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03-28-2014, 07:32 AM   #1
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Best Budget lens for gigs

I completley forgot I was a registered member here.

20 y/o student photographer from Scotland here.

I want to start getting into gig photography but as I am a student I am on a major budget.

I recently bought a 50-200 for 40 but the AF is slow.

I was just wondering what you guys think I would be better buying the 50mm 1.8 for 119 or 35mm 2.4 for the same price. I was thinking the 35mm as I already have the 50-200 but that 1 stop or whatever it may be, will that make much of a difference?

Oh I shoot with a K-R aswell so iso doesn't do too well over 800.


Appreciate it.

03-28-2014, 08:12 AM   #2
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I've shot a couple smaller gigs with my Pentax A 50mm 1.4 and it did amazing in low light. The 50mm was limiting at times in the sense that I had to stand a good 20-30 feet back to capture the whole stage and band. But it has it's perks in that you can single out any particular band member without getting way too close. The manual focusing is a little tricky shooting low light situations too but I don't know how much better AF would perform.

The image below was shot from about 10ft (maybe 15ft?) from stage at 50mm, ISO 800, f1.4, 1/60. Photo a little out of focus but wanted to give you some perspective on the 50mm. I probably should have stopped down a bit 1.8 or 2.0 to get better IQ and this was when I was still shooting only JPEG.
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03-28-2014, 08:16 AM   #3
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I can't speak regarding the 35mm but I've got a K-r and the 50mm f1.8 and found the combination useless in low light situations from an AF point of view. Be prepared to have to manually focus. Also the K-r viewfinder focusing is unreliable in artificial light so you'll need to use Liveview
03-28-2014, 08:17 AM   #4
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I would absolutley have to use an AF lens. I wouldn't trust me MF in time to get the shot. I may go for the 35mm then to allow me to get more in the shot.

03-28-2014, 08:21 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Johndav Quote
I can't speak regarding the 35mm but I've got a K-r and the 50mm f1.8 and found the combination useless in low light situations from an AF point of view. Be prepared to have to manually focus. Also the K-r viewfinder focusing is unreliable in artificial light so you'll need to use Liveview
Good point on the viewfinder being useless. I really should have been using (or at least tried) LV with my K5. I found it hard to notice when those small micro adjustments had to be made as seen in my photo below.
03-28-2014, 08:27 AM   #6
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Primes For Concerts?

Hello degnann, welcome to the Forum!
First off, when selecting a prime (single-focal-length lens, as opposed to a zoom, which has a variable focal length) for a certain use, you first must decide which prime (focal length) will do the job, then find the best, fastest prime in that length. Saving a stop on a prime doesn't help if it's the wrong-length lens!
For concert work, the three focal lengths I'd bring would be a 20-24mm, a good 35mm and a fast fifty or slightly longer, like 70mm and, also fast. Yes, the maximum aperture is very important, moreso because you're dealing with low-light and subjects that aren't stationary.
So, the DA 35mm which is a medium-length lens, for a slightly wider view. A 24mm (say) for a much wider view- like the entire stage, side-to-side. A short tele (like the DA 50mm or a 70-85mm etc) for 'head shots' or portrait style photos.
Of course, it also depends on how near or far you can get to the stage, as far as how 'wide' an area the lens must cover. But generally, these three would get you through just fine. Some might want a slightly wider or longer selection.
Every extra stop of lens 'speed' (faster, like f/2.8, instead of f/4.0 or f/5.6) means you can shoot at a higher shutter speed to freeze action, or use a lower ISO to reduce noise, better image quality. This is an advantage you can't really equal any other way, without quality-reducing tradeoffs.
There's no substitute for fast glass!
Besides 3 fast primes, the other option is a fast zoom that covers the same range, i.e. a 16-50mm f/2.8, a 24-70mm f/2.8, etc. As you've probably seen, these can cost between $500 (USD) to $1,500, and everywhere in-between. But this is the entry fee into low-light photography.
Three good, fast primes, all new, would run $800-$1,000, all together. Used, somewhat less, but still costly.
Good luck!
Ron
03-28-2014, 10:59 AM   #7
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If you can't shoot past ISO 800 sell the 50-200 and get the 50 1.8. Then add the 35 2.4. The 50 will do well from 2.0 and up (1.8 might be a bit soft - it really should have been an f2 lens). The 35 is good from 2.4 and up. The IQ difference compared to the 50-200 f/4-5.6 in low light will be worth it.

Also, my experience is that manual focus isn't nearly as bad as I thought. People on stage don't move all that much, usually, and when they do, it's easy to prefocus to where they'll be. So I've had good luck with my SMC-A 70-210 f4 manual focus zoom - sharper than most consumer zooms, and the constant f4 helps a lot at the long end. If you can find one cheap, I strongly recommend playing around with one.

This is the DA 35 2.4 at Limerick University in Ireland.



This was taken with the A 70-210mm f4 wide open at a very dark environment. Camera SR helped a lot I'm sure!



Keeping in mind that my K20D has worse ISO performance than your K-R.

Last edited by ChristianRock; 03-28-2014 at 11:13 AM.
03-28-2014, 11:08 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
If you can't shoot past ISO 800 sell the 50-200 and get the 50 1.8. Then add the 35 2.4. The 50 will do well from 2.0 and up (1.8 might be a bit soft - it really should have been an f2 lens). The 35 is good from 2.4 and up. The IQ difference compared to the 50-200 f/4-5.6 in low light will be worth it.

Also, my experience is that manual focus isn't nearly as bad as I thought. People on stage don't move all that much, usually, and when they do, it's easy to prefocus to where they'll be. So I've had good luck with my SMC-A 70-210 f4 manual focus zoom - sharper than most consumer zooms, and the constant f4 helps a lot at the long end. If you can find one cheap, I strongly recommend playing around with one.
Get both the 50 and the 35 I thought it would make sense yo have one or the other. If I ever get a gig to shoot I would try using manual focus to see how it goes.

I would never have thought of using LV. Right now I'm leaning towards the 35mm

03-28-2014, 11:16 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by degnann Quote
Get both the 50 and the 35 I thought it would make sense yo have one or the other. If I ever get a gig to shoot I would try using manual focus to see how it goes.

I would never have thought of using LV. Right now I'm leaning towards the 35mm
The difference is that the 50 is a 1.8 lens.

But if I could take only two lenses to a gig, it would be the DA 35 2.4 and my SMC-A 135 2.8. Both perform very well wide open.
03-28-2014, 01:12 PM   #10
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thanks for the help everyone. Think I'm going to go with the 35 2.4. I reckon that should yield decent results. Now my next step is to buy speedlites and start getting my kit growing.
03-28-2014, 01:30 PM   #11
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I have a couple speedlights, didn't pay a lot for them. The AF280T is highly recommended and cheap... but on those pictures above, I couldn't use flash. That's why a fast lens is important.
03-28-2014, 01:55 PM   #12
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yeah the speedlite won't be for the gig stuff.
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