View Full Version : Lenses

07-16-2005, 12:24 PM
If you saw me taking pictures at AX, I was the cosplaying photographer who always had to back up since the only lens I have right now is my Canon f4.5 -5.6 55-200 mm telephoto lens. I have a wide angle too, but it's terrible for taking portraits. (I learned this the hard way at Fanime) It's a pretty cheap lens, but it takes decent pictures for the most part, though I really hate how some of them come out grainy, and how many of my pictures aren't useable because of blur.

After my really frustrating experience at AX, since constantly backing up is no fun, I want to go and get a decent lens. Iím looking for something that would be good for overall photography, especially in a con setting when it can get rather crowded. I missed taking so many pictures at AX, simply because when I could get back far enough to frame the shot properly, Iíd have the heads of other photographers in my picture. Zoom is not important, since I can simply move, which is something I prefer to do anyway. Iím also looking for something on the rather inexpensive side, since I canít really afford to drop more then $500 on a lens right now, though if there is some really kick-ass lens that someone recommends, then maybe Iíll consider saving up for it.

07-16-2005, 12:39 PM
IMO it's not the fault of the lens if the pics turned out blurry (I believe it's more technique at fault), or did you mean to say the pics turned out soft, most especially around the edges? If you want the best bang for the buck grab the 50/1.8 but get the version with the metal mount. There are two versions out there AFAIK. I think it only has 5 diaphram blades so if a nice bokeh is important to you get the 50/1.4 instead. And buy used if you can. All of my lenses except for my first lens have either been bought from eBay or from photography with trustworthy members sites like fredmiranda.com.

I know what you mean of people getting in your way when you're shooting afar. I have almost shot exclusively with the 135/2 at this year's AX and it frustrates me how so many people move in front of you to take a pic and don't bother looking around to see if they're blocking any photographer's line of sight.

07-16-2005, 01:43 PM
Ok, well maybe blurry isn't the best choice of words, but some of the photos come out too soft. I like nice, crisp photos. I attached a picture to show you what I mean. I know my technique could use work too, but I've been standing with my feet shoulder-width apart, one foot slightly infront of the other and holding my elbows at my side to reduce camera shake as much as possible. *sigh* The trouble with switching to SLRs is that it's like learning how to ride a bicycle all over again.

Would this be a good lens?

07-16-2005, 02:14 PM
I think you should have bumped up the ISO for that shot. The exif data says the exposure was made at 1/30 sec and to me that isn't enough for handholding a lens at 95mm. When handholding you should aim for at least a shutter speed of 1/focal-length.

I wouldn't buy that lens from that person. I would never have any of my lenses standing upright without the rear endcap, especially against a surface like that!

07-16-2005, 06:30 PM
Well if you don't crank up the ISO and rely on a tripod you may still come across a few exposure dilemnas. The shutter speed indoors required to properly expose the subject and background may not be fast enough to keep the subject reasonably sharp. You can't expect the subject to remain completely frozen especially with the poses some of them do. And if you try to use a single flash as the main light source to deal with this, you may end up with amatuer-looking pictures (dark underexposed background) if you don't bump up the ISO. No point in using a DSLR if you want disposable camera-quality exposures.

Super No 1
07-16-2005, 10:45 PM
Would this be a good lens?

I wouldn't bother with that ebay lens. The 50/1.8 lens is under $80 for a new one. If you want that lens, just spend a few more bucks and get a new one and have some peace of mind. A 50mm prime lens is always good to have at a convention.

Wudhapitak's suggestion of a 28-70/2.8 is also good advice. Those are good walkaround lenses because 28mm is good for group shots and 70mm @ 2.8 is a good portrait lens. You can leave that lens on your camera all day.

07-16-2005, 10:56 PM
I wouldn't bother with that ebay lens. The 50/1.8 lens is under $80 for a new one. If you want that lens, just spend a few more bucks and get a new one and have some peace of mind. A 50mm prime lens is always good to have at a convention.
You were looking at the mkII version which has a plastic mount. This replaced the mk1 (like the ebay lens) which had a metal mount.

07-17-2005, 05:01 AM
I think Wudhapitak makes some very good suggestions. Your shutter speed seems to be too low with that lens and the lighting conditions. A faster lens should do the trick. Because you mention that your current lens makes you back up too often (I understand that to mean 55mm with your 1.6 crop factor is too long), a 50mm lens is probably going to not help with the backing up. You mention that you have a wide angle lens. How wide is it? I ask because a lens in the 28-35mm range should work out for you. This should give you a field of view similar to a 50mm lens taking into account the crop.

I think a higher shutter speed is a better solution to the blur problem than a monopod for you. Your models can still move to cause blur even if your camera does not move.

Something you might also want to consider is a flash. You will get a lot more control over the lighting with a flash and it should give you more consistent results. Good luck.

07-17-2005, 06:13 AM
I am jealous, I like the metal mount. I would buy the metal mount in a second but I still have my 1.4.

If you can find a 28-70 buy it for the right price. It is equal image quality wise and it is FAST. You lose only 4mm, but you also lose about $400 at least.

I love BnH. Their prices are the best for how reliable they are and they have both grey and American market lenses. I still have to go to their NY store. I need to pick up a few things for shoots outside.

