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Photography Question 
Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005

How necessary is a fast lens?

I am looking for an all-around lens for weddings. I would like to have a 28-200 with IS and perhaps USM (what's the difference between IS and USM?). I would like to have a fairly fast lens...Can I get some good recommendations? I am wanting to spend a maximum of $500. Preferrably less, but not less quality.
Cyndee ><>

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11/21/2005 1:01:27 PM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005
  Oops...I guess it would be helpful to know what kind of camera I have...

Canon Rebel XT, eventual upgrade to 20d and perhaps 5d.

Cyndee ><>

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11/21/2005 1:03:51 PM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  Because weddings are highly unpredictable, you need fast glass. 2.8 is OK, but you really need the 1.2 and 1.4 lenses that are out.

When I do outside weddings, my 2.8's or higher are fine, usually. But, most weddings I do are in the evening, or late afternoon, with a reception to follow that goes into the evening.

I use a few lenses: 50 1.4 and 24 1.4 are absolutely important. I use my 15mm 2.8 for the reception coverage during dancing. For the rest, both my 50 and 24 are my work horses. I throw in the 35 f/1.4 and the 85 f/1.2 once in a while.

I have moved away from zooms this year with the exception of the 16-35 2.8. That is an exceptional lens.

Anyway, most of my associates seem to prefer zooms due to their versatility. But zooms only go to 2.8, and there have been times when that's not enough. I shot a wedding this year inside a hotel that was so dark, using a 50 f/1.4, on-camera flash at full power, at ISO 800, I could barely pull off the exposure. Actually, I shot RAW and under-exposed everything a little. Fortuately, I was able to bring it up and the noise wasn't too bad. I never shoot ISO 1600 or higher on the 20D. I mean, I guess I would if I had no choice, (it's better to have the moment than nothing), but I try to stay at ISO400 at all times.

Any way, the 70-200 with IS is a very nice lens. I used to use it for all my portraits, but as I said, I don't really use zooms much anymore. But, it's worth every cent, although it sounds like it's a bit out of your price range.

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11/21/2005 1:58:50 PM

Kerry L. Walker   Cyndee, it really depends on you and your style. I shoot with primes only and use my normal lens (f/2.8) for all but the individual portraits. After all, I can move! Some folks prefer to work with zooms. Since I shoot with flash, I don't really need fast lenses but every photographer is different. You can get a Canon 28-135 with both USM (ultrasonic motor) and IS (image stabilization) for less than $500.00 but the only lens I find that covers 28-200 with both USM and IS is the 28-300 at around $2,000.00. The 28-135 should cover anything you need at a wedding.

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11/21/2005 2:02:40 PM

Kerry L. Walker   Jerry and I were typing at the same time and, as you can see, you will get different opinions. What works for one doesn't always work for another.

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11/21/2005 2:06:34 PM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005
  Wow...thanks guys. These are great responses. I appreciate the detail.

What do you mean by "primes"...*I shoot with primes only*...?

HAHA!! Your names rhyme...forgive me...I am music teacher...

So, do you change your lenses throughout the event? I find that to be awfully cumbersome. Also, do you shoot without flash?

Cyndee ><>

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11/21/2005 2:10:56 PM

Kerry L. Walker   Primes are single focal length lenses.

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11/21/2005 2:13:13 PM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  Yes, I change lenses alot. You get good at it after a while.

The main difference, as far as this post, between Kerry and I is that Kerry said he uses flash. I rarely use it. When I do, it's just 'cause I need to. If I can squeeze out any available light at all, I will use that. So, shooting with a 50mm at f/1.4 at a candle light ceremony is very important. I'll bump up the ISO if need be and shoot using what's there. I would not use flash in that situation. So, there you have it. If you plan to use flash all day, then fast glass is not as much of an issue.

FWIW, even at dark receptions, I'll often have my flash bumped down 3 stops, and pull in as much ambient light as I can from what's in the room. In Kerry's case, he wouldn't really care about that because he would be using adequate light from his flash.

It just depends on how you want to do it.

Sometimes, for fun, I take the damn flash off my camera, and just leave it in a corner somewhere, and use a remote trigger to fire it. I love the look, but you have to work with it a bit to get it right.

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11/21/2005 2:25:47 PM

Craig  Paulsen   you almost use all lenses to shoot in a professional manner. There is a reason for each one. Your 70-200 is great for the ceremony ( add the 2x and get some tight shoots with out being noticed). Your fixed lens will get you your best quality shots like the 50mm and the 85 1.2 even a 135mm(but I like to be closer). The 16-35 down low makes excellent music CD quality covers. A fisheye makes some interesting and fun shots. The 24 -70 is a good one for the PJ shots that you need to get quickly. Macro for the detail shots. One thing interesting that I have noticed is that if I use my Monopod with my zoom lenses the quality is a little closer to my fixed.
I use my 85mm 1.2 about 75% of the time, cause its the best lens out there. I use fill flash with my LSIIPJ(w/2x2 power pack_) , but you can't tell that I used a flash. I only buy the best quality stuff, because I don't want to have to upgrade later on.

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11/22/2005 7:47:47 AM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005
  thanks, Craig. THis actually clears up a lot of unasked questions. Also, what kind of pack do y'all use to carry all of these lenses?

Craig, would you mind me doing some research with lenses and getting back to you on your opinion about quality of a specific lens? Or, if you know of any off the top of your head in my price range? Thanks.

Cyndee ><>

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11/22/2005 8:51:14 AM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005
  Okay, after reading another thread...I have more questions...

