24-70mm f/2.8 and D300 for weddings or family portraits?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by gulfbeach47, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. I have been researching threads about the 24-70mm f/2.8 and DX cameras for a couple days. I listed a couple of the links at bottom of the page. They were somewhat helpful, but I am still a bit confused. I added weddings in the title, but my main concern is for late afternoon family beach portraits at which I normally shoot until dusk. I try to avoid the weddings but get get my arm twisted now and then and this would only be outdoor weddings.

    Long overdue to replace my Nikon 18-70 kit lens. Main concern- Will the 24-70 handle up to 10 or 15 people lined up in one row for a pose? I keep seeing comments about the 24-70 not being wide enough. Are they referring to the pose I described above, wide angle landscape shots or what?
    The 18-70 kit lens has no problem getting large group shots, but I need better image quality and low light shooting. Since I am working at the beach, I don’t have to worry about small spaces.

    Some folks say to not buy the 24-70 for DX cameras. They suggest using it for FX only or use another lens like the 17-55mm f/2.8 for the DX.
    If the 24-70 can give me great image quality and large group shots, then why buy the DX lens for so much money when I may go to FX in the future?

    I also have the 70-200 f2.8 and 60mm 1.28. During most family shoots I normally have the 18-70mm on one D300 and the 60mm on another D300. I have had bad luck with dust, so I try not to change lens, especially at the beach, with the sand blowing.

    Besides the beach portraits, I would be using the 24-70 for concerts, sports, events, photojournalism, and lots of low light and night shooting. I searched all over but could not find any samples of family portraits, weddings or group shots with the 24-70 and a DX body. If anyone has some sample shots or a link that would be great.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

