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08-12-2015, 02:11 AM   #1
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Looking for 2 primes for event shooting

I'm in search for two lenses, one around 20mm and the other at 50 or a bit longer focal. Both with large apertures and fast focusing ability. Lenses that will suit well for event (wedding) photography mostly in low light conditions. It's a big plus if the lenses aren't too large or heavy.

I currently use the following:
Sigma 18-35 f1.8 - very large and and becomes heavy after a long day of shooting. The size also mean I have to be extra careful when getting very close to people. Most importantly, it's super slow at focusing. I do not get why I've read and heard reviewers say the focusing is fast. It's a frekin turtle.

Pentax 21mm f3.2 - I love the size of this one and focusing just snaps, but at f3.2 I need to use very high ISO. Rendering could also be sharper.

Pentax DA 50mm f1.8 - focusing speed is on the faster end of the scale but gets killed because of the rather nervous nature of the lens (doesn't focus where it should and can hunt for too long). Though it looks nice when focus hits the spot, overall rendering could be a lot better. Keeper-ratio is very low.

What can you guys recommend?

Ps. I'd really love to get me a AF lens at 85mm f1.4, but I think it's a bit too long for now.

Edit: silent focusing a big plus but not super important.


Last edited by Zafar Iqbal; 08-12-2015 at 02:27 AM.
08-12-2015, 02:21 AM   #2
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FA31 and DA*55.

Not the fastest glasses for AF, but bright, light, and high IQ, pleasant bokeh too.

My apologies for the 31, as it's not being in the 20s.

You can try searching for the FA20/2.8. It has fast AF, limted-like colors and small, despite using a 67mm filter.
08-12-2015, 02:27 AM   #3
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Thanks for the suggestions - I forgot to mention that silent focusing would be a big plus.
08-12-2015, 03:01 AM   #4
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FA 24 f2.0? I know nothing about its focussing speed etc, but I saw a mint used one recently and it looked impressive.

08-12-2015, 04:02 AM   #5
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Pentax FA31 and FA77 f1.8 limited - a killer combination if there ever was one. Neither lens has quiet focus capability* but I have used these lenses among others that use screw drive AF on my Pentax K5IIs to cover university instrumental masterclasses, and delicate Baroque quintets with no complaints from musicians or audience members.

The FA50mm f1.7 Is another lens that might be worthy of taking a look at,though finding a copy of it in good condition may be difficult.


Pentax K5IIs - SMCP-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited @ f/1.8 ~ 1/30th f/4 @ ISO 3200


* Unless you manually focus, in which case the FA31 is superior to the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 by having a well damped focus ring and a focus throw that is better suited to manual focusing. The FA77 does indeed have an issue with PF however in my experience the Canon 85mm f1.2L, EF 85mm f/1.8, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 and Sigma 85mm f/1.4 lenses aren't any better.

Last edited by Digitalis; 08-12-2015 at 04:16 AM.
08-12-2015, 04:10 AM   #6
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If you mostly do weddings, any lens with an internal focus motor is going to be great for quietness.

The Sigma 35mm F1.4 jumps out as does the 85mm f1.4 (even if you have noted you don't want a short tele). Both are heavy, though.

It is neither quiet nor super fast to focus (and is also a short tele) but the FA 77mm F1.8 is the equal most highly rated Pentax lens for a reason. It is also very light.
08-12-2015, 06:25 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
I'm in search for two lenses, one around 20mm and the other at 50 or a bit longer focal. Both with large apertures and fast focusing ability. Lenses that will suit well for event (wedding) photography mostly in low light conditions. It's a big plus if the lenses aren't too large or heavy.

I currently use the following:
Sigma 18-35 f1.8 - very large and and becomes heavy after a long day of shooting. The size also mean I have to be extra careful when getting very close to people. Most importantly, it's super slow at focusing. I do not get why I've read and heard reviewers say the focusing is fast. It's a frekin turtle.

Pentax 21mm f3.2 - I love the size of this one and focusing just snaps, but at f3.2 I need to use very high ISO. Rendering could also be sharper.

