Thursday, July 03, 2008

Who Poked The Lens Hornet's Nest Any Way?

Boy, I stirred up a bit of a "hornet's nest" with yesterday's post, "It's In The Bag, Why You Need These Lenses On A Wedding." Let me clarify with just a couple quick comments. Some readers commented that they would take fast glass over Image Stabilization any time. I am 100% directly opposite on that point. Fast glass does gives you very shallow depth of field and faster shutter speeds. But image stabilization gives you a higher percentage of sharper images per shooting assignment. This is especially true on a wedding day situation where the low light action is very slow moving, if not stopped. This is especially true for your ceremony photographs and the formal family, wedding party groups and coaxed candids. It's the camera shake that ruins more images, even with the fast glass. I get much better and consistent results shooting my nearly none moving subjects at a wedding with my slower glass and image stabilization. Remember, I'm not tethered to a tripod.

I have switched from using my 70-200mm IS lens during the ceremony to my 70-300mm lens for nearly all my ceremony shots. Why? Did I say I can hand hold that lens down to a 1/6 second and I love my effective 480mm focal length optic - talk about getting close to the subject. Am I going to pick up Canon's 300mm F2.8 IS lens for over $4000 to get the same thing - eh, probable not.

A few readers opted for a 50mm-higher F2.8 zoom lens. Still not my cup of tea. The 50mm bottom end focal length would drive me crazy - way to much camera juggling on the job for me. That's why I keep a 50mm F1.4 on a second body set at Aperture priority and the lens is set to F2.0. That camera is always around my neck ready for any quick candid. Give me one lens that does it all on my main camera body and a second with a wide aperture for available light and I'm ready to go.
My "do everything" lens is still going to be my 17-85mm IS lens. I will admit that I do really like the 24-105mm IS (I picked it up for my 5D which I don't use much these days) and have been using that lens a lot more often. I'm most recently using it on the first half of the job - say everything pre-wedding reception. I will then generally switch back to the 17-85mm IS at the wedding reception. I just like the wider optic. One reader liked the 17-55mm F2.8 IS lens, too. I agree it's a great lens - I shot with one for about 6 months - it just wasn't long enough for me. Unfortunately, too much lens juggling for me again.
Allow me to remark to the comment "Regarding the mediocre quality of the 17-85mm IS lens" in one of the comments. Come on gang - we are not often going larger than 8x10 or 10x15 prints for our multiple wedding/event albums. But having made that remark, let me say I have many 24x36 sample images I travel with for my lectures and displayed at the Master Class made with the 17x85mm lens, and they look great! By the way, that includes today's image of the day.

One reader said he would pick up a 430EX before the 10-22mm lens. Stop the presses - get the 10-22mm. What a great lens! It has all the wide angle you will ever need, and great compositional possibilities. Don't get the 430EX for weddings. You need all the "umph" you can get and the 580EX-II would be a better choice. Then I would recommend getting a second 580EX-II when the budget permits. I will cover the flash subject in the near future.
So gang, like I said yesterday, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it." Thanks to all for the lively discussion. It should never be about who's right and who's wrong. It's about style and technique and what works best for the individual photographer. I shoot one image every 9 seconds for 9-10 hours on a Saturday. My lens/camera mix works perfect for me. Hope you enjoyed the peek inside my gear bag. This just happens to be the law according to David!

Hey everybody, have a great 4th of July in what ever part of the world you happen to be. I'll be back for some thoughts on that tomorrow. See you then, everyone. Oh, by the way..... please be sure that shooting off pixels in your community is legal over the holiday weekend ;~) -David


  1. David - Great commentary on your lens choices!! I say that not because of your specific choices, but because of the reasons for your choices. Our task is to take a hard look at our photographic "modus operandi" and to decide what specific equipment would enable us to best accomplish our goals. Hope that people take your words to heart. John

  2. David -

    I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, but I was less struck about your lens choices than your camera body choice. I live with my IS 70-200 f/2.8 during the ceremony...sometimes with an extender if I have the light.

    We shoot with 5Ds and 1DmkIIIs and I wouldn't dream of switching from a 5D to a 40D...particularly for low-light wedding venues!!!

    The 40D may be faster than the 5D and you get your negligible (in my opinion) crop factor...but holy crap does the larger sensor on the 5D outperform even the MkIII at high ISOs. I use the 5D and MkIII side by side every day - I somehow doubt the 40D would fair all that well if compared to the MkIII at higher ISOs, much less the 5D.

    Each to his own, and I think glass matters more than the body - but I would never opt for your choice, it puzzles me.


    Rich Mattingly