Long Lenses; Large Suns

Alan Goldberg

Long telephoto lenses produce dramatic images with a large sun. It's a powerful visual look, but there are two important technical issues to keep in mind. First, depth of field is very shallow with a 500mm telephoto like Jim used here. That means if you want the sun sharp as well as the silhouetted tree and leopard, a fairly small lens aperture has to be used. Second, even if you are using a tripod (or in this case a bean bag), a fast enough shutter speed is required to ensure a sharp image. With that much magnification, the slightest movement degrades the image quality. The general rule for choosing a shutter speed with a telephoto lens is the shutter should be the reciprocal of the focal length. In other words, if the lens is a 500mm focal length, the shutter should be 1/500th of a second or faster. My settings here were 1/2500, f/13, 200 ISO. Jim captured this image in Amboseli National Park in Kenya.

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