Maximum tele length you can shoot handheld?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by RPS, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. RPS

    RPS Guest

    What is the maximum telephoto length you would be comfortable shooting
    handheld, with IS as well as steadying your arm with elbow on a railing
    etc, but no tripod? Thanks.
    RPS, Aug 13, 2007
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  2. RPS

    Bob Williams Guest

    Depends on the amount of light available as well as the f-stop and
    shutter speed needed for proper exposure.
    My Panasonic FZ15 has a Tele FL of 432mm (equivalent) and an aperture of
    2.8 at full Tele.!!!
    On a sunny day, with proper shooting technique (steadying my shoulder
    against a tree, suspending breathing while tripping the shutter,
    etc.),and using IS, I am comfortable shooting at 1/100 second.
    Usually, the AUTO setting selects f=2.8 and lets me shoot at a faster
    speed than that.
    But in lower light conditions I'm good to go with a minimum speed of
    1/100 sec. with a 432 mm FL.
    Bob Williams
    Bob Williams, Aug 13, 2007
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  3. 432mm

    David J Taylor, Aug 13, 2007
  4. RPS

    Jonathan Guest

    That would greatly depend on the lens. I see some great shots at the end of
    a 50-500mm without any image stabilization but I can't do it so it would
    also depend on how well you can hold your hands. You should be looking and
    asking on some of the binary groups. The birdwatching groups are always
    using the big guns.

    Jonathan, Aug 13, 2007
  5. With no IS, no support, ~350mm (35mm equivalents)
    With no IS, bracing on a steady object, ~350-750mm
    With IS, no support, ~500mm up to 1-second shutter speed.
    With IS, with support, >500mm

    I doubt you will find that being anywhere near the norm for the vast majority of
    people that hold a long-FL-lens equipped camera.

    I should put up a web-page on the art and techniques that I invented over the
    years of successful handheld photography. By using my own methods I found that I
    can do tack-sharp handheld shots, no support, with an IS equipped camera, a
    432mm (eq.) focal-length lens, at full 1 second exposures.

    But then if you all could do what I can do I'd have too much competition in the
    variety and quality of photos I can get. It's bad enough that the last person
    under my guidance started getting a few rare shots nicer than my own, resulting
    in an inner conflict of pride and envy for them.
    D. Farmington, Aug 13, 2007
  6. I have occasionally managed to do a handheld 400mm shot, but there are other
    days (and subjects) that have noticable camera shake blur much lower than
    that. So I would say that the upper limit will depend on the photographer,
    the subject, the lighting conditions and what kinds of "supplemental
    stabilization" (IS and/or steadying object) are available.

    The rule of thumb I have heard is that the shutter speed needs to be 1 over
    the FL of the lens or faster for a fully hand held shot. Depending on the
    stability of your hands and the type of supplemental support you may be able
    to halve the shutter speed, but not much more than that. If conditions won't
    allow you to get to that target shutter speed, you may be out of luck. Of
    course you will have to experiment for yourself to see how your personal
    shooting style and "stability of hands" will effect the target speed.


    Randy Berbaum
    Champaign, IL
    Randy Berbaum, Aug 13, 2007
  7. RPS

    ASAAR Guest

    Impressive, and of course you could only do it using a P&S, as
    you've never managed to take a picture you liked using a DSLR.

    No need to protect the guilty. We know by now that you can only
    be speaking of Baumbadier, the cur. And to think, despite winning
    all of those photo awards that you've found so elusive, he has never
    given you any credit. You and your compatriots shouldn't stand for
    this. You should turn on your abuser, but of course you won't since
    everyone knows that sock puppets lack spines. And now the latest :
    ASAAR, Aug 13, 2007
  8. RPS

    Allan D. Guest

    Poor jealous Assaar, he can't be greatness, he can only stick like shit on the
    shoe of greatness. It's all he has in life.
    Allan D., Aug 13, 2007
  9. RPS

    tomm42 Guest

    Depends on you, your technique and your steadyness. I find it easier
    to hand hold with a heavier cameras and one I can get my left hand
    under the lens. Have a bad time with my Nikon 995 at 150mm, but can
    easily hold a 70-210 at 210 on my D200. This also depends on the
    weight of the lens, ie the 300 f4 Nikor is considered a handholdable
    lens, the 300 f2.8, a much heavier lens is generally put on a tripod.
    Hand holdability varies a lot from person to person.

    tomm42, Aug 13, 2007
  10. RPS

    Ray Paseur Guest

    RPS: I agree with David. I have the Canon S3 IS, and in good daylight, I
    can shoot handheld at the long end of the zoom.

