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11-24-2011, 07:27 AM   #1
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Which lens should I choose

Hey all,

not been around these parts for a while- the forums have had a bit of facelift!

I'd like a bit advice on lens choice.

Main purpose use/use will be indoors for informal/fairly formal family portraits and some informal jazz gigs in smoky(oops I meant non-smoky) french cafe's.

My choice so far is:

Sigma 30mm f1.4 EX DG HSM
Pentax 40mm f2.8 SMC Limited
Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM

I've got a k10d and this will be my first fixed-length/prime lens.

Thanks
T~

11-24-2011, 07:53 AM   #2
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For head and shoulders portraits the 30 and 40 are a bit short. A 50 is generally a bit long for indoors or groups shots. It might work for clubs depending on the shooting distance as usual.
11-24-2011, 07:53 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Techno~ Quote
some informal jazz gigs in smoky(oops I meant non-smoky) french cafe's.
Ok, in short, all of the ones you have listed are great fantastic lenses that can help you make amazing photos.

Now, to be honest, none of them will be good for an all around lens for what you have mentioned. For the family portraits, any one of the ones you have listed will work fine, for the cafe stuff, you WILL NEED multiple primes or a zoom, one prime WILL NOT WORK (without half a** cropping) for many different cafe's.

Check out the DA*50~135 - plenty of images of club/cafe shots around shot with this lens that will make you drool. Also, you may want to look into a new body - as great as the K10D is, newer bodies give you the advantage of super high ISO performance (my K5's IQ is incredible at 4000 ISO, the Kx at 2500 ISO)...





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11-24-2011, 08:20 AM   #4
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If you're thinking of one lens to leave on more often than the rest, I would definitely choose the Sigma 30. Think of old film cameras, where everyone shot with a 50mm. The Sigma 30mm will give you a little wider, but I think it will be most flexible for your uses. Stand a little closer to create more intimiate images.

The first prime I bought, I couldn't help but play with the big aperture, and I think you will love experimenting with it!

11-24-2011, 10:27 AM   #5
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If you have the kit lens, set it to 30mm and do with it what you want to use the 30mm for and see if it works for you under the given circumstances. Same for the 40mm and the 50mm. Do not change the focal length, just keep it on those lengths and try it out.

As the others said, one prime will not do it all. The 30mm is the most universal one for day-to-day shooting; I know as my FA31Ltd barely leaves the camera; it's just about a perfect focal length. 50mm will usually be a bit too long for indoors, but is considered a nice focal length for portraits.

For the jazz gigs: a person (e.g. artist) 1.8m tall at about 6 meters distance will require a 50mm lens so the artist fills the frame (landscape) or 75mm (portrait). Are you seated at double distance, multiply the focal length by 2. You might be better off with a 28-75 or 17-70 zoom for this type of work. Have a look at Marc Sabatella ; he's a jazz musician and Pentax photographer (K200D) who is active on this forum. Here are some of his blog articles about concert photography
Marc Sabatella: Concert Photography - Equipment
Marc Sabatella: Concert Photography - Technique
Marc Sabatella: Concert Photography - Post-Processing

If I remember correctly, he uses primes.

It's up to you to prioritize.
11-24-2011, 11:10 AM   #6
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I would also recommend a 28-75 or 17-70 f/2.8 zoom. If your camera is a Kx, Kr, or K5, with their excellent high-ISO capabilities, then even an old F35-70 would serve well for portraiture from full-body to headshots -- and it will only cost 5-10% of a slightly faster zoom.

On problem with shooting fast primes in darker spaces is that their DOF will be razor-thin. A 30/1.4 won't be too bad; a 50/1.4, much as I love it, can just be difficult. I may use fairly fast manual primes is such spaces -- 24-28-35-50-58-85mm f/2, with my K20D's ISO floating up to 1600-2400 -- but even at f/2, DOF is pretty thin with the 50-58-85mm lenses.

So, my recommendations: Sigma 30/1.4 for low light; Tamron 17-70/2.8 for general use, or F35-70/3.5-4.5 as a budget alternative. And boost your camera's ISO. Noise can be fixed in PP but motion blur can't. Good luck!
11-24-2011, 11:19 AM   #7
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I do use primes. I tend to focus more on upper-body-plus-instrument shots as opposed to full body shots or groups shots, meaning I use longer focal lengths than some might. My most used lenses for this purpose are the M120/2.8 and the DA70/2.4, although as I describe in my article on equipment, if one is going to go with just one prime, my choice would be a 100. Here's a typical example from my 120:



Even when I do take group shots, I often prefer using telephoto lenses from a bit of a distance as opposed to wide angle lenses up close, as the so-called "compression effect" allows me to fill more of the frame with my subjects, whereas a wide angle lens up close tends to emphasize the space between the subjects, showing the musicians as relatively small and faceless figures.

