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10-08-2007, 10:46 AM   #1
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Lens for night street photography

I have used my FA 50 f/1.4 to shoot a bunch of night street photographs. While I am quite satisfied with the speed as I don't have any tripod, I find myself wanting a wider angle. Samples below using my 2nd copy of FA 50 f/1.4, mostly done at f/2.0 with iso 200 and iso 400 without a tripod.

Thoughts on Pentax FA 50 f/1.4 - Hin's Tech Corner

Night Scenes samples from FA 50 f/1.4

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My questions to you all is about other good choices of wider and fast lens for street photography especially for night scene. Would a Sigma 17-70 zoom or a Tamoron 28-75 be good for those shots? Should a menu lens with K mount or M42 mount be considered? Can manual focusing be done at ease at night? And what is the trick to do manual focusing at night? What other lens would you suggest? My budget is low and I prefer to the inexpensive choices when available and that is also why I ask the question if manual focusing can be done at night.

Thanks,
Hin


Last edited by hinman; 10-08-2007 at 11:11 AM.
10-08-2007, 11:05 AM   #2
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Nice pic's Hin. I'm impressed.

Depending upon how much you have to spend Sigma has 3 lenses that I'd consider as good for what your doing. And they're all primes. I think that zooms might be a little slow for the application.

My #1 choice would be their 28mm F1.8 EX DG, and at $370.00 USD it's their most affordable.

Next choice is their 24mm F1.8 EX DG at $450.00 USD

And finally their 20mm F1.8 EX DG at $530.00 USD

Pentax of course offers the SMC Pentax-FA 35mm f/2.0 AL, but I don't know the price
10-08-2007, 11:11 AM   #3
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I can second the recomendation for the Sigm 28mm f/1.8 EX DG, it is a great lens and quite capable for low light photography. Of course, if price isn't an object, the Pentax FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited would be the best option. Theres also the Sigma 30mm f/1.4, which I have no experience with, but the samples I have see look good.
10-08-2007, 01:32 PM   #4
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I think one of the sigmas mentioned already would do good, the 28 is as I recall the cheapest of the lot.
the FA35 might do well too. I hae not tried my A24 during nighttime for real only some tripod work. but it is no problem to focus it in low light, I have used the sigma 17-70 a fair bit for night photography too and it does fine.

the perfect lens for it, well my guess would be either the FA31ltd or DA14, but neither comes cheap.

10-08-2007, 01:43 PM   #5
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Nice shots. I can't give any advice on good night photography lenses. Instead, I have a question: how well did autofocus work for you in these night shots? Could the lens lock on to your targets?
10-08-2007, 02:05 PM   #6
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Hi Hin,

Very nice shots - I think the answer to your question depends on your budget really and whether you want Pentax only or 3rd party lenses and how wide do you want it to be?

I myself use the FA31 f/1.8 Ltd - if you can spring up the cash for it - get it. It will be the best lens you own - I guarantee it. None the less it is a very expensive lens but I absolutely love the focal lenght (in fact I am glad for APS-C as I much prefer this focal in APS-C than on FF - I also have the DA21 (31mm in full frame terms) and while I love it too I use the FA31mm focal lenght more often it seems).

The other 2 contenders are the FA35mm f/2 - much cheaper at around $300 and also very sharp wide-open and a very good lens - quite comparable to the FA50 in feel and design. Really if I have to be honest this lens would have easily sufficed for me but I really did want the 4mm extra WA of the FA31 and of course the silky smooth bokeh of it.

The last lens I would recommend is the Sigma 28mm f/1.8 - I have no experience with since I don't own any lenses that don't say SMC on it But I guess it should be a decent lens you can do some research I guess. So it really depends just how wide you want to go as speed-wise they are all close (note I don't know how good the Sigma is wide-open but both Pentax lenses are excellent wide-open).
10-08-2007, 02:38 PM   #7
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Manual focusing is pretty tough at night. One strategy is to check for areas of high contrast like store signs.

If those aren't in your subject area, find one thats about the same distance to you as the subject. Focus on that, then pan over to your subject and shoot.
10-08-2007, 02:44 PM   #8
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Nice work Hin.

