Shooting Yachts from Distance - Minimum Setup?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by scott_wilson|18, May 17, 2016.

  1. Hi,
    I am venturing into photography and I'd like to someday sell prints of boats/yachts. Currently I have the Cannon G7 10 MP (2007) and I'm finally starting to understand and use all of its manual features.

    The summer season is approaching, however, and I'd like to be able to capture high quality images soon. What I mean by high quality is that I'd like to create 8 x 10 prints that I could sell for a reasonable profit. I know this doesn't come overnight but who knows? I might get lucky a few times as I learn.

    My question today is what somewhat older Cannon camera and lens will enable be to produce high quality images? Money is a factor at the moment and if I can get a used Cannon setup to help me get started that would be great. I am looking for the minimum equipment I would need.
    A strong zoom lens is of high importance I would think.

    Any tips, thoughts or recommendations would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you.
  2. SCL


    Hi Scott - if you're shooting them at sea, or under sail, you'll need a longer reach lens....generally 180mm or better. If you're only doing glamour shots dockside or moored, almost anything will do, but a wide angle will be beneficial. One other thing to note is that due to glare and reflections off polished surfaces and the water, a polarizing filter may be essential. Sorry I can't help you with specifics.
  3. How about a Canon 7D, 5DII or 6D and an 70-200mm f4 IS, or even f4 non IS. If you are on a pitching deck then the IS will be of no use to you anyway. Even cheaper, but less adaptable, is the 200mm f2.8 which is a great lens. Buy any or all of these secondhand if needs be. They would all produce nice shots.
  4. A couple things.
    Since you don't specify a budget for gear, the distance at which you will be shooting, nor how in the hell you plan to sell 8x10 prints (it assumes there are people who want to purchase such tings), it's difficult to recommend anything. You can get a nearly 300dpi print from an 8mp sensor, so in that realm, a Canon 20D or 30D will fit the bill, either body used for around a hundred USD. I'd pick up a Canon 50mm for around another hundred, then maybe a Canon EF 200mm f2.8 L II USM if you can't get close. Several non-Canon 70-200 f2.8 lenses (like from Sigma or Tamron) are also good bets. Any of those will set you back about $500. A lesser lens like the CANON 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Ultrasonic USM Lens goes for around $200USD.
  5. Hi Guys. The image below is an example of the type of picture I'd like to take.
    Thanks Stephen. Ideally I'll be out on the water in another boat taking pictures of others but shots from land are definitely possible. Thanks for mentioning the polarizing lens. I've noticed when I taken pictures of boats there is sometimes lots of glare. It's nice to know there is something out there that addresses this.
    Hi Robin. Thanks for mentioning cameras and lens. I'll check those out. Because I'm just starting out I haven't heard of them before. It is going to be interesting research looking up that equipment. Thanks.
    Patrick, I hear you on the budget. Right now if I can do something for less than $500 (including a zoom lens) that would be good. Admittedly, I have no idea if I'm on base or not with this budget. As I mentioned, the least expensive equipment that can get the job done works for me. I can go dinosaur - I don't care :)
    Regarding the distance it will vary. Generally if I could do something with an image taken 100yds away that would be a good start I'd say. I'd try to get angles from both land and sea.
    Thank you for your equipment suggestions. I'll look into them.If Canon has a camera and lens archive that would be helpful. I'll pay a visit to their website tonight.

    p.s. I tried to put paragraph breaks in my message but they didn't hold for some reason.
    Per the Terms of Use, do not post photos you did not take.
  6. Best bang for the buck, right here, if you're not wedded to Canon gear. Plus, since you mentioned being on boats, it's water resistant. I bought this exact same kit for when I head out in my boat.
  7. Nice! I'll take a look. The red looks sharp. 2 lenses is a plus.
  8. SCL