    Photojournalist Lens of Choice- http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00bOBL
    Purchase Nikon 24-70 or Others- http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00ab8D
    Nikon 24-120vr4 vs 24-70mm 2.8 for Weddings- http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00aACF
  2. Which lens you should get depends on your shooting style and shooting environments. Since you have the 18-70mm, you may want to evaluate the focal lengths you shoot at. If you don't shoot much in the 18-23mm range or often do, the choice of which lens to go with should be obvious.
    "I keep seeing comments about the 24-70 not being wide enough" There are many factors that come into play, perhaps the most important being the amount of room you have to work with. When I shot DX with the 17-55mm at or near 17mm , I found there was unwanted distortion toward the outer edges of the frame, so when taking group shots, faces and bodies in those areas looked odd. So I was careful not to shoot groups below 20mm. When I switched to the 24-70mm, I was happier with the overall IQ and did not miss the 17-23mm range. My plan was to switch to FX, which I eventually did.
  3. I've been shooting weddings mostly with two lenses: Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 and Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR. There is absolutely no way I'd be happy with a 24mm as my widest lens. I assume you are shooting handheld, and if so it's highly doubtful you'll see any image quality difference between most modern lenses. I am planning on using these on a D7100 a few months from now. For weddings, I've also found a pair of flash to be crucial. I have an SB-900 and a big box full of SB-25 with radio triggers etc. The Sb-900 is mostly used on camera, and the SB-25 flash are used on stands with umbrellas for group shots. I've come to consider flash to be more important than lenses for portraits.
    Kent in SD
  4. Elliot- I have shot in the 18-23 range for the large group shots. As mentioned, since I am at the beach cant I just back up a little if taking a large group shot with the 24-70? Checking out a dozen or so kit lens pix from my website, the majority were shot around 35-70mm.
    Looking at your gallery I see that you had some sample pix using a D300 and the 24-70. Any drawbacks?
    So...It sounds like your pretty happy with the 24-70?
    This sample image was snapped at near 18mm, but of course it has 16 people side by side and I cropped it a little for the upload. I also shot other versions where the family comes together to make 2 or 3 rows, so I shot at a shorter focal length closer, but i would like to be able to do versions of side by side like the sample I uploaded. For the last couple of years the family portraits have been my main money makers, but even though the 24-70 is heavy, I would probably use it as my walk-around lens. I read so many fantastic reviews on it. I just want to make sure that the only drawback of using it is that I would have to back up for a large family shot or similar situation. I will probably switch to FX eventually, but not while my pair of D300's are working fine or until the FX price comes down. And then there is talk of the D400:)
    Kent- Most times I shoot families hand held, but I do use a tripod at times. That way I can set up the shot and not have to look through the viewfinder. I check out my subjects and just snap the shot while standing next to the camera, as I look for blinking eyes, baby dribble, odd expressions etc... Plus, I now wear glasses, so that makes it even harder to use the viewfinder. I always have a flash. I sometimes use it for fill and of course use it after the sun has set and the sky starts getting colorful. Also hoping that the faster lens will help lesson the blur when I include flying birds in the portraits or the usual family ''jump in the air'' shot. We have two camera shops in town that ''may'' have a 24-70 in stock. I need to bring the D300 in and see how it looks if they do. The rebate only last until March 3rd, so I need to decide soon.
  5. I used to have a two D70s bodies with a 24-85 f/2.8-4 and a 70-300 VR shooting events and concerts, and it took me about a a year to realize that the 24 was too narrow and f/4+ not fast enough. As soon as I could afford it, I traded it all in for two D300s bodies and a Tamron 17-50 F/2.8 VC and Sigma 50-150 f/28 OC. Big improvement in covering events and concerts. There are times when I have to get posed shots of the orchestra and the 17 makes it possible, not so much the 24. The long standing 35mm pro setup is two cameras, one with a 24-70 f/2.8, the other with a 70-200 f/2.8. On Dx that's a 17-5x and 50-150. Works for me. I also use three SB600 strobes, triggered with the SU800.
  6. Ahhh, choices, choices........
    I bought a D300 some years ago, and used a 18-70 on that one, with quite OK quality. After I got some funds, and having read that the most important "investment" (I am not a pro - making a living of my photos) you could do was in lenses, I wanted to retire my 18-70. The question for me was then the 17-55 or the 24-70?
    Like you, I thought that I maybe sometime in the future would switch to FX, so I went for the 24-70 and its bigger brother, the 70-200 VR2.
    Qualitywise, the 24-70 is in another ballpark than the 18-70, which can clearly be seen on the monitor - and I am no pixel peeper at all. But: I am loosing valuable wide angle.
    And, playing the devil's advocate here: Are you quite sure you will go for FX in the future? I thought so, and that's why I went for the 24-70, but now I am not sure at all. There are so many other smaller and more lightweight options out there now.
    Answering your question if the 24 is wide enough for you: Why don't you use the 18-70, put it in the 24 position, and add a small bit of gaffa tape to temporarily fasten the lens in the 24 position, and shoot an hour in that position only. Then you would know if your wideangle problems could be solved by taking a few steps back.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    For group shots, my rule of thumb is that I would try not to use wider than a 35mm lens for FX as much as I can. Otherwise, the people on the two extreme ends will look somewhat distorted and considerably smaller than those in the center of the frame. Additionally, people may look fat due to the distortion. In other words, for DX, I would try not to use wider than about 24mm for group shots. However, sometimes we have no other choice but to use a wider lens due to space limitations and group size.
    The thing is that group shots is not the only situation you need a wider lens. Sometimes you want to include more background in a wedding image, e.g. part of the church, etc.. Therefore, in my opinion, having no wider than 24mm on DX is a fairly annoying limitation. And I don't buy the argument that since you may switch to FX some day, you only buy lenses that work with FX.
    If, for example, you may switch to Canon some day, would you buy a Canon lens now and somehow try to fit it onto you Nikon cameras now? Of course not.
    You want to buy lenses that meet your current needs so that you do a good job for your current customers. If you switch to FX some day or switch to Canon some day, sell the lenses that no longer work for you by then and get appropriate lenses. You don't buy for the future and sacrafice the present, and by the time future arrives, current lenses could easily be superseded by something better and more suitable then.
    This sample image was snapped at near 18mm, but of course it has 16 people side by side and I cropped it a little for the upload.​
    I took liberty to modify John's image and move the two people on the extreme left to the center. See how much smaller they are compared to people in the center? Whether that size difference is a "problem" or not is up to you to decide. John's original image looks acceptable to me.
  8. the 24mm is a sweet lens optically, and is certainly a step up from the 18-70, although you wont notice any difference shooting at f/8. but for wide shots on DX, it is not optimal. there is also quite a bit of distortion at 24mm. i actually try to shoot at 28mm if that matters in a scene. i would recommend the sigma 17-50 OS or Tamron 17-50 as the best walkaround standard 2.8 zooms for DX. the 24-70 makes more sense for DX if you are doing more portraits, since the 1.5x crop works in your favor that way. unfortunately, the opposite is true at the wide end.
    if you do go for the 24-70, i would also suggest getting an ultrawide like the 10-24 or 12-24. those lenses tend to be best at the long end, and can have less distortion in the 18-24 range than standard zooms. i dont recommend shooting people shots, especially group shots, wider than 18mm on DX.
  9. The 24-70 is a nice lens, but 24mm on a crop is limiting. I prefer the Tamron 17-50 f2.8
    It's a bit shorter than the Nikon, but it is about 1/3 the price.
  10. "D300 and the 24-70. Any drawbacks?" Only one - with large groups in tight quarters, it may not be wide enough on DX. But again, the deciding factor is how and where YOU shoot.

