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10 Tips For Great Telephoto Photography

Canon 1Ds Mark II + 600mm f/4 Super Telephoto Lens

One of the most exciting aspects of photography is working with Telephoto and Super Telephoto lenses. While out of the price range for most to buy, this lens family is easily accessible through lens rental services online or through local camera stores. Telephoto and super telephoto lenses enable photographers to explore a variety of subjects in new ways. Such lenses are often used in wildlife photography, but they can be used for a variety of subjects. Here are 10 tips and ideas for great telephoto photography:

1. Use A Tripod For Sharp Photos
By and large the vast majority of subjects photographed with telephoto and super telephoto lenses need to be tack sharp. Due to the narrow field of view and magnification of telephoto lenses ever so slight movements have an amplified impact diminishing image sharpness. The first thing you can do to ensure that you’ll capture sharp images is to use a tripod and a tripod head that can support the weight of your lens & camera. While this isn’t the only step to take to ensure sharp photos it is the essential first step. Using a tripod or even a monopod will also save your back and arms from unnecessary pain and fatigue.

2. Use A Shutter Release
Any movement is amplified when looking through the view finder of a camera using a telephoto lens. The simple act of pressing the shutter on your camera will cause even a tripod mounted camera and lens to shake when photographing a distant subject. To minimize camera shake use a shutter release. Quite simply a shutter release is a shutter release button on an extension cord. Minimizing movement of your camera and lens while mounted on a tripod will reduce unintended bluring of your photo.

Bonus Tip:
If your camera has a Mirror Lock-up function this in addition to the use of a shutter release will remove much of the mechanical vibration your camera itself can create. The mirror in the camera box of your dSLR allows you to see from the viewfinder out your lens. When you trigger the shutter the mirror will flip up out of the way so that light coming through your lens hits the sensor or film in your camera body. Mirror Lock-up will prompt you to trigger the shutter twice, first to move the mirror into a ready position and second to open the shutter. After the first trigger of the shutter you should wait 2-5 seconds for the internal mechanics of your camera and resulting vibration of your camera to settle to the point of being still before you trigger the shutter a second and final time.

3. Turn Off Lens Image Stabilization / Vibration Reduction for Tripod Mounted Cameras
When you have Image Stabilization or Vibration Reduction active on your lens the internal mechanics detects movement and counter acts it producing a sharp image. When your camera and lens are mounted on a tripod movement is removed, but your lens can errantly activating its IS/VR mechanism creating an image that is less than sharp. For this reason its a best practice to turn off your lenses IS or VR functionality when it is mounted to a tripod.

4. Telephoto Effect – Bringing Far and Near Together
Telephoto lenses have a unique optical effect in that they flatten scenes with great depth. Fittingly this is referred to as a Telephoto Effect. Making use of this effect can be very useful in composing graphically striking subjects and scenes. Unlike shorter focal length lenses that can provide a great deal of depth to a scene the flattening of a scene with the use of a telephoto lens can give the illusion that multiple subjects separated by great distances are actually very close. This effect can generate a great deal of impact with viewers.


Canon 1Ds Mark III and 600mm + 1.4x teleconverter for a total focal length of 840mm

5. Tightly Frame Your Subject
The most obvious use of a telephoto lens is to magnify a subject so as to close the distance between you and what you’re photographing. This can be of extremely valueable if you’re photographing wildlife and would like to get closer with out putting your life at risk. Beyond wildlife using a telephoto lens give you creative license to get extremely close to your subject in some instances. This is particularly useful in highlighting details that would otherwise be lost with shorter focal length lenses.


Canon 1Ds Mark III and 600mm + 2x teleconverter for a total focal length of 1200mm
Taken on my last Sea Otter Photo Tour

6. Isolate Your Subject
Telephoto lenses are great to more distinctly isolate your subject. While this can be done with shorter focal length lenses telephotos enable you to have greater reach to subjects that might be too far off otherwise. This is a middle ground use of telephoto lenses where you’re not looking to crop in too tightly or close the gap between subjects that are far apart.


Canon 1Ds Mark II + 70-200mm IS f/2.8 lens at 200mm

7. Make Use of Ultra Shallow Depth of Field
Telephoto and Super-Telephoto lenses share an optical characteristic that can produce very shallow planes of focus. As a result an often discussed secondary characteristic of long lenses, Bokeh, is the optical signature of out of focus portions of a photograph. Use of shallow depth of field can provide a non-distracting background to your subject enhancing perceived focus and its isolation from competing background elements. Understanding how Bokeh will look from one lens to another will enhance your ability to produce the highest quality image.


