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Telephoto Lens for Sony A100

Discussion in 'Sony Chat' started by kentarran, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. kentarran

    kentarran Member

    I've recently bought a Sony A100 DSLR camera. I want to be able to take pictures of birds and wildlife which, for obvious reasons, means that I will have to be quite some distance away from the subject.

    I have little or no experience of determining the type of lens I ought to buy e.g. zoom/telephoto and F no./focal length etc. I am somewhat confused by the various types of lenses and brands that are available and, of course, the high prices of some of them.

    Any advice that you may be able to provide me with, so that I can begin to capture some wildlife pictures, would be most appreciated.

  2. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    What's your budget? A decent fast telephoto zoom is not going to be cheap...
  3. fabs

    fabs Well-Known Member

    Yes, your budget will make a big difference. If you want to photograph birds, you will need quite a long focal length.

    I have friends who do this and one of them uses digiscoping (Attaching a telescope to a camera) and another uses a Sigma 50-500mm telephoto, sometimes with a 2X teleconverter (Doubling it to 100-100mm). Neither of these options are inexpensive I'm afraid, the Sigma lens is around £700 + a couple of hundred more if you want the teleconverter. And of course you will need a decent tripod/monopod (If you haven't already got one). I'm afraid that, in this instance, the camera itself may be one of the cheapest items you buy.

    Of course, if money is no object, go mad!!! ;)
  4. kentarran

    kentarran Member

    I'd probably be prepared to go upto between £400-£500.
  5. fabs

    fabs Well-Known Member

    There is also the Sigma 170-500 which goes for around £500.
    A 2X converter is actually £164 from Warehouse Express if you can stretch to a bit more!
  6. Nod

    Nod Well-Known Member

    There's always the pre-owned option as well. Check out the ads in the back of AP.

    MXVPhotographic have a 170-500 at £375
    Mifsuds.com have the same lens at £399
  7. Gordon_McGeachie

    Gordon_McGeachie In the Stop Bath

    I will second this choice, as it is the one that I may go for to fill the gap between 400mm I have and the 500mm I would like, either that or the Minolta/Sony 500 A/F mirror
  8. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    While a long lens will be helpful it's not a substitute for good field-craft and getting close. Most birds, and a lot of wildlife in general, are not that big and if you want a frame filling shot you are still going to have to get close enough.

    This shot was taken with a cheap 500mm mirror lens on an EOS D30 (equivalent to a 800mm lens in 35mm terms). The bird filled the frame vertically at the time of taking but, despite the long focal length of the lens, this was only possible because he was no more than 10 feet away...
  9. Gordon_McGeachie

    Gordon_McGeachie In the Stop Bath

    You need to go hunting for bigger birds......... :rolleyes:
  10. ChrisBrookes

    ChrisBrookes Well-Known Member

    I agree Re fieldcraft and photographic skill, in my photo society a member with limited experience has just shelled out on a bigma 50-500 and is deeply disappointed with the results he is getting ! going to a 500mm lens straight away is too much for a beginner in my opinion. Better to cut your teeth on a cheap 75-300 f5.6 for 80-90 quid or so ! Then when you have got the best out of that , then make the decision between large aperture shorter focal length and smaller aperture longer focal length lenses !
  11. fabs

    fabs Well-Known Member

    Thinking about it, you're probably right. I used a 75-300 for a year before getting my Bigma and I'm glad I did. Using a long Telephoto does take some getting used to and the Bigma is certainly a beast that you wouldn't want to cut your teeth on!

