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11-02-2008, 06:48 PM   #1
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It's getting dark and I need to buy lenses



I'm not an outdoors person so it's time to think about taking my new camera indoors. Here are the situations I'm trying to cover:

* Portraits. I don't have the aesthetic skills to be good at this but we have new babies in the family and perhaps some folks who may not be with us next year. I wouldn't mind investing in a cheap backdrop to use with a couple of flashes I have (Metz MZ-4 and Nikon SB-26). Maybe an umbrella or two on a stand if Craig's list blesses me. Maybe just some gooseneck lamps with decent 5700K bulbs. I haven't given this much thought. You can probably tell that.

* General indoors (often candids) with people: parties, gatherings, events, etc. I like the Metz but it's still a flash and we all prefer ambient lighting. And my family is tired of all that flashing, so to speak, going on all the time.

* We may be going to London in Feb/Mar and that, for us, means many days in museums - which are generally not fond of flash nor tripods. I would bring a monopod, though. In addition to exhibits, there are lovely rooms that just beg for wide view and that cannot be well-lit even with a powerful flash. The Enlightenment gallery at the British Museum comes to mind.

I have a Sigma 17-70 that I like a lot but I keep thinking that a constant F/2.8 is the right approach to all of the above.

So what do I do? I could wait for someone to develop a 20-60mm 2.8 universal indoors zoom but I don't have that much patience.

I can get a Sigma 24-60 2.8 at a reasonable price for portraits but it's not wide enough for small rooms, crowds, and museums. I can get a 18-50mm 2.8 for about $300 for the wide end but it seems to fall short (literally) for portraits in some cases. The two together are affordable if someone here takes my 40mm 2.8 pancake off my hands.

Any other ideas, my friends?

11-02-2008, 08:33 PM   #2
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tamron 17-50mm and then grab a cheap portrait prime
11-02-2008, 08:35 PM   #3
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If you've got the money, by all means, a new lens could be nice. On the other hand, the 17-70 will do for the wide angle shots you are looking for, and the DA40 is great for indoor candids. For portraits, I'd start with the 17-70 at the long end, and then if you really get into it, maybe get a prime somewhere in the 50 to 100 range, or perhaps the DA*50-135.
11-02-2008, 08:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote


I'm not an outdoors person so it's time to think about taking my new camera indoors. Here are the situations I'm trying to cover:

* Portraits. I don't have the aesthetic skills to be good at this but we have new babies in the family and perhaps some folks who may not be with us next year. I wouldn't mind investing in a cheap backdrop to use with a couple of flashes I have (Metz MZ-4 and Nikon SB-26). Maybe an umbrella or two on a stand if Craig's list blesses me. Maybe just some gooseneck lamps with decent 5700K bulbs. I haven't given this much thought. You can probably tell that.

* General indoors (often candids) with people: parties, gatherings, events, etc. I like the Metz but it's still a flash and we all prefer ambient lighting. And my family is tired of all that flashing, so to speak, going on all the time.

* We may be going to London in Feb/Mar and that, for us, means many days in museums - which are generally not fond of flash nor tripods. I would bring a monopod, though. In addition to exhibits, there are lovely rooms that just beg for wide view and that cannot be well-lit even with a powerful flash. The Enlightenment gallery at the British Museum comes to mind.

I have a Sigma 17-70 that I like a lot but I keep thinking that a constant F/2.8 is the right approach to all of the above.

So what do I do? I could wait for someone to develop a 20-60mm 2.8 universal indoors zoom but I don't have that much patience.

I can get a Sigma 24-60 2.8 at a reasonable price for portraits but it's not wide enough for small rooms, crowds, and museums. I can get a 18-50mm 2.8 for about $300 for the wide end but it seems to fall short (literally) for portraits in some cases. The two together are affordable if someone here takes my 40mm 2.8 pancake off my hands.

Any other ideas, my friends?
I think manual would be the way to go as price is an issue. Get a few primes, A 20ish a 35 and a 50.

11-02-2008, 08:39 PM   #5
Ole
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f/2.8 gives a quite shallow depth of field so even indoors you may find yourself having to use a smaller aperture. So I think you are on the right track with your thoughts about flash and lighting equipment; that's probably more important than a fast lens. And you can bump the ISO quite some before noise becomes a problem.
11-02-2008, 09:22 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote


I can get a Sigma 24-60 2.8 at a reasonable price for portraits but it's not wide enough for small rooms, crowds, and museums. I can get a 18-50mm 2.8 for about $300 for the wide end but it seems to fall short (literally) for portraits in some cases. The two together are affordable if someone here takes my 40mm 2.8 pancake off my hands.

