Wednesday, 14 November 2012

DIY telephoto

Supertelephoto on your smart-phone

I was recently thinking about upgrading some of my lenses. This made me think about what I photograph the most. 

Looking through the images that I've been making for the last year or two led me to one conclusion: I don't really need anything long. My most used lens seems to be the excellent 17 - 40 F4L zoom from Canon. After that, it's the 28 - 135 IS zoom which rarely gets used beyond about 70mm.

My last lens acquisition was the Canon EF 50mm f1.4. I absolutely love this piece of glass. It's small, fast and very sharp. It's now my de facto "carry around" lens. Ideal for everything from portraits* to copy work.

In my cupboard I have a 300 mm f4L and the 70 - 200mm f4L. I cannot remember the last time I used the 300mm. The 70 - 200 last came into service at the Streetparade in Zürich in 2011*

Also on my "least used" list is my 24mm f2.8 and my Russian Zenitar 16mm Fisheye which last saw service in 2010*.

I think that the reason I don't use these last two lenses is that A: I only rarely need a fisheye effect and B: The 24 mm focal length is covered by my 17 - 40.

There have been the (very) rare occasions when I've been out and wanted to photograph something in the distance. When this situation occurs I normally have either my Canon G9 or my Samsung Galaxy phone nearby. The Canon is OK as long as I don't use the digital zoom (which I've permanently disabled)

So what can you do if you are out and about with only a pair of binoculars and your (camera enabled) smart-phone and you need to take a telephoto image?

I was looking at the accessories on sale for mobile phones last week and noticed a telephoto attachment available. I wondered what would happen if I tried to shoot through binoculars?

I dug out of my closet, an old pair of 10 x 25 binoculars and made my way to the kitchen. The view from said kitchen is ideal for testing lenses as there is lots to point your optics at.

Using just the standard setting on my Samsung Galaxy III I pointed it at a farmhouse where I knew that there was a Ronald MacDonald statue.

Hardly visible on this shot 
but the  clown is more or less 
in the centre of the image

Then I used the digital zoom to take another picture.

He's just coming into view 

I then reverted back to standard mode for the lens and held the lens against the eye piece of the binoculars and got this shot.

As you can see there is a lot of vignetting but this was due solely to the fact that it's damn near impossible to hold a camera together with a pair of heavy binoculars and press the shutter at the same time. I'd recommend a tripod or some sort of stabilising device.

The handymen amongst you may be able to come up with some sort of bracket that aligns perfectly.

Here's another example of the binocular effect that I took in Basel.

Normal field of view

Shot through binoculars

Of course if money is no object and you really need a telephoto, I can recommend this little beauty.

Canon 800mm f5.6 Fr 17.600

Not expensive / powerful enough? Well how about this? It is a 5200mm f14 lens in Canon fit. It has a lenscap the size of a dustbin lid and was sold on Ebay for $55000. It weighs in at 220lbs (99kg)

You can read more about it here

* As seen here

Thanks for reading

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