Lenses 135mm F2 or 70-200mm F4 IS ... Dilemma!

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by louise_smiles, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Hi I am a wedding photographer and just been upgrading the equipment, I have 2 Bodies, 5D and 5D MK II with 24-105mm IS and my recent purchase is the 70-200mm F4 IS. I have since seen the 135mm F2 and starting contemplating which one is better.
    I am also looking at purchasing a 50mm prime 1.4 for details and them creamy looking portraits at weddings, but with the 135mm F2 I am now confused which way I should turn. I have had the 24-70mm 2.8 and found in low light it didn't live up, was fairly heavy and often or not ended up with blurred shots which made me switch to the 24-105mm (very happy with).
    I only intend on having 3 lenses, the 24-105mm is a keeper.
    Any opinions greatly appreciated!
  2. I would have switched the 24-105 to the 24-70/2.8 II (which I have used) or the 24-70/4 IS (which I have not used). The former is the sharpest in it's focal range from my experience.
    The 70-200/4 IS (I used to own) was my sharpest zoom at f/4 in that focal range. It was light and compact. But, I wasn't happy with the bokeh. It wasn't creamy enough. Therefore, it was replaced by the 70-200/2.8 IS II which improved on the bokeh. Sharpness was about the same as the f/4 version.
    The zooms are the preferred choice in my opinion for a fast paced wedding. They are the bread and butter tools. The 135/2 is more of a creative tool and the bokeh would trump any of the zooms.
  3. Would love 24-70mm is but budget has to be maintained, the 70-200mm 2.8 is is also creeping out of price range plus the weight of it is
    something I think that would take it out of me, in the process taking away my efforts to get extra creative. With having 2 cameras around
    with me I wanted 2 lens at hand and one to change too when needed. Don't want to weight myself down to much either.

    Are zoom lenses in wedding photography really that important? Is taking a step back or forth to get the frame you want really become that
    much of a hassle?


  4. Zoom lenses are important because most times I don't have the room to step back (or forward). People are moving fast too. As an alternative, for the slower paced shots like the church ceremony, I will have the 50/1.8 Mark I on one body and the 85/1.2 II on the other. The results will beat any L glass zoom at apertures wider than 2.8. I would always have the zooms (16-35/2.8 II and 70-200/2.8 IS II) in my bag. The other lens I would carry around in the bag for weddings is the 15/2.8 Fisheye for the throwing of the bouquet and garter belt. The camera used with the Fisheye would be set on high speed continuous frame rate for sequential shots from the moment she/he is about to throw the item to the moment after the lucky person catches it.
  5. Lets see... if I'm reading you right...
    You are trying to keep it too 3 lenses (not necessarily a good idea, but still your choice)
    You need IS equipped lenses to consistently produce usable results.
    You want lighter, easier to manage lenses.
    So your question is whether you should go w/ a 70-200/4 IS, or a 135/2. ?
    On point 1 and 2 your decision clearly favors the 70-200/4 IS, on point 3 it's 6 of one half dozen of the other. Though I (personally) favor a 70-200/2.8, it is certainly NOT lightweight.
    However I think you may be forgetting a critical issue in wedding photography. Your job first and foremost is to cover the essential. If your choice of gear promotes your creativity at the expense of your ability to actually cover the wedding (say by choosing a prime that prevents getting shots that having a zoom would allow), than you are doing your clients (and yourself) a disservice. This is not to say that many photogs can't cover all the essentials with several well chosen primes, but it is your capabilities that we are looking at.
    Personally, I spend most of the day shooting w/ a 24-70/2.8 on one 5, and a 70-200/2.8 on the other. I carry a few primes w/ me to give me the option to add creativity, and specific shots... sacrificing capability though, OTOH, to 'force creativity' will bite you in the arse sooner or later.
  6. isn't the 2.8 is heavy to use? I'm no body builder, and I don't want to keep the f4, I don't feel it will do in low lit churches.
    I'm a photo art grad so it's in the bones to incorporate that into my work and give a unique style. I'm open to any lens
    really but I can't afford every lens under the sun, I worry the 2.8 would weigh me down, I'm only a small gal :(. I had the
    24-70 2.8 but in low light it just didn't live up to its reputation. I'm just trying to get the right kit to work with, but I am
    guessing 70-200 2.8 non is isn't right for me with the weight and possible camera shake.

    I'm keeping the 105mm

    The 70-200mm f4 is isn't ideal for low lit churches and evening receptions really is it?