Canon 1Ds Mark III + 300mm f/2.8 IS + 1.4x teleconverter for a total focal length of 420mm
Lens provided by BorrowLenses.com 

8. Think Macro Photography
 If you’re not into photo yoga an alternate way to shoot macro photography is to use a telephoto lens. Extension tubes in combination with super telephoto lenses shorten the closest focusing distance of a lens. Working with a larger lens will not give you every vantage point that a smaller lens can provide, but it will enable you to obtain other unique perspectives all while saving you from getting your pants dirty.


Canon 1Ds Mark III + 300mm f/2.8 IS + 1.4x teleconverter for a total focal length of 420mm
Note these clusters of flowers are smaller than a US Quarter

9. Panning for Action
 Panning with a telephoto lens can provide high impact photos of almost any moving subject. Maintaining a sharp subject can be tricky requiring some practice. The added dimension of motion blur bring telephoto and super telephoto lens photos to life. This is a perfect technique for wildlife and action subjects alike.


Canon 1D Mark II + 70-200mm IS f/2.8 lens at 190mm + 2x teleconverter for a total focal length of 380mm

10. Experiment with Astrophotography
With a big enough lens your camera can become a low power telescope. Photographs likely won’t be in the exact same class as a true astrophotography taken with a telescope, but you’ll certainly get eye catching photos none-the-less. The key to successfully using telephoto lenses for astrophotography is:

1. Setting up in an area where there is little light pollution
2. Use of a tripod 
3. use of a cable release.

The slightest vibration will be enough to blur a photo with a long lens so special care should be applied to avoid this. For greater drama in post-production with a high enough resolution sensor you can crop down your image while maintaining mouth dropping detail.


Canon 1Ds Mark III and 600mm + 1.4x teleconverter for a total focal length of 840mm
Cropped in Photoshop for an equivalent focal length of 1800mm 

Jim Goldstein‘s landscape, nature, travel and photojournalism photography is featured on his web site JMG-Galleries.com, and blog. In addition Jim’s podcast “EXIF and Beyond” features photographer interviews and chronicles the creation of some of his images. In addition Jim can be followed on Twitter and FriendFeed. Also be sure to check out his workshops.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Jim Goldstein is a San Francisco based professional photographer. An author as well as a photographer Jim has been published in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Popular Photography and has self-published a PDF eBook Photographing the 4th Dimension - Time covering numerous slow shutter techniques. His latest work and writing can be found on his JMG-Galleries blog and on 500px

  • Jay E. Jenkins

    Hi Jim, Eddie asked if the camera’s self timer would work as well as a remote shutter release? The simple answer is yes! However, if I have learned anything about the physics of photography, it is that vibration (camera movement) kills sharp captures. Think about it, everything is vibrating (moving) to some extent.
    A remote shutter release allows you to do so much more than just push a button and hold your breath. It lets you choose exactly when the shutter is released. And what about that windy day when you are waiting for a still moment? With an on camera release you are boxed into 2 or 10 sec. choices. And what about my old friend vibration?? Take a look at any comprehensive tripod review and there will be a catagory that measures the time it takes for a tripod to stop resonating. In many cases that time is more than 10 seconds.

    Even top of the line remotes are quite inexpensive these days. Use it for other things too, walk back to that group photo that you want to be in, don’t run (everyone can tell). Good Shooting – IsisPix

  • ofori

    hi
    that is really educative thanks for that. but want to know if Nikon telephoto lens is compatible with all Nikon camera. becos am using Nikon d5000 and want to know the kind of telephoto lens for my camera.
    thanks.

  • Jon

    Excellent Article!

    As a owner of two Canon L telephoto lenses, 70-200, f2.8 and a 100-400, f4.5, I have been waiting for such an article with suggestions. I greatly appreciate all your recommendations, especially for Macro photos, which I have been playing around with now with great results. While I don’t presently own an extension / teleconverter as yet, I am now compelled to purchase one … most likely the 1.4x to take advantage of the added benefit.

    As an additional note to readers, the one thing that I have been discovering quickly with my Canon lenses (L and others), is they each have their sweet spot for focal sharpness. Which is to say, where the lens at various focal distances and f-stops yield the absolute best result. Having learned this powerful fact, I tend not to use the auto mode and gravitate towards the sweet spot of each lens. Unfortunately, the manufacturers don’t readily share this performance information and one have to dig for it reading on-line resources. Now that I have, my telephotos have improved remarkably.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gipukan Gipukan

    Hello Jon,

    Care to share your found sweet-spots on both your lenses?

