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08-29-2012, 11:24 AM   #1
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Which lens do I take with me to a convention?

I am going to Dragoncon (a sci-fi convention) this weekend and am unsure of what lens to bring. Of course I would love to only have to bring one lens, but I know that taking pictures can be hard at conventions. Sometimes subjects are really close, sometimes they're super far away, and more often than not- the lighting conditions are not what you expected. I still consider myself a little bit farther along than a beginner but not an advanced user, and most of my lenses were acquired as gifts. I've only ever bought one lens- the 18-55 that came with my kit. That said, I'm unsure of which of the lenses I have would be best to bring? I've narrowed it down to these two:
  • Pentax DA 40mm F2.8mm XS Lens
  • Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Lens

I really love the 40mm/2.8 and use it almost exclusively, but I am worried about moving around to much to get the right focus in a convention hall. Is this a right concern? It's the fastest lens I have for when it can get quite dark. My Sigma is not as sharp as the DA and I can look at my pictures and instantly tell which photos were taken with the Sigma, but it also has that range.

Thanks for your help!

08-29-2012, 11:38 AM   #2
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You won't need a camera at DragonCon, so you can drop your bag off at my house.

Seriously, the zoom is going to be a solid addition both for the close and far work. There will be times that 40 is too tight, particularly in the display areas. If I were going I'd take my 35/2.4, 70, and my 10-24 as my primary lenses and my 18-135 for just in case. I tend to over pack
08-29-2012, 11:39 AM   #3
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It kind of depends on the space - some conventions have adequate lighting, but you might need the f2.8. The problem with 40mm is that on a crop camera it isn't very wide angle at all, but then again, you might not really need a wide angle for a convention. For portraits and product shots it should be great, but maybe not so great for massive shots of the whole place or sneaky tele closeups. The two lenses you listed seem like a good combo, and the 40mm XS doesn't take much space at all for carrying around.
08-29-2012, 11:59 AM   #4
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I would bring the kit lens along to tell the truth. It is going to be sharper than the Sigma, and quite flexible at conventions. I do 15-20 of them per year, and I used my 18-55 for quite some time, then moved to a Sigma 18-50, and now to a Tamron 17-50.

08-29-2012, 12:17 PM   #5
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The 40mm will do you fine if you are walking around outside. If you use it inside, expect to get head and shoulder shots exclusively - that's what you'll have room for. Otherwise use the kit lens and get a flash with a diffuser - it makes all the difference in the world. And above all, have fun!
08-29-2012, 12:20 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by icywindow Quote
The 40mm will do you fine if you are walking around outside. If you use it inside, expect to get head and shoulder shots exclusively - that's what you'll have room for. Otherwise use the kit lens and get a flash with a diffuser - it makes all the difference in the world. And above all, have fun!
The flash and diffuser is a great suggestion.
08-29-2012, 12:41 PM   #7
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You can even make a foam diffuser for the flash, that seems to do nicely.
I used my 16-45 at similar conventions with great success. If you need the zoom ability, the kit lens would be useful. I'd probalby take the DA40 as well, just to have.

For Wonderfest this year I rented the Sigma 28mm f 1.8 macro, which was great in the model contest and display area and surprisingly good in hotel suites etc. Not so great for distance shots at the awards, but it was a darkened hall this year anyway.
08-29-2012, 12:59 PM   #8
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It's probably too late for you, but I think you, or anyone having a DSLR, should save up for a 16(or 17 or 18)-50mm F/2.8 zoom lens. The price of a decent used copy of Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC is not much more than that of a DA 40.

For a typical convention, at 800 or 1600 ISO, you don't need a flash (I'd use flash, but only as the last resort).

08-29-2012, 01:03 PM   #9
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Take both! If you're already willing to lug around the 18-200 then the 40 can come along without even hardly being noticed space-wise.
08-29-2012, 01:04 PM   #10
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Take a zoom lens, and then put the DA40 in your pocket. It's so small it should be no bother, and you'll have it in case the lighting gets poor.
08-29-2012, 01:21 PM   #11
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I've used the 40mm f2.8 at conventions and have managed alright. Just expect to get mostly waist and above portraits given the crowded nature of conventions.
08-29-2012, 05:02 PM   #12
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I just went to similar convention recently. I brought my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and my DA 70mm f/2.4.
I only used the 30mm I found it to be the perfect focal length. The 70mm was just too long.
If I were you, I would ditch the longer lens and just stick with the 40mm.
Plus, if you plan on not using a flash, the zoom will be too slow.

Please post pictures of your results!
08-29-2012, 10:06 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Take a zoom lens, and then put the DA40 in your pocket. It's so small it should be no bother, and you'll have it in case the lighting gets poor.
This is not directed at the person quoted - but I'm wondering something. People often say to "take the DA40, it's so small it fits in a tiny pocket and you won't notice it". So, I'm wondering - if you're not carrying a bag, where do you put the big zoom when you're using the DA40? I doubt it will fit in very many pockets.

By the way - the DA40 is one of my favorite lenses, and often my first choice when I only want one lens.
08-30-2012, 01:47 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frank B Quote
So, I'm wondering - if you're not carrying a bag, where do you put the big zoom when you're using the DA40? I doubt it will fit in very many pockets.
Well, sometimes that's a problem, but sometimes it will fit in my pocket if I make it fit. Otherwise I take something like a fanny pack that's just big enough for the zoom, or maybe even the camera without a lens. And if I end up keeping the zoom on the camera I can just fit a water bottle in it.
08-30-2012, 05:26 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the advice! I am going to be in costume, and I realized that I will probably only be taking photos outside. (I'm hoping others will be taking the photos of me inside the convention :P hehehehe) I am more apt to just bringing my 40 based on everyone's responses BUUUTTTT, I think I will just bring both. The 40 is smaller than a makeup palette I'm planning on bringing (total girl, I know) so I figure I can relieve any regrets by bringing both.

Another question- I can also borrow a Pentax 10-17 Fisheye from a friend who is not attending- would this be good to bring along/replace the 40?
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