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Old May 22, 2007, 9:24 AM   #1
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Hello all,

Looking to get back in to photography, used to work with 35mm 5 years or so ago, so I'm well out of touch with the DSLR market.. (and photography in general, excited to get back into it though! advise on reading matterial would be good too, just ordered 'understanding exposure' by bryan peterson)

In short, I'm looking to combine two of my favourite interests, music and photography. So my main aim is to research on the best body / lense combination for low light conditions experienced at music gigs / events..

Thats my primary requirement, but i dont want to rule out the 'general' every day use etc..

My max budget is about 1k (for both body and lense) but less is better,im prepared to be patient in order to pickup kit 2nd hand if need be. My ideal situation would be to have a general lense for every day shots such as friends family landscapes etc and a lense for use indoors / low light.

Any sugestions welcome, I plan on spending a fair bit of time reading the various reviews available. But at the end of the day, the most valued advice is from you guys who are using the equipment on a daily basis etc.

Thanks in advance,

Ryan
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Old May 22, 2007, 9:43 AM   #2
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Firstly welcome to the forum.... hope you learn a lot here (sure you will)!!

Just to clarify is that 1k US ($) or 1k UK (£) as it makes a hugedifference?

Low light is always going to stretch the camera as you will want good high ISO response so I would suggest looking at the following.... Canon first and then Nikon and Pentax very similar in this. The nice thing about Pentax over the other two is you will have image stabilisation built in which means you can get away with lower shutter speeds, helpful as generally musicians are not moving too much (IS does not work well in low light situations where you are trying to freeze sport for example as shutter speed is the defining factor and not camera shake causing motion blur).

As for lenses your general walk around will be something in the range of 17/18mm to 55/85mm. You are probably thinking this is wider than when you shot in 35mm and this is because the sensor is smaller than 35mm so you get a crop factor of 1.5 or 1.6x so a 20mm lensgives a field of view of30 or 32mm respectively in comparison to 35mm. As for the lens for music capture that is going to depend how close you are able to get to the 'action'. I often use my 70-200mm 2.8 lens but also the 17-70mm for certain things. If light is a problem then the 85mm f1.8 or 50mm f1.8 come out to play.

That will get you started at least..... here are a few shots I've taken to get you looking even more forward to getting your new 'toy'.















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Old May 22, 2007, 1:20 PM   #3
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I use the Pentax K100D and find it quite good in low light, though I wish the stabilizer was a bit better. My advice to you is to steer clear of the cameras with extremely high megapixels as they tend to perform worse than those with lower mexapixels in low light. For example, at ISO 1200, the 10mp Pentax K10 has about the same noise as the K100D at ISO 1600. That gives the K100D an extra half stop of brightness to play with.

I suggest that when you shop for lenses, try to get digital only lenses when possible (DA for Pentax, EF-S for Canon, don't know what Nikon has). From what I can tell (though I haven't found many who can corroborate this), the digital only lenses concentrate the light on a smaller area to compensate for the cameras' crop factors, thus providing a brighter exposure. I've experimented by comparing my kit lens to an older 50mm f/1.7, and when both are at f/8 the DA kit lens is at least half a stop brighter.

I'd also recommend you shoot RAW at these events. This will allow you to correct for inaccurate white balance. In one instance where I shot my brother performing at a bar, I got the white balance right, but I didn't like the harsh red light on his face, so I did a second version where the white balance was correct for his face and blended it into the other image.

RAW also gives you the advantage of retaining much more dynamic range. Because of this, I like to shoot at a higher ISO and underexpose to retain more detail. For example, if the situation calls for ISO 1600, I'd shoot at ISO 400 with -2 compensation. With RAW, this will capture all the same detail plus a lot more in the highlight area. The main difficulties in doing this though are learning the proper RAW conversion techniques, and dealing with very dark previews on the LCD.

Canon and Nikon have an advantage as far as RAW shooting because the Pentax K100D has a smaller buffer that fills up after shooting 3 RAW images in a row. I don't find it too limiting, but there are occasions where it does cost me a couple shots.

Good luck.
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Old May 22, 2007, 3:39 PM   #4
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Whichever camera you choose, you will probably want a lens like one of these:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/355/cat/23
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...ct/1008/cat/31

The Tamron is available for Nikon, Canon and Sony mounts, the Sigma for those plus Pentax and Olympus. If you choose the new Olympus E510 (stay away from earlier Olmypus models for your purpose), their 14-54 f2.8-3.5 would serve a similar purpose.

If you go with Canon or Pentax, you might also add a bright 50mm prime (that is if you can typically get close enough to use a very short telephoto) as both have good reasonably priced options there:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/150/cat/10
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/316/cat/45

Nikon also has an inexpensive 50 f1.8, but it would be manual focus only on the D40/D40x. Other options in the $300+ range for this type of lens seem to be available for all mounts. The advantage of this kind of lens is that it will let in more light than the f2.8 maximum typically available on a zoom. One disadvantage might be that depth of field can be very narrow if shooting from very close (say focusing closer than 12 feet).


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Old May 22, 2007, 4:17 PM   #5
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Firstly thanks for the input.

My budget is £1,000 for clarification

I've tracked down some 2nd hand kit that I wanted to check over with you guys, not 100% sure if its still available, awaiting a reply from the seller at the moment.

It's a Canon EOS 5D with the 50mm F1.4 lens. Reason this appealed to me is the full frame 35mm sensor.. felt this might make it an easier transition from SLR? After reading some reviews the 50mm F1.4 appears to be well suited to low light conditions where a flash is not allowed/possible. They're advertising this for around £800 which is well within my budget.

How do you guys feel about 2nd hand kit? I would hope with high end kit of this value that it has been well looked after! - if I was to purchase would I be looking at high costs to get professionally cleaned / serviced, or is this generally something that isn't required or can be done D.I.Y with air?

Mark those pictures have superb clarity.. something I was never able to achieve in the darkroom.. exciting what DSLRs are capable of.. (obviously you snapped them so respect due).

Thanks,
Ryan
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Old May 22, 2007, 6:58 PM   #6
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Hi Ryan, thanks for the praise, both groups have used my shots for promotion work and will also be going on their websites so that is cool.

The 5D is a fantastic camera however the price seems to be very low for what it is unless I'm totally out of touch with 2nd hand prices. The new price of the 5D is approx £1600 and the lens is about £250, I would expect you to be paying over £1000 for the pair unless there is a problem..... or I have made a mistake. I would have a look at the exterior of the camera and lens, give it a really good try making sure that everything is working fully before doing anything.

As for what I think about 2nd hand, I'm not a fan of 2nd hand bodies but lenses not such an issue as far as I'm concerned.
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