Discussing telephoto lenses for landscape photography

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by alex gard, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. alex gard

    alex gard Member

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    I was wondering what everyone's opinion would be on shooting landscapes with telephoto lenses? The longest focal length I am using at the moment is a zeiss 150mm f/4 on a hassy. I am looking into swapping it for the 180 f/4 which apparently is very sharp or alternatively stepping up to a longer focal length perhaps 250mm. Is this justifiable for primarily landscape photography? I was wondering if anyone had any advice or views on taking a longer view rather than wider for landscapes. I've found it has often helped me isolate subjects that are distant that I think would make a nice capture. I'm new to these forums and my internet is terrible so excuse me if this has been discussed already.
     
  2. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    Well, if you use the wrong lens, everyone will laugh at you, that's for sure, so don't make the wrong decision.

    you can experiment with longer focal lenths cheaply with a "cheepie" 2x converter for hasselblad--they are pretty cheep these days (not the zeiss mutars, but the kenkos or vivitars or similar other) check here or keh for them. one on a 150 will get you a 300mm to play with--and the added weight and length will give you a feel for the bigger lenses too.

    more food for thought 150 vs 180 is in the link below---again--this is just someone's opinion--if people don't like the person who wrote the article, then the general consensus of the group is that his observations are no good -- they will find some tiny disputable point and use that to discredit his whole analysis--and you will be laughed at for taking his information seriously. HOWEVER--if the person who wrote the article is well liked (whether he know what he's doing or not), then the person's opinion will be roundly regarded as "expert" and you will be commended for taking his advise:

    http://www.olegnovikov.com/technical/cfi150vscfe180/cfi150vscfe180.shtml
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013
  3. macrorie

    macrorie Member

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    I use telephotos all the time for landscape work, as they make for dynamic compositions especially where the foreshortening effects work very well in mountains and where long coastal vistas are possible. No knowledge of Hasselblad, however.
     
  4. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

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    Well, I think it's as true today as ever: use the focal length required to fulfill your compositional goals.
     
  5. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    I use wide angle through telephotos. (Mamiya 6x7 not Hassie 6x6) so the angle of view is slightly different. Having said that, I think that if you have a 150, going to a 180 has very little difference in the angle of view. The 250 would be a better pick. However, I wouldn't swap one for the other. You'll miss too many shots that the 150 is good for. Is it economical for you to have both the 150 and 250?

    Also, you didn't mention what other lenses you have. That could help make a decision.

    (edited for clarity)
     
  6. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I use my 150 on the Hasselblad quite a lot, both for landscapes and other kinds of things. If your vision works in a "less is more" sort of way, it's a good way to go. If you want to be very selective in your compositions, a 250 might be a better choice as an addition to your 150, rather than the 180. Aside from a converter, another good way to find out might be to rent one or both.
     
  7. fotch

    fotch Member

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    No one lens is better that any other. Choice depends on what you are trying to achieve given your location, subject, lens available, and other variables. Rather than "I could take a better picture if I had...." it should be "How can I take a better picture with what I have".
     
  8. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I once took a 35mm shot of a wooden bridge over a small lake in the Japanese gardens at the St. Louis Botanical gardens. There was a big white piece of limestone sticking up out of the lake that was pretty far away from the bridge. I used my zoom at about 135mm to compress the image so the rock seemed real close to the bridge. I was so happy with the end result that I framed the finished photograph.

    Telephotos are great for landscape. It just depends upon your vision.
     
  9. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    I use a long-ish lens frequently for landscape work, and quite like using longer focal lengths for that compression effect you mention.

    My 1958 Ilford Manual of Photography recommends telephoto lenses for landscapes which is contrary to the general advice given today where people mostly recommend wide angle lenses - it is really a matter of fashion. If you want good pictures rather than fashionable ones, go with telephoto lenses.
     
