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Photography Question 
Alon Dekel

Surfing Photography: What Lens Is Best?

Hello all! I'm a teenage surfing fanatic, and I love photography. I am always out surfing and wonder how good people would look on film. My question is: What is the best array of lenses to have for taking photos of surfing and waves from the beach - a distance of about ... 300mm? I use a Canon AE-1 program (FD system). Any help with equipment needs would be great! Cheers.

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4/28/2004 11:15:51 PM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Alon: If shooting from the beach, you might need a 600mm lens, and those are super-expensive. If your subjects are quite close, a 300mm lens - still expensive, although you might find a good 100-300mm zoom (in a Canon FD mount) on eBay. The Tamron or Canon brands are fine. Cheers!

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4/29/2004 5:20:18 AM

Miles G. McBreen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/6/2005
  Alon: The best thing to do would be to look in used camera stores and on eBay to find a lens in the 300mm to 400mm range. You can also get away with using a f 5.6 lens if you use a tripod and shoot photos on bright sunny days. If you are not trying to get shots into big name surf magazines their is no reason to spend thousands of dollars on a 600mm f4 lens. Peter's idea of a 100-300mm zoom lens is also a good idea.

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4/7/2005 5:20:17 PM

Justin S.   I agree with all the above. You should be alright with a 100-300mm lens, and if you really want to get in close you have two options. One is to use a 2x teleconverter that will get you 600mm but will lose slight image quality (although it's affordable). Two (this might seem crazy): buy a one-time use waterproof camera and get close. This way you won't have to worry about getting sand and/or water spray on your expensive equipment.
Most of the time when someone is surfing, it is close to shore (in standing high water) or around the sandbar (which you can still stand in if you can float or swim over the deep area right before it). Another option: You can invest in a waterproof camera, but they could run anywhere from 100$ to 250$ easily. The waterproof one-time-use camera sounds stupid, but it works really well ... the only difference is that you don't have the creative exposure controls and are stuck shooting at infinity.
Just make sure you're close enough to get a good crop, and if someone is coming at you fast on a board just sink into the water until they pass.

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4/7/2005 6:21:49 PM

Stephanie Sherwood   Hey, Alon, I love surf photos myself. I just came back from Costa Rica in January and have tons of surf photos of my husband and his friends. I used my 300 zoom lens. Standing at shore break, camera on a tripod, I have some great shots. I will post some photos when I get back to my home computer.

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4/8/2005 7:01:00 AM

Stephanie Sherwood   Also, a photographer I met out there would take photos of tourists surfing or whatever. He used a Canon digital with a 400 set lens. He would put himself in the water and just tell the surfers to surf towards him. He got some cool shots too. Obviously, he had a water proof casing for his equipment.

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4/8/2005 7:05:16 AM

Matt S. Raspanti   Hey Alon,
if there are Jetti's anywhere near the surf shoot from there, this way you wont need a big zoom to get a good shot. Also you can get a shot from down the barrel this way.

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4/15/2005 9:31:26 AM

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