Surf photographers want to become close to the activeness, only it’southward frequently a long way away. The answer is a long telephoto lens. One of the nigh valid criticisms of the Sony due east-mount system is the lack of long lenses for things like surf photography.
There has been a trend over the last decade or so moving abroad from the tightly cropped close up action shot. Currently more pulled back line-upward style photos seem to be more popular which has meant I accept never bothered buying annihilation longer than 300mm.
I have shot with longer lenses a few times. I used a Canon 600mm on a surf photography workshop and I’ve adapted cheaper old lenses with 2x tele converters with some success, although manual focusing and narrow apertures severely limit the usability of a system similar that.
At present the Sony a6300 has been effectually for a while and the a6500 is available to order and I don’t feel the need to upgrade my camera body. So a few weeks ago I started to think about getting concur of a longer lens with the coin I’ve been putting aside for a new body.
I endeavour to only buy a new piece of kit if it gives me the ability to have a photo that I couldn’t have done before. Neither of the new camera bodies does that, but a long telephoto lens would.
I’grand looking at getting a focal length of over 300mm, that’s what I consider “long telephoto”. Because I haven’t had a long lens earlier I basically thoguht, the longer the better, so I can see if and when I’d apply a actually long focal length.
Long telephoto options for the Sony eastward-mount organisation
So, what are the alternatives for shooting long lens photography with a Sony eastward-mount camera similar the a6000, a6300 or a6500 or A7 series?
I’ve read every forum post, watched every YouTube video and checked out the top surf photographers suggestions and come up with this listing:
- Nikon lens with third party adaptor
- Former transmission focus lens with third party adaptor
- Mirror lenses
- Buy a superzoom camera
- Buy a different camera body and lens
- Canon EF mount lens with tertiary party adaptor
- Sony a-mount lens with Sony adaptor
- Sigma lens with Sigma adaptor
- Native east-mount lens and crop
- Sony 55-210mm lens with a 1.7x tele extender
- Sony lxx-200mm f2.8 with 2x teleconverter
I’ll give you a run down of the different options with an example of the blazon of kit I’chiliad talking about and some brief notes. I’ll showtime with the options I dismissed from the listing and the reasons why. At the end you’ll find the options I’ve tried myself and finally the 1 that I’m using myself (until at that place’southward a semi-affordable native e-mount telephoto lens available).
Nikon lens with adapter
At that place are very few decent converters for Nikon lenses which retain auto focus, Commlite offering 1 for $369 that was mixed reviews, and at that place’south a new one from Fotodiox too with some limitations. I’ve never owned whatever Nikon gear then I didn’t really pursue this option. I can get a much cheaper lens if I don’t want machine focus, and then this idea was out.
Old manual focus lens with an adapter
It can be cheap, and it can work OK, just I don’t think it’southward worth it. I’ve tried information technology out a couple of times and transmission focus is such a pain when you lot’re used to having machine focus.
No-one should practise it out of choice in my stance, spend your time practising other photographic skills, manually focusing long lenses is a waste of time. If you lot’re a pro, buy an expensive modernistic lens, if y’all’re an apprentice buy a cheap mod lens.
In my search for a long telephoto lens I encountered something a petty unusual. I’d seen mirror lenses earlier, they basically expect like mini telescopes and they apply a foreign design involving a couple of mirrors to bounce the prototype into your camera.
I can’t explain how they work merely I’ve researched enough to tell you the limitations:
- Constant aperture
- Manual focus (with some rare, expensive exceptions)
- Ring shaped bokeh (out of focus areas)
So whilst y’all tin can get an affordable Sigma 300mm mirror lens (~$400 US) for the eastward-mount arrangement, the describe backs mean I’1000 not even considering it every bit an option for surf photography, and that goes for the 500mm options that yous demand adapters for aswell.
Buy a superzoom photographic camera
Ownership something like the Sony HX400 camera is definitely a sensible option. I was really tempted to choice 1 upwardly and meet how information technology performed for this really long focal length. I nonetheless might get ane to exist honest every bit I call back it could practice a bully task for surf photography.
I wanted to rule out using my honey a6000 and a big lens before having to add another photographic camera to my handbag. Now I’ve kind of worked out that I don’t shoot from the land plenty to warrant the mega zoom lens I think this option is back on the table for sure.
