Posts Tagged ‘telephoto’

Al Quds march

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

The Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march is always a contentious event in London, and one that I often find difficult to photograph, and I had my problems this year.

Of course many of those who protest regularly for freedom for Palestine know me as I photograph many of their protests – as you can see on My London Diary.

Some of those who have organised the Al Quds day marches over the years also now recognise me and are friendly, but it is an event that does meet with a lot of opposition by some Zionist groups and where many of those attending are rather wary about being photographed. So I found myself several times being stopped by people asking who I was taking pictures for and some trying to prevent me photographing.

As regular readers will know, I like to take pictures close to those I’m photographing, though I don’t particularly like the kind of distortion you can see in the hand of the organiser above, taken with the lens on the Fuji set at 11mm – 16.5mm full-frame equivalent. I’ve long felt that the ideal photographic distance is one where you can reach out and touch the person you are photographing, as if you were talking with them, though sometimes a little greater distance is necessary.

Of course there are times when you do have to stand further back. There was a giant Palestinian flag between me and the Neturei Karta ultra-orthodox Jews when I made the picture showing their recipe for a peaceful end to the bloodshed in Palestine. There the distance was a necessity.

And there are pictures that need a longer focal length to isolate the subject, as in this picture, made with the remarkable 18-150mm on the Olympus E-M5MarkII at 135mm (270mm equivalent.) Long lenses certainly do have their photographic uses, and this one comes in an incredibly small and light package.

I’m not sure I will go to photograph this event next year, despite my support for the Palestinians and my hope that one day they will gain justice and be able to live in peace with their Jewish neighbours, to make good the neglected second part of the Balfour declaration that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”  I’ll continue to photograph other pro-Palestinian events in London, but this one was just too much aggravation. I ended up feeling more welcome photographing the Zionists opposing the event.

Long lenses

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Last Friday I was testing out equipment for an event I was hoping to photograph the following day. For the last few months I’ve seldom used the two working Nikon DSLRs I own, working instead with a Fuji XT1 and an Olympus OMD EM5 MKII, and I wasn’t confident that they could cope.

I knew I would need a fairly extreme telephoto lens for some pictures. The longest I own for the Fuji is the 18-135mm F3.5-5.6, equivalent to a 27-203mm, and for the Olympus, the lightweight 14-150mm (28-300mm equiv) f4-5.6. Would either of these be good enough or should I take the larger and heavier Nikon D810 with the 70-300mm Nikkor zoom?

I was worried about the weight as I was expecting to have to walk some distance, so would have preferred not to have to carry the Nikon, as along with another lens to cover the mid-range it would roughly double the weight I was carrying for around four or five hours. But if it really gave better results I’d have to put up with it.

I could get greater magnification from the Nikon, as I don’t need the full image size, but could switch it to DX mode, making it at its long end a 450mm equivalent lens, while still retaining roughly the same pixel count as the Fuji or Olympus, and I thought before looking at the results that this would make a vital difference.

So I got out the gear and took pictures of a subject at roughly the same distance as I would be working – around 200 metres and compared the results. I used more or less the same shutter speed and aperture as I expected to need on the following day, around 1/500 f8 at ISO640, and made sure the image stabilisation was on for the Fuji lens and Olympus body.

I got a couple of surprises from these simple tests. The first was that the two mirrorless systems both focused at least as fast as the DSLR, with the fastest usually being the OM5 (though both the Nikon and the Olympus occasionally went in for a little hunting.)

It took a little fussing around to view the images with the subject roughly the same size on my screen, but the results were interesting. The pictures themselves are pretty boring (and as I was photographing a window in a nearby flat perhaps an invasion of privacy) so I won’t include them here; the differences between the 3 camera/lens setups would in any case probably barely show even on enlarged small sections.

I’d expected the Nikon with its larger sensor and longer (equivalent) focal length to have a distinct advantage, but this wasn’t the case. The clear winner in these tests was Olympus, though the differences were not huge. It seemed a little sharper and to give just a little better gradation. Details in highlight and shadow seemed a little clearer. Even though I had to magnify it more it still more than matched the Nikon. The Fuji lens gave a nice sharp image, but the extra magnification it needed just about showed. But at any size I was likely to need to use the pictures any of the three systems would have done the job.

The D810 in full-frame mode gives images 7360 × 4912 pixels, compared to 4896 x 3264 for the Fuji and 4608 x 3456 for the Olympus. All more than enough for an A4 print – and if the images are sharp you can go considerably larger. Those extra pixels that the Nikon has to offer are very seldom needed.

Of course Nikon has newer and better telephoto lenses than the old model I own, the 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED AF Nikkor. The Fuji lens weighs 490g, not particularly heavy for its specification, but almost twice as much as the Olympus at 285g. Both essentially replace two of my Nikon lenses, and of course both Olympus and Fuji bodies are considerable lighter than the D810.

My Nikon 70-300 was made for film and is not really up to the demands of high-pixel digital cameras, particularly at its longer focal lengths, so I shouldn’t be too surprised at the result. It weighs 520g, only a few grams more than the Fuji 18-135, but its modern replacement, the AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR is noticeably heavier at 680g – and reviews show it to be a rather better performer. I don’t do a great deal with long focal lengths and got my lens second-hand at a bargain price, around a fifth of the cost of the newer model.

The tests showed me that the Olympus would do the job well and so I packed my bag ready for the following morning. But the following day gale force winds meant I had to cancel my journey. But at least I know for the future that I don’t need to carry the extra weight to use a long lens.