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  1. #26
    Mr. Sparkle alpha_bravo's Avatar
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    One more thing - if you've got time you can always rent the lenses of your dreams, pick the one that works the best and then invest the cash when you know which one worked best.

    There are some good outfits like Lensrentals.com and Borrowlenses.com. I have used Lensrentals in the past with great success. They're awesome to deal with and have everything you need. The 50 and 35 prime lenses would be very cheap to rent.

  2. #27
    BF's Level 12 Wizard SingingSabre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alpha_bravo View Post
    You've gotten good info technically, I have nothing to add in that respect.

    What I would add is that I don't think you need this advice. I assume your D3100 came with a standard range zoom lens? If so take it one night before your assignment and use it to find out what you need, both composition and speed wise. The faster your glass is the more pricey it will be. If you can get by with an f1.8 over a 1.4 you might be able to save some cash. Also, if your zoom lens is fast enough, you may not even need to be worrying about this.

    Photography's a lot like cycling, the gear is so infinitely mesmerizing. Add in the magazines, books, and how-to's which make you feel like you need it to take great pictures. That's not always the case. A good photographer would be able to walk into that club with a pinhole camera and take great pictures. I think with time and experience you will too.
    Also, like cycling, working on your engine is more important than working on acquiring gear.

    I shoot things with my Rebel XTi and "cheap" lenses that people say I shouldn't be able to shoot. Learn your light and your equipment.
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    Obviously, the guy's like a 12th level white wizard or something. His mere presence is a danger to mortals.

  3. #28
    Chief Slacking Officer ms.gio's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for all the advice.

    This morning I went to Borders and picked up two books to learn the ins and outs of my Nikon so that I can learn a thing or two.

    Btw, keep the advice coming! It's very helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by x136 View Post
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  4. #29
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingingSabre View Post
    So far my Sigmas are two for two. Two lenses, two awesome bang-for-your-buck lenses.
    I seriously love my Sigmonster and learned an awful lot about photography by using cheap Sigma lenses (which lasted me well) before stumping up the cash for L-series glass. I just wanted to make the point that some people don't have such good experiences with them.

  5. #30
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    I have a Nikon D40X and my favourite lens is a 50mm 1.8 I bought used for about $60 CDN. It's not as fast as the 1.4 as well my lens doesn't meter with the camera body. Still, with a bit of practice, it's great in manual mode and in low light situations. Lousy for super close ups and if that's the main reason you need the 50mm then I think looking for a used micro would be better.

    Don't be too worried if a lens doesn't have the motor to meter with the camera body, if it fits (and odds are unless you are using a super ancient lens, it will) then you can use it in manual mode. There is a great flickr group for Nikon fans of no metering lenses that I love exploring: http://www.flickr.com/groups/365610@N21/


  6. #31
    Senior Member shouldberiding's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclokitty View Post
    Don't be too worried if a lens doesn't have the motor to meter with the camera body, if it fits (and odds are unless you are using a super ancient lens, it will) then you can use it in manual mode. There is a great flickr group for Nikon fans of no metering lenses that I love exploring: http://www.flickr.com/groups/365610@N21/
    The body motor is for auto-focus, not for metering. Nikon's earliest auto-focus lenses were designed to have backwards compatibility with manual focus bodies. It's a screw drive system, where a little screwdriver would stick out of the body to turn the auto-focus gearing. ms.gio's camera lacks this, but this does not mean that her camera won't meter with early auto focus lenses.

    pre-AI lenses (manual focus, 50's to 70's) will not work on the camera at all. Some may fit, but Nikon recommends that you don't use pre-AI lenses with their bodies, so one must assume that there is a danger of damaging one's camera with certain pre-AI lenses.

    AI lenses (manual focus, 70's to 80's) will fit, but will not have metering. (Higher end Nikon's will, with manual setup of lens data)

    AF, AF-D (screw drive) lenses will have full metering capability but will not auto-focus

    All later Nikkor lenses will be fully functional.

