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06-14-2010, 04:52 AM   #1
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Good lens for gig photography

I take a lot of photos at gigs and doing so is one of my favourite hobbies. It is something that I would like to take professional or at least get my pictures standing out from the rest.

At the moment the two lenses I use for gigs are the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my K200D and a manual nifty 50 f 1.7. The problem I'm having at the moment is that the kit lens performs ok but doesn't quite have the aperture I'd like to be able to get the really low light shots. Also the colour and contrast just doesn't compare to my nifty 50.

However the problem with the nifty 50 is that it's a manual. At a gig, particularly the rock gigs I frequent, there are many short moments of spontaneity from a good performer which are often missed because I'm still trying to focus, or I've caught and they're out focus, rendering a fantastic energetic shot, completely worthless. Added to this is the focal length; it's just too much for a gig. If it's relatively quiet and I can stand quite far from the stage without anyone getting in my way or the venue is one of those big places with barriers between you and the stage, it's fine. I've found I often stay between 18-30mm on my kit lens during gigs.

So basically I would like something around the 20mm mark (limited or unlimited) with a low F stop, autofocus and colour/contrast to compare to a nifty 50. As I am still a bit new to the world of lenses (having spent the last couple of years trying to get technique right before anything else) I would appreciate the help as I just don't know where to start!

Oh also, budget is a bit of an issue as I am a music technology student and as such spend what little money I do have on instruments/mixers/software/controllers etc. I am more than willing to look at second hand items as well. I would say no more than 300 though...

Cheers,

Hali

06-14-2010, 05:15 AM   #2
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Your best bet, given your requirements, would be the DA* 16-50 f2.8. It's a great lens, similar in range to your kit (wider, though) and extremely good.

If you want a fast wide, the DA 21 Limited is fantastic for bokeh and colours. It's f3,2, decently fast but not the fastest for action shots. You can find used AF 28mm f2,8 lenses quite often. There is also a 24 mm f2 but it's rare and expensive.

If a large size for a prime does not bother you, Sigma has a 20 mm and a 30 mm, both f1,4. They are soft wide open, quite good starting at f2.
06-14-2010, 05:27 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hali Quote
I take a lot of photos at gigs and doing so is one of my favourite hobbies. It is something that I would like to take professional or at least get my pictures standing out from the rest.

At the moment the two lenses I use for gigs are the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my K200D and a manual nifty 50 f 1.7. The problem I'm having at the moment is that the kit lens performs ok but doesn't quite have the aperture I'd like to be able to get the really low light shots. Also the colour and contrast just doesn't compare to my nifty 50.

However the problem with the nifty 50 is that it's a manual. At a gig, particularly the rock gigs I frequent, there are many short moments of spontaneity from a good performer which are often missed because I'm still trying to focus, or I've caught and they're out focus, rendering a fantastic energetic shot, completely worthless. Added to this is the focal length; it's just too much for a gig. If it's relatively quiet and I can stand quite far from the stage without anyone getting in my way or the venue is one of those big places with barriers between you and the stage, it's fine. I've found I often stay between 18-30mm on my kit lens during gigs.

So basically I would like something around the 20mm mark (limited or unlimited) with a low F stop, autofocus and colour/contrast to compare to a nifty 50. As I am still a bit new to the world of lenses (having spent the last couple of years trying to get technique right before anything else) I would appreciate the help as I just don't know where to start!

Oh also, budget is a bit of an issue as I am a music technology student and as such spend what little money I do have on instruments/mixers/software/controllers etc. I am more than willing to look at second hand items as well. I would say no more than 300 though...

Cheers,

Hali
Well, I guess that when you say fast, you say 2.8 and below.
Apart from the 16-50/2.8, there's not much with Pentax.

I had a look at Sigma, and they have the following :
| 20mm f/1.8 EX DG
| 24mm f/1.8 EX DG
If my memory is correct, the 20 is a good lens.

Tamron has the following :
SP AF17-35MM F/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF) which looks quite cheap.
Not sure about its reputation.

