5 Fast-Paced Frames with the Nikon 70-210 f/4 Series E – by Simon King

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.


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3 thoughts on “5 Fast-Paced Frames with the Nikon 70-210 f/4 Series E – by Simon King”

  1. I have been consistently impressed with my copy of the 70-210mm f/4 Series E lens. For being part of the Nikon budget Series E lineup, I am impressed with the build quality of this lens and it’s very solid feel. I have taken some of my very favorite portraits with this lens and brought it with me on several long trips to document my travels. It is neither overly large or overly heavy for this zoom range. For what it costs, the 70-210mm f/4 Series E certainly delivers very good image quality. I would agree with Simon that focus creep is an issue with this push-pull lens and my copy suffers from it as well, but I am not typically trying to capture fast action or “in the moment” shots with this lens. It’s a lens I would recommend to anyone shooting with a manual focus Nikon SLR.

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