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Museum lens?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by alexf, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. I am in need of a good quality museum lens for my D80. I have fast lenses (35 f/2 - 50 f/1.8) and I have wide lenses (Sigma 10-20, Nikon 18-70) but I do not have both qualities in one (except the 10.5 fisheye but it is a specialty lens). Museums do not generally allow flash and tripods/monopods so I need fast and wide.

    I am considering (under budget constraints < $500) the Sigma 28mm f/1.8 $300, the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 $245, and Nikon 24mm f/2.8 $310, also 52mm 0.58lb

    I do not know if there are others I should consider. The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 looks good but it is too close to my 35mm and not wide enough. The disadvantage of the Sigma 28mm is that it is bigger and 77mm (though I do have 77mm filters) and 1lb. The Nikon 28mm is unobtrusive for a museum with a dia. of 52mm. and light at 0.43lb

    I don't think going wider than 24mm and accepting the distortion is wise, but I may be wrong.

    Any other lens I missed? (zooms might be OK if the price is under $500). Any opinions on these and their quality? Recommendations?
  2. Wow so many lenses for the museum. Why not just get a Tamron 17-35? Cheap and sharp.

    Personally I prefer just using one lens for museum shooting. Either a 35 f/2 or a 50 are fine with me.
  3. Well, not so many lenses. I just want to bring one. :smile:
    The 30mm and 50mm are not wide enough.

    I did not know about the Tamron 17-35 f/2.8. Certainly looks like very interesting specs and $299 at B&H. Thanks.
  4. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    Why do you need a wide lens for the Museum? If you are taking pictures of exhibits I would have though that the 35/2 or 50/1.8 would be perfect.
  5. Good question. Last visit I tried the 35mm f/2 and was fine for exhibits but the place was small and could not get a decent room shot. Not sure at this point if I'm fine as-is or should I buy another lens. Consensus here will open my eyes. Thanks.
  6. onemorelens


    Jul 3, 2007
    I'm not quite sure of your issue. What kind of museum, what you shooting and for what purpose? I think the 35/2 would be great for shots of most 'pieces' and the close focus is enough to double as an almost macro. I would also take the 10-20 for shots of whole rooms and walls.
    Now if you were to buy something a case can be made for one of the 18-xxx VR lens. Not very fast but sharp enough and the VR would be useful in a dim setting with stationary objects.
  7. nancyr


    Feb 14, 2006
    La Jolla, CA
    For museums, I go with a fast prime (50/1.4 or 24 or 28/2), and give my 17-50/2.8 to my boyfriend (otherwise an 18-200 kinda guy). He loves the 2.8 on his D70, and I love that extra stop and quality.

    Nikon's wide primes (24 & 28 MF, 35 AF) focus close, which is very useful. The Tamron 17-50 is pretty flexible with a minimum focus at just under 1 foot. With the new D40-compatible version out, there may be bargains out there with the older ones (fine on your D80).

    Good luck!
  8. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    I'd take the 35/2 or 50/1.8 for most shots, and if you need something wider why not your Sigma 10-20? Yes it is a slow lens, but you can handhold wide lenses down to 1/30 sec or even 1/15 sec and turn the ISO up to compensate.
  9. It doesn't make sense that the nikon 28 is wide enough to be considered, but the Sigma 30 isn't.

    There's usually room to back up, but most museums don't allow flash or tripods, so aperture speed should be the dominant metric in selecting a museum lens. I'd think that would rule out f/2.8 lenses.

    As others have suggested, your 35/2 for the exhibits and Siggy 10-20 for the room shots are a great combo. Sorry to say it, but you don't need to buy another lens :rolleyes: .
  10. I like the 35/2 for museums. These were taken at the Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain, last summer:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

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    If I went today, I'd probably also take my 20mm f/2.8
  11. adaml


    Feb 21, 2006
    Having shot at the Art Institute, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, among others on many occasions, I agree wholeheartedly with Uncle Frank--the aperture should be your key consideration.

    For the reason, I take both the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 when I shoot in museums.
  12. Thanks all. It really cleared my mind and I saw I was wrong. As Uncle Frank said, I should look at aperture first. I'll go to my local museums to practice more with what I have before my trip. Thanks all.
  13. Tom Larsen

    Tom Larsen

    Jan 18, 2008
    Hi Alex,

    I checked your Smugmug and see that you, like I, shoot a lot of fairly large three dimensional objects. Unless you can get close enough to shoot detail elements of large objects, like your Museum of Flight gallery, I would think you want depth of field as much as you want speed. Someone wondered why the need for such wide angles, I have been using the 24-70 that replaced the 18-200 that I sold, and find that 24 is not wide enough for my museum trips. A tripod would solve a lot, but as we know, it and flash are often out of the question. Consider using shutter delay, and you can sometimes perch the camera on some adjacent exhibit support to allow the shutter speed you want. If only I could find a way to deal with objects in reflective glass enclosures.
  14. Yes Tom. I do carry a tiny tripod, the remote control, sometimes (when I don't forget it) the cable release, and I have used the timer when I did not have any of those with me. Finding a surface to place the camera on is sometimes the problem.
  15. sergeantcigar


    Jan 3, 2007
    I travel a bit, and regularly shoot in museums. I have f1.4 glass, but I'm finding that the stabilized lenses are better for museums than fast glass. I get better DOF, and with static objects, shooting at 1/15 or even 1/8 sec is no problem.
  16. Which VR lenses are you using? I don't see any in your equipment list.
  17. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Frank, his signature lists:
    Is OS Sigma's term for "optically stabilized"?


    I've tried VR lenses, and found that nothing beat sheer lens speed. Some of my best museum shooting was with the 35mm f/2 when I was not allowed to use a tripod, nor auxiliary lighting. All of the photos on this page were made with the 35mm f/2 Nikkor. As were most of the images on this page, with the exception of the neo-classical chest against the wall, which was made with the 24-120vr lens.

    On the other hand, my favorite museum photo was made with that same VR lens:

  18. garythescot


    Feb 11, 2008
  19. Very nice gallery Chris. Yes, the 35mm f/2 performs.
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