Film & Lenses


Sep 27th, 2004, 09:19 AM
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Film & Lenses


I have seen a few posts saying to go with no less than a 300mm lens and to use 400 film. Can I ask what speed of lens you are using? Could it be possible with a fast lens to get away with something less than 400 film?

Thanks for any advice or opinions!

jules39 is offline  
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Sep 27th, 2004, 10:20 AM
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I just got back from Vic Falls, Botswana, Sabi Sabi and Cape Town. The lens I used primarily was the 75-300mm. During the day, I stuck with 100 film and late afternoon/evening pics were taken with 400 film. The quality of the pics were exactly how I hoped they would turn out---even better in most cases. I kept my aperture size mainly at 8.0 or more during the bright parts of the day. Bring lots of film---I took over 500 pics during my trip.
noelm98 is offline  
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Sep 27th, 2004, 10:23 AM
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Unless you have serious money to spend on a fast lens (one that can offer a very wide aperture even at the highest zoom) then 300mm is probably as long as you want to go. Any longer is difficult to hand hold even with a 400 speed film.

400 speed film gives good results (and I personally see little difference in results from 400 and 200) but 800 really does mean a drop in quality.

If you can afford more for a lens you can look at getting either an Image Stabilisation/ Vibration Reduction lens. These have fancy wizardry that means you can hand hold without getting blurred shots at long zooms, slow shutter speeds and with slower films.

Alternatively you can buy a fast lens, as above (say with f3.5 aperture or even wider) but these are often very large and quite heavy.
Kavey is offline  
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Sep 27th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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Hi jules-
I have used anywhere from 100-400 speed depending on what is beng photographed and time of day.

I do believe my results were better w/ the 100-200 speed films.

As far as lens length goes I had a 80-400 zoom lens with vibration reduction/stabilization. It worked great for me and I either braced it on my knee or used a bean bag.

I would agree that you don't want a telephoto any less than a 300 especially if you are trying to get close-ups or shoot birds. With birds, it depends on how close you can get to them but they're a little trickier anyway. Sometimes a 300 still isn't big enough.
divewop is offline  
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Sep 27th, 2004, 03:33 PM
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I would certainly take a range of film-- the 400 is for early morning, evening and deep shade. If there is bright light during daylight hours, the 100 or 200 will certainly deliver better results. 200 is particularly good, because the results are very nearly as good as the 100 (esp with Fuji).

I don't think a "faster" lense is much use, because the depth of field is so small at f2.8 and 4.0 that it is not really useful (except perhaps for small birds). If you have a faster lense, take it, but still take a range of film that allows you to work in all sorts of light conditions. 300mm is a good minimum-- but 400mm is even better. Yes you WILL get close to some animals, but many will be farther away.

If longer lenses weren't so heavy and expensive, people would probably recommend even longer lenses!
tashak is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2004, 01:14 AM
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Yeah longer lenses are so heavy I think they can be hard to manage for those of us who haven't booked a private vehicle to give us the space we need.

As Tashak says, if you're going for a long zoom (above 300) then you'll definitely appreciate IS/VR technology.

As far as fast lenses, I'd agree that using a wide aperture gives low depth of field (I think it isolates an animal beautifully but many may not like the style) but if you can't afford IS/VR technology and are keen to go for the higher zooms you really do need to use either the faster speed films or have a faster lens.
Kavey is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2004, 01:21 AM
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Sorry, I meant as Divewop said... re the IS/VR lens making longer zooms possible with the lower speed films...
Kavey is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2004, 08:12 AM
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Actually I didn't say that Kavey, but I should have, because she is absolutely right. With a lense longer than 300mm the VR/IS technology is invaluable. Among other things, it allow you to use a monopod instead of a tripod (tripods might be usable, depending on where you are Southern Africa monopods are definitely usable (and if someone says monopods are not...I think you should ignore them!)

Personally, I think there are several cheap things that really improve an amateurs photo results: Keep your lenses scrupulously clean. Find a way to steady your camera, be it VR/IS/monopod/tripod or beanbag. Be really familiar with your camera and film before you go, even if it means testing various combos of settings and results for sunlight, shade, etc. before you go. (Too many people buy a new camera...but haven't taken the time to learn to use it properly before a big Africa trip.)
tashak is offline  
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Oct 1st, 2004, 08:39 AM
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a lot of useful advice here, but what sort of camera are you toting?

The suggeston to carry a range of film speeds is very sensible. I always understood that 200 was sort of useless, you dont actually get anything much for it and you may as well stick with 100. Then on the other hand are you shooting negs or trannies? Fuji Velvia does a great job of those colour saturated envenings.
As for you choice of lense, and the available technology for it, once again it depends on what you're attaching it to. Be real careful if you are buying stuff that you havent used much. Get onto perhaps and ask some questions.
Zooms are convenient but if you are thinking of one that goes to 300mm and wil start at perhaps 28 then you are accepting a big compromise and the quality of your shots will probably suffer. A fixed focal length will definetly be an investment. And a good tripod.
perrycas is offline  
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Oct 4th, 2004, 11:22 AM
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Another question for all of you experts...
I have a 75-300 lens but anticipate lots of bird pictures for an upcoming trip. A few places will have blinds (therefore plenty of room for a tripod) but not always. I tried holding the 400mm lens at our camera shop and there's just no way I could handle it, even if I could afford it Is a 2x lens extender for my 75-300 (without IS) worthwhile? When I asked at the camera shop I got conflicting answers from two people.
hlphillips2 is offline  
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Oct 4th, 2004, 12:15 PM
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I haven't ever used one but just be aware that a converter will result in your main lens becoming "slower" - i.e. letting less light through and therefore unable to provide as fast a shutter speed in lower light situations.

It's often a stop or more of difference and that may be relevant for you.
Kavey is offline  
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