sure all of us lust after "long lenses". Many of us are fortunate enough to quench that lust. Now there must be a number of us out there that have just moved up to long and fast glass and find that their skills are not just up to the task of getting the best performance form these lenses. I admit to being one of them. Practicing the craft of photography for the past 40 year my experiences have been very limited with large telephoto lenses. I'm sure that there are many others out there in the same situtation. Perhaps we might continue this thread with those who have experiences and the techniques, tricks, procedures that have proven to improve long lense skills. I apologize if this subject has been disscussed before.
     
  2. Pixelographer

    Pixelographer

    510
    Dec 22, 2006
    Tony:
    My photography experience mirrors yours - in reverse. I've spend the last 1.5 years almost exclusively using long lenses. Now trying to learn more about composition, landscape shots, lighting. Not a TON of experience and I've got much more to learn, but I'll share high level stuff for starters:
    Tripod - must have sturdy one. Don't go cheap - see Thom H...

    http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

    Use mirror lock-up and cable release.
    Stop down when you can do so w/o affecting shutter speed too much.
    Get a ball head / Wimberley sidekick or a full Wimberley.
    Consider using 'auto iso' which allows you to set shutter/aperture minimum and float the iso based on light conditions.

    All for now. Didn't say it would be cheap, did I?
    Good luck and post some pics!
    Dave
     
  3. Dave,

    I've got a good tripod, Gitzo 1257 with a RRS B-40 head. I'm also using an ML-3 remote release and today for the first time I shoot using mirror lock up.
    Having said all that I'm still not getting a "good percentage" of keepers. I thought at first that my lens might be soft but that I don't believe to be the case since I've managed to get a shot here and there at the same aperture and length which I believe are excellent. Therefore I believe it's my technique. I was able to notice when triggering the shutter via my remote that the mirror slap caused the image in the viewfinder to shake. That was what got me thinking about looking it up. Is that shake becaue the lens (Sigma 120-300 f/2.8) and my D200 are overloading my tripod/head combination.
     
  4. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  5. Pixelographer

    Pixelographer

    510
    Dec 22, 2006
    Tony:
    There was a recent thread here explaining mirror slap.
    Not sure about overloading the gitzo. Others with more experience should offer advice there.
    Are you using single-shot focus or continual focus? Is the lens / camera combo able to keep up with movement?
    I use a 400/2.8 af-i and aperture priority. Recently added a 1.7e tc, the combination of which seems to benefit from stopping down to 6.3 or so. Check the shutter speed. I try to keep this to 1/125 or faster but not sure if this is the best way to get around limits of the equipment.
    Anyway, I'm about tapped out for info. There are some experts here that can help more.
    Dave
     
  6. Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  7. Anyone else out there as Anti Tripod as me? Anything for Non Tripod users?

    Longest focal Length I will probably go will be 340mm though (200 x 1.7) So i guess some of the 800mm lenses discussed in the above links might not be as relevant
     
  8. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I shoot with a 80-400 VR and 1.4 TC. I have had good results. Have also missed some I would have liked.
    Not saying this is the best way to go, if you can afford the long lenses and great triposd
     
  9. Timely thread - thanks Tony.

    I just recieved my 120-300 and 1.4xTC yesterday and it only took me a few shots to understand that, short of a VERY stable setup, using mirror lockup and cable release, I'm going to have to follow the old 2:1 shutter speed/focal length rule - namely ensure the shutter speed is at least twice as fast as the effective focal length. The small, high density, somewhat noisy (at high ISO's) sensor in the D200 is unforgiving. e.g. 300mm+1.4xTC X 1.5 crop factor x 2 = 1/1260. I'm figuring on 1:1000 or higher much of the time.

    I can immediately see that this lens could use VR (or OS being s a Sigma). Still, at about 1/2-1/3 the price of the Nikon 300 F2.8, I can live with it's shortcommings!

    Got to run some focus testing next...

    Gary
     
  10. Hi all. Well, I shoot mostly nature, and birds being most of my shots, so I cannot use mirror lockup, too time consuming and using a cable release is not practical either. What helped me the most was a Full Wimberley setup and holding and pressing down on the part where the lens and the Wimberley meet when I shot. Hold your breath and roll your finger over the shutter. Now, if I am in the car shotting, I use a bean bag. Also, as said, stop down at least one stop if using a TC and yes I would agree at least a shutter speed of 1/125. Hand holding is just not practical unless you have VR and even then anything over 300 would take a lot of practice. As far as auto ISO goes, I am not fond of anything over 400, I use a D200, so unless the shot HAS to be taken, I just will not take the shot unless I can use 400 or below with good results. Not all shots are made to be taken, as they say live to shoot another day. If I am someplace where I will not be going back, like when we are in Alaska next month, I might bend that rule.

    cheers
    Nancy
     
  11. Thanks Nancy, you've got some good ideas that I'll try.

    Gary
     
  12. Creative long lens technique

    Being a poor paramedic and not yet making money selling my pictures I have developed a technique that works reasonably well when using my D70 or D2XS (just aquired) with the 80-400 VR or 70-200 2.8 VR (also just aquired). I do most of my wildlife shooting from a kayak during the early morning hours. This combination complicates obtaining quality images due to low light, lack of space for equipment (what I take must fit in the kayak's cockpit between my legs) and the and the kayak's pitching and rolling.

