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


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Old June 23rd, 2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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Good wide angle lens for reception?

I've made the switch to shooting DSLR for weddings (still using Canon HV40 as C-cam, but mainly using two 60d bodies). I'm slowing trying to build my lenses up, as I can afford to do so. Right now I've got the two kit 18-55mm 3.5 lenses that I don't hardly ever use, a Canon 50mm 1.4, and a Sigma 70-200 2.8. At receptions when the lights are typically low, I try to use the 1.4 and the 2.8 as much as possible without using an external light. I need a wide angle lens (30mm or below), but am having a hard time. I see a Sigma 17-70 2.8 that I'm interested in, and a Sigma 20 1.8, which is $180 more. Is the 1.8 really that much more worth it? I think I'm more interested in the 17-70 to have the zoom (gets so frustrating to navigate around my 50 1.4 on a tripod!), but want to stay sensitive to the low light issue. My kit lenses are 3.5 and the 17-70 are 2.8 - does the 0.7 really make that much of a difference? I realize I'm already shooting the 70-200 2.8, but wasn't sure if it was comparable in low light since it's a larger zoom. Sorry for all the questions, but I'd appreciate any feedback!
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 12:53 PM   #2
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Michael - I just recently acquired a 24 1.4 L. It is now my go-to lens for receptions. Even with some lighting I find I have to stay below 2.8 to get decent exposure. So this lens coupled with my old Nikon 50 1.4 and 85 1.8 seem to get the job done when I'm dealing with a dark venue.

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Old June 23rd, 2011, 01:25 PM   #3
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Thanks for the quick response! I'd definitely love to have one of those. I'm looking for something under $800 if possible though.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 02:39 PM   #4
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Save up. The 24 f1.4 is worth it. Beautiful images, great color when there is no light.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 02:42 PM   #5
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Sigma zoom would be a logical choice. F/2.8 is decent. Canon equivalent costs around, what, $1500 or so? So the Sigma's really are a good value. That Sigma will also be useful for general purposes outdoors as well. I would run the 50mm and the Sigma zoom at receptions and for the most part you'd be covered.

Not as wide, but a decent lens and good value would be a Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8. Not as nice as the Sigma, and not the wide you're looking for, but costs significantly less than the Sigma equivalent. I have a Sigma 18-50 and the Tamron as well, both have their uses with F/2.8 all the way through.

The Tamron is good for first dances, you get a bit tighter with it than with the Sigma, but I suppose you have that covered with your present zoom.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 03:01 PM   #6
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

We shoot our receptions with fast primes on 60Ds. The only exception is the Tokina 11-16 2.8, but when it's really dark, that lens gets limited use. Zooms are more convenient, but generally are limited to 2.8. Unless you are shooting with a 5D MkII or GH2, ISO limitations really hurt 2.8 lenses at dark receptions.

The Canon 24mm 1.4 is awesome, but it better be at $1700. There are a few lower cost alternatives, for fast and wide, especially for video. Sigma 20mm 1.8 which can be found on eBay for as little as $350-400. Sigma also has a 24mm and 30mm that are fast, but I do not have any experience with either lens.

Another option is going the Vintage glass route. A Nikon 24mm 2.0, which runs between $300-500. Vivitar also makes a 24mm 2.0 in a Nikon mount and Pentax mount and can be found for much less than the Nikon brand. With either of these lenses you just add a Nikon or Pentax K to EOS adapter. Speaking of adapters, you can also get the Sigma 20mm 1.8 in a Nikon mount and it has a physical aperture ring, so you just need to add the Nikon to EOS adapter. I did this so I had options if I chose to shoot with a Panny GH2.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 03:17 PM   #7
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Mark, Michael, I can vouch for the Sigma 30mm F/1.4. I've had both the Canon mount, and now the Oympus mount for my GH2/GH1s, and it's a fine lens. It matches well with the Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 ($399). Unfortunately for my GH2 it's effectively 60mm, a slightly odd angle, but nevertheless is quite effective in many situations.

I've taken to putting 2-3 LEDs up high on stands, so while the F/2.8 zoom lenses aren't as great as the primes with sufficient light the F/2.8 ends up working fine at least for dancing. I'm running all GH1s and GH2s, no conventional video cameras, so I'm running so many cameras it's plain stupid. As I get better with them I will be able to ditch a couple and stick with two or three.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 03:22 PM   #8
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

you also might want to get a 5D, which is good in low light than 60d.
and a 16-35mm wide is good for all purpose
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 06:49 PM   #9
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

The Sigma 17-70 is not a constant aperture lens. It will only be at f/2.8 when used at the widest zoom setting, and will stop down to f/4 if you zoom in. The Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 is constant aperture, but much more expensive and less wide.

