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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old October 22nd, 2010, 10:58 PM   #1
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DSRL lens talk

I'm in the process of fleshing out my DSLR lens arsenal. Currently I have:

- 24-70 2.8L (probably my most used lens, great walk-around lens, excellent range on both full-frame and aps-c)

- 50 1.2L (bokeh king, and an excellent prime range for a full-frame sensor, super fast, super sharp, and light- I chose this over the 85 1.2 as it's a more usable [wider] focal length

- 135 f2L (probably the most impressive piece of glass I own, super fast, beautiful bokeh, and solid build. Not as usable as a wider prime or practical range like the 24-70)

- 70-200 2.8L IS mkII (the proverbial 70-200 lens, I splurged on the mkII though I don't know if I needed to, more on that later, excellent IS [handheld at 200 is steady!], and tack sharp wide open


Now...I'm thinking about adding some lenses however here are my thoughts (w/ pros & cons):

24 1.4L
I heard great things about this lens from pretty much everyone I spoke to. I think I'd favor this over it's brother the 35 1.4L. It seems like it could be an excellent glidecam lens- small, lightweight, and fast if need be.

My concern is it's not quite as usable of a focal length for a prime vs. say the 50. Also on the glidecam you would be stuck at 24, no more zooming + gliding which I like to do to compress the background for effect.


16-35 2.8L
I actually owned a 16-35 for a day or two before I returned it. I did so because the range is so close to what the 24-70 offers. Plus there is a decent about of vignetting at 16.

The benefit, however, with this lens in terms of glidecam- is that it, unlike the 24-70, doesn't breath when you zoom it in and out. The 24-70 lens actually lengthens physically as you go wide which can throw off your balance on a glidecam rig. The added width will be nice for some panoramic glides, but the long end (35) may fall short of the effect I like zoomed close to the subject gliding around them.


70-200 (various varieties)
I certainly need a second 70-200. It's the proverbial ceremony lens. However I for the price I paid for my 70-200 2.8L IS mkII I could have almost bought THREE Sigma 70-200 non-IS lenses. Now with IS out of the equation- optically the 70-200 mkII (canon) trounces the Sigma. However....these comparisons are always 100% zoomed full res still images. I don't know if that optical advantage will be visible in the comparative low-res 1080p "video mode". Especially considering the image is scaled down with aliasing, etc.

Does anyone have any insight here? I know the Canon is better glass than the Sigma but will I, being the discerning viewer, see the difference in quality in a video?


Effect Lenses (fish-eye, macro, tilt-shift)
Every-time I see a killer ultra-close-up ring shot I say to myself- "I've got to get a macro!". However what keeps me grounded is the fact that it is a potentially expensive lens that will have limited application. How many of you own macros, and how do you use them other than ring/detail shots?

Fish eye shots are cool if used sparingly though, again, it's got a very limited practical application.

Also I love the look of tilt-shift shots, though- once again, limited use. Anyone invest in a tilt-shift lens? Also how often/when do you utilize it?


Anyway I hope to gain some insight from you guys about these lenses or even ones that I may not have mentioned. Thanks in advance!
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 11:19 PM   #2
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I've got all the L series primes with the exception of the 35mm 1.4L as it's about to be updated.... So I'm waiting for that. My favorites and most used are definitely the 24mm 1.4L, 50mm 1.2L, and 135mm 2.0L. I would definitely get the 24mm next. Another favorite of mine... And a must have for weddings is the 100mm 2.8L Macro.... AMAZING piece of glass!!!

I have both the 70-200mm 2.8L and the mkII version and I think the extra money for the MkII version is money well spent for the superior IS and closer minimum focusing distance alone!

I would definitely get at least one effect lens... The ol' 15mm 2.8 Fisheye is a fun one and I usually include at least 1 shot from this lens in every wedding highlight... It's easy to over use this lens.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 11:48 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Andrew Waite View Post
I've got all the L series primes with the exception of the 35mm 1.4L as it's about to be updated.... So I'm waiting for that. My favorites and most used are definitely the 24mm 1.4L, 50mm 1.2L, and 135mm 2.0L. I would definitely get the 24mm next. Another favorite of mine... And a must have for weddings is the 100mm 2.8L Macro.... AMAZING piece of glass!!!

I have both the 70-200mm 2.8L and the mkII version and I think the extra money for the MkII version is money well spent for the superior IS and closer minimum focusing distance alone!

I would definitely get at least one effect lens... The ol' 15mm 2.8 Fisheye is a fun one and I usually include at least 1 shot from this lens in every wedding highlight... It's easy to over use this lens.
Excellent thanks for the comprehensive reply Andrew.

Do you have any word on when the new 35 1.4 is coming out and how it will be improved? I've heard rumors about a 24-70 2.8L IS- that would be a wonderful piece of glass!

