For years when shooting with film for magazines, print media, or just recreation, my go-to lens was a 300mm fixed focal length f/4.5 lens. In fact it was used for about 80% of my work. Yes, it was a bit on the hefty side; but, not as big or heavy as the 300 f/2.8. And it was usually on a tripod.
It also provided most of the things that one looks for in an image – Isolation of subject, minimum distractions, and super Bokah. Also, after a while I began to see like my 300mm – a real plus when considering which images to shoot.
When hand holding, the extra weight also provided a comfortable platform for active wildlife photography and birds in flight.
Flora and small detail became large enough for the average viewer to appreciate. To get closer to the subject (some long lens only focus normally as close as five feet) one simply attaches an extension tube, turning the long lens into a macro like set up.
Depth-of-field is reduced with magnification; but, that sets up a super formula for soft background – a great isolation technique.
And while most landscape photography is accomplished using a wind angle lens with maxium depth-of-field, the long lens provides the opportunity to isolate parts of a scene. This more macro view, often provides a more intimate experience for scenes too complex for the viewer to appreciate.
Todays digital platform also provides a boost to long lens shooting – a 1.5 times effective focal length. A 200mm lens produces a 300mm image and a 300mm lens, a 450mm lens image.
And, quality faster 70-200 f/2.8 lens are both lighter and more economical for the average photographer. And some of the newer digital lenses like the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-4.5 are more compact – great for travel photography as well. They even focus as close as 6″ to the subject, virtually eliminating the need for extension tubes.