Do we need really F2.8 anymore

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by sanford, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. Tokina add quote promoting their new 11-16 mm F2.8 zoom: "Many photojournalist consider having an F2.8 apertured lens a must". Maybe this
    was true in the days of Velvia but I don't think it really applies anymore. My cameras start at ISO 200 and can handle ISO 400 or even 800 without
    much problem so why the need for an extra F stop or two from the lens? Depth of field isn't going to be a factor in an 11-16 mm zoom.
  2. i for one want alll the speed I can get.....high iso's and fast lenses......all the way. handheld night photography has never been so good.
  3. Take your camera and take some pictures in the evening in any city of your choise and you will see why 2.8 (or even faster) is still needed - no matter how high the ISO capability of your camera is.
  4. it still absolutely applies for working photographers. Larger apertures ( f/2, f/1.4, f/1.2) as well. Even for you for an extremely wide angle lens a large aperture in low light situations is still valuable if you simply consider the compositional and framing aspect while looking through the viewfinder. And there will be times when you are working at at a very close distance to a subject (could happen!) that you want extremely shallow depth of field to create a specific visual effect. And of course there will be times when forced by circumstance to set your camera to ISO 3200 that the difference between f/2.8 and f/4 makes a difference.
  5. 16mm isn't that wide on a crop formatted camera. So if you are doing a group shot indoors or are inside a church, f2.8, ISO 800 is a lot better than f5.6 and ISO 3200.
  6. To me (who avoid flash if possible), there are many indoor situation where f2.8 with ISO1600 and 3200 is good
    enough. The problem is, most ISO 3200 bodies are not good enough and/or cost too much.
  7. The medium (film or digital) does not matter. The main points of a fast aperture are :

    1) to gather enough light when the light is dim and flash is not appropriate. Dim light is still with us even n this digital age.

    2) to reduce the depth of field to get a nice blurred background for portraits, nature shots, etc etc
  8. The generic answer is probably "it depends on what you want to shoot, where and with what other equipment". But personally, I'd welcome a stop or two more low-light performance on my 10-22mm lens (it's widest aperture is f/3.5 on the 10mm end). Despite the decent high ISO performance of my 20D, it's still easy to run out of light after the sunset, especially outside the urban area. Sure, a tripod helps, but I don't carry it with me all the time.
  9. I have hit many a situation when my fastest ISO and f1.8 was just not enough fast...for the reasons mentioned above!
  10. Absolutely we need it. At least 2.8. Even f1.2 and ISO 1600 is a specific limit that will be encountered very often if you want to shoot pictures in dimly lit situations.

    If you never shoot except in daylight, you are absolutely right.
  11. In a word: Yes!
  12. Big aperture=bright viewfinder.
  13. All the above points have been hit, but what about also maximum image quality? If you have a really high quality lens, say a 50/1.4, shooting at f/2 of f/2.8 might get you excellent quality with a low ISO, but if the lens is slow, say an f/4 might have to up the ISO AND shoot wide open instead of stopped down a stop or two.

    You say iso400 or even iso800, well I use film and I can tell you my iso400 and iso800 films still handle noise as well as most digital cameras and the resolution is still resonably high. Sure a really good digital camera can probably best my iso400 and iso800 films these days in those regards, but the films are 'good enough' to do big enlargements with. There are still plenty of times I would rather use iso100 film, or even I have iso400 or iso800 film loaded and I am forced to shot with aperatures wide open on (50mm) f/1.4, (50mm and 28mm) f/1.8 and (50mm macro and 24mm) f/2.8 lenses. I certainly wish I had a 24/2 instead of just a 24/2.8, that extra stop would be really nice.

    IS can help, but it can't freeze motion.
  14. Obviously, YES.

    f/2.8 is the slowest lens I'll even consider owning. Since I don't shoot beyond 200mm, f/2.8 or faster is affordable. The premise of the question means you need a refresher couirse in Photography 101.
  15. I'm with you Ken... I honestly can't believe so many digi users put up with the super slow lenses that are the only choices available at the lower tier. It's too bad Nikon and Canon won't adopt Minolta's old philosophy of offering the SAME lenses as the top tier with fewer coatings and lighter construction as their bottom tier. And especially with how dim many digi camera viewfinders are to begin with... it's just compounded issues.
  16. and you could use a spelling 101 class, Ken... : -)
  17. I own the Tokina and if I put it to f4, it's already stopped down one stop and quality is really good, whereas the competition is at their maximum apertures and not so good...