    Scott - to capture that type of image in saleable form, you're going to need lots of practice, and a good boat handler while you're shooting. I often found it much easier to shoot sailing ships just as they are weighing anchor and hoisting sails (an old one I took in the 1950s of sculptor Randolph Johnston's yacht in the Bahamas) because they are relatively stable and not moving fast.
  9. Thanks Stephen. That's a beautiful picture! I think it would be a good idea to start with these types of photos. As you said, they're not moving (much). While I can see myself in the future taking pictures from a boat for starters I'll definitely be on land. Thanks for sharing your image.
  10. Not necessarily a great photo, but you can use the background to your advantage (even fog ?). Also, you could get some interesting angles and create your own niche.... if you employ a drone (responsibly, I hope). But, the bigger the camera, the more expensive drone.
  11. Thanks Frank. This is great. I appreciate you doing some research and even providing the links. This is very helpful. My mindset was that I wouldn't be able to produce high quality images unless I had a camera with a very high MP rating. I'd like to be able to print images up to 8 X10 so if this can do the job I'd say I'm in. I'll seriously consider this setup. Thanks!
  12. Hi Les,
    A drone would be fantastic, and fun! A bit down the road I'll probably take a look at using one. I understand what your mean by finding a niche. Because I'm just getting underway with photography it will be fun to explore the possibilities. That's a great picture with the mountain in the background. Thanks for posting it.
  13. My $0.02.

