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Telephoto for Rally Car

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davidfung

Hi all. Just looking at purchasing some sort of telephoto lens (100mm+) for use in taking at the WRC Rally car racing. There is &le chance to get very close to the cars, as well as seeing the cars slow down considerably (around corners). In addition, there are some fairly fast straights. I am looking for a telephoto (or several) that will serve this purpose. I know that it aint' autofocus and that is more important, but let's assume that I prefocus.

I have looked around, the 135 f/2.8 seems to be a good choice. But what to mate to it? A 180 f/2.8, 200 f/4 or 300 f/4. The f/4 are obviously slower, and may require faster film and/or slower shutter speeeds. But the 180 f/2.8 *seem* to be less sharp at the edges then the other Tele-Tessars, where the sharpness seems to be more constant. (This is reading the MTF, where the 200 and 300 are flatterm and 180 more curved). Can anyone comment on such lenses? Is the 200 better than the 300 optically? I would love to get the 200/2 or 300/2.8, but have not rich enough. I have considered a Can+n system, just for this purpose. That is, telephotos in the 200mm plus. Any comments much appreciated. Thanks!
 

jeff

Active Member
Hi, Primes are fine but the weight adds up and it takes time to switch back and forth. Factor in that, with the proven quality of the Zeiss zooms, and I'd suggest one of the Vario-Sonnars. I have the VS100-300 and it's brilliant, but only f4.5-5.6. You might look at the VS80-200 f4. I understand it's quite good, and appears to be a great deal when bought used. If f4 isn't fast enough consider the Tamron 70-210 f3,5 constant aperture I have one and like it very much, or the Tamron 80-200 f2.8. A friend has the Tamron 80-200 f2.8 and it's performance is top notch. Just buy quality and you'll be happy. Jeff
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Agree totally with Jeff .... you might not want to muck around changing lenses.

If I could have afforded to buy the VS80-200, I would have done (Hey! anyone got one going cheap!), but I settled on a "couldn't refuse at the price" Tamron SP 80-200 f2.8. It's a big beast, but I'm very happy with it's performance, even wide-open. Great contrast and colour rendition, and nicely built.

Years ago I used to have the SP 70-210 f3.5, it was very good, but I think the 80-200/2.8 is even better. One good thing I can say about the 70-210/3.5 is that it had the best lens hood of any tele-zoom I've ever seen.

It is attached to the zoom ring, not to the filter thread or on the objective sleeve. This zoom lens has the 70 end nearest the camera body, thus the hood is "shorter" at the 70 end, and is "longer" at the 210 end. Perfect!

Having used the Tamron 80-200/2.8 for a couple of years, I'd have to admit that changing to the VS would mainly be a "loyalty" and "trust in the optics" issue rather than "I'm going to get better shots" issue!

Cheers, Bob.
 
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writing4me

I agree too. In the instances where you have to think fast or miss your shot the zooms do have an advantage. Especially if you are doing manual focus on fast action, that zoom will save you additional frustration from not having to swap lenses. Or, if you REALLY do want to use prime fixed focal length lenses, you could have two bodies working at the same time. One hanging off your shoulder while you're shooting the other makes for some pretty fast changes, rather than changing lenses on one body. Luckily, in auto racing you have a fairly predictable path for the cars and that will help you if you are non-auto-focus. Before you invest in the lenses though, you might want to consider going down to the track and seeing how much you can fill the frame with the focal lengths you have now before adding the pricier 300 etc. Post some pics when you start shooting these races- sounds like fun
-Lynn L.
 
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davidfung

Thanks for the comments everyone. Very helpful. I have considered the 80-200 f/4. There was one on at eBay that went for AU$450! I am sad that I missed that one. My concern is that issue that was also raised in the previous post about par-focal. Do I need to refocus when I change the zoom? Given that it is a one-touch zoom, and it'd be pretty hard to not change critical focus when changing focal length. What is the distortion (Siedel abberations) like at the edges for such zooms compared to the primes?

I have two bodies, and was just considering that Lynn. I was thinking of having a 135/85 on one, and a 200/300 on the other. The rally I was thinking of is in Perth, Australia but I live in Victoria, Australia (different state). Would love to have the chance to go on track. But, I hope to practice closer to home, on the freeway and on the main roads at home. Should have a similar scale to the rally tracks.