  10. Trail Images

    Trail Images Subscriber

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    I like the use of telephoto lenses in landscape work. Of course as already mentioned it depends upon the compositional needs or isolation of the subject outcome you are looking for. I not too long ago bought a 180 for my Mamiya 6x7 and found it has worked well for several recent landscape shots. It would be hard for me to know if a 250 at this point is necessary for future comps, but that is what makes things interesting out in the field. I would also add that my jump was from a 127 up to a 180 and not say a 150 to 180. So, the difference for me was noticeable and fits my needs to date. :smile:
     
  11. nocturnal

    nocturnal Member

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    On the less expensive side of the show, I have started using a Pentax-M 200mm F4 for 'up-river' looking photos etc. I haven't enlarged the negatives yet but combined with a red 25 filter the negatives look good. It is difficult to have everything in focus though even with f22 with tree branches/rocks being well outside the hyper-focal distance.

    I'll ty and remember to post these here when I get them printed.

    EDIT: Oooops I was refering to 35mm use and didn't realise this was a MF thread. It still applies though.
     
  12. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    The 180 is a lens with impeccable reputation and expensive, but the 150 is no slouch and I doubt you'd see any significant difference in most circumstances. I say save your money, and get the cheaper 250 (I got one in BGN condition from KEH very cheap) and use the 150/250 combo. The 250 is a great performer as well. As for telephotos in landscapes? Sure, for isolating scenes and giving a different compressed perspective such as "layers" of mountains fading in the distance. All up to what you're looking to do.
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have the Hasselblad 903 SWC and the Hasselblad 503 CX with the 50mm, 80mm, 150mm, and the 250mm lens. Additionally I have a 2x extender. For landscapes I have never used the 150mm lens, but I have used the 250mm lens many times. Exactly one time I used the 250mm lens with the 2x extender.
     
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  15. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    On occasion I have used a 165mm fast-focus tele on my Pentax 67, chiefly for 'bringing in' a little too distant waterfall or some other major element of the landscape or tors/rock outcrops, trees. Teles are not my first choice for landscape due to inherent perspective compression, but they are useful when a closer approach on foot is not possible or hazardous. A couple of occasions much earlier this year the 165mm was too much for the job; I have now added a 90mm which is a perfect step down with a more natural perspective.
     
  16. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    This is the only thing that matters.

    I frequently use my 250 APO.
     
  17. alex gard

    alex gard Member

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    Thankyou all for the replies. To clarify I have a 50mm, 80mm and 150mm. I was thinking of swapping the 150mm for the 180mm just because I've read a lot of opinions saying that the 180 is the preferred lens of the two (for sharpness reasons mostly) and also eventually getting a 250mm.I do like the compressed almost 'diorama' feel that a longer lens gives and find that when I'm outdoors I use the 150mm a lot more than say the 50mm or 80mm. When I was using a DSLR I used to stick to a 50mm or 85mm and do a lot of stitched 'bokehrama' type photos as I liked the non-stretchy effect that UWA's give. Thankyou all for your opinions and thoughts. I was not so much after a "is this the wrong lens" type of answer moreso just your thoughts on the application of telephoto lenses in landscape stuff.
     
  18. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The 150mm and 18-mm lenses are better for portraits than landscapes.
     
  19. fmajor

    fmajor Member

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    Well there ya go, making perfect sense. Where's the fun in that?!? :wink:

    I've come to the realization I'm much more inclined to spend the $ on what I hope will help me make better images when in reality fotch is pretty well on the mark. It requires more effort of me to make a beautiful image with whatever lens is attached to my camera.

    Since the medium format cameras I have I consider to be superb (Mamiya RB67 Pro-S with 65mm and 180mm Sekor C lenses and a Minolta Autocord TLR), I honestly have no excuse for not making great photographs.

    I've tried to do some landscape photographs with my 180mm and it requires a completely different "view" of the landscape. So, I tend to swap out/grab my 65mm and continue to not explore what I'm missing with the 180mm. I've seen some wonderful landscapes taken with the 180mm so I'm confident the FOV can be effective - I simply have to learn how to do them myself!!!
     
