Shooting Telephoto Lenses for Maximum Sharpness

pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooterwestern IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
edited March 8, 2016 in Technique
I received an email from Quigsby recently, asking for pointers about getting sharp images with the new Tamron SP 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD lens. I own one of these, and find it reasonably sharp.

I suspect folks who have not previously used a 600mm lens, MAY, not fully appreciate the techniques required to shoot images sharply with long lenses, so I am starting this thread for folks to offer their own techniques to capture sharp images, with special reference to long telephoto lenses.

I suggested an initial tripod mounting and cable release ( with VR turned off on the tripod ) to verify the lens' quality of image capture. Then once one has verified that the lens is truly capable of very sharp images, one can discuss methods for non-tripod shooting. On tripod, I use a Wimberly head or a similar device from Jobu or others. I like large, heavy tripods for shooting, and hate them for carrying around,and fetching here and there. So I shoot hand held or variants frequently.

So lets hear what suggestions folks have to offer.

I will start by suggesting one gently roll their finger tip across the shutter button, using three frame bursts maybe, and definitely avoiding stabbing the shutter button. Find a fence post or something to rest the lens on to help stabilize it.

I tend to shoot in Av mode for walk around shooting, or Manual Mode for landscapes, but for wildlife I am shooting in Tv with Auto ISO more and more, especially in the light of the late afternoon as the sun gets near the horizon. I prefer my shutter speed to be at least as fast a 1/focal length in mm - i.e. a 500mm lens needs at LEAST a shutter speed no longer than 1/500. Truth be told, I usually set my shutter at 1/1250 for wildlife if the ISO and the aperture permit me to do this. I prefer not to shoot higher than ISO 3200 with my 1Dx, but I have come home with some decent images at ISO 12800 if I have no other choice. I am not above using fill flash too, but that is a further discussion. Having said that I use Auto ISO, does not mean that I don't pay attention to it, I prefer, all things being equal, to stay below ISO 400. We do not always get our wishes photographically speaking, and have to make some choices sometimes.

Ok, who's next?
Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
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Comments

  • quigsbyquigsby quigsby Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited July 14, 2014
    Thanks for your prompt attention. My shots with the Tamron so far are acceptable but not perfect. I really appreciate your technique hints and will work on them soon. I like to walk around and shoot so I need to figure out better handheld techniques. What post processing software do you use? I have LR5, do you sharpen a lot?
  • basfltbasflt Major grins Posts: 1,882Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 14, 2014
    Welcome to the forum , quigsby

    My experience as amateur ;

    Use a high shutter speed with wide aperture .

    That in combination with a reasonable amount of sharpening you should get at least something , even hand-held .

    The only time i use tripod is for pano's .
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited July 14, 2014
    quigsby wrote: »
    Thanks for your prompt attention. My shots with the Tamron so far are acceptable but not perfect. I really appreciate your technique hints and will work on them soon. I like to walk around and shoot so I need to figure out better handheld techniques. What post processing software do you use? I have LR5, do you sharpen a lot?

    Let's get long lens technique thoroughly sorted first, and then talk abut various image sharpening techniques in the Finishing School forum as that is the location for image editing discussions. But the short answer is yes, I do use LR5, and other techniques if needed in Photohshop also. I also use the lens profiles available in LR as well, and I correct for chromatic aberration there also.

    Do you have a web gallery where we may see some of your images for evaluation with regard to sharpness?

    With regard to hand holding, I do that at times, but I strongly prefer to have some sort of other support to help stabilize the lens if that is at all possible. Fence posts, door frames, car bumpers, window sills, large rocks, etc are all far more stable and non-mobile than my hands. I say this even though I have shots at 600mm and 1/15th of a second in my galleries that are reasonably sharp - sometimes - - but the shots at 1/1500th from a window sill support are sharper, no doubt about that.

    The single device that will most effectively sharpen all your lenses and your images is a good tripod that you use consistently. And a remote cable release comes in second, I think. Or a 2 second shutter delay.

    For handholding, some folks cradle the lens on the crook of the left elbow, with their left hand on their right shoulder ( assuming they are right handed ) and hold the camera body to their eye with their right hand. Or from a sitting position you can position your elbows on your knees like shooting a rifle from the sitting position, to help the skeleton support the camera, and not your muscles. Or lay on the ground and shoot from the prone position.

    What kind of subjects are you interested in - birds, wildlife, sports, landscapes, etc? Different subjects may require different shooting techniques, too.