    "So...It sounds like your pretty happy with the 24-70?" Very. What is there not to like!!!
    This is a link that illustrates the distortion I was referring to with the 17-55mm:
  11. I wouldn't buy a 24-70 for a DX camera if I MAY move to FX.
    I might if I KNOW I WILL move to FX.
  12. I think either lens will work well for the intended application; what you lose in the short end in the 24-70 you gain at the long end. 70mm on DX can be very useful for tighter portraits. The 24-70 is a bit sharper at f/2.8 than the 17-55 from my experience and also produces less flare and ghosting, but the 17-55 has its own charm and is worth considering. The 24-70 has its weakest spot at 24mm (but is still sharper in the center at 24mm at f/2.8 than the 17-55 at least if the subject is near; further away I find the 24mm setting of the 24-70 to get weaker as does the 17mm setting on the 17-55 this could be partly due to the effects of field curvature or some other optical issue). The field curvature can affect the sharpness of the group shot that you describe. Thus one solution is to buy the 24-70 and a separate wide angle zoom such as the 12-24/4 which excels at its 24mm setting (or the 10-24) for those group shots and other shots where you need to show more of the environment.
    I am not familiar with the third party wide angle options for DX but of the Nikon options my first recommendation is to get the 12-24/4 and 24-70 if you have plans to migrate to FX (the wide angle zoom you can sell with your DX camera if you FX go all the way after you have at least two FX camera bodies). If you had no intention of going to FX then I would recommend getting the 17-55 DX which is a very practical zoom that can cover a lot of territory in portraits and weddings. I always liked it when I used DX and felt its rendition is very pleasing. The 24-70 mounted on a 24MP or 36MP FX camera will produce sharper images than the 17-55 on any camera but in people photography the greatest sharpness is not always the goal; the overall feel of the image may be more important. And the 24-70's field curvature can still affect the FX group user though I felt it is a bigger issue with DX; something to do with the shape of the field curvature. However, overall the 24-70 is excellent for portraiture for events on FX cameras and the "flaws" are rather insignificant compared to its great practicality and unusual characteristic for a zoom that it has high sharpness right from the maximum aperture so you can use it for many available light images in the church as well as in reception. The 17-55 produces its optimal results at f/4-f/5.6 so you need a bit more light to use it in practice; if you're a photographer who lights their way through their images then DX+17-55 is going to work fine; if you mostly shoot available light then FX+24-70 is clearly better, but of course you can still use lighting with FX as well, nothing wrong with that, it's just that there are more available light options with FX.
  13. For your need and because you use a DX (crop sensor) camera I'd go with the much cheaper 17-55 f/2.8 or the Tamron 17/50 f/2.8 VC. The 17-55 can be picked up for bargain prices and optically it's close to the 24-70. Another advantage is you also get a wider field of view at approximately 25.5mm versus 36mm for the much more expensive 24-70. The only reason I'd go for the 24-70 is if you plan to upgrade to FX.
  14. 24-70mm on DX is actually a very good portrait focal length, equivalent to having from 35 mm up to 105mm on FX/film.
    It also a good focal length for weddings on DX and I've shot several like that before converting to primes. The only thing is that for certain shots you may want to go wider. I used Nikon's 12-24mm zoom for that.

