Looking for a good, cheap way to obtain 600mm for lanscapes. Speed no issue.
I've been watching too many Kurosawa movies, as I now have a burning desire for a 600mm lens for my Nikons.
I know you don't get something for nothing, but how would this combo work?
Nikon 300mm F4.5 ED IF
I've read everything I can on the web about it. Some people say it's not the greatest combo, but if I am stopping down for landscapes anyway, will it improve?
Have you looked into 600mm mirror lenses? If all your landscape scenes are at infinity then you don't need to worry about stopping down so the lack of aperture is no problem. The Nikon combo sounds ok too but I'm not sure stopping down will improve chromatic abberations and that's a problem you are likely to get with Teleconverters.
I own that combination. You get the magnification, but focusing an f/9 image is much different than doing so at f/2.8 or faster. Telephotos are generally best closed two stops. Closing it further lengthens the exposure and increases depth of field.
It’s unreasonable to suppose that closing down further will improve the image quality. It won’t.
With that much magnification truly immobilizing the rig is difficult. Your best bet with a 12X lens is to mount the lens on a heavy, rigid tripod (the camera hangs onto the back to TC301). On the Nikon bodies beginning with the EL2 and newer (but not the F3), setting the self timer and tripping the release button causes the aperture to close and the mirror to rise at the beginning of the countdown.
Ten seconds later, after the mirror vibrations have died, the shutter firing is the only movement accompanying the exposure. That gives you the least camera and lens vibration during the exposure and the sharpest image with the camera on a tripod. You might also nest the rig into sandbags on a suitable support if the situation allows.
Image quality is reasonable, but likely not quite as good as using a 600/4 with less air-glass surfaces. The derogatory comments about this combination are due to several things.
The users likely can’t afford a 600/4 and have the combo on a so-so tripod. That gives inferior results because even the smallest vibration or movement of the camera and lens at high magnification degrades the image. That’s true of any 12X lens.
The viewfinder image is somewhat dark and, consequently, lacks apparent contrast. That makes focusing potentially less precise. Many interpret this dark viewfinder image as due to an inferior lens.
Used with care, this will give you 12X magnification for a fraction of the cost of the current 600/4 Nikon lens that sells for $10,300 at B&H in NYC.
If at all possible I'd consider the 400mm 3.5 with the 1.4 or just waiting for an older 600mm 5.6.
If you are using a 600mm lens for distant subjects, the clarity and stability of the air in between you and the subject may have more effect on the sharpness of your result than any design issues inherent in your lens/lens plus converter choice.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
You could consider a Novoflex 600mm (or a Leica Telyt 560mm).
They can be had relatively cheaply (esp. the Novoflex), but might not be best for landscapes, as they have a good deal of field curvature (they make excellent wildlife lenses).
Other possibility is a classic cheapo no-name stove-pipe 500mm f/8.0, which can sometimes be surprisingly decent (see comment above about sharpness limits for distant subjects, even with the best lenses).
I would avoid a mirror lens though.
P.S. Did Kurosawa really use long teles often? Need to re-watch his films... :-)
M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa
Regarding Kurosawa's use of telephoto lenses, have a look at this...
Technically, 600mm is a little restricting... It'll give a unique look for sure, but it has it's drawbacks. As MattKing wrote, you will indeed have atmospheric issues with landscape photography using that sort of thing. I shoot panoramas with a DSLR and 300/2.8, so that's about 450mm equivalent, and air quality, visibilty, and temperature "shimmering" are the biggest things that affect image quality. Unless you are shooting baseball, I don't think there is much you couldn't do with a 300mm for compressing your composition. Here in Maine, depending on the time of year, probably 1 day in 10 is good for supertele landscape because of air issues. Winter is better, but summer is very iffy due to haze, smog, fog, heat, etc...
Artistically for non-landscape scenes especially, go too far with flatness your perspective and you're back in the dark ages of art prior to perspective, or you're like a 5 year old drawing figures. It's nice to be able to dispense with perspective once in a while, but it's easy to go too far. Small DOF also goes with it. Eliminate all foreground, background, perspective, and it's SOMETIMES a copout for thinking about those things. Yeh, it can make a nice image sometimes, but the context, storytelling, and creative possibilities can suffer in the process.
There are 2 problems with the mirror lens idea as I see it. One is you can't stop down to increase your DoF, and if you're trying to mimic Kurosawa that won't fly as one of the halmarks of his technique was relatively deep DoF while using a long lens. Second, and more important to me is the bokeh from highlights with a mirror lens are different and I find them distracting (they show up as circles).
Not to belabor the Kurosawa reference too much, but I also wonder just how long a lens Mr. Kurosawa was using. A standard 35mm cinema prime lens set generally ends at about 80- 100mm. Over 100mm is considered telephoto, 300mm is considered extreme.
I found something that says Kurosawa often used focal lengths of 350 and 500mm.
I assume he shot on 35mm, but since 35mm camera film is rotated 90 degrees from 35mm cinema film, the equivalent focal length would be somewhat longer. To equal a 500mm lens on 24x36, you would need something like a 750mm lens, correct?
Well, this is is looking like it's skyrocketing out of my budget range. I just got a TC-201, which I discovered works well with my 200mm F4 AI, giving me 400mm for less than $200. I guess I'll get to know this combo a bit better before trying to go longer.