Capturing low light indoors - Canon 70-200 f/2.8 the way to go?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by valdore, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #1
    I have a question, a serious question that could influence my personal financial statements for awhile if not executed well...

    I already have the Canon f/4.5-5.6 100-400L IS -- and I'll note that this lens is one of favorite and most useful lenses... but in low light even at f/4.5 and ISO 3200 on my 5D, I can't get fast enough shots in a place I like to photograph that prefers no flashes.

    It's a commodities exchange, open-outcry environment, and traders are frantically yelling at the opening and closing of the market, shoulder to shoulder. It's a total crapshoot as to whether or not my shots of the traders will work or not. You think the f/2.8 70-200L IS will help much in getting faster shutter speeds? Trying to get photos of the traders in their huddle, yelling and berating each other at the open and close.

    I'd be interested to hear from those with experience with both the 100-400 and the 70-200 f/2.8.

    Trying to prepare for dropping 2 grand on a friggin' lens.
     
  2. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #2
    f/2.8 is one stop faster than f/4 - that means it'll collect twice as much light. f/2 is another stop faster, and f/1.4 again.

    I'm not a "primes are da bomb" kind of guy; but I think you should consider buying one or two primes in this instance. f/1.8 primes are reasonably inexpensive. I don't think f/2.8 is going to do it, based on your description.

    As a side note - you can always rent the lens and try it...
     
  3. termina3 macrumors 65816

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    TX
    #3
    You'll get faster shutter speeds--by one or two steps.

    At the upper end of your current zoom you have 1/4 the light the /2.8 will have. The /2.8 is a great lens, but at the end of the day you'll probably still want more speed. I know I always do at football games with a D300 and 70-200 /2.8.
     
  4. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #4
    I just ran an interesting experiment in low light last weekend, pitting an IS lens against a fast prime. I normally shoot stationary objects in low light (namely sculpture), in which case the IS lens usually wins. But this last weekend, I was shooting musicians in a dimly lit studio. They were pretty animated, so the IS lens wasn't helping at all. I learned that a fast lens is the only way to go for moving subjects in low light--the faster the better: f/2.8 was not good enough, but nearly all of the shots at f/1.8 came out very sharp.
     
  5. valdore thread starter macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #5
    This is very interesting.

    I think I must have an oversimplified idea if my head of aperture values and what they really mean. I was thinking a lens at f/1.8 wouldn't have enough depth of field to get a crisp shot. I am gonna be getting the Canon 85 mm f/1.8 coming up here soon anyway... you guys think that might actually work well for photographing traders in a pit in less than ideal lighting?
     
  6. legacyb4 macrumors 6502

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    Vancouver, BC
    #6
    If you are shooting action, low light, and probably 400+ ISO, I think crisp focus will not really be on the menu.

    I have the 70-200 F4 and it's pretty nice.

     
  7. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #7
    Depth of field varies with your distance from the subject (for a given lens at any particular aperture). Are you on the floor right next to them, or are you further away?

    You're right that f/1.8 will have a more shallow DOF than f/2.8; but the bottom line is you need enough light to get your shot. If f/2.8 isn't collecting enough light, the DOF concern is irrelevant.

    Here's an online depth of field calculator. I recently purchased a nifty iPod Touch app that does the same thing.
     
  8. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000

    taylorwilsdon

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    #8
    Why not a 85mm f/1.8 or 135mm f/2? The 135L is an awesome lens at $750 used.
     
  9. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #9
    A 50mm lens might be better. At 85mm and f/1.8, you'll have stand about 15-20 feet away to get enough DOF. But if that's about how far you'll be, then I guess it's perfect. :)

    One thing to note about those DOF calculators: they give you what is technically sharp, which is quite a bit less than what is apparently sharp.

    [Edit: Never mind, I just realized you're using a 5D. So 85mm should be perfect. Or as taylorwisdom suggested, perhaps even 135]
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #10
    Going from f/4 to f/2.8 will reduce themotion blur by a factor of two. Is that enough. Maybe not. I think you need to go two or three stops faster to make a dramatic difference in blur do to subject motion. I think you are going to want an f/1.8 lens. The good news it that an 85mm f/1.8 is much cheaper than the 70-200. But that f/2 200mm cost a bundle. Get the 85mm and get closer or crop. But the style of your photos will change. at f/1.8 the DOF will be small. So small that you must take care to focus on the eyes and not the nose of your subject and there is only hope of getting one face sharp.
     