Any other ideas, my friends?

I think the constant f/2.8 zoom for portraits and indoor candids makes a lot of sense; I use a Tamron 28-75/2.8 for this purpose (ISO 800 f/2.8-ish Av mode). I'm quite happy with it and I find the long end of the zoom range quite useful.

I'd suggest keeping the 17-70 for travel (particularly since you seem to have a good copy) -- it's a very useful zoom range.
11-03-2008, 03:44 AM   #7
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[QUOTE=glanglois;382977]
I'm not an outdoors person so it's time to think about taking my new camera indoors. Here are the situations I'm trying to cover:

QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote
* Portraits. I don't have the aesthetic skills to be good at this but we have new babies in the family and perhaps some folks who may not be with us next year. I wouldn't mind investing in a cheap backdrop to use with a couple of flashes I have (Metz MZ-4 and Nikon SB-26). Maybe an umbrella or two on a stand if Craig's list blesses me. Maybe just some gooseneck lamps with decent 5700K bulbs.
For portraits you will find the classic 50mm/1.4 lens very nice, especially with available light. With that lens you usually won't need a full scale lighting set-up, especially if you concentrate on "environmental portraits", so not creating a studio shot. Such a typicall portrait lens, will force you, to have some distance to your subject, which is very good, as it prvenets an exaggerated perspective. On the other, for indoor group shots you would probably need a wider lens, as you really would need a large space with the 50mm, to get three people into the pic.

QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote
* General indoors (often candids) with people: parties, gatherings, events, etc. I like the Metz but it's still a flash and we all prefer ambient lighting. And my family is tired of all that flashing, so to speak, going on all the time.
This is, where the 50/1.4 really excells! If you add your in-camera flash as a pure fill-light (setting it to -1 or -1.5 EV) and make use of the ambient light, you will create very pleasing images. The only problem may be the colour tempertaure, as the fill-flash has daylight tempertaure and the ambient lighting usually providing a warm household bulb like temperture.

I myself often work with this small and easy set-up, when photographing my small son while playing in his room.

QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote
* We may be going to London in Feb/Mar and that, for us, means many days in museums - which are generally not fond of flash nor tripods. I would bring a monopod, though. In addition to exhibits, there are lovely rooms that just beg for wide view and that cannot be well-lit even with a powerful flash. The Enlightenment gallery at the British Museum comes to mind.
Here a 50mm lens is too long. You would need something in the 17mm to 20mm range to capture the whole interior. At its wide-angle setting your 17-70 should be fast enough, if you combine it with high ISO settings. I simply assume you won't print posters of these shots and at any standard print size, the high ISO noise is no real problem. This is at least my personal view, as I find the noise of the Pentax DSLRs not too bad.

QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote
I have a Sigma 17-70 that I like a lot but I keep thinking that a constant F/2.8 is the right approach to all of the above.

I can get a Sigma 24-60 2.8 at a reasonable price for portraits but it's not wide enough for small rooms, crowds, and museums. I can get a 18-50mm 2.8 for about $300 for the wide end but it seems to fall short (literally) for portraits in some cases. The two together are affordable if someone here takes my 40mm 2.8 pancake off my hands.
The Sigma 18-50/2.8 is a very good lens (at least my exampe is...) and I value it highly, no the least, because it is much smaller, than the Pentax 16-50/2.8. But I think, if your funds are limited, I would try to make the best use of your 17-70 and add a FA 50/1.4 or the wonderfull FA 35/2.0, depending on the above mentioned considerations.

Ben
11-03-2008, 05:58 AM   #8
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I have a 35mm f/2 that I use for baby portraits w/o flash, in museums with neither flash nor tripod, in old churches, and outdoors in the evening.

11-03-2008, 09:48 AM   #9
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A 50/1.4 or the DA 40/2.8 are both solid candidates, and you should be able to get either for ~$300. Having both of them, my opinion is this - the 50/1.4, when it gets the shot, gets shots that are AMAZING. The problem is just dealing with the slow focus and razor-thin depth of field. You probably won't have as many keepers.

The 40/2.8 performs a lot more consistently, but I don't get WOWed by the portraits quite as often.
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