Fast zooms might be required

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by RobWatson, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Went for a hike with the fam in Big Basin State Park last weekend. Took the E-M5, O40-50, P14-45 and O17F2.8. Deep in the woods the light was low enough that auto ISO insisted 3200 + was needed and fixing ISO at 1000 resulted in excessive shutter speeds.

    The O7F2.8 was really too wide in most shots but got decent ISO/shutter speeds.

    I'm thinking in such cases the fast zooms are needed. Hiking 6+ miles in dark woods chasing kids and hauling a handful of lenses just does not work very well. 12-40 F2.8 looks to fit very well in this situation.

    Maybe I'm too picky but ISO > 640 is just too noisy for my tastes.

    I figure if I'm going to spend $800-1200 on a brace of fast primes might be better to get a fast zoom instead. Plenty of more hiking with the fam in the works ...
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I was in the smokies this past weekend an in the morning I was shooting the panny 20mm shooting ISO 1600 to 3200. I at times needed more zoom, so now I'm looking into the oly 45mm. Even the panny 12-35 would be too slow.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. :-/ tripod.. longer exposures? At least you don't have a moving subject...

    Don't think more stuff.. think better technique..

    The dark areas of this photo had an exposure even worse than described in the OP... coupled with the bright highlights made for a very difficult exposure. I had a pocket tripod and bracketed a lot.

    OMD E-M5 + 14mm (If I recall correctly). Probably around f/5.6, base ISO, probably around a 1 second exposure. Balanced everything in post.


    Even with fast lenses.. I rarely shoot wide open for this type of shot.... most consumer lenses don't work optimally at wide open. Furthermore... you need to control your DOF.

    Oh yeh.. there's a low powered pop of a flash handheld in there too... ssshhhh. dont' tell anyone they might say I cheated. lol
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  4. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    Slightly off topic.

    But I did a noise test of my E-M5 a while back and found that isos created by a base multiple of the base iso (i.e created by analogue gain) - 200, 400, 800, 1600 - were less noisy than the faux isos created by digital gain imbetween. In other words iso 400 was cleaner than iso 320 and iso 800 cleaner than iso 640.
    • Like Like x 3
  5. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    What I should have made more clear was hiking with and shooting the fam (lots of low fast moving kids) ... not keen to lump even the tiniest tripod into the mix. Lucky if I don't end up carrying a kid!

    Might take the flash next time ...

    Very interesting bit about base ISO multiples.
  6. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    Unfortunately I cant find my noise test on my hard drive. But take a look at this video about the Canon 7D. (Note that iso 640 is cleaner than iso 100 (iso 160 is base))

    [ame=""]Canon EOS 7D ISO Noise test on Vimeo[/ame]

    The effect isnt quite as pronounced on the Sony sensor on the E-M5.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Forests can be very very dark. Use the surroundings to your advantage, there are many props and built-in tripod replacements scattered through most woods. Slower shutters will be pretty unavoidable, if you want a low iso to keep dynamic range and color saturation.
  8. Edmunds

    Edmunds Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 16, 2012
    Remember that with faster apertures, you will also have shallower depth of field. Usually when on a walk in the woods this comes out as simply blurry corners, rather than an interesting bokeh.
  9. My lens plus tripod is smaller and lighter than a 12-35mm or the newer 12-40. Its one of those table tripods that fit in your pocket. Tripod is small enough that I sometime leave it attached to the bottom of the camera even when not in use. I travel with 3 kids.... 6 year old plus twins less than one year. Its the reason why I sold my High end Canon system for MFT. Literally shot that photo with stuff that fits in pockets... ok... cargo pants. Sometimes, I have a very lightweight monopod (5 section gitzo carbon) with large rubber bands in pocket.... I can strap the monopod to things like trees or make a tripod out on the field.

    Faster lens.... imo in this case is like taking a slede hammer to a situation that requires a bit more finesse. As for flash, I didnt have with me at the time.... I used my wifes P&S to fire some light to the left side of the frame where it was soooo dark.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. AceAceBaby

    AceAceBaby Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    I clip a Joby Gorillapod to my (small) bag; it would just as easily clip to a belt loop.
  11. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Tripods work fine when doing waterfalls. Not so much when trying to grab pictures of people moving or animals.

    I generally don't like the "look" of flash most of the time, except for fill in in some situations. I carry a carbon fiber tripod when I go day hiking.
  12. klee

    klee Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2013
    Houston, TX
    Big basin can get very dark even during the day.

    Flash is a good option for freezing kid action. but it might leave the backdrop very dark and uninteresting unless you go with longer exposures. The good news is that this is very possible with the EM5 IBIS, and experimenting with 2nd curtain flash may get you the best of both worlds.
  13. See my following quote from a previous post in this thread.....

    Then you are using flash incorrectly... or not taking full advantage of it creative options.

    Again... equipment is nice but NOTHING replaces technique.
  14. (Darn... couldn't find any of mine in my online accounts....)