    The beauty of a GOOD tripod is that it will outlive your present camera, and probably you as well. In other words it is a very good long term investment that will pay you back for years. This is not a cheap tripod, but a GOOD tripod. The best tripod as the moment of shooting is a large, heavy, stable tripod. That is the one I always want when I am on site.. Unfortunately, the tripod I want to carry to the location is a small, light, almost weightless, tripod. Somewhere in between, is where we need to be.

    My two tripods that get the most use right now are a Feisol CT 3371 ( big and heavy and very stable for shooting stars at night ) and an Induro CT 213 Carbon 8X - smaller and lighter and easier to carry up the hill, but supports a full size DSLR with a 70-200 lens without issue.

    Interesting bas, as for panos, I do a fair number of hand held drive bys, that is "hand held". I use a pano rail for panos where I will have significant foreground subjects, but for panos of distant objects, shot with mild telephoto lenses, I tend to shoot handheld often - at least for single row panos, not multi row versions. For that I use more appropriate tools.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 15, 2014
    I essentially agree with P's approaches / techniques as outlined above - even tho' I rarely adopt them, for one reason or another :)

    The only time I generally use a tripod (no centre column) is when am after (fairly standard) BIF shots - in my case, herons with nesting material in their gobs. On these occasions I use an old alu Gitzo 5 series with a video head + 500 +/- 1.4x.
    Tripod is a combination of 2 Gitzos ... short top (max diameter) legs attached to top, with longer other sections. This lets me remove all telescoping sections in the field if necessary and gives a lower platform than that obtainable if used all long legs.

    For some situations, tripod (minus vid hd) gets fully immersed in water and a different head / platform is used (based on an inverted PL5 gitzo head) with a bean bag as cam support ...

    Weight isn't a problem for me as I don't go walkabout - I use a bike to access my local venue.

    Lens used often wide open, highest shutter speed possible in conjunction with iso deemed acceptable (not as bothered about noise as some)
    Never got the hang of rolling shutter digit or using cable release in dynamic / tracking situations, usually 2 shot bursts (difficult to fire single shots in fast drive mode)

    Have been known to place a bean bag on top of the lens when taking static (live view) shots with above setup (+ cable release / mirror lockup) ... eg heron pano shot on my site.

    The vast majority of my pixellated daubings have been taken with the cam supported on a bean bag, which in turn is on a custom-made turntable rig which gets placed in the water @ edge of water / land - when set up right, typically less than 1 inch of daylight between lens hood and water surface (depending on water conditions)

    I've ended up with this arrangement because I prefer the results it produces with waterfowl over one that'd have a higher viewpoint given by other methods that I've come across (up to now) ... several disadvantages because of the physical arrangement, but negated (to me) by the results I occasionally get.

    On other, infrequent occasions, I'll also rest the gear on whatever support I can find (including bike) ... although I've kept the odd hand-held shot too.

    Narrow interest range as generally don't bother (these days) with anything other than wildlife (birds / waterfowl) + occasional macro (different ballgame, of course) - and all local.

    pp
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited July 15, 2014
    Great post Paul, and I can't figure out how I omitted bean bags usage as I carry one in my car at all times for use on windowsills, or whatever is available. Using one on top of the lens is useful as well, as you pointed out.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins
    edited July 15, 2014
    pathfinder wrote: »
    ... and I can't figure out how I omitted ...

    Probably similar thought processes as mine when I get on-site and realise I've forgotten batteries / cards etc :)

    Well, my beanbag is a no-expenses spared one ...

    Neoprene sleeve (with zip) for some sort of tablet / ipad thingy, bought from a £1 shop.
    Approx 28cm x 19cm with about 1.6Kg of bird seed infil - which I change every few months and treat the subjects ... gives them a change of diet from the junk many other ppl feed them.

    (I find such places as £1 shops and low-end hardware shops great sources for actual bits of gear , as well as inspiration when pondering over gear mods / improvements)

    All low-level shooting with bean-bag + turntable combo done with an angle finder, btw.

    pp
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited December 3, 2014
    If a tripod or monopod is too cumbersome, one can always use a length of light chain or non stretchable rope and anchor the rope or chain under a foot, with the other end tied/secured to the tripod foot of your lens or camera - preferably the lens foot - and apply upward pressure away from the ground that you are anchored to by the rope or chain. Seems kind of hokey, but actually can work fairly well for shutter speeds shorter than say 1/8th to 1/15th or so.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 4, 2014
    #8 reminds me of another (possible?) approach /technique which I've not tried* with telephotos, but have used with macro gear.

