Is a 200-400mm SLR lens suitable to shoot people at 60-85 yards?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by photogamateur, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. photogamateur macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2010
    #1
    Hello all,

    I need a SLR telephoto zoom lens for shooting very clear pictures of adults in daylight at 60-85 yards. I need the images to be clear enough to clearly make out someone's face to the point where you could recognize it if you knew the person (not like nose-hairs close but recognizably close). They will be still images or very slow moving so I can have a slower shutter speed and smaller aperture. I don't need a specific brand recommendation, just the upper range of the focal length.

    I guess my question is will a 200-400mm lens be sufficient or do I need to step up to a bird-photographing lens at 600+? I'm an amateur but I know enough to use a tripod at those distances to avoid blurring but is there anything else I should be aware of in shooting at that distance? Since daylight will be the light source and the objects mostly stationary, I'm guessing f3.5 - f5.6 will be ok for max aperture?
     
  2. Stotka macrumors regular

    Stotka

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    #2
    So you wanna be a Paparazzi? :p Just a guess :)
    Well if you are going with Canon iThink you should get the 100-400L its the closest to the one you are looking for. All the others except 70-200L are primes and if you are buying new you will need to spend 1k+ euros.
    And what DSLR do you have anyway? If you have a crop body it would make it even easier to get closer with the lens.
     
  3. photogamateur thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2010
    #3
    Thank you for the reply!

    I have a Canon EOS 50D body with no lenses, I got a good deal on it with just the body so I scooped it up.

    Good guess, but I'm not looking to be a paparazzi, rather I need to take some pics for evidence. I'm not a PI, just helping out a friend. ;)
     
  4. Kebabselector macrumors 68030

    Kebabselector

    Joined:
    May 25, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    #4
    You should be fine with a 200mm lens. I shot this rather unexciting image (was trying out a 300mm lens - on my 5D)....

    [​IMG]

    Close up of Flue (image sharpened)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Distance according to google earth is 165 Metres.
     
  5. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #5
    Just be sure that the subjects in these "evidence" photos are in a public place with no reasonable expectation of privacy
     
  6. Stotka macrumors regular

    Stotka

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    #6
    With the 70-200L lens on you crop body you get 112-320 f2.8 So it would be ok.
    You should go to your local photo shop and try out a few outside so you can see which one suite-s you better. And then find it second hand online.
     
  7. photogamateur thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2010
    #7
    Again, thank you all for your replies.

    I'm glad someone posted a 165 meter photograph with a 300mm lens so I can get an idea of what level of detail to expect, that is very helpful so thank you. I think I will go with a 200mm or 300mm if I can afford it. I'm glad I don't have to step up to a 600mm as those are eye-wateringly expensive.:D

    These photos will indeed be taken in public places and no reasonable expectations of privacy will be breached I can assure you.

    This is a great forum and I'm glad I found it, I hope I can contribute in the future. If I can, I will post some examples of how my photos come out so you all can see how your advice helped me out.
     
  8. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Location:
    Kenya
    #8
    If this is a fairly temporary assignment, you might want to think about renting for a week or two instead of spending loads on a lens that you might never use again much.
     
  9. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #9
    You might get by with a 300mm lens on an ASPC sized sensor, I use Olympus and get 2x the focal length of my glass. If you're looking for any considerable detail at that distance, I would say you really want that 400mm lens and consider a t/c! In my opinion, and from my experience, the longer the better for long reach work. And 50-75 yards calls for a long reach zoom. Most of my samples have been cropped to some small degree, but only for framing purposes.

    With focal lengths in 35mm terms, click to enlarge

    800mm, 75 yards
    [​IMG]

    800mm, 350 yards
    [​IMG]

    500mm, 75 yards
    [​IMG]

    400mm, 50 yards
    [​IMG]
     
  10. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 26, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    #10
    You should be blurring the crack, not the background..
     
  11. scottkifnw macrumors regular

    scottkifnw

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Trophy Club, TX
    #11
    100 to 400

    For what you are requiring, a zoom would likely be best. The 70 to 200 (my favorite lens) may or may not be enough reach depending on how close you want to be. I think the 100 to 400 will be most versatile. Also consider sensor size of camera. I recommend that you visit your camera store and try them out.

    sek

     

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