    A lot of people use the 17-55 focal length on DX also for weddings but that's also why a lot of folks get in trouble with perspective distortion because they go to a wider focal length on their zoom instead of backing up or composing the picture differently.
    I've also been forced to shoot large groups, of say 50 to 200 people, by backing up as far as possible and then using the 12-24. Those images needs to be post processed to avoid the stretching of the outer people in the image. It can be done manually but I also had an action I made for photoshop that used the spherize filter.
  15. With shooting on the beach where you have plenty of room, use a tripod and back up. If you have distortion on the ends which you will get on most any wide angle zoom at its widest angle, zoom in and then back up and leave yourself plenty of room to correct lens distortion. Either using a tripod or if you hand hold it, keep the camera as level as possible so you have to do the least amount of distortion correction in post. I think the 24-70 is born to live on an fx camera, but it will certainly work and its IQ resolves to the limits of your camera. Also, your 18-70 is a very good lens and if you zoom in around a third of the way and then backup to get the whole group with extra room to correct and crop, you can get excellent pictures.
  16. People seem to often confuse lens distortions (for instance barrel distortion) with distortion caused by perspective and the rectilinear projection of all non fisheye lenses.
    Lens distortion is imperfection in the lens design. It can usually be corrected in post processing.
    Perspective distortion and the effect of rectilinear projection is a matter of where you stand in relationship to what you are photographing so it has nothing to do with the lens itself.
    But focal length, subject distance and coverage are related.
    If you for instance shoot at 24 mm on DX you have a 1:1 relationship between lens coverage on the long side of the frame and subject distance (because the DX sensor is 24x16mm.
    For example if 10 people are standing shoulder to shoulder in a line that line is perhaps 20 ft wide (2 ft per person). To shoot this group without any additional space around them with a 24 mm focal length on DX you need to be 20 ft away from the group.
    If you would take the same shot with a 50 mm focal length you would have to be 40 ft away from the group. The formula for DX would be:
    [focal length] / 24 x [subject distance in ft] = [lens coverage in ft]
    And it would work the same in metric:
    [focal length] / 24 x [subject distance in meter] = [lens coverage in meter]
    PS. Since the OP has the 18-70 lens he could use that lens at 24 to 70mm to see what the 24-70 would look like and if it's wide enough or not (disregarding the difference in 24-70's improved image quality of course).
  17. Thanks for all the comments! Sorry it took me so long to reply, but I had a very long day. I did find a 24-70 at a store in town and took a couple of sample shots. Will post later today. It is after 4:30 am and my eyes are closing.

    Shun, thanks for modifying the image. (For others, see the modified image back on page one.) I have seen people out of focus on the ends of a shot, but have never even noticed that people get smaller on the ends of a wide shot, but then again there is a lot that I overlook:)
    In this case, could it be an illusion? I cant remember if the couple on the left end had smaller bodies or not. The log bows upward in the middle, so the people near the center are either standing or more stretched out then the couple on the left. Is it my imagination or does the guy on the right side of the log looks normal size? Can the distortion happen only on one side?

    Re-posting again, so you don't have to flip back to page one. While I have this photo posted, what causes the distortion on the horizon? I don't recall seeing this in the past, but I noticed it quite a bit last summer. I read about barrel distortion and how your more susceptible to barrel lens distortion with wide-angle lenses. This image was shot at 18mm, so I was fully zoomed out on the 18-70. Is that what this is? And can a lens get worse and therefor repaired? And can a camera also cause distortion like this horizon?

    Again.... I will be back around noon or so after I wake up, to post the 24/70mm/D300 sample shot from yesterday, along with some questions.

