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Author Topic: Something New to Argue About  (Read 8369 times)

unfocused

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Something New to Argue About
« on: April 01, 2011, 11:50:01 AM »
I get bored with the never ending bigger megapixels vs. more megapixels war.

So, I thought I'd ask a new question that could start up a different battle for a change. Seriously though, I would like hear some informed opinions on this.

In practice, is there a diminishing return on focal length and if so, at what focal length would most people consider that diminishing return to occur?

Let me explain: As a user who is not an engineer, my experience has been that there are big gains in reach at the mid-range of telephotos. (Going from a 135mm to a 200mm feels like a big jump and going from 200mm to 300 also feels like a big jump. Going from 200 to 400 is huge.)

But, it seems like at some point, the gain in reach from a longer lens doesn't really offset the downsides of size, weight, speed, cost, etc.

I'm not talking about professional sports or wildlife shooters, but rather, for us mere mortals who have to pay for the equipment ourselves and can't charge it off to a client base.

Of course, ISO speed enters into this as well. Shoot with a shorter lens at a lower ISO and crop, or use a longer lens and a higher ISO?

Telephotos are often described by angle of view and the gains in angle of view get incrementally smaller as the lens gets longer. Is it really worth shaving a couple of degrees off the angle of view? What's that really mean in practice?

And, of course, there is the whole issue of APS-C crops. Since a 200mm feels like a 320mm and a 300 feels like a 480mm on a 1.6 crop sensor, how does that affect the trade off at the long end.

I got the idea for the question while reading the discussion board on the Sigma 50-500 and wondering, with my 7D the Canon 100-400 scales out to 640mm, while the "Bigma" scales out to 800mm. But really, what does that mean in practical terms? Would that extra 160mm really be noticeable at those lengths?

Just offering this up as new point of discussion while we all wait for news from Japan.
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Something New to Argue About
« on: April 01, 2011, 11:50:01 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2011, 12:30:11 PM »
At least in the Canon lineup, the logical break-point would seem to be 400mm (or 420 mm if you want to count the 300/4 + 1.4x).  You can get 'affordable' (a relative term, I know), primes and even a zoom out to 400mm, with very good IQ, as long as you're ok with an f/5.6 aperture at that length.  Once you get over 400mm (or faster than f/5.6, but the topic is focal length), the cost goes up dramatically - not many amateurs/hobbiests can afford >$7K for a lens.  There are some exceptions to this, one being people who don't mind (or even prefer) manual focus and can use longer, manual primes that are in the $2K range (used), like the Minolta MD 600mm f/6.3.
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Lawliet

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2011, 12:45:52 PM »
About the practical terms: At longer focal lengths the resolution of the lens , the quality of the support and the clarity of the air are more important then 20-30% more fl. The more MP you have, the sooner the effect kicks in. :)

I wouldn't be surprised to get more details from an upsized crop of a picture taken with a 70-300L then from one taken with a Sigma50-500 non OS, at least with the shooting techniques usually used.

Regarding the numbers: don't think in mm, but in factors. Going from 85 to 135 to 200mm are 50% increases, from 400 to 500 only 25%, like zooming from 40 to 50mm. Sound less impressive then the additional apparent 160mm of the Sigma on a crop camera. ;)

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2011, 01:34:46 PM »
Quote
like zooming from 40 to 50mm

Great point. I hadn't thought about that comparison. Puts it into perspective.

Anyone disagree?
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2011, 01:43:25 PM »
Quote
like zooming from 40 to 50mm

Great point. I hadn't thought about that comparison. Puts it into perspective.

Anyone disagree?

I disagree.  For a given subject, the perspective at 40-50mm is going to be very different from the perspective at 400-500mm... 
 :P
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kubelik

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2011, 02:13:51 PM »
well, there's all sorts of ways to get to where you'd want to be in terms of focal length.

with APS-C bodies, it's pretty easy to get up to 480mm-equivalent through a common 70-300 zoom.  the quality is very good in terms of the price, and the weight will be very good as well.  on any of the current Canon APS-C bodies, this gets you an 18MP image at nearly 500mm.

on a full frame body, as neuro observed, 400 is the realistic stopping point for the common photographer.  you can get there easily a number of ways: 300mm f/4 + 1.4x, 70-200 + 2x, 100-400, or 400 f/5.6.  on the 5D Mark II, this gets you a 21MP image at 400mm.  if you crop it down to 18MP, you get a 1.08x crop factor, which is a 433mm equivalent focal length.  if you crop to a 1.3x crop factor, you get 12MP image at 520mm equivalent.

a decent 400mm lens on a crop body will get you all the way up to 640mm.  if you're a birder on the cheap, get a 7D and the 400 f/5.6 L, that is a killer combination for little more than the price of a 5D Mark II body.

there are Sigma zooms that will get you cheaply and quickly to a 500mm range but I have owned and used these lenses and you pay for what you get -- a.k.a. not much.

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2011, 02:42:15 PM »
I see the break point as being the size and weight where I can no longer handhold a lens easily.  I've no problem with lenses like the 100-400mmL, the 70-200mm f/2.8, etc.  Lenses like my Tamron 200-500 with f/6.3 and being very long were a pain to use handheld as well.

However, the 300mm f/2.8 might be just at or over my capability, I've had a Nikkor 300mm f/2.8, and it was barely manageable handheld. I used it on my Canon DSLR for a while, and then sold it.  Manually focusing required me to tripod mount it.

Certainly my 600mm f/4 was way over.  Just for the heck of it, I did hand hold it for a very few photos.  I removed everything I could to lighten it up, but after 5 or 6 shots, I had to put it down.  I sold it only because carrying around a heavy duty tripod and big Wimberly head made a simple photography trip into an expedition, so I just left it at home. 