    Using a stick / beanpole / branch etc.
    This method was (is?) favoured by Brian Valentine (LordV) ... an excellent macro shooter ...Gripping cam body against pole, allowing cam to be slid up and down said support ... and also allowing movement similar to using a monopod.

    *Now seem to remember trying this with smaller teles,with reasonable results (400/5.6, 300 f4) ... but since it's no use for low level stuff (with a 500), haven't bothered since.

    pp
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited December 4, 2014
    Paul, I think that technique of pressing a body or lens firmly against the side of vertical pole can work pretty good with smaller cameras and bodies, either mid tele with ff bodies, or even long glass with m4/3 type bodies. I agree it is not my first choice either, but can be quite helpful at times.

    I don't always get my first choice photographically speaking, and others may not either.....mwink.gif Such is life.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 4, 2014
    pathfinder wrote: »
    ...

    I don't always get my first choice photographically speaking, and others may not either.....mwink.gif Such is life.

    Certainly the case here, too ... in all aspects of the 'game':)

    One of the reasons I mentioned the pole technique is that it's something that can be considered in the field if other stuff hasn't been taken / forgotten.

    (In a similar way to me looking for a suitable fallen branch to modify as a bike stay / stand when I forget the usual ali tube ... )

    pp
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 3, 2016
    Noting that many people use gimbals with long lenses makes me wonder how they adjust tripods to get the vertical axis dead true - especially if neither the gimbal nor tripod have built in levels?

    Obviously if something like a video head type hemispherical bowl is added to the mix, then setup would be simplified ... but this doesn't seem to be the route many take.

    pp
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited January 9, 2017
    Paul, I do use a leveling base on my tripod below my Wimberly head, for just the reason you mentioned. Keep the camera frame level to the horizon. The weight of the leveling base is pretty insignificant to the weight of the tripod, Wimberley, and camera/lens combo.

    My main long glass tripod is a Feisol CT-3371 , and Feisol offers a nice leveling base as an option for some of their legs.

    I also have a Unique Ballhead that has two balls, one inside the other, that allows one to adjust their tripod for a true horizontal pivot arrangement. Juan Pons uses this head. I think one of the reason is that it serves as a head for long lens use, AND as a standard landscape ball head for landscape photography as well, avoiding the need for two tripods or swapping tripod heads on the field. I saw mine on B&H last month, but I can't seem to find it there now but I do have a link to Peter Cairn's blog describing his experience with it. - http://blog.petercairnsphotography.com/2014/07/uniqball-a-unique-ballhead-i-think/

    Here is a link from Andy Rouse's site about his experience with the Unique Ballhead http://www.andyrouse.co.uk/index.php?s=product_landing&page=UniqBall

    Here's a picture - I had to hunt a while for this link - http://www.lenscoat.com/uniqball-ballhead-p-2261.html

    I really like shooting from a Wimberley head best, for long glass for birds in flight, but I don't like moving a large heavy tripod with attached Wimberley head and heavy camera and lens. It just 20-30 pounds of flopping awkward expensive and delicate stuff. We all do it, but I do wish there was a better way. Of course, one can dismount the camera from the tripod, but its still a bunch of junk to schlep around and now both hands are full.

    I have considered a gun stock mount from time to time, but never ordered one. Might freak some folks out these days, I suspect.

    I do like my Unique Bullhead, but it won't replace my RRS heads, nor my Wimberley, just yet. It is handy to travel with just one head though, if you have complete faith in its reliability and durability.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited February 3, 2016
    Re-reading this thread, I find I have one other suggestion to offer for sharper images with long lenses - try to minimize the distance of the air path from the subject to the front of your lens, and avoid shooting near noon over solar heated surfaces.

    I have noticed heat waves blurring my images even in Yellowstone shooting across snow fields if the sun is out and has been shining bright for a while. Air and moisture are two more things that degrade images when shooing with long glass. It is always better to get closer if you can / and I know we can't always.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 3, 2016
    Jim, thanks for taking the time to reply as fully as you did - interesting read, and useful to others too.

    I'm happy using the tripod based rig that I use when I do use a tripod ...which isn't very often (customised alu gitzo 5 series with bowl adaptor and Gitzo 1380 fluid head)

    I asked the question because over the last couple of months I've occasionally been to a different venue where short eared owls have been flying around ... and it seemed to me that many of the other gimbal using snappers had it mounted directly onto the top of the tripod.