  • Jon

    Hi Gipukan,

    Would love to share the sweet spot detail, however, since its not mine to publish I suggest you visit http://www.dpreview.com/. Note that my comment is not intended as any paid promo for them, nor do I have any vested interest … simply put, in my opinion these guys have the most thorough reviews of DSLR Cameras & Lenses which cover the majority of products. If your lens is not found on their product review listing, they’ll provide jump links where other resources might. Although other sites don’t go the distance. Check this link out and share your opinion.

  • http://www.yandex.ru/1975 Leeanna Castro

    Wonderfully lovely blog post.

  • http://paznokcie-forum.pl/ Tipsy

    Great photos, thanks for advices!

  • Chris Koffend

    As a relatively new “super” telephoto user, I think the most important thing is just to get out there and practice. Unlike other lenses in the 200-300 range, the longer lenses are really a whole different ball game. If you have a new (aka first time owner) 500, 600 or 800mm lens, I suggest spending time in your front yard and photographing passing cars (at about 50 feet), initially just keeping the car in all ten frames (or what ever speed your body shoots). Then work on narrowing down just keeping the driver in the frame and in focus. INOW, start with large moving objects and work your way down. When you can go to the park or wherever there are moderate sized birds (like pigeons or seagulls) and you can keep said bird in flight and in focus in the frame for a 6-10 shot burst, then you are moving along quite well. Be ready for disappointment at first, until you have tried to keep a 40 mph car at 50 feet in focus with an 800 lens most people don’t realize how difficult it can be. And the car is moving predictably, unlike a bird does!

Some older comments

  • Tipsy

    September 4, 2011 08:28 pm

    Great photos, thanks for advices!

  • Leeanna Castro

    July 27, 2011 10:23 am

    Wonderfully lovely blog post.

  • Jon

    June 20, 2011 01:24 pm

    Hi Gipukan,

    Would love to share the sweet spot detail, however, since its not mine to publish I suggest you visit http://www.dpreview.com/. Note that my comment is not intended as any paid promo for them, nor do I have any vested interest ... simply put, in my opinion these guys have the most thorough reviews of DSLR Cameras & Lenses which cover the majority of products. If your lens is not found on their product review listing, they'll provide jump links where other resources might. Although other sites don't go the distance. Check this link out and share your opinion.

  • Gipukan

    June 19, 2011 03:57 pm

    Hello Jon,

    Care to share your found sweet-spots on both your lenses?

  • Jon

    June 19, 2011 10:34 am

    Excellent Article!

    As a owner of two Canon L telephoto lenses, 70-200, f2.8 and a 100-400, f4.5, I have been waiting for such an article with suggestions. I greatly appreciate all your recommendations, especially for Macro photos, which I have been playing around with now with great results. While I don't presently own an extension / teleconverter as yet, I am now compelled to purchase one ... most likely the 1.4x to take advantage of the added benefit.

    As an additional note to readers, the one thing that I have been discovering quickly with my Canon lenses (L and others), is they each have their sweet spot for focal sharpness. Which is to say, where the lens at various focal distances and f-stops yield the absolute best result. Having learned this powerful fact, I tend not to use the auto mode and gravitate towards the sweet spot of each lens. Unfortunately, the manufacturers don't readily share this performance information and one have to dig for it reading on-line resources. Now that I have, my telephotos have improved remarkably.

  • ofori

    June 16, 2011 06:45 pm

    hi
    that is really educative thanks for that. but want to know if Nikon telephoto lens is compatible with all Nikon camera. becos am using Nikon d5000 and want to know the kind of telephoto lens for my camera.
    thanks.

  • Jay E. Jenkins

    June 10, 2011 10:32 pm

    Hi Jim, Eddie asked if the camera's self timer would work as well as a remote shutter release? The simple answer is yes! However, if I have learned anything about the physics of photography, it is that vibration (camera movement) kills sharp captures. Think about it, everything is vibrating (moving) to some extent.
    A remote shutter release allows you to do so much more than just push a button and hold your breath. It lets you choose exactly when the shutter is released. And what about that windy day when you are waiting for a still moment? With an on camera release you are boxed into 2 or 10 sec. choices. And what about my old friend vibration?? Take a look at any comprehensive tripod review and there will be a catagory that measures the time it takes for a tripod to stop resonating. In many cases that time is more than 10 seconds.