Pentax DA 50mm f1.8 - focusing speed is on the faster end of the scale but gets killed because of the rather nervous nature of the lens (doesn't focus where it should and can hunt for too long). Though it looks nice when focus hits the spot, overall rendering could be a lot better. Keeper-ratio is very low.

What can you guys recommend?

Ps. I'd really love to get me a AF lens at 85mm f1.4, but I think it's a bit too long for now.

Edit: silent focusing a big plus but not super important.
Depends on your budget.

50 f1.8 is a great choice. Build quality is not so great but the optical quality is far beyond its low price. It is a screwdriver lens but the noise is not bad at all. I have also shot with the FA 24 f2 and it is a pro quality prime lens. I am not sure if it is wide enough for real wide shots.

I do own the three amigos. I shot a jazz quartet on stage a few months back. I used the 31 and the 77 almost exclusively. Yes they are screwdriver lenses but the instrument and the singers voice completely masked the little focusing noise from the lenses. I shot the 77 a lot more than the 31. Both are fantastic lenses but the 31 on a K3 is not wide enough if you are looking for real wide shots. The 20mm or something wider might be better. BTW, I shot mostly at f2 or 2.2. The sharpness is amazing. However, where these lenses also shine is how they control flare for stage lights which show up in the background. To me the flare control was just as important if not more important than just pure resolution.
08-12-2015, 06:28 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zafar Iqbal Quote
I'm in search for two lenses, one around 20mm and the other at 50 or a bit longer focal. Both with large apertures and fast focusing ability. Lenses that will suit well for event (wedding) photography mostly in low light conditions. It's a big plus if the lenses aren't too large or heavy.

I currently use the following:
Sigma 18-35 f1.8 - very large and and becomes heavy after a long day of shooting. The size also mean I have to be extra careful when getting very close to people. Most importantly, it's super slow at focusing. I do not get why I've read and heard reviewers say the focusing is fast. It's a frekin turtle.

Pentax 21mm f3.2 - I love the size of this one and focusing just snaps, but at f3.2 I need to use very high ISO. Rendering could also be sharper.

Pentax DA 50mm f1.8 - focusing speed is on the faster end of the scale but gets killed because of the rather nervous nature of the lens (doesn't focus where it should and can hunt for too long). Though it looks nice when focus hits the spot, overall rendering could be a lot better. Keeper-ratio is very low.

What can you guys recommend?

Ps. I'd really love to get me a AF lens at 85mm f1.4, but I think it's a bit too long for now.

Edit: silent focusing a big plus but not super important.
You can try the Pentax 24mm F2.0 and the Pentax 50mm F1.7 as they are great lenses to work with. If I had anything bad to say about either, its that the 24mm F2.0 can get slightly heavy (405 gms) if you drag it around all day.
I personally love these two.

08-12-2015, 06:34 AM   #9
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The FA31 focusses really fast, so the noise is largely irrelevant. Like Digitalis, I have never had anyone look at me askance for using this lens at even quiet gigs. I would not be concerned to use my FA*24 either, but the AF is not as decisive as the 31. Mind you, the DA*16-50 is no slouch and is quiet enough even after the SDM fails.

At the longer end, the DA*55 and FA77 are both amazing. Focus is fast enough, and decisive, and accurate. Make your choice depending on size/speed/WR/absolute silence criteria.
08-12-2015, 08:25 AM   #10
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I'm kind of in the same boat, looking to get into some events shooting...

First thing I did was buy an F 50 1.7 recently. I was going to get the DA 50 1.8 as the price is almost unresistable, but done a whole lot of comparing and went for the older lens instead - it's just closer to the look I want for shooting people. I've read reviews saying the AF is loud as a bees nest but it's no different from my other lenses. I don't think it's an issue. With an unlimited budget, I'd get the DA*55 which I hope to be able to afford some day. But I am very happy with the 50 1.7 - by the way, they say the 50 1.7 design from Pentax (which was used in the M, A, F and FA series) is actually a 52mm lens. So on APS-C it's a 78mm lens... right in line with what Pentax considers the "perfect portrait focal length" which they stated was 77mm...