    Even with lenses that lack auto-focus, you will still have the focus indicator in the viewfinder to tell you when you're in focus.

    Those 80's AF & AF-D mid-range prime lenses are a great deal right now. Sharp-as-a-tack glass for under 100 bucks? That's a no brainer.
    Last edited by shouldberiding; 03-26-11 at 06:16 PM.

  7. #32
    Why not? EthanYQX's Avatar
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    There's a bit of bull**** here...people seem to decide they're the experts and no one else has any business doing anything. It's ridiculous. The first time I shot anything for money I had old guys raking me over the coals because I showed up with a Canon Rebel and a 50mm lens. Same group of guys bought a bunch of my stuff from that night.

    If I were to be asked to pick any lens, I'd take a fast wide-normal zoom like a 28-70 f2.8. Failing that, "nifty fifty" for sure. Fast 50mm lens. Roughly $100. Actually, buy one anyway. You'll like it, I promise.

    Quote Originally Posted by StupidlyBrave View Post
    Thanks! About 3 dozen shots, a handful of keepers
    That's an excellent rule of thumb too.
    Last edited by EthanYQX; 03-26-11 at 07:20 PM.
    "It is not the critic who counts."

  8. #33
    Senior Member shouldberiding's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankshaftYQX View Post
    There's a bit of bull**** here...people seem to decide they're the experts and no one else has any business doing anything. It's ridiculous.
    Eh, the only BS I'm seeing in this thread are from those telling the OP to sod off and go ask someone else. I think everyone else is just trying to be helpful.

    ms.gio, I would recommend getting Ansel Adams' The Camera and The Negative. Any library should have them. Though they were written with Black & White film photography in mind they'll teach you more about the photographic process than any Nikon camera guide will.

    At the risk of sounding like a complete luddite, I also think it's important to learn how to use the camera in full Manual mode. Learning about how aperture and shutter speed effect the final image was absolutely essential for me, and helps greatly in being able to visualize the final image before you take the shot. It'll also help you in deciding when to use shutter priority or aperture priority modes, whether to set ISO to auto or to a certain speed, etc.

    The main thing is to go out, shoot, have fun, and make plenty of mistakes.

    Actually, the main thing if you've got designs on becoming a "serious" photographer is to turn off the stupid camera beep!

  9. #34
    Why not? EthanYQX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shouldberiding View Post
    Eh, the only BS I'm seeing in this thread are from those telling the OP to sod off and go ask someone else. I think everyone else is just trying to be helpful.

    ms.gio, I would recommend getting Ansel Adams' The Camera and The Negative. Any library should have them. Though they were written with Black & White film photography in mind they'll teach you more about the photographic process than any Nikon camera guide will.

    At the risk of sounding like a complete luddite, I also think it's important to learn how to use the camera in full Manual mode. Learning about how aperture and shutter speed effect the final image was absolutely essential for me, and helps greatly in being able to visualize the final image before you take the shot. It'll also help you in deciding when to use shutter priority or aperture priority modes, whether to set ISO to auto or to a certain speed, etc.

    The main thing is to go out, shoot, have fun, and make plenty of mistakes.

    Actually, the main thing if you've got designs on becoming a "serious" photographer is to turn off the stupid camera beep!
    That's exactly what I meant by bs, actually. the elitist attitude bugs me.

    I'd also advocate shooting in manual to learn. I learned on film, fully manual. Most of my glass is still MF only. Personally I like the "program" setting; you just set the camera to -2,-1,0,+1,+2 and it picks your aperture and shutter speed. Only recommended if your glass is fast enough to get away with no flash.
    "It is not the critic who counts."

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by ms.gio View Post
    So, I'm looking to get a lens for my Nikon D3100 for portraits and night shots. I was told by a friend this evening while at the pool hall that he knew someone who was looking for a photographer to come to his night club on Friday and Saturday nights to take photos of the club goers. I would also get paid for it! Well, it sounds like a lot of fun. I would be able to dress up, socialize, have a good time, and take some pictures. Problem is this: I feel as though my stock lens that came with the Nikon D3100 is sufficient for the task at hand.

