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Focal Length 300mm + or Mirroless 500mm?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Aushiker, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    I enjoy ship photography and being in Fremantle with a medium sized Australian port does not help with that interest :) One aspect is that just off the coast is what is known as Gage Roads which has a lot of ships anchored and/or passing through to the ports a little south of here.

    I would like to capture those ships at anchor and passing by. I do have access to Sigma 70-300mm DL Macro which I tired out today when the sun came out for a few minutes (it has been bucketing down here) to get an idea on how the focal length would work. The following photos where taken hand-held. The first ship is approximately five kilometres from where I took the photo and the second ship is approximately six kilometres.

    My question is should I just go with a 300 mm focal length and if yes suggestions on lower priced but better quality primes would be appreciated or would a 400 mm or 500 mm focal length be a better option? I also have seen numerous 500 mm focal length mirror lenses on eBay for around $200. Wondering if they are worth a go.

    This ship photography would be my main use and then it is even a small part of my photography so I don't need to spend big dollars.

    Ship 1 - ~ 5 Kilometres

    20322326183_3d4baf8a4b_b.
    AP184088
    by Andrew Priest, on Flickr

    Cropped

    20320741374_218810a244_b.
    AP184086
    by Andrew Priest, on Flickr

    Ship 2 - ~ 6 Kilometre

    20322320853_502aea1074_b.
    AP184087
    by Andrew Priest, on Flickr

    20756596709_c3982c24cf_b.
    AP184089
    by Andrew Priest, on Flickr

    For comparison purposes I took the following photo (cropped) using my Olympus M.Zuiko 40 to 150mm f4.0 - 5.6 II. The frigate would have been around four to five kilometres from where I was standing.


    HMAS Warramunga [FFH 152]
    by Andrew Priest, on Flickr

    Thanks in advance
    Andrew
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
  2. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    430
    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    That's the longest standard lens you're going to find for reasonable money, so probably your best choice. From your pics, either your lens or your sensor is filthy so you might want to consider if what you have is what you want.

    Legacy 300mm f/2.8 and f/4 primes are abundant. For suggestions of things to look at, I'd suggest the Canon FD 300/4L or if you have a bit more cash floating around, the 300/2.8 or 400/4.5.

    You mean mirror lenses, not mirrorless. They'll give you more reach but less resolution. They're very light, fun, and have exciting/funky bokeh; however, they are also soft and offer only one (slow) aperture value.
     
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  3. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    Okay thanks. The lens is not in the cleanest state. I just grabbed it for a borrow as a "bright spark idea" as I was heading out the door.


    Whoops, yes mirror lens. Thanks for the comments.

    Andrew
     
  4. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I suspect at those sorts of distances the limiting factor is atmospheric haze rather than the lens, almost any of the legacy 300mm f2.8 options were very expensive lenses in their day and no expense was spared in their design and manufacture (likewise for *any* prime lens over 300mm). Combine one of the faster legacy options with a good teleconverter (the EC-14 for 4/3 is one of the best I've ever used) and you have a LOT of reach.

    Another option would be something like the Bigma for 4/3 which is a very large but capable lens, just a little bit rarer (Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3).
     
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  5. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    You can pick up a Canon FD 400mm f/4.5 pretty cheap. I have one and it's a great lens. In bright sun it can have a lot of CA but it's easy to fix in post.
     
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  6. ivoire

    ivoire Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2011
    Naperville, IL
    mike
    Mirror lenses lack contrast and require a tripod for best results plus you will have lots of doh-nut bokeh from water reflections. Having owned 2 500mm mirror lenses, I second the canon or other 400mm lens over the mirror lenses. If you are on a budget the Tamron 60-300mm Adaptall lens is also very good but will give you purple fringing (correctable in post).

    http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_sacat=0&_nkw=tamron+60-300mm&_sop=2

    review: http://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/tamron-adaptall-2-sp-60-300mm-f-3-8-5-4-23a.html
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
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  7. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Shooting at a distance of kilometers and you get atmospheric distortion. I don't know if it will matter too much which lens.

    Was the 70-300 adapted to 4/3 or used on some SLR?
     
  8. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    Thanks and thanks @Phocal@Phocal. On a day like today I wouldn't normally bother so most of this sort of photography will be early morning on clear or clearer days and I would be setup with the tripod as there is often three or more ships at anchorage of the coast.

    In terms of budget I can purchase on eBay an O ED 75-300mm f/6.8-6.7 for ~$390 and a P 100-300 f/4.0-5.6 for ~$470. So I wouldn't want to go over those prices as I can simply get the Mu43 lens instead. That said given the limited usage, if I can keep down to $200 or less I would be happy :)

    @tkbslc@tkbslc the lens was adapted to my Olympus OM-D em-1. Hand held.