    Recently, I was shooting some night shots on a tripod with a 50/1.2 lens... The reason for the fast lens was that since water moves even at night, I needed to keep shutter speed low to avoid a too blurred effect. I couldn't pump up the ISO, since that would have lost the finest detail and made the dynamic range narrower and since it was night, I needed good detail in the shadows. I hope this explains some reasons (other than the obvious shallow DOF) why fast lenses are desirable; we have more options nowadays, but that just means we can tackle harder challenges.

    Also, if you're focusing a macro lens beyond life size, you will want a high speed lens...
  18. The ability to allow more light through the lens cannot be fully compensated with high ISO. High ISO will help to an extent when compensating for a slower lens. No matter what FL is in question, there will be a difference in DOF. A f/2.8 lens will provide very good AF performance, as more light is hitting the AF sensor.
  19. The F2.8 and bigger apertures are great for better auto-focusing, and even manual even if you set your lens to F11, it will focus and TTL at F2.8 which can be very helpful when composing the shot.
  20. at


    Absolutely. Background control is a must for me. I dont need another stupid f5.6 VR lens. When I need
    to blur the background some silly f5.6 VR cant do way no how! Get a midrange, high quality with
    f2.8 Shoot an object at f2.8, then f5.6 then f 16...see what happens to your background and depth of field.
    You cant do that with slow lens....never.
  21. I'm guessing either A) this question is a joke or B) this question is a troll.

    85% or more of my non-commercial paid photography work would be impossible (in it's current form) without a 2.8 zoom or a 1.4 prime. If I was stuck with a 5.6 lens, i would have to completely change (and greatly complicate) all my existing techniques (or i'd just quit and take up knitting)

    For vacation shooting and walking the dog, i'm sure f5.6 lenses are more than sufficient.
  22. OK, I'm convinced! I was curious because I've read many a post from photographers using the F2.8 for reason enough to switch
    from the perfectly adequate Tokina 12-24 mm F4 zoom to the, in my opinion, much less versatile 11-16mm zoom. I own the 12-24
    and think the 24 on the long end outweighs the 11 on the short end as far as usefulness, F stops aside.
  23. "OK, I'm convinced!" Go rent one and see for yourself.
  24. "and you could use a spelling 101 class, Ken"

    I am an **EXCELLENT** speller but POOR proof reader and typo-prone kybdr.

    YES f/2.8 is the slowest lens anyone should consider -- life is far too short to use cheap glass. (and I mean 200mm or smaller)
  25. Without a doubt. This was a main reason why I decided to begin shooting 35mm again. Faster lenses. My RZ67 110mm lens is a F2.8 but my favorite lens the 50mm ULD is F4.5. Even shooting Delta 3200 at 3200 iso I still find myself shooting wide open. My RZ will still be my main camera to use, but I'm having so much fun toting around my Nikon F2 loaded with Tri-X (sometimes Plus-X) and using it for interior shots that I'd never get with my RZ unless it was on a tripod and a cable release. I decided on the AI-S 28mm F2.8 as the only lens I'll use at least for now. I had thought of getting one of the faster lenses, but heard so many great things about this one that I figured I'd just try to hold the camera extra steady at 1/30 at F2.8 which a few times I had to do recently.
  26. In my own case, f2.8 and faster allow me to make more use of available light at lower film speeds/iso settings, and give me the opportunity to be more creative in my selection of how much depth of field to use to isolate subjects and so on.
  27. Personally, I don't need anything (amateur) but WANT all the speed I can have. In fact, I shoot mostly with primes also for this reason. This said, there is always some trade off: the Nikon 85 1.8 costs a fraction of the 1.4 but its speed is like 2/3 stop slower: it is not really going to make a practical difference (I know there are other differences besides speed among the two...). Besides the pure speed thing, keep in mind that fast apertures are useful when you are looking for shallow DOF. Especially if you shoot APS or 4/3, even 2.8 is not really going to give you very shallow DOF. <p> L.
  28. Check out Depth of field differences between F2.8 and F4 on such extreme wide angle lenses such as the 11-16 mm or 12-
    24 mm zooms we are talking about here are just about meaningless on a small sensor DSLR. I concede there are advantage when talking about
    telephotos but I would like to see an example of where F2.8 at 11mm makes a difference over F4.
  29. Faster lenses usually mean better glass - less light falloff, fewer distortions. An F/4 exposure from a $90 50mm-
    F/1.8 prime still beats F/4 from those $500 F/3.5 IS or VR zoom lenses set at 50mm. You'd have to go to at least
    F/8 before you start matching the image quality. Or you can upgrade to a faster zoom lens.

