Shooting Portraits at an Insane 900mm

There is really no convincing professional reason to shoot portraits at a focal length of 900mm, and I am not going to sit here and try to convince you that there is. But sometimes, we do things for fun, just because we can. And that's exactly what happened when this photographer team decided to shoot portraits at such a crazy focal length.

Coming to you from Manny Ortiz, this fun video follows him as he teams up with a couple other popular photography YouTubers to shoot portraits with a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS attached to a Sony Alpha a6400, which gives it a full frame equivalent focal length of a whopping 900mm. As you might expect, this rather unorthodox choice of setup comes with some unique challenges. The first and most obvious issue is the sheer weight. While Sony's 600mm f/4 is remarkably light, it still tips the scales at almost seven pounds, and with a lot of that weight far away from the photographer's body, it is quite a lot to handle. The second issue is the insanely narrow angle of view, making it very difficult to put the subject in frame and keep them there. Still, it looks like a ton of fun! Check out the video above to see how they did. 

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Peter Gargiulo's picture

On the contrary...that was a GREAT idea. Lots of fun.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

As Thomas Crown (the second) points out while winning a $40K bet for chipping to the green, "It's a beautiful Saturday morning, what else are we gonn-eh to do?!"

EL PIC's picture

Absurd he says in his first few words ..
Most would agree.

Ivan Lantsov's picture

without tripod is insane

mark wilkins's picture

Tripod or Monopod Mandatory...Not Optional. Seriously.

Jason Frels's picture

The entire time I was wondering why they didn't have a monopod.

Irene Rudnyk's picture

to make it more ridiculous :)

PC B's picture

Foreshortening... A missed opportunity here to create images that just couldn't be done without a very long lens... IE, utilizing deep depth of field and compression: foreshortening.

Somewhere, probably on the DVD commentary of Last Temptation of Christ, Scorsese talks of wanting to recreate a particular style of painting in which perspective becomes an illusion and objects in the foreground and background become the same size... Think of how when using a wide angle lens objects closer to the camera appear much larger than objects further from the camera. The longer the lens you use less this happens and the more that foreground and background appear to be the same size... This is foreshortening.

Scorsese uses it well in this crown of thorns scene... a very very long lens.

That style of painting:

Nick Rains's picture

At the risk of playing the old codger card, anyone who shot news and sport in the 1980s and 90s would have hand-held 400-500mm lenses as a part of their every day work. These new lenses are so much lighter so I'd call this set up as the equiv of a 500f4 from the 90s. Nothing new here, just need a reasonably strong arm. And those lenses were manual focus BTW.
Grumbles into beard, kids these days.... ;-)

R Heschelman's picture

Manual focus AND without VR.
However did we take pictures back then?

Fritz Asuro's picture

But Lee did something similar way back.

Eric Salas's picture

I beg to differ. Happy Gilmore accomplished that feat no more than an hour ago.

Alex Cooke's picture

Oh you can count. Good for you.

Eric Salas's picture

Did you not get that quote ?

David Blacker's picture

I shot some portraits at 400mm on a 7DMkII which works out to about 600mm.

R Heschelman's picture

I know you were out having fun
600mm and no mono/tripod or steadying against something solid.
(cue the circus music)

David Blacker's picture

Oh, I wasn't there for fun. I was working. My job was to shoot an athletics meet. And it was a 100-400mm, so far more manageable than a 600mm. I've even shot concerts with it.