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08-01-2009, 10:32 AM   #1
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Indoor Lens??

I am brand new here, so if there are posts elsewhere that have already answered this question (and I'm sure this topic has probably been flogged to death here) feel free to point me in the right direction as my forum search skills are pretty basic.

This is my problem. I need some fast glass that can be used indoors to take candid photos of my grandkids and pets using available light. I already have several lenses in my bag that work quite well outdoors but I am struggling to get good shots without blur indoors. My fastest lens is a Sigma 50mm f2.8 and it takes some really nice pictures, but it isn't quite quick enough for the majority of my indoor shots (kids and kittens seem to move at the speed of grandpa x 20). I'm using a K200D and even at ISO 1600 shutter speeds aren't always quite quick enough. I'm really leaning toward an f1.4 lens but am concerned that it focus quickly and provide decent quality.

Money isn't the breaker although I'm not sure I'm ready to drop $1200 on a used FA* 85mm f1.4 no matter how great that lens is. Quality should be reasonably good since I have been know to occasionally print poster sized prints when the shot was good enough. I'm actually attracted to the 77mm f1.8 Limited but I'm afraid that the aperture won't be quite wide enough.

Any suggestions?

08-01-2009, 01:11 PM   #2
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77 and 85mm are probably a bit long for use inside a house. If you want autofocus the fa 50 f1.4 is a popular choice, though you might want an inexpensive lens hood if you are going to take it outside. For group shots you are going to probably want something even wider. I have an old manual focus vivitar 28mm f2.8 that I like, but it sounds like that is too slow for what you are doing. Maybe the fa 31mm? I believe it's f1.9. Even 31mm is quite narrow for group shots inside a house though.

You could try turning on more lights!
08-01-2009, 02:46 PM   #3
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f/1.8 won't be wide enough?
You may need to getting a flash unit or improve on the quality of the indoor lights.
If f/2.8 isn't fast enough for you I think you may be approaching things a little unrealistically.
The FA 50/1.4 is indeed an excellent value fast fifty - you couldn't beat it for price, though the 77ltd does perform considerably better.
08-01-2009, 03:38 PM   #4
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I'm thinking that Steve and Ash have already given you some excellent advice. The general rule of thumb is 1/125th to "freeze" motion. My cousin has a huge farmhouse where the back "wall" is all glass. I took this at 4:15pm on a sunny day where that wall of glass was to the right of the kid (my cousin's daughter). With the FA 43/1.9 and all that light, at ISO 200 and the aperture wide-open at f/1.9, I got a shutter speed of 1/60th. If the ISO had been 400, I would have gotten that 1/125th I needed, but this was with a LOT of light for an indoor shot - pretty much an optimal space that I haven't had the luck to have elsewhere.

Bailey on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

In general, the 31/1.8 and the 43/1.9 are the only two lenses I use indoors with available light. Even then, I find that shutter speeds of 1/10th aren't uncommon. I think you might want to consider investing in an external flash if this isn't good enough. Bounced properly, they provide a great, even light source.

Oh, and welcome to the forums!

08-01-2009, 03:46 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
I'm using a K200D and even at ISO 1600 shutter speeds aren't always quite quick enough. I'm really leaning toward an f1.4 lens but am concerned that it focus quickly and provide decent quality.

I'm actually attracted to the 77mm f1.8 Limited but I'm afraid that the aperture won't be quite wide enough.

Any suggestions?
To get some semblance of stop-action, you need roughly 1/125s shutter speed (or shorter).

So, take a look at your previous shots to get an idea of what you have been typically getting for shutter times. If you have previously been typically getting
-> 1/60s, then going from f/2.8 to f/2.0 will get you to 1/125s
-> 1/45s, then going from f/2.8 to f/1.7~1.8 will get you to 1/125s
-> 1/30s, then going from f/2.8 to f/1.4 will get you to 1/125s
(Because for every full-stop of aperture change, the shutter speed is double or half, depending on the direction.)

Other comments and things to keep in mind, in no particular order:

- f/1.4 has extremely shallow depth-of-field, so what you gain in shutter-speed you will trade-off for more chance of out-of-focus shots. Focus is absolutely critical at f/1.4.

- Longer focal lengths have shallower depth-of-field than shorter focal lengths so a shorter lens and moving close may help reduce the out-of-focus shots. So, 50mm would be better than 85mm.

- You might also consider moving to a K-m (K2000) from the K200d. The K-m has an ISO3200 mode and faster AF and won't break the bank.

- AF can only do so much, especially at f/1.4 (because depth of field is so shallow that focus is critical). You might try pre-focusing manually on a particular spot and then waiting for your subject to hit your focus-mark.

Based on all that, I would suggest this kit: DA*55/1.4 + K-m because:
1. Quick-shift focus that allows on-the-fly switching from AF to MF and back.
2. The user-reports from this lens (as opposed to technical-reports) are that the real-life AF is quite-good in accuracy. The test-reports make a big deal about the speed (or lack of) from infinity to minimum focus-distance, but that is hardly a typical situation. The users that I have spoken to say that it hunts less so the real-life speed is not that bad.
3. Best f/1.4 image-quality (sharpness and contrast).
4. Shorter focal-length than 85mm.
08-01-2009, 04:05 PM   #6
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This is my problem. I need some fast glass that can be used indoors to take candid photos of my grandkids and pets using available light
I would recommend either the FA 31mm Limited or the DA* 16-50.

