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Good general purpose on-snow SLR lens?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
What do you typically shoot with?  I am pretty unfamiliar with what works best for on-snow shooting. Ideally, the lens would be relatively light, have a useful zoom range, and good glass.  I am actually undecided on a digital SLR body (was probably going to go with Nikon, as I have an old FM2n and N90 body, and several MF lenses) but my brother thinks that Canon glass is cheaper and I can get a DSLR body a bit cheaper (probably 50d).  

I am thinking that a good quality 28-105 lens would be the way to go.  Would that work for general on-snow shooting? Either that, or the 35-105 that Nikon makes.  There are also f/2.8 versions from Tamron, but I am concerned that they would be a bit large for skiing with. I was thinking more along the lines of the "consumer" Nikon f/3.5-4.5, or the f/4 Canon L IS 28-105 lens.

Would I also need to carry around a bigger Canon 70-200 f/4 (or 80-200 f/2.8 in Nikon's case) for some shots? I have had the Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 D IF-ED lens, and while it was great for shooting action sports, I wouldn't want to ski around with what amounts to a quart-sized Thermos. Seems like an advantage for the Canon lens here, since it is still sharp and a lot less expensive.

What on-snow shooting tips have you generated over the years?  The only one I specifically know of is adjusting for f-stop.  
post #2 of 23
Not sure if you saw my "where are the sales" thread, so I'll mention it here again.  If you're thinking of going Canon, and want to save a few bucks on a body, consider the 40D.  Because the 7D was just introduced a bunch of people are selling their 40Ds and upgrading.  As such, there are many nice 40Ds up for sale on Ebay right now.  I just bought a virtually new one there for $650.  Many people like the 40D better than the 50D.  Would save you a few bucks to put into good glass.  Just something for you to consider before pulling the trigger. 
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

yeah, I came to that conclusion too last night.  40d is a better value, and will shoot the same pictures as the 50d.  I can put that $350 into glass. Any ideas though on the lens?  I am thinking 24-105, but it is pricey.  All of the other lenses I am looking at are f/2.8 and probably a bit heavy to carry around skiing though. Any other options out there?

post #4 of 23
I opted for a for a 70-200 F4 IS.  Fantastic lens, so sharp.  I went for 4.0 instead of the 2.8 for the sake of portability,,, it's half the weight.  I do sacrifice some shutter speed, of course, but so far it hasn't been a problem.  Add a bit of ISO if necessary.  I wouldn't want any less reach than 200.  Sometimes I'd actually like a bit more.   Even the 70-200 F4 is a load to carry around, but to me it's worth the burden.  A camera like this is for going to the mountain to shoot, not to ski.  They make nice pocket cameras for that. 

For comparison, the 24-105 is 23.5 oz.  The 70-200 is 26 oz, and less than an inch longer.  Size very little difference.  Same f4, and same price.  My feeling is the extra 100 of length makes the 70-200 the better pick for a ski lens. 

FYO, if you're thinking of going for the 70-200 2.8 IS, be aware that a new version is coming out this winter supposidly.  Same for the 100-400, which I'll be getting (either the new or old version) once I see the reviews on the new one, and what they do with the prices of the 2 versions. 

I'm interested to hear feedback from others as to what lenses they use.   
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
So, if you are using an APS-C body, aren't you getting like 112mm-320mm range when compared to 35mm film?  Or, is that a real 70-200 on a full-frame body?  I guess that you can shoot skiers from a distance, so it makes sense: hard to get close to skiers without them going right past you. 

I will look into the 70/200 f/4.  Everyone says it is a great lens. I can always buy one used and sell it for what I paid if it doesn't work out.  A good combo without breaking the bank might be that lens combined with a Tamron 28-70 f/2.8 for a walk-around lens (it would be sweet to get a 10-22 Canon to have a full range, but that isn't going to happen for some time). 
post #6 of 23
dawg, you're right - on an APS-C the 70-200 is more like a 112-320. The 24-105 is an excellent lens. When it's retracted it's about half the length of the 70-200 and when extended it's still 65mm shorter (sorry Rick, not sure where you got the 1" figure from)

If you're wanting the lens as a general-purpose one, then the 24-105 is the one to go for - it will serve you well for landscapes through to action. If it's mainly to capture stills of skiers, then the 70-200 would serve you better.