    I'm aware of the unique ballhead, since I also read PC's blog (one of the few I do) ... and thought it looked like a nice bit of kit - but unlikely to be of use to me in std 'lo down bum' mode :)

    Since I continue to lug all the gear on my bike (pedal) I have relatively few problems carrying / transporting stuff ... so always get exercise, even if I don't get any decent pics ...

    pp
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,704Super Moderators moderator
    edited February 11, 2016
    Anyone using the Manfrotto 359 Long Lens Support?

    (Image from B & H Foto & Electronics Corp website)
    Manfrotto_359_359_Long_Lens_Support_554349.jpg
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited February 11, 2016
    I can see that that rig might offer stability for shooting stationary subjects, but would be a serious disadvantage for most wildlife shooting. It certainly increases the complexity and set up time, as well.

    Actually, as I look at that picture more closely, I am trying to think of a long lens with the lens foot that far forward. All of my long lenses have the lens foot much closer to the camera body than that, which allows me to balance my camera body/lens combo on a Wimberly head, so that it only takes light finger pressure to swivel it up and down.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 12, 2016
    Looks like a Manfrotto PR setup to me :)
    Would love to see some pics taken with it.
    For similar vintage, a series 5 gitzo + pl5 head ?

    pp
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,704Super Moderators moderator
    edited February 12, 2016
    pathfinder wrote: »
    I can see that that rig might offer stability for shooting stationary subjects, but would be a serious disadvantage for most wildlife shooting. It certainly increases the complexity and set up time, as well.

    Actually, as I look at that picture more closely, I am trying to think of a long lens with the lens foot that far forward. All of my long lenses have the lens foot much closer to the camera body than that, which allows me to balance my camera body/lens combo on a Wimberly head, so that it only takes light finger pressure to swivel it up and down.
    Looks like a Manfrotto PR setup to me :)
    Would love to see some pics taken with it.
    For similar vintage, a series 5 gitzo + pl5 head ?

    pp

    I am thinking that it likely is designed for static and sedate scenes, with possibilities for resting and perched wildlife. (Also found a couple of people using it for astro-photography.)

    An article from Luminous Landscape (written by Michael Reichmann) and an article from Mario & Jenny Fazekas of Kruger-2-Kalahari.com (and authors of some fairly popular African Safari E-Books), recommend the device and it's fairly inexpensive at less than $100USD.

    https://luminous-landscape.com/359/
    600-arm.jpg

    http://www.kruger-2-kalahari.com/tripods.html
    Tripod-at-Olifants_MBU5040_IJFR-1.jpg
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited February 12, 2016
    I can see that if one is considering long exposures - longer than 1/100th of a second or even 10 or 30 or 80 seconds exposures for landscape photography, the device looks like it would be effective and and quite useful in that situation. For long exposures for star and night shots, some might consider two tripods in that situation - one for the lens, and one for the camera body. Again effective, but definitely not conducive to quick reframing or panning like frequently needed for wildlife.

    I generally prefer to place my camera lens on a firm surface, rock, table, fence post, if I intend to begin to use longer shutter speeds, but I can see use for that device in certain situations. But once you're locked down like that, you will not get the image that suddenly occurs behind you or off to the side, which is not infrequent for me when I shoot wildlife.

    Landscape photography seems a more likely use ala Michael Reichman. Even when one shoot stars or the moon, they move a lot in 30 seconds in a long lens.

    We shoot star shots with wide angle lenses for 25 seconds or less without much apparent motion, but not with a 500mm lens. For that one wants a much, much shorter shutter speed, or an equatorial amount. I have a few frames of a galaxy I shot on October 8, 2014 during the lunar eclipse with a 500mm lens using settings of f4.5 0.6 seconds at ISO 12800. The stars were pretty sharp, but not perfect throughout the field. Noise was a minor issue, but movement is a bigger one. There is a reason folks use equatorial mounts. If I lived in the desert with clear dry skies I would consider building one. I remember seeing the rings of Saturn with good binoculars and the tiny dots that were the moons of Jupiter when I was at altitude on a clear night in Colorado, and how amazing they were to actually see in the sky overhead, not as an image someone else had captured, but something I actually saw with my own eyes.

    I read both of those links, Ziggy, and found them encouraging. Michael says he can pan and reframe by simply unlocking but not removing the support, and then, relocking the support after reframing, to stabilize his camera/lens again quickly. I can see that with a very large lens, that might be useful, like my Sigma 300-800 that is a monster to deal with. It looks like the African link is shooting from a fixed veranda, and again, in that situation, I can see that it might be helpful. Still not convinced that I would drag it into the field with me all the time, though.

