more bang for my buck

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ssg pete, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. So i have been researching and can't find anything that makes me happy. First i look for a 70-200mm f/2.8 lense and they are way too expenxive and i really can't tell the difference in the plethora of choices. Then i look for 17-35mm ones and once again i cant make a choice. Is what i'm trying to get to here is that i need some help with finding my long lost lense that i so desperately need for a wedding shoot. I was asked by a friend to shoot his wedding and i said ok, for a case of beer and free food. I'm not a working photographer only an aspiring ameteur but i will do any favor for a good friend. I own a Nikon D90 and it came with the standard lense. So back to my dilema. I am looking for the best lenses for a wedding at the cheapest prices. I would love links but if someone could break down the whole technical garble i would really appreciate it. I'm a simple guy that kind of needs the visual aspect of learning rather than the reading kind.
  2. Cheap and good? => rent.
    Rent a 17-55 AFS f2.8, a 50mm f1.4 AFD and a 70-200 AFS VR f2.8; all Nikon.
    Add a SB800 or SB900 and you are all set.
    (Did I mention practice a lot before the fact?
    Read at least 300 threads in Wedding and Event Photography . You are in risky terrain^^)
  3. Good and cheap are mutually exclusive. And there is also a rul you pay double for small improvements. Third party cheaply made lenses are not the answer either.
  4. here's a simple piece of advice: disappoint your friend before the wedding by politely declining to be the wedding photographer -- not after the wedding, when he sees your work. there's no shame is saying you're not ready; that comes when you're too proud to say no.
  5. IMHO Tokina 50-135/2.8. Not cheap just not too expensive.
  6. SCL