    "It's too bad Nikon and Canon won't adopt Minolta's old philosophy of offering the SAME lenses as the top tier with
    fewer coatings and lighter construction as their bottom tier."

    Nikon did try something like that - the "Series E." Those lenses had cheapo construction and looser quality control,
    but they really weren't that bad. The Series E lenses failed miserably. Consumers just looked at those things and
    thought to themselves, "Hmm, it's not branded a Nikkor; it must be pathetic."
  30. "YES f/2.8 is the slowest lens anyone should consider -- life is far too short to use cheap glass." Some people seriously have no idea what they are talking about. The 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E comes to mind ($30 or so). Below is a portrait, but have you ever seen Galen's rainbow shot?
  31. A closer look.
  32. Check out -- the tokina 11-16 smokes the competition at f4 (actually it does so already at f2.8). Additionally one gets a brighter finder image and an extra stop. I've used this lens for handheld photos in dim interiors with the aperture cranked up and the lens opened up. Having a slower or poorer performing lens would not have cut it, especially since composition in dark venues is hard if the lens is slow.
  33. At 11mm... who cares. Really. F2.8 isn't 'necessary' at 11mm, but it is useful. 28mm or longer and it's invaluable.
  34. Les, no one would argue that generally speaking a fast lens is better than a slow lens.

    I was referring to the poster who said:

    "YES f/2.8 is the slowest lens anyone should consider -- life is far too short to use cheap glass."

    I could also go on about the 55mm f/3.5 Micro. For $100 you won't believe what this "cheap glass" is capable of.

    You really need to read what I wrote in FULL before jumping to any conclusions.
  35. I"ll give up f2.8 or better when ISO 800 looks just like ISO 100 (NO COMPROMISE)...of course, even when that happens you can still get faster shots with ISO 800 at f2.8 than at f5.6

    And who doesn't love a sweet bokeh?
  36. Actually you can get a blurred background with the 11-16 in close up shots at large apertures.
  37. Here's what I don't get... all this focus on 2.8 for DOF, which sure... is true to some extent even at 11mm, but does anyone else think that focusing both manual and auto is made so much easier with the addition of even just one stop of extra light? I mean shooting on something like an 85mm 1.2 isn't going to be a necessity for most people, even I think it's over kill and it's a favorite lens of mine. But at the same time has anyone else ever found trying to focus either manual or auto on say an f4 or f5.6 just a bit cumbersome?

    I wouldn't go as far to say that all glass that's faster has to be better, I've seen 50mm 1.2 with more light fall of in the edges then a 50mm 1.8 when both are shot at f2.8...

    I think in some way it boils down to the choice of who ever is using the lens... not everyone can justify thousands for a super fast prime, but those that do will usually find it hard to understand how people can settle for less. At the same time most people will agree that having a faster lens is advantages, in one way or another.

    Point of interest, has anyone considered the other end of the scale? is f16 or f22 really a low enough maximum aperture? I guess there's always ND filters but what if you want just that bit of extra DOF?
  38. Les, did you miss the point? I guess you did.

    Look, it is possible to make solid photographs with a lens that doesn't have a f2.8 stamped on it. That's all I'm saying.

    "you only posted one example.."