On a last note, I know that using a monopod is fairly important (I don't want to use flash), only the 200/2, 300/2.8 and 300/4 have a tripod collar. The others do not. How important is this? Considering that I may be using f/4, f/5.6 (at most) with shutters at 1/250? Again, thanks for any and all comments!
 

jeff

Active Member
>>>My concern is that issue that was also raised in the previous post about par-focal. Do I need to refocus when I change the zoom? Given that it is a one-touch zoom, and it'd be pretty hard to not change critical focus when changing focal length. What is the distortion (Siedel abberations) like at the edges for such zooms compared to the primes?<<<

Hi, In my opinion I think you shouldn't concern yourself with all the techno stuff and just shoot. I feel that you can completely complicate matters by worring about factors that are very minor, if they exist at all. The current zooms are generally excellent, and are used by nearly all the pros these days, especially motorsports shooters. I use my zooms professionally (Zeiss and Tamron) with fine results without issues. In fact, I prefer the image quality of my VS100-300 over my TT 300 f4, which I didn't like at all. I think you should shoot and enjoy what you produce. For me it's the thrill of learning, correcting mistakes and getting better. I'd rather be a great photog with a zoom than a poor one with a 200 f2. Just my opinion. Jeff
 

mkoerner

Member
Planar 135/2 plus Mutar I is also a way you could go. I remember to have seen quite nice Formula 1 shoots made with this lens combination.

Mike
 

paulcontax

Well-Known Member
Hi David,

like many have already written before, I can recommend the Tamron 3.5/70-210 and esp the 2.8/80-200.

If you want to stay with primes - and I expect that you already have the famous 2.8/135 - you never mentioned the 3.5/200. Just a half stop slower than the 2.8/180 and a little bit longer, lighter weight and very good optcally indeed !

If you will use 2 bodies you may try one of them with a zoom and the other with a prime... ?

Best wishes Paul
 

singlo

Active Member
Hi Davide,
Both 180 f2.8 Sonnar and TT 300 F4 are very close in open aperture performance. The 300 f4 is one of the most under-rated CZ lens. Well it was introduced in 1978 and very old design. However it has a very uniform field flatness and low astigmatism at wide open aperture. It is just fast enough for action stopping in car racing. I still find it a fine lens, even though I use much better and expensive Canon white lens EF 300m f2.8L. I also use the N 70-300 VS and C/Y 100-300 VS. No doubt, they have superior contrast and resolution at the image centre at f5.6 than the TT 300 f4 at f4. But these zooms also suffer higher level of astigmatism than the prime, so the edge sharpness of the TT 300 f4
can be a bit better.

The other less expensive alternative is to get a Tamron Adaptall SP 300mm f2.8 IF made with ED glasses. The old version can be found very cheap in the second hand market. The new version is more expensive. I haven't tried the Tamron 300 but other users' feedbacks have been positive.
 
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davidfung

Singlo. Thanks for your info. The second hadn 180/2.8 and 300/4 is indeed quite similar. I also like the 300/4 cause it has the tripod collar. I have heard that this is quite a heavy lens. Do you find that a problem? How about the focus travel and the amount of rotation required to focus from far to near? That is, how much twisting of the focus ring is required to say focus from 5m to 30m and vice versa? Is there much chromatic aberration and colour fringing in the 300/4 near the edges?
 

singlo

Active Member
Hi David,
The TT 300/4 weighs 1070g which is not a lot
heavier than V100-300 (weight 925g). It can be easily handheld. It takes roughly about 1 cycle of rotation for the focus ring from 3.5m to infinity. Since it is an orthodox design, the front lens barrel expands during focusing. So manual focusing speed can be a little bit slower than a lens with internal focusing.
I never see any colour fringing under 8X loupe on slides. Athough it is non-Apo design without correction for secondary spectrum, the TT 300 f4 is perfectly corrected for monochrome light, i.e. if the spectral content of the scene is mainly monochromatic, e.g. green forest or red flowers etc.., the images will appear to be exceptionally vibrant and sharp--can even outperforms Apo lenses under this special condition. In the book "Zeiss Only", Contax described this lens as one of the finest Zeiss line of lenses. Certainly they would not still keep this moderately priced lens in production for the last 25 years if it doesn't live up to Zeiss standard.
If they introduce an Apo-Teletessar 300/4, it would be beyond the reach of most users' pockets anyway.
 
