Thursday, April 24, 2014

Help me shoot.

I've got two camera bodies, a Rebel XTi and an O.G. Digital Rebel. For lenses, I've got 18-135 and 18-55 zooms, your basic 50mm, and a 60mm macro. What would you bring to take pictures of people and guns in a trade show setting?
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21 comments:

Bob said...

Either the 18-55mm zoom or the 50mm (don't need both) and the macro. I'd lean toward the zoom.

nguyenhm16 said...

50mm. Kit zooms are not the best lens indoors because they're so slow that you'll need a flash, which then makes your pictures ugly. I would take the 50 and keep it at f/2 and shoot away. Or alternately the macro and shot wide open (f/2.8 I presume).

Ritchie said...

Not familiar with those bodies, but favor the macro and the lighter of the zooms.

wolfwalker said...

I know zip about Canon camera bodies, so my advice is generic. Trade shows being usually indoors in piss-poor lighting, I'd do everything I could to get good low-light performance. So take the camera with the best low-light (high-ISO) performance. Also carry a spare battery and a spare data card. As for lenses, I'd put the 18-135mm on the camera and forget about bringing any others. Well, _maybe_ bring the 60mm if you want closeups... but remember, you can enlarge it A LOT and still have an image that's usable on a webpage.

PhilaBOR said...

How fast are the sensors? I'd just bring the 18-135 if I had a camera fast enough to handle ambient lighting...but I hate putzing with lens changes. If you're looking for some serious pr0n, bring the macro...and some lighting:
http://m.ebay.com/sch/i.html?isRefine=true&_nkw=portable+studio+flash.

Ruth said...

If the 18-135 has a decent fstop range then I'd go with that, it'll give you the best range of shots you can take.

Paul said...

I would agree with the 18-135 lens. Depending on other factors that should give some pretty good shots. Light will be the most important part. Depth of field not so much.

Mike_C said...

Are you doing this for personal/blog purposes, or is this part of a paying job? If the latter, definitely bring both bodies so you'll have the Rebel (older one) as a backup.

As to photographing people, are you going to be doing headshot/portrait type stuff or will it be mainly group shots and environmental (e.g. Joe and Sally in their booth-of-wares)? If you plan on any portrait stuff definitely bring the 50/1.8. Its effective (35-mm equivalent FOV, let's call this mm-e[quiv]) focal length is 80 mm-e on the Canon APS-C type sensor. That's pretty damn close to the classic 90 to 105mm range favored for portraits. (Close-up wide angle portraits make the nose look big, etc etc.) Also, the fast aperture will give you narrower depth of field and thus better separation of subject from background. Plus, as others have pointed out, (un)available light tends to be crappy at tradeshows, so the fast aperture will help there as well.

As to the zooms, I couldn't say which is preferable (I am a Nikon DX and lately an Olympus OM-D/E-M1* shooter and know nothing about the Canon range) but I'd definitely want one of the zooms for the wide part of the range (groups, environmental booth stuff). Dunno which one is optically better, but personally I'd not be too concerned about the long end of the range (56-135) because I rarely shoot that long in a crowded and dark environment such as a trade show. Plus neither of your camera bodies has good low ISO performance by today's standards. I'd bet that ISO 800 is pushing it even on the newer XTi. That said, if the 18-135 is faster (larger aperture) at 55mm than the 18-55 (which is 5.6 at that focal length) then you might want the bigger zoom just for that tad of aperture. Not that you'd necessarily shoot wide open, but the faster f-stop helps the AF work better.

Macro 60mm? Nice to have, but will there be enough light to take macro-ish photos at a small enough f-stop? Sure you can shoot close up with the lens wide open, but then your depth of field will be very very thin. Unless you're going for the "one screw in focus" artsy photo that's not so good. If you know there will be some better lighting (halogens on the product at someone's booth for example -- though watch for weird color balance issues if you have a mix of primary halogen and background fluorescent) then you may be fine. Or bring your own flash, but for a short macro such as the 60mm with minimal working distance it can get a little tricky.