    Maybe you should have a look at my portfolio. Only one shot was taken with a lens that is faster than f2.8.

    Now don't get me wrong, I have a number of fast-ish glass, but they are used for different things.

    So, to answer the OP, yes sometimes you need fast glass. And occasionally, the faster the better.

    It's just plain common sense.
  39. Les, as I have said - a number of times - you need to read what I wrote in FULL.

    I know very well what the OP asked, and if you look at my very first post - way up the top of the thread - you will see that I gave my opinion to what was being asked.

    This thing that you keep bringing up is a direct response to the following. Again you need to read it in FULL.

    "Ken Papai - Marin County, Calif. [Subscriber] [Frequent poster] , Sep 25, 2008; 10:41 p.m.

    "and you could use a spelling 101 class, Ken"

    I am an **EXCELLENT** speller but POOR proof reader and typo-prone kybdr.

    YES f/2.8 is the slowest lens anyone should consider -- life is far too short to use cheap glass. (and I mean 200mm or smaller)"

    It was Ken that brought in this non-sense that everyone needs to have f/2.8 lenses, and some other non-sense about using cheap glass. I posted one image - and yes I have plenty more - to show that lenses slower than f2.8 are well and truly capable of making solid images.

    Did you see somewhere where I said that f/2.8 lenses were no good?

    Do you get it now? Or do I need to keep repeating myself?
  40. I like my 2.8's
  41. Good point Bunlui! AF is noticeably slower at f5.6
  42. In my non-professional opinion, I think I really need a faster lens. The fastest I have is f3.5 and I'm really
    having a hard time shooting in low light, especially in streets where the are so many moving objects (people,
    cars, etc.). I think, again, in my non-professional opinion, correct me if I'm wrong guys, that we won't be
    needing faster lenses if we could ALWAYS ask our moving subjects to stand still which is apparently impossible,
    or if we creatively intend to convey motion.
  43. "YES f/2.8 is the slowest lens anyone should consider -- life is far too short to use cheap glass."

    I don't think my 24mm f/3.5L TS-E would qualify as cheap. And my Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 certainly wasn't cheap either.

    Open mouth, insert foot?
  44. ABSOLUTELY! We need f2.8 lenses. AND FASTER!

    IMHO, the premise of your question shows you don't know much about the technical aspects of photography.

    I, for one, work on movie sets creating the stills you see in advertising, magazines and websites. Far too often the lighting is quite low and I have a hard time creating sharp images.

    That's why I own a large set of fast primes for my Nikon camera bodies (film and digital).

    It's OK if the movie or video camera records a blurry image with the low light as it adds to the mood of the scene. But the publicity people want sharp still images. Thank goodness the engineers at Nikon have the new digital bodies which can record the proverbial "cat in a coal mine" at 25,000 ISO.


  45. Something that I don't think has been mentioned in this thread is the fact that on some cameras that have cross type focus sensors, these cross type (more sensitive to horizontal and vertical contrast) are only activated in some models with a lens of f/2.8 or greater aperture. So with slower glass I am actually hindering the overall focusing ability of my camera.
  46. Need is a personal issue and really depends how important being able to get any given shot is. Cost is usually a
    big difference between f/2.8 and slower lenses. Again this is personal, but for a lot people it is the
    determining factor of lens choice.

    And this has to be the biggest load of elitist claptrap I've seen in a long time:

    "YES f/2.8 is the slowest lens anyone should consider -- life is far too short to use cheap glass."

    Should anyone who can't afford f/2.8 lenses not bother at all? Really? For the sake of one stop?

    As I said, utter claptrap!
  47. Thank you Fred.
  48. Oh, oh, they are all hopping about when this 35mm orthodoxy, this shibboleth is challenged! Some sensitive souls around these parts who protesteth too much I fear...
    it is a simply a matter for your preferred mode of photography.

    But the critics who rushed to attack the OP are missing some data, it seems.

    1. the ISO goalposts are shifting - fast. The D3/D700 is extremely capable at hitherto considered no go ISO levels, most are very happy with 1600, and with care, 3200. Now that is a little different from the days of film, would you not agree, fellows? And ahh, we had f2.8 lenses back then too.

