Old 08-07-2017, 12:08 AM   #1
Noct Foamer
Senior Member
 
Noct Foamer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 571
Default Thoughts On Lenses

I've gone back and forth on strategies with lenses. A few years ago I used all f2.8 zooms with a 500mm f4 long lens. For the past couple of years I've been using a Nikon D800E with lenses 20mm f1.8G, 24mm t/s, Sigma 35mm f1.4, Sigma 50mm f1.4, Nikon 105mm f2.8 macro, and Nikon 80-400mm f5.6 AFS. Also own a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR but rarely use it for trains. I'm on the verge of getting rid of the 80-400mm and replacing with a Nikon 300mm f4 PF, which is much lighter, compact, and sharper. Will also pick up a TC-14iii to get to 420mm. The 80-400mm is decent, but it's optically the weakest lens I have. I'll add that my favorite lens of the bunch is the 24mm PC-E. I shoot grain elevators and other structures a lot, and the ability to shift the lens makes a huge difference in my photos.

A change will leave me with no zooms at all. I almost always use a tripod and most of the time my shots are planned out before the train arrives. The "pro" here is that the images generally have sharpness that is stunning! The negative is since I can't zoom, I'm only going to get one shot. So, I do hesitate a bit on getting rid of the 80-400mm and its 5x range. I've also toyed with the idea of getting a Nikon 24-120mm f4, partly to lighten my load and partly to use when doing fast chases. I ended up buying a Nikon D5300 and a Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 for it. It's been doing a good job. SO, how many here live with only single focal lenses? How many think that for RR photography only zooms should be used? All in all, I've come to think that RR photography is generally the least demanding on photo modern photo gear.


Kent in SD
Noct Foamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2017, 12:45 AM   #2
John West
Senior Curmudgeon
 
John West's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Posts: 1,081
Cool

For a long time I shot 35mm slides using only a 105/2.8 and was very happy. The 105 is in my opinion very well suited for rail photography (if what you want are "train" pix not small train big scenery kind of pix). I did have a 35mm lens in my bag, and eventually acquired a 50/1.8 but even when I had more choices the 105 lens was the one I kept on my camera.

Some years later a 70-200 zoom worked the same way (although my back suffered from the load!).

This worked for me because my style tends toward tight composition (where is the rest of the picture John?).
__________________
John West
See my pix here and
here and here

Last edited by John West; 08-07-2017 at 12:49 AM.
John West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2017, 01:32 AM   #3
bigbassloyd
Senior Member
 
bigbassloyd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Hilldale, West Virginia
Posts: 3,740
Default

I use my Tamron 150-600 more than my 24-105 for train photography. I also agree that railroad photography is quite lax in comparison to other fields. I generally stick to prime lenses for people and zooms for places and things.

Loyd L.
__________________
Social Media elevates the absurd and mediocre to a point where they aren't anymore, and that is a tragedy.

My personal photography site
bigbassloyd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2017, 03:08 AM   #4
miningcamper1
Senior Member
 
miningcamper1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 1,225
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by John West View Post
For a long time I shot 35mm slides using only a 105/2.8 and was very happy. The 105 is in my opinion very well suited for rail photography (if what you want are "train" pix not small train big scenery kind of pix). I did have a 35mm lens in my bag, and eventually acquired a 50/1.8 but even when I had more choices the 105 lens was the one I kept on my camera.

Some years later a 70-200 zoom worked the same way (although my back suffered from the load!).

This worked for me because my style tends toward tight composition (where is the rest of the picture John?).
Interesting. I recall David P. Morgan of Trains was fond of telephoto shots, although some readers would write complaining about the compressed look.

99% of the time I stuck with various lenses between 40-58 mm. I had a couple of teles, but seldom used them.

