When photographing animals on an African safari, sharp photos are a gift to bring home and it all centers on proper technique. Use the “sweet spot” on the lens; with both of my shorter lenses it was around f/5.6 or f/8. On the longer zoom, I found f/5 or f/5.6 gave me needle-sharp and distortion-free images. With the animal at rest, always put that focusing spot on the eye. On longer distances or perhaps with the animal moving, place that spot on the shoulder or flank to keep a decent depth of field throughout their length.
In all my years of shooting in the field, I have yet to meet a photographer who did not like the look, isolation qualities or the sharpness modern telephoto lenses offer.
When it comes to possibilities, they seem endless. Wildlife is at the top of the list for many, perhaps to focus in on that bright cardinal outside your window or to record that special wolf pack in Yellowstone. Whatever your subject, a long telephoto will bring it in closer, sharper and with more detail than you’ve ever experienced before. Buying a telephoto lens might mean spending as much or more than the camera in your hands right now, so knowing what to get, and what it will get you, is an important part of making any purchasing decision. With that in mind, here’s a number of frequently asked questions on the subject of telephotos.
Out of all the telephoto focal lengths, the 400mm is my favorite, so I looked forward to Canon’s updated 400mm f/2.8L. At about $11,499 list price (slightly less on searched street prices) it’s for those who absolutely need a fast, fixed focal length lens in their still and/or video work, and that’s work that pays well.
There are two general classifications of lenses that define how you use them in the field—zooms and single focal length, the former being a variable focal length lens that has many convenient advantages, and the latter being a single focal length that, in the group we’re covering here, is what’s known as a “fast” lens. Fast doesn’t mean that it focuses quicker than its zoom cousins, though it might—it usually means that it offers a wide maximum aperture, anywhere from f/1.2 to f/2.8, and that aperture stays put, unlike some zooms where the aperture varies by going narrower as you zoom into longer focal lengths. And to help refine the group we’re covering here we’re also topping out the focal length at 50mm, which makes these lenses prime for street and low-light photography, candid and photojournalism work.
With the availability of sky-high ISOs on digital cameras and VR on slower lenses, some have argued that it’s not practical or economical to work with fast, prime lenses anymore. On the other hand, lenses like the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED (list: $2200) and 50mm f/1.4G (list: $485) serve a distinct purpose for not only the obvious low-light advantages but also for the very, very shallow depth of field they can deliver.
Brute horsepower, large diesel engines pulling thousands of tons of freight, heavy plumes of exhaust pouring from their stacks, sand being put down on the rails for traction, and the rumble of steel wheels passing by—all are part of the American railroad scene. For both the novice and advanced photographer, the challenge of capturing the drama of moving trains and finding suitable locations is all part of the excitement.
Nikon’s entry into past universal 80-200mm f/2.8 lenses started back in 1978 with a manual focus, push-pull lens checking in at 4 lbs. Ten years later the autofocus model arrived sporting ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass; ’92 marked the “D” package. In ’96 the AF-S version came along, followed by the new generation of front motor drive “G” models. Now we...
No matter how light you pack, you always feel like you could add just one more item. Knowing photographers, if you can take it, you will. If you plan your trip correctly, you will save weight and not only make your outing a success, but be more mobile and comfortable as well.
With that in mind, let’s look at some “ounce saving” tips. Your...
We have covered a wide range of tripod offerings in the past so we thought that we’d look a bit deeper into this realm with some suggestions on accessories to make the most of your tripod when on the road.
There are many accessories that not only make life pleasurable in the field, but also add greatly to the picture-taking experience. Here are some of my favorites, most of which go with me depending on what my course of action might be: First on my list is a good, heavy-duty, but light to carry tripod. My choice for comfort and support is a carbon-fiber model. Two actually, one of which...