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #11
    I think you should look into a prime, both, the 135 f/2 and the 85 f/1.8 are options. The 70-200 f/2.8 zoom gives you an improvement but not nearly as much as going for a fast prime.

    Although 200 mm f/2 and 85 f/1.2 lenses exist, they cost an arm and a leg and are probably not an option.
     
  12. pprior macrumors 65816

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    #12
    So what shutter speeds are you getting now? What distance do you need to be away from subjects?

    If you have free reign to move around, get the 50/1.4 - it's way faster than the 70-200/2.8 and much cheaper.

    As mentioned the 135/F2 is another good option and the 85/1.2 is my favorite lens but very expensive.

    I own all the lenses above and the 85/1.2 and 135/f2 are my two favs.
     
  13. valdore thread starter macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #13
    I had been meaning to get the Canon 85 mm f/1.8 prime for a long time to use it for portrait photos, but it sounds like trying it out for photographing the traders inside the trading pit might do good too... hadn't thought of that, thanks for that suggestion guys. Incidentally I just placed my order for the Canon 85mm prime last night from B&H.
     
  14. sonor macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I have a Nikon 85/1.8 and I love it - I use it for all kinds of things. A major advantage of a 1.8 or 1.4 is that even if you don't use it wide open, it still makes it much easier for the camera to focus in low light...and the image in the viewfinder will be brighter.
     
  15. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a

    QuantumLo0p

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    #15
    Go faster than f2.8 if you can afford it.

    Your wallet will determine just how far you are willing to go.
     
  16. Col127 macrumors 6502

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    Sep 13, 2003
    #16
    i think i'm learning that 2.8 indoors isn't fast enough at times too. i've got a 17-55mm 2.8 IS and was taking pics at my friend's party. we were indoors with dim lights. i had to bump my ISO up to 1600 or 3200 to get shutters at around 1/40 or 1/50 with my aperture at 2.8!

    i think some fast primes with an stop of 2, 1.8 or 1.4 would be great to have. maybe a 85mm 1.8 (a great lens)? there's also a 85mm 1.2L, but that's quite expensive :)

     
  17. anubis macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 7, 2003
    #17
    I agree with the rest of the folks here that you should just get a fast prime. The 5D has enough pixels that you don't really need to worry about filling up the frame with the subject; you can always just crop the picture in post if the subject doesn't fill the frame. For example, if your typical shot requires 200mm to fill the frame with the subject but you only have an 85mm prime, that's OK, you can do a greater than 2x crop in post and still have enough pixels for a very large print
     
  18. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #18
    Personally, I'd bank the money for now and see if Canon matches the D3/D700 low-light performance in their next round of FF bodies. It'll cost more than the 70-200, but if you regularly shoot in those types of conditions you may find being able to use more lenses a benefit. If it's a one-time shoot, and you have the option of returning if it doesn't work, then I'd rent a 2.8 and see if it works, that's cheaper overall.
     
  19. valdore thread starter macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #19
    Thanks for the tips everyone.

    My new Canon 85mm prime arrived today... so much fun getting new lenses.
     
  20. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #20
    Hey Valdore, one of my favorite posting photographers on here. I think the 85 1.8 will work really good for you, you can probably roll with it for awhile before deciding if you need something else.

    If you find you need a little more reach though, I highly recommend the 135 F/2. It's perfect for indoor shots without flash, and you can keep a good enough distance, just keep your shutter around 125 or 160 and you'll be fine. The 85 will give you a little more room on slower shutter speed compared to the 135 though, which I'm sure you'll find out.

    I grabbed this shot of my sister from a good distance away after the sun had set, there was really no light for it. F/2.8 just wouldn't have grabbed it without getting hand-blur involved.

    [​IMG]

    20D : 135 mm : f 2 : 1/100 sec : iso 3200

    If you still have the need a new lens itch after the 85, my vote is for the 135 F/2, and at under $1K it's a GREAT buy.
     
  21. valdore thread starter macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #21
    Thanks wheezy. I was thinking similar about the 135 mm Canon. This 85 mm lens is going to be my last lens purchase for awhile. :)
     
  22. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #22
    Some of the saddest words that we have to utter! If only we could say 'Until next week!'

    How's the 85 treating you so far? Care to post some pictures?
     
  23. Col127 macrumors 6502

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    Sep 13, 2003
    #23
    yeah would love to see what pics you took with it :)
     

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