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Old 03-14-2015, 02:31 AM   #13
Noct Foamer
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 571

Originally Posted by Mgoldman View Post
I'm very curious as to how a non-prime lens with such a huge range costing just over a grand could be money well spent? Since Steve Schmollinger's exit from RP, I have rarely seen a photo accepted to the database taken at a focal length over 200 mm.


I have heard from bird photographers the new Tamron is a decent lens, for the money especially. Sigma has just come out with a similar lens for their "sport" series at considerably more $$. Off and on I've owned a Nikon 500mm f4, which is a dandy lens! Don't have one now though. I bought the new-ish Nikon 80-400mm AFS last summer. It's quite good, especially for only ~$2,000. I think whether or not a >200mm lens is useful depends on where you live. In Florida, land of the tree tunnels, maybe not so much. Out on the Northern Plains, where it's actually possible to photo an entire 108 car grain train, 400mm sometimes isn't enough even for trains. Some parts of the country are all about huge open space, and a long lens will give you options.

I think in order to use any lens effectively, you must be able to "see" compositions before you can take them. I think there may be three reasons you don't see many foamer shots using a lens over 200mm:

(1) They are relatively expensive, and most foamers I've come across have nothing longer than a 200mm zoom.

(2) Most foamers like to get as close to the tracks as possible and generally don't "see" distant shots

(3) Lenses >300mm historically haven't been used for RR photography to begin with. Nature, sports, and wildlife photographers have the best they can afford. (Hard core bird photographers will go to the insane zone for the best long lenses!)

All of this adds up to fewer people with a long telephoto, so naturally there are many fewer shots made with them. I don't use mine very often mostly because I like to shoot at night. A 400mm lens will have more "reach" than my flash triggers do, so I've just not found as much a need for the 80-400mm VR. I do routinely carry it with me for day shots. Here's a shot I took before winter set in using the 80-400mm, racked out to 320mm. Even though it has a very competent VR (image stabilization,) I pretty much always use the lens on a tripod (as I do all my other lenses.)

Kent in SD

Last edited by Noct Foamer; 03-14-2015 at 05:03 AM.
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