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Old May 19th, 2013, 10:13 PM   #1
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Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Hello all,
Well I have just bought a used Nikkor 80-400mm lens on Ebay. I had hoped to get a bit more info on this lens with the EX3 before pulling the trigger, but in the end, figured it couldn't really be too bad, & if it doesn't work out, I will sell it again on Ebay.
Anyway, point of this thread was to try to have a resource that others could go to when looking at telephoto lens options for their EX3.
I now have the following lenses that I could do some testing with & perhaps post some frame grabs so others can see & make up their own mind about the quality.
Nikkor 135mm f 2.8; Nikkor 180mm f2.8; Nikkor 200mm f4; Nikkor 300mm f4.5; Nikkor 50-300mm f4.5; & once it is delivered, the Nikkor 80-400mm f4.5-5.6.
What would be a good standard test for each lens that will show the strengths & weaknesses of each of the lenses so someone researching telephoto lens options could easily work out what lenses would work for them? Certainly from my experiences so far, aperture plays a big part in how good the image is both in its sharpness, & amount of (hopefully lack of) CA especially in high contrast shots.
Also, I hope that others might also post footage or frame grabs of the lenses they are using. Maybe it could simply be a "lens options for the EX3" thread, so macro lenses & any other type of lens could be included??
Ok, well I have rambled on enough. Hopefully in the next week or so I can start to put together some shots that may be a useable resource to others.
Regards,
Bryce
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Old May 21st, 2013, 02:17 AM   #2
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Canon has a very interesting book about it's own lenses, with scientifically measured data of sharpness and contrast of each lens. I do not know if Nikon has a comparable book, but in any case that is the most precise way to compare lenses.

I have two Nikon lenses for my PMW320: a 135mm and a 300mm. Both are rather old, with manual aperture rings on the lens, and they show quite some chromatic aberration when I use them on my PMW320. But the results are very acceptable for (in the case of the 300mm) what amounts to a 2100 mm lens.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 04:26 AM   #3
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

I've only recently moved from a Canon XLH1, used for bird videos with Canon fit SLR lenses, via a nanoFlash, to a EX3 with a couple of Nikon fit lenses, the latest 80-400 plus a Sigma 500 plus TC1.4x, matching the Sigma I used in my H1. EX3 with nanoFlash as well.

Most immediately obvious difference between the two set ups is the crop factor, 7.2x on the H1, 5.4x on the EX3. Still very useful for wildlife filming.

Second major difference is the difficulty in achieving sharp focus with the 80-400 on the EX3 compared with my 70-300L and 400L on the H1.

I know all about the superior viewfinder on the EX3, and it is, very superior. But I still find myself preferring to use my Swit monitor, as used with the H1, and even then accurate focussing not easy. Nuisance really as a reason for the change was less cabling etc with the EX3 and hence a mite more portability. (Swit S-8U62 batteries very handy as can power EX3 and nanoFlash off the same battery.)

I'm guessing that the shallower depth of field with 1/2 inch chips on the EX3 is a factor here. Another is getting the right Picture Profile (Custom Preset on the H1). A third is the difficulty in setting the best lens aperture. The new 80-400 doesn't have an external aperture ring. My Adaptamatic lens adaptor provides for aperture adjustment via a screw which rests against the aperture "prong" inside the lens mount. This works but impossible to know exactly which aperture one is using. No viewfinder information unlike the H1 with its far superior albeit old, Canon EF Adaptor. I find myself opening the lens up to maximum aperture, then bringing this down hopefully by a stop or three, then relying either on an external ND filter or the very useful internal NDs of the EX3. Inadvertently stopping right down produces a degraded image, not always noticeable in the monitor. Much easier with the big Sigma with its external aperture ring (but you need to look at what you are setting, not just rely on image darkening/brightening via viewfinder or monitor.) A 500 lens also not an everyday requirement.

Still a work in progress, but my conclusions are that the H1 plus nanoFlash plus Canon SLR lenses produces images at least as sharp as those with the EX3 and Nikkor/Sigma, also with nanoFlash. Colours and image detail better with the EX3. EX3 stock lens vastly superior except in focal length to that from the H1. I'd love to get hold of some long broadcast lenses but money is an object.

