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Cheap and nasty long lens, thoughts?


11 May 2019 7:21PM
Last night I was covering a motorway 'incident' for local papers. I knew it would be tricky to do due to restricted viewpoints, finding the right bridge to work from. I ended up using a 300mm f4, 1.4X and crop factor was still a struggle

Anyone had any experience with cheapo mirror lenses? The lens would just be abandoned in the car boot on standby for the odd job like this that pops up every now and again along with a heavy tripod.

Ironically, last night's published photo was taken with a 70 to 200!

Any brands worth looking at? Would I be better off looking for an old, battered long Sigma zoom? The old400 f5.6 was great for stuff like this on film, and cricket of course.

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Snapper Plus
14 4.4k 3 Scotland
11 May 2019 7:57PM
An alternative might be a micro four thirds camera with an adapter to fit your lens. This doubles the focal length of the lens being used, so your 300mm becomes a 600mm.
11 May 2019 8:04PM
Indeed, look at an old, cheap one, add a medium zoom, and chuck it in the boot too?

I did wonder about an old bridge camera as an alternative. SD card slots, so would take a Toshiba Flash Air card, so perfect for wiring live.
User_Removed 14 4.3k 2 United Kingdom
11 May 2019 9:07PM
Bridge camera, Nikon P900, it's been superceded so maybe bargain used ones about.
11 May 2019 9:30PM
Nikon P900/1000 the conspiracy theorist, and flat earthers favourite camera!

It would certainly have the range!
bornstupix2 2 90 1 France
11 May 2019 11:16PM
sony a6000 with a screw mount adapter and then take your pick!.....At least with an old tele lens against a mirror lens you will have some f stop control....I bought an old Photosniper outfit with a knackered camera body and use the long tele on my Sony but it has a clunky aperture system.....there are loads of cheap long lenses to be had and the digital process is in my opinion far more forgiving than push processed Tri X or HP4.
12 May 2019 7:04AM
Now, if we are thinking about bodies that would do the trick, there's the Pentax Q!

Pushing HP4, I used to rate it at 250 as standard to get shadow detail. HP5 was a step forward. I ended my darkroom years using Fuji Neopan 400, better than FP4.
LenShepherd 11 4.0k United Kingdom
12 May 2019 8:22AM
Cheap and old mirror lenses can do what you want.

They tend to be cheap because over time the mirror coating corrodes and they have a single fixed aperture.

Another alternative, already mentioned, is the Nikon bridge camera with an equivalent 24x36 angle of view of 3,000mm! At near 1,000 it is not cheap - but has good enough at 3,000 for a newspaper image. There is an older but still on sale Nikon bridge with 1,000mm equivalent.
12 May 2019 8:39AM
If it was a regular use job, the Nikon's would be great. I've actually recommend one to a colleague for wildlife stuff.

I'm wondering if for very long range stuff atmospheric problems will cause problems. Shooting the most distant stuff on the motorway was pretty futile. With dying sunlight bouncing off car roofs and warm exhaust fumes from stationary cars the furthest stuff was a wobbly haze.

The fixed aperture isn't really a problem, in fact with an equivalent 800mm, hand held f4 would be perfect for any weather....

As you say, a cheap mirror would do the job. I think I can still just about focus manually.

Let's hope that if I find my solution, it won't be needed. We seem to have had a suicide from bridges epidemic in the North West recently. I'm not sure if publicising the means of death is helping (trains and trams are used too).I know that many outlets had a policy of not publishing suicide details, but in a Twitter world it would seem like censorship.
thewilliam2 2 1.3k
12 May 2019 10:07AM
Phil, I'd suggest that the cause of many of the "problems" with really long lenses is that the image-forming light is travelling through a lot of atmosphere. If a mono version of the pic is saleable, use red or even infra-red light to create a much sharper image.

I used to have a Nikon 500mm mirror lens and it's fine but so is the Tamron version that I borrowed from a friend before buying. Such lenses are now cheaply available on Fleabay and the Nikon will hold its value.
12 May 2019 3:22PM
Good point. It's almost stealing light, even if you took an incident light reading it would be a stop down due to diesel particulates.

A red filter would kill the haze, but the wobbliness would stay.

Infra red, I can imagine the conversation with the picture desk. "Well, yes, the motorway verge does look snowy, even though it's July, yes, the sky really wasn't inky black, and no, the policeman didn't really look like an alien...."
thewilliam2 2 1.3k
12 May 2019 4:22PM
Phil, you don't have to shoot with pure infra-red. Did you ever use the Ilford SFX200 film that had an extended red sensitivity that gave some of the advantages of infra-red without the "snowy grass". Ilford sold a special filter for use with this film which might be useful with digital.

My first digital camera was the Kodak DCS760 which had an infra-red removal filter just inside the lens throat that was held in by a couple of screws. Without the IR cut-off and an orange filter fitted to the lens, atmospheric haze just disappeared but the result looked very natural in mono. Could you get a similar effect with modern kit?

Modern DSLR bodies like the Nikon D5 allow over a million ISO so camera shake needn't be a problem.
12 May 2019 4:57PM
Might be a slight problem with the Nikon/Kodak solution, my grab bag is all CanonWink

Sometimes mono really works, but getting folk to use it, really works.

Often the best kit for the job isn't the most elaborate. Today's gentle job, a duck race in a village. That called for a second hand 7 MK1 in case it fell in the water!

I'm currently favouring an old Canon Bridge camera I inherited living in the boot full time.

It won't have the ridiculous ISO of modern bodies, but it's a no cost compromise.
thewilliam2 2 1.3k
12 May 2019 5:25PM

Quote:Might be a slight problem with the Nikon/Kodak solution, my grab bag is all CanonWink



Some folk are just beyond redemption!

One advantage is that Nikon had a longer register than Canon, so it's possible to use the superior lenses with an adaptor, as many have done.
12 May 2019 5:28PM
Hold on, I'm such a Luddite that my cameras still have mirrors!


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