Author Topic: Long Lens Tips And Techniques  (Read 1450 times)

Reyed Mia (Apprentice, DIU)

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Long Lens Tips And Techniques
« on: June 28, 2017, 06:03:34 PM »
Long Lens Tips And Techniques[/b]

My first long lens, purchased back in 1983, was the Canon 400mm ƒ/4.5 FD. I worked with that lens for seven years, not fully realizing the incredible benefits of the really big glass until some guy let me look through his 600mm ƒ/4 Nikkor lens on Sanibel Island.... Soon after, I jumped all the way up to the old Canon 800mm ƒ/5.6 FD and entered the world of huge magnification. Since the advent of autofocus, I've owned and used several Canon EF 500mm and 600mm ƒ/4 lenses. Today, I've come full circle—my favorite big lens right now is the EF 800mm ƒ/5.6L IS. That said, I'm looking forward to the availability of Canon's two new big guns, the EF 500mm and 600mm ƒ/4L IS II supertelephotos.

1) Big Glass And Teleconverters Lens Correction

Many folks who invest in big glass shy away from using teleconverters. Doing so is a huge mistake as they're forfeiting focal-length flexibility and extra magnification, which provides more pixels on the subject. By practicing your sharpness techniques—try supporting the lens with your left hand from below rather than above—making sharp images with the 2x TCs and either the 300mm or 400mm ƒ/2.8 lenses should be child's play at most reasonable shutter speeds. And I've long believed that competent photographers should be able to create sharp images with a 2x TC and a 500mm or 600mm ƒ/4 lens down to 1⁄60 sec., as long as the subject isn't moving. And that goes double with the sharper optics and the improved image stabilization and vibration-reduction systems of newer lenses.
Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 600mm ƒ/4L IS USM, Extender EF 2x II, Gitzo 3530LS tripod, Wimberley V2 head

2) The Sharp, Fast, Versatile 300mm ƒ/2.8

For years I had my eyes and my mind closed to the 300mm ƒ/2.8 lenses. That all changed when I borrowed one for my big Antarctica trip with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris in early 2012. I loved it so much that I extended the loan and brought it along to Japan for a month. On the Southern Oceans trip, I needed to travel light; the Canon 300mm ƒ/2.8L IS lens was my big lens. It was great in the Zodiacs® and great for handheld birds-in-flight photography with or without the 1.4x TC. I used it with the 1.4x TC for all of my sea eagle flight photography in Hokkaido, and it was great for the snow monkeys as well. Aside from the light-gathering ƒ/2.8 speed, the lens is mind-bogglingly sharp.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF 300mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM, Extender EF 1.4x III, handheld

3) How To Recognize Good Situations

Telephoto lenses offer a narrow angle of view, a bit more than 3º with the 800mm lens on a full-frame camera and well less with crop-factor bodies and/or teleconverters. Many folks don't realize that if you wish to create images that feature clean backgrounds, working with a narrow angle of view is much more important than working at the wide-open aperture. The farther the background from your subject, the softer the background will be. Learn to look for great situations where your long lens can provide clean backgrounds. Nearly all of the gannets at Bonaventure, Québec, nest on the ground. When I came upon a pair building a nest atop a viewing shelter, I stayed with them for several hours.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF 400mm ƒ/4 DO IS USM, Gitzo 3530LS tripod, 4th Generation Designs Mongoose M-3.6

4) A Tripod Is A Necessity!

Working off a sturdy tripod with long focal lengths will—almost without exception—pay huge dividends in terms of image sharpness. For years, I've used and depended on the sturdy and rugged Gitzo GT3530LS 6X carbon-fiber tripod. When using the 800mm ƒ/5.6L IS lens with the Canon 1.4x III teleconverter or the 300mm ƒ/2.8L IS II with the 2x II teleconverter as for the Macaroni penguin image, you'll always find my long lenses on a tripod. When working with relatively static subjects, snugging up the knobs on your tripod head will help you produce even sharper images.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF 300mm ƒ/2.8L IS II USM,Extender EF 2x III, Gitzo 3530LS tripod, 4th GenerationDesigns Mongoose M-3.6

5) Rear Focus And Recompose

When using teleconverters with certain long lenses, you're often limited to the central autofocus sensor as I was here with the 800mm ƒ/5.6 with the 1.4x III TC/EOS-1D Mark IV combination. I set up all of my camera bodies to remove AF from the shutter button; I use the star button to focus. For this image, I focused on the chick's eye by pressing and then releasing the star button. Then I recomposed by pointing the lens to the right to place the bird pleasingly back in the frame. For flight photography, just push and hold the star button to track the subject. Also note that I've pointed my shadow right at the bird; doing so and getting low ensured pleasing results in the relatively harsh midafternoon light.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF 800mm ƒ/5.6L IS USM, Extender EF 1.4x III, Gitzo 3530LS tripod, 4th Generation Designs Mongoose M-3.6
Reyed Mia (Apprentice, DIU)
Asst. Administrative Officer and Apprentice
Daffodil International University
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