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davidfung

Singlo, thanks for that comment. I am fairly confident about the 300/4. If you would be patient with me, how about the 200/4. This seems to be a similar lens, but was discontinued. Does it mean that it was not a good lens? Or simply the 180/2.8 was the replacement? Do you, or are there, any posts of images made with the 300/4. In particular, some with full res details?
 

singlo

Active Member
Hi David,
There are two versions of 200 Tele-tessar:
TT200 f4 and TT200 f3.5. TT200 f4 was introduced later and slightly smaller (weight 550g, use 55mm filter). TT200 f3.5 is quite heavy (750g, 67mm filter).

According to the MTF curves published by Zeiss (no longer available now), the TT200 f4 has good contrast and resolution (lower astigmatism than the older f3.5 brother). I think they were all made in W. Germany and very reasonably price in secondhand market.

Yeah 180mm f2.8 is a replacement for them. Sorry I don't have post of images with TT 300 f4.
 
Hi David, how are you?
I have used the VS 100-300mm for the last 3 Argentina’s WRC races. Like most of us, i have taken some great pictures and some bad ones. Lots of bad pictures are due to the absence of AF, obviously...
I use to prefocus the lens in the spot i liked the most (you have the 000, 00 and 0 cars and many security trucks to see how you would see Loeb, Saenz or Burns beasts). Then i use the Continous drive and took at least 2 pictures of each car, but the average are 3 frames. I do that to ensure that the car will be in focus in any of the frames. That also depends on how far are you from the action, the focal lenght you use and the aperture.
I use to shoot mostly in 100 to 200mm range because one of the advantages of a Rally race is that you can get really close to the cars, a big difference with F1. Sometime i used the planar 50mm too because i was too close.
Limitation? Ok, the slow aperture of the VS 100-300mm is one if the day is cloudy or rainy. I use mostly ISO 400 film, but i have used Provia 100F, rated at 100 and ISO 400 too. BTW I see that rated at 400, it gets a bit grainy. I wanted to try the Provia 400F but i couldn’t find it where i live.
My sugestion is to carry a wide variety of films, depending of the ISO, from 100 to 800 and i’m pretty sure that you will be able to handle any situation. Remember to carry some saturated slide film, because the results are stunning! And a flash is usefull if you want an special effect or if the day is too dark (eg the first stage at very early morning in a cloudy day)
The shutter speeds i use the most are between 250 and 1000, because i prefer to shoot the cars when they are turning or when they are “wading” and they do it slow enough to freeze them in the film at that shutter speed.

Well, i hope this can help you.
Best regards,
P.S: i have a photo of the Peugeot 206 of Gronholm (sp?), the old-silver one, and i have printed it to 70cm x 50cm (30”x20”) and it looks great. No distortions or problems at all, just the evident ISO 400 film limitation at that size.
I will post you some scans if a can find de CD!!
 
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davidfung

Not too bad, thanks Wallerwaker! Your comments have certainly been enlightening. It was good to get a confirmation regarding the shorter focal lengths. I think a lens in the 100-200 range, or the 80-200 would be an ideal lens for Rally car. I am hoping to go to the NZ rally in April and the Perth/Australia rally next year in November. It should be good. Off topic, for me in Melbourne, is cheaper to go to NZ rally than the Perth rally (in the same country). Go figure! Anyway. I think my choices have been limited (through you and other's comments), to 135/2.8 (which I am getting), and a 180/2.8 or 200/4 or 80~200/4. It is unfortunate that they don't make a 80~200/2.8. And before anyone suggests getting a Tamaron. [If I was going to get one, I would I just get a 80~200/2.8 IS Can0n, and get AF as well] Back to topic at hand. Given I have the 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 135/2.8, which would be the ideal fourth lens for this kind of Rally car photography. The 200/2 would be my dream, but far too expensive. Seems that a 300/4 may be a tad too narrow for Rally car. Wallewaker, do you use the 100-300 at the 300 end often? Or is it mainly the mid section or the wider end? Would a Mutar with the 85/1.4 or 135/2.8 give okay results? Would the 100/2 be a good choice? The 100-300 seems to be a good lens, but I am hesitant about the 5.6. Really, I do not want a lens slower than f/4.0 (in an ideal world, f/2.8). In Melbourne, we are also blessed to have the F1 and other motor-cycle ch&ionships, so there is plenty of opportunity here.
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
"And before anyone
suggests getting a Tamaron. [If I was going to get one, I would I just
get a 80~200/2.8 IS Can0n, and get AF as well] "