I don't really have an opinion based on experience, but I've been thinking about getting a fast(ish), wide(ish) prime for night street shooting. I've been leaning toward the Sigma 24 f1.8, but I'll be watching this thread to see what the consensus is.

10-08-2007, 04:28 PM   #9
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AF is fine on FA 50 f/1.4

QuoteOriginally posted by jms698 Quote
Nice shots. I can't give any advice on good night photography lenses. Instead, I have a question: how well did autofocus work for you in these night shots? Could the lens lock on to your targets?
Thanks to everyone on the various input and lens choices with Sigma. I want to reply on jms698 first, the lens' AF works fine in the street scene for me as I aim the focus at street night such as the contrasting area around a window frame or a well lighted street sign.

Among all the suggested choices, the Sigm 28mm f/1.8 and Pentax FA 35 f/2.0 seem to be the inexpensive choices. I also wonder if the Zenitar 16mm would do fine in street night scenes. I am on a low budget for gear. And with various inputs from others, I am leaning towards getting a small tripod like the ultrapod as well as a reasonable tripod so that a longer shutter can be obtained with my Kit's lens in focal length to cover 18mm to 35mm. The result would not be as nice as the more expensive lens, I am sure, but I get what I pay for.

All the suggested lens choices are very much appreciated as they will become my watch list and subject to my budget allowing more gear. My camera bag is currently full of inexpensive gear, to name a few -- DA 18-55, DA 50-200, FA 50 f/1.4, M42 adapter and three m42 lens costing me $0 because of old forgotten lens in my analog praktica camera.

Thanks again everyone,
Hin
10-08-2007, 04:56 PM   #10
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I don't know if its wide enough for your needs, but the FA35 has one major advantage over the vast majority of other fast lenses.: it's really sharp wide open. If light-gathering ability is important, it's nice to beable to use it at maximum aperture. A f/2 lens that must be stopped down to f/2.8 or f/4 to get sharp isn't exactly a fast lens anymore.

That's why the FA35 is the next lens on my list. I want a fast lens, and that means I want the fast end to be useable.
10-08-2007, 04:57 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by hinman Quote
#4
I like this shot a lot.

Good composition, and just pleasing to the eyes.

Nice, Hinman.

Mike
10-08-2007, 06:26 PM   #12
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You can forget about the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 if you want it anytime soon. It was OOS at every store I called. I called Sigma about it a week ago and they said it was hugely back-ordered with no ETA.
10-09-2007, 03:05 AM   #13
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I agree about the FA31 Ltd ... take a look at Sinan's night market/street scape series in his Zenfolio link (see above) ... and you will understand what I mean.

This is one lens I really want to get ... eventually.
10-11-2007, 12:17 PM   #14
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Tripod & mini-tripod suggestions needed

Instead of lens suggestion, I get suggestions from others about adding a tripod to my inexpensive gear.

Inexpensive gear with Pentax - Hin's Tech Corner

Why didn't I think of that? I am slow, please bear with me. If you know about a tripod with a ballhead (?) that is roughly in the range of $150, can you pass me the pointer for the brand and model? I need suggestion. For mini-tripod, I am thinking of ultrapod2 and there is one similar to petco ultrapod 2 in REI in this link

REI Ultrapod II Tripod from REI.com

What are the important things to look in selecting a tripod especially for indoor portraits and night scene use?

Thank you,
Hin
10-11-2007, 02:52 PM   #15
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Some brand snobs will likely try to convince you otherwise, but...

I got a great tripod from amvona.com's eBay store. Their Dynatran line of tripods and heads are well-built knockoffs of other brands. I got a AT-858BL for a little over $50 shipped, and I only had to wait through a couple days worth of auctions to snag one at that price. Some were going for over $100...but those people just aren't observant.

Anyway, my 858 is rock solid, has a great pistol-grip ball head. It's pretty heavy, but I think that's an asset in a non-travel tripod. I had no idea how weak and wobbly my old tripod was until I got this thing. I highly recommend it...it's easily been the greatest bang-for-the-buck I've bought yet in photography. Save a TON of money and try one. The 828 has the same head and just slightly different legs...I would have taken either.
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