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10-14-2013, 08:50 PM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sagitta Quote
I'd highly suggest a monopod to give that added bit of stability.

Since what you need is something cheap and long, maybe you could look into a mirror lens of some sort and a second body to use it on.

Use the mirror lens on body A, and your zoom on Body B. When you want to shoot far, use the mirror, and when closer use the zoom.

Mirror lenses tend to be cheap, and if you use it mainly wide open you shouldn't have to worry about the donut bokeh too much (I think... never owned a mirror so trying to dredge up secondhand knowledge here). You can pick up a second used body for around $200 - $300 or so, so combined you would have your body and a lens for around $500 or less.
The donuts are caused by the mirror design, which also means they are all fixed aperture lenses, i.e. always wide open. The donuts become less obvious or invisible with a lot of background separation, but that probably won't work here.

10-15-2013, 11:17 AM   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by Elisha Quote
So, I have a K-r, and I primarily use the 55-300 kit lens (f/4-f/5.6), and a 50mm f/1.7. My most frequent photoshoots are horses, so obviously I use the kit since they tend be rather far away. I rely on autofocus (continuous) a lot, what with them zooming around on the other side of the pasture. Unfortunately, at f/5.6, a lot of the shots just come out kind of... mehhh (IMO) due to the depth of field, especially if the background is uglyish. I have seen a lot of people who have horses+money yet no photographic knowledge or skill drop $1200 on a long, shallow lens and get shots with much much nicer bokeh than mine and it is sooo frustrating. I can fake it in photoshop, but it is VERY time-intensive to make it look authentic! Are there any lenses with at LEAST more zoom than my 50mm - even prime, at 135 or 200 or something - that have AF and stop up to f/2.8 or so that could produce nice bokeh on shots of horses from far away, or does everyone with shots like that have a 400mm+ lens? :| I'm getting paid now and would like to produce the best quality I can...

examples from most recent shoot - flickr may oversharpen them a bit, please excuse.

portraits/zoomed in, cool.

zoomed out, not cool. there is fence all over the pasture (all over most pastures) and a less-busy background is typically not an option :| I know people whose lenses would blur everything behind the fence :'(

even shots like this one would be, IMO, just..... more effective with even a slightly shallower DOF

QUICK sloppy photoshop job (lens blur filter + layer mask)....... see what I mean :| The girl+horse just pop a little better and the highlights in the background aren't so sharp and distracting.

I'm a broke college student so I'd have to save up. I'd have to save up for even a cheap, used, beat-up lens haha. :| Those $600+ lenses are shining and golden and sadly out of reach. Am I stuck with photoshop for now???
I think it's good that you want to pursue photography of a subject area that you are passionate about. That is a good step toward success.

In terms of your lens question, I think it is unlikely that you will find a fast AF lens with adequate wide open performance that is also cheap. I suggest you look for workarounds. Speaking of which, I did a quick Web search on the term "equestrian photography forum". One of the first hits was this site: You might be able to get some good advice there.

Based on general experience, I think you should explore options other than shooting with a fast lens wide open. A lot of fast zooms are much better closed down a stop or so. I would look into issues such as planning shoots, including scouting locations with relatively clean backgrounds and lighting in mind, and obtaining permission to work in optimal locations. (One example would be to find a location where your subject is going to be in sunlight while the background is shaded.)

And you don't need to wait for events to figure some things out. You can simulate situations using any subject that is similar in size to a horse, and experiment with working distances, apertures and focal lengths to see what really works. To me it's as much about preparation and planning as it is about specific pieces of gear.

One small tip- a monopod used with a camera that has image stabilisation can be very useful, and is much lighter and faster to work with than a tripod.

Good luck!

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