    Remind your friend and yourself that you're inexperienced in this area. If the kit lens won't do it for you, suggest to your friend he hire a professional who already has the appropriate gear and experience to produce memorable photos. There is no need to feel bad about this, you wouldn't perform surgery just because you got a new knife, would you?
  7. I shot a wedding for a friend once, and I'll never do it again. Their expectations were higher than my technique could allow! I wasn't satisfied with the results at all and it strained our friendship. When another friend was getting married, I told him to hire a good wedding photographer. He ended up hiring a friend who was an enthusiast, and I came as a guest with a brand new Nikon D70 and 18-70mm zoom to shoot photos as a guest. While his friend did shoot some good portraits, I shot much better candids during the ceremony and cake cutting. In fact the brides favorite photo from the wedding was one I took which is in a frame on her bedside table!
    So tell you friend to hire a pro and go as a guest and take candids. You'll have a better time and probably get some great shots you can give to them for free.
  8. I think Dave Lee has your answer. Use what you have and shoot as a guest. Let a pro handle the wedding shots.
  9. I can tell you the best way to ruin a friendship. Shoot your friends wedding.
    Dave is right, do NOT do this.
  10. Do your friend the biggest favor you've ever done and tell him to get someone to shoot the wedding who knows how to shoot weddings. Owning a decent camera and lens doesn't cut it. Weddings are one of the most difficult assignments a photographer can shoot. You're working without a do-overs. Get someone who knows what they're doing.
  11. I was pressured into shooting a wedding once. I used a borrowed camera, a prime lens, and a Vivitar flash. Everyone was happy with the results because they exceeded the expectations. I would say that your kit lens is adequate. You might add a 50mm f1.8 and upgrade your flash.
  12. Pete, save a friendship — decline the offer to be the primary photographer. Perhaps you could offer to shoot candids, as a second shooter.
  13. I own a D300, SB-800 flash, four White Lightning X3200 monolights, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR, Gitzo 1325cf tripod, and a ton of other stuff. I take photos almost daily (have sold to magazines & calendar companies) and have a solid year's experience with complicated multi-flash set ups, plus about 13+ years of intense photo experience. I don't photo friends' weddings. I don't have the experience in organizing such a complicated assignment. I don't have the needed Photoshop skills to really make the shots look professional and print them either. I also know that if I were to screw up, it would really strain the friendship.
    Kent in SD
  14. Kent, dont forget experience shooting tons of moving metal that comes by just once in the snow and darkness .
  15. Look around for a used 17-55/2.8 Nikkor. The value of that fine lens is falling like a rock. There are several posted around here at $800-850, and nobody is interested. I bet that lens can be had for $700 if you have just a bit of diligence.
  16. I like to use the Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VR for weddings. It's not too sharp for close ups of people who don't ordinarily like tack sharp photos of themselves. Also, the focal range is unbeatable for events like weddings.
    I usually reluctantly shoot friends or relatives weddings only with the caveat that a professional photographer is hired as well, (similar to Dave's suggestion). I was professional photographer, but never a wedding photographer. However, some people don't normally understand the distinction and are hurt and confused if you turn them down.
    This strategy frees me up to drink champagne without remorse at the reception, and gives me the opportunity, after a few glasses, to experiment with the Digital Vari-Programs. :)
  17. >> "I like to use the Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VR for weddings."
    In that case, the wedding either has to be outside under good natural lighting, or done with ultra high ISO and/or with a extensive lighting/flash set-up.
    As far as suggestions goes, something fast should always work. One of the 3rd party f/2.8 normal zooms would be ideal. Primes like the 50 f/1.8 would also work, though with primes, you might run into problems with composition.
    Of course, the best suggestion of them all is to avoid doing the wedding altogether.
  18. I have taken shots at paintball tournys and multiple outdoors shot and have sold some to private business's. I am currently in afghanistan as a participant in the war, i.e. Im a soldier, and have taken multipile shots here but I can't post them due to opsec. I do have the basic D90 kit with an SB800 and 18-135mm VR lense and the ceremony isnt a big hoopla event. It's family and friends with low expectations. In other words they can't afford a professional so they were either going to take pics with a point and shoot $5 gas store cam or they have me. I just want to make the best of a "trial run" opportunity and really just wanna buy 2 more lenses to help accent my camera lense selection for over all pic taking. I understand that these pics won't be professional work due to my inexperiance but I do have photoshop, the tripod and the drive to make this work for both parties. I really appreciate this forum having "my back" on which lenses to use and other alternatives.
  19. I think you'll be OK if you really make sure that the bride/groom understand your exact skill level. Under-promise, over-deliver.
    If you can get to the venue ahead of time and practice, do this.
    Do a few test shots on the groom/bride ahead of time and show them your work so they'll know exactly what to expect. Post a few here for critique.
  20. Don't listen to the endless drivel saying that you should "not do it", "save the friendship" etc. I don't know what type of friends these people have had which end in disaster, but I have photographed a few weddings for friends, as a newbie, and our friendship is as strong as ever. Its probably a friendship not worth having if you made your abilities clear up front and after the fact hey hated you for messing up their photographs. My photographing their weddings certainly did not cause any issues at all. I did a good job, but I also set the level of expectation accordingly. This is very important and communication in this regard is key. Make sure you tell them you have NO experience and to expect snapshot level of photography, but you will try to surpass that level without any guarantees.
    Another point to the legion of naysayers - we are in a credit crunch. Fact. People have less money. Photography is an area which can in fact be done for free at a wedding by asking a friend. Food, dresses, suits, flowers, cars generally need to be paid for. Many people do not have money for a photographer these days. I did a wedding for free way back for a couple who simply wouldn't have had a photographer were it not for me as they had no money. Turns out they were a very good looking couple and nice and easy to work with. Good for me, good for them.
    As for lenses. The 70-200mm lenses are distingiushed by maximum aperture (F4 vs F2.8) and image stabilisation (IS) or not. IS can give you up to a 3 stop advantage (i.e. reduce shutter speed by a 3 increments/settings). This is good for stationary subjects in low light. If they are moving you will get blur. The maximum aperture of F2.8 allows twice as much light into the camera compared to an F4 lens (4/(sqrt(2))=2.8) - this helps freeze motion by allowing a faster shutter speed. So its clear that a 70-200mm F4 (no IS) will be the cheapest, and the 70-200mm F2.8 IS will cost more than twice as much.
    I am not very familiar with Nikon lenses, but I would suggest getting something in the 28ish to 85ish mm range with as wide a max aperture as you can find. I have the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 lens, Canon fit but you can get the Nikon fit, and it is fantastic. This would do the job quite well except maybe at the wide end you would struggle to fit a large group in without standing back a wee bit.
    Lastly, forget internal camera flash, especially with a slow (high max F number lens) as your shots will look like you shot them in a cave. You really must beg or borrow or buy an external flashgun which slots onto your camera's hotshoe (and buy a Gary Fong clear lightsphere if you can afford it.....).
    All the best.
  21. I have done in the past, mainly for friends that were marrying in shortage of money. All the times it was my gift to them, it was either my pictures or nothing, because they could not afford paying a pro. I see no issue, as long as you set clear expectations, i.e. I always did my best but made clear from the beginning that my best could not be the standard of somebody doing it for a living and shooting a couple of weddings every week. Once the expectations are set and you are not perceived as "a zero cost pro", there is no risk of damaging a friendship. As additional precaution, I handled a second body and lens to a friend of mine at the critical moments, just to have somebody saving my day if my flash decided to quit or the camera was in the need of a reset when the couple was coming out of the church.
  22. Shuo,
    I always use my SB-800 and and whenever possible adjust the balance fill just minimally to fill facial shadows to make my images look almost like they were shot with available light. It's not hard. More technique? Sometimes I bounce the flash off of ceilings, walls, people, and sometimes I use the Nikon diffusion dome, or even a business envelope elastic-banded to the flash. Works great BTW.
    It's true, I unabashedly boost ISO when necessary, but use noise reduction in camera and/or in iPhoto post processing. I've never produced less than a majority wedding photos that I know are professionally acceptable and would sell if I were in that business.
    People will disagree with me, but in my experience, most people are not interested in their skin pores being graphically portrayed for posterity, except in character portraiture head shots.
    The Nikon 18-200mm f3.5- 5.6 is the perfect wedding lens, in my opinion. Utilized at wide apertures, it has an intrinsic, though subtle, Zeiss Softar effect.
  23. pete - I'd suggest that the bride and groom purchase some disposable film cameras and place them on each table during the reception. That way they'll get a lot of candids - perhaps a few will be quite good. And you won't be the only shooter.

