Longer Lens for Theatre

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by allan_jacks, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. I recently purchased a 5d and have been replacing my old lenses from my XT.
    The lenses that I currently have for the 5d is a 50 1.8 and 24-105 f4 IS
    Every year I get asked to photograph a drama production from the seats and with the XT I used a Sigma 70-300 which with the stage lights, did a reasonable job. I would not use the 5d with this lens and am looking at purchases one of the following.
    I am looking at the 70-200 f4 IS or 100-400 4.5.
    The 100-400 with Full Frame would be close to the 70-300 crop body in length and give me a similar reach.
    Does anyone have any recommendations or other suggestions.
    I know the 70-200 f4 IS is a wonderful lens, but it may be a little short.
  2. I would not use the 5d with this lens​
    Not good enough for it? It wouldn't pollute the 5D body, you know. However, it will no longer have the "crop-body" increase of effective focal length.
    If you used the 300mm on the APS-C camera at all, going to the 70-200mm is altogether the wrong direction. Even the 100-400mm wouldn't give the full reach of a 300mm on the smaller sensor.
    If you kept the XT, I'd just use it and the Sigma. Otherwise, short of getting a EF 500mm f/4, you're going to lose 'reach' here. Of course there's always the Bigma, the Sigma 50-500mm. Of course, you run some risk of being taken out by helicopter-mounted contractors and they might not let you into the theater. ;)
  3. I would think about the 70 - 200 (preferably f/2.8) with a 1.4x Extender as another good bet.
    I shoot live stage music a bit and would feel seriously compromised if I was getting to have to shoot at f/5.6 . Starting at f/4.5, the 100-400 goes to f/5 around 130mm and then to f/5.6 at approximately 250mm.
    This annual drama production really well lit all the time? And how far is your seating from the action? And also you can crop your final output too to emulate that 'reach' you want.
  4. JDM Ok I would use it, but am looking for something to replace it with. I had thought of the 1.4 extender with the 70-200 f5.6. But thought if the sigma was good enough with 5.6 at 300 then the f4 IS with 1.4 would be equal. I was thinking the f2 is a little out of my price range as I was looking at the IS. I am in the first four rows. I don't want to use it strictly for this but want to be sure what I do purchase will be able to fulfill this role. I guess I could continue to use the XT with the Sigma.
  5. It depends on where you sit and the lighting in the theatre. If you are siiting in the nosebleed section your best bet would probably be a highly visible, highly bulky and highly annoying contraption called the 300mm f2.8. If you are sitting somewhere around the mid level seats you might be fine with the 100-400. Anywhere closer, a 70-200 IS f2.8 might just do the job.
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It depends on where you sit​
    Always good to read the posts:
    I am in the first four rows.​
  7. I do a couple of these productions a year which translates into only about 12 nights per year but that's an awful lot of shots.
    First four rows and you are thinking the 100-400? Wow, how much distance is there from your seats to the start of the stage and then how far back are the actors on the stage and do you want closeups or full body shots - how many actors do you want in each shot?
    Depending on your answers to these questions, the 85 f/1.8 may be a good choice, the 70-200 f/2.8 (with or without IS - assuming a monopod) would be a better choice than either 70-200 f/4 and definitely better than my trusty 24-105 f/4 which I have had not great success with in dimly lit stage work.
    Can you not take the shots at rehearsals with flash and open up all kinds of lens possibilities?
    Despite the obvious limitations of the f/4 and slower lenses, I have actually done OK with the slow 100-400 L. Use it for the still scenes and use a monopod. Keep the IS on.
    Maybe rent the 135 f/2 L. Might capture some full body shots if even in the 4th row you are still quite far from the actors.
    If you still have the XT, though it may not handle the 1600ISO you'll probably be using, it will serve to bump all the lenses by 1.6 (sort of) but personally I'd stick with the 5D for the low light work.
  8. You are in the best postion to judge what focal length you need but how about the Canon 200 f2.8 L as a small, relatively cheap, stealthy alternative to the 70-200 zooms.
  9. I shoot a lot of theater with a 5D from about 50 feet from the stage; I use a 70-200/2.8 and it works very well. To get the whole stage I have to stitch two shots at 70mm, but that's usually not too much trouble. 200mm isn't really enough telephoto, but the f/2.8 is a must and there aren't a lot of zooms that pass 200mm with that aperture.
    Occasionally I shoot from the front row, and then I typically use a 24/1.4 or a 24-105/4. I'm not sure how you would get good use of a 100-400 that close to the stage. And it would be a tough lens to use in the theater light I work with.
