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Best Lens for Conference Coverage

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by bsdubois00, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. bsdubois00

    bsdubois00 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 10, 2011
    Houston, TX
    So I just got approval for my Media badge to a major conference in Vegas in January and am looking for the best Mu-4/3 lens for my E-PM1 - currently I just have the kit lens but was wondering if I should go for a faster lens since this will be all indoors that could help with low light if needed.

  2. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Depends on what access you have. I shoot the occasional conference and fast lenses are definitely a bonus. I'd be looking at the 45mm 1.8 for sure and maybe the Panny 20mm if you have really close in access. If you're going to need longer than 45mm then either the 45-200 or 14-150 Olympus, but you'll need a flash for these.

    Are you allowed to use flash? If so then you may be able to fire a remote FL36/50R on a stand to help with the slow zoom you have.

  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I would go for the 45mm f/1.8 or Leica 25mm f/1.4 for a fast prime, then if you want something fast with greater telephoto reach I would adapt a Four-Thirds zoom/prime, or a legacy prime. The native telephoto zooms are too slow for my taste, especially with indoor lighting (unless you're using flash - which would probably mean a remote flash at super-telephoto range).

    Just what kind of focal length you need though, depends on your access as Gordon asked.
  4. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    I've been to Vegas for the SEMA show, and if the lighting at your event is anything similar, you'll definitely want some fast primes.

    As others have recommended, the 45 would give you nice subject isolation and a fast enough speed to avoid the use of flash.

    I would also recommend a fast wide angle lens. My favorite is the Oly 12mm (24mm equivalent in 35mm format). It's wide enough for most scenes, and if you want a narrower FOV, you can later crop.
  5. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    The challenge with fast lenses is that the DOF is very small. Depending upon the situation and working distances, you may end up with a lot of out-of-focus or nearly-in-focus or that-would-have-been-a-great-shot-if-they-didn't-move shots.

    It is for this reason that at events I'm often shooting at F4.0 and either pushing the ISO or using a flash. If the subject isn't moving, or the working distances permit, I'll open up the aperture as needed.

    What are you shooting, btw? People? Objects? People holding objects? People in shiny objects? Will these be posed shots or more photojournalistic in nature?
  6. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    What kind of conference?

    Are you going to be photographing product in a display, filming presenters lecturing, or taking blackmail shots with the stripper(s) at the bar?
  7. MrKal_El

    MrKal_El Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 24, 2011
    I'm pretty sure you are talking about CES... and I think the Panny 20mm might fit the bill since you are usually able to get close to the tech (touch them) and the 20mm will have the advantage over the 45mm due to the distance issue.
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Which is an advantage of the Four-Thirds system, allowing you to retain greater DOF without any loss of lens speed. If you're finding that you need to stop down to F/4 on your m4/3 camera, imagine how far you'd have to stop down on a Full Frame to get the same DOF?
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Which lens would you suggest for that? ;)  I assume an E-PM1 or GF-3 would fit the bill. xD
  10. MrKal_El

    MrKal_El Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 24, 2011
    Ohhh...and while your there...stop into the AVN's and grab us some good pics too :) 

    That should be fine to use the 45mm.... :)  #BokehBaby
  11. Bokeaji

    Bokeaji Gonzo's Dad O.*

    Aug 6, 2011
    Austin, TX
    i say pl 25 1.4... cause its the most expensive i think and this is a good excuse to splurge! :D 

    or a leica ** lux!
  12. ckrueger

    ckrueger Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2011
    From what I've shot, coverage from 24mm-e to 200mm-e is useful, depending on where you are positioned and what kind of shots you want. I did wish for a fisheye a couple times in one room where I essentially had access to stand up in the rafters looking down at everyone. UWA lenses work, but the distortion at the corners can be distracting when your subject is people and the people get reeeeally wide in the corners!

    We really need to know what kind of event you're shooting to help. My experience is with a speaker and 50-100 attendees in typical conference rooms and theater settings. In that environment, to get presenter shots if you're close to a stage/podium you'll probably be around 70mm-e, and if you're further back you'll probably want something around 135mm-e. If you want crowd + presenter you'll have to be positioned well and you'll probably want a wider lens like a 28mm-e.

    For the kind of shots you'll be taking you don't need to worry about DOF being too short. Even with an f/2.8 lens on FF you'll easily get whole heads in focus, so anything you'll shoot on M43 will be more than sufficient. You're not shooting face shots here, it's more head/shoulders to environmental shots.

    I don't know what kind of event this is, but at some events flash is EXTREMELY distracting. I was at one event and the other guy was shooting with I think a Nikon SB-800, in TTL metering mode. Every shot he fired popped the flash twice, AND he was shooting in continuous mode. At times the conference got a blast of a half dozen strobes in less than a second. I even had some people look at me with annoyed looks, even though I was shooting with my 5D2 and EP3, ambient only. If this is a quiet event you'll get your best shots if nobody even knows you're there.

    Shooting without flash my photos came out relatively noisy compared to the other guy's photos, as I was shooting ISO800 to ISO6400 depending on the shot. The high ISO wasn't much of a problem using Lightroom and shooting RAW, and one batch noise reduction for each ISO setting on each camera made all the photos look decent.

    Once again, there's a huge difference between a seminar-like conference and something like SEMA, but if you're shooting a more intimate event I recommend:
    • Get the fastest lenses you can
    • Bring a 24mm-e WA for crowd shots and a short tele for presenter shots
    • Avoid flash when you can, and only fire one shot if you need flash. Bounce if you can.
    • If you shoot flash and someone has a presentation going, get your metering right!
    • If you can get a few minutes with the lighting guy you can find out just how much of a black hole to anticipate
    • Scout out your shooting positions beforehand and pay attention how not to be obtrusive
    • Bring a lens in case you have to shoot from the back of the room, because sometimes you can't move around
    • Talk to whomever hired you and get an understanding how the photos will be used. If they don't need large photos you can crank the ISO really high
    • Check your shots during breaks on your laptop so you can adjust if things aren't working out

    Good luck, whatever it is you're going to shoot!
    • Like Like x 1
  13. bsdubois00

    bsdubois00 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 10, 2011
    Houston, TX
    The event is the 2012 Shot Show - it is the largest firearm convention around - it is an industry type convention and not a gun show - only dealers, vendors, manufactures etc etc are allowed to attend. I will be able to be fairly close to what I am shooting - so I'm thinking that I'm not really going to need something with anymore reach than the kit lens that I have - question now is the 45mm a good choice or would it be better with a 20mm or say to hell with it and get both LOL

    Preferably I would only purchase one and have it on a dedicated E-PM1 body and keep my kit on the other body - this is the game plan at least.

    Hope that is enough info thanks for the replies - look forward to more!!!
  14. drizek

    drizek Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 5, 2011
    I took the 70-300mm to comic con. It was way too slow TBH, although I did manage some decent shots considering I was sitting so far away from the presenters.

    Maybe take the 20mm and hte 40-150mm as a backup(because it is so small), or just the 45mm.

    The PL25 doesn't seem like a bad idea either, actually. It should give you more working distance than the 20 and more light than either the 20 or the 45.
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