    The 50mm 1.4 is on the list.
  7. The 70-200mm f4 is isn't ideal for low lit churches and evening receptions really is it? [Louise Smiles]​
    No. Not even for the 5D2. Go for the 135/2 used for less than $900. You have no other option for your budget.
  8. I think you need to figure out what it is you want and need. Is it shallow DOF or is it low light capability? And is it really an option to replace the 70-200 (can you cover what you need without a telezoom or with your 24-105)?
    In low light you are going to have the same problem with the 24-105mm F4 as you have with the 70-200mm F4 IS. But you can't solve the low light problem with just one additional lens anyway. You would need at least a wide and a tele prime. But the 50mm will not work as it is not wide enough. Something in the 28-35mm range and something in the 85-135 range.
    Is it just some shallow DOF you want for portraits then just get the 50mm F1.4. The 135mm is to long for general portrait work unless you have lots of room as it will put you at minimum of 30 ft away from the B&G if you do full length shots. A 85mm could have worked though.
    But what do you have for backup? If your 24-105 breaks what are you going to shoot with?
  9. There is no way I can afford a back up lens, if it breaks I would have to make do with either the 50mm 1.4 or the lens I decide on...I will be able to buy a lower priced lens as a back up after one or 2 weddings. So whats with the 85mm? it's not an L lens but I am hearing alot of good opinions about the lens. I may be able to stretch the budget to a 2.8 IS 70-200mm but I'd have to be very set in my mind to do so, I want nice creamy, dreamy shots with of course clarity. I'm always rather nervous about spending so much on non L len's.

    It's going to be tight as I need to get another flash unit too. Even though I spent 5 years studying photography the most disappointing thing was they didn't talk through these kind of lenses, may have the theory down to a T but the workshops were pretty limited! So only now am I discovering the best set ups for me and my style of work. I am sorry if I sound pretty dumb...lol
  10. Ok, so I have made a decision...70-200mm 2.8 is mk I is what I am going to buy. Now for the other lens, 50mm 1.4 or 1.8? (now on a tight budget), if f1.8 it would be short term, but from everyones feedback and I know in my own mind that it's unavoidable if I want to produce good work. The 85mm 1.8 is also something I am interested in. Or do I get the 1.4 50mm and get a cheapish flash unit? I have the 430ex at the moment and it's been good but as a back up I need another one also.

    Thank you for you help, it's appreciated
  11. Or do I get the 1.4 50mm and get a cheapish flash unit? I have the 430ex at the moment and it's been good but as a back up I need another one also. [Louise Smiles]​
    Wise choice on the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS Mark I. I sold my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM last summer and replaced it last week with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Mark I (with the rare original box, styrofoam, instructions and warranty card). But, you can get away with it's successor the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Mark II. Same optics if you want to go cheap. Just get another Canon Speedlite 430EX. When you build your portfolio with paid gigs, then you can start upgrading as you go.
  12. Or do I get the 1.4 50mm and get a cheapish flash unit?...​
    This is a very good idea. The Canon EF 50/1.4 is not a great lens IMPE, but since you've limited yourself to an f4 primary zoom, you simply must have something faster. Given your budget, a better option may be a 50/1.8 + a decent backup flash (an old 550EX, or another 430EX for example).
    But an inexpensive 3rd party ETTL compatible, w/ manual settings, and full bounce and swivel shouldn't put you back more than ~$150. Combining that with the 50/1.8 is very cost effective and functional.
    When you are ready to upgrade your 50/1.8 (and it will likely happen sooner rather than later - the lack of FTM focus is a significant handicap IMO), it would be worth it to consider the Sigma 50/1.4 HSM as well. It is about $150 more than an EF 50/1.4 USM, but it actually produces usable portraiture results WO, unlike the EF 50/1.4 (and 50/1.8 IME), which, considering your choice of zoom is particularly relevant.
  13. Louise, before buying tons of gear I would suggest second shooting a fair amount. This will give you a better idea of what your equipment is capable of. When I shoot in the darkest of dark churches that don't allow flash I use my 50 1.4 and my 135 2.0. I bought the 135 2.0 on the advice given to me in these forums and I love it. I too am a small female, and weight was a real consideration for me. For those times I absolutely need a longer lens, I have the 1.4x teleconverter which makes it a 200mm 2.8 lens. The bokeh on the 135 is SICK. For first dances there is no lens I love more. My second shooter uses the 70-200 2.8 IS and I love how his shots come out. But here's the catch he's a big strong guy who is over 6' tall, and by the end of the night even his hands and wrist hurt from the weight of the lens. My kit is a 50 1.4, 16-35 2.8, 24-70 2.8 I, 135 2.0, and 1.4x teleconvertor. I bring with me the 5dmkiii and a 7d. If I need really zoomed in shots I use the 7D. I also bring a handy dandy cheapo light tripod with me to weddings. Why? Because most churches will let me use it, and if it's THAT dark a church that a ripod is necessary, it's usually a full mass, so I have time during the ceremony to have it set up, and I'm not allowed to move around much anyways. That way I don't have to worry about IS.