    Even top of the line remotes are quite inexpensive these days. Use it for other things too, walk back to that group photo that you want to be in, don't run (everyone can tell). Good Shooting - IsisPix

  • Eddie

    June 10, 2011 02:49 pm

    Instead of using a remote shutter release, would using the camera's self timer do as well?

  • Jay E. Jenkins

    June 7, 2011 09:35 am

    Hello Jim, a couple more small tips that may be of use to other tele-graphers.

    Most tripods won't let you point the camera straight up for a "directly overhead" shot. Try mounting your camera backwards on the tripod. It takes a little getting used to because all of the controls are now reversed, but it works like a charm - at least it does on my Manfroto gear head. And, if you are really serious about this type of photography, a gear head or a gimble head works the very best. Secondly, choose the fastest shutter speed that conditions will allow. To a certain extent, everything is either moving or vibrating, and a fast shutter can't hurt. Just don't compromise your other settings to achieve a faster exposure, if you can't see what you have just captured, it makes little difference if the subject is moving or not. Good shooting!

  • Gipukan

    June 7, 2011 04:08 am

    Hello Jim,

    Thanks for the tips and greets from Africa. I'm using a Eos 7d with an ef 100-400Lis. Not often do I have a kenko pro dg 300 1.4x teleconverter between them. I must say that I rely on the IS with this lens. Light is so bright here unless your shooting early early morning of late late afternoon here on the equator. Should I use my tri/monopod more when looking through my flickr stream?

    I Just realized that i've not used my 7d yet for a moon shot so I don't know yet how it performs for that. The moon is now gone, would have shared the shot here.

    http://www.flickriver.com/photos/gipukan/popular-interesting/

    Thanks, Rob

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    June 7, 2011 02:58 am

    Hi

    this by far one of the better articles about Telephoto photography that I have seen. I am considering a Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 with a doubler soon. I have tested on and just love shooting wide open...makes for great backgounds!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/the-notorious-kea-of-new-zealand/

  • Marty

    June 7, 2011 01:45 am

    @Kumaresan Vibhakar,

    you can get a wireless remote for Nikon cameras. I got a very cheap generic one from ebay for £1.50 that works across several brands of camera. all I can say about it is that it works.... also very handy for self portraits.

  • ScottC

    June 7, 2011 01:39 am

    Great advice, definitely agree on the macro capabilities of longer lenses.

    Taken at 160mm: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5398079246/

  • Chio

    June 7, 2011 12:42 am

    Those are some of the best tips I've seen on this site! And yes, the MLU is something a lot of people should start using, for macro and longer focal lengths when doing stills.

  • Jay E. Jenkins

    May 9, 2011 11:54 am

    Since my last post, and hundreds of moon photos later, I've learned a few thing that may help others with their moon photography. Probably the most important tip is this . . . . the more comfortable you are when you are shooting, the better shots you are going to be. Case in point: Shooting directly overhead. A Canon 60D solved part of this with it's great articulating LCD. Just use the live view to confirm your exposure (no need for a calculator, it's right there on the live view screen) and focus. Set ISO as low as possible to get the shot . . one of my best was at ISO 125. The most important? Use a rock solid tripod with a gear head if possible (adds to the comfort factor). Your 2 second self-timer may seem like it's enough but it's not, 10 seconds minium, and it even helps if you limit your movements (at magnifications over 400mm, even the tinyest vibrations will be super amplified). One last thing, switch back from live view to normal shooting mode before you release your electronic remote. Be prepared to shoot as many captures as you can before you get bored. Even if you thought you got the perfect capture on the live view screen, it's a bunch better to have many, many shots to choose from before you do your cropping. Thanks, Isis (I would add an image here, but it appears to be a major pain to do so). You can see my stuff on Picasa Web Albums . . .

  • Jay E. Jenkins

    May 9, 2011 11:53 am

    Since my last post, and hundreds of moon photos later, I've learned a few thing that may help others with their moon photography. Probably the most important tip is this . . . . the more comfortable you are when you are shooting, the better shots you are going to be. Case in point: Shooting directly overhead. A Canon 60D solved part of this with it's great articulating LCD. Just use the live view to confirm your exposure (no need for a calculator, it's right there on the live view screen) and focus. Set ISO as low as possible to get the shot . . one of my best was at ISO 125. The most important? Use a rock solid tripod with a gear head if possible (adds to the comfort factor). Your 2 second self-timer may seem like it's enough but it's not, 10 seconds minium, and it even helps if you limit your movements (at magnifications over 400mm, even the tinyest vibrations will be super amplified). One last thing, switch back from live view to normal shooting mode before you release your electronic remote. Be prepared to shoot as many captures as you can before you get bored. Even if you thought you got the perfect capture on the live view screen, it's a bunch better to have many, many shots to choose from before you do your cropping. Thanks, Isis (I would add an image here, but it appears to be a major pain to do so). You can see my stuff on Picasa Web Albums . . .