The 135 f/2 is one of the best lenses. I own a 35 1.4, which is another amazing prime and it is..... amazing even though it becomes non wide angle on a DSLR. Amazing lens and it is apparantley one of the hardest to come by as far a primes. Calumet had one in out of all their stores when I bought it. I don't have a 135 f/2, but that is amazing and if you can get photos with it outside a convention that is busy considering the distance you need to get a decent full body photo, you have skills. If I can ever find one in the next year I may pick it up although I am having the midway dilema (buying the 135 or the 70 - 200)

I couldn't see just from the screen and not a full photo, but the 135 f/2 looked tack sharp at even the widest of the apperatures. Then again, your photo gallery is proof enough on the power of the lens (also the skill you have).

One random lens I have used for a whole convention for candids which worked out well was the 24. It is an amazing lens quality wise, but because it is the widest angle of all the L 1.4's it can be soft if not stopped up.

What does everyone think of the 85 1.2? I have too little experience to know what it can truly do for a photographer.

07-17-2005, 04:59 PM
What does everyone think of the 85 1.2? I have too little experience to know what it can truly do for a photographer.
I use the 85/1.2 for most of my photos. It takes some getting used to because it focuses noticeably slower than other Canon primes, but once you learn the lens it's an absolute dream. The bokeh is as good as it gets.


For night photography with it I use the ST-E2 transmitter to get a quicker focus lock, otherwise it hunts for a while.


135/2 vs 70-200: The 135/2 is the sharpest lens I own. Even at f/2.0 it is sharp as a tack. Probably my most reliable lens. I rarely use my 70-200 at all because I usually find myself reaching for the 85 or the 135 instead, and almost never use 200 anyway.

07-17-2005, 06:24 PM
Thank you everyone for the advice! I'm probably gonna go pick up a 50/1.8 and practice shooting on that for the time being, since it's cheap and I'm still getting used to an SLR. I have a long ways to go before I get any good at it, and maybe once I have a bit more experience under my belt (and some more money, since I just spent a good chunk on a serger. XD It's hard having not one but two expensive hobbies) then I'll go pick up another lens.

Slightly off topic, but a number of you suggested I should bump up the ISO. What's a good level for indoor pictures? (since that's my biggest problem right now. My outdoor pictures look pretty good for the most part). I have a monopod, so maybe I should use that more.

07-17-2005, 07:04 PM
If you're using digital, the highest ISO you can use is going to be dependent on the quality of the camera's sensor technology. Most consumer and even prosumer digital cameras don't look very good above ISO 400, and ISO 200 is recommended if you can avoid going any higher. Even some high-end pro cameras introduce a noticeable noise above ISO 400, though some of the newer Canons (and probably Nikons though I don't follow them) look ok up to 800 and even 1600.

My general rule of thumb is to never go over 400 unless I have no other choice. If you're having trouble getting a good shot indoors, try setting the ISO at 400, shoot in manual, set the shutter speed at 1/(focal length)* and open up the aperture one stop at a time until you get a usable shot according to your camera's meter. If it's slightly dark (slightly) then you can always use something like Photoshop to brighten it a tad.

* 1/(focal length) rule - if you're trying to figure out the minimum shutter speed to shoot at a given focal length with the least chance of blur, an easy way is to divide 1 by the focal length of the lens (taking the crop factor into account). On a full-frame sensor, with a 50mm lens you would want 1/50, so 1/60 shutter would be the closest. With a 200mm lens, 1/200sec.

Remember to add the crop factor if you're using something like the Rebel XT or 10D/20D series - multiply the focal length by 1.6 before using the formula. On the plus side, the 10D and 20D (and probably the Rebel XT) look decent up to ISO 800.

So with your 55-200 lens, if you're using full frame then you'd want to shoot at least as fast as 1/60 for the wide end, 1/125 for the mid-range, and 1/200 at the close end. On a 1.6 crop, 1/125 for the wide end to be safe, 1/200 for mid-range and 1/320 for close.

07-19-2005, 10:33 AM
Heres a good site with reviews of different canon lenses.

The 50mm 1.8 is a pretty good lens for portraits. It lasted me 2 years before I switched to the 50mm 1.4. At conventions, you'll still have an issue with space, since the 50mm (~80mm on the rebels), you still need to step pretty far back to get a full portrait shot.

07-19-2005, 07:44 PM
I'll leave the more technical stuff to those who know better. I'm just here really to say I feel your pain. I'm your oppsoite. Everytime I have to take a picture with my crapstastic 35mm camera I have to move in or it's soft or it's underlit if I used flash then I have to make sure not to be too close then it another set of problems. I went nuts when I used a manual camera for the first time. First and last time My mother brought me one. I threw across the room and kinda forget there was a window there so instead of hitting the wall and landing on the bench it sailed right out to the street five stories below. Think some homeless guy still has Cannon imprinted on his forehead.

07-23-2005, 06:44 AM
So....... I used the 85 1.2 for a while. Oh my gosh......... you were right. My only complaint was that it hunted, but it was worth it. You wee right on every occasion. At 2 it was tack sharp and even 1.2 it was sharp but I had never used something stopped down that much that didn't flare (the 1.4 is amazing but it can flare quite a bit if you use an apperature too wide). Although most of the pictures from the shoot were at 6 something or higher, that is at 2.2 to give you an idea. At 1.2 on the 85...... I saw less.

I am tempted to go out and buy the 135 soon.......... The 85 1.2 L is indeed worth every cent.