    Do you have access to dress rehearsals? That would be an excellent chance to test different lenses and shooting positions.
  10. Thanks for the responses. The only reason I was thinking of the 100-400 is that it is comparable to the 70-300 on the
    crop body and which allowed good close facial effects. I do get to do dress rehearsal but they also like them on the
    night. I think I may go with renting the 70-200 2.8 so I can judge the weight over the 2 hours.
  11. 24-105 will be useful although maybe a little slow - it depends on light level and degree of subject movement. 85/1.8, 100/2, 135/2 would be good depending how close you want to get. A 70-200 f2.8 would work too. IS would be nice, but again not so useful if you have subject movement. I assume drama means "plays" in which case the 70-400/4 would probably work although this would be very marginal for dance. I use the 24-70, 85/1.8 (rarely), 135/2 and 200/2.8, but concede that a 70-200mm f2.8 with IS would be easier, but since I have a 70-200/4IS I'm not getting two zoom lenses for this range. In the past I have used the 135mm with the 1.4X extender too which works nicely. Nothing beats the 135/2 for dance in my opinion. Personally I think that you really need f2.8 for most stage lighting unless you are happy going to ISO6400
  12. For shooting performances, you might also look into a camera muzzle to reduce the noise. It doesn't eliminate it, but it does reduce it significantly.
    The 70-200/2.8 is pretty much the same weight as a 100-400. For either one a monopod will help a lot.
  13. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “I guess I could continue to use the XT with the Sigma.”
    Well I think there is a lot of merit in this logic and thinking that way for a moment will allow you to consider your ENTIRE kit rather than thinking about replacing “this for that”
    Implied in your comments, you are keeping the XT and also have a 5D MkII, therefore you have a dual format kit.
    One can leverage a dual format kit regarding the FoV advantage you gain, with fewer lenses.
    I think you renting the 70 to 200F/2.8 is a good idea – but I think a better idea is for you to look at all the kit you have and how it now might work with dual format bodies.
    There are many threads on dual format kits and I have been verbose on most – Dual Format DSLR thinking, (APS-C and 135) predicated our cut over from film to Digital.
  14. Allan:
    BTW, I see you are new to this board. Just wanted to let you know that when you see names like WW, Jeff Spirer, Harry, JDM and the others who responded to your question, you need to know you are getting excellent advice from people who have been at it a long time (alot longer than me!) so pick their brains more if you need further suggestions. They have helped me in the past even when I was not the one asking the question.
  15. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Having said that, I do shoot a lot of theatre and I prefer Primes. I think that Aperture (large) is the major criterion.
    Four rows from the front I would like a 135/2 and I would probably crop in PP if "Tighter" was needed. I’d also take a 24/1.4 and 50/1.4 (and the two bodies) that gives a spread of approx: 24 / 35 / 50 / 85 / 135 / 190 and the slowest being F/2.
    Being at the dress rehearsal (as you merntion) provides knowledge of lens changes, which I mark on my copy of the script - any severe lighting changes, I note also.
    The x1.4MkII in my pocket if I really needed the extra.
    I own a 70 to 200/2.8 - but don't like it for theatre much, as it is white.
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “pick their brains more if you need further suggestions."​
    Wait for a few minutes though - it’s 0700 here I am running on only one coffee.
    Thanks for the compliment, Jeff.
  17. Jeff,
    Thanks for the feedback on the users you mentioned and thanks for the feedback from all.
    I am going to take a look at the information on Dual Format DSLR as it really does add to the possibilities to have a complete kit and I have to say that the XT is not at all a bad camera and the Sigma did well in the last 3 years. BTW it is a 5D rather than a 5D II.
  18. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "BTW it is a 5D rather than a 5D II"​

    Misread on my behalf, sorry.
  19. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

  20. Remember, if you crop a 5D MkII image to the same size as the same image taken with a 1.6-crop factor sensor on the 7D, the IQ is roughly the same. Compared to your old Rebel's image, the cropped 5D2 image will be clearly superior. The 5D2's high-ISO performance will blow the Rebel into the weeds, which is important if you decide to go with an f/4 zoom.
    I vote for the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS, with and without the 1.4x TC. It's a super duper lens that'll really do your 5D2 justice. Spring for the 2.8 if money's burning a hole in your pocket and you can stand the extra bulk and weight. Still, the 5D2's performance at ISO 3200 is so stunning that I doubt you'll miss the 2.8.

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