A much better choice would be somthing like the Tarmon 17-50 f/2.8 or the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8. You could pair either one of these with something like the Sigma 20mm f/1.8, or 30mm f/1.4 and then for a total outlay of around $800 you have the abilty to zoom in dark receptions or go to the faster prime when it really gets dark.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 08:39 PM   #10
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

I agree with Mark. Fast primes are the way to go for receptions. In my opinion, f2.8 isn't fast enough for dim reception lighting in many cases. With small cameras, it's much easier to move around so the need to zoom is much less.

Last edited by Jim Snow; June 24th, 2011 at 12:00 AM.
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Old June 23rd, 2011, 11:58 PM   #11
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Snow View Post
Fast primes are the way to go for receptions. In my opinion, f2.8 isn't fast enough for dim ceremony lighting in many cases.
+1 on that. I very rarely use f2.8 on reception unless its on a 5D where I can crank the ISO to 2400. But with the 7D, I need atleast f2.0 to stay within ISO1250.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 02:06 AM   #12
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Michael, to help with your original question you need to understand the relationship between f stops. These lists might help:

Typical one-half-stop f-number scale
f/# 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.7 2 2.4 2.8 3.3 4 4.8 5.6 6.7 8 9.5 11 13 16 19 22

Typical one-third-stop f-number scale
f/# 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.5 2.8 3.2 3.5 4 4.5 5.0 5.6 6.3 7.1 8 9 10 11 13 14 16 18 20 22

Since a full stop variation will double or halve the exposure you can see what the choices you have will offer in simple performance terms.

So when you ask " .... a Sigma 17-70 2.8 that I'm interested in, and a Sigma 20 1.8, which is $180 more. Is the 1.8 really that much more worth it?" you can see that in terms of simple exposure performance the 1.8 will allow you an extra 1 and 1/3 times as much exposure.

However, there are many other factors you need to consider that anyone who's worked in still photography will tell you. The performance of lenses at full aperture is not best; the typical optimum is a couple of stops lower. Performance in that case means focus, spherical and chromatic abberation etc and especially at the edges.

Finally, although there's no disputing Mark's claim regarding the price of "vintage" lenses you should remember that lens and especially glass technology has come a huge way. I collect metal Minolta cameras and consequently have a heap of old Minolta glass. I loved Minolta lenses, they were sharp but not clinically so and great for portraiture. But, take any collection of old glass and you'll see that the actual diameter of the glass reduced for the same speed lens once modern multi-coatings came along. And that was with top-name branded glass. I wouldn't give you tuppence for old Vivitar, Sigma, Tamron etc lenses and anyone who worked with the stuff in those days will know why.

In general, there's a very good reason why branded glass costs more; it's better.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 03:51 AM   #13
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

I don't know about discounting vintage lenses wholesale, Phillip. My Canon FD mounts are quite good, and Mark had specifically mentioned Nikons, and they are quite good also. My 30 year old Canon FD 50mm F/1.4 is by far the sharpest lens in my kit, and at $125 the best value. The Canon FD 85mm F/1.2L which I recently sold was amazing. You specifically named third party lenses, but let's be clear the old Canon's and Nikons are fine lenses and excellent values by any measure.

At F/2.8, the GH2 performs well, I don't know about the other cameras. Jim, you used to like the 14-140 F/3.5-5.0 (or whatever it was) for wedding work and wondered why I was buying fast lenses. You have clearly had a change of heart. I'm surprised to hear you now say F/2.8 is too slow. The GH2 is good up to at least what, 1600 ISO? Many, including you, say even higher. My F/2.8 can't hold a candle to a F/1.4 lens, but with a modest amount of light F/2.8 is quite good. At least it gives me a zoom. Without it I'd be stuck with all primes, which is no fun during a first dance.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 04:01 AM   #14
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Jeff, my comments were relative, not absolute. In general, modern multi-coatings give a relatively better lens. Mark's point, with which I don't fundamentally disagree, is that older lens aren't expensive and as you attest, are often excellent buys, but I'm speaking in relative terms.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 07:22 AM   #15
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Re: Good wide angle lens for reception?

Thanks to everyone for the valuable insight. This is really helpful! I wasn't sure about Tamron's reputation, but it sounds like they are generally accepted, although obviously not the same quality standards as canon's lenses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
The performance of lenses at full aperture is not best; the typical optimum is a couple of stops lower. Performance in that case means focus, spherical and chromatic abberation etc and especially at the edges.
To help me understand this, let me use my current lenses as an example. In other words, the 1.4 performs best at, say, 1.8 or 2.0, and the 2.8 performs best at 3.3 or 4.0? I wasn't sure if your saying the performance of lenses at full aperture is not best applied as a general rule for all lenses, or just the faster ones.
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