    2. The infatuation with making 'interesting' photographs the easy way, with extreme wides and extreme apertures never seems to abate, nor to attract devotees. After identifying such an approach in an image, most viewers are all too happy to move on to something that better reflects what their eyes see around them...

    3. With AF so good these days, wide apertures are not a prerequisite for accurate focussing.

    4. Those 'dumb' f5.6 zooms as someone above raised, are where most of the development money spent by Nikon and Canon is going; but lest you miss the point let me spell it out for you: not everyone is dopey enough to see much sense in carrying around one or more bulky, exorbitantly priced one kilo plus monsters just on the off chance that f2.8 is absolutely necessary. Lens speed is a major determinant of size, cost and weight in optics - a matter of physics. We have the situation where MF and LF lenses are way lighter and smaller than 35mm digital.

    5. The consumer zooms are getting very close to the so-called pro zooms so beloved of neophyte 'space cadet' photographers that differences are miminal. At working apertures for almost all situations, that is.

    6. How many of you cart these ridiculous lenses any distance? Not many I will wager, when the kids or dog or cat is just over the room! Galen Rowell (heard of him?) was fond of using lenses many here would barely raise a sniff at, before they move on to some highly sought optic that is more deserving of their 'work'.

    7. The companies are sadly hard at work producing more nonsensical fast lenses to the neglect of much needed light, modern tech, well-made primes, especially wide angles. Witness Nikon's 'weird Harold' 14-24/2.8. Gee, a 2.8 wide zoom lens, must be just the ticket for landscape or travel , right? Well, no, unless you enjoy shooting in tough conditions (rain, dust storms) with an unprotectable bowling ball front element on a massive body that weighs 1000 grams. Now, that is a redefinition of dumb, for a company that prides itself on servicing the photographers needs. They also lack a 25-105/f4 (unlike Canon) in the current lineup, but golly, they sure have the pros covered with a set of bazookas in f2.8...hah.

    8. Find me an f2.8 lens that performs as well optically at f2.8 as it does at f4-f5.6. You can't. One sees even worse results with the even more revered fast tele primes. But there are plenty of all these that vignette significantly, suffer poor corner resolution to the point where lens testers have to search for better copies, and for most shots need to be stopped down to - oh yeah, the apertures where the much-maligned slow zooms are delivering excellent results and are also light, small, inexpensive and actually take (small diameter) filters.

    So overall, I believe it is clear that fast lenses in general give you a very poor return in real world photography, for a very small percentage of shots you want to make that really need that setting.
  49. The answer to the OP (as Phil P described at length) depends on Style, Money and Location.
    If you're being paid to shoot, and your equipment goes down the deductibles list, the extra cost of the faster glass may be justified (even in an ultra-wide: I've had enough shots with my 18-35/3.5-4.5 where I really wanted that extra background blur).
    If your subject matter and the images in your mind require the shallower DOF, the faster focus (yes, it matters, even on the same camera- there's more "meat" for the algorithms to work with), faster shutter speeds or the TC's, you will "need" the faser glass.
    If you're not carrying all your gear in your backpack for weeks on end (or walking around in the park with the kids, while trying to have some fun), then you wouldn't care about size and weight (better yet- the tripod may be doing the carrying for you).

    Practicallity is a major concern for many people. I've got excellent mileage from my 28-300 Sigma (on film), in places where I wouldn't bother to carry more than a single lens, and in places where a bigger "pro" zoom would have attracted attention from too many offcials (or thiefs). Current materials technology being what it is, we won't have that 24-200/2.8 full-frame lens (that weighs just 1.5lb and costs less than $2k) anytime soon, not from the main manufacturers and not from the 3rd party guys. Only when plastics get good enough optically will we be able to start designing this kind of ambitious stuff, and even then I expect the actual exposure to be dimmer at the same aperture than glass.

  50. Very interesting. I was about to post the same question, but before I did I found this posting. Considering your post is more than SIX years old I think your question is more valid than ever, especially considering the vast technological improvements in sensor noise. My Canon 70-200mm f4 is looking better and better now.

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