    Also, I disagree with David. In less light, with a bigger camera, in the
    wind, etc... You see the issue, I'm sure. ~Ray
    Ray Paseur, Aug 13, 2007
  11. One quick rule of thumb is about the reciprocal of the exposure time.
    Now, I find this optimistic- I'd really recommend about half that.
    But as the rule of thumb goes, if you can shoot at 1:500 second you
    can hand-hold out to 500 mm. As I say, I'd really recommend 250

    As the allowable exposure time increases, you need to reduce the focal
    length accordingly.

    This value was for 35mm film, so the focal length used is the "35mm
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota, Aug 13, 2007
  12. Well, I only answered the "shooting handheld, with IS" part! Of course,
    you can find circumstances where more support is needed, and my reply was
    based on my experience with small-sensor cameras such as the Panasonic FZ5
    and FZ20. I'm sure they are very similar to the Canon. But I have used
    this class of cameras in the wind, on ships etc., and had good results -
    usually outdoors, though. You get about three stops gain, so handholding
    a 432mm telephoto at 1/50s is possible. I don't go for heavy cameras or
    lenses, so I can't comment on anything bigger.

    I cannot claim "1 second" exposures.

    David J Taylor, Aug 13, 2007
  13. RPS

    irwell Guest

    Do these rules also apply to close up shots?
    irwell, Aug 13, 2007
  14. RPS

    ray Guest

    My Kodak P850 has a max of about 420mm equiv. It has IS, and I've shot
    several times without tripod - no complaints.
    ray, Aug 13, 2007
  15. RPS

    LesterGrant Guest

    No. Macro-photograph is in a handheld photography class of its own. There are no
    simple guidelines to follow on what shutter speed will quell any shake or
    motion, too many variables in focal-lengths + close-up lenses, working distances
    and magnification factors. Not only do you have to be aware of camera shake but
    also your distance from the subject. When working at very high magnifications
    the DOF can be so shallow that just a millimeter or two of motion toward or away
    from the subject will blur your primary point of interest (depending of course
    on your equipment and its apparent DOF for a given exposure and lens

    I'd say that doing good handheld macro-photography requires even more
    steadfastness and talent than just taking long distance subjects with long f.l.
    lenses. It's much more challenging. Any problems that you have doing handheld
    photography with long f.l. lenses will only be amplified ten-fold or more when
    you tackle macro subjects.

    Not only do you have to be aware of your own motion but that of the subject.
    Even a slight breeze on your subject's perch can turn your photo into mush.
    Often the light hitting the subject might be coming through a treetop canopy or
    other vegetation where your available light source may vary up to five f-stops
    or more in a matter of one second as that distant dappled light-filter shifts
    wildly, yet it's only a light breeze causing it. You have to be quick on top of
    all else. Many will compensate for these seemingly insurmountable difficulties
    in photographer vs. subject motion vs. light source by always using flash to
    halt the motion of everything, which only ruins the natural look of their
    subject and turns any background into an unnatural night. Managing to do
    macro-photography right is an art and exceptional skill in and of itself. Few
    manage to master it, and those that do will tell you that they still haven't
    mastered it. It will always be a challenge.
    LesterGrant, Aug 13, 2007
  16. RPS

    Bob Williams Guest

    Bob Williams, Aug 13, 2007
  17. As others have said, it depends on light level.
    Also, as focal length goes up and/or exposure time
    lengthens, the percentage of sharp images decreases.
    So try multiple images when pushing limits.

    Some examples:

    1120 mm focal length (35mm equivalent) 1/3000 sec, IS:

    650 mm focal length (35mm equivalent), 1/1600 sec, IS, very sharp:

    On a support, but 1/10 sec at 1300 mm equivalent, IS;
    support moving from a vehicle:

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Aug 14, 2007
  18. RPS

    Pete D Guest

    Pete D, Aug 14, 2007
  19. RPS

    Pete D Guest

    Pete D, Aug 14, 2007
  20. I have a better rule for macro photography. Never shoot handheld.

    The problem is not so much an ANGULAR tilting of the camera, but a
    fore and aft motion. The depth of field is so small that subject to
    lens distance is VERY critical. You cannot even check it carefully
    without a tripod, let alone make the shot. The best focus must be
    placed about 1/3 of the way back from the front of the object you are
    shooting. Autofocus is inadequate. It is extremely hard to do the
    manual focus without the camera on a tripod.
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota, Aug 14, 2007
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