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How far away

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Cederic, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    212
    Nov 14, 2012
    Nottingham
    I was trying to work out what focal length lens I need to photograph at a dance event. It basically came down to which lens would let me capture people standing up from a given distance.

    So I did the maths, and drew a chart. Along the bottom is lens focal length (in 35mm equivalent) and up the side is the distance from the person that you need to stand. I've used a 6' person as a guide, but distances are in metres and focal lengths are in mm. Worse still, the x axis is logarithmic to make it fit on a page.

    i-s6bhVGm-S.

    So.. using the Panny 20mm lens you'd need to stand just over 3 metres away to get someone's full height into your picture.
    Using the Oly 75mm you'd need to stand 12m away.
    Using the longest native lens available (i.e. 300mm) you'd only have to be around 46m away.

    For my dancing query this is causing a quandary. For informal dancing 3m is a good distance - near enough to avoid people getting in the way of the shot, but far enough to be clear of the dancers. For competition, 5-10m at floor level or 15-20m if you're on a balcony is needed.

    Given a fast lens is needed for the indoor no-flash shooting I'm going to take a risk on the Oly 75 and wait for the crowds to clear before shooting informally.
     
  2. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Is this an event that they want you to shoot or that you want to?

    If they want you to then you have all kinds of advantages. With events that have a dress rehearsal you can do your shooting then or at least much of it. For one thing you can get closer and there are no crowds to fight. Also make sure to get some angles that others wouldn't see, like from the wings of the stage and even behind the scenes. They might even do the rehearsal in brighter light than the actual show.

    If it is an event where you are doing it for yourself here is my advice. Get as good a position as you can, not just close but with a clear view. I have shot an event or two from a balcony, usually a bit further but far fewer people in the way. Before it starts get your focus figured out and then lock it. If you are relying on AF you will miss a shot or two. Set it to shoot continuous. If you fire 3-6 frames one is bound to be usable.
     
  3. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    212
    Nov 14, 2012
    Nottingham
    The specific event is a UK championships, so dancing starts before 11am and finishes around 2am. I'm going for fun, and the camera will be there to stop me getting bored during the less interesting parts of the competition.

    I wont get any better viewpoints than the other spectators, but there'll be time to try out several different angles and both from the balcony and the floor. So should be fun, and a good chance to learn a lot more about this type of photography.

    In the end I've actually gone for the Olympus 45mm f1.8. It's still an exceedingly well rated lens with the significant advantage of being extremely cheaper :) It may also give me more flexibility with shooting closer up, with the dreaded crop tool if needed from further away. I have the Pany f2.8 35-100 if the light's good enough to help out on the longer distances but I doubt it will - you need a decent shutter speed to freeze the movement. But the 45mm should be usable more generally at dance events, not just a massive room one such as the Champs, so it's probably a better choice than the 75 just from a flexibility perspective.
     
  4. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The 45mm is a very good lens, I like mine although I don't use that focal length much. The 75mm is a great lens and very sharp even at f1.8{from what I have heard}. If you are shooting an Olympus body you have IS with the 45mm and 75mm but if you have a Panasonic then you have no IS with those lenses. So on a Panasonic your 35-100mm would work better hand held than the Olympus lenses. f1.8 is only 1 and 1/3 stop faster but IS easily gives 2 stops worth of compensation. Most companies claim 3 or 4 stops for their IS but I have never seen it work that well, 2 for sure and maybe 3 at best.

    For performance art some motion blur can actually be a good thing{same goes for sports}. It shows that the subject is in motion. The trick is getting the best balance between blur and non-blur.