    But take this for example:

    You would be surprised to know that flash is actually one of the most important tools for action or moving subjects. It allows control of the light and how it falls in scene without being at the mercy of the current conditions. You can take a high-noon extremely unflattering light and turn it into a dramatic result.... by giving you control over foreground exposure separately from background exposure. Furthermore and when properly balanced (gels), you can use it to be your primary light source that you control when in flat boring dark conditions of the forest.

    Flash doesn't have to be flat and over powering.

    OMD EM5 Flash + high power battery + better beamer + 100-300 @300mm.
    Background was bright and the birds are high contrast in flat dark light. They are very far away so I need a powerful flash to overcome the sunlit background. The final result is that the background is about -0.5 EV less than the subjects.

  15. klee

    klee Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2013
    Houston, TX
    What flash did you use, and whats a better Beamer? I didn't know you could augment a flash with different batteries.
  16. One of two...

    Sunpak 622D (careful.. high trigger voltage)
    Sunpak 422D with a zoom head. (have 6 or so of these)

    Both are augmented with TR-PAK high voltage battery packs have have been modified to take RC-car batteries you can find at any RadioShack or hobby store.

    In that photo, I didn't have my 622D and was pushing the 422D's to the max.. full power as the subjects were too far away.

    The better beamer was used to increase the distance of the flash effectiveness. Its basically a Fresnel lens to focus the flash beam.

    A good explaination.
  17. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    What sort of technique and what sort of subjects? I'm terribly confused by what you are suggesting. In a dark forrest I see a deer 25 feet away, how does a flash help me that doesn't scare the deer? For kids running around reasonably close, then flash does help, but then I still need need faster shutter speeds then the flash will allow for, at least the flash on the e-pl2.

    Honestly, I'm lazy. I want to pull my camera out when I see something and shoot. Generally I don't have much time for anything else. Is a faster lens a sledghammer? Maybe, but it works.

    Honestly, I do lots of waterfalls and the darker it is, the better. I don't do that much shooting of other subjects during hikes, but when I do, I'd like to keep the shutterspeed high and the ISO as low as possible.
  18. The eagles were about 20+ feet away.....

    The questions you are presenting are pretty loaded and differ from the situation presented by the original poster. They also vary from situation to situation. It sounds like you are asking for a single answer for all situations... its-not-that-simple. Photography is not so simple that a one shot solution is available....

    Of course, you can simply buy faster lens and go shoot away.... Will you be happy with the results? Are you striving to be a sophisticated photographer or just someone that points and shoots? If I shot my waterfall photo at f/2.8, much of the foreground would be out of focus... even worse.. just enough out of focus that the viewer would notice and it "would' seem unintentional. Yeh... you will see a photo of a waterfall even with identical composition.. but it won't be as effective without the technique I decided to use.

    If you build a basic understanding from the beginning much of what I talk about will clear itself up. You'll be able to look at situation and decide for yourself how you want to shoot.... Even if its simply, throw on a fast lens, bumb up the ISO, and fire away.. fine... but at least make it an intentional decision.

    The strobist blog has a 101.. its very good. First and foremost, (related to your scenario of kids and deer) you need to understand that there are two different exposures involved... ~not~ a one.
  19. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I agree to some extent. It's also about expectations. I don't expect a world class shot everytime I pull the camera out.

    For landscapes or waterfalls, I don't need a fast lens. I just use a tripod. Obviously this doesn't work while I'm on the trail all the time. In most cases it does. Again, like I stated, for that situation slow shutter speeds and a stopped down lens is what I want.

    For wildlife on the trail, well, its all over the map. Some wildlife is skiddish and the shot has to be grabbed right then and there with no setup for anything. If the animal is far enough away, a fast lens is OK. Sure, some of the trees might be OOF, but the animal will be sharp.

    Other animals might hang around or don't mind. Extra time setting up an external flash might not be an issue. However, I rarely, in my hiking here in Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, have ever run into this situation. I did come across an alligator in a dense marsh where it was dark and a flash would have helped. The alligator was moving slowly so I had time to setup.

    Kids on the other hand are going to be dependent upon the kids. Are they going to wait around for someone to setup an external flash? On camera flash works OK in a pinch but usually most don't have much range. If its a backlit area fill flash does fine. If its dark enough in the woods, then I'm not sure how the onboard flash at full power produces a natural looking shot, but that is more my inexperience with flashes.

    Like you said though, It's all about expectations. The nice thing is that the newer cameras look ok at ISO 1600 and even up to 3200 if properly exposed.
  20. Of course... I didn't say other wise. I provided my opinion directly towards the OP not towards any all situations.

    <<<<< Trying to figure out where Djarum is taking this somewhat hijack'd thread to.... >>> confusion<<<

    Equipment are enablers.. no more no less.. Good/great photography still originates from the person behind the equipment. Technique....

    Wildlife photographers do often use flash.... it was the premise of the person who created the "better beamer". Its still a technique....

    I'm not sure about you, but in my mind I am always striving for world class photo even if I never get it.... In many cases, shooting wide open and bumping up the ISO isn't the greatest path towards that goal.... sometimes it is.... depends.
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