There’s a lot to think about when you’re shooting with a super-telephoto lens. Most of the lenses in this group are designed with one thing in mind – bringing serious telescopic power to your DSLR. As such, they’re weighty beasts, tipping the scales at anything up to 3kg. Many super-telephoto lenses are more than 20cm long even at their shortest zoom settings.
Below we round up 9 key points you should remember the next time you go out to shoot with super-telephoto lenses.
1. Mind your back
Super-telephoto lenses can be weighty beasts. A monopod can help take the load without imposing the restrictions of a tripod (find out how to use a monopod).
2. Hidden depths
While they’re long to start with, often a super-telephoto lens can almost double in length at its longest zoom settings. Others, however, such as the Nikon 70-200mm and Sigma 120-300mm, remain fixed thanks to internal zoom mechanisms.
3. Staying constant
Constant aperture lenses retain the same largest available aperture throughout the zoom range, enabling faster shutter speeds at longer focal lengths.
4. Take the weight
With a heavy super-telephoto lens, the image stabilisation system often makes all the difference between sharp and blurry handheld shots.
5. Slow it down
For tripod-mounted shots, it’s best to use the Exposure Delay or the Mirror Lock-up functions to avoid mirror-bounce blurring your results.
6. Small margin
Depth of field can be extremely small at longer zoom settings, especially when you use the largest available aperture.
7. Lights on
You’ll often need to increase your camera’s sensitivity setting to achieve fast shutter speeds in anything other than bright lighting conditions.
8. Keep up
A fast autofocus speed is essential for tracking quick-moving subjects. All the ring-type ultrasonic lenses on test perform well, while the Nikon 80-400mm is relatively slow.
9. Mirror, mirror
Mirror lenses offer massive cost-savings but the image quality they provide is comparatively poor. They also lack autofocus and adjustable apertures.
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