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2011, 02:42:15 PM »

Aaron

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2011, 02:45:31 PM »
Quote
like zooming from 40 to 50mm

Great point. I hadn't thought about that comparison. Puts it into perspective.

Anyone disagree?

I disagree.  For a given subject, the perspective at 40-50mm is going to be very different from the perspective at 400-500mm... 
 :P

I think you miss the point of the poster.  They aren't talking about perspective, they are talking about the "zoom multiplier."  In the 10 - 22mm zoom, although it is only a 12mm difference, it is a 2.2x.  That is why people would buy a lens like that, but nobody would buy a 100 - 112 mm zoom (a 1.12X)
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 02:47:27 PM by Aaron »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2011, 02:47:00 PM »
I think you miss the point of the poster.  They aren't talking about perspective, they are talking about the "zoom multiplier."  In the 10 - 22mm zoom, although it is only a 12mm difference, it is a 2.2x.  That is why nobody would by a 100 - 112 mm zoom.

Yes, I know.  I think you missed the  :P , which in this case, denotes sarcasm.

 :D
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Aaron

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2011, 02:49:46 PM »
I think you miss the point of the poster.  They aren't talking about perspective, they are talking about the "zoom multiplier."  In the 10 - 22mm zoom, although it is only a 12mm difference, it is a 2.2x.  That is why nobody would by a 100 - 112 mm zoom.

Yes, I know.  I think you missed the  :P , which in this case, denotes sarcasm.

 :D

Very funny, I guess it is April fools.  Cheers.

kubelik

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2011, 03:06:29 PM »
Certainly my 600mm f/4 was way over.  Just for the heck of it, I did hand hold it for a very few photos.  I removed everything I could to lighten it up, but after 5 or 6 shots, I had to put it down.  I sold it only because carrying around a heavy duty tripod and big Wimberly head made a simple photography trip into an expedition, so I just left it at home.

given the quality coming out of the new extenders and their ability to pair excellently with the version II 70-200 f/2.8, I think it's hard to justify hauling around a 600mm f/4 when you could create a 600 f/5.6 from a 300 f/2.8 + 2x.  I think the 2.5 kilo mark is the point where any person would need to evaluate why exactly they are hauling around that much gear...

how much were we guesstimating that crazy 200-400+1.4x would weigh?  to me that seems like it could really hit the sweet spot for all types of wildlife and sports shooters.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2011, 03:07:19 PM »
That is why people would buy a lens like that, but nobody would buy a 100 - 112 mm zoom (a 1.12X)

In fact, lots of people actually by 'zoom lenses' with a very short range like that, only they don't know they're buying zoom lenses because the lens is labeled with a single focal length, and people are unfamiliar with the phenomenon of focus breathing.  That's when the apparent focal length changes as a result of focusing (and is a real problem for dSLR video shooters).  For example, the Canon 100mm L Macro drops to an apparent focal length of close to 80mm at 1:1 magnification, or a 1.25x zoom if you prefer that terminology.  People buying that lens don't know they're actually buying an 80-100mm zoom. 

The 'ultimate' expression of this (or ultimate utility, depending on your viewpoint) is the Canon MP-E 65mm - it's a 1x-5x 'zoom lens' with manual focus, but there's only one ring on the barrel - i.e., as you focus you zoom, or vice versa. 

The effect is often worse with actual zoom lenses - for example, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II, when set to the long end of 200mm, rerportedly delivers an apparent focal length of only 134mm at the minimum focus distance. 
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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2011, 03:12:54 PM »
While you're talking about focal length, have any of you shot with the 200mm non-IS 2.8L? I'm thinking of getting one, but I'm not sure if I need it in addition to my 135mm 2L. There are times I would like to be closer, and I don't want to spend more for the 70-200mm. Only thing I worry about is the lack of IS at that focal length (which is offset some by the speed of the lens).
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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2011, 03:12:54 PM »

kubelik

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2011, 03:26:22 PM »
looking through past rumors, there was also the patent for a new 300mm f/4 L IS II that showed up around the same time as the 200-400+1.4x announcement.  I know patents have no correlation with real products, but if you look at canon's current strategy of redoing their entire telephoto lineup ... it's bound to happen sooner or later.  my guess is we see a new 300 f/4 prime before 2015.  which will pair awesomely and be much lighter than a 70-200+2x combination.  and be cheaper.

I know the original intent was to get away from any discussion of MP count, but honestly, in our modern age of digital photography, MP count is directly related to equivalent reach.  I'd love to see a 5DIII with improved AF, framerate, and higher MP count so that it can get cropped as needed for extra reach.  if it had 7D AF, 5.0 fps, and 28-30 MP it would be a "one body to rule them all" type of camera for most of us who are enthusiasts and thus multi-purpose shooters.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2011, 03:35:32 PM »
While you're talking about focal length, have any of you shot with the 200mm non-IS 2.8L? I'm thinking of getting one, but I'm not sure if I need it in addition to my 135mm 2L. There are times I would like to be closer, and I don't want to spend more for the 70-200mm. Only thing I worry about is the lack of IS at that focal length (which is offset some by the speed of the lens).

I had a 200mm f/2.8L II for a while.  It's a very nice lens, with excellent IQ.  You do need to keep the shutter fast, which sometimes meant I needed to use a higher ISO than I'd otherwise use.  I sold it only because I got the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, which duplicated the focal length and aperture and added IS (at the cost of weight and $).

Do you have a 1.4x extender?  The 135L is compatible with them, yielding a 189mm f/2.8 lens - IQ is decent (but not as good as the bare prime, obviously).
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Re: Something New to Argue About
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2011, 03:35:32 PM »