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05-27-2013, 03:18 AM   #1
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Best lens for Car shows

As titled, what is the best lens for taking photos of cars like in the magazines?


05-27-2013, 03:50 AM   #2
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Thats a pretty hard question. In those magazines they use more than one lens, they also pay a lot of attention to lighting and use a lot of flashes. And they clean the car really well!
If you want a "one lens answer" I would say something like the DA 35mm (the f2.4 should do, but the macro would allow some nice detail photos) or DA 40mm (ltd or XS).
05-27-2013, 04:05 AM   #3
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Car Showing?

Hello Sonic, Welcome to the Forum!
I don't know which magazine photos you're referring to, but I've been to indoor new car shows, outdoor classic car shows, cruises and benefit runs, both motorcycle and classic car.
By far my most-used lens is the 16-45mm f/4.0 DA. Usually the cars are packed pretty tight and you can't back up far enough to use a "normal" focal length lens, you're shooting in the 16-24mm range. This will result in the wide-angle look, where the part of the object closest to the lens appears larger than normal, but not the "Fisheye" effect where the entire object is curved or overly distorted. There will be some distortion between 16-20mm (roughly) but it isn't too obvious and usually can be corrected in post, if desired.
For indoor shoots, a good flash with bounce is handy, without it the interior lighting can be difficult, but not impossible, to correct.
I also take a 35mm prime for natural-looking shots and a short telephoto (70mm-100mm) for details and closeups.
Bring spare batteries for both the camera and flash, and a spare SD card too. You'll need them!
You might check out the "Gearheads Unite" thread for lots of sample photos and info on lenses, specs and tips.
Good luck,
05-27-2013, 04:09 AM   #4
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Na horuk, Ye your right of course they would use more than one, i think as i've just come back from a car show i was think more for a one lens for the day.

Would a wide angel lens 12-24mm work well for get up close for the detailed shots & with getting more more in the shot?

Rbefly so great advice, thanks

05-27-2013, 04:13 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Sigma 17-70. And don't forget to post some photos of the models cars.

05-27-2013, 04:32 AM   #6
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Taking photos "like in the magazines" usually involves a process, to include artificial lighting, controlled conditions and the lens choice fits that environment, often a pro level zoom for latitude. You don't say what lenses you own, or whether it is an indoor or outdoor event, so pretty much everything is an unknown in your question except the subject being shot. So here are some generalities to answer your question. If outdoors, try and shoot in the morning or evening when the light is less harsh, If you have a zoom available covering wide to normal at the long end which is reasonably fast, say f/2.8 that will give you more latitude. Hopefully there is plenty of ambient light available regardless, as you're not going to be able to use much in the way of lighting and modifiers. Employee the basics, for every short fall in your equipment or in the environment, there are basic options we have to compensate for them a little. When shooting in an uncontrolled environment, your skills will be the greatest factor towards getting quality shots. Remember, most of all enjoy yourself.
05-27-2013, 07:21 AM - 1 Like   #7
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I go to a lot of car shows. All of them are outside and usually in the middle of the day. That means strong, harsh sunlight with lots of reflections and shadows. Some shows are very crowded and the cars are very close together so wide angle lenses are an absolute must. I use a DA 15 Limited and a DA 10-17 Fisheye. The 18mm on my kit lens is not really wide enough. The 15 is just wide enough and the flare resistance of that lens is a huge asset. The DA 12-24 or Sigma 10-20, 8-16 would all be good choices also.

Those beautiful magazine cars you see are shot with lots of artificial light, almost studio conditions. You aren't going to get those kind of results walking into a car show.
05-27-2013, 08:01 AM   #8
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Before I went to a local (indoor) car show a couple of months ago I Googled looking for tips on photographing car shows... there's good info out there.

12 Tips For Car Show Photographers | Photofocus (I did #2 from this list and it helped, no doubt.)

Better Car Show Photography, Tamron USA

My wife and I arrived at the show at dinner time versus going first thing in the morning and the crowd was hardly a problem. I didn't have any trouble at all with getting good shots and could take a bit more time setting up the shots.

Last edited by OrangeKx; 05-27-2013 at 12:30 PM. Reason: clean up text.
05-27-2013, 09:25 AM   #9
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I would be using several of my Limiteds, likely the 15 and 31 the most to maximize IQ. I would use existing light where possible and a flash diffuser since bounce flash is likely not an option.
05-27-2013, 01:37 PM   #10
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Usually space is the problem so the wider end for lenses is the best choice, I usually use primes cos they're a bit faster in the lower light conditions of indoor shows.
05-27-2013, 02:35 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Schmidlapper, sorry I'm a bit new to it all still so my question was a bit vague, i've had my K-r about a year & a half so I'm getting the hang of the different technique, trying to remember them all at the time can be hard but i'll get there.

I currently have the 18-55mm lens that came with the camera & a 50mm & 80-200mm manual lens's

& some shots I'm looking to take will be outside & some inside just depending on the time & the place as I'm trying to get the best shots of my own car in different locations & then when I'm at car show like yesterday where there are car outside in the sun some in the shade then some indoors with different level of lighting so a bit of a mixed bag.

So was wondering if a different lens would help me get some better photos.
05-27-2013, 02:36 PM   #12
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Thankyou for all the advice & links they will be very help fully
05-27-2013, 05:16 PM   #13
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The people on this forum are great! They continue to help me a lot.
05-27-2013, 05:29 PM   #14
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I would suggest the a 17-50 F2.8 or a 17-70 F2.8-4.

Some examples:

The reason I suggest a 17-50/70 is because you will need wide for the cars that have a lot of people around them. You will need tele for the sets of cars that are behind barriers. Having semi-macro (1:3) capability helps when shooting finer details on cars. Having F2.8 is very helpful as the light inside most convention centers are not the best. Outdoors is a different matter.
05-28-2013, 11:43 AM   #15

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I do a lot of vintage car shows and have done for years.

My favourite lens...the Pentax 12-24mm. Reasons...wonderful quality photo's....the zoom..particulary at 12 to 14mm...allows me to cut in close and 'avoid' people, other cars around the car I want to photograph.

I also like my 10-17mm Fisheye at 17mm. Play with the angles at this setting and wow...the punch this lens provides is something else. Very sharp too. I don't use the; 10 to about 15mm....pretty well just use 17mm and level it out ...great at lengthening hoods on vinate cars...such as later '30's GM cars.

I also like my 40mm Limited and 70mm and good for parts of cars...grille...headlights,,,,hood ornaments.

The Pentax 50mm...both normal f 1.4 and Macro...are also great. The 50 normal...provides a fast lens for evening photography and a creamy bokeh that must be seen to be believed.

I photograph vintage cars almost exclusively outdoors...don't like outdoors available light...prefer the sun...especially the hour before sunset.

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