Need input on mid range lenses for quick autofocus

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by bluewaterjon, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. bluewaterjon

    bluewaterjon TPF Noob!

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    Hi Jon Schwartz here. I work in professional fishing phototography, shooting jumping marlin and sailfish. The images are for magazines that only want tack sharp work. I use D700's with MBD10's. My go-to lenses were the 70-200 2.8VR's and the 24-70 2.8. Here is a shot of me posing with some of that gear (not that you need to see it, but it might help set the stage)
    [​IMG]
    In real life I am usually way off balance, looking like a kook and banging into things, with the boat rocking and rolling and spray everywhere.
    The 24-70 is a great lens but it froze up on me after getting knocked badly one time and the tech told me it's not repairable. I have since rented the older 28-70 (not made anymore) and liked that a lot more because it seemed more durable, but I'm not sure if I am ready to throw more money into renting it on every trip, or want to buy another mid range zoom.
    Funny thing is, because the fish jump every which way in a very unpredicatable manner, it's very tempting to zoom out and shoot conservatively, because there is that fear I will not get the fish in the shot. So when I am using the 24-70, or more recently the 28-70, I keep having shots where the subject was too small in the frame. The range is actually enabling me to chicken out, and I am rarely shooting above 50mm on the 24-70 or 28-70. Editors don't like to crop much so I end up with all this unusable stuff. For example, this photo below. It's cool because it shows the mate in action too, but if I had not zoomed out, the camera would have focued on the fish, rather than the mate, and I may well have ended up with a very valuable shot.
    [​IMG]

    So I figure, why not just go with a 50 prime. I want recommendations on the best one for the following need: autofocus speed, period. Sure, I'll probably appreciate how a 1.8 or 1.4 will work even better than my other 2.8's in low light, but that's not what I am getting it for- I am getting it for chaotic daylight action where I want to freeze spasmodically moving, unpredicatable subjects, shooting from a platform that is pretty unstable.

    From what I've read there are not a huge amount of choices- looks there are some 1.8's and 1.4's with different letters after them signifying internal focus and whatnot. But when I read the reviews of the lenses by customers, it seems there is a great variety of opinion on which are the best for my needs- quick autofocus in unpredictable action.
    Thanks very much for your input!
    Jon Schwartz
    Fishing Articles, Photography, and Travel
    www.bluewaterjon.com
    Blog: Jon Schwartz's Blog: Fishing Articles, Photography, and Travel
    By the way, here is a recent shot that I took from the water (with totally different gear, of course, but I thought you might enjoy the shot). The fish was released in great shape right after the photo was taken.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Nikon's 50mm f/1.4 AF-D is the fastest-focusing Nikkor 50mm lens. It is a screwdriver lens, and it focuses much faster than the newer 50mm 1.4 AF-S G, which although a SWM lens, has very slow AF action.
     
  3. bluewaterjon

    bluewaterjon TPF Noob!

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    Derrel, Thanks very much for that info. I really appreciate it! Any cons to that lens that you mention?
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, I can't think of too many cons it has except that it doesn't allow manual focus override like an AF-S lens does. And of course it's a single focal length lens, so there's no zooming, but of course that's understood. It's light, small,and has been made for many years. Compared to the 24-70 you bunged up and ruined, 50/1.4's are "cheap" too...costing a lot less than some of those reels the guys are using.;)
     
  5. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    I have nothing to add as I don't shoot Nikon, but I just wanted to say that photographing these fish would be a fun challenge. I imagine it great fun with such unpredictable conditions. Such as exactly where the fish will breach, how high, etc. Plus the rush......bet its a fun job.
     

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