I think you would need to be looking at large indoor space if you go along the lines of the 77 limited range.

08-01-2009, 04:11 PM   #7
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It's f1.8 and wide enough for most (almost any, I'd say) indoors
08-01-2009, 07:48 PM   #8
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FA 50 1.4 or Sigma 30 1.4.

08-02-2009, 08:32 PM   #9
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My say is FA 50 1.4 if you're on a budget, FA 31 Ltd. if you're not. But either way you go, you may need to invest in a tilt/swivel head flash. You'll get really nice results at smaller apertures.

All of this has been said above, so I'm just casting my vote for these solutions.
08-03-2009, 01:13 AM   #10
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There's a BGN Pentax F 50mm 1.7 at KEH for$126.
KEH Camera: Pentax Auto Focus - Fixed Focal Lengths - 50 F1.7 SMC F (49) 35MM SLR AUTO FOCUS STANDARD ANGLE LENS

I have the same lens and am very happy with it. It is sharp wide open & rates very well in Pentax Forum Reviews: Pentax Lens Review Database - 50mm F1.7

keh also lists a 50mm 1:1.4 for $100 more.
08-03-2009, 01:36 AM   #11
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Although I love the FA50/1.4, in my opinion, it is still a little long for most indoor shooting. I usually stick my FA35/2.0 on when at family gathers and indoors. It's a little wider, give you more of a natural field of view and at 2.0 is sharp and fast enough for most indoor shooting, unless really really dim inside.

08-03-2009, 04:29 AM   #12
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As others have pointed out, as you open up a lens, you get narrower depth of field. It is really tough to shoot kids (or anything moving) at f1.4. Something will be in the plane of focus, guaranteed, but it likely won't be exactly what you want. I guess I would recommend getting an external flash (maybe the AF 360?) and then getting a faster focusing prime -- my fastest focusing lens is the DA 40, which works fairly well. If you wanted wider, I would look for a copy of the FA 35.
08-28-2009, 11:25 PM   #13
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Original Poster
Thank you very much

Wow! Thanks you for all your great advice.

I apologize for being delayed in my response to all your great ideas but I travel quite a bit for work and just returned from the great OZ down under.

I don't want you to think that I can't get pictures indoors with the lenses I currently have, I just don't get as many as I think I should be able to with this camera. A lot of my problem is just being patient and re-learning the camera technique that I've lost in the past several years. The image here was taken with my 18-55 kit lens. It's not perfect but it did turn out reasonably good.


But all that being said, I know that a faster lens will help. I used to own a Pentax 50mm f1.2 for my Spotmatic and then my ZX-50, which took great indoor pictures with 400 and 800 ISO film. The depth of field at 1.2 was a real pain but I had a lot more keepers with that lens then I've been able to get with my Sigma 50 f2.8 at ISO 1600 and anti-shake. Of course I was a lot younger and, since I was shooting film, I was probably a lot pickier with pulling the trigger. Unfortunately I gave that lens away to my daughter years ago and she absolutely will not give it back.

After reading your advice and looking at a lot of other posts I've bit the bullet and done the following:
  1. Bought a DA* 55mm lens
  2. Ordered a Rokinon 85mm f1.4 manual focus lens (I have several manual focus lenses and I love them)
  3. Picked up a flash (my old Pentax flash wouldn't work with the new camera.)

I decided to try out the DA* 55mm f1.4 since, other then the kit lens, I haven't had any opportunity to give any of the higher quality new lenses a try. I bought the Rokinon on a whim because the reviews seemed pretty good and the price was defintely right. Both of these should be more than fast enough. If the DA* 55 doesn't work out I'll probably go back to the older film era lenses and find myself a FA 50mm f1.4. But, I've learned that good glass makes life easier over time so I thought I'd try out some of the newer premium lenses available.

Some of the other advice such as improving the lighting in the house, as well as using flash, is all great advice but with kids the good shots rarely happen where the lights are great or when you have your flash properly set up. Usually they happen when they are focused intently on something (usual illegal) at the end of a dark hall. That's where fast glass is important.

Again, thanks for all your help here. I hope I can return the favor someday and I'll post some pix when the new glass gets here.
08-28-2009, 11:58 PM   #14
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After trying in vain to "freeze" images of my nieces indoors without flash (with an FA50 f/1.4) and still getting average results. I then resorted to external flash gun to help me along.

I suggest a flash that is capable of bounce/swivel to allow you to not blast your subject directly in the face (leaving the image flat).

If lighting is poor ... even the faster lenses aren't going to freeze kids on the move ... and then trying to snap perfect focus with such narrow DOF is going to be trying enough without flash.

I never used to like using flash ... I do prefer natural lighting ... but after mucking around a little with flash and what it can do ... I used it when i need to and I am happy with the results. I only use the flash on AUTO and let it meter through the lens and adjust itself accordingly. No thinking on my part.

Here's a few images I have used my flashgun indoors to allow me to get the shot.

They are just a few shots ... some with a Tamron 90mm Macro ... and a few with a Sigma 28-70 F/2.8 ... all with flashgun using the AUTO setting.
08-29-2009, 12:54 AM   #15
Damn Brit

Each to his own but I'd never use flash with my baby (or anyone else's). I'd rather not get the shot.

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