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Old Apr 2, 2008, 4:33 PM   #1
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Hi,
I have been photographing for years but only latley gotten more serious about it. I started photographing (indoor) theatre production, using a friends Nikon D 70 with a 1:24 - 120mm 3.5 - 5.6 D lens. With the Vivetar SB-4 flash the photos come out pretty well but I am ready to get serious. I want to invest in a lightweight system; body and lens(es) that can give me great looking photos without using flash -or- tripod.
Researching this online, taking some classes etc. I realize i have so much more to learn... I still haven't found THE solution and I am gettting frustrated in my lack of progress. Can anyone out there please advise me on this? ( I would like to be able to sell prints so I want to be able to do the best job I can)

Here is what I am looking for;
* A lightweight DSLR with great IO & good for lowlight situations.
(I have looked at the D 60 - My friend has a D80 for her studiowork, but after shooting all night at dress rehearsal it's too heavy for me ( atleast with the flash, wich I want to not use!)I also have tendenitus off & on in my right wrist, so that's the main reason for trying to find a lighweight system.

*
A lightweight fast zoom; ideally 18 - 150mmish so I can shoot whole cast shoots, groups, etc. AND the closeup action on stage without having to chance lenses in the dark- You only have one chance during the dress rehearsal to get it right...

SO, will only a 2.8 lens work or could I get by with a 3.5- if it has IS or WR? Or would a prime lens(or two) work?
I just haven't been able to find a LIGHTWEIGHT 2.8 fixed range with the zoom range I want. Am I trying to do the impossible without flash & tripod?
Sorry this got so long- any input is greatly appreciated!Next play is in 4 weeks...
Thank you!
Carina

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Old Apr 2, 2008, 5:17 PM   #2
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I would not expect to get away with using anything other than an f/2.8 zoom or brighter prime, unless you can catch the performers when they're not moving.

Even with f/2.8, you may have a very tough time getting photos without blur if the performers are moving very much.

If lighting is as low as I suspect it will be, I'd lean towards f/2 or brighter primes (fixed focal length versus zoom) for most stage lighting. But, note that Nikon's brighter primes like the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, and 105mm f/2 will not Autofocus on the D60 you're considering. That's because the Nikon D40, D40x and D60 require lenses with a built in focus motor if you want Autofocus (and Nikon's brighter primes like this don't have built in focus motors). So, with that camera body, you'd need to see if an f/2.8 lens would work or not.

I'd see what kind of shutter speeds you're getting for a properly exposed image without a flash for a given ISO speed and aperture. That way, you can calculate what kind of shutter speeds to expect for the same lighting using a different aperture and ISO speed, and can get a feel for whether or not you may be able to get away with a zoom. Just let us know what you're getting with a different lens without a flash for a given ISO speed and aperture.

You'll probably want f/2.8 or brighter if lighting is as low as I suspect it will be, in order to get shutter speeds up fast enough for a reasonable percentage of keepers shooting at around ISO 1600, unless you want to try and time more of your photos so you're taking them when movement stops (which is one way to approach it).


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Old Apr 2, 2008, 5:46 PM   #3
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Carina-

JimC has given you some very good advice. I have also done theater photography. I started with the Nikon D-50 equipped with a 30mm Sigma F1.4 lens. You have to stay very close to the stage to use that setup.

I then barrowed a friend's Canon XTi with the Canon 80mm F 1.8 lens and that set up was a lot more flexible.

Here are one of the D-50/Sigma 30mm F 1.4 shots. I used ISO 800 so I had plenty of shutter speed to stop the action.


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Old Apr 4, 2008, 9:27 AM   #4
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Thanks for your input, Jim and Sarah- I do apreciate it!

I vould love to try out but don't have acress to other lenses (other that renting?)
and was hoping to get some ideas of a lens-body set up that would be able to prouduce optimal photos only using the stage lighting. I have seen displays of other photographers work that had beutiful warm color - but not too yellow, low noice, the "no flash look", and sharp. And DOF all the way in the back. I want my photos to look like that but don't know what to use-
Sound like the prime lenses allow for more light, but is it possible to get DOF to the back of the stage as well? I like the zoom because they are more flexible, I can be out of the way more and frame tighter so I don't have to crop so much later.
My "burning qustion" is;
Do you think there is a lightweight lens/body combo out there that would give me optimal OI without using tripod or flash or am I being unrealistic and should rethink all this? My budget is $1000-$2000. I just want to do a really good job if I am going to do this-

