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Topside: surf and the 70-300 VR

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Hi all,

 

I recently bought a Nikon 70-300 VR lens and took it out for the first today. I spent the morning photographing the Rockstars Games Pipeline Pro Bodyboarding Championship, and all I can say is that I am impressed with it's quality for the price range. I took all photos handholding the camera to evaluate it's VR and it works well. Sharpness, contrast and color are good, judge for yourself (most of these were taken at 300mm with speeds between 1/200 and 1/400s):

 

 

The best wave of the day:

 

tube.jpg

 

tube1.jpg

 

The largest wave of the day (there were larger ones, but bodyboarders weren't brave enough to take them on):

 

bigwave.jpg

 

Some nice skills:

 

aerial.jpg

 

knee.jpg

 

Jet-ski rescue guys were busy:

 

jetski.jpg

 

A nice set at 70mm:

 

beach1.jpg

 

The beach with the 10.5 fisheye, yes, it was crowded:

 

beach.jpg

 

And finally, I thought I was going to look big with my D2x and 70-300, but check this out:

 

cams.jpg

 

I was outgunned by a lot of people! Enjoy! Comments welcome.

 

Luiz

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one word:"COOL" :)

 

nice results with this lens !

i bought a kenko 2x today,i hope it will work like yours on 300 with my 105vr :)

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That is awesome stuff. It looks like a blast to photograph and also a super cool event. The lens looks great and I am looking at getting a long topside so thanks for posting...

 

Next time you should get in the water with your housing and photograph the boarders up close with your 10.5! Now that would rock!!

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I have a friend who payed 300$ bucks (standard rate as far as I know) for a 36 selected shots to a shooter on pipeline a couple of years ago, and same in Indo... something to consider as back-up job... je,je.

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Thanks for posting Luitz,

 

So maybe since you have used this lens you can help me solve my dilemma of lenses at the long end.

 

I have the old ED version of the 70-300mm that I use for wildlife and kids baseball shots (all outdoors). I don't care for this lens much but its the only one I have above 200mm. My biggest complaint is focusing speed it is Veeeerrrryyyy SloooooWwww. Sharpness is OK (can you ever get enough?) when used on a tripod. I want to upgrade to something faster.

 

I already have the 18-200mm that I use frequently to get long shots. Whatever solution I get it should be able to function in the 200-400mm range, because that's where I need it most.

 

Should I go for this new lens? It seems to solve the speed issue (if the 5.6 aperture doesn't get in the way). And the possibility of handholding would be great if it works at 300mm. How is the sharpness?

 

Or should I get the 70-200mm VR 2.8 with a 2x teleconvertor? This is definitely more expensive and bulky. The focus speed is super fast. I know its sharp. And the 2.8 aperture gives me more flexibility to use fast shutter speeds for sports. But I would nearly always be working with this in combination with a teleconvertor to get me out beyond 200mm. In that case I'd be back to smaller apertures and maybe the same AF performance?

 

Or should I get the 80-400mm? It has even more reach, and VR, but it too is a dog in AF and the same aperture range as the much cheaper 70-300mm.

 

I realize that what I really need is the 200-400mm VR. But that lens is completely out of the question due to price. As are the 300mm 2.8 VR and the 400mm 2.8. Only the 300mm F4 is a viable option here I'd gain AFS and a bit better aperture to loose VR and zoom.

 

Decisions Decisions....

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I am not Luiz, but I play him... never mind! :wub:

 

I shoot both the 70-200 f2.8 VR and the 200-400 f4 VR.

 

OK, you already said the 200-400 was out, so I won't bother telling you how freakin' amazing it is...

 

The 70-200 is a remarkable piece of glass. If it is too short for you, it works so well with the 2x T/C as to still be called "amazing". Surprisingly, the autofocus and the VR still work great, and it is still sharp as a tack!

 

The first image attached is a shot at the 200mm end of the lens, taken last week at Lovers Point in Monterey. In studying the shot I think focus on the face was a bit soft, but that could be my eyes... The hands and water around him are REALLY sharp.

 

The second shot is a 100% crop of the face. Pretty sure he just saw the rock he is heading towards... :P

 

I am not sure if jpegs on the web are a good way to show off this lens, but these are incredibly sharp on the screen as well as when printed at 11x17. YMMV, but I think this lens ROCKS!

 

 

BTW, killer shots Luiz!!

post-1411-1168986405_thumb.jpg

post-1411-1168986433_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the comments everyone!

 

I agree with Richard, if its within your budget and if you need a fast (and by that I mean f2.8) lens, the 70-200 with a TC is the way to go. On the other hand, if you don't have the money and need the lens soon, you will not be disappointed with the 70-300 VR, apparently it is a lot better than the version you have. VR works great and the focus is very fast (on my D2x, but since it is AFS I expect it would be fast in any camera).

 

Justin, I had this idea too, but a friend of mine told me that a few months ago a photographer drowned at Pipeline :P ! Anyways, you have to have a press pass to get in the water with the surfers...

