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shiroin
10-10-2005, 12:43 PM
Photojournalists like to use F-stops around 8 or 9 to create sharp images and a good DOF. (so they can capture what is happening around the subject at the same time)
They also have really good external flash to compansate the low light.

Protrait photograpers tend to use low F-stops like 1.8 or 1.4 if the lens is cable. They use it for shallow DOF so the background would blur out and look fantacial. By using a shallow DOF the subject also stands out. Bad thing about this technique is lenses that support high apprature are usually prime lenses, which are not zoomable.

So here is my question. For con photography, is it better to do the first way, get nice and sharp images but suffer from too much happening in the background; or do the second way, and use movement of the camera and body instead of the zoom on the lens?

jtnishi
10-10-2005, 01:24 PM
Frankly, I like my shots up when they're portrait style. Half body and closer. And in those shots, even at f/5.6, you can still blur the background a lot (though my walkaround lens is a very nice f/2.8 zoom). Two friends who are in my group use compact cameras. They take very careful note of the scenery around, and shoot with backgrounds attached. Both styles can work, but for me, it always seemed easier to use a portrait approach.

That said, most people use compact cameras at conventions (though I see a lot more SLR & SLR-like cameras around than there used to be). And most people favor getting full body shots with their costumes. With that combination, unless you're using long zooms, the background is going to matter.

Admin
10-10-2005, 02:42 PM
For con photography, the focus is on the individual cosplayer as the only subject (if you're taking photos of the cosplayers and not the con itself) so I find blurring out the background is the most desired effect.

ZiggyB
10-10-2005, 03:20 PM
Same for me. I like blurring out the background because a lot of times, the background is just so noisy with convention goers.

However, on private shoots where you tend to have a lot more control of the background and if I feel the background is appropriate I'll use a higher f-stop.

JadeCat
10-10-2005, 05:32 PM
Hmm. That depends on the lighting; how many people, etc.
If I can, I like getting the subject away from the crowd and ask them to pose in a more uncrowded corner, thus eliminating the crowds.

If it's too dark, I'm going to use a 1.2, 14, 1.8 or other low aperature setting for my primes. But some zooms don't do well wide open, and sometimes, if there's not enough ambient light, using a more shallow DoF with a zoom or prime means that you're going to have to bump up your ISO to at least 800...or if you have it, 1600 or 3200...which means noise

Personally, I prefer a blurred background, because what I'm trying to capture (the costume & costumer), and thus portray *that* in the photo.

If I want to show the hustle and bustle of the con, then defniitely go for more of a sharper image all around so you can see the crowds.

Or even better yet, drag your shutter and get both..that more "movement" feel, while making your subject stand out. But, you'll need more of an external flash for that.

shiroin
10-10-2005, 06:17 PM
it has come to me that the high apprature approach is better (my original thought... though after viewing millions of photojournalistic shots had kind of make me want to deviate away from that approach XD)

now do you people have any good suggestions for lens?
The Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 is truely a nice piece of glass, but with its price range it comes right out of the question
the only Nikon lens I might consider is the 85mm F/1.8D, but 85mm is somewhat high for con photography? (I already own the 50mm F/1.8D)
I then turn to SIGMA lenses
theres the
SIGMA 24-70mm F/2.8 EX DG MACRO (I heard this lens was legendary! Because of its price and quality!)
SIGMA 30mm F/1.4 EX DC HSM
that really caught my attention,
which one do you guys suggest?

ZiggyB
10-10-2005, 06:46 PM
I recently got the Sigma 30mm/F1.4 lens for my Canon EOS 350D. I used it at a recent convention and at a private shoot. Photos are here:

http://images.cosplay.com/gallery.php?cat=26643&member=418
http://images.cosplay.com/gallery.php?cat=26569&member=418

It really is a fantastic lens. Very very sharp. The autofocus can be off sometimes, so it's something to watch out for. There's also minor vignetting, but I think I'm the only one that can see it. But other then those minor problems, really good.