    Any recommendations? Either way I would like to get a lens that would allow me to take photos at a rather close range (ie. flowers). I understand for that I'm going to need a macro lens.
    Portraits, night club shots, macro. You might need 3 separate lenses to do this right, or if you luck out you might get one lens that will do what you need to do.

    Portraits- most people used about 85mm with a full frame camera, shorter if they were doing full body shots. On the D3100 with smaller sensor, this would translate to needing a lens with about 56mm focal length. You can find lots of lenses from 50mm to 60mm that would be usable. Some portrait shooters want shallow depth of field in order to isolate the subject from the background, just depends on the style of portraits you want to do. It is also desirable to have good bokeh so you would have to do more research to find a lens with this quality. Not to say that you couldn't do OK with an old 58mm f2.8 lens. The 50mm f1.4 lens used to be very popular, but you can also save a little money by buying a 50mm f1.8 lens.

    Night Club Shots- Depending on what your subjects and distances are, this will determine the focal length that is best for you. For people shots you would need something wide, for performers on stage you would need something longer. Unless you are using a flash you would probably need a pretty fast lens. The 35mm f1.8 might be a good choice for something a bit wider. There are fast lenses with shorter focal lengths available from Nikon and Sigma, maybe others. You could take your kit lens and try it with various subjects and make note of the focal length range that you are using, then buy a new lens accordingly.

    Macro- "pictures of flowers" isn't enough information to determine what level of macro lens that you need. I've taken photos at flower shows using a normal 50mm lens, but I've also taken some that required macro at nearly 1:1. Some 50mm and shorter lenses can focus fairly close and might do what you need, for instance I have a 28mm macro lens. You could again use your current lens and determine what focus distance works for you, then look for a lens that meets this need. Macro lenses are normally flower, such as f2.8 and f4.

    It is conceivable that a 50-60mm macro lens could meet your macro and your portrait needs, and a 35mm f1.8 could do for your night club shots. It is also possible that a 50mm f1.8 could do everything that you need. You might need to do a little bit of experimenting with your current lens to determine the focal lengths and focus distances that you need, then go from there.

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by ms.gio View Post
    Thanks guys for all the advice.

    This morning I went to Borders and picked up two books to learn the ins and outs of my Nikon so that I can learn a thing or two.

    Btw, keep the advice coming! It's very helpful.
    That is a great start. You stock "kit" lens actually may do the trick for you. If you are allowed to use a flash, an external flash will provide more benefit than a faster lens. If not, your camera is capable of 12,800 ISO (in film terms very sensitive to light) Shooting at this ISO probably will produce grainy results, but 6400, or 3200 may not and still give you bright enough pictures. Best advice is, as someone else has suggested, go to the location before had and basically play around with your camera. Using the books learn to use your camera in manual mode, it will give you a lot greater control than the preset settings. It's like the difference between driving an automatic or manual transmition car. Finally to slaughter a Lance Armstrong phrase, it's not about the camera! I shoot weddings with Pentax gear, not looked upon as "professional" like Nikon or Canon, even lost a wedding contract because I didn't shoot Nikon or Canon. In the end is how the shots turn out, not what equipment you use to get the result. Feel free to message me with specific questions, if you have any.

  12. #37
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    Some quick thoughts:

    Some pros who shoot in nightclubs, without flash, use black-and-white with VERY high ISO, as the resulting "noise" (graininess) looks better in B&W.

    Ken Rockwell's website has a quite comprehensive and up-to-date Nikon lens compatibility chart. He uses a D3100 outside his studio, and thinks highly of it. I will check to see which 50mm 1.4 he uses.

    A fast Fifty is never a bad lens choice, but if you are close to your subject, with a 1.5x crop factor, as is your D3100, a fast 35mm or 28mm might be better. I love my 50mm 1.8, and want to try a faster Fifty someday, like a 1.2.

