Newbie with Long Distance Photography Questions.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by drken, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. drken
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    drken New Member

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    I have just moved to Edgewater, NJ into an apartment built out on an old industrial pier, which gives me great south looking views of the Hudson River, Manhattan and Jersey City from my balcony. But, as it’s a bit up-river it puts me about 2.5 miles from the West Side Docks and about 8 miles from the Statue of Liberty and the NY/NJ harbor. I’m currently waiting on the delivery of a Canon Rebel XTi with an 18-55mm lens (it will replace my Canon AE-1). My current photographic interest will be in cataloging (in a very artistic manner) all the boats on the river and various buildings, to do that but I’m going to need a telephoto lens and/or a spotting scope to go with it. Does anybody have any experience with long-distance photography? How far away can I reliably take pictures using a 300mm telephoto lens (which seems to be the most my budget can afford)? Does anybody have any recommendations for a spotting scope? I’m looking at the Celestrons for spotting scopes, in particular the ED refractor and 90 and 125mm Maks. I think I might have issues with contrast using a Mak for terrestrial photography, but I do like the 1250mm focal length.
  2. The_Traveler
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    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent

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    You can take pictures at any distance you like but your real question depends on how large you need certain objects to be in the final captured image and how far away they are.
  3. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I wish I could help you on this one...but I don't know anything about those scopes. I have heard that they are not nearly as good a photographic lenses because they aren't corrected for distortion or aberration etc. So if high quality is your priority, you might be better off with an actual lens.

    A cheap option for a long reach might be to use a long lens, 300mm with a teleconverter. You can get a 2X (non Canon) teleconvertor for a decent price. Unless you have a 'fast' telephoto lens (costing a few thousand dollars) the use of a 2X teleconverter will probably cost you the use of autofocus. But it shouldn't be too hard to manually focus on large boats.

    I know a guy who has a 100-400 Canon lens and uses a 1.4X TC and a 2X converter at the same time. The quality is hurt by this arrangement, but not as much as I would have thought.

    I would think that your biggest problem will be the air quality. I'm sure it's fairly polluted around there, so you will have deal with that.
  4. (Ghastly) Krueger
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    (Ghastly) Krueger New Member

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    Consider that the XTi has a cropping factor of x1.6, which means your 300mm will work like a 480mm!
  5. drken
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    drken New Member

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    Thanks for the advice all. Mike, pollution may hurt picture quality a bit, but I'm more worried about distortion from air currents comming off the water. Some days are clearer than others, but pollution only really seems to hurt my viewing with a pair of 10X20 binoculars when I try to see stuff in the harbor (8-10 miles away). But, on a clear day, it's not really a problem.

    As for picture quality, I'm not fooling myself into thinking I'm going to get great photos of ships 10 miles away no matter what I do. There are parks near the harbor that are great for ship-spotting and I'll just take a trip down there to get better photos. Some of the long distance stuff I'm just going to do for sport and see how far away I can take pictures. Plus, I can take the camera off the spotting scope and use it for sight-seeing around the river and city. Not to mention viewing the moon and the brighter planets (Jupiter, Venus and Saturn). Thanks for the teleconverter advice, I'll probaly pick one up as I'm not too worried about losing autofocus. My other SLR is an AE-1, so I kind of still view autofocus as one of those new-fangeled contraptions primarily seen on point-n-shoot cameras.
  6. Stratman
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    Stratman New Member

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    the focal length will be the same, regardless of what camera you put the lens on, what changes is the field of view, it will be as NARROW as a 480 mm lens, but it will not magnify like a 480 mm lens.

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