TL;DR
1. If it were me, I'd bring both bodies, shooting the XTi mainly. Bring one zoom, the 50/1.8 definitely, and tuck the macro in your bag just in case.
2. Weight-limited: XTi body, 50/1.8, one zoom, your choice which.
For the odd close-up you could consider one of those screw-in "diopter" lenses that go on the front of the 50/1.8. Most are fairly crappy, especially toward the edges, but the older 2-element ones are pretty good. Canon used to make some, as did Minolta, and Nikon's 5T and 6T were very good. Though now discontinued and quite pricy used. Plus you'd probably need a step-down or step-up ring since the 5T and 6T had 62-mm filter thread. The 18-55 zoom has a 58-mm thread, dunno what the 18-135 has.

Scott J said...

Thanks for posting this. I really learn from threads like this one.

Before reading the comments I would have immediately said 18-55 based on my experiences running a 28-80 on my Nikon D70s. Wide enough for closeup gun pron but zooming up is nice if you can't get physically close.

Sadly my budding amateur photography skills have languished since I bent a pin in the D70s while stuffing in a CF card early Fall last year.

Fried the card in the process and I haven't gotten a price for repair to determine if just buying another used body is a better idea.

Scott J said...

Oh and I didn't finish my thought: when I would have said 18-55 I didn't think about the crappy lighting at shows.

The cheap Nikon 28-80 goes to f3.3 so it does ok with poor light. It's also much clearer than a lens so cheap has any right to be.

Matthew Fulghum said...

the classical "portrait" lenses for 35mm cameras are in the 85-105mm range; the 50 and 60mm lenses are going to be right in the sweet spot on your bodies, FOV wise. If the macro is reasonably fast (I know the Nikon 60mm macro is an f2.8) I'd probably take it and one of the zooms. For a trade show, probably the cheapo 18-55; I wouldn't anticipate needing much in the way of telephoto.

mikee said...

Don't you know a guy named Oleg?

Mike_C said...

@Scott J: Can't imagine it would make economic sense to get a D70s fixed, apart from sentimental value or some other intangible. I doubt you can get someone to swap out the CF-reading part for under a hundred bucks. Think of it as an opportunity to upgrade. KEH in Atlanta does worldwide mail order of used stuff, and they rate very conservatively, so their "BGN" is often equivalent to what others would call "excellent." No connection other than they have too much of my money.

Anonymous said...

If you can use a flash, take either zoom. If you can't, take the 60 because it's faster. Also, if you can't, be prepared for high-ISO misery because you'll want to be f/8 or so for close work just for depth of field. The speed of the 50 (f/1.8, I guess) will only be helpful at large-ish distances unless you want huge amounts of artily blurred background.

tl;dr: zoom or 60, f/8, flash.

Anonymous said...

50mm is the people lens, decent for close focus too, and the quickness of the aperture will pay off indoors. Better backgrounds too.

Comrade Misfit said...

I'm going to dissent and suggest a decent pocket-type camera, for ease of maneuverability in a crowded venue. Second extra batteries and SD cards.

Bruce Edwards said...

Simple, grin! Two bodies, two lenses. Put the 50mm on the best body and use that as primary camera, that gives you a short, fast tele portrait lens that focuses close. Then carry the 18-135 on the other camera, mostly for wide angles. The heft of the 18-135 will help you hold it steady for available light shots.

Scott J said...

Mike_c thanks for the tip. My wife will be pleased for me to get a decent camera again.

She'll be displeased when that site tempts me to spend more money.

CMac said...

Today's digital SLR camera's do so much better than the old SLR film camera's in low light situations that I would just take the 60mm Macro and whatever body it fits. You don't really need to zoom in for gun show situations, the problem is often getting far enough away to fit what you want into the picture. And when you want a picture of just a firearm or knife, the macro lets you get close enough to fill the frame with just what you want, and get the surrounding stuff out of frame.

Gewehr98 said...

That D70S is still worth repairing, even at 6MP. I keep my old D70 around as a backup to my D200 an D300, the image quality is still fine if you're not blowing up photos for wall-size posters. Your CF card slot repair parts are easily found on eBay.

If you don't want to fix it, let me know how much you want for the camera, so I can fix it!

For indoor venues, I gravitate towards faster lenses. Nothing's more annoying than flash photography in a packed auditorium/concert hall/etc.

Bruce Edwards said...

Tam, can you let us know what you used and how it worked for you??