The HX400 is a solid choice because it shoots decent video, has an awesome zoom range and has a fast outburst rate for stills:
- Sony HX400V/B – $498 US
Buy a different interchangeable lens photographic camera body and a telephoto lens to go with it
I considered this for a long time and looked into near options on the 2d paw marketplace.
Hither’s a quick run down of the alternatives:
- Fuji – too expensive, longest native lens (Fujinon XF 100-400mm) is 600mm equivalent but costs over $1,500 on its own.
- Samsung – NX range maximum equivalent focal length is 300mm and might take been discontinued.
- Canon mirrorless – the thou series doesn’t have a long enough focal length in the native mount and if I’m using an adapter I might equally well use i for the Sony I’ve got.
- Canon DSLR – An option, but pretty big and beefy, and to get a DSLR that gets anywhere near the performance of the a6000 I’d demand to spend loads of money.
- Nikon mirrorless – sensor is quite a lot smaller than aps-c, the lxx-300mm lens gets really good reviews, comes in a bit over budget merely could be an option with the j5 body.
- Panasonic have some decent options with proficient video, but they’re more expensive than the a6000 and don’t quite friction match up for stills.
I ended upward focusing on a Panasonic micro four thirds photographic camera torso, something like the Lumix GX85 is available for a really practiced cost and offers still photo spec’s that almost rival my a6000. They have some features which crush the a6000 too and there are a few long lenses available for the micro four thirds lens mount.
There are a few long lenses for micro 4 thirds cameras merely I liked the look of the Olympus 70-300mm f4-5.6 lens. The Panasonic GX85 has built in stabilisation so y’all don’t need information technology in the lens.
- Panasonic Lumix GX85 – $597 US
- Olympus Zuiko 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 ED Lens – $399 United states of america
In the end I found a second paw a6000 body for an awesome price as I was browsing for alternatives and I couldn’t resist buying it as a backup to my current body. Having 2 separate lens systems on the go is a pain, and this mode I could use the same housings, lenses and all other accessories with either photographic camera.
I’d definitely consider going for a micro four thirds camera system if there were some decent surf water housings for them. Currently the only really popular photographic camera body has been the Panasonic GH4, which still sells for twice the price of the a6000 and is bigger and the stills specs aren’t much better (stills is my focus, not video).
Sony 55-210mm lens with a 1.7x tele extender
This suggestion should be credited to a reader of the site who told me well-nigh information technology years ago, I’ve looked for the email or Instagram bulletin simply I can’t find information technology so sorry most that.
In that location’southward some confusing names for this type of thing. Basically it’s an extra lens that you screw on to the front of your existing lens which magnifies the zoom past 1.7x. You can become 2x extenders also just apparently they have a much bigger impact on the image quality.
Initially I was sceptical, I thought anything attached to the front end of my lens was going to cause serious problems with the epitome quality and possibly bear on the features of the lens like autofocus and the discontinuity.
The chief advantage for me is not to have to carry around a huge lens, it would work with my current Sony 55-210mm telephoto zoom, which is a nice pocket-sized lens compared to any zoom made for a full frame camera.
After doing some more than research I decided it was worth a punt.
Canon EF lens with a third party adaptor
When I first got my a6000 body I wasn’t certain I’d be using it for surf photography. I bought a Sigma 30mm lens for it and an inexpensive Canon EF adaptor.
I should have bought an expensive adaptor, but they cost about the same as the Sony 55-210mm and two more than Sigma lenses, and so I figured a budget option should work well enough to see if it was worth doing long term.
Unfortunately my adaptor was flaky to say the least, I got a few photos with the 70-200mm in place simply I returned it in the end because it wasn’t performing well enough. Having used an expensive adapter I’d say you definitely get what y’all pay for, so don’t skimp on the adapter if that’s the road you’re going to take.
Basically you can become smart adaptors and dumb adaptors. For a really good smart adaptor you lot’re looking at a few hundred dollars. You can get pretty good smart adaptors for less or you tin get dumb adaptors for side by side to null.
For telephoto lenses yous need a smart adaptor considering you want autofocus and image stabilisation.
The current favourite amongst Sony shooters is the Metabones Smart Adaptor IV, it has a lot of features and seems to do a fairly good chore of offering autofocus and image stabilisation for Canon EF lenses on the eastward-mount system.