    Not being a wildlife photographer myself, I can't comment on field craft etc... My original advice was based on a couple of friends who are, but they are very experienced.
  12. ChrisBrookes

    ChrisBrookes Well-Known Member

    If I had 400-500 pounds to spend I would buy a 70-200 f4.0 lens as its not as dear as the 2.8's but its also lighter and more easily manageable. A lot of people Seem obsessed with getting the longest Focal Length possible, but its really no good unless you can get the aperture down to get quick enough shutter speeds ! well thats my opinion anyway ! If I had not used a telephoto lens before I would stick to the 75-300 idea ! I just sold my 75-300 minolta lens for 41 quid on ebay , that buyer got a bargain I took some cracking shots with that cheap 75-300 lens boohoo again !
  13. kentarran

    kentarran Member

    Just like to thanks everyone who has given me the advice and help I was looking for. It really is appreciated. I will now wait a while and gain some experience with the kit that I have before deciding whether or not to invest in a large-ish telephoto lens.
    Thanks again,
    Ken :)
  14. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    You'll probably need quite a long telephoto lens, say 500mm, have a look at this one. Do check around for the best price though.
  15. Gordon_McGeachie

    Gordon_McGeachie In the Stop Bath

    If you dont mind a `limitation` you could always get the Sony 500 A/f mirror for around £575
  16. DaveG40

    DaveG40 Well-Known Member

    Telephoto choice can be a headache, one which can be a "very" expensive headache.

    Apart from the Sony 75-300mm telephoto lens most Sony lenses are expensive, and the "reviews" for this cheap lens ain't great.

    Because of the lens mount you can buy a lot of decent used Minolta lenses, e.g beercan & big beercan etc, although heavy these are very popular lenses and you should be able to get one on ebay for less than £100.

    3rd Party companies (Sigma, Tokina & Tamron etc) seem to be supporting the Alpha a lot more, and if your looking for a short zoom to supplement the kit lens the Tamron 55-200 is a gem.

    Taking shots of birds is a tough one especially if you use a 55-200 or 70-300 lens. A longer reaching lens (500mm) is obviously a lot better, however if you are on a tight budget there are alternatives;

    Having used a telecon with my H2 I know how useful they can be, I found that having a telecon that can easily and quickly be mounted and thereby doubling your focal is both cheaper and more flexible than having one very big lens, e.g 75-300 + x2 telecon = 150-600 (35mm), as opposed to a 500mm Reflex, the only down side i know of is a lower aperture speed.

    The other option is one I've just taken up, plant your camera onto a tripod near to a usual bird landing spot & use a remote, my wireless remote cost £18 on ebay, so that's £80 for the 55-200 lens + £18 for the remote = less than £100, cost of a 500mm lens ?.

    Of course that's ideal if your taking shots in your garden etc but not on a walkabout, it does however present you with a few ideas.

    Having a big lens is'nt the be all and end all, i found that having 734mm at my disposal (H2 with telecon fitted)was excessive for most use, if you're not going out to shoot birds all the time you might find a big lens a wasted expense.

    Click Here for "user" reviews.

    Good Luck
  17. Dorset_Mike

    Dorset_Mike Grumpy Old Fart

    Last two went a fair bit over the hundred :(

    I'd agree on the Tamron 55-200 being good, I've used mine for some of the less wary birds like gulls and robins but you do need a bit more length for most birds.

    I also have a Tokina 80-400 which I got second hand, great for cricket shots, (they don't do a Sony/Minolta version now) and I recently got a s/h Sigma 600mm mirror but not had much chance to use it yet. Neither are perfect for bird shots but until I win the Lottery they'll have to do.
  18. DaveG40

    DaveG40 Well-Known Member

    They were under a £100 before the A700 came out, the new Camera's probably pushed prices up :(

    I'm glad i got my 50mm F/1.7 (<£50)when i did, i'd hate to think how much they're going for now. Is'nt increased popularity / demand supposed to lower prices :D

    Sadly unless the OP is loaded or inventive (remote wired on a tripod etc), it's gonna cost a lot to produce the kind of photo i think he's after, he'd also have to budget for a decent tripod if using a big lens.

    It certainly ain't cheap.
  19. Steve52

    Steve52 Well-Known Member

    Have a look at microglobe They seem to be one of the cheapest for Sony/Minolta lens.

    I picked my Sigma 170-500 for £280 + pp off of e-bay. There are usually quite a few reasonably priced Minolta/Sony lens on there, some you can buy from abroad at a reasonable price, just check that with the postage, it's still cheaper than UK.
  20. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

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