I do have to be careful though, in this picture (http://images.cosplay.com/showphoto.php?photo=496529). The doggie's (Momo) face was in focus, but since I was at F1.4, his nose wasn't. 8-/ I need to watch out for that in the future. Another advantage of F1.4 is that I could take this picture (http://images.cosplay.com/showphoto.php?photo=494656) in the very crappy lobby lighting.

Oh yah, and with a 1.6x crop, 30mm is the perfect focal length for me. Not too wide and not too telephoto.

jtnishi
10-10-2005, 07:15 PM
shiroin, I don't know about the Sigma, but I use the Tamron SP AF28-75MM F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) (Tamron 28-75/2.8). A lot of the people on the dpreview.com forums like this lens, and I tend to agree with them. The copy I have tends to be a little soft at times wide open (an aspect that I'm not sure is normal or not, related to the lens, or just related to the photographer), but it sharpens very nicely, and produces results that I'm very happy with. Out here in the states, it runs about $400 retail (lists about $550).

ZiggyB, how much did you pick up that sigma 30/1.4 for? One of the lenses I'd love to get next is a normal aspect lens (typically considered to be those lenses running from about 35mm - 50mm when placed on a full-frame, 35mm camera). On a 1.6x crop camera, 30mm should come out to about 48mm equivalent, and a lens with 35mm length should be about 56mm equivalent. That range is what I used to play with on the old film SLRs I work with. That sigma sounds about right; either that or a Canon 35/2.0. Normal range lenses have that interesting characteristic that it can sorta capture both a scene & a close up simultaneously.

Sleepy
10-10-2005, 07:28 PM
All my shots from Anime Expo 05 and Ani-magic 05 are with an 85mm. The only thing I found I could not do easily was taking group pictures. Didn't have to worry about body distortions or being too close to a cosplayer if I used a 50mm. Didn't have to be a mile away for a full body shot or worry about camera shake if I used a 135mm.

tfcreate
10-10-2005, 08:19 PM
So here is my question. For con photography, is it better to do the first way, get nice and sharp images but suffer from too much happening in the background; or do the second way, and use movement of the camera and body instead of the zoom on the lens?

Remember, the background can either enhance or distract from the subject, so it depends on the message you want to convey in the photo. I seldom go to a fast F-stop in full body shots, because the backround is also part of the subject. For 3/4, bust and head shots It's no faster than F-5.6. I want as little to detract from the model as possible. These are personal prefrences. But there are exceptions....
Shallow DOF
http://www.hobbyfan.com/albums/album682/resize1.jpg

Deep DOF
http://tfcreate.home.mindspring.com/Pics/acen0546a.jpg

It mostly depends on what the charater cosplayed or the mood to be conveyed.

TFC

Bandit64
10-10-2005, 08:30 PM
Right now my only lens is a Canon 1.4 50mm for my 300d. I'm almost always shooting at 1.4. The autofocus is sometimes a little off, but that's proven less of a problem after I got LASIK(even with contacts before, it was hard to tell in the viewfinder if things were sharp), and sometimes I'll switch over to manual.

I like the primary focus of my pictures to be the cosplayer, unless they're doing some kind of action(tfcreate's second picture there is a perfect example), so it just makes sense to have the background blurred. Plus, a lot of the scenary at most anime cons isn't that appealing anyways. Lots of people, sterile looking buildings, etc...

ZiggyB
10-10-2005, 09:17 PM
jtnishi: I paid $388 on Amazon for my lens. You can find it cheaper elsewhere, but I felt more comfortable with Amazon and they have a much clearer and easier return policy since I had heard that their early copies had "issues." But mine is fine.

And the 48mm effective focal length is what I wanted. I have the Canon 50mm/f1.8 and it was great for portraits, but for me, I just had to step back a lot for anything wider.

I was also looking at the Canon 35mm/2.0 since it's so much cheaper then the Sigma. But what sold me was the f1.4 and the HSM which is similar to Canon's USM. Yah, it doesn't really effect the picture quality, but I got so spoiled with USM on my 28-105mm lens.