    You don't need a macro lens to shoot flowers. Macro is for shooting a tiny bug on the flower.

    To be clear, I am using Canons now, but I like Nikons, too, and have been reading a bit on Nikon. I shoot quite a bit in low light, but not in nightclubs yet.

    Lens rental was already mentioned, and I agree; try several before buying.

    Tokina is a VERY good alternative lens brand. I have a 100mm 2.8 Tokina macro lens. The ones with PRO in the model name are the best Tokinas, as well as the simplest to switch from manual to autofocus.

    Edited to add: I looked at the compatibility chart; a D3100 will need AF-S or AF-I lens if you want to autofocus. It looks like Ken Rockwell really likes the AF-S Nikkor 50mmf/1.4G, and the AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1.8G.
    Last edited by Rex G; 03-30-11 at 01:51 PM.
    Have Colt, will travel...

  13. #38
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    Don't be afraid of manual focus; one reason I am reading up on Nikons is because I really like some of the older manual-focus Nikkors, such as the 50mm 1.2 AI, which is actually still in production. Nikon used to really make some nice pro-level manual-focus lenses in the days when journalists and other pros still mostly used manual focus.

    I still manual-focus much of the time when shooting macro at work, especially in low light. Autofocus is faster if the subject has some contrast, and when trying to photograph fresh (pink) bruises and marks, there is very little contrast. (I wear a badge; recording images of injuries is my main task at work now.)
    Last edited by Rex G; 03-30-11 at 02:02 PM.
    Have Colt, will travel...

  14. #39
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex G View Post
    You don't need a macro lens to shoot flowers. Macro is for shooting a tiny bug on the flower.
    This would depend on exactly what is meant by "shooting flowers". If you want to take a picture of a bunch of flowers, maybe a flower border, you don't need a macro lens. If you want to get really close to the flower and shoot the texture of the petals, the dusting of pollen, the details in the stamens etc, then you'll want a macro lens.

  15. #40
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    This would depend on exactly what is meant by "shooting flowers". If you want to take a picture of a bunch of flowers, maybe a flower border, you don't need a macro lens. If you want to get really close to the flower and shoot the texture of the petals, the dusting of pollen, the details in the stamens etc, then you'll want a macro lens.
    True enough; I did not mean to imply that macro was only for bugs, but more to indicate that one should try to use existing lenses for flowers, rather than rush to buy an expensive macro lens. Some lenses not known for macro ability can actually get really close and produce some amazing images. I have seen some very close-range shooting done with Canon 18-55mm IS kit zooms, which allow getting very close, and my wife, who is a forensic investigator/photographer, takes VERY detailed shots of fingerprints using an issued Tamron 18-200mm superzoom, on a Nikon 300s, even though that lens does not allow getting very close.

    I bought some pre-owned 50mm, 28mm, and 24mm lenses from a seller who sent me close-up images of flowers to prove the lenses' sharpness and resolution.
    Have Colt, will travel...

  16. #41
    Senior Member tizeye's Avatar
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    I went through that very same question over the past month. I had my "kit" 18-55 and 55-200 for past 3 years which served me well but wanted to upgrade to fast glass for the greater depth of field, with low light being a secondary benefit. While retaining the 55-200 (for now) looked at the shorter end. Choices I debated were 1) 35 & 50 primes, 2) 17-50 f2.8 (ruled out Nikon's 17-55 f2.8 due to $1350 price and weight) and 3) 24-70 f2.8 (again, not Nikon's $1700 offering). Note that the one thing they had in common were fixed aperture, obviously on the primes, but the zooms were f2.8 throughout the ENTIRE zoom range. The "kit" lens, like the 18-55 are VARIABLE aperture f3.5-5.6, meaning, by the time the lens is at 55mm, the minimum aperture if f5.6.