I thought someone already had suggested! And very nicely it works, too, with the AX ..... What! Autofocus from a manual focus 80-200 2.8 IF zoom lens.... Surely, I jest!!


To be fair, I haven't tried it at a Rally.... maybe I should have a go! I have tried it on Dragonflies in flight.... now there's a challenge for you!



Cheers, Bob.
 
Hi David! Nice to hear that my short experience has been helpful.
As far a you said, you are buying a 135mm 2,8 lens, so you will have in a short time a fast médium tele. As you also have the faster planars (50mm and 85mm), i think your best buy would be a zoom, and if you can afford the VS 100-300mm, even better!!! Why am i saying that? Bacause as we know one of the advantages of a WRC RACE is that you can get really close to the cars ( 5 mts. Or even closer if you have the guts) so, if the day is dark, just get closer to the point you want to photograph and use the 85mm and you will have enough speed to freeze the wheels, even in a rainny evening. But the zooms gives you a really nice versatility, so you can find a nice place (a rock, a tree, a wall or what ever) and you can frame that turn smooth and nicely. Just an advantage over fixed focal lenses.
But that is my choice, perhaps you prefer something different.
If i use the longer end of the lens??? Yes, but not always. When? I have used it a lot in long straights, having the cars coming directly to my position so i put the lens to 300mm, to blur the background and to compact the different elements of the picture. The results are very powerful photos with lots of dust in the air!
Of course i use it too when i can not reach the best spots or when i was in the park where the cars gets fixed to make nice close ups.
As i said before, i think a zoom is the best choice if you have the 50, 85 and 135mm. Another fixed lens perhaps will limit you in the field.
The last point is that i prefer to use f8 or even f11 as estándar apertures, to ensure a good DOF so i can get the whole car in focus as we are talking about prefocusing and lack of AF. Just imagine the chances to get a in focus pictures (of all the car of course) if you use the 200mm f2, at f2.
Best regards,
Alejandro
P.S: i´m hoping that in 2005 season we could have the F1 race around here again!
 
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davidfung

Mike, I believe the 135/2 is not in current production. Please correct me if I am wrong. How much would a 135/2 go for second hand? Is it hard to come by? Considering that I have the 135/2.8 would the Mutar III, resulting in 188/4, be similar to the 135 with Mutar II at 270/4.0. Obviously the difference being in focal length?

Bob, yes a few others (including yourself) did suggest it prior. But for me, if I had to get a third party lens for use with the Contax bodies [in this context], I would rather go for a different system. It was once said in this forum that Contax doesn't have many excellent performing lenses at reasonable prices beyond 135mm. Perhaps that is true, perhaps not. But, as also said in many places in this forum, Zeiss is why we use Contax. So if we can't use Zeiss with it, then it may not be too far removed to invest in another system which does do things well beyond the 135mm range. Well, I digress...
 
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davidfung

Alejandro, thanks for the insight. Why would you recommend the 100-300 over the 80-200. Is it simply for the extra 200-300mm of focal length? As a side note from the Mutar discussion, couldn't the 80-200 with Mutar III, giving 113-280/5.6 be similar to the 100-300? And having the Mutar III will also convert the 85 to 120/2, 135 to 190/4. As I understand it, the 80-200 is a newer lens then the 100-300. The 80-200 also uses the smaller 55mm filters and is lighter and smaller. Anyway, more thoughts...

Well, we'll have the F1 again in Melbourne in April... Rally in Perth, Indy Cars in Gold Coast... We get motor sports pretty good in Australia!
 
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