Lens advice

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Mar 5, 2011
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Maryland
My family and I are going to China in a few weeks and I am trying to decide what lens(es) to take.

I would like to be able to take photos at night without the use of a tripod/monopod.

So, this weekend I ordered an 85mm f/1.4g and I am trying to decide if I should get a 24mm f/1.4g as well.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Kevin

Incidentally, I have just recently gotten back in to photography so all of my equipment is new within the last few weeks so I do not fully understand the capabilities of what I own.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2006
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Wow, that is a lot of gear for just a few weeks! Looks like you have unlimited income so I would think a fast wide like the 24 1.4 would be a no brainer :)
 
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Unfortunately Dave, that is not the case.

I have done quite a bit of research, and it seems to be a great lens. I am trying to determine the "real world" benefits over the 14-24mm for shooting at night in China. As well as what makes sense to take.

There is a vast amoun of knowledge on this board and I'm looking for advice.
 
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Was mostly kidding Kevin, but you were not very specific about what you would be shooting at night? Cityscapes, people??? I still think wide and fast would be very handy if you don't want to use a tripod... Regards
 
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Wow - 2 things jump out at me from your post. First is that while a fast lens can certainly help in low light photography, I would rather have a slower lens and a body capable of shooting at higher ISO.


Of course shooting at 1.4 will allow more light in, but at the expense of the decreased depth of field. I never quite bought into the idea that a 1.4 lens solves the problem of low light. A lot has to do with what it is you are shooting. If you have a D2x or D200 or one of the earlier Nikon bodies that are pretty much useless north of 400ISO (and nothing special at 400), then faster glass may be the only way to go.

When I was faced with the problem using a D2x, I often preferred shooting with smaller apertures and running the shots through Noise Ninja (back then or NIK DFine now) and not be limited by shallow DOF. I own a 50mm1.4 and an 85/1.4 and never really considered them low light lenses. I reached for them when I wanted shallow DOF, but not necessarily when I was shooting in low light. Again, it depended on the circumstances of the shot and what was trying to achieve. The problem was solved when I began using my D3's. I just bump the ISO to what I need to make the shot work at the aperture I want and presto - great shot.

The other comment you made (about not being familiar with your equipment yet) is more troubling I think. It is one thing to buy fast glass, but if you are not familiar with what your camera and lenses can and cannot do, you may be disappointed.

I guess what I am trying to say nicely is just buying fast glass will not necessarily translate into pleasing images.
 
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Wow - 2 things jump out at me from your post. First is that while a fast lens can certainly help in low light photography, I would rather have a slower lens and a body capable of shooting at higher ISO.
Note that the OP has a D700 and a D7000, so he is pretty well fixed for high-iso shooting. But I agree, he should get in a bit of study and practice to be sure he knows how to use it.

And Kevin, I agree with Rick that a fast lens does gather more light but at the expense of depth-of-field. Unless you're trying to isolate a subject with little depth, you're better off using a smaller aperture and higher iso setting. On the D700 and D7000, iso1600 is quite good and 3200 very acceptable.
 
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I would like to point you to an article by David Noton,

Surf to http://davidnoton.com/despatches.php and select August2009. In this article he writes about what gear he add, including a 24 1.4 and how he used it to get a great shot he would not have gotten otherwise.

I cannot give you any advice, but wanted to point you to this article.

Good luck and have a nice trip, it sounds stellar to go on such a trip. If it were up to me, I would be taking a lot of the gear you have with me, but that is just me... and that includes both bodies... I'm a pack rat :)
 
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Dave, I took it as you kidding. My response now reads a bit curt, that was not my intent. I should learn to take a bit more time to respond. :)

I would like to take shots of people, cityscapes and street shots.

Kris, I unfortunately am like you and have got the thinktank airport antidote to carry (probably) far more gear than I should.

My wife will have the D7000 and I will have the D700, she and my youngest daughter will be there for 17 days, while my oldest daughter and I will only be there 8 days.

I agree with the comments on learning to use the equipment, I have been practicing quite a bit but still do not have significant experience with it. I do have a degree in engineering, so by nature have spent a significant amount of time reading and then taking a series of shots changing only a single parameter at a time to see the influence on the picture.

I'm not certain if I "need" anything additional, but am seriously considering the 24mm. Kris thanks for the link.
 
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Mar 2, 2006
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Dave, I took it as you kidding. My response now reads a bit curt, that was not my intent. I should learn to take a bit more time to respond. :)

I would like to take shots of people, cityscapes and street shots.

Kris, I unfortunately am like you and have got the thinktank airport antidote to carry (probably) far more gear than I should.

My wife will have the D7000 and I will have the D700, she and my youngest daughter will be there for 17 days, while my oldest daughter and I will only be there 8 days.

I agree with the comments on learning to use the equipment, I have been practicing quite a bit but still do not have significant experience with it. I do have a degree in engineering, so by nature have spent a significant amount of time reading and then taking a series of shots changing only a single parameter at a time to see the influence on the picture.

I'm not certain if I "need" anything additional, but am seriously considering the 24mm. Kris thanks for the link.
No worries, I am sure you could get wonderful pictures with what you have already. The 14-24 should be an awesome lens in that setting. I am sure you can hand hold it at night and get great shots with the great high ISO ability the D700 affords. The 50 1.4g would be fine for people shots and maybe even the 135mm if you are taking it all? I don't think I would lug the 70-200 for a trip like that but you may feel different. Again if budget is not a major constraint then you may get a few shots from the 24 or 28 1.4 that you could not duplicate otherwise but the whole experience factor you mention may make it harder to get the most out of those specialty lenses until you get more advanced in your skills... Sounds like a neat trip!

Dave
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2010
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Romania
Kevin,
24/1.4 is one of the finest ever produced lens by Nikon and performs great on D700. Actually it is my favourite lens and I take it with me wherever I travel. In general I take with me just three primes: 24/1.4, 85/1.4 and 180/2.8 and I'm fine with this setup. Sometimes I add a fisheye, other times a macro lens... it depends on situation and on my mood :)
If you can afford this lens, go for it... and have a nice trip to China!
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2011
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Australia
I am trying to determine the "real world" benefits over the 14-24mm for shooting at night in China.
the 'real world benefit' is that you get an extra two full stops of exposure over the 14-24. and that applies night and day, worldwide, not just in China.

so, where you would be shooting at, to pull some numbers outta my butt, 1/60s @ f2.8 on the 14-24, you could get 1/250s @ f1.4 on the prime.

in all honesty, i rekon you'll find the 14-24 to be a far more versatile lens (not to mention, 14mm.....), if heavier and somewhat more delicate on the front element.

it's your choice as you're the one who's going to be lugging it around.

that said, once i put a dent in my current horrendous overdraft, a 50mm f1.4G is definatly on my 'to get' list.
 
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City of Angels
im surprised no one here has mentioned the 16-35vr. as long as you're not trying to freeze the action, i find the 16-35vr more useful for nighttime street shooting/landscaping since it an allow me to shoot at shutter speeds as low as 1/4 to 1/8 of a second consistently. with the 24/1.4, i need to keep the shutter above 1/50 to get shots as clean as the 16-35vr, plus i gain so much more DOF with the 16-35.

for travels, i find the 16-35vr, 70-300vr, any 1.4 prime of your choosing and the d700 to be exceptional performers.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Messages
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Location
Maryland
Thanks all, well I went for the 24/1.4.

Unfortunately, my 85/1.4g never arrived, and now the vendor is telling me they cannot get it even though when I purchased it I was assured it was in stock - too bad.

I plan to take the 14-24, 24, 50, 70-200, still on the fence on the 135 f/2?
 

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