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03-22-2013, 08:04 PM   #1
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Lens choice for car shows

I enjoy taking pictures of classic cars. For example I have attended the Milwaukee Masterpiece for the past few years and have seen some great cars. Up to now I have taken pictures using my ultra zoom camera. I now have a K-30. I read the thread that says wide angle is the best lens shooting cars at shows but I am not sure if my kit 18-55 will be good enough. Before I buy a hood and, polarizer for this lens I want to make sure I will be happy with the results. I don't want to spend money if I don't need to but would be willing to drop up to $300 on a lens if it was going to be a big improvement over what I have. Thoughts?

03-22-2013, 08:14 PM   #2
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I've found the DA 15 Limited is a great focal length for cars. You are close enough that people will not be in front of you, and gives a bit of perspective distortion. It exceeds your budget by a fair amount, however.
03-22-2013, 08:20 PM   #3
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+1. You need a wide angle lens, and you may even consider a fisheye lens.

The DA15mm will do a great job as a wide angle lense.

The DA10-17mm may give also you more flexibility by combining fisheye (at 10mm) and wide angle (at 17 mm).

If it was me, I would bring both: the DA15mm is really small and the DA10-17mm is not that larger. They all fit in a jacket pocket.

Hope that the comment may help.

Last edited by hcc; 03-22-2013 at 09:03 PM.
03-22-2013, 09:20 PM   #4
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A DA16-45 would fit your budget if you don't mind getting a used one. Picture quality is very good, but ideally it should be stopped down to around 5.6 - so you'll have to shoot high iso if the event is indoors.

03-22-2013, 10:07 PM   #5
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I enjoy photographing car shows too, I have only ever used a zoom because I want the freedom to get close or far.
Car shows are a pain though. Most people will courteously step aside while you get a quick snap but the worst offenders are the owners hovering around in the background purposefully trying to spoil your photo.
Many times I've had the owner see what you're up to and walk over and lean on the car while chatting to someone else. I just walk away muttering profanities.

P.S. Nice Vet.
03-22-2013, 11:29 PM   #6
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Here are a few I took with the DAL 18-55. I like having the ability to zoom in for close ups like engine shots. I think the kit lens is sufficient if you're starting out.














03-23-2013, 02:58 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by kosmoejtg Quote
I enjoy taking pictures of classic cars. For example I have attended the Milwaukee Masterpiece for the past few years and have seen some great cars. Up to now I have taken pictures using my ultra zoom camera. I now have a K-30. I read the thread that says wide angle is the best lens shooting cars at shows but I am not sure if my kit 18-55 will be good enough. Before I buy a hood and, polarizer for this lens I want to make sure I will be happy with the results. I don't want to spend money if I don't need to but would be willing to drop up to $300 on a lens if it was going to be a big improvement over what I have. Thoughts?
I use my pentax 35mm f/2.4 on my k5 at the 2013 chicago auto show and i really loved it.
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03-23-2013, 07:28 AM   #8
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Thanks for the input, you have given me some things to consider. I heard I should get a new lens, though most mentioned are fairly expensive, and I heard my kit lens would do the job. I lean towards keeping the kit lens but I don't mind spending the money if I know it will help my results. I was considering a used DA 16-45 to replace my 18-55 but I was unsure if I would miss the extra reach of the 18-55. I have some time to make up my mind since we are still in the midst of winter here in Chicago (snow tomorrow!).

03-23-2013, 07:38 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by chromo Quote
I enjoy photographing car shows too, I have only ever used a zoom because I want the freedom to get close or far.
Car shows are a pain though. Most people will courteously step aside while you get a quick snap but the worst offenders are the owners hovering around in the background purposefully trying to spoil your photo.
Many times I've had the owner see what you're up to and walk over and lean on the car while chatting to someone else. I just walk away muttering profanities.
Perhaps a heavyweight ND filter might be of use in this situation... Set your shot up, set it off and then chat to somebody while the exposure is going off... If it's long enough anybody who moves will vanish from the picture... You get to take your time while being sneaky...