    An 8MP camera is OK. I still use my old 20D occasionally; a 40D would be much better (I almost cried when mine died a couple of years ago...).
    For racing and the like you will want a longer lens.
    My "go to" combination are the 100-400mm and 70-200mm.
    On a budget the 70-300mm IS would be good.
    The EXIF says the photo below was taken at 180mm.
    A good driver on the photo-boat is crucial.
  14. Hi Geoff,
    I appreciate you commenting on my post and offering some advice. It's insight like this into the trade that is really going to help me out in the long run I think. To tell you the truth, I have even thought about racing pictures! I'll consider this area of photography as I move along. That's a great picture and there seems to be lots of sharpness for a moving target. I like the idea of a budget lens like the 70-300mm you mentioned. I'll keep a heads up for these as I consider the best camera options available to me. Thanks.
  15. Scott,
    Probably the most important technical element to getting sharp photos like this is a high shutter speed.
    Luckily with boats you're (generally) not trying to get any motion blurring to show speed (like you do with the wheels on cars or the propellers on airplanes). With enough light you can usually use 1/500s and shorter shutter speeds.
    Even with good light I'll often bump up the ISO from its lowest setting in order to get a short enough shutter speed. For example, the photo above was taken with 1/800s and ISO 200. The higher ISO let me keep the lens stopped down into its "sweet spot" for sharpness (around f/8).
    Image stabilization will also help. In addition to sharpening the photos it also helps with framing and autofocus by steadying the image in the viewfinder.
    I always shoot bursts at the highest frame-rate my camera allows. As one of my colleagues once said, "there's always a sharpest frame in a burst". It's not a panacea, but it can help when you're forced to shoot at slower than desired shutter speeds.
    Geoff S.
  16. A good way to get close to sailboats is to ask to go out on the race-committee boat at a local sailing club.
    They are usually happy to have a photographer along.
  17. Scott,
    Put your money into the lenses, buy the best you can manage, then go shopping for the body.
    Also, ignore the advice about image stabilization and moving boats...that's a good example of when IS is most beneficial!
    There are some very good used lenses that can be had relatively inexpensively if you shop around a bit. One that would be a great fit for your purpose is the EF 100-400 f/4-5.6L. The new one is very pricey, and as many have said sharper, but the original was no slouch. There apparently was some variation from unit to unit so make sure you can return the lens if it proves to be less than stellar. I've had two over the years and both were excellent.
    My first place to shop for used stuff is KEH but even Ebay is OK the seller has good feedback and a liberal, at least two weeks, return policy.
    Are you a sailor? Have you raced? Knowing the rules and strategies of sail boat racing would be critical to getting marketable images. Speaking of which, spend at least as much time learning to market your work as you spend on learning how to shoot it. The greatest images are valueless if you don't know how to market them. Think in terms of finding multiple markets for every image and they will pay for themselves. Taking a small business class at the local community college wouldn't be a bad idea before you invest a lot in gear.
  18. Thank you!
    Hey Geoff, I'll pay close attention to shutter speeds in terms of sharper images from now on. Thanks for giving me some details on it. I'll go through those motions with my own camera to help it sink in. There's actually a Committee Boat nearby at the local Yacht Club - I don't think I would of thought of that. Perhaps when I gain a bit more skill I'll have the confidence to approach them :) Thanks!
    Thanks Joseph. I appreciate the tip on the lenses and where I can look for them. 400mm sounds pretty nice. I'll take a look at the EF. I have never heard of KEH so I'll visit their website. I've sailed and have been around boats most of my life but have raced Stars and Rhodes 19 just a few times. I know how sketchy it can be to be in there and start taking pictures because someone could tack at any second. I'd have to review some of the strategies to become familiar with it again. Thanks for putting some emphasis on market. Actually, equal emphasis, right? :) This is fascinating because right now I'm spending most of my time learning to shoot. I think I have been underestimating the marketing aspect. Thanks for pointing this out.
  19. You're very welcome...
    It sounds like you know your sheets from your halyards so I suspect you'll do fine. Even if you only hope to make this a hobby or avocation the marketing aspect will really help.
    If you have even a modicum of writing skills you can easily break into writing for the boating press with dozens of potential markets. Go to any decent book store and count the sailing/motor boating magazines available. If your photography is excellent to outstanding and your writing doesn't totally suck you're publishable. Or if your writing is excellent to outstanding and your photography doesn't totally suck your still publishable.
    Start small, even providing articles for the yacht club for free just to get published and build a portfolio. The old saying is as true today as it ever was," It's easy get published once you get published." As you sell images to the boat owner's get property releases so you can also use the shots in articles and you're on your way.
  20. Another strong endorsement of the Canon 100-400mm IS.
    The major reason I switched from Nikon to Canon 10 years ago was because of this lens.
    I would guess that the vast majority of my photos are taken with the 100-400mm.
    It's not perfect, but stopped down to around f/8 it is very sharp. The size and weight are manageable.
    Used prices for the first version seem to be around $700 so it's not too expensive.
    An alternative these days would be one of the 150-600mm Tamron or Sigma lenses (although they are in the $1000+ range).
  21. Thanks Joseph. I appreciate you sharing with me some insights into the trade. It's interesting learning what's possible. Also, thanks for the info on property releases. I'll look into this further. Tomorrow's weather looks pretty good so hopefully this means more boats.
    Geoff, thanks for the information on the lenses and for telling me about your experience with the 400mm one. I actually noticed in your gallery that you used it to take the picture of the 2 guys racing. Your pictures were great and they showed me what can be done with the larger lens. I'll take a look at the other lenses you mentioned too.
  22. I agree with some of the other posters, you're going to need a good lens like the 100-400 (V1 or V2), almost any DSLR body will work.
  23. Thanks Brett. I'll look around for 100-400 lenses. I learned that EF corresponds to some Canon lenses but what does V1 and V2 mean? Sorry if this is an obvious question. Thanks.
  24. It means version 1 or version 2. In this case I'd stick with a used v1, as the new v2s will likely sink your budget - in fact given your $500 budget, you're already sunk, even with a 'v1'
    Given a starting budget of ~$500, I'd start with a few generations old Rebel (T2i ish) and an EF-S 55-250 IS or EF 70-300mm IS, plus the legendary el-cheapo EF-S 18-55 IS. You will absolutely NEED a circular polarizer, which might be a trial to use on those lenses, but learning to use it will teach you a lot. If you are shooting from another boat, IS will be helpful, but given the environment, it is unlikely you will need it... Until you try to shoot on a cloudy or dark day, or in transitional light... Then you'll be thanking the drowned god that Canon engineers invented it...
  25. Thank you Marcus for answering my question and telling me about the different versions of the Canon lens. They are pricey but at some point I see myself making a purchase of the 400mm EF lens. I'll have to wait and see if it will be the V.1 or V.2 versions. I appreciate the tip about the Rebel cameras and the critical need to have a circular polarizer.
    I noticed the price decrease with the V.1 used lenses. I'm wondering if I could go even cheaper and pick up a used Tamron or other brand. If you don't mind me asking, how does this sound? Could I still obtain a similar quality lens this way?
  26. Just a comment about the polarizer: I don't use one for the simple reason that I want the reflections off the water.
  27. Hi,
    I just wanted to come back and thank everyone for your help in choosing a camera. I picked up a Canon 40D on Amazon and it included a few extras. I've been having fun learning how to use it as this is my first DSLR. The lens is a kit lens and is an EF 28-135mm IS one. This should help me learn the ropes a bit.
    Thanks again. Have a great summer!

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