    Option 3 was tempting IF I ever intend to go full frame as they were designed, but they work great on crop sensor camera. The downside is the 1.5x crop factor virtually eliminate wide angle. When multiplying by 1.5, the FOV (field of view) of a 28-70 on a crop camera like the 3100 is similar to 42-105. I say similar, as it applies only to the height and width of the view, not the depth. So at 70, it would show the depth compression of 70...not 105.

    It came down to Options 1 and 2. Cost about the same between either option, assuming the 50 f1.8. I grew up on primes and really like them. With film, it was the standard 28, 50, 135 trio. On option two, Tamron's older non-stabilized version tests out better than Tamron's or Sigma's stabilized versions. Paying the extra $200 didn't make sense, but would be able to move up to the 50mm f1.4 "for the same cost" on option 1. Stabilization isn't really beneficial at the low range lens anyway, and with any lens, panning to follow action, you need to turn it off.

    Delivered Monday.

    That was taken with the D90 and the 18-55 kit lens. Originally had it set up with the lens mounted on the D90, but my radio flash triggers wouldn't fire on the D40, so swapped bodies. The 18-55 couldn't blur out the background like the 17-55 could, and you see the texture of the backdrop.

    (Lightning outside, better shut down)

  17. #42
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    Ooooooh, that's a neat lens. I want one. (Or the new Sigma with similar specs.)

    When I was doing full frame, I decided I needed a lens of that type. Of course the equivalent full frame lens would be about 28-70, f2.8. I finally bought a Nikon 35-70 f2.8. It is a good lens but a little short on range, so I finally bought a Tokina 28-70 f2.8. I really liked that lens. Did I say that my full frame was film? Well I decided to buy a DSLR, and my lenses would not be the right focal lengths for that, so I sold my lenses to finance the DSLR body. I need a 17-50 f2.8 to go with it.

  18. #43
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    For a D3100 I'd get a 35mm 1.8G. I recommend it to most everyone who is looking for an upgrade from the kit lens without spending a fortune. Its a great all round lens and was Designed just for the Crop sensor cameras such as yours. I have a great set I took a couple years back on a D40 (which is similar to the 3100) and the 35mm 1.8G Right Here Shots run from outdoors to indoors and night time antics with fireworks.. lol. The lens won't be great for Macro but will get reasonable close to flowers but the 18-55mm Kit lens is great for Semi-Macro work and gets closer than most lenses do but if you want a bit more of an all round lens that can do Macro shots of flowers take look at the Nikon 60mm 2.8G Micro but it won't be all that great in the night club setting because it will not work as well in low light and you will need a lot more working distance to get a head and torso shot compared to the 35mm 1.8G. Bottom line there is always a trade off when it comes to lenses. A great place to start that helped me tremendously was the Nikon Cafe forum. Really friendly place and lots of helpful people there. I moved from Film and learned all I know about DSLR's from that forum. good luck and have fun!
    Last edited by Pewter_Camaro; 04-02-11 at 08:53 AM.
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  19. #44
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    This prompted me to test my 50 1.8 lens on flowers. In the wee hours of this morning, I shot some images of wisteria flowers from about 18 inches, using flash, and my 50mm 1.8 on my Canon 7D. I used apertures from 1.8 to 22, to get different depths of field, from a pleasingly blurred background at 1.8 to a much deeper depth of field at 22. The wind presented a challenge. Was this macro photography? I don't know; it is certainly not the level of macro I do at work with my Canon 100mm 2.8L Macro, but the small wisteria flowers were clear enough. If I can figure out how to post images on-line here, I will give it a try.

    (The system I use at work is proprietary, different from consumer programs/software, and I can only log in to dump my JPEGs. So, I know next to nothing about doing things with my own images, except to view them on the computer monitor, save on CD, send to iPad, or make prints.)

    Also, this week, I bid on evilbay and won a Nikkor AI-S 50mm 1.2 manual-focus lens. I am not sure whether to buy a pre-owned Nikon camera now, or get a Novoflex adapter to allow mounting the Nikkor on my 7D. Either way, the 1.2 max aperture should add a new dimension to my photography. (I don't think AI-S lenses will meter on your D3100.)

