On Liking Long Lenses

Way back in 1977, when I bought my first “good” 35mm camera, I mae sure that I bought a 3 lens kit which included a 135mm telephoto lens. Even back then I vaguely know that, at least in my mind, longer is better!

It wasn’t long after that camera kit purchase that I found myself in a Sears at the mall across the street from Daytona International Speedway buying a 2x teleconverter to push my maximum length up to 270mm. And soon after that I was anxiously awaiting the delivery of my catalog-ordered Spiratone 400mm super-telephoto pre-set lens (remember those all you old-timers out there?).

Still, that wasn’t long enough. Through the years I delighted in attaching Canon’s 2x extenders to their 500 and 600mm telephoto lenses. And, of course, the D-series Canon EOS digital camera bodies haven’t hurt with their 1.6x magnification factor. I was also equally thrilled to discover that the Canon 7D and D60 bodies come with a “640 crop” video mode which delivers a low -res video at about 7x the lens’s focal length (see my video of the moon shot in this mode below)

Moon over Florida with the Canon 60D from Brian Cleary on Vimeo.

So what is that has drawn me to these longer and longer lenses overt he course of my career?

1) They get you up close to things that your not supposed be up close to (see the Space Shuttle launch above)

2) They reveal details of subjects that are too far away to other wise be seen (as in my moon video)

3) I’ve always LOVED the way the make setting and rising suns and moons become huger than life! (egret photo below)

4) In sports photography you can shoot unobtrusive candids without walking right up to your subject and sticking a camera in his face (NASCAR driver Brian Vickers, below)

5) I love the way that distance is compressed and subjects are “mashed together” when employing a super-long lens! (Motorcycles, below)

6) When the action is too far away, it brings it right up to your fingertips. (another motorcycle pic, below)

In short, I guess the telephoto lens really suits my style, being a basically shy person, I can shoot with a longer lens while employing a “fly on the wall” technique to get close to my subjects without getting “too close”, if that makes any sense. I really love my long lenses.

On the other hand, come back soon to find out why I couldn’t live without the wide lenses in my camera bag either!


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www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.