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11-04-2009, 05:10 PM   #1
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advanced beginner/intermediate lens advice

regarding; lens, 35mm f2, K100D, natural lighting. low lighting

I just joined and posted over in the introduction area. I believe I want to search for a 35mm f 2.0 (FA?) lens. Let's see if you folks agree?

I messed around with manual film cameras when I was young, and was competent, but didn't take it sertiouslly. I am now smarter and have a better eye than I did back then ;-) My wife gave me a K100D for a present and I have had some fun with it but now want to get a bit more serious.

I like natural and somewhat low lit photographs. Classic examples would include:

a. photo of a person indoors lit by late afternoon window light
b. people outdoors, full cloud cover ( natural softbox)
c. sunset / sunrise
d. old brick mill or barn at dusk
e. stonework casting shadow
d. you get the idea


(some of these will be converted to b&w)

The K100D is a limited camera (esp. in high contrast) but I think it's up to a credible workmanlike job for this type of photography, if handled carefully (in RAW). My skills are OK and I intend to improve. However, the kit lens is really just not made for this. I want to spend a maximum of $350 on a good general use natural light wide lens. I'm thinking the FA 35mm f 2.0 prime? (I would consider earlier versions in the series as well).

Do you agree that this is the lens I need? How much should I expect to pay for one?

thanks

11-04-2009, 05:56 PM   #2
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I haven't had a chance to use the FA 35 as I have the DA 35, but there are also a lot of nifty fifties between 1.4 and 1.7 which are very reasonable and would fit in with your style. For some reviews of the FA 35 look here.
11-04-2009, 06:30 PM   #3
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I would agree that starting with an FA 50 f/1.4 may be just as good or better for your purposes - you'll just have to zoom with your feet.
11-04-2009, 07:06 PM   #4
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The people shots will indeed be best served by something longer, but some of the other shots by something wider. None of those scenarios really require apertures wider than f/2.8, though. I'd be considering the 16-50 or something similar if you're looking for an upgrade form the kit lens, or a pair of primes like 21 and a 50.

11-04-2009, 07:40 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
I would agree that starting with an FA 50 f/1.4 may be just as good or better for your purposes - you'll just have to zoom with your feet.
Thanks to both of you.

Well I had wondered about the 50 f 1.4 It seems to be a bit less expensive , a bit wider and the xtra stops may help avoid noise in the K100D and I hear the bokeh is smoother.

Two concerns:

1. landscapes can be a bit tricky with a 50mm ( portrait lens). I don't mind using my feet, just as long as I don't run out of room.

2. How about depth of field? I understand sort of that depth of field is not technically affected by "normal" or "portrait" focal length but I've always thought that it did make a practical difference?

[I actually own an old screw mount East German 50mm (Pentagon auto 1.8) although I'm not sure I want to rely on that too much.]

[I wonder if an "A" 35mm can be found for a bargain ;-) An FA 50mm and an old 35mm "A" would actually suit me rather well I think. Hah! that's a nice dream.]

I do know that one lens can't be perfect for everything and I understand the advantages of the 50 f 1.4 My main concern would be whether the DOF would be noticeably different?
11-04-2009, 07:49 PM   #6
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You could try an M 50 f/1.7 or 50 f/2 for well under $100, and see if that focal length works for you.
11-04-2009, 08:08 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
The people shots will indeed be best served by something longer, but some of the other shots by something wider. None of those scenarios really require apertures wider than f/2.8, though. I'd be considering the 16-50 or something similar if you're looking for an upgrade form the kit lens, or a pair of primes like 21 and a 50.
Good points

The K100D is not a bad lowish light camera but the newer models and the higher models are better. An f/1.4 lens might be useful for evening things out a bit; might also be useful for getting into unusual spaces and angles where the tripod doesn't fit and make hand held shots work a bit better. On the other hand f/2,8 would be fine for landscapes where I would always use a tripod.

( I should say I sometimes develop a slight tremor between meals which is controled by protein snacks, but the ability to choose a fast shutter can make a big difference when I forget the snack ;-)

Thanks everyone. Clearly I need to go out with the camera and kit lens this weekend and pay attention to what focal length I like for the scenes I like. Sometimes I read and think too much and forget to just take pictures ;-)
11-04-2009, 08:31 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by manybobs Quote
I like natural and somewhat low lit photographs. Classic examples would include:

a. photo of a person indoors lit by late afternoon window light
b. people outdoors, full cloud cover ( natural softbox)
c. sunset / sunrise
d. old brick mill or barn at dusk
e. stonework casting shadow
I agree with others, the 35mm is short for portraits, a 50mm 1.4 would be my first choice. Stills, sunsets and landscapes can be done with your kit lens and a tripod.




Last edited by audiobomber; 11-04-2009 at 09:07 PM.
11-04-2009, 10:47 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by manybobs Quote
2. How about depth of field? I understand sort of that depth of field is not technically affected by "normal" or "portrait" focal length but I've always thought that it did make a practical difference?
For any given shooting position and aperture, a longer lens gives shallow DOF, sure. So if you want a 50mm lens to give you the deeper DOF of a 35mm lens, either stop down or step back.
11-05-2009, 09:33 AM   #10
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I don't really make a strong distinction between portrait and landscape. Often I like photos that are really both. For example here is a link to a photo by Mark Schembri

http://billhurter.com/images/best-of-portrait/best-of-portrait-top.jpg

So what lens (normal, semi wide or portrait) would you use to capture this type of portrait/landscape image?

thanks
11-05-2009, 02:05 PM   #11
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For what I call Portraits in Context I would suggest either a lens somewhere between 35mm and 50mm. I am a truely amature photog, but I have a few good results with the DA 40mm Ltd.