    It is always good to know lots of ways to skin a cat.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 8, 2016
    Probably of little interest to most people, but I've recently added another (simple) bit of kit to the mix - a glass plate / platter from a microwave oven.
    Wriggling this down onto a suitable surface has provided a good alternative shooting position - there's been grebe activity both sides of a path, main turntable set up on one side, this on the other.
    The smooth glass surface allows for pretty good tracking via a beanbag ...and being a freebie, the price is right :)

    I've removed the centre protrusion to reduce the possibilities of it 'bottoming out' on an undulating surface.

    Obviously, any similarly shaped object would probably 'do' ... but the 3 equispaced pips / feet on the underside are an added advantage if it's going to be used on a flat surface, like a path, and I find its 'heft' useful over a sheet metal tray - but accept that where weight is an issue (not for me, either it's on the bike or left at venue) other materials might be preferred.

    pp
  • double_entendredouble_entendre Gene pool chlorinator Posts: 113Registered Users Major grins

    Been trying to take something worth posting of late with minimal luck. Been using a 300mm Nikkor F4 with a D7000 both with and without an aftermarket 2x multiplier.

    Went to the local park to try to take pictures of the nesting cormorants with no luck. I think that part of my error is shutter speed, which I can fix by cranking up the ISO. I may try that when I next go to Bolsa Chica. Everything I took today was 1/400 at most--clearly not enough. I got a few people shots that didn't suck, but the cormorant shots are all rubbish. Fortunately, it's early in the season and they'll be nesting for quite a while longer.

    As @ziggy53 says, "Still learnin'; still lovin'." I'm just far, far earlier in the learning process.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 23, 2017

    For long lens images of birds, I would start with a shutter speed of 1/1250. Open your lens wide open, in Manual mode and see what ISO is required to get a good RAW file and try to keep the histogram to the right. This will give you the best RAW data to start your image editing with. If you have enough light on your subject, you can begin to close your aperture one stop to get closer to the optimum aperture for your lens. Perched birds are easier at first than birds in flight. Pay close attention to shadows, because a bird can turn its head 30 degrees and move from being sunlit to in the shade, and that is three stops of exposure difference you have to get back someway. One reason for shooting in Av sometimes.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • puzzledpaulpuzzledpaul low down bum Posts: 1,620Registered Users Major grins

    @d-e ... not a 'shooting' tip as such ... but I wonder if it'd be worthwhile trying a static test setup /procedure to check whether any micro adjust is needed?
    Also, getting the absolute best IQ this way would give you some better idea of what's going to be possible under 'ideal' circumstances - especially with Tc attached.

    pp

  • FergusonFerguson Major grins Posts: 1,241Registered Users Major grins

    Some of this is repetitious, but here goes from a sports shooter's perspective.

    People tend to treat length as somewhat linear, e.g. 400 is about twice as hard as 200, etc. Not true -- there's a knee in the curve. I suspect it depends on equipment and your own hands, but for me it's around 600-700mm. When I shift from a 1.4x on 400 (i.e. 560mm) to a 2x (i.e. 800), it's an incredible difference. When I first tried it, I was absolutely convinced my 2x TC was broken. Shot several innings from center field, and they were all a mess, soft, awful.

    I finally got that I really needed a LOT more care there. At 560mm I could shoot handheld on a monopod without any trouble. About 1/1000th or 1/1250 was fine. At 800mm though, shutter speed didn't help. Even up around 4000th, I would get soft shots. Until I got serious about a steady shot -- first I used tripods, then worked my way back to a monopod, and I can now get decent keeper rates. But there's really a point at which you have to be a LOT more steady, not just the bit you would expect.

    Secondly, and already mentioned - shutter speed is not the answer. It helps, without a double, but even at 2x focal length, you really need to be steady regardless of (reasonable) shutters. If you are mathematically inclined figure out how fast of a subject (think base runner) you can have transiting the image to cover a pixel -- it's basically a turtle (now obviously one pixel is not necessarily a soft shot, nor is failing to pan to follow a moving subject a good idea, my point is that it is very low tolerance with today's high resolution cameras).

    And finally FINE TUNE. OK, lots of people don't believe in it, well -- with long lenses, often used at widest apertures, on increasingly high resolution cameras -- you need to. Maybe yours will be +/- 0, but if it's not, you can't get a sharp image when you are focused 10' behind your subject.

    And practice, practice, practice. Really -- I shot for years at 560mm, then bought a 2x TC, and it took me 3-4 games of experimenting the first few innings (when it's daylight) before I had decent results. There was nothing at all wrong with the TC, it's just HARD after a certain focal length.