As well as the Canon 10-22, Sigma do a very nice 12-24, but it's a bit of a price hike.

...of course, with both the 24-105 and 70-200, because they are f4 lenses, you can attach a 1.4x converter onto them for when you need a bit of extra reach.
post #7 of 23

http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/74784/good-lens-glass-for-skiing


And see here for real-life comparisons on focal lengths:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/psj_picdump/sets/72157609062759587/

(so, if you want to take photos of geese on a bank, get a long lens. If you want to see that the bank is on an island in a lake, get a wide lens. If you want something in-between, then get the lens that covers the range you'll shoot most, but in general, it's better to have too wide a lens (you can crop the image down) than too long. The only solution if your lens is too long is to take two photos and stitch them together.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat View Post

dawg, you're right - on an APS-C the 70-200 is more like a 112-320. The 24-105 is an excellent lens. When it's retracted it's about half the length of the 70-200 and when extended it's still 65mm shorter (sorry Rick, not sure where you got the 1" figure from)

 


Thanks for the correction, Fox.  It's actually 4.2" (24-105) vs 6.8" (70-200 f4 is).  In saying it's about half the length I suspect you're talking about the 70-200 f2.8.  It's longer than the f4. 
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help.  I found a great deal on a near-new 50d today (only $100 more than what 40d's are going for, and I figure they will hold their resale value a bit better if I decide to sell it for some reason). Anyways, instead, of the 24-105 f/4 that I was originally thinking; what about this:
1) 17-50 Tamron f/2.8 (well respected lens, probably $350-400)

2) 70-200 f/4 Canon (as Rick suggested).

The cost of both of these lenses is around the same as the 24-105 f/4 that I was considering.  It would be nice to have a 2.8 zoom and the additional range of the 70-200.  Thoughts?  I also considered the 10-22 Canon or 10-20 Sigma, but that will have to wait.  A friend who is a climbing photog has the 17-50 on her body 90% of the time; as climbing photos usually have prominent landscape features in the background.  Skiing, probably not quite as much, and the subject is moving a bit faster. 

This would cover pretty much any focal range, and I will probably pick up a 35 or 50mm prime as well, since they are cheap.  I had a 50mm f/1.4 on my Nikon and it was a great lens.

What filters should I be looking at for lenses of this quality?  I will probably go up and shoot for an hour or 2, then drop off the camera at the car: I won't be skiing day in and day out with the camera.

Completely different question: how do you carry a decent sized body and lens on you when skiing?

post #10 of 23

From one who just likes to play around with cameras and lens when I can... (definitely far from being a pro)

I think carrying a full/large body SLR while skiing is hard unless snapping pics is your only reason to be there. Carrying an extra lens (esply a telezoom) is even harder. I think one good range mid-size lens (say 28-200) with VR/IS would work the best. It's still bulky but it's somewhat manageable. Since you're outside, the lens does not have to be too fast, so 3.5-5.6 might be adequate (at least for me it is). And, you may not even need a filter except on really bright sunny days.

Lowepro makes a series of nice bags that are of the sling variety. It works as a slingpack when you're carrying it and you can easier move/shift it to the front to access your camera. I have not used it on the slopes because I don't have one but I would think this would work well. Maybe someone else here would know. Here is the smallest model. http://products.lowepro.com/product/SlingShot-100-AW,2034,4.htm
 

BTW, there are mid-size "high" quality d-SLRs that do a really decent job for a more than novice photographer. My cousin just got one made by Panasonic. I could try finding out what it is if you're interested.

post #11 of 23
I have a Lowerpro 100AW and it is pretty handy and convenient. You can only squeeze a small to medium sized body in there though and maybe an extra lens but not a telephoto mounted. It's not too big and has a hip strap to stay in place while you ski down the mountain, it's relatively compact and carries an extra lens or snack if you want. The bigger 200AW gives you a few more options for storage but the way you can just sling it over and use it as a stabilizer for your arms is handy. Costco was carrying the 200AW last year.

