I was on holiday in this lovely spot! Highly recommended if you love peace, nature and a good wind
But now onto some insights this action shooting brought.
Distance and focal length
Those guys zip around pretty fast, sometimes coming very close to the beach as there were no swimmers to watch out for and they could surf on very shallow water. On other times they were doing their jumps some 50m (and more) out there.
Now, not having a zoom would make it very hard to adapt to these changes in distance until you position yourself a little "up- or downstream" to the action, i.e. not at the point where the surfers approach the shoreline. So when the surfer comes in he is not directly approaching you but moving laterally to you. This way the distance does not change so much and you can do quite well even with a fixed-focal like my Sigma 400/5.6. But a 5x zoom of the 80-400mm variety or a 120-400mm would be very nice.
How long a lens do you need? Well, I was happy to have a 400mm mounted. As you can see, some of the action was happening at a fair distance from the shore. 300mm would certainly have only limited appeal and 200mm is definitely too short. And we're talking about an APS-C sensor here with a 1.5x crop factor, not FF/FX! So now you understand why the pros with their FF/FX-bodies bring their 600/5.6 with them
Protecting your lens
Under these circumstances (wind + sand + salt-water) you should be definitely protecting your lens with a UV-filter. Even then you want to hide your gear under the jacket when not actively shooting. And you should definitely not expose your gear to spray.
So when I said position yourself up-/downstream you should select the side of the beach that makes it possible for you to shoot with the wind and not against it. This way your head/body shields the gear from the elements better. But it might just be that this position is not optimal with regard to the position of the sun
Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews
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