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Author Topic: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?  (Read 8065 times)

Haydn1971

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F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« on: November 07, 2010, 07:47:57 AM »
I'm sure many of you will have faced the same problem when considering a upgrade, mine is like many others before me in that I'm starting to consider where to go next from my current Canon 450D, which when new (July 2008) I was really rather pleased with and to be fair will be for a couple of years.  However, I could do with moving forward with my lenses, so although I've not set my mind on going full frame yet, I about 90% certain that I will in a few years.

Looking at my pictures, most are outside, most are landscape so a I'm of a mind that should I upgrade, I'm likely to go full frame so don't want to waste time getting inbetween lenses, so I'm thinking a pretty regular 17-40mm and 24-105mm combo for my current camera, which will work very nice on a full frame or new crop body should I decide to go midrange, but wait, why don't I take pictures inside ?  Is it because of my current limited functionality with my kit lens ?

What I'm wondering if going further to a 16-35mm and 24-70mm combo would change my style, have others made the leap and found a new interest in lower light photography ?  The money isn't so much of an issue, but being realistic, I'm looking to treat myself this xmas with one lens (an ultrawide), then perhaps another late next year, perhaps even with a new body if I'm ready.

Thoughts ?
Regards, Haydn

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F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« on: November 07, 2010, 07:47:57 AM »

Flake

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2010, 09:24:18 AM »
I think if you read any forum you'll find most Canon users looking forward to a decent L FF wide angle to rival Nikons 14 - 24mm.  You'll also find plenty of speculation about a replacement for the 24 - 70mm f/2.8 L.

I'm not convinced that the extra cost of the 16 - 35mm L f/2.8 is worthwhile over the 17 - 40mm L f/4, but the 24 - 70mm f/2.8 L is certainly a better lens on a FF camera than the 24 - 105mm IS L f/4, however living in the UK at this time of year the IS on the f/4 can be really worth having.  The only real recommendation for the question as to which one of these lenses to buy, is both of them!

FF is not some kind of holy grail to aspire to, crop frame cameras can produce equally good results, and the skill is in using the kit, not in owning it!  For certain the 7D would be a better choice for anyone shooting macro, wildlife, sports, whereas FF scores on landscape, and portrait where control over depth of field is desireable.

I'm not sure that a lens like the 24mm - xxmm are all that useable on crop bodied camera as the field of view is 38.5mm equiv which is not exactly wide angle.  There are many good lenses designed for crop frame & I think you might be better serced taking a good look at them first.

scalesusa

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2010, 12:10:34 PM »
I'm sure many of you will have faced the same problem when considering a upgrade, mine is like many others before me in that I'm starting to consider where to go next from my current Canon 450D, which when new (July 2008) I was really rather pleased with and to be fair will be for a couple of years.  However, I could do with moving forward with my lenses, so although I've not set my mind on going full frame yet, I about 90% certain that I will in a few years.

Looking at my pictures, most are outside, most are landscape so a I'm of a mind that should I upgrade, I'm likely to go full frame so don't want to waste time getting inbetween lenses, so I'm thinking a pretty regular 17-40mm and 24-105mm combo for my current camera, which will work very nice on a full frame or new crop body should I decide to go midrange, but wait, why don't I take pictures inside ?  Is it because of my current limited functionality with my kit lens ?

What I'm wondering if going further to a 16-35mm and 24-70mm combo would change my style, have others made the leap and found a new interest in lower light photography ?  The money isn't so much of an issue, but being realistic, I'm looking to treat myself this xmas with one lens (an ultrawide), then perhaps another late next year, perhaps even with a new body if I'm ready.

Thoughts ?

You might do just as well with less expensive lenses for a crop.  The 17-40mm L is only slightly above average on a crop, the 17-55mm is much better.  The 24-105mm l is excellent on a crop, but the focal length range is not nearly wide enough.  A 15-85mm might also suit you better.  If you decide to upgrade to FF in 2 or 3 years, better FF lenses will likely be available, so pick the best ones intended for the camera you own, and you will get fantastic images.  In fact, any Canon lens will do a fantastic job as long as you understand and work within its limitations.

