CAMERA CLUB: The benefits of a pro long lens

It’s been a hard year for all of us. We all know people who have suffered because of the virus. I lost my dear sister because her life-saving cancer operation was cancelled.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 17th December 2020, 12:00 am

The hospital lacked the capacity to both deal with coronavirus and treat her. Sandie was an amazing artist and photographer, one of those people who could take a perfectly composed photo every time without even thinking. It made me realise how important photographs of our family and friends are.

Lots of people face a hard Christmas this year. I know struggling artists and freelance photographers facing financial ruin because of the Covid 19 crisis. They received little or no financial support this year. I don’t suppose the next few years are going to get much easier as the national debt is repaid.

Have you ever wondered who the national debt is owed to? It’s the financial markets. Banks create the money to lend. The Magic Money Tree truly does exist! So that got me thinking… during November Olympus brought out a new pro lens. Their 150-400mm f/4.5 with a built in 1.25x teleconverter, which takes the lens up to 500mm (1000mm full frame equivalent), costs just shy of £6,500.

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“Ouch!” I then compared that with some of the other top-end lenses on the market. Canon’s 1200 mm is priced around £100,000 while their 800mm is “only” £13,000. Sony’s 600mm full frame lens retails at £12,000, and Nikon’s 800mm is about £18,000. The new Olympus lens suddenly seems more reasonable.

But do I need a lens like that? What photos do I need to take that warrant spending so much money?

Long lenses don’t always cost thousands and affordable alternatives seem attractive propositions. Indeed, I see some fantastic images posted in the Northumberland Camera Club shot with consumer-end long lenses.

Telephotos do bring disadvantages. People are tempted to use them for shooting subjects that are far away. However, even in the best conditions there is atmospheric interference.

Consequently, images won’t be as sharp as getting close to the subject. Additionally, the field of view is very narrow, making capturing moving subjects hard. Furthermore, camera shake is exaggerated too.

They do have their uses of course. Even with the stalking skills needed for getting close to wildlife, without a longer lens you probably cannot fill the frame. Telephotos also reduce the apparent depth of field, making it possible to blur the background, although a closer proximity to the subject does the same. Also, many bird hides are not designed for photographers.

Those around the lakes near me are all set well back, so a long lens becomes essential.

I do notice an image quality difference shooting with pro glass but £6,500? I need the economy to pick up before I buy one of those.

I hope you keep safe and have a very Merry Christmas.