I also have the Tamron that you speak of for my Pentax SLR, it's not as sharp or as heavy/sturdy as the branded 2.8/f lenses but you probably can't tell unless it's wide open which doesn't happen too much in outdoor shooting and you can't beat the price. You'll appreciate the speed of the new larger aperture gives you when you  need to freeze an action shot and when you need to up the shutter speed.

I have a Pentax K7 and am really happy with it. It's really compact for all the features you get and more than enough for a prosumer hobbyist and it's weathersealed. There's a couple downsides but as far as delivering IQ it's a great camera for the price. It's hard to go wrong with any SLR these days and I'm sure you'll be happy with whatever you end up with.
post #12 of 23

Last year I carried around a Nikon D80 with the 70-200 f/2.8 VR in a hydration pack (sans the water).  It's a fairly substantial lens, but I put some padding around the camera/lens, put it in the backpack and didn't really notice it while skiing.  The only extra effort was when I was getting on lifts.

CJ

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
I ended up getting the 200AW for only $45, and it has worked very well.  The 70-200 f/2.8 VR is a big lens!  I had the old 80-200 f/2.8 ED in college when I was shooting sports, and it was a monster.  Glad that Canon makes an f/4 version that isn't so obtrusive.
post #14 of 23
 Maybe too late to chime in, but for skiing photos there are two things that matter: AF speed and tracking, and portability and weather sealing.  I have had very good luck with the Canon 70-200f4.  I almost always find that telephoto lenses are the best for shooting skiers.  Wide angles require you to be in the action, which is usually hard.   The AF is bad news- the 50D would be barely adequate,  7D is supposedly closer to the AF system of a 1D body.  I shot skiers with the 1D, and with 20D the difference is surprisingly significant.   Portabiltiy and weather sealing is kind of self-explanatory.  If you are serious about skiing pictures I would really try to track down a used 1D body and pair it with a USM lens.  

Yeah, and the simplest most effective advice about shooting ski pictures that I had is also the dumbest: dial a +2/3 stops expose compensation, especially if you are shooting JPEGs and not RAW.
post #15 of 23
I would imagine that a circular polarizer is pretty important in sunny on snow conditions.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

 Maybe too late to chime in, but for skiing photos there are two things that matter: AF speed and tracking, and portability and weather sealing.  I have had very good luck with the Canon 70-200f4.  I almost always find that telephoto lenses are the best for shooting skiers.  Wide angles require you to be in the action, which is usually hard.   The AF is bad news- the 50D would be barely adequate,  7D is supposedly closer to the AF system of a 1D body.  I shot skiers with the 1D, and with 20D the difference is surprisingly significant.   Portabiltiy and weather sealing is kind of self-explanatory.  If you are serious about skiing pictures I would really try to track down a used 1D body and pair it with a USM lens.  

Yeah, and the simplest most effective advice about shooting ski pictures that I had is also the dumbest: dial a +2/3 stops expose compensation, especially if you are shooting JPEGs and not RAW.

 
So far, the 50d has been OK, except when the skier is up close and moving fast, then it can be a bit hard to track, depending on the AF mode.  Thanks for the exposure tip: I read that in an old 70's photography text way back when, but it is definitely good advice.  The 70/200 f/4L has fast AF capabilities when paired with the 50d, I have been happy so far. 
post #17 of 23
I tried my 80-200ED 2.8 on my D90 and it is just too heavy to be skiing around with all day plus it's my favorite lens so prefer not to break it if I do something stupid. I picked up the Nikon 18-200VR and the quality is pretty decent. What I like better on the new lens is quicker focus. For other comment's above, I'm not sure why you would not shoot raw and then Photoshop it. You don't need to use exposure bracket or as mentioned in another post, you don't need a polarizer.