However, please keep in mind that wide angle are expensive lenses (the wider, the more expensive) and that fast lenses are expensive too, therefore, fast wide-angle tend to be very expensive (see Nikon FF offering)

Basically with new lenses, ther are very few bargains, and even then, it depends on what you call cheap...
06-14-2010, 05:31 AM   #4
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i think the OP might want to look at an FA 50mm F1.4

Fast and same focal length as hos Manual focus 50mm. The bigger aperture also won't hurt the AF in terms of light coming in to focus. an F2,8 lens, while faste rthan his kit lens is still giving up 2 stops to the FA 50.

06-14-2010, 05:45 AM   #5
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I think you should reconsider your needs just a little:

For most band gigs, the players are more or less stationery. (You're not shooting The Who, are you?)

So is autofocus and auto exposure something you HAVE to have, if you can find a fast, superior manual zoom for comparatively peanuts?
06-14-2010, 05:56 AM   #6
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Cheers for the help so far everyone! I will look up these lenses; it gives me a good place to start!

Also, Ira, it would really depend on the quality of the lens. If there is a really good lens for next to nothing with fantastic quality that fits most of the requirements, I would be happy to sacrifice the autofocus. Do you have any suggestions of manual lenses?
06-14-2010, 06:13 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hali Quote
Cheers for the help so far everyone! I will look up these lenses; it gives me a good place to start!

Also, Ira, it would really depend on the quality of the lens. If there is a really good lens for next to nothing with fantastic quality that fits most of the requirements, I would be happy to sacrifice the autofocus. Do you have any suggestions of manual lenses?
In the focal lenght range you indicate, I have several of interest

In M42 mount I have SMC Tak 35 F2, 50mm Super Tak F1.4 and 85mm F1.9 ( I think Ira has these also)

In K mount I have a 50mm F1.4 and a vivitar 85mmF1.4 (KA mount) which is also sold as samyang, bower, pro optic and a few other brands as well.

For further away I have the SMC Pentax 135 F2.5 which is superb at all apertures as well as an M42 Tele lentar 135 F2.8.

any of these lenses will perform well for shooting gigs in poor lighting and focal length is a function of distance from the stage.

one thing to remember with MF lenses especially the older ones is that they have a relitively long focusing throw, meaning that you have to get close tot he focusing range first, and aquire focus which takes a little time, but once focused, as Ira says the performers are somewhat bound by the microphone stands and electrical hookups so keeping focused is not an issue, and as performers move, or you shift subjects the change in focus is not hard to deal with. the long focusing throw makes for good fine adjustment.
06-14-2010, 06:19 AM   #8
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I would try a Tamron 90mm Macro AF f2.8. It is a tack sharp lens and if you take some distance you could also get good stage shots - USD 300-400 ebay/marketplace. It has the great convenience of getting much easier headshots from near the stage.

On the other hand, a 50mm FA/F 1.4/1.7 may be your best shot for a fast wide-ish AF lens, maybe a DA 40 f 2.8. The 50s are USD 220-300 in the Marketplace, the DA 40 around 350 USD

06-14-2010, 07:46 AM   #9
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Like I said, I'm more looking for something in the 20mm area. I didn't mention it earlier but I also have a 50 - 200mm and I pretty much never use it for gigs and the main issue I have with my nifty 50 is that it's a 50mm. I need something wider. The suggestions are appreciated but like I said I'm really not looking for anything above 30mm - 40mm.

At the moment my 50mm and my 50 - 200 are fine for head shots.
06-14-2010, 07:57 AM   #10
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So you think 28 would be too long for you, huh? Because you can find good deals on an old 28 manual.

But once you get down to 24, 20, things get expensive.
06-14-2010, 08:28 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
So you think 28 would be too long for you, huh? Because you can find good deals on an old 28 manual.

But once you get down to 24, 20, things get expensive.
I would agree, 28 is the limit of low cost.

I picked up 2 different M42 28mm lenses, each for less than $15.

I got a tamron adaptall 28mm F2.5 for 12.99 and a vivitar 28mm F2.5 for 8.99

of the 2 I like the vivitar the best.

