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Old Jul 5, 2005, 1:42 PM   #1
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As mentioned in an earlier post, I'm trying to figure out what lens(es) to buy for shooting surfing. The conditions for shooting surfing are as you would imagine: during the daytime in good light, at some distance (say 100-300 feet) and with a constantly moving subject.

I've been barely getting by with a combination of my Lumix FZ10 camera with an Olympus 1.7x TC screwed on to the end. The camera auto-focuses too slowly and the image quality is good but not great, and so I'm desperate to upgrade. Cost is of course a big factor. I'm pleased to have a couple of great cameras to choose from in the mid-level range like the Canon 20D and the NIkon D70. But as I said, I need serious focal length to reach my subject from the beach.

So I have basically two questions, the original one which I'm still unsure about and a second one that resulted from my earlier post:

1) what telephoto lens(es) would be best suited to this level camera (price and quality) for surfing photography

2) do I want a fixed length (or "prime") lens or is a zoom lens an option as well?



And even though it may seem like the right answer, please don't tell me that I shouldlook atthe Canon 600mm lens, the one that costs 6 or 7 thousand dollars. Yes, I dream of it but there just ain't no way.

Thank you.
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Old Jul 5, 2005, 3:03 PM   #2
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My $0.02

Get yourself a 70D plus Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX DG plus a really solid tripod.
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Old Jul 5, 2005, 3:07 PM   #3
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There are mirror (or Reflex) lenses available for the Canon which are a good way to get a long reach for a (more) reasonable price. There is a Canon 500mm/f8 mirror lens that might do the job.

The problem with mirror lenses is that they are limited to a single aperture (f8 in this case) and that you need to be careful of the out of focus highlights which can have a strange donut shape...but there is no cheaper way to get a long reach and, with a dSLR you get the added reach of the multiplier (1.6x or 1.7x) to make it even longer.

An 800mm equivalent sounds pretty tempting even with all the compromises a mirror lens requires.

Of course, it need not be a Canon mirror lens if you can get a 3rd party one in a Canon mount.
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Old Jul 5, 2005, 3:17 PM   #4
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Minolta is the only company who has an 'autofocus' mirror lens for their cameras :idea:
http://www.popphoto.com/article.asp?...2&preview=

BTW if you get their camera: http://www4.willoughbys.com/shop/product-Image.aspx?sku=1000MINMAXD7[
-> All your lenses will have Anti-Shake including that excellent Sigma 50-500 EX

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Old Jul 5, 2005, 5:20 PM   #5
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A prime lens will always yield a sharper image than the best zoom. The tradeoff is that you have to have a variety of prime lenses at different focal lengths to handle different shooting situations. You also have to learn how to walk. In other words, the only way to "zoom" with primes is to physically move closer or farther from the subject.

Reflex or mirror lenses are not as sharp as prime or zoom lenses. They also have the strange quirk that small points of light in your photos will show up as circles of light rather than solid spots. This is due to the doughnut shaped mirror.

Cal Rasmussen

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Old Jul 5, 2005, 9:49 PM   #6
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I have to second the Sigma 50-500 option. It is around $900 which is not cheap, but sure beats spending $5000. I have been using the Sigma for a couple of years and have been very happy with its performance. It won't equal a Canon prime 500, but it is surprisingly sharp and a lot more versatile. I use mine for soccer matches where you have kids moving up and down the field and using a long prime would not allow me to get good shots at the near end of the field. It is heavy and a monopod is a near requirement, but it will get you some awesome surfing pictures. This is a crop of a shot taken from behind the right field fence at over 100 yds (325 feet). It is a 50% crop, but has been reduced to 1/3 size to fit here.
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Old Jul 6, 2005, 5:17 AM   #7
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I agree with NHL on this one - get the Minolta 7D plus the Bigma, it's the only way to give it image stabilisation which will come in very useful for telephoto work.


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Old Jul 6, 2005, 6:23 AM   #8
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calr wrote:
Quote:
A prime lens will always yield a sharper image than the best zoom.
This used to be true but modern zooms have improved quite a lot over their 'antique' cousin - When is the last time a prime was released? More folks are buying zoom theses days and manufacturers keep improving on the volume/profit items - Sigma for example revamped their entire line up over the past few months to the 'DG' version:
http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=65

... and here's another prime/zoom comparison: http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...335527#p335527

-> There's other parameters of course, but at least in measureable sharpness a zoom can and do exceed a prime!
A prime can still be faster, but then they are not that sharp at those apertures (again check their MTF's)!
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Old Jul 7, 2005, 12:47 AM   #9
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Thank you all for your responses, very helpful stuff....

Rob
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