You’ll nevertheless demand a decent lens to go with it, ane popular choice is the Catechism 100-400mm L lens, which looks like a good compromise of quality and value, especially if you lot go for the original design which is now readily available 2d manus because in that location’south a mark ii which is superior in every way.
- Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony NEX Camera Lens Mount Adapter, Mark Four – $399
- Canon EF 100-400mm f/iv.five-five.6L IS USM Lens (mark i) 2d hand ~ $800 United states
I decided this was relying as well much on 3rd party lenses and adapters, it’s definitely a good option if y’all accept other Canon EF lenses that you want to use, only I don’t.
Sony 70-200mm f2.8 with 2 x teleconverter
If I had unlimited funds this would be my choice for sure. The 70-200mm f2.8 Grand main looks like an amazing lens and it’s the simply lens Sony produce which is compatible with the 2x teleconverter. Unfortunately $3,000 for a lens and teleconverter is out of my budget.
You can’t actually buy this setup right now, it’south out of stock in most places, so if money is no object then I’d order this combination now and sit tight for delivery and you’ll be sorted for all your land based surf photography needs.
It’s all Sony kit so information technology volition work perfectly for autofocus and paradigm stabilisation on all Sony bodies. I don’t think you can go wrong with this. Naturally I decided against this because it’s as well expensive for me.
- Sony FE 70-200mm f2.viii GM OSS Lens – $2,500 U.s.
- Sony Atomic number 26 2.0x teleconverter – $550 Us
Sony A mount lens with an adaptor
Sony make their own adaptors for using their a mount lenses on e-mount camera bodies. Confusingly there are four different adaptors which offering different capabilities depending on the camera body you’re using.
SONY LEA3 adaptor – has a built in semi transparent mirror which it uses to autofocus the lens. Autofocus using this system is not as practiced as the autofocus that you lot get with the a6000 trunk and the 55-210mm lens, but it does give you the selection of going for something like the Tamron 150-600mm lens in a mount.
Unfortunately because many Sony a mount camera bodies feature built in stabilisation, manufacturers rarely put information technology in their a mountain lenses.
At that place are a couple of exceptions, Notably Sigma’south 50-500mm f4.5-6.3, AKA the “Bigma”, has a stabilised version for A mount. It’s pretty expensive, at $1,600 US, just it’due south ane of the more popular options for Sony e-mount shooters because of the massive zoom range.
Because of the relatively pocket-size market share of Sony a mount compared to Catechism or Nikon mounts, it’southward hard to notice a used A mount lens. I’ve been looking in the UK and I oasis’t institute a second mitt Tamron 150-600 or Sigma 50-500 Bone in A mount yet, although there are loads for Catechism and a few Nikon versions effectually.
The best combination for surf shooting is probably the Tamron 150-600mm and the Sony LEA2 (discontinued) or LEA4 adaptor (cull the LEA4 if you have a full frame e-mount camera or program to upgrade to one at some bespeak).
I ruled out both of these options as the Tamron doesn’t take stabilisation (very useful at these long focal lengths, particularly when shooting hand held) and the Sigma is too expensive in a mountain.
- Sigma 50-500mm OS lens in Sony a-mount – $1,700 US
- Sony LE-EA3 a-mount to e-mount adapter
Sigma lens with Sigma adapter
This is what I’ve been using for the last few weeks. I went for the Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary lens in Canon EF mount and the MC-xi adapter.
It works great, gives awesome epitome quality, especially when you’re not at 500mm+, the focus works really well and Sigma have updated the firmware fairly frequently too to improve it.
I’ve published a video review with a blog postal service going into particular about my experiences, picket and read information technology here: Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary for surf photography
Interestingly I saw a mail on Instagram of Rambo Estrada, a professional surf photographer from New Zealand, who uses the Sigma 150-600mm sports version (more expensive, bigger) and the MC-11 adapter on his Sony a6300 and a7Rii.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews and feedback on this lens +adapter combination on the a6300 and A7 series bodies, just I couldn’t see many people talking nigh using it with the a6000. The reports I could find were sometimes contradictory and all from bird photographers (run across the PS to this postal service below).
My experience has really pretty positive and I’d recommend this selection to anyone who admittedly needs the extra length for their surf photography.