  • Jay E. Jenkins

    May 9, 2011 11:53 am

    Since my last post, and hundreds of moon photos later, I've learned a few thing that may help others with their moon photography. Probably the most important tip is this . . . . the more comfortable you are when you are shooting, the better shots you are going to be. Case in point: Shooting directly overhead. A Canon 60D solved part of this with it's great articulating LCD. Just use the live view to confirm your exposure (no need for a calculator, it's right there on the live view screen) and focus. Set ISO as low as possible to get the shot . . one of my best was at ISO 125. The most important? Use a rock solid tripod with a gear head if possible (adds to the comfort factor). Your 2 second self-timer may seem like it's enough but it's not, 10 seconds minium, and it even helps if you limit your movements (at magnifications over 400mm, even the tinyest vibrations will be super amplified). One last thing, switch back from live view to normal shooting mode before you release your electronic remote. Be prepared to shoot as many captures as you can before you get bored. Even if you thought you got the perfect capture on the live view screen, it's a bunch better to have many, many shots to choose from before you do your cropping. Thanks, Isis (I would add an image here, but it appears to be a major pain to do so). You can see my stuff on Picasa Web Albums . . .

  • Z Curtiss

    April 29, 2011 05:25 am

    For those of you who are trying to learn more about moon photography, here is a link I have found to be invaluable for determining your exposure settings, and it allows you to input your ISO, Aperture settings, the amount of haze, and the height of the moon. It already has the phase of the moon programmed, and it provides you with the appropriate shutter speed for your other settings. It also lets you select alternate moon phases in case you should wish to pre-calculate your exposure before going on a trip or something. I have always been satisfied with the results using this. Hope it helps you as much as it has me!

    http://www.adidap.com/2006/12/06/moon-exposure-calculator/

  • jay e. jenkins

    January 23, 2011 01:25 am

    Thanks for the tips on taking Moon captures. A few things I learned while persuing this rather simple project:

    First and foremost is vibration. After realizing that a mid-range tripod with a fixed consumer type head just dosen't really give acceptable, repeatable results, I bought a Manfrotto Pro tripod equipped with a gear head. It makes target accquisition and adjustment super fast and precise. No more having the Moon dissappear after making a small adjustment. Precision adjustments are now a breeze. I use the RC-5 remote to release the shutter and I wait at least 10 seconds after final focus to allow the rig to stabilize before shooting. Final focus still requires a steady hand and lots of patience using manual focus only - auto focus does not provide the precision needed at this magnification.

    A shutter speed of at least 250 sec. (the moon is visably moving at this magnification).
    An apperature of over f/11 (lots more if you want to include any earthly objects - a palm tree or building to capture a perspective enhancing frame). Set the ISO as high as possible to compensate for the smaller apperature.

    The Moon is super bright and a darker exposure will bring out the details of the pock marked surface.

    Shooting a "Full" Moon is not very interesting. Wait a few days and you will find that the areas around the outside diameter will provide many more texture and shadow features to focus on.

    Environmental pollution (city lights, air pollution and dust, heat waves, ground vibration from passing cars, curious on-lookers, and such) is a major consideration, but easy to overcome by a change of venue.

    Try lots of various but incrementally small camera settings to suit your style, but be aware that without the right (somewhat expensive) equipment, and a good helping of patience, the "perfect" Moon shot is much more difficult to obtain.

    Last, Google the time and place that the moon will appear and be prepared for it. It will be gone before you know it (it moves a whole bunch faster than you realize). Shooting the Moon is great fun and a really great way to learn more about your equipment and your shooting style. Do whatever it takes to get it right, you won't be dissappointed. Isis

  • Jim Goldstein

    December 3, 2010 02:46 pm

    Jay a focus rail will not help you in this instance given the distance of your subject from the camera. A slider rail is for a shallow depth of field adjustments found most often in macro photography. Your best bet to get sharp pictures of the moon is to 1. manually focus using a center focal point on your camera 2. use a cable release so your camera is not moved by you when triggering the shutter 3. use Mirror Lockup if your SLR supports it

    The quick short cut on focus....
    With a large focal length you should be able to get the camera to auto focus on the moon as it is a sun lit object. If you get AF to work I would then switch your lens to manual and leave the camera as is. If you utilize an exposure with in the Sunny 16 rule f/16 with an exposure time of 1/iso you should be good most of the time. Exposure times do vary depending on the phase of the moon so adjust accordingly.

