Equipment addition advice - 3rd wedding.

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by simon_hickie|1, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. I have my third wedding as 'main' photographer coming up in September. The first was "some snaps" for my brother
    (his words
    for what he wanted, not mine). The second was for a friend of a friend (second time round wedding for both, very
    informal, but customer delighted with results). Now it's the friend of a friend's niece - request is for nothing
    too formal (& she loved the pictures I did for her Uncle). It's a Sikh wedding, so a day and a halfer. The good
    news, being a Sikh wedding is no white dress & no black suit for B&G to fool the D80's meter too much).

    Equipment: Nikon D80 (+D50 backup) SB-600, various consumer lenses (18-70, 18-200, 28-105, 70-210 (f4-5.6)
    nikkors + Sigma 10-20mm + a dodgy 50mm f1.8 that's unusable at anything wider open than f4); stroboframe flash
    bracket, lightsphere 2 clone, Lumiquest pro-max system, better bounce card, Benro tripod & ball head + QR plates,
    various backgrounds if needed + usual memory cards, batteries, spares etc.

    I'm comfortable using the Nikon CLS & using flash wirelessly with the D80 in commander mode. I know what effects
    I get with different bounce flash / difffusers. My 'bible' so far has been Steve Sint's book - a mine of valuable
    information.

    Now the big question. I know I'm deficient in the flash department. An SB-800 + a lighting stand seems the way to
    go (can use it on the D50 in commander mode to also fire the SB-600 remotely if I need to use the D50 as backup).
    This leaves me enough left over in the budget for about 250-300 uk pounds worth of additional lens. My copy of
    the 18-70 is sharp wide open, & it's quiet, focuses quickly and accurately - but it's slowish particularly at the
    longer end. The 70-210 is very sharp (not always what's wanted in wedding pictures I know), but focuses slowly &
    is slow at 210m. So, in the quest for 'faster glass', where should I put my remaining pounds? I see five options:

    (1) Tamron 17-50 f2.8 / Sigma 18-50mm f2.8
    (2) 24mm f2.8 (used) + 50mm f1.8 (new) nikon primes OR 50mm + 85mm f1.8 primes
    (3) Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 / Tokina 28-70mm f2.6-2.8
    (4) Sigma 70mm f2.8 macro / Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro
    (5) bust the budget a little & try to find a good second user 80-200 f2.8 nikkor

    Sikh wedding receptions tend to be fast moving, very colourful & great to photograph. Family & friends come from
    far & wide, so it's important to shoot loads & try to capture images of absolutely everybody. Indeed, one of the
    comments from the last wedding was that I managed to take candids of just about everybody without them realising
    they'd been snapped.

    Looking at the last wedding, 4% of the shots were sub 40mm (35mm equivalent); 80% were in the 40-105mm range &
    the remaining 16% in the 110-300mm range. Most popular individual focal length was 105mm (35mm equivalent) at 20%
    of the total images.

    Now, given that Steve Sint seems to suggest that variable aperture zooms are "OK" (he has a 24-120VR & 24-85
    f2.8-f4 in his kit bag), plus my lens usage last time, I reckon I'm OK with the 18-70 as the bread & butter lens.
    So, back to the key question: where should I spend my pounds on the faster glass (if indeed I actually need it!)?

    Apologies for the rather long post, but I'm a 'fail to plan, plan to fail' kind of person. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Given your description re the variable aperture zooms being OK for you, I'd spend the money on fast primes, as in choice #2, probably the longer lenses.
     
  3. Those fast primes seem like a grand idea. But here's the thing... the 50mm will require you to be about 15 feet (5 meters-ish) from a person in order capture them from head to toe. In a busy social setting, that's sometimes very hard to accomplish. Likewise, the 50 can be a wee bit short for those across-the-room shots. Me? 85/1.8, and the Sigma 30/1.4 HSM. That might be too much, though, money-wise. 30mm is a pretty nice focal length, though, and that f/1.4 really works for you in isolating foreground subjects. You can just mount up your 18-200 to see what focal lengths are really talking to you.
     
  4. >>[Simon Hickie]>> Looking at the last wedding, 4% of the shots were sub 40mm (35mm equivalent); 80% were in the 40-105mm range & the remaining 16% in the 110-300mm range. Most popular individual focal length was 105mm (35mm equivalent) at 20% of the total images.
    As a side note, I've always found it useful after an event to analyze my shots like this too. I use "EXIF Image Viewer"
    http://home.pacbell.net/michal_k/exif_v.html
    It creates a spreadsheet of the EXIF settings for all images in a folder. I always find it interesting to see what settings I used, especially for the keepers. I also use it to gauge how often I'm bumping into the limits of my lenses.
     
  5. I use a 17-35 f/2.8 and an 80-200 f/2.8 for the vast majority of my shots at a wedding. Both ranges are super useful for my style. I used to own the 18-70 but I assure you, it is not as sharp as the 17-35 and it's not as sharp as the 24-120. Also, you just can't get that extra light that a faster lens will provide. I realize the 17-35 (or the 17-55 nikkor) is a bit out of your price range but definitely look into something faster for those low light situations. As mentioned, I hear the Sigma 30 f/1.4 is sweet. I also own the Tamron 90 macro- it's sharp and cheap- I use it for all kinds of detail shots. If you have no macro consider one to add more versatility to your style. And then there's the 50 f/1.8. I also use this one a bit for portraits (usually not full body), I don't know what I'd do without its shallow DOF.

    All in all, looking at what you have now, I'd probably choose to add a fast lens in the range of what you use most often, sounds like the 50 f/1.8 + f/85 1.8 perhaps?

    You have a bunch of slowish zooms that overlap in range- sell some of them and use the money to buy one or two fast zooms! You could unload the 18-70, the 28-105, and the 70-210 and you'd still have all that range covered by the 18-200.
     
  6. Thanks for the suggestions so far. My analysis of my focal length and aperture usage last time indicates that 28-70mm wide open is indeed the prime range. I also had the 70-210 constant f4 lens at the time, but recall it was almost unusable at the reception because the focusing was so slow in low light. In an ideal world I'd have the 28-70 and 80-200 (or 70-210VR) Nikkor zooms plus 35, 50 & 85mm primes plus maybe 105mm micro. I just have to work out how best to get there before 'full frame' digital bodies get affordable (& it's getting closer with the new D700!!).
     

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