A card given to the owner with a promise to give send copies of the pictures you take might sweeten them a little too...
03-23-2013, 09:01 AM   #10
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Portland Roadster Show

I too had the car show lens question last weekend, so before heading to the Portland (Oregon) Roadster Show I did some web searching and found this:

12 Tips For Car Show Photographers | Photofocus

The Portland show is indoors so I knew the lighting would be lower than I'd like. I shot RAW with auto WB and almost no flash. I have LR4 so I can make changes later if I shoot RAW. The 18-55 kit lens is not usually my first choice on outings, but I needed the wide angle and from past experience I knew the show would be close quarters so why take a lens much past 75mm. I also took my fixed 35mm for kicks (but never used it, but should have given it a chance). Before leaving the house I lightened the camera bag by taking some stuff out which left room for my wife to put some of her things in the camera bag so she didn't have to take her purse, so she gladly carried the camera bag. I threw my Rocket Air blaster and lens pen in my jacket pocket so all I had to do was walk around and find great shots and take in the cars without dipping into the camera bag every other shot.

I put a polarizer on the 18-55 as per the attached article and it did a great job of cutting the reflection (also used a lens hood). I took a risk and left the monopod at home and just had to wing it on a steady hand. I lost a few shots because they weren't sharp, but I got plenty of good stuff. The so-so lighting, kit lens and going hand-held made for a tricky balancing act for good depth of field. It was tough to get the longer shutter speeds but I think things came out fine

One trick I stumbled onto was if you want better pics with less people to work around and a less cluttered background go late to the show. The Portland show opened at 10 AM and that's usually when we go, but decided to go later in the day and got there at 4:30 and had till 9:00 PM. I didn't think it would be enough time but people tend to head out for dinner and by 6:00 the crowd was so thin I never had to worry about other folks getting in the way and we got through the show quicker. It was awesome.

When you're doing a tight artsy shot be mindful of what's reflected in the paint. I got home and noticed a couple shots had people (who had been walking behind me) reflected in the paint and it took away from picture.

Don't get so caught up in the camera you forget to enjoy the cars.

Posted a few shots from the show. I did a quick scan of the 300+ pictures processed in LR4 and the focal length for most of the shots was between 18-25mm. A few were over 35mm and if they were it seems they were all the way at 55mm. Take note in the Vette/Cobra pic how there aren't a lot of people in the background because of going later in the day.
Attached Images
 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-x  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-x  Photo 

Last edited by OrangeKx; 03-23-2013 at 09:11 AM. Reason: Fix typo. Add content.
03-23-2013, 12:08 PM   #11
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My brother's New York Auto Show tip is to go on the press preview days, not that helpful unless you are in the press though.

I like to use the DA 10-17mm but nervous owners get worried when you get really close for a shot.
03-23-2013, 12:54 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by samtr87 Quote
Here are a few I took with the DAL 18-55. I like having the ability to zoom in for close ups like engine shots. I think the kit lens is sufficient if you're starting out.
I agree ... the 18-55 should take care of 90%+ of your photos.
03-23-2013, 10:00 PM   #13
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It all depends how close you can get to the machines, I tend to go with my 15mm, as others have suggested.
03-24-2013, 10:17 AM   #14
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The problem with car shows is that often times, they can be very crowded and getting up close is absolutely necessary and the 18mm of the kit lens isn't wide enough. I use the DA 15 and sometimes the DA 10-17 Fisheye. Since most of the shows I attend are outside and in the middle of the day, the flare resistance of the DA 15 is a big plus. Stop it down and it puts those famous starbursts on the hot spots.
A DA 15 shot.


A DA 10-17 Fisheye shot. You can control the look of the distortion by just walking around the car looking through the viewfinder.
03-24-2013, 11:04 AM   #15
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The 15 would likely be a good choice thought the 21 does a decent job. On this particular day I took the 40 and the 21. The 21 was the most used. Your 18-55 should be fine on bright days.


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