Even with a tripod steadiness is not always
assured. Magnification is so enormous with a long telephoto lens that
the slightest movement of the camera or lens causes the image to dance
wildly. Some photographers have devised alternatives to the ordinary
tripod. A pentapod (five-legged “tripod”) has been used, as have been
beanbags, weighted straps over the lens and other such devices. In any
case be sure to trip the shutter with a cable release. A finger applied
directly to the shutter release on the camera body could set up the kind
of vibration you are trying to avoid.
Mounting camera and lens firmly on a tripod
has more benefits than just minimizing vibration. It also takes the
weight of a heavy lens off your arms and allows you to line up and frame
a highly magnified image with more precision. Also, since long focal
lengths tremendously reduce depth of field, a tripod makes possible slow
shutter speeds which, in turn, permit smaller stops and greater depth.
To what subjects is all this power applied?
In many instances, it is applied to the same subjects suitable for a
medium telephoto lens. Only now the camera to subject distances is
greater. You might be able to shoot a sporting event from a seat down
near the players, but a professional photographer may be confined to a
press booth high up in the stands and he or she may have to get tight
close ups of action on the field from there. A long telephoto lens will
be needed to span the increased distance. A photographer in the
wilderness may need a very long lens to get any picture at all of a
timid and alert animal that stays a considerable distance away.