a Fundamental Guide To Photography Lenses and Stands
Telephoto lenses are exceptionally useful when you want to get close to the action, but keep your distance; or when you want to sneak up on an unsuspecting subject in order to capture that one unique moment in time. Unfortunately, the longer your range, the more accentuated the effects of camera shake become, simply because of your inability to hold absolutely still. But using tele- lens and zoom lens can be very effective if you remember these few simple tactics for using these special digital photography lenses.
In order to minimize the effects of shake in a variety of lighting conditions, start with a fast film like ISO 400 or higher. When hand-holding your camera and lens you will be able to use higher shutter speeds—1/1000 seconds and above. Balance your lens and camera with your left hand and arm, keeping your arms close and touching your sides, with your elbows supported by your chest and abdomen.
If you can find something, use stabilized objects for support, such as a fence post, a parked car, even a rolled up jacket can be used to stabilize your arms as you support the camera. Aim the camera slightly above your subject, take a deep breath, while exhaling, allow your view to drop to the proper position and then snap; you’ve captured your subject.
Using a support will enable you to use slower shutter speeds. A 1/30 second exposure with a 500 mm lens will be possible. The minimum shutter speed rule of thumb for holding a hand-held camera and using a tele- or zoom lens is 1 over the lens focal length. This is the slowest safe shutter speed. So if you were properly braced and standing on solid ground, and you were shooting with a 500 mm f/4 lens, the limiting shutter speed would be 1/500 second at the correct aperture for a good exposure.
In order to minimize vibration while using a long tele- or zoom lens, you can place your camera on a tripod. You can use a slower shutter speed and lower ISO-higher resolutions films, if you have a sturdy tripod. A shaky tripod can be stabilized by tying a three or five pound weight to the center column.
A monopod is easy to transport when traveling. You will not be able to set shutter speeds as slowly as you could by using a tripod, but you will be able to shoot at speeds two or three times slower than if you were holding the camera by hand. Allowing you to shoot in lower light and using slower, finer grained film.
A monopod can also be raised to eye level and can be set up very quickly and easily. For maneuverability, add a good swivel ball head for those vertical shots.
Tripod-mounting collars should be used when your tele- lens is physically long. This collar attaches the lens at the proper fulcrum to the tripod. A secondary support for the camera can also be used. Bogen’s Long Lens Support attaches to most tripod legs via a universal clamp at one end and a swivel head ball for the camera at the other end.
Shaky ground will transmit motion to the lens and camera no matter how sturdy your tripod is. In this case, hold your camera, set your shutter speed accordingly, and standing in the proper stance, let your body absorb the vibration.
Other problems when using your tele- and zoom lens are atmospheric haze and heat waves. They can’t always be eliminated, but using a haze or polarizing filter helps cut through the haze and increases color saturation and contrast. Other tactics are to use your lens hood or shade the lens to minimize the possibility of flare.
Using the tele- and zoom lens successfully can require great aptitude and skill. So if you want to become more proficient remember that practice is the best teacher.