 

Luiz

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Thanks for the comments everyone!

 

Justin, I had this idea too, but a friend of mine told me that a few months ago a photographer drowned at Pipeline :wub: ! Anyways, you have to have a press pass to get in the water with the surfers...

 

Luiz

 

Thanks for posting Luiz! Very impressive pics.

 

Yup is sure is different than when I used to live right there on the North Shore....., let's see, 1977, no body boarding championships that I can recall....., just a couple of surf contests and very few cameras!! But the waves were the same!

 

Brings back memories..... - Wow press passes to get in the water now with the boarders - who would have thought? And no one had ever even heard of using jet skis then........ :P

 

Nice lens and pics,

 

Carol B)

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Very nice pics.

 

As a former D2X shooter, I thought the camera had a tendency to lose higlights. Bright white break water would be a great test of this. Have you had many times where blown highlights were an issue?

 

I now have a D200 and am trying to talk myself back into a D2Xs as I miss the focussing abilites. I am looking for input from folks who appear to shoot a lot of subjects with bright areas in the frame and see if overexposure is much of a problem.

 

Thanks.

 

Greg

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Howdy,

 

I love the 70-200 2.8, and can get good sharpness even with a TC2 (at least better than I can get with a 1.4 + a crop when I need the length!). However, f5.6 is only fast enough if the light is bright; I have trouble focusing (even manual) sometimes, as in the attached shot (note, wide open, jacked to ISO800, and at only 1/100s at 400mm -- VR works!).

 

 

Chris in Red Stick

picture-38.jpg

70-200 wit TC20II. Hawk with llizard or snake. Near Carate, on the Osa Peninsula. See webpage for EXIF.

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As a former D2X shooter, I thought the camera had a tendency to lose higlights. Bright white break water would be a great test of this. Have you had many times where blown highlights were an issue?

 

I now have a D200 and am trying to talk myself back into a D2Xs as I miss the focussing abilites. I am looking for input from folks who appear to shoot a lot of subjects with bright areas in the frame and see if overexposure is much of a problem.

 

Greg, I am not sure how to answer this except by example. Did you feel that the highlights in the surf shot I posted above were blown out? I am sure I pushed the histogram to the limit as I wouldn't want any detail in the foaming edge of the wave, and the reflections on the wetsuit are just reflections of the sun.

 

How about another example. This shot had the setting sun directly behind the model, as I was looking for a very bright halo effect, I exposed for the bright background and use a strobe for balance. Doesn't the sun burst still seem to have enough detail to be a bit yellow/gold? I personally don't consider this blown out.

 

Does this help any?

 

BTW, I looked at the D200 long and hard before I got the D2Xs, and to date am still quite pleased with the decision. I also always felt the AF on the Xs was superior my yards to the D200. IMHO.

post-1411-1170201478_thumb.jpg

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Greg, I am not sure how to answer this except by example. Did you feel that the highlights in the surf shot I posted above were blown out? I am sure I pushed the histogram to the limit as I wouldn't want any detail in the foaming edge of the wave, and the reflections on the wetsuit are just reflections of the sun.

 

How about another example. This shot had the setting sun directly behind the model, as I was looking for a very bright halo effect, I exposed for the bright background and use a strobe for balance. Doesn't the sun burst still seem to have enough detail to be a bit yellow/gold? I personally don't consider this blown out.

 

Does this help any?

 

BTW, I looked at the D200 long and hard before I got the D2Xs, and to date am still quite pleased with the decision. I also always felt the AF on the Xs was superior my yards to the D200. IMHO.

 

Richard,

 

The two thumbnails and associated pics in your post look just fine with regard to exposure. Luiz's shot #5 with the breakwater (or whatever it is called) overexposed is more in line with my experiences. To get that water exposed properly would take a at least half a stop of exposure compensation, if not more, to keep the highlights in check. Then the rest of the image would be darker and some curves work would be needed to bring that out.

 

That about summed up my year and a half with the D2X. Highlights were easily lost, at least for me, and so far I have noticed a good improvement with the D200. Of course the focus abilities are not on par with the X so that has gotten me thinking about moving back again. I guess I am hoping the lost higlight issue for me was user error and not camera related. But another person pointed out the dynamic range test at dpreview.com where it appears to lose highlights a bit easier than other camera bodies so maybe it is a D2X characteristic. Having to decrease exposure and then bring it back out in Photoshop is certainly doable, but I am not sure I want to do that again.

 

So the intent of my post was to see if surf photographers, such as yourself and Luiz, who use the D2X, had issues with the bright water blowing out on any kind of regular basis. I have examples to post but they are of aircraft and wildlife so I don't want to get off topic here, especially as newbie who is already sounding critical of the photogs here. :) I am realy just trying to size up another D2X(s) and an looking for input from folks who shoot scenes that certainly would have given me trouble with my previous X.

 

But when exposed properly, those X-Files were absolutely gorgeous!!

 

Greg

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