Good Morning Everybody,
We landed safe and sound yesterday, unpacked the bags, checked in with the team, and called it a day about 6:00 p.m. Today it’s back to a normal routine around here which is a good thing.
We are prepping the space in our production area for next week’s install of the new Canon iPF 8100 printer. It’s about 2 inches wider than the Epson 9880 it’s replacing. The problem is that the space is about 1 inch too small to make everything fit. Don’t you love when that happens. We’ve got a few work-a-rounds in mind so I’m sure everything will work out just fine.
Follow My Peachpit Twitterview Tomorrow At 2:00p.m. EDT
So here's your chance! What wedding tips have you been dying to know? What should you do on your next wedding shoot? Check out all the info about my Twitterview right here. Don’t forget to watch the short 2 minute video too. We shot it at PSW last week. Hope to “see” you there - It should be fun.
OK, time to get on with today’s post and I think I’ve got a good one for you, especially if you are considering purchasing any new lenses soon. So, let’s get right to it. Here we go…
The Case Against Fast Glass
You know, all the time, I'm asked why I don't shoot lens with those big fat F-stops. Look at any of my "Image of the Day" posts and you will see I'm usually (like never) at the maximum aperture of the lens I'm shooting. In most cases I’m never using “L-Series” lenses – Canon’s really high priced spread.
OK, why do I shy away from that "big boy" glass? Here's why…… I just don't need them.
Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of my story.
Now the rest of the story is this. I really don't need them for my style of shooting. How often am I shooting with just the available light.
In reality, it is very seldom. Sure, Jeff Ascough [link] gets away with it every weekend – but, it’s his STYLE of shooting. That’s why he is such a big fan of fast glass. By the way, Jeff, congrats on you being named as an upcoming Lens & Light Honoree at BestOfWeddingPhotography.com.
Those that know me, know that my “gig” is lighting – lot’s of creative on-camera and off-camera flash. This is true for most of my wedding/portrait photography. Is that a bad thing? Of course not – it’s just my style.
I love the challenge of placing that light, or more accurately stated, the “tonal values” of the scene right where I want them. That’s how I create those dramatic images. For me it’s about MAKING the lighting exciting!
That is not to say that some lighting is NOT exciting all by itself - any self respecting sunset knows that’s some exciting lighting.
Let’s look how often I shoot without flash. I begin the wedding coverage with two cameras – one with a flash mounted on it, and the other with that rare gem, a 50mm F1.4 lens attached. The second lens is the one I use for those truly candid shots. But even with that lens on the camera, I still shoot it at mostly F2.0. Why, it’s about the depth of field. F1.4 is just too shallow a depth of field for me. Frankly, too many of my images are too far out of focus for my tastes when using the lens wide open.
That easily explains why I would NEVER pick up a 85mm F1.2 lens for the whopping price of $1,800! Heck, Zack Arias suggested a 85mm F 1.8 lens as a great starter lens for new photographers. Hey, I can’t disagree with that. I would never hang out at that F1.2 range anyway. My gosh, the depth of field of the 85mm at F1.2 on a Canon 7D is less than 2.5 inches at 10 feet!!!
OK, I know a few folks are going to disagree with me. They are going to contend that the fast glass opens up a brand new set of shooting possibilities for the wedding/portrait photographer. I don’t disagree with this either. Remember, I do take a few images with my wider aperture 50mm F1.4 lens. But stylistically, it’s just not my thing.
Of course I shoot the entire wedding ceremony without flash. In fact the only time a flash SHOULD fire during the ceremony is during the procession and recession only – NO FLASH during the ceremony EVER!!!
Don’t I want fat F-stops for those shots? Not necessarily. I like to shoot my 70-200mm F2.8 IS lens at F3.5 because of the slightly extra depth of field. For most of my ceremony shots, I prefer my 70-300mm F3.5-5.6 DO IS lens on my Canon 7D. With that lens “racked out” to 300mm on the 7D camera body you have an effective 480mm focal length. Now you can really shoot those “reach out and touch somebody” candids.
Am I putting down those that love their fast glass – of course not. Go for it. I would rather spend my money on more intermediate priced lenses, for example, the 24-105mm IS lens at only $1100. This is one of my favorite lenses. It’s fast enough for many “available light” shots but still gives me a good range of zoom focal length that helps me avoid the “lens changing juggle” at a wedding.
For me too, it’s about getting the expressions quickly and efficiently. That’s what the 24-105mm IS lens allows me to accomplish easily.
Let’s talk a bit more about the F4.0 or even F5.6 maximum apertures on some of the lenses I use. OK, What has become the great equalizer of the slower vs. faster glass in recent years? It’s clearly the new crop of high ISO cameras from both Canon and Nikon. Couple that with the new noise cancelling capabilities of Lightroom 3 and lots of the advantages of shooting fast glass is falling by the wayside.
The “fast glass” advantage before revolved around the ability to shoot at faster shutter speeds to stop the action and reduce camera shake. The other advantage rested in the stylistic rendition of the image with an extremely shallow depth of field. High ISO cameras remove all the fast glass advantages except shallow depth of field.
Think about it. Shooting at F2.0 at 1/60 second at ISO 400 was a good thing in low light situations. But, heck, now I can shoot F4.0 at 1/250 second at a perfectly respectable ISO 6400. Add a little noise reduction and I’m' home free.
The bottom line for me is this:
1. My style let’s me shoot at higher ISO’s and consequently smaller F-stops.
2. I’m a “light guy” and light using my strobes creatively. Fast glass is inconsequential to my results.
3. For shooting quickly, I like the longer range of focal lengths of the slower glass (offset by the higher ISO cameras).
4. My shooting style is not predominately available light only so I really don’t need a heavy (literally) fast glass.
5. I prefer flattering my subjects with “flattering” light that I can bring to the shoot and I do that at my favorite F 5.6 aperture.
6. I prefer the versatility of shooting with “room lights” at the wedding reception. I typically shoot my reception candids at F6.3. with three lights firing at a wedding reception, one on camera ( fill-light only), one held by my assistant (main light), and the third on a light stand in the corner of the room. I can come up with some great spontaneous shots that would be completely missed by the fast glass shooters.
7. I mix my flash shots with my available light shots which gives me a wider range of image options for my clients – photographically speaking at least.
8. And, I’m cheap and don’t want to spend the giant sized bucks on a 85mm or 50mm F1.2 lens.
Anyway, it takes more that one style of photography to make the photographic world go ‘round and my photographic style finds no compromise when choosing not to use fast fat glass.
Hey, just my opinion. But, you know in your hearts, that I’m right :~)
Hey gang, on that note I’m out of here. It’s back to my real job today. Why don’t you drop your own thoughts in the “Comments” section below and become part of the “fast glass – no fast glass” conversation.
I’ll plan to see everyone tomorrow for another profit building episode of Business Day Thursday - “How To Make A Little Add Up To A Lot.”
See ya’ then, -David