I also got a 28mm F2.8 Sigma Mini II macro (KA mount) for $30
06-14-2010, 11:37 AM   #12
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I shoot a ton of gigs, but I prefer closeup shots so I mostly shoot *longer* than 50mm. Still, a couple of words of advice:

If you shoot the 50 at f/2.8 or so rather than wide open, you'll have fewer out of focus shots. Also, learn to follow individual performers: focus on them while they;re not doing anything particulrly interesting, when simply wait until they do, adjusting focus slight as they move forward and backward. Bottom line being, don't completely give up on manual focus. I say this because you'll probably find AF equally frustrating in other ways - takes too long to lock, and often chooses to lock on the wrong thing (a stand, cable, or instrument instead of a face, for example).

I'd add that getting decent focus at 28mm or 20mm is a lot easier (well, less demanding, anyhow) than at 50mm. A 28 is indeed easy and cheap to get at f/2.8, and it's at least possible to get at f/2 for not outrageously expensive - again, though, manual focus. 24/2.8's can be had for reaosnable cheaper, and if you're patient and/or lucky, a 24/2 might be had for under $200 as well. All still manual focus.

If you want AF, the Sigmas mentioned above appear to be your best option, but they'll cost quite a bit more.
06-14-2010, 11:46 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I shoot a ton of gigs, but I prefer closeup shots so I mostly shoot *longer* than 50mm. Still, a couple of words of advice:

If you shoot the 50 at f/2.8 or so rather than wide open, you'll have fewer out of focus shots. Also, learn to follow individual performers: focus on them while they;re not doing anything particulrly interesting, when simply wait until they do, adjusting focus slight as they move forward and backward. Bottom line being, don't completely give up on manual focus. I say this because you'll probably find AF equally frustrating in other ways - takes too long to lock, and often chooses to lock on the wrong thing (a stand, cable, or instrument instead of a face, for example).

I'd add that getting decent focus at 28mm or 20mm is a lot easier (well, less demanding, anyhow) than at 50mm. A 28 is indeed easy and cheap to get at f/2.8, and it's at least possible to get at f/2 for not outrageously expensive - again, though, manual focus. 24/2.8's can be had for reaosnable cheaper, and if you're patient and/or lucky, a 24/2 might be had for under $200 as well. All still manual focus.

If you want AF, the Sigmas mentioned above appear to be your best option, but they'll cost quite a bit more.
Marc

one thing I find with lenses 28mm and shorter is that the DOF in the viewfinder is so large that I can't get always precise focus. What I have done is to go for a split image. which makes focusing the wide angles much easier. Longer lenses actually for me don't seem to be as much of a problem.
06-14-2010, 01:25 PM   #14
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The 16-50 is actually a fantastic lens - you should definitely consider it. In my recent experience with it, it focuses decently fast but VERY accurately. This is shooting in a dimly lit wedding reception - probably very similar to your gigs.

Also, consider finding a used FA 35/2.0. Great autofocus accuracy and speed, amazingly sharp, very fast aperture, very versatile focal length. This is one of my favorite primes, and it competes well with the more expensive FA 31 Limited. Although the 31 has the best bokeh of any lens I've ever owned.
06-14-2010, 01:31 PM   #15
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Cheers for all the advice everyone!

In looking up some of the lenses you guys mentioned on ebay I stumbled upon a K1000 kit someone was selling which had included, and I quote;

'Pentax K1000 Camera with 1.2 50mm lens, made in Japan. Fitted with sky-light filter (1B). Pentax camera case, camera strap, shutter release cable, and lens hood (flexible type). Instruction book supplied.

Wide Angle Lens by Sicor F2.8, 28mm, macro 1.5 made in Japan. UV filter fitted.

Telephoto Lens by Cosina, 80mm - 200mm zoom, manual slide. Sky-light 1A filter fitted.

Miranda Multi Dedicated Flash Gun. 700CD with carrying case, instruction book and colour filter pack.'

Snapped it up for about 80. Well chuffed. Can't wait to have a go on the K1000 as well as use the Sicor for gigs...
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