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Best Focal Length? #16242
07/01/08 10:38 PM
07/01/08 10:38 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
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Neil V Offline OP
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Neil V  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2006
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Hi all,

I am a nature/flora photographer looking to get into pet photography.

I am curious to know what focal length(s) you find most of your outdoor type of pet photography shot at?

I am thinking that a good, fast 70-200 would be the best but would love to hear from your experience as well...

Cheers,

Neil

Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: Neil V] #16243
07/01/08 10:44 PM
07/01/08 10:44 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
North Carolina, triangle area
wallyspop Offline
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wallyspop  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2008
North Carolina, triangle area
Hi Neil, welcome!
What type sensor are you using? Cropped, full frame? What type of pet shots? Shows, outdoor, indoor, close, far, lighting,etc? There are a number of factors to be considered. I shoot primarily full frame but also have a cropped sensor. Although I have several lenses, including a 70-200 f2.8 L IS, I find most of the time I use my 24-70 f2.8 L. Great focal length overall. The 70-200 has awesome brokeh and tac sharp but limited if shooting a cropped sensor.

Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: wallyspop] #16244
07/01/08 10:54 PM
07/01/08 10:54 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
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Neil V Offline OP
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Neil V  Offline OP
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Hi Bob,

Thanks for the quick reply!

For the most part I will be focusing on (no pun intended) outdoor, natural light photography. For now I will be shooting with cropped sensor cameras. Maybe a full frame down the road but I am trying to put to put the majority of my budget into lenses for now.

Thanks for your input.

Last edited by Neil V; 07/01/08 11:21 PM.
Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: Neil V] #16245
07/02/08 06:15 AM
07/02/08 06:15 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
North Carolina, triangle area
wallyspop Offline
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wallyspop  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2008
North Carolina, triangle area
Neil, I agree that lenses are the wisest investment and will likely have more impact on the quality of the images you will produce, at least in terms of what you purchase. Obviously the person behind the camera is the most significant factor. I've seen some stunning shots taken with P&S. Anyway, I have to say from my perspective if you're shooting with a cropped sensor and shooting with natural light, I would lean towards a very fast average focal length zoom lens. I mentioned the 24-70 f2.8 L in my previous post and I have to say, that lens absolutely rocks. Of all of my lenses this one clearly gets the most use. When I was shooting cropped I always had it on but I still use it with the 5d FF. With a cropped sensor the 70-200 can be a bit long. Like I said, I have the 70-200 f2.8 L IS and it is an awesome lens but if I could only have one general use lens it would absolutely be the 24-70. You will need fill light outdoors. You may also want to consider a hot shoe flash or speedlight with a diffuser if you don't already have those. I would recommend a small softbox. I have a Gary Fong diffuser and it's good for larger fill or groups but the softbox gives real nice catchlights. Also for only a few bucks get yourself a 6 in 1 reflector, I use mine a lot! Anyway, if you need additional info on any of this please let me know. Others here are a great source also so hopefully they'll chime in. Good luck!

Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: Neil V] #16246
07/02/08 07:40 AM
07/02/08 07:40 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Florida
Hi Neil and welcome,
Bob has covered this subject very well but I'll just add a couple of additional points of view. For available light, outdoor pet portraits, you have to consider whether or not you'll be shooting off a tripod or hand-held. If you're shooting hand-held and you do your own baiting, you might want to consider an IS lens -- or the equivalent of you're not shooting Canon. This will make it easier to hand-hold with your right hand only as you toss a toy with your left.

For a starter kit, I like the 24-105 F4L IS and the 70-200 F4L IS. Both are excellent lenses in terms of image quality and both are plenty fast enough for outdoor AL photography. Also, both work on crop bodies as well as full-frame.

The 580 EX makes a great flash unit for fill light outdoors. At high-speed synch, it can be used at any shutter speed. The diffusers Bob mentions are excellent.

If your main focus is portraits rather than candids of the dogs in motion, I'd opt first for the medium-range zoom. It saves a lot of steps to be able to zoom with the lens rather than your feet. Image quality is almost as good as with primes. Again, if you are shooting Canon, pick up the $70 50mm F1.8. It's fast, cheap, and has outstanding IQ for the price and, on a crop body, it's a classic portrait focal length. I've found it invaluable both outside and in the studio for portrait shoots where I want to throw the background out of focus.

Good luck and let us know what you decide. And share some of your images. We'd love to see how you do.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: Jim Garvie] #16247
07/02/08 08:29 AM
07/02/08 08:29 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
TN
Julie Offline
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Julie  Offline
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TN
I usually use focal lengths 75mm and over. I do not like the regular wide angle zoom's as I feel they make way too much distortion of both people and animals.

If I had to only keep two lenses, I would keep my 35-100 f2 and my 50-200 2.8-3.5 Those are the 2 lenses I use 95% of the time for portraits.

Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: Julie] #16248
07/02/08 11:14 AM
07/02/08 11:14 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Hey Julie,
saw your ad in the June 27 issue of Dog News. It looked great. Really nice job!

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: Jim Garvie] #16249
07/02/08 02:47 PM
07/02/08 02:47 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
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Neil V Offline OP
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Neil V  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2006
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Thanks so much for the input folks.

I am looking at my current equipment, a Sigma SD14 and lenses, flashes etc and I am coming to the realization that they won't work for pet photography. While it is absolutely wonderful for photographing flora etc the buffer would just choke on trying to take pictures of a dog running around etc...

So now I am looking at getting a another system strictly for this purpose. So far the Nikon D300/24-70/70-200 or Sony a700/24-70/70-200 have made the short list. I don't want to turn this into a 'brand battle' so please don't take it as that...

Julie - I notice that you shoot with an Olympus system. Are you using an E3? If so, how do you find the focus speed and overall camera speed? (I had an E1 and loved it...)

Thanks again to everyone for your help.

Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: Neil V] #16250
07/02/08 03:04 PM
07/02/08 03:04 PM
Joined: May 2008
Virginia, USA
Jim Poor Offline
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Jim Poor  Offline
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Virginia, USA
Neil,

As a D300 owner, I would say that if you are going to be photographing any action sequences, you should plop down for the extra battery grip, the ENEL4e battery and the BL-3 battery cover (nope the grip doesn't come with the cover for the big battery ). Otherwise, you'll be getting something like 2.5 frames a second in 14 bit mode.

Jim

Re: Best Focal Length? [Re: Jim Poor] #16251
07/02/08 03:19 PM
07/02/08 03:19 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
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Neil V Offline OP
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Neil V  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2006
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Quote:

Neil,

As a D300 owner, I would say that if you are going to be photographing any action sequences, you should plop down for the extra battery grip, the ENEL4e battery and the BL-3 battery cover (nope the grip doesn't come with the cover for the big battery ). Otherwise, you'll be getting something like 2.5 frames a second in 14 bit mode.

Jim




Hi Jim,

Thanks. Without a doubt I would be getting the grip with either camera. If fact, I was just at my local store sizing up the D300/MB-D10/24-70. It's a very impressive combination to say the least! I definitely would need the grip for my big mitts.

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