Photographers interested in quality didn't use zooms way back then. When did they become competitive?
__________________
flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11947249@N03/

RP Photos: www.railpictures.net/miningcamper1/

Last edited by miningcamper1; 08-07-2017 at 03:10 AM. Reason: addition
miningcamper1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2017, 03:28 AM   #5
KevinM
Senior Member
 
KevinM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 2,010
Default

I love the sharpness, lower distortion and lower weight of prime lenses. I own the Nikkor 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm f/1.8s. That said, most of my train photography is on private charters where I can't just be wherever I want to be. I also have to travel (by plane) to most of the charters, so I can't take everything I own. On most charters, I take two bodies, a D4 and a D750 w/grip, and the 16-35mm f/4 VR, 24-120mm f/4 VR (which gets more use than anything) and the 70-200mm f4 VR, which is just as sharp as it's 2.8 brother. That's a decent kit. The only thing lacking is a fast lens, which I like to have for night shoots. In those cases, I might substitute the 24-70mm f/2.8 for the 24-120. It is heavier and less flexible, but the extra stop comes in handy for night work. In a pinch, I might just stay with the 24-120 and bring a 35mm prime for the night shots....and just live with the fact that compositions may be more limited.

Surprised you are getting rid of your 80-400. I just picked that one up recently on sale, and have been amazed at how good the VR is. I plan on shooting the eclipse with it and the D7000....assuming the weather cooperates.
__________________
/Kevin

My RP stuff is here.

Link to my Flickr Albums. Lots of Steam Railroad stuff there from all over the US.
KevinM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2017, 04:01 AM   #6
troy12n
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 5,333
Default

I love the Canon EF 28-105 USM II. It's in my opinion just as good as the 24-105L (at least the version 1) except a little less contrast, and does not have IS. Also is 28, not 24 at the wide end. I could never justify the cost premium for the 24-105L.

Also, the 28-105 does not have the barrel distortion at the wide end like the 24-105L version 1 has.

I have actually not used the 24-105L version 2, but have heard it's IQ is actually WORSE than the version 1, but it does correct the distortion at the wide end.

Personally, for rail photography I prefer zooms because I rarely have time to sit and compose the shot perfectly, which is necessary for using primes.

My go-to lenses are the 28-105 USM and the 70-200 F4L. I occasionally will use a 17-40L or 100-400L.

I rarely use my primes. I have a 50/1.4, 28/2.8, 24/2.8 unless I need something for super low light conditions or night photography.
troy12n is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2017, 05:28 AM   #7
Noct Foamer
Senior Member
 
Noct Foamer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 571
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinM View Post
Surprised you are getting rid of your 80-400. I just picked that one up recently on sale, and have been amazed at how good the VR is. I plan on shooting the eclipse with it and the D7000....assuming the weather cooperates.

The 80-400mm AFS is a nice lens, but it's just not as nice to carry at 12,000 ft. What I like about it is the nice zoom range, and it's fairly compact for a 400mm. It resists flare well too. The 300mm f4 PF is much smaller & lighter, and a bit sharper yet. Downsides are I'm losing the 80-299mm range and the 300mm is known to have obnoxious flare issues with strong light shining into it. My plan is to pick up a used copy (along with 1.4x), try it for a month, and then sell one of the two long lenses.


Kent in SD
Noct Foamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-08-2017, 01:19 PM   #8
KevinM
Senior Member
 
KevinM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 2,010
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noct Foamer View Post
The 80-400mm AFS is a nice lens, but it's just not as nice to carry at 12,000 ft.

Kent in SD
Yeah, it's a beast. Mated to a body, and with the hood reversed, it does fit in a Lowepro TopLoader, but just barely! Also, I am not hugely impressed with the tripod collar. Mated to a pro body or a body with a grip, I have to turn the camera vertical to lock it on the tripod. But I have been pretty amazed at my ability to get sharp photos hand-held. This weekend, I did some experiments with a crop body (effectively 600 mm) at 1/100th and I could not believe the sharpness. With the 200-400mm f/4 VR costing 3 times as much, I was concerned about how good the 80-400 could be, but I have been pretty pleasantly surprised. Like you say, it's not a great lens to hike with, and takes up way too much space in the bag for airline trips, but it's a decent piece of glass that provides a ton of reach for those who don't want to shell out 6 or 7 grand.
__________________
/Kevin

My RP stuff is here.

Link to my Flickr Albums. Lots of Steam Railroad stuff there from all over the US.
KevinM is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 03:16 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.