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Advice - need a fast wide angle for available light

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by heiko, May 15, 2005.

  1. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi, I'm new to this forum. For some time I'm doing available light shots at a Jazz session using my D70. I've bought the 50mm f1.4 AIS, which is just about fast enough for the available light (I use it at f1.4 almost always, with ISO setting at 1600), but a bit difficult to focus.

    I'm now looking for a similar fast wide angle to get a wider view. The Nikon 28mm 1.4 is out of the price range (unless one of you can sell it to me for around $500).

    I considered the Sigma series, offering f1.8 lenses from 20mm, 24mm to 28mm. I also saw a post in this forum, showing pictures taken with one of this Sigma lenses in Rome.

    I've read different reviews on these Sigma's, some claiming they may have focusing problems, as well as sharpness issues at the corners. Well, I'm not expecting wonders, just a lens that will work at the difficult lighting, and perhaps also perform well during regular daylight shots.

    Other alternatives would be the Nikon 35mm f1.4 AIS manual lens and the 35mm f2 AF lens, but I doubt the field of view will be big enough to capture the stage. The f2 might also be too slow.

    Your help and suggestions are much appreciated.
  2. Sigma is releasing a 30mm f/1.4 any day now - and since you mention price as a factor, adorama had the prerelease price at $450, but recent reports have it lower at $400. I fully expect the price to stabilize at about $350 by the start of summer. We will know soon enough if this lens is as good as its specs indicate - did I mention that it is HSM?
  3. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Thanks Chad!

    Hi Chad,

    Thanks for your reply. I didn't know about the Sigma 30mm 1.4 comming up. I hope it will be available by around July, as my wife Sharon will be in New York for a couple of days and she could get me the lens (air shipping to Israel is outrageously expensive, and I would have to pay VAT on top).

    I'm a little concerned about the 30mm focal length. Right now I'm using the 50mm f1.4 AIS, which makes a 75mm lens on the D70. The 30mm would be 45mm. I can shoot at a maximum distance of 4m, but the best position is at 2-3m from the musicians (because of the angle and the light).

    To see what I'm talking about, look at http://www.pbase.com/merhav/shoftim. All these shots (except one) were taken with the 50mm at ISO 1250 and 1600, f1.4 and shutter speed between 1/10-1/20 sec. Manual focus is a real problem with this lens and the D70, as the DOF is small (at a distance of 2-3m) and the viewfinder of the D70 is also not very helpful to judge focus. I was hoping that a wide angle would not only capture more of the scene (all I want), but also be more forgiving regarding DOF.

    Here a calculation example that underlines this:

    A 30mm lens at f1.4 would give the following DOF:
    Focus distance: 3m (9ft)
    Near focus: 2.8m (8.4ft)
    Far focus: 3.2m (9.7ft)

    A 20mm lens at f1.4 would give the following DOF:
    Focus distance: 3m (9ft)
    Near focus: 2.5m (7.8ft)
    Far focus: 3.5m (10.6ft)

    This means 0.4m (1.3ft) on the 30mm lens versus 1.0m (2.8ft) on the 20mm lens.

    Maybe I'm trying to do the impossible, or am I just not up to the task? Any help and suggestions are welcome.

  4. I posted this same inquiry awhile back and as you saw, I ended up with the Sigma 24 1.8. I am very happy with it, as shown by my shots in Rome. It is very easy to get sharp crisp shots at low shutter speeds even wide-open. I really only used this lens at night, and for interiors on my recent trip to Rome. I had investigated other options and really didn't find anything comparable--at least where price was factored in! I also was curious about the Sigma 30, but it wasn't available yet, and in the end I am glad I went with wider...the 30 just wouldn't have been enough.
  5. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi Jannet,

    Thanks for the reply. I saw your Rome pictures with the Sigma 24mm and I am impressed. Actually, seing your pictures made me consider this lens in the first place. I've read some threads on other forums where some said that the Sigma's may have a focusing problem (but I believe that all these folks were using Canon). I anyway doubt I could use autofocus under the light conditions I want to use it in, and I can't use the AF assist light either. Did the AF work for you, or did you do manual focus?

    Again thanks!
  6. Hi Heiko, I had no problem with the AF...I never use manual focus for anything, to tell the truth, except occasionally for macros or for birds when there is too many branches in the way. but I just find the viewfinder in the d100 (and my bad eyes) not up to manually focusing. That said, the AF performed perfectly as far as I am concerned!
  7. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi Jannet,

    I just bought the Sigma 24mm f1.8 two hours ago. Looks very nice and feels good. Focus seems to work OK, but I will give it a real try tonight.

    Thanks again for your help.
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