  20. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I use which ever lens is appropriate for the composition. I recently photographed a scene ( Villa Vizcaya, Miami,Fl) across the bay from a beach at least a half a mile or more away with my Hasselblad 350mm (40 year old) lens plus the Mutar 2x. Amazing detail and sharpness even recording the parking lot lights on a pole top in front of a tree in the background. I was pleasantly surprised with the result since it wasn't an intended shot just seeing what might come out with that combination.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  21. film_man

    film_man Member

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    At some point I had a 50, 80, 150 and 250 for my Hasselblad. The 50 and 150 I got rid of. For nearly everything I use the 80. The 250 I use almost solely for landscapes. With regard to the 150 I found it not wide enough to be interesting and nowhere near long enough to make for an interesting composition. I can't imagine the 180 will be much better in that respect.

    I recently sold my 250 purely because it was a CT and don't like the ergonomics, so spending a bit of time looking for a CFi/E at the right price (tricky to find in the UK...) although I started debating with myself whether a 350 would be better...the weight and size does get silly though...
     
  22. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I'm in the process of purchasing a 250mm lens for my Hasselblad system. I will soon have a 50mm, 80mm, 120mm and the 250mm. The 120 is my favorite lens for the kit, but it just doesn't have enough "reach" for some of the landscape scenes I want to make. I often want to isolate parts of a landscape or better incorporate distant details into the image.

    Since the 250 is roughly twice the focal length of the 120, I figure it will best fit my needs. A 180 would not be that different. (I have borrowed a friend's 180 for a couple of portrait shoots. It is a really great lens!) When you get into medium and large formats, you start to realize that increasing focal lengths require a whole lot more lens than 35mm to create similar telephoto effects. A 250mm is roughly 3X normal for 6x6 cameras. In 35mm terms, that's only about a 150mm lens. My point is, that even thought the numbers seem big, the actual increase in effect is not that great. The 250mm is relatively compact, and isn't that heavy. It's mostly empty space surrounded by metal. The 350mm starts to get ridiculous in terms of size and weight.

    If you can borrow or rent either or both lenses, I'd do that before spending the cash. I've happened to fall into a reasonably good deal, so I'm pulling the trigger.
     
  23. alex gard

    alex gard Member

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    Yeah, I figured as much with the focal lengths re: "numbers". I was looking as well towards the 350mm or 500mm, but perhaps 500mm is a bit to extreme, but I work on a ship south bound to the Antarctic and I really like shooting icebergs and sometimes we just don't get that close to really big ones and 150mm just doesn't cut it in this case. a 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 L USM lens on a Canon 5D is great, but I no longer have a digital camera and want to get the same reach out of film. is 500mm too extreme in this case? It's a lot of lens and not exactly cheap.. I don't know anywhere even interstate where I could borrow a 500mm or even 350mm lens from.
     
  24. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Gosh... you might change your opinion after handling the lens; I know I did. I can only use a 250 if on tripod. I find it big and heavy, but quite useful for the reason you describe - greater reach when a greater reach is advantageous.
     
  25. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I agree about the weight of the 250mm and the 350mm. I do not find the 250mm cumbersome and I do not have a problem hand holding it for 1/500 second and 1/250 second. I would use a tripod if the shutter speed was 1/125 second or longer.
     
  26. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I use long lenses more often than not, but once things get too long, you get plane of focus issues with anything even remotely toward the
    foreground, and the only way to handle that is with tilt control on a view camera, so that's my normal equipment. But the other day I was out with my 300mm Pentax 6x7 telephoto, since the day started out a bit too windy for view camera use. We still have a bit of haze in the air, so dealing with distant subjects required some strong filters to cut thru that. It's a nice lens for wildlife or quick bad weather shots from the highway. Another reason I took along the 6x7 is that I was also shooting inside a hillside train tunnels the same day, which is still in use,
    so I wanted to ability to get out fast once the rails get a bit of buzz to them. There is actually spare room to stand against a wall, but
    prefer a bit more distance between me and a hundred stacked cargo containers whizzing by.