    Andrew
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
  9. Aushiker

    Aushiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Fremantle, Western Australia
    Andrew
    Thanks for the heads-up. There is one of these lens "locally" listed at the moment for $98 delivered. Seller is open to offers. There is a "tiny scratch" on the front element. Seller suggests not an issue ...

    Edit: mmm last one sold locally with a camera for $42.

    Andrew
     
  10. ivoire

    ivoire Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2011
    Naperville, IL
    mike
    I paid $80 for my copy about 5 yrs ago. It's one of those lenses that was designed to perform well at 300mm.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
  11. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Rob
    You might find the Oly 50-200 with either 1.4 or 2.0 TCs superior to most legacy options, while being smaller and more versatile. You don't seem to need very fast lenses for photographing ships. Sharpness would rule.

    Canon makes a 400mm f5.6 which had the reputation for extreme sharpness, providing more detail from a crop than most longer lenses.
     
  12. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Old zooms were not quite there yet in terms of sharpness and ca control. I'd be absolutely shocked if it could keep up with that Sigma 70-300.

    Unless you can get more reach than the 70-300, I don't see the point of buying something new. Like I said earlier, your quality limiter is going to be distance and atmosphere, not the lens.

    Quite honestly, for this kind of shot, a Mirror lens may actually be your best option! You have a relatively slow moving subject, you don't need a fast aperture and you need massive reach. You won't have bokeh, so no worries on the donuts.
     
  13. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Opteka 4/3 mirror lenses are under $100, plus 4/3 adapter.

    Mine is not sharper than my ZD 70-300mm lens, and it is hard to focus accurately, but they are cheap and lightweight.

    Barry
     
  14. Machi

    Machi Mu-43 Veteran

    208
    May 23, 2015
    I suppose that older Nikkor 300/2.8 ED or Canon 300/2.8L lenses would be ideal but those legacy lenses aren't in the $200 category.
    There is Tamron 500/8 reflex lens with very good reputation and it's cheap. Here is nice comparison between Pro Optic 500 (=Opteka?), Tamron 500/8 and Canon 500/4.5L. But Bokeh can be problem.
    I have old cheap Super Cosina 100-500/8 ($125) and I found that sharpness of my images are mostly limited by motion blur and precision of focusing and not by sharpness of the lens.
    For illustration photo of aircraft ~15 kilometers away.

    P6181492.
     
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  15. Rum Maximus

    Rum Maximus Mu-43 Regular

    49
    May 11, 2013
    LV, NV
    Mattimus
    I'll throw this out there for consideration......

    If you want to shoot long w/ legacy manual focus glass (this is painting w/ a broad generalized bush but is pretty close to the truth), you can choose from either having a piece of pipe hanging off the front end of your ยต4/3 camera, or having doughnuts in the image. Pick whichever you're comfortable with, go with it and don't look back.
     
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  16. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    mmm... doughnuts...
     
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  17. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I suspect that basically any of the newer m4/3 long focal length zooms would wipe the floor with the older offerings (even most of the primes, absolutely no contest against a mirror lens) at a competitive price point, there's a certain poetry about using an older lens however it's hard to deny that the new designs are every bit as good.

    Unless there's a big gain to the old (perhaps more reach for far less money) I do think that saving up and getting something new is a better long term bet.
     
  18. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Here's a crazy thought:

    What about one of those new crazy super zoom cameras like the canon sx50. It goes out to 1200mm equiv. Panasonic fz70 too. I think Nikon has a new one at 2000mm equiv.

    Yeah it's a small sensor but at least it's not giant and has a sharp lens.
     
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  19. Machi

    Machi Mu-43 Veteran

    208
    May 23, 2015
    I did some tests for this reason and I found that main problem with legacy lenses which I own is veiling glare - haze which lowers (often significantly) overall contrast of image.
    Quality of modern multicoating is simply outstanding in comparison with older lenses. But there are big differences between lenses.
    I have old Canon 50/1.4 and it's outstanding performer. It's sharp and it hasn't problem with the sun and bright surfaces.
    It's fully comparable with the cheaper new lenses.
    New designs are also almost every time sharper than legacy lenses, but if it goes to the point of resolution, longer focal length wins.
    This is little demonstration of this in case of three cheap lenses.
    New lens definitely wins in sharpness but older lenses offer much more details thanks to their longer focal lengths despite their softness.
    (All three images shows crops at full resolution with lenses at their optimum apertures and are strongly enhanced to show differences in resolution. Target was in the same distance ~15 meters):

    Resolution.

    But I agree that new lenses (or "hyperzoom" cameras) have lots of benefits.
    I'm personally looking forward to the new Panasonic 100-400mm lens. I hope that it will be reasonably priced (less than $1000).
    But truth is that new longer focal lenses and cameras aren't in the $100-200 category.
     
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  20. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The Panasonic fz170 is not hard to find under $200. 10-600 zoom in m43 terms!