    Also its important to note that you can get blurry images from atmospheric distortion. As hot air rises we see a mirage like effect... wavy air. This effect is often seen in the desert. This happens looking up at the moon as well. You may have the right focus but depending on weather conditions you may have atmospheric changes blurring the photo. I hope that helps!

  • Jay E. Jenkins

    December 1, 2010 11:13 am

    Jim, I enjoy taking shoots of the Moon with my Canon 7D using a 70 - 200 f/4 L with the EF 2x Extender. To achieve the best focus, I use live view and the 10X magnifier on the camera. This allowes me to get super close ( for a 200mm x 1.6 crop). The problem? If I even touch the camera or lens (the focus ring is at the very end) the image on the LCD shakes so bad that it is super hard to get a proper focus. I'm wondering if a focus rail like we use in macro work would stop these shakes because I would'nt have to touch the camera or lens. I use a fairly large Cullman tripod and a remote shutter release, so those things are not an issue. I know I can use a gimbal head but they are much more expensive and are a bit of overkill for me because they are so specialized. Will the focus rail work for the kind of fine focus tuning that I am looking for?

  • judy pollock

    September 24, 2009 11:40 pm

    How do I shoot into the late afternoon sun?

  • judy pollock

    September 24, 2009 11:39 pm

    How do I shoot into the sun?

  • Anthony

    September 23, 2009 04:27 am

    I love my telephoto lens, you can barely tell I shot this through bars.
    http://gallery.photo.net/photo/9697273-md.jpg

  • free classified ads

    September 23, 2009 01:44 am

    what the ... great picture, awesome, nothing can say but very nice

  • Charles

    September 19, 2009 06:32 pm

    Shutter Release

    This is actually an non-issue with any camera that has a self timer feature. There is no need to use a seperate shutter release; I kick myself every time I look at mine!. Just set the self timer to its lowest setting, 2 seconds on my D90, press the shutter and step back; the camera will do the rest! And there's one less piece of equipment to buy and haul around.

  • Pio danilo P. Cuadra

    September 16, 2009 07:09 pm

    Hi Jim. I used my EOS 40D with grip & a Bigma with a timer shutter release, and mounted on a Velbon sherpa tripod. At my head level I can use with ease the live view function of my camera, when I take pictures of a full moon. However at torso level I find it hard to use the live view function. Do you think I have to use an angle finder to compensate for the handicap?

  • H

    September 6, 2009 12:59 am

    thanks for the tips!
    i am more of landscape photography. but of course on the side, i want to explore some portrait photography as well. so i need to make use of my wide angle and kit lenses for now in my portrait projects.

    keep up the tips coming!

  • Y2bthere

    September 1, 2009 07:40 am

    "Norman. Amora Says:

    August 31st, 2009 at 2:17 am
    Tried shooting for the moon using my 55-250mm lens with a tripod but could never get the shot I wanted. It’s just a blur, or a circle light. What should I do to get a clear photo? Pls adv."

    I had the same problem and after many, many nights of trying all the different functions and variations on my Cannon power shot A702 IS… I found the feature called “Spot” (found beside weighted center ballance) and that worked very well for me
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YozWdEgzveI/SWpdCbZM4uI/AAAAAAAAAUY/hgvh1LufxyU/s1600-h/1-9.JPG
    not near as good as the example in the tip but it works for me.

  • rick lumpas

    August 31, 2009 07:22 pm

    This is article is great. Thanks for sharing.

    I now have another item on my wish list : a remote shutter.

    Jim, do I still need to cover the viewfinder when using the remote shutter? Is the wireless shutter better than wired shutter?

    Thanks.

  • Ashvin Patel

    August 31, 2009 04:27 pm

    This is a very useful article to improve the knowledge about the telephoto lens.I am really pleased.
    Ashvin Patel

  • Jim Goldstein

    August 31, 2009 09:31 am

    Norman your capturing a blur of the moon because you're not exposing correctly for it. It's important to remember that the moon is a sun lit object. As a result digital cameras do not meter correctly for the moon with a dark sky around it. To obtain the best exposure use your camera's manual mode. A quick rule of thumb is to follow the Sunny 16 rule... this rule states to set the exposure as 1/ISO at f16. For example if you're at ISO 400 then set the exposure time for 1/400 at f/16. I hope the info helps and you get your shot the next time. Keep us posted how it works out.