One thing that really surprised me was just how heavy the Sigma lens was. It's actually heavier then my USM zoom lens. But, it's worth it for the pictures. :)

For Ani-Magic anyway, I didn't see the need to use any other lens when walking around the con or heading out in the desert. I'm just really happy with that lens. :)

Efecss
10-11-2005, 07:20 AM
I usually only care about the subject matter, not the surroundings as much as anything else. Unless the surroundings are just as important as the subject matter.

Yes, depth is a consideration. But is it as important as your subject matter? What I find more important that anything else is shading. How my flash is going to take away or add new shadows. What areas do I need to fill. Would a side flash be more preferable to an overhead flash.

Unless there is a care wreck, or you are doing something where you are trying to capture a scene, I would say your background has to be the least of your consideration.

TomodachiFriend
10-11-2005, 01:36 PM
You have to ask yourself why photojournalists shoot with higher aperture values and flash. The answer is "speed" and a greater number of shots they can use (also for editorial purposes). Because people usually pose for you at cons, there's no real need for speed. The aperture value and lens will depend on what you're trying to achieve then.

slymonk
10-19-2005, 03:07 PM
There is no right or wrong answer to this kinda question. You get 10 photographers in a room together, and you will get 10 reasons why this is the best way, and they all can be right in thier own ways.

Conventions are alot like shooting at a wedding reception. There is usually a really big lack of natural light, or even tungsten light available. Cameras (especialy digital) are very sensitive to that kinda thing. I think more times than not, I find myself adjusting the camera for the lighting in those places more than the subject. After a little of that, I switched to a bounce flash to counteract the light problem and found that to be the most efficient way for me to get a good shot at high, and low aperatures.

Usually at a con, I use the portrait effect at around 1.8 - 4.5 area, just becuase its pleasing to eye, (not to mention the masses) and is usually a softer preferred method to bring out your subject a little better. Way more personal. But for groups its crap. And like mentioned above, sometimes people want their whole costume so the details come out, then I grab the the standard lens and go from there.

One of the other reasons I like the lower apertures is the fact that we are in the real world, not an animated one. The least you can tell that, the more it looks more in place with the anime your trying to represent.

Everyone else's opions above are all pretty good in my opion. It seems most people here know what they are talking about.

shiroin
10-20-2005, 02:26 AM
Conventions are alot like shooting at a wedding reception. There is usually a really big lack of natural light, or even tungsten light available. Cameras (especialy digital) are very sensitive to that kinda thing. I think more times than not, I find myself adjusting the camera for the lighting in those places more than the subject. After a little of that, I switched to a bounce flash to counteract the light problem and found that to be the most efficient way for me to get a good shot at high, and low aperatures.

mind i ask what is a bounce flash?

Kokuu
10-20-2005, 03:30 AM
mind i ask what is a bounce flash?

Bounce flash is when you angle the external flash so the light it bounces off a nearby wall or ceiling. This makes for a more natural looking photo, since direct flash can make your subject look really harsh.

Ziggy- So you definitely think the Sigma 30mm/F1.4 is worth picking up for the price? I'll have to check it out.

TomodachiFriend
10-20-2005, 03:33 AM
You bounce the flash to the ceiling, a wall, an umbrella, or even some cardboard. Some places you can't use that because the ceiling is too far away or you don't have anyone to hold a big cardboard for you. You can use a diffuser if you can't bounce.

ZiggyB
10-20-2005, 06:02 AM
Kokuu: I think so. I really like the focal length on my 1.6x crop camera, the sharpness when the aperture is wide open and the very fast and silent auto focus.

However, it is really expensive compared to either the Canon 28mm/1.8 and Canon 35mm/2.0. I've read that both of those lens tend not to be sharp wide open, which also pushed me toward the Sigma. If you're tight on money, you might want to go with those or at least try them out. If you're ever thinking of going to a full frame DSLR or a film SLR you'll probably want to stick with Canon. The Sigma is designed only for crop cameras.