50mm is not much different, so by stepping back a little you can acheive similar perspective. A 50 would probably be cheaper, and operate better in low light, where the 40mm will be slightly better suited to landscape applications.

I am a fan of prime lenses, and when you use them for a while it quickly teaches you that focal length just changes your perspective. It will rarely stop you from getting a picture. A 16-50 pro zoom won't miraculously increase your shooting posibilities(it will but not much) over haveing a 21 and a 40, but it will certainly increase the weight and bulk of your system exponentially(not to mention cost more. I dragged a K-7 and three primes 6000 feet up that mountain at the end of a week long trip so I'm happy I chose primes!
11-05-2009, 02:14 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by CanadIan Quote
For what I call Portraits in Context I would suggest either a lens somewhere between 35mm and 50mm. I am a truely amature photog, but I have a few good results with the DA 40mm Ltd.

50mm is not much different, so by stepping back a little you can acheive similar perspective. A 50 would probably be cheaper, and operate better in low light, where the 40mm will be slightly better suited to landscape applications.

I am a fan of prime lenses, and when you use them for a while it quickly teaches you that focal length just changes your perspective. It will rarely stop you from getting a picture. A 16-50 pro zoom won't miraculously increase your shooting posibilities(it will but not much) over haveing a 21 and a 40, but it will certainly increase the weight and bulk of your system exponentially(not to mention cost more. I dragged a K-7 and three primes 6000 feet up that mountain at the end of a week long trip so I'm happy I chose primes!
No offense meant but the pictures you posted aren't exactly shining examples. Why don't you submit a couple to Photo Critique and get some feedback. We're all here to learn and sometimes when we think we're doing ok, it's good when someone brings us back down to earth. It's the best way to improve.
11-05-2009, 03:20 PM   #13
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Thanks, CanadIan . I appreciate your suggestions on lens choice for scenic portraits. Your photos were shot into the sun which is a tricky thing to do. There are various ways to improve that kind of shot , a forum like this is a good place to get feedback and learn new skills. Thanks.

Last edited by manybobs; 11-05-2009 at 03:33 PM.
11-05-2009, 03:28 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by manybobs Quote
I don't really make a strong distinction between portrait and landscape. Often I like photos that are really both.

So what lens (normal, semi wide or portrait) would you use to capture this type of portrait/landscape image?

thanks
A portrait lens uses a slight telephoto focal length (often quoted as 70-105mm in 35mm equivalent) to produce a mild compression in perspective, which is generally seen as flattering to the subject. It's not a hard and fast rule, just a recommendation. With the setup shown in the photo, it doesn't really matter. You're far enough away that the subject's face won't be distorted.

You asked about shooting landscapes, low light and portraits and I recommended the 50mm and your kit lens. I would use a standard zoom for the photo you showed, at f8-f11. You don't need a fast lens for a photo like that. If you're trying to shoot a portrait with a sunset in the background, you'll need to get a little fancier than just using a fast lens.

Indoors, I find 35mm is crowding the person and taking in more of the surroundings than I normally want. Others say the 50mm is too long for indoors and favour the FA 35mm. I have both but I prefer the 50mm 1.4. A kit lens and fast 50 will cover the uses you've listed quite well, IMO. I bought the 35mm because 50mm was too narrow for shooting in crowded museums. I wish it was 28mm. I have a 28mm 2.8, but it's too slow.
11-05-2009, 05:52 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
A portrait lens uses a slight telephoto focal length (often quoted as 70-105mm in 35mm equivalent) to produce a mild compression in perspective, which is generally seen as flattering to the subject. It's not a hard and fast rule, just a recommendation. With the setup shown in the photo, it doesn't really matter. You're far enough away that the subject's face won't be distorted.

You asked about shooting landscapes, low light and portraits and I recommended the 50mm and your kit lens. I would use a standard zoom for the photo you showed, at f8-f11. You don't need a fast lens for a photo like that. If you're trying to shoot a portrait with a sunset in the background, you'll need to get a little fancier than just using a fast lens.

Indoors, I find 35mm is crowding the person and taking in more of the surroundings than I normally want. Others say the 50mm is too long for indoors and favour the FA 35mm. I have both but I prefer the 50mm 1.4. A kit lens and fast 50 will cover the uses you've listed quite well, IMO. I bought the 35mm because 50mm was too narrow for shooting in crowded museums. I wish it was 28mm. I have a 28mm 2.8, but it's too slow.
Thanks,

Your response is helping me get a clearer idea in my own mind of what I want to try to achieve.

In my OP I never used to word "portrait" I said photos of "people". Everyone wants to shoot a portrait sometimes, but I' tend to be attracted to people in a setting. Thus I might be trying to capture an abandoned factory with a person in it, rather than taking a portrait of a person in an abandoned factory. Actually, I'd like to capture both of those images in separate photos. The 50mm would be ideal for the portrait but a normal or slightly wide lens might be best to capture the image of the abandoned factory with the person in it.

Low light: Maybe I didn't give enough examples but, I am often drawn to scenes that are "poorly" lit. I attempted several shots with the kit lens where the only choice was f4.0 at 1/50. I was very disappointed with the results and stopped taking pictures. (Reflectors or fill flash might have helped.) The 18 - 55 kit zoom seems happiest at f8 - f 11 I think, and is not so good wide open with a slow shutter ;-)

If it weren't for budget I would get a fast zoom or a traditional set of 3 lenses maybe 21, 35 and 50mm

That's why I was thinking the 35 mm would be usable in most settings. I am starting to lean towards the 50mm and accepting that there are some shots I just won't get. I do still have a film camera, with a fairly fast normal lens, maybe I should just throw it in the bag and use it to fill in the lens gap ;-) Hell, that almost makes sense.

Last edited by manybobs; 11-05-2009 at 07:17 PM.
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