  • Jim Goldstein

    August 31, 2009 09:21 am

    Doug thanks for the comment and clarification. The moon is in orbit and takes on slightly different orientation based on your location and as you noted season.

  • Norman. Amora

    August 31, 2009 02:17 am

    Tried shooting for the moon using my 55-250mm lens with a tripod but could never get the shot I wanted. It's just a blur, or a circle light. What should I do to get a clear photo? Pls adv.

  • Doug McKay

    August 31, 2009 12:21 am

    >JIM, That angle of the moon is how it appears at different times of the day=24 hours, season and phase here in the Wonderful Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  • Fredshome

    August 28, 2009 05:47 pm

    When buying a shutter release, make sure you get one that has a "lock open" (B) position. Not all models do. Also non brand models can be half price and work just as well (it's just a switch and some cable after all).

    Anyway my cable release sees a lot of use, even on a monopod, I sometimes use it on long focals. Therefore it lives in a pouch that's attached to the camera neck strap (along with a spare card and a cleaning cloth). Another pouch has a spare battery.

  • Bret Widdifield

    August 28, 2009 01:56 pm

    This is a reply to Mr. Kumaresan Vibhakar,

    Dear Sir,
    Digital SLRs do have the option to use a shutter release. Instead of the old "plunger type," the new generation DSLRs use an electric cable to do this. I shoot with Sony equipment (A100 & A700). Both of these consumer cameras have shutter release cable (electric) called a remote commander. My A700 even has an Infared (IR) control to remotely trip the shutter. My friend's Canon (40D) also has such a mechanism. I would bet that your Nikon does too. On the DSLRs, you don't screw in the cable; you plug it into one of teh accessory ports...it should be well marked.

    Cheers,
    Bret

  • B P Maiti

    August 28, 2009 12:34 pm

    The lesson is educative ,comprehensive.The examples show use of 6oo mm.tele Some samples of lesser mm teles should also be included indicating/suggesting steps to take care of from exposure to DOF.

  • gp

    August 28, 2009 11:14 am

    Multiply the lens by 1.6. That's your number.

  • Kumaresan Vibhakar Southern India

    August 28, 2009 04:10 am

    This artical has 10 tips for great telephoto photographs & the #.2 tip is, use of the shutter release chord. Ur comment is Quite simply a shutter release is a shutter button on a extension chord.

    My previous (yesterday's) question was since the modern cameras specifically the Digital SLRs absolutely has no provision i.e threadding on the shutter release button. So in this case a shutter release chord or the extension chord is of no use & cannot be utilized. I had also expressed some of the difficulties.

    I started my photography with Kodak Brownie in 1961, then a twin lens kodak Box camera, similar looking to Rollieflex Twin lens Reflex, Later on graduated to Rollichord, Rolieflex & Mamiya C330 Twin lens reflex cameras, ( My choice was 120 ILFORD FILMS) since my father was a Police forensic & fingerprint photographer I got some training in Contax, Hasselblad medium format + 35MM Film, the Lieca & 35mm range finder & the SLR cameras. My first Nikon was the Nikkormat 35mm SLR fully manual camera.

    Now I use a Nikon D70s & the Nikon D80 with the same problem. So the camera manufacturers put away the very essential component (shutter release chord & the provision) for the looks & created the inconvenience for the camera users, finally got it screwed up. So in this case & as per Ur #2. tip How To Use The shutter release chord or the Extension Chord Without A Provision to screw or mount.

    Ur bonus tip is not useful for a long periods of shutter opening for night photography & night fire works etc Thank U. Have a Nice Day.

    Kumaresan Vibhakar

  • robb

    August 28, 2009 12:22 am

    the last image is awesome.
    can't beat that 1800mm.

  • Jet16

    August 27, 2009 10:51 pm

    Thanks for your responses, Jim and Alejandro. Another telephoto question...
    I just purchased a Canon Rebel T1i and I have a 75-300mm lens from my old Canon film camera which is compatible. The way I understand it, the lens actually will be even longer due to the digital sensor conversion. Any thoughts as to the new equivalency of the lens? 150-400?

  • Glen C

    August 27, 2009 06:15 am

    elio--
    In low light conditions, cameras frequently have trouble seeing the subject well enough to focus. You might try manual focus rather than automatic. Or have the camera focus automatically on something the same distance as your subject, shut off the auto focus (which will leave the focus set at the right distance), and shoot your subject.