    If I can find some time this evening, and find a low-key uncrowded nightclub or dimly-lit restaurant, I may try some shooting with my 50mm 1.8, and report the results. This area is presently hosting Final Four/March Madness, so a low-key uncrowded nightclub may be difficult to find tonight! I may also bring along a 24mm or 28mm 2.8 lens.

    Don't think I am any kind of expert! Just an enthusiastic learner, here, having started with my first DSLR just last summer.
    Have Colt, will travel...

  20. #45
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Technically a macro lens is one that can focus 1:1 or greater.
    Other than that it's "close-up" photography. In casual conversation macro and close-up are interchangeable.

  21. #46
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    For a D3100 I'd get a 35mm 1.8G. I recommend it to most everyone who is looking for an upgrade from the kit lens without spending a fortune. Its a great all round lens and was Designed just for the Crop sensor cameras such as yours....

    The lens won't be great for Macro but will get reasonable close

    I normally want something wider than 35mm. I bought a used 28mm f1.8 Sigma. It isn't quite wide enough for me, but it actually does macro. Sigma makes a 24mm f1.8 but it is a little harder to find.

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    Technically a macro lens is one that can focus 1:1 or greater.
    Other than that it's "close-up" photography. In casual conversation macro and close-up are interchangeable.
    Macro should = 1:1 or better but Different Manufactures have different definitions of Macro. Some Manufactures label lenses as Macro simply because they have a better Magnification ratio than other lenses in the same focal length. So its always good to check the specs before buying a Macro lens.

    There are also other options for Macro depending on how much time you want to put into it such as extension tubes, Bellows, reverse rings, and filters.. or heck be a real rebel and just hold a reversed lens over the lens mount. Really depends on your budget and how "close" you want to get.
    ~~ John ~~

  23. #48
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    I tried a few low-light shots last night, outside of a couple of nightclubs, at 1.8 with a 50mm, while standing, hand-held. First of all, I forgot to bring some different shoes; I was wearing some MBT shoes that save my high arches and bad knee on pavement, but the soles are squishy and compel one's feet to constantly move. Moreover, people get VERY nervous when a camera is around.

    My images sucked; the experiment was a failure. I may try next weekend while wearing my good ol' Danner boots.

    Tentatively, I would say a 1.8 is not a fast-enough lens, at least in my unsteady hands. This was confirmed by an employee I see at a local camera store, who likes shooting street photography. She recommended 1.4 or better.
    Last edited by Rex G; 04-03-11 at 04:04 PM.
    Have Colt, will travel...

  24. #49
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex G View Post
    I tried a few low-light shots last night, outside of a couple of nightclubs, at 1.8 with a 50mm, while standing, hand-held. First of all, I forgot to bring some different shoes; I was wearing some MBT shoes that save my high arches and bad knee on pavement, but the soles are squishy and compel one's feet to constantly move. Moreover, people get VERY nervous when a camera is around.

    My images sucked; the experiment was a failure. I may try next weekend while wearing my good ol' Danner boots.

    Tentatively, I would say a 1.8 is not a fast-enough lens, at least in my unsteady hands. This was confirmed by a woman I see at a local camera store, who likes shooting street photography. She recommended 1.4 or better.
    The difference between 1.8 and 1.4 isn't hugely significant, it's slightly less than one stop of light. So if your 1.8 lens wanted a shutter speed of 1/25 the 1.4 would want a shutter speed of 1/40 or so, all else being equal.

    To go faster than 1.4 you're going to need to drop some serious cash. If money is no object then by all means look for a 50/1.4 or faster still (Canon make a 50/1.2L and used to make a 50/1.0 but both are hideously expensive). But then I'd guess you're not in the "money no object" boat or you'd already have bought the top of the range gear for the job.

  25. #50
    Why not? EthanYQX's Avatar
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    Seriously, pick up the 50 f/1.8. Even if you replace it in a month its a good investment.
    "It is not the critic who counts."

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