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Date: 01/26/24 14:49
long telephoto
Author: grether

Hello - I have the opportunity to purchase a long telephoto lens, a 150-600 zoom.  The lens has good reviews, but I see most of the application for these long telephoto lenses is sports or wildlife photography.  Does anyone have experience for these as a railfan lens?  I was thinking for compressed shots of distant trains "down the track" - thoughts?

Date: 01/26/24 15:49
Re: long telephoto
Author: sf1010

Probably the reason there are more reviews for sports and wildlife is that more people shoot sports and wildlife -- nothing more significant than that.

The glass does not know what you are shooting.  Photons are photons.

Date: 01/26/24 17:09
Re: long telephoto
Author: exhaustED

What's your camera body, full frame or APS-C? Full frame that'll be more than enough zoom for some real 'telesmash' shots, on APS-C that focal length will become about 1.6 times bigger!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/24 17:10 by exhaustED.

Date: 01/26/24 19:34
Re: long telephoto

I have the Sigma 150-600.Its sharp, fast and heavey as hell.I shoot mainly airplanes now and its overkill for LAX.Would make a hellofa shot of a train on rolling hills.Again its heavey and hard to hand  hold.HTH

Date: 01/26/24 20:24
Re: long telephoto
Author: mojaveflyer

I have a Sigma 150 - 600 mm lens that I've used it on both a full sensor and a crop sensor with good results. I also use my Sigma for astrophotography. My biggest problem is that I've had problems holding that lens. because I've had surgery on both soldiers.ons.  The attached is a shot of Jupiter and four of it's moons. I shot it using a Canon T6i body. I shot in on Jan 26, 2004. It's a good lens but a little unwieldly....

> I have the Sigma 150-600.Its sharp, fast and
> heavey as hell.I shoot mainly airplanes now and
> its overkill for LAX.Would make a hellofa shot of
> a train on rolling hills.Again its heavey and hard
> to hand  hold.HTH
> Steve

James Nelson
Thornton, CO

Date: 01/27/24 04:59
Re: long telephoto
Author: grether

I'm using a Nikon D780 full size sensor.  Any experience shooting trains?  I'm looking at the Tamron 150-600 D2.

Date: 01/27/24 06:37
Re: long telephoto
Author: exhaustED

Ok, it wouldn't be overkill I wouldn't say, i use a 300mm lens quite often on a crop sensor which gives an effective 480mm. So 600mm would be usable for the type of shots you're describing.

Date: 01/27/24 10:28
Re: long telephoto
Author: jbwest

I purchased a 70-300 for the 300 end of the range (on a DX sensor), and find it occasionally useful for shots like these.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/27/24 10:35 by jbwest.

Date: 01/27/24 16:21
Re: long telephoto
Author: NormSchultze

If you find the lens to be heavy for hand holding there are options. Get a monopod.  Use a high shutter speed to keep from having camera movement.  

Date: 01/30/24 18:38
Re: long telephoto
Author: CCMF

IMO the best bang for the buck is the Nikon 200-500.   Also have the SIGMA 150-600 and yea it's heavy as hell, but good.

Bill Miller
Galt, ON

Date: 03/05/24 16:59
Re: long telephoto
Author: Mgoldman

Responding late here - just noted the thread.

The Tameron 150-600mm is said to be nearly identical to the
Sigma 150-600mm.  I own the Sigma version - it was a steal, 
even new, and often goes on sale.  Before that - when I had
less money to spend, I bought a used Canon 300mm prime
and attatched the 1.4 extender on it and never took it off.

The advantage of the zoom of course is that you are not
limited by one shot, ie; you can keep shooting  as the train
gets closer for a greater variety of compositions and images.
Be aware, with the telephotos, you lose a few stops, and even
more so with the extenders.  Think always being limited to f/6.3
or even f/9 and it gets tricky when the light is low.

I love the compression and reach for shooting Amtrak's NEC.
The catenary is very problematic but with a telephoto, you can
shoot through it instead of ontop of it.  The compression effect
is wild, too.

Outside of the NEC, I have not found a lot of use for it, though I
know many railfans that use it to create those roller coaster effect
freight shots where the track looks more like something you'd see
at Great Adventure.

I've posted many shots through the years here on Trainorders, and
also Railpictures.net.  Search by Photographer "MItch Goldman"
and you can see many.

Here are some posted on Trainorders over the years:





One note of caution - I find shooting with a telephoto near impossible at any time
of the day other than sunrise and sunset - at least trains.  This is due to the Sun's
heating of the rails which causes hot air to rise in waves above the ground causing
what is known as heat distortion.  The higher the Sun, the worse it is.   Fortunately,
the best time to use the lens is when the lens works best.


Date: 03/05/24 17:03
Re: long telephoto
Author: Mgoldman

Here's the heat distortion I mentioned - just no way around it, it seems.
Assume it's less an issue as you raise the lens from ground level.  I've
often wondered if shooting at 1/8000th would eliminate the motion of
the heat traveling upwards, but to get enough light, I suppose I'd have
to shoot the Sun.



Date: 04/26/24 11:42
Re: long telephoto
Author: ATSF5669

Sigma makes two models of the 150-600, the Sport and the Contemporary.  Though I'm not doing much of it any longer, for several years I shot a lot of high school sports as a business.  Because of that when Sigma introduced this lens I bought the Sport version.  It is heavy, no question. Mercifully it has a rotating tripod collar that I use as a handle.  When I finally got tired (terrible pun) of dragging it all over (I do not shoot with a monopod nor tripod), I bought the Contemporary lens.  Its a full pound lighter which makes carrying it around a less noticable aspect of using it. It has a reduced weather sealing and a bit different focus system.  Having shot thousands of trian pics with both lenses, they're indestiguishable when looking at the files: super sharp, superb image stabilization. I've handheld it at 1/15th just to see how good it is, which is fun to do. Before the Sigmas, I owned Canon's white monster telephotos.  Now those are heavy, unwieldy, and almost impossible to travel with because the cases are huuuge.


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