Mid-Range lens Dilemma

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by waynecrider, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I've been shooting a monthly band contest, (in a dark club), using a AF 70-210 F4-5.6 Nikon lens on a N80 body about 75% of the time and it's just not doing it. Sharpness is not where I want it. (I also have a Minolta AF and Canon FD bodies that I can use.) I think part of my problem is that I'm playing the long end more then I should, but the zoom is nice as I can stand in one place and not have to move. This last date I checked various focal lengths when framing to see what may be a prime lens consideration and 135mm seems about right. I could probably go with a 105 to 135mm lens and I'd be ok. Problem is, is that if I stay in Nikon the AF105 is too expensive and I don't know about the 135 selections and their sharpness. Additionally anything other then AF on the N80 results in no metering with the body so no TTL/Flash TTL. The Minolta (Maxxum 70) and Canon (A1) bodies would work, but it might necessitate buying a better flash.
    Since my shoot is more for fun then money making (now), I'm thinking maybe about a better performing 3rd party lens for either the Nikon or Minolta. My budget is $200 and under and I'd appreciate your thoughts.
     
  2. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    No surprise that combo isn't working well for you. Being stuck at f/4 in a dark club is already a slow death, so being stuck at f/5.6 is twice as dead.

    I think your analysis of your situation is fairly inaccurate in that there's no really good moderate length fast tele at a reasonable price that's going to get you metering support on your N80. Is not feasible to get yourself closer? Most band photographers seem to favor a fast 35mm f2 or f2.8 to shoot the performance from closer in. You could moderate and go with a very affordable 50mm f1.8, which is only around $130 new and less used.
     
  3. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Could some of your sharpness problems be due to camera shake? If so, have you thought about a faster lens?
    What about the Nikon Nikkor AF 80-200mm f2.8 ED?
     
  4. Hamster

    Hamster Member

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    If you have a monopod, Vivitar 135mm f2.3 or One of the OEM (soligor I think) 135mm f1.8.
     
  5. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    Taking a quick look around the KEH web site it looks like switching to Canon may be your best bet. There are some fast (f2.8 or better) mid-range (85-135) manual focus Canon lenses in your price range. You really want the 85/1.8 AF Nikkor but that's just not going to happen on your budget.
     
  6. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    If you can find an 85mm f1.8 you'll like it. mine is an AF but use it on my F3 its a good sharp lens but large and heavy.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I would look into manual focus lenses, even if you lose some things. It will save you some money, therefore will let you get a better lens with your budget. IMO, a meter will do you more harm than good in this situation. TTL flash metering is also a fairly useless thing in this situation, IMO. You don't need (or want) either of those things, IMO. Like I said, "in my opinion". I don't use flash for these sorts of pix. I'd look at 85mm f/1.8s and 105mm f/2.5s for sure. They are good bang-for-your-buck lenses.

    If you feel like AIing it, I just acquired a Vivitar Auto 135mm f/2.8 that I will never use, for pre-AI Nikons. (I already have a Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 that I love to death.) You can have it cheap, if you will actually use it.
     
  8. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Ok, thanks, and to answer some of your suggestions, I unfortunately can't get any closer to the stage as we video this competition. Secondly, I've got the 50F1.8 and it's a wide shot; I need full frame individual shots. Third, I don't want another zoom, especially one out of my budget, and the 85mm is too short. Ok, so that leaves the Hamsters rec's and 2F/s. Btw, the Nikon flash TTL is spot on and I mean spot on. Maybe I'll see if I can check the Vivitar out on Photosig. I hate to buy lenses just to try them. Thats why a drawer is filling up. :wink:
     
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Zoom schmoom. Get a Nikon 105/1.8 manual AIS. Super lens, very nice for low light work. Sometimes I see them go for somewhere around your budget. KEH has a BGN one right now for under $400. N.b. if you trade in one lens for another, I think they will give you a discount.

    P.S. in low light I almost always manually focus. I do this with a 50/1.2, a 105/1.8, a 180/2.8, and an adapted mamiya 200/2.8.
     
  10. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    You say 'sharpness is not where I want it' - is this because the AF can't focus in the dim light, there is camera shake (though you seem to be using flash), the lens just isn't sharp enough shooting wide-open, or the AF gets distracted by reflections from mike stands and the like?
     
  11. Steve Bellayr

    Steve Bellayr Member

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    Get a fast 50mm. F1.4 is great. Use Tri-X, ISO 400. Try Neopan 1600 ISO (B&W). Remember the old adage: Get as close as you feel comfortable then get closer! Put a soft release on the shutter button.
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    How are you judging your ttl flash exposures? Are you examining your film and making your own contact sheets at a preset know-proper exposure so you can see for sure, or are you judging based off of automated prints from C-41 negatives? No matter how spot one thinks a ttl flash metering system is (and any in-camera reflected meter never is), why is it that you want to shoot with flash? Is that what the client wants?