In the old days of film, a body was just a box to hang a lens on, and any body could take the exact same image as another.  Now, a body is serious part of the equation, and does make a difference.  Its wise to make sure you have a balance, putting thousands of dollars worth of lenses on a older body may not be a good balance.

As to FF, I like it much better than a 1.6 crop for my images, but that is not going to hold for everyone. 

In the end, go with what you want.  However you might be discouraged after putting up with the wrong lens for the job for the next 3 years, only to discover your lenses are obsolete when you get your FF camera.

Haydn1971

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2010, 12:53:20 PM »
In the end, go with what you want.  However you might be discouraged after putting up with the wrong lens for the job for the next 3 years, only to discover your lenses are obsolete when you get your FF camera.

A valid point, I'm not looking to swap my camera just yet, but feel a tad reluctant to invest in lenses that I couldn't use on a new camera later.  However given the talk of next gen FF bodies requiring better resolving glass, there is currently an uncertainty that I wouldn't have to trade up later to get the most out of my next camera - whatever it is.

My post was really more about changes to photographic style because of new kit rather than "which should I buy".
Regards, Haydn

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scalesusa

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2010, 03:49:40 PM »
In the end, go with what you want.  However you might be discouraged after putting up with the wrong lens for the job for the next 3 years, only to discover your lenses are obsolete when you get your FF camera.

A valid point, I'm not looking to swap my camera just yet, but feel a tad reluctant to invest in lenses that I couldn't use on a new camera later.  However given the talk of next gen FF bodies requiring better resolving glass, there is currently an uncertainty that I wouldn't have to trade up later to get the most out of my next camera - whatever it is.

A 28MP FF will not need any new lenses.  Those who claim a need for new generation of higher resolution glass are just not doing the math.  FF sensors are big, and there is a lot of room to put lots of photosites on them and still not require the lens sharpness that a 1.6 crop does.

A 28mp FF would have a photosite density just higher than a 40D and well less than a 50D, hardly pushing the envelope.    If there were a FF camera with a 7D photosite density, it would be about 46 MP, and still not a problem with lenses.

I had a 40D, in fact, 3 of them, and my 17-55mm lens was on them almost all the time.  I also bought a 24-105mm L to use on it, it was wonderful, but not really as wide as I needed for general walk-around.

When I added a 5D MK II, I also added a 17-40mm L, but never really warmed up to it, and jusp plain did not like it on the 40D.  The lens was sharp and very good, images just did not seem to pop.

The 24-105mm L now lives on my 5D, and reluctantly, I sold all the 40D's and EF-s cameras because after buying a 1D MK III as a second camera, I never used the 40d or 17-55mm glas again.

I bought a 14mm Samyang as a wide for the 1D, but that was a disaster, it was terrible.  Then I found a older Tamron 17mm f/3.5 prime locally for $150.  It was built like a tank, and produced images that I liked much more than the 17-40mm zoom.

So of the two lenses you mentioned for your camera, the 24-105mmL is impressive, and I preferred it to the 17-40.

Here are some



My post was really more about changes to photographic style because of new kit rather than "which should I buy".

NotABunny

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2010, 03:50:47 AM »
why don't I take pictures inside ?  Is it because of my current limited functionality with my kit lens ? What I'm wondering if going further to a 16-35mm and 24-70mm combo would change my style, have others made the leap and found a new interest in lower light photography ?

I am shooting indoor / low light (with environmental light) with a 40D and Canon 85 mm / F 1.8. I have to say that most photos are, from a technical point of view, horrible, but it gets the moments.

It's an unsatisfactory / limiting experience. I am shooting ISO 3200, shutter priority at 200, and getting whatever F-number. At sub F2.8, although the quality is good in good light (for indoors, that is), it's unsatisfactory in most indoor environments, but even when the quality is good, the DOF is frustratingly thin.