    One last thing before I crash. How do members post a sentence or paragraph in a grey box like Shun did on page one? See his comment, ''This sample image was snapped at near 18mm, but of course it has 16 people side by side and I cropped it a little for the upload.''
  18. That effect on the horizon is barrel distortion, it is typical of wide angle lenses for (D)SLRs. If you move the horizon up in the image the effect should get more severe. The 24-70 has some barrel distortion also at 24mm. You can correct this effect in image editing software.
    Do remember that the Earth is curved. So as long as the photo doesn't show the curvature in the wrong direction and is not stronger than what your image shows, the effect doesn't look so bad.
    The 14-24 is an example of a lens which is remarkably distortion free at 20-24mm. It also has very good evenness of sharpness and color across the frame, but it's a bit extreme in focal length for people images (on FX). Great lens to have for interior photography.
  19. Sorry...Did not wake up until 1:30 pm. I will post the 24-70 pix from yesterday along with questions after I run a couple of errands. It will take me awhile to get my questions on paper. My brain works slower then the average human:) Meanwhile, a quick comment.
    Ilkka- Thanks for the reply. I discovered the Lens Correction Tool on my CS5 this summer. Can't remember if I googled around to find a way to fix the problem or saw a thread where someone else was experiencing the same issue. PS has many tools that I don't how to use or don't even know exist. I really need to buy a PS for Dummies book. As for the kit 18-70 lens. Can a lens have problems that can contribute to the distortion. This lens was a replacement for the original. I cant remember what was wrong with it, but it and my first D300 had problems and they both had to be replaced. I have mentioned in the past that I have had some bad luck when buying new camera equipment.
    I spoke with Nikon last night about the 24-70 and a few other issues. I found out that the 18-70 still has about 5 months of warranty left on it, so no matter what lens I get, I will send the 18-70 in to get it checked out. If nothing else, hopefully they will fix the wobble and clean out the annoying dust inside the lens. I read somewhere that if you keep the lens about halfway extended there is less chance of getting dust inside of it. Anyone have thoughts on that?

    Off Topic Sidenote- Regarding warranties, there was a thread in December about Nikon's warranty and having to send in those pesky warranty cards. http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00bBXY?start=0 The tech that I spoke with last night confirmed that all you need is proof of purchase if you have problem with their camera gear. But I also found this- http://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/16192/~/nikon-warranty-and-product-registration For anyone that has had problems trying to register your gear at Nikon online, it may be easier to do it over the phone. I had the tech check and they still had my old D70 registered and both my original and replacement kit lens, but only had one of my D300's and did not have a record of my 70-200. Check now and save hassle later.
  20. Per-Christian Nilssen and Pete S.- Thanks for the suggestion of shooting the 18-70 at 24mm and 24-70mm. That was helpful. So if I used the 24-70 with the D300 do I just need to step back a few more feet and get the same image that I would with an FX body (but improved quality) or does this affect other aspects of the image? I have a great link that Nikon sent me that touches on this little. I will show it my next post.

    As mentioned, I also went to a camera store and did a couple of test shots with the 24-70. Unfortunately, I did not have a dozen or so people available to line up for me. Sorry for the terrible sample sample shot, but I did not have much choice. There was not a wall in the store long enough to get a wide shot that would be similar to a dozen or so people standing side by side and the lighting was dark. So one of the employee’s let me take the lens outside on my D300. When we went outside there were a bunch of cars lined up and I was planning to take a shot of them from behind, side by side and hope to see the details, but the cars started leaving before I could get the shot. Then I decided to take a shot of the windows. Each window was around 4 feet long, so the shot was a bit over 17 feet wide. I got the employee to stand near one end, hoping it would show if there was distortion on the outer edge. Again, this was not the best situation for my sample shot and I think my focus was a tiny bit off, but it seemed like the lens would be wide enough for a dozen people lined up side by side. Not sure if the sample shot is even large enough to give it a good looking over. This was shot at 24mm, ISO 200 @2.8.
    Anymore feedback from well trained eyes and minds?

  21. I talked with Nikon and the tech said that I would lose around 1/3 of the image if I used the 24/70 on a DX compared to FX. He sent me a great link: NIKKOR Lenses Simulator. You can adjust to any size lens and the Simulator sample photo will show you how the image will look with a DX body compared to an FX. Check out your lens. What a great link! http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/lens/simulator/index.htm

    There is also this sample showing the difference between FX and DX. Hopefully the image will be large enough to see. Here is the link just in case. http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Learn-And-Explore/Article/g588ouey/The-DX-and-FX-Formats.html

    So.... What about this idea? Buy the 24-70. Keep the 18-70 for now for my wide angle shots, but send it back to Nikon while it is still under warranty, so they can check it out. Eventually buy a FX (probably not until next year) and sell one of the D300’s while waiting to see what new bodies and lens will be coming out down the road.
    I would prefer to not have the video. Is there a chance that Nikon will make a quality FX body without video that will run around $2,000.00?
    Also, the Nikon 24-70 sounds like a much better investment then buying a 17-55 DX lens that would seem to start losing value when more photographers eventually upgrade. Checking Ebay, it looks like used 17-55mm's are selling for just over $700.00. If I find that the 24-70 is a mistake, then it should still have a high re-sale value, unless of course a new version comes out as soon as I buy one:)

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