So the 70-200 mkII is worth the money? I was very impressed with the IS, is it better than the mk1 version of the lens? Also have you or anyone you know done any "video" tests comparing it agains the much less expensive Sigma 70-200? I know the Canon has more bells & whistles (including better close range focusing- which is a good point you brought up) however what about when it comes down to IQ?

Regarding the 100 2.8L Macro- why do you feel this is a must? Not in contention of your point just interested in how/when you use it- and how often. Thanks!

PS Andrew, are you 100% DSLR for your weddings?
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 01:52 AM   #4
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34mm 1.4 mkII could be any day.... but most likely early next year.... they seem to be out of stock at a lot of places leading me to believe it might be sooner than later. I've been hearing about the new 24-70 with IS... THAT would make it an unbelievable lens! I like the current lens, but it is probably the softest L series zoom and falls into that "you might get a bad one from the factory" category. I have two of the EF-S 17-55 2.8 IS lenses.... they are the crop sensor equivalent of the 24-70 on a full frame. IS is very important to me!

The IS is significantly better on the NEW 70-200 2.8L over the older 70-200 2.8L. I have done side by side comparisons of the Canon and Sigma 70-200 IS lenses. The Sigma is impressive, BUT I don't really like how the Sigma resolves... it really seems to fight you a lot more than the Canon. I feel the Canon is superior and worth the extra money.

The 100mm 2.8L Macro is amazing! It's the only Canon lens with the new HYBRID IS which offers IS not only up and down and left to right, but also forwards and backwards too!!! It is SUPER SHARP and has an incredibly flat field! It is just incredible! It's a must have for details such as rings and shooting writing and other text as the depth of field is UNREAL shallow! Check out the Butterfly video on my site here: Higher Definition Media - Commercial Production Gallery - Bakersfield, CA and see for yourself! and for less than a thousand it's a steal!

Yes, I'm DSLR only and have been for about 45 weddings or so.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 09:57 PM   #5
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I had the pleasure of trying out a bunch of new lenses toward the end of a reception sunday. The photographer (friend) I was working with let me try out his 24 1.4. 35 1.4, 100mm Macro (non IS), and a tilt-shift lens (not sure what focal length it was.

I have to say I was VERY impressed with the 24 1.4, even though it was the older version of the lens. It's a great length for shooting dancing in the crowd, and at f/1.4 it allowed us to dim our lights to their lowest setting and still achieve a good exposure.

The 35 1.4 felt a bit dull- not optically but in terms of focal length. It's easier to use than the 50 1.2 "in the crowd" because of its width but something about the focal length of the 24 I liked quite a bit more.

The Macro lens was amazing! Granted it isn't the newer one with IS but just playing with it for 3 minutes I can see the benefit of using this lens for detail shots. Here's a quick rack I did at one of the tables during cocktail hour. The combination of sharpness and ultra-shallow dof create quite an impressive look. I can only imagine how great the 2.8L IS version is!
http://www.gmelliottvideo.com/photos/macrorack.jpg

The tilt-shift lens was interesting - however not something I think I'd take the time to use on a regular (or even semi-regular) basis at weddings.

Thanks again for the input Andrew. I'm going to order another 70-200 (need it multi-cam ceremony shoots!), 24 1.4, and maybe even the macro you mentioned.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 10:55 AM   #6
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No prob! Treat yourself and add that macro! I have used the older macro and it doesn't compare to the new L-Series with Hybrid IS!
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Old October 26th, 2010, 03:39 PM   #7
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The 24mm 1.4 is my main lens. I bought it after purchasing the 35mm 1.4. I should have purchased the 24mm first.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 03:41 PM   #8
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The 24mm 1.4 is my main lens. I bought it after purchasing the 35mm 1.4. I should have purchased the 24mm first.
oh, I juse the Canon 7D. The 50mm is too tight for me.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 04:15 PM   #9
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Hey Glen,

I would consider the 70-200 f/4 IS over the 70-200 2.8 IS II. It's lighter, less expensive, and a tad less sharp, but how often do you shoot at 2.8 for a telephoto during speeches while expecting fully sharp imagery? I normally stop down to f/4 or even f 5.6 in order to stay in focus during speeches. When it comes to a low light situation, I will usually light the podium anyway. If anything, I would say to raise your ISO and use neat video to clean it up.

I use 70-200 f/4 IS's as my bride and groom cams and always happy with what I get with them. If I ever need to shoot a telephoto at a wide aperture, I'll use a friends 135L.

I've also shot with the sigma 70-200 quite a bit and the image isn't terrible at all. However, I personally feel that all telephoto zooms I use need IS as I was stuck shooting a windy wedding and my old tokina 50-135 had some shake at the long end. IS is definitely one of those things you wish you had.

