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Unread 12-17-2012, 07:01 AM   #1
Nerfherder
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Cool Nikon D600/800: Lens suggestions

Hello dear photographing fellows. I'm about to join you on the journey to convention photography. I've taken many shots that I'm really pleased with but I'm only in a few weeks recieving my own proper equipment.

My question is about the lenses you bring specifically to shooting photos at a convention. (TLDR:) If you could bring ~3 lenses, which ones would you bring?

Conventions are often quite dark in-doors and objects you want to take photos of are often moving or far off (on-stage, posing several meters off, dancing, doing a skit). Groups you want to take photos of are often in a hurry to go somewhere else. Ocasionally you get a hold of a really good cosplayer and ask them for a longer shoot at a better looking/lit area.

Following these criterias I've considered a whole bunch of different lenses with the base of varied distance to the "target" & mostly indoor photography with often only half decent lighting.

I have an older Nikon d3000 and a Nikon d600/d800 next convention.

Nikon AF-S 50/1,8G
Nikon AF-S 85/1,8G
Nikon AF-S 70-200/2,8G IF-ED VR II

Especially interested in the last one but because of the price considering cheaper versions. Ideas about that are really appreciated. I've tried these lenses and damn they produce good results in my opinion. But which lenses would you bring? And what do you think defines a good lens for a convention photographer?

I know it all comes down to yourself, your goals and your opinions. What that's just what I want to hear, but from you. List a couple of favorites and a short motivation
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Unread 12-17-2012, 10:58 AM   #2
Ashurachan
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My personal setup for a con at which I don't plan to shoot stage is generally : my Canon 50D (crop body) + 35/2.0 + 50/1.4. No flash. It fits in a small bag, it's not a hassle to carry around all day, and yes I find it important to be mobile. Primes have the advantage of size, as well as the advantage of wider aperture, which is very important when working with available light only.
I mostly use the 35 lately because I mostly do full body shots, but if I have the space I'll use the 50 instead (better image quality and better autofocus).
I'll take my 24-105/4 zoom with me if I plan to shoot stage. I only shoot stage if I find the stage to be worth it, though : neutral background and good lights. I don't think that a poorly lit stage makes for interesting photos, anyway. I'll have to get another lens for stage when I go full frame though, 105 mm is certainly not long enough.
This year, I've been shooting a lot less stage than previous years, except I could do it at Japan Expo, and it was just awesome ! It's hard to beat the lights of the ECG - they had two rehearsals before the final, and it really shows. And now, I'm spoiled, and would like all cosplay on stage to be lit like that.

Last edited by Ashurachan : 12-17-2012 at 11:00 AM.
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Unread 12-17-2012, 12:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerfherder View Post
Conventions are often quite dark in-doors and objects you want to take photos of are often moving or far off (on-stage, posing several meters off, dancing, doing a skit). Groups you want to take photos of are often in a hurry to go somewhere else. Ocasionally you get a hold of a really good cosplayer and ask them for a longer shoot at a better looking/lit area.
...
Nikon AF-S 50/1,8G
Nikon AF-S 85/1,8G
Nikon AF-S 70-200/2,8G IF-ED VR II
It really depends on what you expect your style to be like. If you plan on photographing things like the masquerade, then a ranged lens like that 70-200mm f2.8 is a good idea.

If you plan on asking people in the hallways for photos, 50mm on a full-frame camera would be alright most of the time. I actually used a 50mm on an APS-C crop camera at my last convention and that worked out too, but it is very tight and you need a lot of working room to get decent photos. Anyways, I'd probably consider a wider lens for photos like that.

There are lenses like the 24mm/28mm f2.8 that are lower cost, but there is also the 28mm f1.8. The classic option would be a FF capable 24-70mm f2.8 zoom if you prefer zooms and can afford it.
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Unread 12-17-2012, 02:27 PM   #4
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What I bring.

For my D90:
35mm f/1.8
70-200mm f/2.8

For the D700:
35mm f/1.4
50mm f/1.4
70-200mm f/2.8 (or the 85mm f/1.4)

I used to carry all zooms but it's primes for me now.
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Unread 12-17-2012, 02:51 PM   #5
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Prime lenses work well in low light situations, I have a 50mm but I don't find myself using it that much with cosplay photographs. I mostly use 14-24 f/2.8 and 24-70 f/2.8.

But like sukotsuto said, the 70-200mm would work well if you plan on photographing cosplay contests/skits. I used that lens at a past con and got pretty good results!
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Unread 12-17-2012, 03:47 PM   #6
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For walkabout/hallway shots in a crowded convention, 50mm is gonna be a little on the long end for full-length shots, but will be perfect for portraits, head-and-shoulders, etc. Of course, when you're that close to the subject, perspective distortion is going to prevent you from getting pleasing full-length shots anyway.

For photo sessions in a controlled environment, the 70-200 is my go-to choice. Stand far away to minimize perspective distortion, unless I intentionally want to include some perspective distortion.

