View Full Version : Long lens technique

Canis Vulpes
13-04-06, 12:42
Since changing a few lenses from VR type to constant fast wide aperture I realize I need to improve lens holding technique. Using 28-70 f2.8 (7inches long) I cannot keep it steady for long at 50mm, compared with 50mm 1.8 (nifty fifty) I can hold nice a steady. Long focal length lenses used with TC's I have an almost impossible time into the TC extension focal length.

So...How should I handle my lenses to achieve sharp photos.

13-04-06, 13:17
Right Stephen

Have the same problem - more so with static subjects - birds on the wing, cars, motor cycles etc seem to be less trouble. But at least with Digital it does'nt cost to practice.


Canis Vulpes
13-04-06, 13:35
Exactly, still subjects. I never noticed when VR was compensating for my poor technique. VR has possibly lead to poor technique?

13-04-06, 13:57
Hi Stephan. I think maybe it depends upon what you are trying to photograph. With landscape and some wildlife a tripod or monopod is probably the best option if you are unsteady.
There are so many things that can affect focusing. When it comes to bird photography there are many things that can create softness, the wrong type of light, busy fore and back grounds and incorrect aperture settings being only a few.
If it is just hand holding techniques you need to brush up on then practise with different stance so that your arms are firmly tucked into your body and your legs are evenly spread for good balance. Also if at all possible look for anything, like a tree, fence etc that you could use for added support.
I am a pretty unfit not very strong woman and have used heavy long lenses successfully handheld. in the end it all comes down to technique and practice.

13-04-06, 14:14
Hi Annette
Right on - I see on your splendid webb site you are into a 500mm lens now - you cant be too unfit.

As you say - practice is the keyword.

13-04-06, 14:21
Actually prostie that needs upgrading. I now use a canon 400mm f/5.6L but the 500mm is a very sharp lens too in good to moderate light. My 13 year old son uses it now and gets very good results with it. I am unfit, overweight and suffer from fibromialgia so after a long day my muscles really dont like it but its what you get used to.

Nigel G
13-04-06, 17:49
So...How should I handle my lenses to achieve sharp photos.

I asked the same question of BF a while back. This was the response with some useful links and advice.


13-04-06, 18:05
Personally I almost always use a tripod and on the occassions that I don't I use some other support (beanbag, monopod) and only very rarely do I handhold. My main lens is a Sigma 500 f4.5, it's a big, heavy lens and to get sharp shots hand holding I need shutter speeds of 1/800th or faster, when it's on top of my tripod (Manfrotto 055 legs and a 501 head) I can get sharp shots of birds even down to 1/100th.

13-04-06, 18:27
Yeah but postie noone could successfully handhold the lens that you have got as it is far too heavy. Most other lenses from the sigm 170-500mm down are handholdable easily enough though. If I can do it anyone can.

14-04-06, 02:01
I wouldn't dream of using my cameras without some sort of solid support, I use a heavy tripod for most of my work, except when I'm on a long walk or in the car. I normally use a Uniloc Major 1600 with large ball and socket or Manfrotto 128RC for landscape, close-up and long lens work and a Uniloc 1700 with ball and socket for long walks. For shooting from the car window I use a large purpose made bean bag filled not too tightly with dried peas, this enables me to use lenses up to 500mm with 2X converter. If the bag is not packed too tightly it allows you to snuggle the lens into it for a solid support. On the very rare occasion when I shoot without a support, it's usually a quick snap shot where I don't have time to anticipate the shot. The only other time I would work without a support is when doing flight shots of birds.