To understand what quality you can get, take photos with your current gear and look at the histogram for the photos which the camera says are correctly exposed; it doesn't matter if you get a 1 second exposure and blurry images. If it's hefty throughout the first two thirds of the brightness range, there is enough light to get good quality with good noise reduction (think LR 3 good).

You normally get a hefty histogram if you shoot in broad daylight, near a window, with good indoor light (for instance, the usual lighting conditions in a small room with bright / highly reflective walls).

If the histogram shows pixels crowded mostly in the first third, the quality will be bad. The reason is that you have little tonal range in that area of brightness, so tones will be  mudded, especially if you brighten the images (you would want to do this because although the camera says that the photos are properly exposed, they are dark when viewed afterwards).

So, your 450D will not get you good quality indoors even with an F2.8, but maybe you can shoot in the good lighting conditions that I was describing (note that even in those conditions, I still usually get an F-number lower than 2.8 ). What you need is a camera which can do photography at ISO 12800. For this, I would say that either 5D2 or the future 5D3, combined with an F 2.8 zoom lens, are necessary. Since money is not an issue for you, I think this is the best practical combination.

If you like to shoot full sized people, rather than portraits as I like, you could also try a sub 50 mm lens with an F 1.4 or so. The DOF would not be an issue in this case.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 08:15:11 AM by NotABunny »

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2010, 06:00:32 AM »
why don't I take pictures inside ?  Is it because of my current limited functionality with my kit lens ? What I'm wondering if going further to a 16-35mm and 24-70mm combo would change my style, have others made the leap and found a new interest in lower light photography ?

An f/2.8 lens is not magic.  :P  Sure, it's the fastest zoom lens Canon makes, but primes are faster.  What really matters is your tolerance for noise in the image.  IMO, an f/2.8 lens on a crop body is not fast enough for indoor, ambient light shooting, and the same goes for f/4 on FF.  Using f/2.8 on a FF is tolerable, but barely - keep in mind that unless you're shooting artwork on a wall or your living room couch, people move - even when they're holding still for a picture - so you usually need 1/30 s and better yet 1/60 s to freeze their motion if you want to do so.  So if you want to shoot indoors in ambient light, consider a fast prime (24mm f/1.4L or 35mm f/1.4L, for example).

Do you have an external flash?  Honestly, if you want to shoot indoors I'd recommend investing in a good external flash (430EX II, 580EX II) and bounce/diffuse for softening the light.  The results with that, even with an f/4 or slower lens, will be a huge improvement over the pop-up flash on the camera.  There's a reason the high-end bodies (5DII, 1-series) don't have a pop-up flash!
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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2010, 06:00:32 AM »

Hillsilly

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2010, 04:00:01 AM »
When it gets dark, I tend to pull out my 50mm f1.8 (don't laught!).  But when shooting people and activity at low ISO's even this tends to be a bit slow without flash and I don't think the f1.4s would be much better.  As previous posters have suggested, rather than worry about lenses, why not work on improved flash techniques.  I think its fair to assume that most new camera bodies will have inbuilt remote flash control.  So why not grab a 430ex or 580ex and a low cost wireless flash trigger and have some fun with that for a while?  When you pick up a new body, it should work perfectly with the flash.  The 580ex, being more powerful, pairs well with an f4 zoom.  (The power is important if you start bouncing the light off high ceilings).  The 430ex is still powerful enough for most needs, is cheaper and weighs a bit less.  Both of these would allow you to keep the ISO down, thus maintaining good quality and possibly add a new dimension to your photography. 
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scalesusa

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2010, 05:22:41 PM »
When it gets dark, I tend to pull out my 50mm f1.8 (don't laught!).  But when shooting people and activity at low ISO's even this tends to be a bit slow without flash and I don't think the f1.4s would be much better.  As previous posters have suggested, rather than worry about lenses, why not work on improved flash techniques. 


Flash is not often allowed in theatres, churches, etc.  Also, it can totally ruin a photograph like these taken at our local high school play.