    Bottom line though is it needs to work for you. I'd suggest going to a store and actually holding the 70-200 2.8 IS on your camera. Hold it up to your face. See how long you can comfortably hold that. That will be your answer. And if money is tight, get the nifty fifty the 1.8. Frankly I like the bokeh on it better than the 1.4, but the extra light was worth it for me to get eventually, but the 1.8 did the trick for the start of my wedding career.
    As for a flash, don't go with non-name brand flashes. They tend to be very under powered and unreliable. Get yourself tow 580 EXIIs if you can still find them, and a bunch of rechargeable batteries. Many 580exiis are on sale as they are no longer in production, but they are still AMAZING flashes.
  14. I will be getting a 1.8 50mm, whatever happens, had one before and they are good :), the 2.8 is 70-200mm is on its way, I
    still think I need to pump the arms up abit, so the dumb bells are out LOL, I do believe I need to give the lens a chance,
    the 70-200mm f4 is did not impress me loads in terms of bokeh and handling low light well.

    So with the 50mm and the 85mm 1.8 do you think I would have the essentials covered? Do you use your wide lens at
    weddings much Vail?

    The 135mm f2 is certainly impressive and possibly something I will look into in the future, if this 2.8 is doesn't sit we'll,
    then the 135mm is a must.

    Thanks guys much appreciated.
  15. So with the 50mm and the 85mm 1.8 do you think I would have the essentials covered? [Louise Smiles]​
    Yes. You would just have to use your legs to get the framing right. With the 50/1.8, avoid using Auto ISO. The camera (at least my 6D) will choose the slowest shutter speed hovering around 1/50 s in most low light situations. Change the ISO setting off of Auto and manually set to a higher ISO where the shutter speed is at least 1/100s. I need to hold absolutely still to get a sharp image at f/1.8.
    Just an off topic footnote: The 6D has the lowest Light Value in the history of Canon DSLR's. The 50/1.8 I will lock focus in a moonlit room as long as you focus on a contrasty focal point. So, if you plan to move to the 6D, you can shoot with confidence with the 50/1.8 I or II in a dim church or banquet hall.
  16. Would love to upgrade to the 6D but funds don't allow me to do that, I have a Canon 5d and 5d mk ii.
    Received the 70-200mm f2.8 IS yesterday, by god it is heavy lol, but I think for them church shots I need it, it's certainly a lens and a half! I wouldn't have got one without IS. The canon 5d mk ii performs great in low light so I will attach it to the that camera. Any recommendations on settings at a wedding? auto ISO? Everything moves so fast and sometimes I just flip to Manual most of the time but maybe There is a better way?
    Thanks :)
  17. auto ISO? [Louise Smiles]​
    Try shooting at the 70, 100 and 200 mm focal lengths with the 2 stop IS activated at Auto ISO. Zoom in on the image on your DSLR's LCD and check for camera movement. Normally, the DSLR will pick the lowest ISO usable for the scene. If there is a repeated pattern of camera movement, set the ISO manually to a higher ISO setting and continue with setting the ISO to suit.
  18. If you can live with f2.8, there is the new 40mm f2.8 pancake lens that weighs 130 gram, costs $150 and gets excellent reviews. The 50mm f1.4 reviews are not quite as good, it weighs 290 grams and costs $340. I believe the 40mm would be a better focal length than the 50mm at a wedding, wouldn't it? Not that it differs that much...
    Flickr group
    Edit: Here is also the 50mm f1.8 II review
  19. I think auto ISO is bad on any canon camera. 5d2 only goes up to ISO400 in auto mode and doesn't pick it intelligently. And even the 5d3 doesn't have exposure compensation for auto ISO (which is a really important thing).
    I shoot getting ready and ceremonies with all available light 98% of the time and receptions with off camera flash and on camera fill 95% of the time. The only time I don't use off-camera light for receptions is when there's plenty of ambient (e.g. daytime reception). I shoot manual mode 98% and aperture priority 2%. I don't like some computer to think for me and get it wrong all the time just because the foreground is darker than the background, etc...
    I would find a 40mm f/2.8 prime lens worthless as a prime lens because it doesn't offer ANYTHING a zoom can't do except small size. That lens is designed for a few specific things and the main one of them is videography. 50 f/1.8 is dirt cheap, 50 f/1.4 is still cheap...I would buy another 50 f/1.8 before I got a 50 f/1.4 again after experience with both. However, the only 50 whose IQ and overall function I was ever that happy with was 50L. But it's a weird focal length, not long and not wide...so I don't use it often. I use 35 and 85 for almost everything.