    Are you sure you're not just getting blur from moving the camera during a long shutter speed? You may need a tripod, a higher ISO, or a quicker shutter speed. I personally have to concentrate on being very steady and still when I'm shooting at slow shutter speeds. It's like shooting a rifle--take a deep breath, exhale most of it, and squeeze the shutter release.

  • elio

    August 26, 2009 07:17 pm

    these are wonderfull tips, i hope u can give us some tips about low light photography with our normal lenses
    a nikon 18-200 .i am getting a lot of out off focus pitures . i have a nikon D300 .what can i do

  • David

    August 26, 2009 08:56 am

    These lenses , especially the 300mm and 600mm , cost thousands of pounds / dollars . One cheaper way of getting a telephoto lens is to buy a video camera with a long zoom lens . I have a Sony SR5. The lens at the telephoto end is about 400mm . I can add a tele-adapter which boosts it to about 560mm . The file sizes for stills are probably smaller than a digital camera , buy this solution is still useful

  • Alex

    August 26, 2009 04:06 am

    This is a great collection of tips!

    However, let me please note that the telephoto lens is not responsible for the "flattening effect" that you describe under point 4. The only thing responsible for that effect is a change in perspective! The telephoto lens just allows you to take the same frame from another perspective further away.

    Try it for yourself: Take a picture with your telephoto lens and then take it again with a standard lense without changing your location/perspective. Now crop the standard lens picture to the frame of your telephoto lens picture: no difference (except for depth of field, so use a f16 or higher for testing)!

    I didn't believe this until I tried it myself. Ever since I've used perspective more efficiently. The telephoto lens is just a tool to shoot the same frame from another perspective - with a dramatic effect. It has no magic optical qualities that flatten the image. The perspective - the different position of the photographer - does the flattening.

    This means to get the "flattening" effect you will always have to change your perspective (e.g. move further away) before you get your telephoto lens out. Otherwise it won't work!!!

    Keep them tips coming, love this blog!

  • Alejandro

    August 26, 2009 02:23 am

    Jet16, unless you're going to be using a heavy lens, you should not need a monopod. If your shutter speed is slow enough to merit a monopod, you won't be freezing the match's action. You should be aiming at a speed around 1/500, so if you aren't using a 600mm lens you shouldn't need a monopod for stabilization. Weight is another matter entirely.

  • MeiTeng

    August 25, 2009 05:52 pm

    Great tips and I love the moonshot.

  • Christoph

    August 25, 2009 02:47 pm

    The solar eclipse last month was a great chance, so I tried to follow many of the tips in this tutorial and managed to take some amazing astrophotography pictures:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/focx/sets/72157621734845365/

  • Jim Goldstein

    August 25, 2009 01:17 pm

    jet16 a monopod might be a good way to go, but with out knowing the lens you'll be using or the rules of the facility holding the event its tough to say. Check to make sure that the venue allows monopods or tripods. Many do not. For panning left and right a monopod would be a good choice to save you from arm, shoulder and back fatigue.

  • Jim Goldstein

    August 25, 2009 01:15 pm

    Pete thanks for the comment. Actually that is how the moon appears from my location here in Northern California during a moonset.

  • Jim Goldstein

    August 25, 2009 01:14 pm

    Richard that is indeed an alternate to a shutter release. The shutter release provides you a bit more control though. If the wind is blowing and your lens is shaking the shutter release will let you wait until the right time saving you a wasted shot.

  • jet16

    August 25, 2009 12:05 pm

    Thanks for the interesting tips. I am considering using a monopod to shoot a tennis tournament, where I'll be in the stands. What are your thoughts/suggestions?

  • Pete

    August 25, 2009 06:48 am

    Your picture of the moon is rotated 90 degrees clockwise of what it should be. (Copernicus Crater should be on the bottom right, not the bottom left). To correct it, rotate it 90 degrees counterclockwise.

    Pete

  • Jim Goldstein

    August 25, 2009 04:00 am

    Zack glad you enjoyed the article. I use a RRS ballhead style tripodhead. There are several different makes, just be sure to find one that can properly support the weight of your gear. Note some of the bigger lenses require special tripod heads such as a Wimberly. It all comes down to the gear you're going to be using and the subjects you'll be photographing.

  • Richard Lehoux

    August 25, 2009 02:11 am

    You can simulate a remote shutter release by using the delayed release. Some camera offer you a short 2 sec delay wich is perfect.

  • Zack Jones

    August 25, 2009 01:28 am

    Good tips. What tripod/ballhead would you recommend using? What works well for you?

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