My style of wedding photography is to capture mostly candid shots with a few formals. What should be my next lens? I have a Sigma 70-300 and the kit lens that came with Canon Rebel XT. I want to be able to use my next lens with the best possible resolution and practicality (word?). Bu8t like what was said before, I do not want to have a lens that I have to upgrade in a couple of years. If it means saving for awhile longer, so be it. Any suggestions?

CYndee ><>

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11/22/2005 9:32:31 AM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003

You are asking a question that can't really be answered. I shoot PJ at weddings and here's what in my bag...this is off my BLOG...

However, keep in mind that while I have all this crap with me, which my assistant is in charge of keeping track of, I typically use my 15mm, 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm, and 1 camera body. The rest mostly stay in the bag. If I don't have an assistant, I work a little differently, much lighter with just a small bag with me, and the rest in the car. In fact, the very last wedding I shot, I used one body, 3 lenses, and 1 flash unit all day. You don't really need all that much, but you need all the other stuff for back-up in case things start malfunctioning.

Also, I really love the 16-35mm lens. It is absolutely the best lens ever and I have been using it alot. It's my one exception to not using zooms. With this lens, I could shoot an entire reception without even changing. I just wish it was a tad faster.

Anyway, here's off the BLOG...

"At your wedding, I will typically have with me a LowePro II Roller bag. Inside the bag is usually:
1 Canon 5D
3 Canon 20D's
1 Canon 300D (as back-up, just in case)
2 550EX flash units
1 580EX flash unit
2 CP2 flash battery packs for quick flash recycle
2 flash diffusers (for bouncing the flash)
1 16-35mm zoom lens
1 24-70mm zoom lens
1 70-200mm zoom lens with IS
1 28-135 f/4.5-5.6 mm lens with IS
1 8mm Sigma fish-eye f/4 lens
1 15mm Canon f/2.8 lens
1 24mm f/1.4 lens
1 28mm f/2.8 lens
1 35mm f/2.0 lens
1 35mm f/1.4 lens
1 50mm f/1.4 lens
1 50mm f/1.8 lens
1 85mm f/1.2 lens
1 135mm f2.0 lens
1 5-way reflector/diffuser for natural light reflection
Lens hoods and accessories
23 gigs of CF and MD cards
About 6 back up batteries for the cameras. Back up AA batteries for my flash units.
1 Camera tripod
2 Flash tripods (rarely used, but occassionally I like to use off camera flash and trigger them remotely)
A small tool box that has a screw driver, pliers, etc. just in case.
Duct tape (always useful)
...and a few other odds and ends.

If you have any questions about the equipment I use, please feel free to ask. I love to talk shop, and am happy to share my perspective on photography."


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11/22/2005 9:58:29 AM

David M
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/4/2005
  just like when someone says, "How fast a computer do I need?" I always say "as fast as you can afford"... the less I have to wait on the computer, the better

The faster the lense, the better, it is just a matter of how much can/want to spend on a lense. A fast lense will get you shots you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Fighting low light is a constant issue.

I just wonder why it is taking so long for camera makers to make more sensitive sensors that are useable (ie iso3200/6400/12800) This would offset the need to spend big bucks on "fast glass"

I remember when video cameras started getting popular (early 80's), they were not good indoors, then the mfg'rs brought the "lux" value down fast, 7-lux, then 2-lux, then even 0-lux... I don't know what a "lux" is, but dang, video cameras today don't need any extra light to work.

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11/22/2005 12:03:05 PM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005
  Thanks, guys, for all the helpful responses. I am thinking about getting a fast prime lens instead of a zoom based on what others have said most recently. I'll be back...Thanks again!

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11/22/2005 12:56:04 PM

Craig  Paulsen   Well, I would start with the zooms to cover the field until you can afford everything else. I would start off with 2 and then purchase the rest in this order

24-70 (with close up filters for details- macro later when you can afford it)
550 ex w/2x2 turbo (recycle time 1sec.)

15 fisheye

24 if you got money left to burn

Get a bag that will fit under an airplane seat or over head compartment if you plan on world wide weddings

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11/23/2005 5:30:52 AM

Cyndee Wanyonyi
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2005
I've tried e-mailing you directly, but I keep getting a no-go e-mail back. Anyway, here's my question...

I have really appreciated your responses to some of the threads I have been following. I have a question in regards to your last comment about purchasing another had the 70-200 as the first priority. Are you saying that I need a 70-300 zoom AND a 70-200??? I already have a 70-300, do I need one up to 200? I also already have the kit lens from Canon; should I invest in another similar lense or go for something new? Also, what do you think about the 20-100-something zoom if I already have a long zoom? Thanks for all your replies in advance.
Cyndee ><>

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11/23/2005 8:54:44 AM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003

The 70-200 f/2.8 is ;kjzsdfh;gkjn;sadfn p;bnadfv al;fd kvnak;jfvpkjanfdv k;jna;dsfnv;alknsfdv;anfd v;ajnfdsv ;nadv.

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But, I highly recomend you should a;kjhsd;fkh asd;fjha;sdhf ;ashd f;'a dsf'lakjds f;ah sd'fljaf'
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;aldj f;ieryhaerqpoiertpqoiyerpiqa ef;kjad nvcpAShe f'qieyf pa;wehf a;sdfv

Warm regards,

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11/23/2005 12:35:26 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Looks like a nervous breakdown.

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11/23/2005 3:36:04 PM

Craig  Paulsen   hmmm that weird, maybe I forgot a letter or mispelled it

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11/23/2005 5:34:31 PM

Craig  Paulsen   70-300 is fine

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11/23/2005 5:35:03 PM

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