    If you do want to shoot with flash, the lens search is rendered pretty pointless. You don't need a good (or fast) lens, and I can't see why what you have does not work for you. Even a doggy and slow Nikon zoom should be plenty sharp and plenty fast if you are using flash. If you are using flash, it sounds like technique, not equipment is causing your problems.
     
  13. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I manually focus much of the time. When I do use the AF it is surprisingly good which is a testament to the engineering of Nikon, and a Speedlight, but the AF is slower with the zoom compared to my 50mm or 35mm of course.

    In thinking about it more, it just must be that I'm not considering the fact that the larger apertures are always softer on the zooms, and in review, many of the primes as well. I was hoping that someone might have more experience when shooting wider open and can suggest a 3rd party lens they have found somewhat better for the circumstances. I think tho that I'm going to need to find an F2 or 2.8 lens and stop it down a little and spend a little more if need be.

    2F.. With the flash, and I'm sure you can concur, technique is always better then without. I use the flash because with 400iso film the shutter speeds are too slow. I think tho that I'm going to have to comp the flash down a little as backgrounds are opening up and I want them darker. It's learn and experiment for new subject matter.

    Keith the 105ais would probably be the perfect lens. Now to finance it. :wink:
     
  14. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    2.8 is actually quite challenging for lowish light. Doable but not exactly fun. Mind you, I am allergic to flash, I have to get the shot with ambient light or I won't even try. If you are willing to flash then fine, go with 2.8.

    It is well worth the cost. The extra speed opens up entirely new possibilities. N.b. also, at typical stage distances, the DOF wide open is bigger than you might think.
     
  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    For years I photographed rock concerts with a Vivita Series 1 70-210 f2.8/4, plus an f1.4 50mm and an f2.8 28mm, my B&W film of choice was XP1 then XP2 from the moment they were released, usually push processed to 800 or 1600 EI. I'd guess with the 70-210 i many shot around the 70-105 mark and maybe a few closer to 135 but very rarely at the full telephoto 210

    These days I shoot with a superb Tamron SP 35-70 f2.8 it's Autofocus works perfectly even in smaller venues, but I also use a manual focus f2.5 135mm Tamron SP which sell for quite low prices.

    Unfortunately the specialist Push process E6 films* I used were the first films to be discontinued so I rarely shoot film at concerts, all my work tends to be commercial anyway & they want electronic format the next day. I always did my own C41 & E6 to keep full control of the push processing

    However there are still good colour negative films like the Fuji 800's and if I was shooting film I'd still use XP-2 for B&W and the Fuji 800 for colour.

    f2.8-f4 should be easy to handle with reasonable shutter speeds, it's better to push slightly more and have sharpness. Flash just kills all spntaneity and gives lifeless images.

    * Kodak Ektachrome. P800/P1600 Professional, and Fujichrome 1600.

    Ian
     
  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Ian, if you haven't already, you might try provia 400x... from 400-1600 and beyond. Behold.
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I'll give a roll a try, but my major problem is the volume of images I usually have to supplywhen I'm working, it's not unknown for me to shoot at two different venues in the same evening, or have to shot 10-15 bands in a day !!!!

    But occasionally I just photograph friends bands for fun so on the next opportunity I'll give a roll a test.

    Ian
     
  18. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I have that lens, and I agree with every word. It's a super sharp, very fast lens.
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    (emphasis added)

    I do not know what that means.
     
  20. elekm

    elekm Member

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    My question was going to be this: Are they out of focus? Or are they blurred from movement.

    You probably should try to find a used 135mm or 180mm lens. That might give you enough speed to combine with a fast film to get sharp photos.

    Club lighting is tough. One time I shot inside a dim club with a medium format 6x9 folder with an f/4.5 lens. I think the fast speed that I could get was 1/10 of a second. I'm sure the other patrons thought I was nuts.
     
  21. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Naw their just soft. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The flash freezes the movements, plus the performers don't really move alot per se', small stage and all.

    So I think I've got this about figured out, and I appreciate all the responses. Y'all brought up some good points and it made consider other choices that I hadn't thought about. thanks
     
  22. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    The Ukrainians make a Jupiter 85mm 2.0 lens which is pretty sharp wide open. It is 42mm and may be mounted on Nikon and Canon with an adapter. I used one with a Nikon adapter.
     
  23. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    +1 on the 135mm f/1.8.

    It is a generic lens made back during the 70s, seen in a variety of brand names, including Soligor, 5-Star, Samigon, Spiratone, and others.

    I've used a couple of these. They're kinda soft wide open, which is to be expected, I suppose, but considering their speed, not bad at all.

    I used to see these lenses all the time, back in the late 80s and early 90s. Don't see 'em so much anymore. Just took a look on U.S. eBay, and not a one was listed. Still, if you run across one, chances are it will be within, or close to, your budget.

    -- Edit --

    I just found one on eBay. The guy's crazy, but at least he has some pics there so you know what it looks like. If you go to flickr.com and search on "spiratone 135mm f/1.8" you'll get hits, and you can get an idea yourself what sort of picture quality you can expect.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Nikon-135-1-8-S...nses?hash=item3355b803b4&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14




    Michael
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2009