I also identified 20-24mm as the ideal wider FL. Right now I have a Tokina 19-35mm that is prime-like sharp at f4.5 in its whole range, which actually is more useful than I thought. AF performance is great - fast and decisive, I have *never* had this lens hunt for focus. So it's hard to make a case for the DA 21mm at f3.2 but there simply aren't any other options in that range I think. The Sigma 24mm 1.8 and 20mm 1.8 are the only other options but they don't really have the Pentax colors and rendering. And they're as big as my Tokina. But I think I'll end up swinging for the DA 21mm even if it's not that fast. And I honestly think my Tokina is a better lens, the only issue is it's a slow lens (useless at the wide end until closed down to f4.5, which is when the lens just "comes alive" and sharpness and colors become just perfect). It's a bit heavy as well compared to a prime, but I think I can deal with that.

If Pentax had something like a 24mm f/2.4 that is sharp wide open, I would do whatever it takes to get one. They should be able to make one with a filter size not much bigger than 55mm (which is the filter size for the 20-40).

The other part of my setup will be the Plastic Fantastic DA 35 2.4 which I always have with me. I might have a better than average copy because mine is as sharp at f2.8 than any of the 50 1.7 lenses I own or have owned, and the colors and contrast are vivid, not exagerated, and beautiful. Since I will be using two bodies, having a third lens along in the pocket (and a couple more in the bag) is not a bad idea.

I will follow this thread with interest to see what you end up choosing. For now, if I get to line up any events, the Tokina 19-35 and the F 50 1.7 will be the lenses starting out on my 2 bodies.
08-12-2015, 08:39 AM   #11
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Has anyone suggested this lens?
Sigma 24mm F1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro


I don't have it, have never shot it, but thought of it when your reading your requirements.
08-12-2015, 09:58 AM   #12
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My main focus is event photography including weddings and party events plus stage performances etc. Depending on whether the venue is outdoor or indoor, I have two sets (one zoom combo and another primes). The zooms are DA* 16-50 and 50-135, the primes are usually FA31, FA43, FA77 or manual focus Topcor 35 and 58. I recently added the 20-40 to the mix, which I find extremely convenient and sharp at wide-open aperture throughout the range. Plus the DC motor in 20-40 works great without hesitation whereas the old screw drives (FA limited) lenses could. I also use the manual lenses frequently and don't have problems with focusing as I use catch-in-focus.
08-12-2015, 10:19 AM   #13
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If your budget doesn't stretch to the FA 77mm, then the DA 70mm Limited isn't bad. f2.4, controls flare well, completely un-intimidating and weighs basically nothing. I shot it at a wedding (socially) recently and it gave excellent results. I can't put up any of the portraits here as I don't think they would want them spread over the internet, but I can include a portrait of a cat which gives an idea of the rendering and sharpness wide open.


08-12-2015, 10:22 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Has anyone suggested this lens?
Sigma 24mm F1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro


I don't have it, have never shot it, but thought of it when your reading your requirements.
I had the lens in Canon mount in my Canon days. It is a unique lens because of its very close focusing almost macro capability. It is very sharp when stopped down to f4 or smaller. I found it a little on the soft side wide open for medium to long distance objects. It was pretty sharp, wide open when I shot close up objects.
08-12-2015, 12:05 PM   #15
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Thank you all for you suggestions.

I felt I had a rather good gut feeling about my focal usage, but went ahead to see what I use the most anyways, and sure enough, 17-20ish is by far the most used focals followed by 50 and 70mm.

30-35mm as the widest is going to be too long. Even 18mm feels a tad long at times when I've been used to having 17mm for the past 3-4 years.

One of the reasons I wasn't too interested in 85mm is because of the longer minimal focusing distance, but I am considering going for it anyways. I doesn't seem there is much else of interest between 50 and 85mm. Something like a rock solid 50-55mm f1.4 would be perfect. The DA* 55mm appear to be slow on the focusing side.

I could be interested in the 77mm though - the size is super neat and f1.8 is still on the interesting side, however with prices beginning at 1240USD, I think it's very expensive. I already own 70mm Ltd 2.4, but never used it indoors at weddings. Maybe I should give it a try, but f2.4 vs. f2.8 isn't a whole lot.

The Sigma 24mm, though a bit large, could be OK as well, especially if it will perform well under low light.
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