Any input is much apreciated!
Thanks so much,
Carina

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Old Apr 4, 2008, 10:04 AM   #5
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Some of primes are relatively light weight. ;-)

You may want to consider something like a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 if you insist on a zoom. It's not too large and heavy as f/2.8 zooms go (it comes in at 18 ounces). It's available in popular camera mounts (Nikon, Canon, Sony/Minolta, Pentax)

http://www.tamron.com/lenses/prod/2875mm.asp

In something a bit longer, you may want to consider this Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8. It's not quite as large and heavy as the 70-210mm f/2.8 lenses.

http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/len...mp;navigator=6

I've got an older Tamron SP 35-105mm f/2.8 that I sometimes use in lower light. But, it's not quite as sharp as my brighter primes at f/2.8. It's also a larger and heavier lens compared to my brighter primes.

But, brighter primes are a better bet if you don't want a lot of blur. For example, here's a snapshot of some youngsters on stage at a dance recital.

Note the blurred hands and more from movement? It's even a tad underexposed (shutter speeds would have been even slower for a brighter exposure). This one was taken at ISO 1600 at f/2.5 with a 100mm f/2 lens, and my shutter speed was 1/160 second, which resulted in a bit of motion blur in some shots.

If I had tried to use ISO 1600 and f/5.6 (the widest aperture on most lighter zoom lenses if you zoom in much), there would have been a lot more blur, since it would have taken 5 times as long to expose it in that lighting. That's because f/2.5 (my aperture settting for this shot) is five times as bright as f/5.6. My shutter speeds would have been down to 1/30 second trying to shoot at f/5.6 with one of the dimmer zooms. I've seen virtually identical light levels at more than one school and church stage in this area.

So, unless your lighting is signficantly better, I wouldn't expect to get away with using the type of zoom you want, unless you only want to take shots of the performers when they are motionless (which is one approach).

Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D, ISO 1600, Minolta 100mm f/2 Autofocus Lens, f/2.5, 1/160 second


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Old Apr 4, 2008, 10:20 AM   #6
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Carina-

It is difficult to provide any detailed information because we need to know several things:

(1) Can you better define your term, "Lightweight lens/body combo." Certainly neither the Nikon D-50nor the Canon XTi bodies are large or weighty.

(2) I mentioned 2 specific lenses which are quite light in weight. However,you spoke onlyof a zoom lens, that remains totally undefined. Until we know your proposed lens, we cannot determine the actual weight of the "light weight lens/body combo."

(3) Finally can you tell us what kind of budget you have in mind, please?

Generally speaking, a zoom lens will not be as bright as prime lenses. Zoom lenses also will weigh more. More DOF, when shooting without flash is going to require higher ISO settings and a chance of some noise. A yellow cast in an existing light photo is usually the sign that either the WB was set incorrectly or that the yellow case was not corrected in post processing.

Here is another example photo taken with the Nikon D-50 equipped with the Sigma 30mm F 1.4 lens with the ISO set to 800 and using Tungsten WB.

Sarah Joyce


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Old Apr 4, 2008, 10:31 AM   #7
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Sarah's examples both show exceptionally bright lighting, using settings that could have been taken with a dimmer zoom. For example, that last photo was taken at f/6.3.

But, I would not expect to find lighting that good in most venues.

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Old Apr 4, 2008, 12:15 PM   #8
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Carina-

The Tamron 28-75mm lens is well thought of and is very sharp. It weighs a little less than 1 pound. The Sigma 50-150mm lens at 1.7 pounds is almost twice the weight of the Tamron 28-75mm lens.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 7, 2008, 7:34 PM   #9
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HI,
I apreciate your responses!
Iwas trying to take your advise, so I borrowed my friend's Nikon D 80 and 50mm f/1.4 at shot at a play last night. I was sitting way in the back, 30' or more from the stage. I used ISO 800 & 1600. I am attatching one of each ( I hope). There seems to be enough light, but to me, they are not crisp enough & too much noise. I used A mode and the incadecent WB.

I liked the prime, it was LIGHT, but I would have to have two ( a 50mm and a 85 or 105mm??) and change them in the dark.

So do you think I would get enough light with a zoom f2.8 or should I go with the prime and how would I get less noise?

Thank you so much for any input!
Christina
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Old Apr 7, 2008, 8:36 PM   #10
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HI- how do I attach the photos?
I selected them in the brouser but they don't send-
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