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02-15-2010, 09:03 PM   #1
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Help with a Restaurant Lens (interior wide angle)

I have a dilemma. I would like to be able to take pictures of the interiors of restaurants (or neat buildings for that matter). A lot of the restaurants I've gone to are very dimly lit. I was initially thinking that I would need a fast wide angle lens in order to take nice pictures. However, I've come to realize that such a lens used wide open would have very shallow DOF. So what I really probably want to do is get a lens and stop it down to f8 or so in order to get the entire interior sharp and in focus. Correct?

So what kind of lens should I be looking for? I was initially considering getting the DA 15 due to what a lot of what forum members have said about the lens. However, I pm'ed one forum member with some questions and he replied that a zoom might be more suited to what I want to do.

I want to be able to take pictures of the interiors of restaurants and other buildings (hotels and bars). A dream would be to turn this "hobby" into a job of reviewing restaurants and hotels. What type of lens would be suited for taking nice professional pictures of these types of places? Zoom? Prime? Do I need to be looking for a fast lens? Or is a slow lens acceptable?

02-15-2010, 09:34 PM   #2
Ari
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I do virtual tour shots for a company, and from time to time I'll shoot a restaurant for them. I use the sigma 10-20 on a pano head for these shots and use the same lens for stills. At f4, this lens is pretty sharp end to end, and I only use this focal length for panos (partly to save time on capturing an entire room and also to keep the nodal point constant for my pano head). This has been a very versatile lens for me - I used to bring my 16-50 for stills, but have found that the focal length of the 10-20 has been fine. I don't use any off-camera lighting; I raise all the blinds, turn up all the lighting that's there and then take about five shots of each part of my pano (and still) at different stops. Depending on the lighting, I will shoot anywhere from a half stop to two stops. While I don't handle the post - processing (the company does) I use Photomatix Pro to fuse exposures, to see how the end product should look.

While I am very happy with the sigma, if I had had the money, I would have gone for he Pentax 12-24. 12mm is more than enough for a wide angle interior shot, and I like the build and IQ of the lens.
02-16-2010, 12:16 AM   #3
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Ari: Thanks for the information. I don't think I'll be able to use a pano head for what I'm currently doing. At this point in my "hobby" I go to a restaurant, eat the food, take pictures, and ask annoying questions. Then I write a sort of review/article and put it up on my website. But I think I know where you are coming from. A zoom would be better than a prime.
02-16-2010, 12:20 AM   #4
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Enjoy the hobby! I was in the restaurant industry for years. You may want to ask for the manager and see if you can set up a time between meals for a photo - op. Offer to do a pro - level portrait of the management staff for their website or pr needs (flyers, mailers, etc) in exchange for allowing you to take a few photographs of the restaurant while it's empty. And always ask if the chef can prepare a signature dish for you to shoot, as well (thye'll usually let you eat it if the staff meal is far off!)
Happy eating


Last edited by Ari; 02-16-2010 at 01:39 AM.
02-16-2010, 05:02 AM   #5
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Ari: Thanks again. I'll definitely try those tips! I'd love to get free food and have the ability to get some shots of empty restaurants.

To everyone else: I'm now very seriously considering getting the DA 12-24. Can anyone who has used the lens give any opinions/advice on the 12-24? Anything else you would recommend? DA 14 F2.8? DA 15?
02-16-2010, 05:04 AM   #6
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I don't own any of these, but from what I have read, you should probably go with the 12-24. Its weaknesses are its large size and the fact that it is prone to flare, but by all accounts it is prime sharp. Don't see a lot of love for the DA 14 around here, for whatever reason.
02-16-2010, 05:14 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by MrZeroPing Quote
A lot of the restaurants I've gone to are very dimly lit. I was initially thinking that I would need a fast wide angle lens in order to take nice pictures. However, I've come to realize that such a lens used wide open would have very shallow DOF. So what I really probably want to do is get a lens and stop it down to f8 or so in order to get the entire interior sharp and in focus. Correct?
If you buy a fast wide angle lens, you can choose. Paradoxically, it's the slower zoom that's inflexible. Also, you have to account for motion blur, if you're shooting people. If your subject is so dimly lit that you're shooting slower than 1/focal length per second, you may want a tripod to account for camera shaking (SR helps, but it's not perfect). I'd get the DA 14 f/2.8.