If autofocus isn't a big deal to you, I would suggest looking outside of the canon line to either zeiss or even nikon. I shoot primarily all zeiss and the only time I use canon lenses are during the ceremony bride and groom angle and the reception main podium. I'm waiting for zeiss to announce the >100mm FL lenses that are rumored as I need a fast telephoto to offset the 70-200 f/4 IS during creative shots in low light (dancing, cake cutting, etc.).

Cheers

ps. If you're shooting with the 7D (as I didn't see you post what you shoot with) the 17-55 2.8 IS is a great steadicam/glidecam lens. Even though it does extend, I balance my pilot towards the middle of the zoom range so whichever way I zoom, it's only a slight head space trim to get it back on track. I no longer use that lens as I moved to a different brand, but could recommend it quite easily. If you're on a 5dmk2, I'd stick with the 24-70 2.8. Sure its heavy and it extends, but try and balancing it towards the middle of the zoom. When I would fly 5dmk2 and 24-70, that helped alot.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 04:06 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Michael Simons View Post
The 24mm 1.4 is my main lens. I bought it after purchasing the 35mm 1.4. I should have purchased the 24mm first.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Simons View Post
oh, I juse the Canon 7D. The 50mm is too tight for me.
A good point as the the 24mm on the crop sensor 7D equates to about 38mm on a FF sensor like the 5DII. I don't believe that the OP mentioned whether he was using a crop sensor or not.
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Old October 27th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #11
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A good point as the the 24mm on the crop sensor 7D equates to about 38mm on a FF sensor like the 5DII. I don't believe that the OP mentioned whether he was using a crop sensor or not.
I don't think he mentioned it, thats why I pointed out I had the 7D and the 50mm is too tight for me.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 03:56 AM   #12
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Hey,
I'm also shooting with 2 Canon 7D's and I mainly use the Canon 24-70 on both of them.
Sometimes I also use an old Nikon 85 F1.4
I really love that lens, but you can't use it in many occassions because of the crop factor.

For those who are mainly using prime lenses.
Don't you have the feeling that it is a disadvantage that you can't zoom and on a wedding everything
has to go so fast ?
That's why we mainly use the 24-70 to use it in all circumstances altough we have several older Nikon Primes. We don't have much time to swap lenses often.

Do you notice a big visual difference between the prime and the zoom lenses ?
Most of the primes are faster, but then it's difficult to get the bride & groom both in focus for example.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 04:16 AM   #13
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I've recently swapped my 70-200mm f4L with 135mm f2L. I reckon it's worth it, great picture quality!

Initially I was a bit worried losing the zoom, but in a normal ceremony/reception, you can almost guess where they'll be standing and walking towards to and there are usually less movements. So far, it's working well with me.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 09:42 AM   #14
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Hey,
I'm also shooting with 2 Canon 7D's and I mainly use the Canon 24-70 on both of them.
Sometimes I also use an old Nikon 85 F1.4
I really love that lens, but you can't use it in many occassions because of the crop factor.

For those who are mainly using prime lenses.
Don't you have the feeling that it is a disadvantage that you can't zoom and on a wedding everything
has to go so fast ?
That's why we mainly use the 24-70 to use it in all circumstances altough we have several older Nikon Primes. We don't have much time to swap lenses often.

Do you notice a big visual difference between the prime and the zoom lenses ?
Most of the primes are faster, but then it's difficult to get the bride & groom both in focus for example.
I only use a zoom for the ceremony ..otherwise primes all day. I like to shoot below the 2.8 I don't have a problem with the focus. The one thing I actually enjoy about working with DSLR is that I have to manual focus.
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Old October 29th, 2010, 03:57 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bart Wierzbicki View Post
For those who are mainly using prime lenses.
Don't you have the feeling that it is a disadvantage that you can't zoom and on a wedding everything
has to go so fast ?
I looooove prime's and don't feel I'm losing anything at all. 50mm on a full frame camera can capture pretty much everything except ceremony shots.

For the ceremony, 50mm just isn't tight enough when you're shooting from the sides of the church. It is, however, a perfect length for our roaming "beauty shot" camera. The 135mm, or 100mm on a 7D is a perfect length for the sides of the church. If I need to change my framing I can get what I want by moving four or five paces in or out. If we're in a tight situation, I know well enough in advance that the need to switch lenses is not a surprise and I can handle it with ease.

It's funny, because most people I know started with zooms for that exact reason. You can't zoom in with a prime. But I don't know anyone who has tried shooting with primes and didn't love it. There's just something wonderful about them. They're fast. They physically feel good (compare the huge 70-200 f/2.8 to the 135 f/2 - world of difference). They look great.

I highly recommend everyone rent a fast 50mm just once to see how they like it. Different strokes for different folks, of course, but in my humble opinion once you go prime, you don't go back.
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