A very interesting topic, this one.

Ron
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Old May 21st, 2013, 04:30 AM   #4
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

I forgot to add that lens changing on the EX3 is a right bugger. Need three hands. As easy as on a SLR with the H1.

Ron
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Old May 21st, 2013, 05:05 AM   #5
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Changing lenses on a pro video camera is always a pain in the neck. I cannot help wondering why they are not using a bayonet-type mount, with firm locking as they do on DSLR's. Video pro lenses that cost the price of a luxury car are locked in place with a rubber clip that costs 1 eurocent. Ridiculous.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 05:23 AM   #6
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Yes, so taking two or three or more Nikkor primes into the field with a view to quick changes, with consequent better image quality than a zoom a rather difficult option. Presumably because the EX3 like other "pro" cams not designed for SLR lenses, rather 1/2 inch pro zoom lenses with a range of focal lengths depending on the assignment.

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Old May 21st, 2013, 08:07 AM   #7
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Hi Bryce, I will be interested in your comments on the 80 – 400, I tried one very briefly on my Nikon and got my money back as it did not seem to be as good as my 50 -300 mm Nikkor.

I have a 70-180 mm Micro-Nikkor that covers an interesting range of focal lengths and can give 1:1 images at 180 mm but only 1:2.7:1 at 70 mm. I am pleased with the results particularly when stopped down to ~ f 8. It is not a telephoto lens but seems to perform quite well at longer distances, however I do not consider the zoom action to be smooth enough to use while recording.

Ronald, why should the ½” chips of the EX3 produce a shallower depth of field? As far as I know the depth of field is determined by focal length and aperture. If you use a smaller chip you can use a shorter focal length lens to cover the same angle of view and so achieve an increased depth of field. If I want more depth of field I use a Panasonic TM 900 with a 1/4” sensor. I recently posted two frame grabs in Woody Sanford’s “Macro Video” thread on UWOL. Under the prevailing conditions the TM 900 outperformed the EX3.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 10:26 AM   #8
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Alastair, bigger chips shallower DOF is something I read somewhere. Definitely seems to apply with my XLH1 versus my EX3 . Not exactly the same conditions as I'm using a 80-400 5.4x crop factor against, generally, a 70-300 with 7.2x crop factor but sometimes a 400 prime. The one (zoom) equals the other in terms of "magnification" but I'm definitely getting a sense of shallower DOF with the EX3 outfit.

Just been testing in the back garden, not ideal 'cos of lots of contrasty light and shade, and when it appears, sun gives harsh light. "New" 80-400 definitely up to scratch (at least IMHO) BUT needs a lot of care and attention.

Nearly everything for me "opposite" to the Canon outfit, lenses rotate in opposite direction as does zoom. The 80-400 quite a lump and a long rotate between wide and full. I'm using a follow focus, hard to imagine accurate focus without, but cannot actually follow an unpredictably moving object like a bird on the ground.

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Old May 21st, 2013, 10:29 AM   #9
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

And I should have added that I've just purchased a Genus ND Fader Filter which very useful but which adds to the discomfort factor via having to stretch out to rotate the matched lens hood. I generally shoot sitting down as in same position for lengthy periods.


