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07-28-2015, 03:38 AM   #1
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Building a Kit for Low Light Photography that Doesn't Require External Flash

Hi everyone,

I'm currently in the process of acquiring new camera equipment. I generally shoot landscapes and macros. Besides this, some wild life and a few portraits and general family style shots. Currently, I own a Pentax K-5 with a Pentax 16-45/4 and Pentax 55-300 WR.

Sometimes, I end up taking shots in low-light or at night. For landscapes and subjects that are still, a tripod works really well. What kind of glass do you recommend for low-light or night shots where the subject isn't still? I'm not big on using the built-in or an external flash, which is why I'm asking about this. I was looking at the DA 35/2.4 to experiment with, but it doesn't seem like it's all that faster than what I currently have, which works well in most circumstances.

Thanks

07-28-2015, 03:53 AM   #2
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The Sigma 30mm:1.4. I really quie like mine. It doesn't get a lot of love around here, but a used one is pretty cheap, and really quite amazing. Mostly the people who don't like it have never used it. Get the old Ex model, not the new art one. Apparently the new one has focusing problems.

It has pretty poor edge performance, but in practical usage, I don't notice it. If you buy used and hate it, then sell it again, no loss really.
07-28-2015, 03:55 AM   #3
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Find glass in the length you want and is as fast as you can get. Since you won't be using a tripod (most likely) avoid longer lenses, learn I out the lenses. It won't do much good to get a 1-4 lens that's not really usable until it gets to f4. I don't have any specific suggestions but I'm sure you'll get many,
07-28-2015, 04:56 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by sabzijoon Quote
I was looking at the DA 35/2.4 to experiment with, but it doesn't seem like it's all that faster than what I currently have
This is a pretty great lens, I think its some of the best glass you can get in that price point (other good glass being DA 50mm f1.8 and DA 40mm XS). It is significantly brighter than f4, but it is still not super bright.
But here is the problem, if you shoot at f1.4, you can take handheld photos even in fairly low light - but the depth of focus will be very shallow.
Anyway, Sigma 30mm is a good recommendation. Or Samyang 35mm f1.4, if you don't mind lack of AF.
DA 50mm f1.8 is a good choice, too. Decent for portraiture, very bright, but it might be a little too telephoto for landscapes.

07-28-2015, 06:10 AM   #5
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What is your subject? That will determine the lens choice.

I just got a new K-3, and the autofocus speed and accuracy in my poorly-lit living room just blows me away. I couple it with my Sigma 28mm f/1.8(7?), shoot wide open, and have been getting some really great family candids.
07-28-2015, 06:56 AM   #6
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Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 would be a good one.
07-28-2015, 07:09 AM   #7
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Don't forget the Sigma 35mm f1.4
07-28-2015, 07:39 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lavascript Quote
What is your subject? That will determine the lens choice.

I just got a new K-3, and the autofocus speed and accuracy in my poorly-lit living room just blows me away. I couple it with my Sigma 28mm f/1.8(7?), shoot wide open, and have been getting some really great family candids.
I often shoot theatre where the lighting is terrible for photography. My go to lens for this is the DA* 50-135 f/2.8 ...and like you I find autofocus works very well in that situation. I would use my DA* 16-50 f/2.8 if I needed wider; I use that at events where I can shoot late into the evening and when the only light is from a camp fire.

07-28-2015, 07:50 AM   #9
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I would use the 20-40 lens for this situation as I want something that is flexible, fast and also light to carry around. I also think that a SLR gorilla tripod would come in handy for long exposure for travelling purposes.
07-28-2015, 07:50 AM   #10
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The older and big brother to the DA 35 2.4... The FA 35 2.0
07-28-2015, 07:52 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lavascript Quote
What is your subject? That will determine the lens choice.

I just got a new K-3, and the autofocus speed and accuracy in my poorly-lit living room just blows me away. I couple it with my Sigma 28mm f/1.8(7?), shoot wide open, and have been getting some really great family candids.
Regarding subject, I was looking for something to use in low-light/night time in general, not for any particular subject matter. Though, I'd expect it to be a combination of indoor shots for gatherings and a few out in the open that resemble street photography with or without people.

Another question is this, say that I have the following two lenses, would they be usable at all in low-light?

Pentax 16-85mm
Pentax 55-300mm
07-28-2015, 08:00 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by sabzijoon Quote
Regarding subject, I was looking for something to use in low-light/night time in general, not for any particular subject matter. Though, I'd expect it to be a combination of indoor shots for gatherings and a few out in the open that resemble street photography with or without people.

Another question is this, say that I have the following two lenses, would they be usable at all in low-light?

Pentax 16-85mm
Pentax 55-300mm
Given those two lenses, I would say no (or may be). Although you can still use it if you can manage to keep it at the wider apertures, but don't expect too much from the result.
07-28-2015, 08:11 AM   #13
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I shoot in low light fairly often, and I often am unable to use flash because I'm photographing rescued or injured animals. Depending on the circumstances, I have a few favorite lenses:
- Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 is a versatile lens when I want a zoom lens but need something a little faster than my standard zooms (the Pentax 18-135 or 55-300). I like that it also has a short minimum focusing distances and quasi-macro capabilities. It is not super-fast, but I often find that I don't want to shoot much wider than its f/2.8-4 range (in order to have enough in focus in the image), so it's usually fast enough. Image quality is very good and the price is reasonable.
- It's hard to beat the Pentax 50mm f/1.8 for its combination of speed, size/weight, price (less than $200) and image quality. It's just long enough to be a decent portrait lens and it's often wide enough for some scenes (but I do find sometimes that I need a wider lens like a 35 for some situations).
- I like the Pentax 35mm f/2.8 macro because it's fairly fast, it has macro capabilities and it's wider than the 50. But sometimes it's not quite fast enough.
- I love the Pentax 77mm f/1.8 when I need to go as wide open as I can and where I'm doing portraits. But I sometimes can't step back far enough to use it in the close quarters where I operate.
- I have the 1.4 teleconverter that I can add to these lens (losing a stop of light) - I find it works best when I'm trying to keep the kit to a minimum and I'm pairing it with either the 50 or the 77 to get a little more reach.
07-28-2015, 08:37 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
- It's hard to beat the Pentax 50mm f/1.8 for its combination of speed, size/weight, price (less than $200) and image quality. It's just long enough to be a decent portrait lens and it's often wide enough for some scenes (but I do find sometimes that I need a wider lens like a 35 for some situations).
Yep. My best low light lens.
07-28-2015, 08:59 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
- It's hard to beat the Pentax 50mm f/1.8 for its combination of speed, size/weight, price (less than $200) and image quality. It's just long enough to be a decent portrait lens and it's often wide enough for some scenes (but I do find sometimes that I need a wider lens like a 35 for some situations).
Quoted price is a bit of an understatement, actually. Currently available new from B&H for $107! As soon as my 4% rewards show up from my K-3 purchase, I'll be grabbing one.
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