Best tele lens for shuttle launch?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by SOLLERBOY, May 8, 2009.

  1. SOLLERBOY macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    Hi, I'm gonna be in Florida for the shuttle launch next week. I currently have a d90 with the 18-55 and 50mm 1.4 lenses. I am assuming I will need something a little longer and was considering the 70-300 but it seems to have gone up in price by £100. I was also looking at the 55-200 vr. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.
     
  2. wheelhot macrumors 68000

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    Nov 23, 2007
    #2
    Well telephoto lens are expensive usually. What is your budget and around what time is the shuttle lunch?
     
  3. SOLLERBOY thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    2PM and about £300-400 or $500-600
     
  4. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    #4
    If I were shooting it with my existing equipment, I would probably file the tab off my 1.4 TC so I could stack it with my 2.0 TC and attach those to my 300/2.8 to get 840mm, pray for a sunny day so my autofocus would still work (edit: never mind - focusing at infinity should work just fine at 7 miles), and I would probably still want more. My vertical field of view would be around 1000 feet (or 1600' with a portrait orientation) with that setup on an FX body at the closest viewing distance I would be likely to secure.

    The closest you will be to the launch pad is 7 miles, or 10 miles if you're at Space View Park (source: Space Launch FAQ). The shuttle/tank assembly is 184 feet tall. You can use this dimensional field of view calculator to explore what various focal lengths can do for you at specified distances. Buy as much lens as your budget allows.

    FWIW, a Google search discovered much of that information.
     
  5. iSaint macrumors 603

    iSaint

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    South Mississippi y'all, near the water!
    #5
    What a great trip. And from the UK??? I hope to make it to a launch some day. Have a blast, and good luck with the photos.
     
  6. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 17, 2008
    #6
    Rent the longest lens you can for a day if you want worthwhile pictures. It is relatively cheap to rent a lens for a day and you will have a lot longer lens than your budget allows (ie, you can probably get a 300+2x or something similar). I suspect with a $500 lens, once you crop to make the shuttle big enough to be interesting the picture will be less than you hoped. Good luck, let us know what you do and how it turns out.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
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    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    I've been to a launch. Beleive me they do NOT let you get close. Even if you were to rent a lens. (an yes RENT it) the problem in getting a clear shot will be haze in the air. The best lens in the world can not remove the humidity from miles of air. And yes, you will be "miles" away. You need a fast lens even in bright sunlight so that you can stop the apearent subject motion that is do to atmospheric "shimmy".

    If you want to try to get some closer shots don't even bother with a cheap consumer f/5.6 zoom. Rent a fast 500mm or 1000mm prime and get a massive tripod. Some sand or shot bags to brace it with and a remote shutter release. And hope for clear air.

    But you can buy those close up shoots. The good ones are all taken by people who are allowed closer access or in some cases even remote control cameras.

    What you should take are images of the crowd, capture the party-like atmosphere and then for sure get the vapor trail/smoke plume and arcs up into the sky. You may not even be able to see the shuttle at the top of the smoke plume. It will look like a dot.

    With a 300mm lens and a tripod you can get an image of the space center's larger buildings with some water in the foreground. 300mm is not long enough to isolate just one building or the shuttle itself from your distance.

    But 200mm or 300mm would capture the arc of the smoke plume as the shuttle flys out into space.
     
  8. wheelhot macrumors 68000

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    #8
    If you can rent a Canon EF 1200mm , that would be awesome, of course don't expect to go anywhere once you set it up :rolleyes:
     
  9. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #9
    You'll probably be across the lake from it by the clock and even with a consumer telephoto lens it'll will still be small. I'd say just take as long a lens as you can get and hope for the best. The shuttle is only in sight for 120 seconds anyway.
     
  10. arogge macrumors 65816

    arogge

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    #10
    If you are shooting from the press area, the minimum recommended focal length is 400 mm.

    If you are shooting from the public spectator areas, my advice is to not bother with your camera. Even if you are willing to spend the money on what you need for a lens, and the sky conditions are very clear, you are not prepared to handle such a lens. You will likely waste all of your time trying to focus the object in the viewfinder and playing with the camera settings, and you will miss seeing the event.

    There are people who are prepared as professional photographers specifically for this event. Let them do their jobs while you enjoy watching the event. Bring binoculars or a small telescope, but don't waste your viewing time trying to be a photographer.
     
  11. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

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    California
    #11
    While your post has sound reasoning, how the hell would anyone get anywhere if they didn't try? There's nothing wrong with him wanting to try and snap pictures if that is what he wants to do.

    Hell, why not take a telescope AND camera? Hook the pair up together and you can get some good shots that way. Think outside the box, not just "it will be too hard and not worth the time."
     