    With my mainstays 35 and 85, I have more access to available light and dof control than if I used zooms regularly. I find the aesthetics desirable and the available light flexibility invaluable. with the exceptions of the width of 16mm (environmental or dress photos) and 200 2.8, the images I get from zooms are generally (not always) not as pleasing to my own eye as the ones I shoot with primes at wider apertures. However, for me 200 2.8 with IS is absolutely necessary for church ceremonies and the only reason I still own a 70-200 lens at all.
    I owned the 85 f/1.8 and it is very good in most aspects (sharpness, bokeh, focus speed/accuracy), but it has huge purple fringing wide open and handles flare worse than any other lens I can remember. I owned two 24-70L lenses, the first was very bad IQ until it went back to Canon 4 times, and the other was great from the start...but I still sold both for the apertures of 35 and 85 primes. Of all the lenses I have used, the only one whose IQ really made me go "wow" when first trying it was the 135L. Color, contrast, background blur, minimum focus distance (and autofocus to some extent) all are great, though flare is pretty bad (about as bad as 70-200 f/2.8 IS v.1). However, it almost never gets used anymore because it lacks IS and/or a faster aperture (meaning I have to keep shutter speeds above 1/140 at all times AND at a fastest aperture of f/2). Basically, the 70-200 is good for almost everything the 135 is good for, and better for many other things...because of the IS and zoom. If the 135 had IS, I would probably use it MUCH more.
    I think 24-105 f/4 is too slow to give much flexibility for lighting (forces flash under many conditions). I find that 24-105 wedding photos have a very consistent appearance that I do not prefer (related to f/4 minimum aperture). But, again...personal preference. And, contrary to someone else's opinion, I think a pair of primes can catch most of the moments zooms can, and in darker places than the zooms, and with better isolation of the key subject. I didn't find that the Canon 50 f/1.4 did a very good job with background blur, and it has a trait of strong halation (leading to contrast loss) up until towards f/2.8. Of course the 50 f/1.8 also doesn't have great background blur and the overall contrast is faded looking until you stop down (not from halation necessarily), but it's dirt cheap...
    But then again, I know a wedding photographer who is fairly expensive and very good who uses a 50 f/1.8 or 50 f/1.4 (depending on whether the f/1.4 broke recently) for a fair number of photos during weddings. She also uses 24-70 a lot, and again, produces nice images. Personal preference and appreciation for what the equipment offers makes a big difference, and so does skill.
    I'm a proponent of the benefits of fast apertures for various reasons practical and aesthetic. But they do take up more space than zooms (besides 70-200) since you need multiple primes for the focal range of one zoom. And you need either more cameras or more lens swapping. It's a trade-off.
    I'm also a proponent of making photos stand out when compared to those of the guests with dSLRs at almost every wedding...and the ways I know to do that are 1. aperture-related narrow depth of field, lots of ambient light gathering, and/or absence of flash use where others might need flash, 2. Skill with off-camera lighting as needed or for effect, and 3. compositional skill with use of environment, posing, lighting, framing, etc...Personally, since I lack much skill in the third (and most important) field, I need the other two. It's pretty amazing how much the first two can compensate for some (not complete) deficiency in compositional skill.
    Do you have the compositional skill to make your 24-105 images stand out from the dSLR guest photos? It would be difficult indoors, I should think...and standing out is part of business. That's one of the reasons why tilt-shift has become a strong presence in wedding photography too.
  20. Joey , hi thanks for the essay, lol. I also had an issue with image quality with the 24-70mm hence why I went or the 24-
    105mm, I consider myself to have good compositional skills with any lens as I studied photographic art with theory and
    technicality for 5 years, I've never had bad images from the lens at f4 and kne it's limitations, it would be on the 5D mk ii
    camera instead of the mk I, the mark ii can really deliver in rubbish lighting compared to the 5D mk ii. I use flash if I need
    too, i like to bounce it off the ceiling but not direct... Ever! I have a bowens 500w kit which I'm now contemplating
    swapping for a one light with battery pack for weddings. Something I need to think about.

    I'm getting the 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8 tomorrow which will complete my kit. I'd like to think I could once again replace
    my 24-105mm with the 24-70 but I never really got great quality from the lens, always seemed blurred...I tried everything
    but dent try it on a mk ii...maybe it had the commen focus issue.

    Thanks guys

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