Shooting the stage from the audience (e.g. costume contest), the 70-200 is definitely a good choice.
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Unread 12-19-2012, 07:58 AM   #7
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Interesting opinions. The flexiblity of the 70-200mm 2.8 is just splendid, while on the shoots I'd definately go for a 35/50/85mm 1.4-1.8 with creamy bokeh because of the problem with finding varied and good-looking backgrounds on the Con.

A macro lens would make for some interesting shots on props or armor too. But I've only tried one proper macro lens so I can't say I know much about them..

Quote:
Originally Posted by nathancarter View Post
For walkabout/hallway shots in a crowded convention, 50mm is gonna be a little on the long end for full-length shots, but will be perfect for portraits, head-and-shoulders, etc.
I guess you'd prefer like a 35mm then? That should just about be enough. I found it suiting me much better than an 85mm though I liked the amazing distortionless pictures it produced when taking a few steps back. So many choices xD
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Last edited by Nerfherder : 12-19-2012 at 08:00 AM.
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Unread 12-19-2012, 10:07 AM   #8
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Well, you'd just take a few steps back to get a full-length with the 50mm.
In a con hallway you might not have room.
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Unread 12-19-2012, 12:12 PM   #9
Surfsama
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On a full-frame camera such as the D600/800 the 50mm is my workhorse from head shots to full length. The traditional "hallway" shot might be a thing of the past as more cons are cracking-down on photogs blocking walkways. I always ask the cosplayer to step aside where there is a little more working room and better backgrounds. However, if hallway shots are your thing I would suggest a zoom to minimize your frame-up times. The 24-70mm f/2.8 is an amazing lens but it's heavy, expensive, and if you use a flash the f/2.8 speed is not really needed. The 28-300mm is super versatile as far as zooms go.

I chose to use primes because they're light, keep what I want sharp and what I don't blurred, and when night comes are invaluable. They are a PITA to swap-out but hey, that's why I use an interchangeable lens camera.
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Unread 12-25-2012, 08:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sukotsuto View Post
There are lenses like the 24mm/28mm f2.8 that are lower cost, but there is also the 28mm f1.8.
I used the 24mm F2.8 for a while. The sharpness isn't amazing, but the imperfections of the lens design make photos pretty interesting.

For conventions, I've been using:
24mm F1.4 (Full length shots, environmental shots incorporating a lot of background)
50mm F1.4 (Light, versatile)
50mm F1.2 (Interesting old glass/effect)
70-200mm F2.8 (Simplifying backgrounds, compression)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfsama View Post
I chose to use primes because they're light, keep what I want sharp and what I don't blurred, and when night comes are invaluable. They are a PITA to swap-out but hey, that's why I use an interchangeable lens camera.
Same here, primes are a PITA but it's worth the trouble.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerfherder View Post
I guess you'd prefer like a 35mm then? That should just about be enough. I found it suiting me much better than an 85mm though I liked the amazing distortionless pictures it produced when taking a few steps back. So many choices xD
I really want to try the 85mm! It seems a little redundant for me, but I think it should be pretty awesome to use.
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Unread 01-08-2013, 03:24 AM   #11
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50 is as short as I'll ever shoot people with on a crop body except for very specific situations. I was able to shoot two large guys with a large prop in a relatively cramped hall a few days ago and get ample framing with my 50. For most situations 85 is probably a pretty good bet.

The Rokinon/Bower/Vivitar/Pro Optic/whatever 85 1.4 is a pretty interesting option. It's manual focus but incredibly sharp and costs about $300. I was playing with one earlier today and was pretty impressed.
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Unread 01-08-2013, 09:14 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Max_Archer View Post
The Rokinon/Bower/Vivitar/Pro Optic/whatever 85 1.4 is a pretty interesting option. It's manual focus but incredibly sharp and costs about $300. I was playing with one earlier today and was pretty impressed.
Interesting. I'll have to see if I can get a Canon mount one to play with.

I loooovvveeee my Rokinon 14mm, which is also fully manual focus & aperture. Very rarely for people, though.
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Unread 01-09-2013, 05:52 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by nathancarter View Post
Interesting. I'll have to see if I can get a Canon mount one to play with.

I loooovvveeee my Rokinon 14mm, which is also fully manual focus & aperture. Very rarely for people, though.
I think the newer Canon version may even be auto aperture. I know there's a new Nikon version with a chip in it so it works flawlessly with lower-end cameras that don't support legacy lenses.

Only problem, of course, is focusing accurately on a 1.4 tele through a modern DSLR finder. I shot a set with a friend's Zeiss 100, and he had a magnifying eyepiece that I was able to borrow since we both have D3 variants, and the eyepiece made all the difference in the world. I'm not sure if they're available for Canon or for square-eyepiece Nikons though. (Although the D800 has the same round eyepiece as the D3/4s, I think.)
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Unread 01-11-2013, 01:52 AM   #14
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doublepost*

Last edited by VisualRemix : 01-12-2013 at 05:14 PM. Reason: delete
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Unread 01-11-2013, 01:56 AM   #15
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I do not understand why my post keeps getting deleted here but I have a D800. If you are on a budget, my recommended lens are:

Nikkor 28mm 1.8
Nikkor 50mm 1.4
Nikkor 85mm 1.8

There are tips and tricks you must know to get the most out of your D800 and I will post them if you want.
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