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Old Sep 2, 2005, 1:17 PM   #1
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I am just about to pull the trigger on a Nikon D50. As a poker journalist (who knew there would ever be such a thing?) I file reports/photos primarily for an online site. Poor photo quality has been one of the sites major issues, and directly linked to our low light/no-flash conditions. While I think the switch up to an SLR will help, I'm wondering if a faster lens will finally take me where I need to be.

Most of the shots are player "portraits" in the range of 5-10 feet. These are interior shots with no natural lighting - andno flash. Tripods are a hassle in thisenvironment as we have very little to time to get a shot and get out of the TV crews' way. And if you've ever watched poker, you'd know these are not action shots.

Thanks for any recommendations,

pg
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Old Sep 2, 2005, 10:39 PM   #2
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I get good (no flash) results indoors from the 50mm f1.4 Nikkor lens in combination with a higher ISO speed and some noise reduction software like Neat Image. This setup won't break your bank either. Others swear by the f1.8 version as it costs about $100. Depending on the field of view you are trying to take in, this may or may not be acceptable to you as the 50mm lens will have the field of view of a 75mm lens (35mm equivalent) on the D50. There are other "fast" lenses available that will help you out without the use of flash but not this economical.

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Old Sep 3, 2005, 8:48 AM   #3
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The new Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM may be a good choice.

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Old Sep 5, 2005, 3:11 PM   #4
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I was at the wsop for a couple of weeks and there seemed to be quite a few using fairly big zooms for compositional adapatability, some certainly capable of 200mm at the long end.

Had a few pointed in my direction... I even had to askScotty to move out of the way as he was in the way of the photographer taking a shot of me :lol:

I'd have thought something like a AF-S VRG 24-120mm would cover most eventualities with the benefit of VR in suspect light.
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Old Sep 5, 2005, 9:45 PM   #5
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VR is great but doesn't do anything if the subject is moving. VR is for shaky hands but if your subject isdynamic - you're out of luck.
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Old Sep 6, 2005, 2:48 AM   #6
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dhlashley wrote:
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VR is great but doesn't do anything if the subject is moving. VR is for shaky hands but if your subject isdynamic - you're out of luck.

In this case it (VR) will be useful with low ligh levels (low shutter-speeds)... and poker players aren't known for quick movements (except for breaks when we dash off to the toilets! or when we tip our stacks over in disgust at being 'rivered'
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Old Sep 6, 2005, 11:08 PM   #7
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Thanks y'all. Some great suggestions.

And Andy is quite right. Unless Phil Hellmuth gets up and kicks a chair after a "bad beat" or Josh Arieh has to make a mad dash to the bathroom during a final table, the subjects rarely move. And this is intentional rather than sloth. Any body movement can betray your hand.

I spentall 45 days at the WSOP. Soif you saw a nosy journalist wearing a black stetson, that was me. Next stop Aruba.

Any more thoughts? I'd love to hear 'em.

pg
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Old Sep 7, 2005, 3:13 AM   #8
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Frankly I think your choices are rather limited. The Nikon 50mm F1.4, the 85mm 1.4 or the 30mm Sigma are all lenses to consider, but with only 30mm you are going to have to get very close and possibly in the way of the film crew. The 24/120 is a complete no-no in low light conditions. Even a F2.8 lens will be hard to use, 1.8 better, but above all 1.4 where flash is not permitted. Remember the F stop sequence means that from F1.4 to F1.8 you are halving the amount of light entering the camera.Taking a pictureis like filling a kettle - you can open the tap half way and take a minute or open it full and do the job in 30 seconds, and this is the effect and ratio between F1.4 and F1.8. Now start to think how long it takes to get the picture using the 24/120 F3.5/5.6! If we halve to 1.8, halve again to F2.8 and F 4 and so on, in effect you need at least eight times as long to take the picture. This leads to either unacceptable noise (I still prefer grain) at high ISO levels or such long exposures that you will just get blurred shots. IMHO, I would go for either the Nikon 50mm or the 85mm, but given the approximity to the table the 50mm would most likely be the choice. In addition this lens is dirt cheap given the quality it produces - less than $300 on Ebay including a U/V filter to protect the lens. Go for it!
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Old Sep 7, 2005, 11:02 AM   #9
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You'll get a stop or two back with VR anyway but you may be right that a fast prime will be good enough as I didn't realise that the results are only for web use and can be cropped easily enough for composition. Most of the photographers that I saw at the wsop were taking shots for A3 prints.

I'm sure our paths crossed pokergal..don't mind the stills photographers but those dirty great espn cameras looming over your shoulderare mighy intimidating!! I'll look out for a stetson wearing D50 user in the future.
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