    As for inexpensive lenses:

    35/2 AF is a nice normal lens on the D90. Usefulf for group shots. Good in low light. About $300.

    The 50/1.8 AF-D is excellent in low light, and it's only $100. Nice focal length for portraits on DX.

    The 24-85 AF-S is a sleeper, but it's discontinued. Really a very decent lens. But you have to look for a used one. Cost is about $200. Not great for low light, so you'll need flash.

    The 85/1.8 AF is excellent at about $300. Good for portraits.

    Tye 80-200/2.8 ED is very sharp. The older design is a one touch that will set you back about $500 used. The newer two-ring design is more like $800. You probably can get by without a longer lenses if you use your feet.

    Most important of all is flash. Read the following link carefully and practice a lot.

    Good luck!
  24. Thank you guys for all your help. All of your support and advice will make me that much better and the fact that I will make sure the bar is set will guarantee that my friendship is intact, according to a few ppl. The last comment from Robert is exactly what i was looking for. I am not on a budget but I am however an ameteur and really dont need all those big boy lenses that cost a small fortune, if ya know what I
    From the crowd in here I would like to ask what 3 lenses they would buy for themselves that would fit an all around shot. I am thinking mainly of outdoors, flowers and a few portrait shots and on occasion formals, if the op arises, and my current wedding situation. I myself like the 80-200mm/3.5 because its cheaper, but is the telephoto or wide/tele better. The 24-135mm that it came with is a great lense and i like it for random pic taking. I am looking for a good wide angle or zoom combination so suggestions will help. I know i am a beginner with no possible way to take classes on this, due to my current situation and location, but the tutorials here are just what i needed. Thanx all!
  25. I recently upgraded my account and uploaded some of my work. Please stop by na dtake a look and critique them to help better my technique and me as a photographer. thanx
  26. Walter Schroeder has it perfectly stated. i believe that's the way to go given your situation. good luck.
  27. seriously, on a free job i would not drop alot of cash into the project.
    if you were my bro i tell you to shoot the job off Olympus Epic, buy two of them. load one with portra 160nc and the other with portra 400nc and rip away. best -- p.
  28. If you are alone, flexibility must go over absolute quality, i.e. a 18-135 lens will allow to shoot without loosing valuable images because you have to change the lens. I covered the marriage of a friend with a film camera and a 28-200 zoom. The quality was good enough for the album enlargements. And for the few shots that they eventually wanted to enlarge and frame in the house, I used a 50 mm 1.8 and a 35 mm 2.0. All with a F90X and with a friend back-covering the critical shots (one over all, the couple exiting from the church) with another F90X and a 28-105 mm zoom.
  29. If you do it your self I would rent and take 24-70 2.8 with SB800 second camera with 70-200 2.8 with SB800 then I wild take a 50mm 1.2 and an 85 1.2. A monopod. You will need two cameras as you will not have time to change lenses. It depends on inside outside and available light. If you buy and can only afford one lens choose a prime. 50mm 1.4 or 85 1.8 this will add to your present lens for the cheapest possible price.
  30. Don't overdo it with new gear. It's really important that you already know the gear on the day of the shoot. Otherwise you'll waste time trying to get the flash in the right mode. Or you'll end up with fill flash and won't freeze motion.
    I trust Bjorn Rorslett's advice on lenses:

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