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Old May 22nd, 2013, 12:46 AM   #10
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Wow, thanks for all the interest & info guys. I had hoped to get out & start shooting some test footage, but the weather here is horrible & looks like it will continue for at least a week! As soon as I can get out I will shoot some footage of with all the lenses I have & put something together.
Regards,
Bryce
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Old May 29th, 2013, 04:56 PM   #11
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Ok, so I have the 80-400mm lens now so have just been playing around with it.
I am trying to shoot some test charts but because the lens is so long, I have to do it outside. Problem with that is the light keeps changing with the weather we are having here. Heat haze is another problem with the long focal lengths. I will have to wait for a clear morning I think to be able to do each of the lenses justice. Same lighting (if I hurry) & hopefully no heat haze. All I have been doing to do my little test, & please let me know if there is a better more precise way of doing this, is to zoom in all the way with each lens so as to fill the frame with the test chart, & move the camera for each different lens. Like I say though, please chime in with a more accurate way of testing these lenses as I really have no idea how else to do it.
So far, from what I have observed it looks like the stock lens is sharpest but not by much. 50-300f4.5 comes next then the 80-400. There's certainly not much in it & I think that the haze is skewing the results. The other thing I am noticing is the CA. The stock lens exhibits green fringing on high contrast edges, but certainly not too bad & is easily corrected by stopping the lens down a bit. The 50-300f4.5 while I know it is waaay better than my 300f4.5 prime is quite bad & needs to be stopped way down to get rid of the purple fringing on high contrast edges. The 80-400 however seems to handle high contrast edges the best of them all with no CA at all. The test I did with the high contrast edge was simply to shoot a part of the roof line looking into the overcast, but very bright sky. Each lens was at f5.6 when I did this test.
As soon as I have the right conditions I will try to test all the lenses & then post my results with frame grabs.
Regards,
Bryce
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Old May 29th, 2013, 06:34 PM   #12
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Hi Bryce,

I am interested to note that you also found the 50 – 300 gives better results than the 80 – 400, this is what I found in the hour I had one of the latter.

If you fill the screen at every focal length you are testing, you are adding a compounding factor i.e.distance. This may be important. I would suggest comparing the lenses under the conditions you would be likely to use them in practice.

Are you aware that the EX3 has a lens file menu where by you can set up a file for various lenses enabling different settings for flare etc? In my manual it is on pages 122 & 123. I would appreciate advice on how to use it.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 09:27 PM   #13
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Hi Alastair,
Well unfortunately I have no idea about how to dial in the lens settings for individual lens'.
Having spent a bit more time with the 80-400, I am now thinking that at 300mm the 80-400 at all apertures is equally as sharp as the 50-300, & at f8 at 400mm it would appear to be just as good. More testing is needed for sure.
What I can say for sure though, is that the 80-400 leaves the 50-300mm for dead in high contrast areas with a larger aperture. Anything from wide open to anything less than f8 is less than ideal with the 50-300, and that is the ED version. So far, it would seem that the 80-400 even leaves the stock lens behind in this area.
As far as moving the camera to fill the frame with each different focal length, perhaps I could test both that way & also with the camera in the same position.
If anyone else can chime in with what would be a good way of testing each individual lens I would greatly appreciate it.
Regards,
Bryce
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Old June 4th, 2013, 12:23 AM   #14
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

Ronald,
If you still have time to return your Genus fader ND I suggest to do it immediately. I've tested alot of the fader ND's including the Genus (which I returned) and generally if it cost less than $200 its probably made of inferior optical glass or plastic that might be OK but will seriously degrade by 200mm. This is one place that it simply pays to spend more. SinghRay and Heliopan are excellent but pricy. I've had good luck with Formatt which is the cheapest decent one I've found. You might check the Tiffen.
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Old June 4th, 2013, 02:20 AM   #15
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Re: Telephoto lens options for the EX3

It's the newish Genus Eclipse 77mm fader filter Leonard, cost about £130 including the essential lens hood.
Okay as far as I can see, noting that some situations where you might want a ND filter,like harsh sunlight, not ideal whatever you use. Gets good reports elsewhere.
Designed with the "DSLR/Shallow DOF" brigade with short focal length lenses in mind I assume. Only a short lens hood which rotates with the "fader" element of the filter, so one can make adjustments via manipulating the hood rather than manipulating the filter itself. Quite handy.
I've also got a B&W 8X ND filter and Formatt 6X and 8X 4x4 filters which need a matte-box. Genus on a par and a lot more flexible.
I've been using the Genus recently when the light conditions are changeable (not at all unusual over here) like sunshine mixed with clouds. Handy to be able to compensate so quickly and precisely. In more or less constant lighting I'd probably stick with the B&W, if necessary, in combination with the cameras built in ND filters.
Perhaps look at getting an alternative to the Genus hood, with its 82mm thread to fit to the outer element of the otherwise 77mm filter. Hood too short really.

Ron
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