EDIT: The DOF will also depend on your distance from your target. Here's a photo at f/2.8, with DA 14mm:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nam2_7676/2635400109/sizes/l/

Last edited by asdf; 02-16-2010 at 05:42 AM.
02-16-2010, 07:32 AM   #8
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When we were house-hunting I used the 12-24, it's a great lens. I think usable at f4, even. Gets a lot into view w/o a lot of distortion, and nice colors.

02-16-2010, 07:42 AM   #9
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I had a similar thread going a while back. My usage is quite similar to yours, except that I shoot the restaurant in action, ie, full, with focus on the people. Still, I wanted a wide angle to be able to take as much of it in as possible and have the best chance of stopping the action, or at least, reducing motion blur.

I opted for the 14/2.8

DOF is not such an issue at such wide angles, it's not at all like shooting a 50/1.4. Combination of wide angle and the fact that 2.8 is not THAT fast.

I haven't done a shoot with the 14 yet, but my tests inside at home and in other interior locations suggest it will work really well. I'd seriously consider that lens.
02-16-2010, 04:22 PM   #10
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Interesting. Some votes for the DA 14. Since most of the time the restaurants I visit have people in them it might be better to get a faster lens. The lens is also quite well within my budget. I'm going to look at some used 14's today after work. Does the DA have any bad distortion? Even if it does have distortion would it in any way affect what I want to shoot?

And while I'm at it, does anyone have any lenses recommendations for taking pictures of food?
02-17-2010, 05:48 AM   #11
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I will give another vote to the DA14. It was my choice for interiors, more opportunity to use handheld / existing light, better IQ - even wide open & very low distortion. I get the feeling that having a wide zoom you would end up using it most at it's widest and then bring it in 2mm to get better IQ. With my decision i also got the 10-17 Fisheye, in case i wanted to go extreme wide or just have fun! With the food question, the DA35 macro might be a good place to start. Although i have only dreamt about that one!

Last edited by DreTAX; 02-17-2010 at 05:50 AM. Reason: error
02-17-2010, 05:57 AM   #12
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The DA 14 2.8 also gets my vote. One thing to keep in mind: at 2.8, it is usable, but the image quality is better when stopped down.
02-17-2010, 07:54 AM   #13
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The da 14 is a tremendous lens. There will still be will be a bit of barreling, so I wouldn't suggest you use it handheld to snap a few pics of interiors while you're sitting down and eating.
02-17-2010, 08:43 AM   #14
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I have a sigma APO 10-20 f4-5.6 EX DC which works very well inside buildings

One thing to remember is you have shake reduction, which helps a ton in this situation,. You can also boost ISO, and remember the resturaunt is supposed to be dimly lit, and grainy photos are part of the atmosphere. Also leave WB on daylight, and let the images glow yellow with the incadescant lighting.

be careful about posting reviews etc, the resturaunt may not like it. Remember, you are inside their property, and they have the right to tell you what you can and cannot photograph.
02-17-2010, 12:02 PM   #15
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For pictures of food, I'd be looking at normal to slight telephoto - anything in the 28-70 range but probably right smaclk dab in the middle of that most of the time. So that you can shoot from more or less the same distance you'd normally see the food at while eating, and it would fill the frame. Longer focal length for closeups of individual items, shorter to capture whole place settings. No reason you can't simply use a normal lens and get closer for the closeups or further away for the wider shots. So with that in mind, I'd suggest the 35 macro as an obvious candidate. The DA40 works, but might not focus as clsoe as you want. A 50 could be good too. But the Tamron 28-75/2.8 would seem practically ideal, and their 17-50/2.8 or the DA*16-50 would also be worth a serious look.
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