I will be publishing my video review with a full blog mail service very shortly, just finishing off the video and uploading the sample photos from this setup.
Native eastward-mount lens and crop
The longest east-mount lens is currently the Sony FE 70-300mm F4.v-five.six G OSS, it costs $1,200 US and has peachy image quality past all accounts.
I dismissed this based on price versus increase in focal length. I currently have the Sony 55-210mm, which is slower (information technology has a narrower maximum discontinuity and so it lets in less lite) and shorter, but is also much, much cheaper and quite a lot smaller too. The advantage of going from 210mm to 300mm isn’t worth the steep price of this lens for me.
Of grade I can also ingather in on the 55-210mm though, which is always an choice.
The a6000 has a resolution of 24 mega pixels, I’ve cropped some of my photos a lot and even so got 5×seven prints good plenty to frame and put on the wall. As far as apply on the spider web goes you tin crop a lot more than than you recollect when you get-go with a huge 24 MP file.
I created this graphic that shows y’all the native resolution of a shot from the Sony a6000, Nikon D500, Catechism 7D mkii, 4K (UHD) Television set, full HD Tv set and the recommended resolution for a good quality 4×half dozen inch photo print and the maximum resolution for Instagram:
I’ve got a Canon MV7550 printer and I can print up to A4 size (8.27 × 11.69 inches) inexpensively and easily direct from Lightroom. I’ve got a stack of six×4, 5×7 and A4 photo paper on my shelf and fifty-fifty a handful of unused photo frames lying around. I still print out much less than 1% of the surf photos I take.
The massive bulk volition live on my hard bulldoze only to exist seen by me. Some volition exist sent to the people who characteristic in them or friends who would be interested to run across them. Even fewer will exist shared publicly on Instagram, Flickr or facebook.
Occasionally I send in photos to magazines and sometimes they become printed. I was lucky plenty to get a double page spread in U.k. surf magazine Wavelength once.
So when I can crop an epitome shot on a 210mm lens (with optional i.7x extender) enough for any reasonable impress and much more than any reasonable person would need, why exercise I need a 600mm lens?
The answer is: I don’t really.
If you shoot video and demand to arrive close, or yous need the extra resolution for your even so images for big prints or some other reason, the Sigma 150-600mm contemporary is a great choice for the Sony eastward-mount organization.
Maybe y’all shoot surf spots that are really, actually far away, in that instance it’south great to apply the 600mm, but at that bespeak the haze and sea spray showtime really affecting the quality of the photograph also, so at that place’s only so far yous tin push it really.
If y’all’re in the same situation as me – a keen amateur surf photographer who doesn’t make a living from selling high resolution photos and doesn’t need to shoot video from far away – purchase the Sony 55-210mm lens and grab an Olympus Tcon17x for when information technology’due south breaking really far out, then crop as necessary in Lightroom.
You lot need a cheap 49-55mm step up band to attach the TCON 17x to the 55-210mm lens.
This is the setup I use for my beach based surf photos. I can fit my Sony a6000 with the 55-210mm lens in place in my jacket pocket, and the Olympus TCON 17x in my other pocket and screw it on if I demand the extra reach.
The Sigma 150-600mm is a great lens, just it’s just besides big and heavy for me to want to utilise it that much.
I’ve published a video review with a blog post going into item about my experiences with the 150-600mm and touching on the 55-210mm and TCON17x, picket and read it hither: Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary for surf photography
P.S. for any other surf photographers who want to dig into this field of study I can save yous a scrap of time. It seems like the overwhelming majority of people who post on line well-nigh long telephoto lenses are bird photographers (BIF = birds in flight). Of this set of people there seems to be a higher than normal pct of people who are obsessive over nuances in image quality and automobile focus functioning.
My communication is not to read besides much into information technology. This post will only tell you what I think and doesn’t include the majority of options anyhow, so see if yous can effort out one of these lenses for yourself, that’s the just way I figured out which was the best option for me.
If you’ve got any experience with shooting surf photography with long telephoto lenses on Sony e-mount bodies please permit me know what your setup is and how information technology works for you.
I’d beloved to hear nigh any other options I’ve not mentioned, or if you lot’re using ane of the ones on the list and had different results to me. Leave a comment below or electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org.