If you are into photography and not completely focused on wide angle lenses there are chances you have looked at the Pro Sports Photographers and their Giant Lenses along the field or seen them at photo exhibits or stores.
I had fantasized about these lenses for a long time but had no justification to get one. And probably not enough skills to actually use one. 2 years ago I did miss the chance to buy the Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 for a great price. This list is still on my wish list and eBay alert if any is ever sold online.
I already own the 70-200 f2.8 and the 70-400 f4-5.6 from Sony. This puts me on equal range with Nikon shooters and their 70-200 and the 2x tel-converter. My range is actually a bit wider and faster on the low end.
The new Sony 300mm f2.8 and 500mm f4 are superb lenses and I could take advantage of the Depth assist auto-focus. They are also extremely pricey lenses. The “only” other alternative for Sony is the Sigma 500mm f4, slightly longer and a little more light than my 70-400 but not much.
I saw a Minolta 600mm f4 AF-high speed on ebay for a very low price and decided to bid for it. To make the story short the lens sold for 6,300$ way above what I was willing to pay. I had looked around and KEH had one on sale for 6,000$. I had bought lenses from them before in great condition. As soon as the auction ended I did call up and bought the lens right there. My excuse was that I had full access pass to take pictures of the football / soccer game friendly game between Spain and Chile.
The Lens was delivered as promised in the Original case. The first reaction is the weight of this lens. It is really, really heavy. The usual comment of people who used this lens : “built like and tank and weights like one”. This pretty much sums it up about how heavy this lens really is.
Taking it out of the Box I tried to hand hold it. Before even taking the first picture I attached my mono-pod to the lens. The first picture was of a tree. The amount of details was just amazing. Things I could hardly see with my eyes where now in full details on the display
The next day the lens was used for the football game between Spain and Chile. I know never practice with new gear at a big event, well I learn fast and it worked out. My practice shots on the warmup . Very first picture was in focus, somehow I did underestimate the focal length. This was from the goal line to a player in the middle of the field
The first question was how slow can I get an still get somewhat decent pictures ?
More pictures from the Spain match. Reviewing the pictures after the game I was amazed about how good they looked. The shallow depth of field, Minolta colors, I was really marveling about how good these pictures look. Focus is tricky at times with central focus point. My miss ratio is still very low overall.
Me on the goal line focusing on the game with the big lens. It does definitely turn heads when I take it out. Even for such a game I was on the very long side. And to be honest there are not many Sony shooter for pro sports.
After the initial results turned out pretty well. I knew the lens would be too long for ice hockey. For that a 400mm f4 would be a better option. For the next soccer game I had mixed feelings about taking the big lens along. I loved the results but carrying it around is more than mildly annoying.Having to shoot both the game and crowd the lens can get into the way.
Finally the quality of the pictures did win and I did take the lens along anyway. I found other photographers to look at the lens when I was running around with the 2 shorter lenses.
After game 2, I love how close I get to the action. This lens has also helped with my other lens. with the 70-400 I am now shooting tighter as well. This lens is great for shooting low, my mono-pod does seem a little high at times. Any action closer than the mid-field has to be composed in portrait ( really tricky) closer than 20 meters I need to switch to another lens.
Speaking of switching lens I am still working on a good way to switch from the monster to the regular lenses. It is not all that easy with such a heavy and expensive piece of equipment.
The camera has now its own bag a lowepro trekker where I can store the lens with actually a body attached and the Manfroto 393 not the prettiest head but it seems functional. I have not had a chance to take it to the field yet.