  • double_entendredouble_entendre Gene pool chlorinator Posts: 113Registered Users Major grins

    @pathfinder , @puzzledpaul , @Ferguson

    Thank you very much for the the thoughts.

    I printed out a sheet of paper and taped it to a piece of plywood I had laying around (woodworking being another time-consuming, expensive hobby). I took pics of it both in Live View and not, using AF and racking the focus after each shot. Honestly, they all came out pretty good, I thought. I used my 24mm f2.8, 80-200 at 80mm, and the 300mm both with and without the 2x multiplier.

    The 300mm with the Tamron multiplier looked ok, but nowhere near as good as without. (Happy to upload RAW or jpegs to my Smugmug for opinions.)

    I got down to Bolsa Chica this week and got some really nice shots of a great blue heron and an egret that I'm editing. Not happy with my post-processing work in Photoshop Elements yet and downloaded Lightroom* to work with that instead, but it appears there's gonna be one big ol' learning curve. Most of those were shot circa 1/2500 second at ISO 4000, which was probably overkill as they're a bit noisy.

    I think I may give up on the 2x multiplier and save my pennies for a 600mm or 800mm. Gonna be a lot of pennies.....

    Handholding the 300mm I haven't had much success with yet, but I may try again without the 2x multiplier and see if that helps. It can't hurt.

  • FergusonFerguson Major grins Posts: 1,241Registered Users Major grins

    @double_entendre said:
    Handholding the 300mm I haven't had much success with yet, but I may try again without the 2x multiplier and see if that helps. It can't hurt.

    Monopods can be magic. They are much easier to travel with and less disruptive in crowds, but provide a LOT of extra stability. I shoot the 400 for crowd shots (in shadows at night at games) all the time at 200th or even 125th of a second without VR, and get good results on a monopod, but I could not begin to handhold, VR or not.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator

    I think handholding 300mm + 2X is very challenging - I know that its never works well for me. If you don't have access to a good tripod or monopod, try using a fence post or a small step ladder or a big rock the you can place the camera and lens on to stabilize it, like the monopod Ferguson suggested. I am sure that will help.

    I have never been very pleased with my results from non-OEM teleconverters. I wonder if a Nikon converter might work better for you than the Tamron version.

    If you really want longer glass, I would think about a nice used 500 f4, They are available, and significantly easier to handle than a 600 or 800mm lens, and they are usually a lot cheaper than the longer stuff as well. A good 500 f4 prime will mate up pretty nicely with a 1.4 Teleconverter as well. I do own a Sigma 300-800, but it is a big task to drag it out and set it up, let alone try to carry it about.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • double_entendredouble_entendre Gene pool chlorinator Posts: 113Registered Users Major grins

    @pathfinder said:

    I think handholding 300mm + 2X is very challenging - I know that its never works well for me. If you don't have access to a good tripod or monopod, try using a fence post or a small step ladder or a big rock the you can place the camera and lens on to stabilize it, like the monopod Ferguson suggested. I am sure that will help.

    I have never been very pleased with my results from non-OEM teleconverters. I wonder if a Nikon converter might work better for you than the Tamron version.

    I'm actually pretty lucky on the tripod front. My dad gave me Manfrotto with a three way head eons ago. Works like a charm.

    I'll look into used 500mm vs 600mm lenses. It does seem that the big difference is vibration reduction. If the lens has that it's a couple grand more.

    One of these weekends I'm going to rent a 600mm from Samy's nearby and see how that turns out.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,383Super Moderators moderator

    VR is great for hand held or a monopod, but is best turned off when shooting from a tripod, and doesn't help with subject motion any way.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • cybercordcybercord Gerogia, USAPosts: 5Registered Users Big grins
    Hello everyone,

    New to the group/site and discussions. Been shooting since early '80s. But that only means there is still more to learn, just learning is easier based on past knowledge. I shoot car racing almost exclusively. And on my long lens (sigma 150-500) I always use my monopod. Does not matter. I also never shoot at the max/min of the lens on any lens, unless a prime. :) But I think most people here know that. I shoot cars moving at 60-180MPH at distance and have to adjust Shut speed based on corner. I also shoot manually after I get setup. I can get suburb shoots while panning and get a hit ration of 80-90%. But the key is the SS and the monopod. Also IS is never on. I have to track car first then shoot. Some times at low light even down to 1/60 sec. So I think the monopod is my savior and never leave home with out it. Just adding my 2c worth.
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