  12. SOLLERBOY thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #12

    Lots of helpful advice guys, apart from this post! I don't give a monkeys about the professional photographers, I want to capture some shot for myself to enjoy. And as for wasting my time trying to be a photographer, I'm currently studying photography in college and getting A's over a broad range of photography skills and techniques. I was merely asking what lens, if any would be suitable for the launch.
     
  13. wheelhot macrumors 68000

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    Nov 23, 2007
    #13
    Well, Canon 400mm f/2.8 will be awesome and with 2x teleconverter you get 800mm, or you can get the 800mm which is good enough I think
     
  14. SpaceMagic macrumors 68000

    SpaceMagic

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    #14
    Haven't got any advice I'm afraid, but just wanted to say... Post the photos when you get back :) I'd love to see them!
     
  15. gr8tfly macrumors 603

    gr8tfly

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    #15
    sorta off topic, but still Shuttle ops on Landing -

    1st landing at Edwards AFB, Colombia, 1981, across the dry lake from the landing strip (on desert floor). I believe I rented a 400mm T-Mount, plus a 3x adapter (maybe 2x too - I'm checking with the friend who went along. Nikon Ftn. Transparency (forget which - it was a while ago and still have "search for those slides on my list".

    Whatever I used only became good enough for good compHosition during final and on landing. I did get some useable, with cropping, of pass with wingmen and alignment turn. We were "only" 4-7 away or less across the lakebed. I don't know the distance you'll be (like at the "clock"), but if comparable, you can get some useable pics.

    Anyway...

    Many (many) years later> Canon 10D + 75-300mm IS (480mm 35mm equivalent) 1/1000, f/27 to f/9, depending on sky angle and sun and fudge factor. ISO 400, but a different DSLR (newer CANON could probably get away with 1/800) Gotta keep the f stopped down as much as possible, and need fastest shutter speed. I'm now remembering I had a 2x convertor mounted, too. Also, I did have IS, so might have be able to cut the shutter speed down. For this kind of work, though 400 ISO looks fine.

    I shot SpaceShip One's first space flight, and was able to get a sharp enough image while they were at 40k' to recognize it and Whiteknight (planform easily discernible, even after they separated). On the ascent, it was a bit more than a dot, but could see some structure.

    Have fun! I've seen an Atlas 1mile away, and others on ascent out of Vandenberg, CA - still great exhaust plume - can even see the shock diamonds sometimes, but we shoot from about 60 miles away, to the east. Just luck out on the flight path. We had hoped, years ago, for the west coast Shulttle launch facility to be used, but alas.

    Again, enjoy. Wish I could get there someday, but don't think it's gonna happen. I'll enjoy vicariously! I'll be watching live, so if you make it out near the clock, where something MR or Apple like. :D.
     
  16. wheelhot macrumors 68000

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    #16
    Excellent advice but I am not taking the picture, lol. In fact, I'm thousands of miles away from US shores :p

    But why need to shoot at f/27? ain't f/4-f/5.6 should be enough cause of the distance from where we are standing?
     
  17. pprior macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Actually that was one of the best responses you got. Don't be so snarky, and being in school for something makes you qualified for diddly-squat, BTW.

    Your budget is a joke for a project like this, and the poster was trying to point that out in a polite manner. Maybe if you want a snapshot to show you were there you will succeed, but any type of close-up of the shuttle with any detail sounds very unlikely based on experienced reports here.

    Don't bite the hand that feeds you, my friend.
     
  18. arogge macrumors 65816

    arogge

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    #18
    Then your answer involves spending much more money than you are willing to spend, carrying a large tripod, worrying about the crowds of spectators and transportation of such a heavy camera kit to the venue, and then using unfamiliar hardware and shooting a subject matter with which you have no experience, and figuring it out in less than two minutes.

    Your classroom skills and grades are worthless without the real-world experience gained by doing this job. The possibility that you will get anything close to acceptable shots is quite slim indeed.

    But, you don't need to listen to me. Read the advice here:
    http://www.phototrek.org/Travel/STS-93/exposure.html

    I am trying to save you the disappointment of missing the event, something that you may never watch again. You can remember the event as it should be seen, or you can remember watching it through a tiny viewfinder with a mirror repeatedly flapping across your view.

    If you want photographs of the event, please buy them from the people whose purpose it is to cover the event.
     
  19. anubis macrumors 6502a

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  20. arogge macrumors 65816

    arogge

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    #20
    That includes a special 2X teleconverter, too! :D
     
  21. wheelhot macrumors 68000

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    #21
    Oooo, get back people, I got a bazooka and its hot! :cool:
     
  22. pprior macrumors 65816

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    #22

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