What really convinced me was the 1.4 aperture and the HSM autofocus. I know the motor of the autofocus is sort of a minor detail, but I got spoiled with the USM motor on my Canon lens. (HSM is Sigma's version of USM)

slymonk
10-20-2005, 09:28 AM
mind i ask what is a bounce flash?

The descriptions of a bounce flash above are acurate. One thing I would like to all that is that you can also use a diffuser that can angle your light source. I use something similar to this.
http://www.adorama.com/images/Product/MZ5422.jpg

It helps you have a more controlled environment when shooting. It also acts as a red eye reducer.

Shiro MS08th
10-20-2005, 10:11 AM
You can also make a DIY bounce card.
(For poor photographers to use.)

Just get a white cardboard and cut it to a size and length you like.
And then attach it to your flash using velcro.

staereo
10-25-2005, 09:14 AM
hmmmm... I'm going to go against the grain here.

The problem is, a good lens to use should have a longer focal length. And at cons, we ALREADY have a problem backing into other people to get a clear shot, nevermind people walking in front of you.

A 50mm lens on my camera will be different than a 50 on another camera. Your image sensor's lens multiplier has a LOT to do with your DOF.

I have a 1.6 multiplier on my canon 20D. This means my camera crops an image to the viewing angle of an 80mm lens, HOWEVER this DOESNT mean that my lens' focal length is 80mm, its still 50mm, but it crops at the place that an 80mm would on another camera. Why does this affect our DOF? Because you will use your feet to increase the distance between you and your subject, so that you fit that individual in your frame. HOWEVER, you are still shooting through a 50mm piece of glass.

I'm going to continue with my camera, since I know the numbers, but I would be happy to help anyone else if they want with numbers of their own.

If Im shooting with a 50mm lens, at 10 feet, I will get ABOUT 5 inches front and 5 back from my point of focus. Thats real swell if I want a squared off person, or maybe.. MAYBE a 3/4, but you're pushing your luck past that. Again, I'm still using 50mm glass so I'm kind of at the low end of focal length for this job. 80-120 is likely a bit better for proportions.

Now if you used a longer focal length, say 100mm, a much better lens for proportions, with a 1.6 sensor multiplier, and you stepped back to 20 feet away, youd get 14 inches in front of your focus point and 16 inches in back of your focus point (roughly), using f/5.6. at f/4 you'd be down to 10in front/11in back.

Not only that, but its a pretty commonly accepted truth that lenses, yes, even canon's L's, take their best photos a stop or two down from wide open. So if you're shooting that 1.4 lens at 1.4, your pictures arent at their best.

Sure, light sometimes plays a factor, but if you're shooting with lenses fast enough to shoot below 1.8, I'm sure you have a flashgun.

So, basically, my take is that the prime picture taking would be with a longer focal length and smaller aperture, to ensure the subject is completely in focus, while still blurring the background and having flattering proportions. (as above, 100mm, f/5.6 would make for a nice picture, at least concerning DOF)

Remember, dof comes from: image sensor size, focal length, aperture, and distance to subject. You can make the DOF what you want, the focus should be on your focal length first and formost. And don't open up your aperture at shorter focal lengths, unless you mean to set half of your subject blurred, Typically the nicest pictures are when the subject is all in focus and the background is blurred.

I hope I argued my case well enough here.
Bruce

(Edit: for the record, if I had a full frame image sensor, ala the Eos 1dsmkII, and my image sensor was 1:1 instead of 1.6 factor, the 50mm/10ft/1.8 would give me 7 inches front, 8 inches back. I just wanted to make sure it didnt sound like the sensor size only changed the dof because of distance, it changes it all by itself (bigger means more dof).)

didjiman
11-03-2005, 03:19 AM
I recently got the Sigma 30mm/F1.4 lens for my Canon EOS 350D. ...
It really is a fantastic lens. Very very sharp. The autofocus can be off sometimes, so it's something to watch out for. There's also minor vignetting, but I think I'm the only one that can see it. But other then those minor problems, really good.


So do I get a kickback for making the one fast prime lens suggestion? :square: Say, I need someone to finish installing certain SW...