    I tried using a monopod by extending its leg outside the kayak, thinking that the monopod would help stabilize the kayak, that didn't work; it only created a folcrim for the kayak to spin and almost caused me to capsize....lol. Then I tried using the monopod inside the kayak; also a bad idea because it was difficult to steady the monopod/camera/lens combination. Next, I thought about engineering a way to mount a ballhead on the kayak's deck; decided that bout not work due to needing to quickly compensate for the kayak's pitching/rolling and tracking the wildlife. Lastly, I came up with this set-up. My monopod was a Gitzo monopod that incorporated a shoulder stock. I dismantled the monopod and use the shoulder stock with a quick release plate. This works well because I can raise my knees to help with stabization and it allows my upper body to work as a very fast gyroscope to offset the kayak's pitching and rolling.

    530940799_10e34e1952.
    This picture ws shot handheld with a D70 and 80-400 VR, 1/400 @ f5.6. I have many similar quality pictures of other birds using the above setup and developing good stalking techniques with the kayak.

    I am open to sugestions if anyone has a better idea...

    Regards,

    Kevin
     
  13. Kevin, you might want to drop a line to Ethan Meleg, an Ontario Pro freelance nature photographer that shoots from a kayak. He gave a talk last month at the local camera club - a real nice guy happy to share his experiences.

    http://www.ethanmeleg.com/main.htm

    Gary
     
  14. Gary, Kevin and Nancy,

    Great to read your replies. It all goes to show that you just can't mount a long lens onto your camera body shoot away and get great results.

    Gary by the way how good is the 1.4 TC on your 120-300?
     
  15. Hi Tony; As far as the 120-300 w/wo a TC, its too soon to tell. I took some shots of a wall tonight for analysis but found that my Manfrotto 075 tripod wasn't up to the task. I'll try again using my heavier 3258. Until I get an absolutely stable setup and confirm the lens itself is 100%, comparisons won't mean much.

    later...

    Gary
     
  16. I have a Nikon 500mm plus 1.4E II. I use a 1549 tripod. Went to class with "Moose" several years ago, and he emphasised above all correct long lens technique. I was fun to see a professional actually taking shots. No cable release. If you are doing wildlife, then a sturdy tripod and wimberley II is ultimately unrivaled.


    ospry1send.
     
  17. Kerry Pierce

    Kerry Pierce

    955
    Jan 7, 2006
    Detroit
    For hand held day trekking, the 80-400vr probably can't be beaten, unless you're young, healthy and have good to excellent upper body strength.

    For the rest of us, as already mentioned, it's a tripod with a wimberly or a sidekick on a good ball head.

    I was playing around with the 120-300 and 2x TC last night, mounted on a sidekick. If I didn't stabilize the lens with good technique, I could see my heartbeat mirrored in the movement of the lens. :Crunk::rolleyes:

    To give you an idea of the conditions, I was trying to shoot some birds at ISO1600 at about 1/40 to 1/60. :frown: Needless to say, I didn't get many keepers. :Little:
     
  18. jfenton

    jfenton

    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    I Shoot a 500 for Wildlife

    And it is always tripod mounted.

    Even when I'm hiking the beach for shorebirds which OI do regularly, I'm mounted on a Wimberly CF tripod and I use a full Wimberly mount.

    While I don't like to do it, I regularly shoot non moving targets down as low as 1/60 of a second with good results.

    There simply isn't the time to do anything such as mirror up, cable release, etc if your shooting real wildlife that actually moves....unless it's sleeping of course :)
     
  19. jfenton

    jfenton

    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    I Shoot a 500 for Wildlife

    And it is always tripod mounted.

    Even when I'm hiking the beach for shorebirds which OI do regularly, I'm mounted on a Wimberly CF tripod and I use a full Wimberly mount.

    While I don't like to do it, I regularly shoot non moving targets down as low as 1/60 of a second with good results.

    There simply isn't the time to do anything such as mirror up, cable release, etc if your shooting real wildlife that actually moves....unless it's sleeping of course :)
     
  20. Great to get all this feedback. I appreciate it! It is obvious that a good tripod and head are important. My question is just how heavy does the setup need to be to guarantee "sharp" results. I'm using my Gitzo 1257/RRS B-40, Mirror Lock Up and ML-3 remote release. RRS calls this the "standard" setup for up 300 f/4 lenses though I've a 300 f/2.8. On screen the images look good but when they are viewed at full size they seem soft. I've a few images posted on SmugMug and would welcome any comments. Is it my technique, camera support system or what I'm dreading just a "soft lens". I'm sharing this dread with another fellow "board member" with the same lens.
     
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