For a while now I’ve wanted to work more with faster paced, more energetic situations, in order to make images with a bit more dynamic movement. I think this is a response to the relative slowness I was working with in the first half of this year, and I want to compensate for what feels like a lack of anything dynamic and different in many of the images I was producing. Longer lenses in my use tend to be best for very composition based images, and this is something I wanted to break away from.
Usually for fast and close work I would opt for a 35mm/50mm option, but I wasn’t yet comfortable being too close to other people, even while wearing PPE. The necessity for working at a distance was annoying, but I still wanted to achieve a result based on responding to events and moments unfolding in front of me rather than lining things up, or pre-empting.
On a longer lens this posed some challenges, especially as I don’t really like to use autofocus – an F6 paired with a modern lens would probably manage most fast situations, but I needed to rely on pre-focusing, tracking movement, and constantly tweaking the focus ring. The depth of field at longer lenses is incredibly thin, and without a rangefinder I need to be able to very careful with the split image – I find rangefinders much easier to focus wide-open than a split-image on an SLR.
At 210 it was quite tricky to keep up with the things going on around me, but in time I was able to react to what’s in front of me; spot the potential, frame roughly, then nail the action. The 70-210 is a great lens, but being ready quickly was something that suffered as a result of the weight and build quality – I carry my camera pointing downward, and the focus ring often creeps downwards and leaves me at the shorter lens rather than where I want it to be. Resetting this constantly became a part of my workflow, and a compromise I’m happy to make, considering the results!
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts on using this lens for fast-paced work! If you liked my work here, please consider following me on Instagram! I buy all of my film from Analogue Wonderland.