« Last Edit: November 09, 2010, 05:33:59 PM by scalesusa »

NotABunny

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2010, 03:12:32 AM »
Just to make you get a taste of indoors, natural low-light photography:

(Processing: just a touch of LR 3)

Image 1, good light (morning sun + fluorescent tube): 1/200 sec at f / 3.5, 1/3 EV, 85 mm, ISO 3200, distance 1.24 m, Canon EOS 40D



Image 2, bad light (around 75W incandescent lightbulb + evening sun): 1/320 sec at f / 1.8, 1/3 EV, 85 mm, ISO 3200, distance 1.24 m, Canon EOS 40D

For this image, I was cursing the frigging slow autofocus (which resulted in the cut eyebrow). I'm posting it to illustrate that there's another thing to consider in low-light: autofocus speed and accuracy. For 40D, it's not up to my requirements.


« Last Edit: November 10, 2010, 03:25:54 AM by NotABunny »

Hillsilly

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2010, 08:39:56 PM »
Thanks NotABunny and Scaleusa.  Fully appreciate your points.  And I agree that the incorrect use of flash will often detroy the atmosphere of an event.  But I often find myself in situations where I'm taking photos indoors at night with very dim lighting and am stuck with very slow shutter speeds (especially when I bring a zoom).  So often weigh up the use of flash vs higher chance of blurry photos.  Looking at NotABunny's second photo, if you were using the 24-105 F4, the shutter speed would have been about 1/60th second.  Given the subject's movement, it may not have been a succesful photo.  Whereas at F1.8 the action is almost frozen and the moment is captured.  My point is, if you are looking at taking photos of people or activity indoors, and want a high percentage of keepers, the key is keeping an appropriately high shutter speed.  The only three variables are a bigger aperture lens, high ISO or flash.
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scalesusa

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2010, 09:42:17 PM »
Agreed! 

External lighting and or flash has its proper place, as do fast primes.  Neither is a universal solution.  I use flash where it will enhance the image, and a fast prime where a wide aperture will allow a fast shutter speed or capture the ambient light.  Sometimes I just can't win, but the high ISO performance of my 5D MK II has allowed things that just could not be done before.

My 5D MK II plus my 135mm f/2 L at f/2 allow capture of break dancing at the local high school auditorium.  Lighting was not great, but adequate for a 1/320 shutter speed.  I did not feel comfortable with using my high powered flash at a live show and bothering the audience.

« Last Edit: November 11, 2010, 11:46:12 AM by scalesusa »

realmike15

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2010, 09:32:49 AM »
I found the 24-70 rendition much different than the 24-105.  Without getting too specific, I liked the overall "look" of the 24-70 more.  I suggest you try them out at a camera shop, read all the reviews you want... but it won't make the decision any easier.  Just make sure you get a good copy of the 24-70 if you get one, because there are bad copies out there.

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2010, 09:32:49 AM »

Haydn1971

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2010, 11:36:01 AM »
A 15-85mm might also suit you better.  If you decide to upgrade to FF in 2 or 3 years, better FF lenses will likely be available, so pick the best ones intended for the camera you own, and you will get fantastic images.  In fact, any Canon lens will do a fantastic job as long as you understand and work within its limitations.

I actually had a trip done to the local specialist camera shop today, looked at the 24-105mm on a 550D, looked at the 15-85mm on the same, played around with the 7D and the 5D MkII, what a flipping big and heavy handful the 5D is !!!

Anyways, to cut what could be a long story short, I've come home with a 15-85mm and I'm really rather pleased with it.  Having done a bit of reading elsewhere I'm also very encouraged in buying an external flash unit too... 

In the cold light of the shop, I'm a keen photographer, but being realistic, I just can't see me walking around with a big FF camera, but may look at one again at some point, but for now, I'm more likely to stick with a crop next time I upgrade.

Thanks for your comments !
Regards, Haydn

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scalesusa

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2010, 11:48:02 AM »
Post some images after you get confident with the new lens.

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Re: F2.8 or F4 ? Sounds easy ?
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2010, 11:48:02 AM »