But whereas telephoto lenses allow for good closeups from almost any vantage point, you do have to be able to position yourself just so in order to use them for group shots. Here is a recent example:

11-24-2011, 12:05 PM   #8
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For portraits I always recommend an 85mm lens, as IMO it's a fantastic focal length:
320109 Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens for Pentax AF Cameras - USA Warranty

Won't really work for group shots, though. Maybe get that and the 30mm?


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11-24-2011, 12:54 PM   #9
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I'm a poor peasant farmer in south west France - it's taken me 2 years to save a little kitty for this new lens, so as much as I'd love to get a couple of lenses it's not going to happen.

I have the Tamron 18-250 as my daily walkabout lens but I find that I can't get the lowlight shots I want with it. I also have the Bigma but that is primarily used when I'm doing sports (local rugby team) or wildlife shots and not really a suitable tool for portrait or smoky cafes

Thanks for all the input everyone - it seems that that the Sigma 30mm is leading the way in recommendations.
11-24-2011, 01:03 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Techno~ Quote
Thanks for all the input everyone - it seems that that the Sigma 30mm is leading the way in recommendations.
Well, if you are a "poor peasant farmer in south west France (as noted above)", then that's the more reason to not choose the sigma 30mm (put that money towards something else) - I can almost guarantee that you will quickly find that it is NOT IDEAL for shooting in cafe's, what it will do is nothing but hold you back on your creative potential in your cafe' shooting outings.

EDIT:

Ok, I will show you - first, I will let you know that I have a ton of experience in shooting indoors and music gigs, not in cafe's but still in/throughout the music scene. Every music gig I shoot I am right in the action, being literally feet away from the subjects. Marc mentioned he is a prime user, I too am a prime user and carry a large lens bag (with approx 9 primes), a body bag (camera body bag that is to carry extra bodies) and also a flash bag (speedlights, triggers, etc) to gigs.

Now, for some images:

Shot with DA 35mm 2.4 Prime


Shot with Takumar 55mm 1.8 Prime


Shot with Samyang 85mm 1.4 Prime (multiple images)








Shot with Takumar 135mm 2.5 Prime



*********************************************
Now, this is where is gets crazy (take note of the lens and remember I am closer than what most are to the action):
*********************************************

Shot with Vivitar (Komine) 70~210 2.8









If you think that Sigma 30 will work, it's your decision and money - I am just guaranteeing you that over time you will find that it is not well suited for an all around lens to be used in cafe shooting...







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Last edited by joe.penn; 11-24-2011 at 01:39 PM.
11-24-2011, 01:51 PM   #11
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I would suggest DA*55mm/f1.4.



The advantage of having a fast lens and in the case half a pint of Guinness is spoiled on your camera, you wont have a problem.
11-24-2011, 02:10 PM   #12
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My suggestion for the DA*50~135mm 2.8 still stands - it is essentially 3 or 4 prime lenses wrapped in one lens. The only disadvantage is it is a large lens, other than that it is a much better option than having to go out and get a handful of primes when just starting out in that particular style of shooting...
11-25-2011, 08:41 AM   #13
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i think you are looking too short

the husband of my wife's friend has a band, and I shot one of their first performances in a club, using mostly my Super tak 50/1.4 and 85/1.9

see the link

At the Hollywood on the Queensway | Facebook
11-25-2011, 09:44 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
My suggestion for the DA*50~135mm 2.8 still stands - it is essentially 3 or 4 prime lenses wrapped in one lens. The only disadvantage is it is a large lens, other than that it is a much better option than having to go out and get a handful of primes when just starting out in that particular style of shooting...
Although I hate to say it (because I just love the Sigma 30/1.4) I think Joe is right. You may be shooting from a variety of postions/angles/distances and if this is your first lens then the 50-135 makes sense. Or even better if you can find it is the Sigma 50-150/2.8 (HSM - far more reliable and faster focusing than SDM, a touch extra length and sharp from 2.8, superb lens). I saw someone selling one of these the other day at a great price considering it is difficult to get hold of because no-one wants to sell it - it is that good !
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