I'm looking to purchase a Mountainsmith Descent AT chest pack. Not sure how that would feel though. But the bag is just strapped in right at your chest for easy access. I hate having to pull of my backpack every time I want to take a pic.
post #18 of 23
dakine makes a nice camera backpack. I have several packs but the dakine is the only one I like to ski with.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikonfme View Post
. For other comment's above, I'm not sure why you would not shoot raw and then Photoshop it. You don't need to use exposure bracket or as mentioned in another post, you don't need a polarizer.

I'm looking to purchase a Mountainsmith Descent AT chest pack. Not sure how that would feel though. But the bag is just strapped in right at your chest for easy access. I hate having to pull of my backpack every time I want to take a pic.
Be  serious- Photoshop would not remove glare asa polarizer would do; also polarizer helps with dynamic range It is also an ND filter- right?).  Photoshop can fix ana amazing number of photographic mistakes, but glare removal is not one of them.  If you shoot RAW (and you really should shoot RAW), then bracketing is unnecessary.

Backpacks- I don't like dedicatd camaera backpacks unless you actually carry a lot of stuff.  If you are pro shooter and carry two bodies, 4 lenses and a powerful flash, then you need one of the good pro backpacks.  Most small size photopacks are pure garbage that is made for retirees to carry their overprotected Rebel cameras on bus vacations.  They are too bulky, too overpadded and they bounce on your back like crazy monkeys.  Save your money and buy a decent ski touring pack and just put your camera in a lightly padded insert.  As a bonus, many ski packs have backside entries, which make total sense on snow- you just plop it face down and you can get your camera out of the back.  YMMV, but I find that if I don't have time to stop and put my backpack down, I don't really need to carry a big camera, a small P/S would really be enough.  If I carry the big lens, I take time to set up my shots.  A backpack is really the only way to carry a heavy load and still keep you balance for serious skiing.    
post #20 of 23
RAW is a crutch, just nail the exposure and your good. Especially shooting action sequences and you don't want to run up against your buffer.
post #21 of 23
 I agree with this. Raw is great for specific things, but it's far from something you HAVE TO do. I shoot sport (mostly skiing) for living and to be honest, I shot maybe 1000 frames in raw in my life. All other few 100.000s (it's probably close to million already) were all shot in jpeg, and every single client (from biggest worlds photo agencies to smallest local newspapers) was happy with it.
Then another comment... Polarizer doesn't help with dynamic range. It actually makes it even smaller (higher contrast as one of polarizers results doesn't improve dynamic range). There's also not much use of polarizer on snow... except that you lose 2 stops of light... and there's almost never too much light so.
post #22 of 23
  I'll try to be a little more constructive... Try using apperture priority modes when in doubt and experiment with different metering functions. Spot metering can sometimes yield superior results. I like to shoot wide open as well it seems to handle snow better than shutting down the app.
post #23 of 23
Just some thoughts:
1) PENTAX DA* are a great weatherproof lens group.  PENTAX has several highly rated sub-$1,000 cameras that are also weather & dust proof.  Most professionals still shoot Nikon and Cannon, but PENTAX now has great alternatives particularly if you shoot in foul weather. I always take the PENTAX when there is expected snow, rain or high wind (my Nikon is not weatherproof).

2) I only shoot RAW since converting it to JPEG is no big deal.  Occasionally, everyone gets a bad exposure or needs to Photoshop an image to get better results.  Shooting RAW is a safety net giving you tons more data to work with.  Besides, you don't have to keep RAW images once they are converted (or you aren't going to continue working on an image) so you are not using up all your memory.  Once an image is converted there really isn't much to do with it 99% or more of the time.
Edited by quant2325 - 1/16/10 at 11:23am
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