Good mid-range telephoto prime for event photography?

kadamnation

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I'm going to be photographing a conference later this year, and I'm thinking it's about time to get something brighter than the Panasonic 45-200mm that's served me these past few years. I'd been considering finally springing for the Pany 35-100mm, but it would hurt the bank a little so I was hoping I might be able to make due with my Sigma 60mm and an adapted prime.

Earlier this year I came across a Zuiko 135mm f/2.8, but unfortunately it was extremely fuzzy at all apertures, so it won't do for shots of conference speakers during their talks. I've got access to an OM speedbooster so I'm leaning towards something in the OM range, partly because the GX7's picky about stabilizing in between standard focal lengths so I'll probably be shooting handheld, stabilizer off, and will want all the speed I can get. I'm aiming for something in the 150-250mm range after crop factor math.

Is there a good option y'all would recommend, or should I just grit my teeth and grab the Panasonic 35-100mm? (No way I'm springing for the 40-150, wouldn't fit in my bag :))
 

RnR

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Nikon 105mm f2.5 + Nikon mount Speedbooster. As good as the Olympus 75mm f1.8 for all practical intent. Cheaper too. You could go real cheap and get a chinese designed focal reducer for ~$100. No idea on quality for that combo though.

Given the quality of OM glass, I suspect that your 135mm f2.8 is wonky, and not indicative of the lens design. Might be worthwhile to get the lens serviced. Could be the cheapest option all around.
 

kadamnation

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Thanks for the ideas! Autofocus definitely isn't essential, since when you're bound by a podium you don't move too much in depth; I'm hesitant about the 75mm just because it's not a length I shoot very often, it'd be a lot of cash to drop just for one event (which I'm not being paid for, I'm just helping with photography in exchange for a ticket). I'll reconsider the 35-100, but I'll also look into the Rokinon. Thanks, and any other suggestions welcome too, I appreciate it!
 

shermanshen

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If money is an issue, I have to also recommend the Rokinon 85mm. It is an amazing lens and I found it perfect for events that I've shot (plays, concerts, recitals). With a GX7 and focus peaking, it really worked wonders. I always got my best results stopped down to between f2-2.8. This was always bright enough for the lighting conditions that I worked with. In fact I shot a school play and the lighting technician was amazed at the results I got, stating that the previous year's photographer couldn't get a decent shot with the lights the way they were. In addition, I found the GX7's IBIS to work perfectly well with this focal length.

All of that being said, I found myself frustrated with a few of those missed opportunities because I just wasn't fast enough with the manual focus and I ended up springing for the 75mm f1.8. I also recently added the 35-100mm f2.8 to my stable as I'll be shooting more events in the future where the flexibility of the zoom will really come in handy. The 75 is also considerably smaller and lighter than the Rokinon. Along with autofocus, the Oly ends up being a far less taxing lens to use. If you think you'll be doing more conferences or it will generate some kind of income for you, I would consider investing in one of the more expensive lenses with autofocus. It'll be worth it in the long run. Good luck!
 

Turbofrog

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I have been using a Canon FD 50-135mm f3.5 with a no-name $99 focal reducer in order to end up with a 35-100 f2.5. It's a bit bigger and heavier than I wish it was (probably over 700g when the adapter is included) so the handling on my tiny GX1 is a tad awkward. But it's surprisingly sharp for what it is, even at the high ISOs I typically end up using such a lens. In fact, one of my favourites photo series that I've taken in the last few months was with this lens.

I managed to get it for $60 shipped on eBay, which is a screaming deal (apparently very few were made, and so it now sells more commonly for $200+). But you can find a Minolta MD lens in the same focal range for even less than that. Nikon also made one, but I'm not sure if it's as good.
 

damienr8

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If money is an issue, I have to also recommend the Rokinon 85mm. It is an amazing lens and I found it perfect for events that I've shot (plays, concerts, recitals). With a GX7 and focus peaking, it really worked wonders. I always got my best results stopped down to between f2-2.8. This was always bright enough for the lighting conditions that I worked with. In fact I shot a school play and the lighting technician was amazed at the results I got, stating that the previous year's photographer couldn't get a decent shot with the lights the way they were. In addition, I found the GX7's IBIS to work perfectly well with this focal length.

All of that being said, I found myself frustrated with a few of those missed opportunities because I just wasn't fast enough with the manual focus and I ended up springing for the 75mm f1.8. I also recently added the 35-100mm f2.8 to my stable as I'll be shooting more events in the future where the flexibility of the zoom will really come in handy. The 75 is also considerably smaller and lighter than the Rokinon. Along with autofocus, the Oly ends up being a far less taxing lens to use. If you think you'll be doing more conferences or it will generate some kind of income for you, I would consider investing in one of the more expensive lenses with autofocus. It'll be worth it in the long run. Good luck!
This is a fantastic response and I think the real kickers here are:

1. If the original poster is comfortable with manual focusing
2. If you are shooting the conference(s) to generate income.

regards,
Damien
 

DoofClenas

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Thanks for the ideas! Autofocus definitely isn't essential, since when you're bound by a podium you don't move too much in depth; I'm hesitant about the 75mm just because it's not a length I shoot very often, it'd be a lot of cash to drop just for one event (which I'm not being paid for, I'm just helping with photography in exchange for a ticket). I'll reconsider the 35-100, but I'll also look into the Rokinon. Thanks, and any other suggestions welcome too, I appreciate it!
The 75mm is my all time favorite lens...however, that said, you either love or hate the focal length.
 

kadamnation

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This is a fantastic response and I think the real kickers here are:

1. If the original poster is comfortable with manual focusing
2. If you are shooting the conference(s) to generate income.

regards,
Damien
1. I am, and
2. I am not :)

That said, I really appreciate all the responses to this thread, and I'll be keeping an eye open for both the 85mm mentioned earlier, and for a secondhand 35-100mm during the weeks between now and the event—and if I can't land the "right" lens, I'll just fall back to my Sigma 60mm f/2.8 for now and gear up later. Fingers crossed!
 
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