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Thread: Wide angle Lens for low light?

  1. #1

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    Wide angle Lens for low light?

    Hi guys, I've been reading the forums here for a little while and finally have a question of my own.
    (by the way great forums, and a great site).

    I have a canon T1i, and mostly use a 15-85 USM lens which I love for all sorts of shots, but I am looking to possibly add a wide angle lens for more landscape shots. I would also like a lens I can use for low light situations, both indoor and out preferably. Can one lens cover both situations? Would a wide angle lens, like a 28mm f1.8, or something similar be able to shoot both wide angle landscapes and in low light situations, or would I be better served with a separate lens for each?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    A 28mm lens isn't particularly wide on a crop body--it's more like a normal lens, field-of-view-wise. You could get the Tokina 11-16/2.8 if you wanted a fast ultrawide, or the EF-S 17-55/2.8 if you wanted a fast walkaround. But it all depends on what it is you plan on shooting in low light situations. A tripod or a flash might actually serve you better in those situations, rather than a fast lens.

    What's your budget, and what were you planning on shooting with this new lens?

    I would like a fast ultrawide, because I'm likely to be shooting environmental portraits and interiors with it as well as landscapes. But if my primary use for an ultrawide was landscapes, then I don't need my ultrawide to be fast, and a separate lens might serve me better. So what are you planning on shooting?

  3. #3

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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    I would probably mostly use it for outdoor landscape photograph. But I would like it to be able to be used low light indoors, preferably without a flash or tripod (family functions, my daughter, etc.) that's why I was thinking faster would be better and a really large aperture to make sure I can reduce noise as much as possible. Budget is less than 1000, but with all these requests would I be better off just getting a full frame camera, I was considering it lately.

  4. #4
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    The content of your two posts imply that 15mm is NOT wide enough for the Type of Landscape shots that you want to make. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to be looking at a (fast) 28mm lens to accommodate those Wider Focal Length Landscapes Shots.

    The widest & fastest lens for your camera, I believe, is a 24/1.4 and that is still not wider than the 15mm lens which you already have.

    So, IF 15mm is not wide enough, by default you are looking one of the wider zooms which are available, and the fastest of those is F/2.8 – for example the Tokina, which Kathy has mentioned.

    ***

    Then the next questions are:

    • is F/2.8 fast enough for your interior and exterior low light shots?
      – AND -
    • will 16mm (for example) be long enough, for all the low light shots you want to make?



    An EOS 500D (Ti1) will be capable of managing good to very good quality 5x7 prints at ISO3200 and good at ISO6400, provided that you do not underexpose the shot and you have adequate Post Production.

    In a typical indoor ‘low light’ family room scene lit by a single 12 volt ceiling light, you’ll be at around 1/15s~1/30s @ F/2.8 @ ISO3200 – so the F/2.8 Zoom will only just be adequate if the Subjects are still and you also have good Shutter Release Technique.

    If you plan to use the lens outside, in low light, then reach becomes more of a factor – for example, a zoom only reaching to FL = 16mm, would not be the best choice for a night-time soccer game or even perhaps not the best choice for a kid's birthday party held outdoors at night-time.

    If you choose to get a wider zoom - AND - a fast prime for indoors: then the EF28/1.8 would be a good choice. It is a very good value for money lens (perhaps the best in the Canon range), specifically for low light indoor portraiture on an APS-C body and the lens indeed be used at F/1.8 on APS-C without very much, perhaps negligible image degradation.

    And if you choose to buy two lenses, then it is far less important to have F/2.8 as the maximum aperture available on the UWA zoom that you choose to get - so therefore (as one example) the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM comes to contention.

    ***

    Selling everything and buying into a 135 format camera (aka 'Full Frame') does have the advantages of allowing you to get very wide, high quality and reasonably fast zoom lenses and also less expensive very fast, wide and normal prime lenses that present exceptional value for money.

    For example you have a very good indoor low light lens in the EF50 F/1.8 MkII.
    The EF 17 to 40 F/4 L would be a very nice UWA zoom that would fit your requirements.

    And - if you really do want a lens which is both Wide AND Fast: then there are the EF 28/1.8 and also the two EF24/1.4 lenses - none of these lenses have 'equivalents' for APS-C cameras.

    There are plusses and minuses on the noise at High ISO, but generally 135 format would be better on the whole and as a broad, general statement.


    WW
    Last edited by William W; 20th September 2013 at 02:08 AM.

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    A hotshoe flash bounced with a flash reflector/diffuser will allow you to get very decent images in low light indoors...

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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    I did buy a wide angle lens once, a 35mm for 35mm film, and found it so awkward to use it rarely was .... BUT YIPPEE! digital arrived and with it editing programmes and I have not got a WA though my latest lens starts at 28mm equivalent angle of view after years of 35mm which doesn't bother me becuase when I want the wide view, the occasional wide landscape I take, I simply take two or more overlapping frames and stitch together in editing.

    In a previous thread on landscape many/several told us they often do not use a WA for their landscapes ... so a WA is not really essential Though it could be if you want to take distorted photos of people The biggest disadvantage of the WA that I see is the waste of pixels at top and bottom of the frame in getting the width.

    Reading your thread title Wide angle Lens for low light? one way would be to get a fast normal lens, either an f/1.8 or f/1.4, and stitch?
    Last edited by jcuknz; 20th September 2013 at 04:54 AM.

  7. #7
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    I own and use both a Canon 20mm f2.8 USM and a Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 AT-X for indoor low-light work. Both are great glass for the money. Even though ultra-wide lenses give you a larger margin for focusing errors, I think you'll find that shooting below f2.8 is rare. Personally, I have no qualms about low-light lenses that don't go wider than f2.8. I can work with that. The limiting factors are depth of field and my camera's high-ISO performance. Depth of field becomes pretty difficult to manage (at short to medium ranges) below f2.8 or 2.5. A T1i is comparable to, but slightly worse than my 60D in terms of noise, so assuming your noise threshold and focusing skills are the same, f2.8 is probably your aperture sweet spot. That doesn't rule out wider-aperture lenses, but I wouldn't buy anything narrower than 2.8 for low light.

    The 20mm works out to 32mm on 1.6x crop - slightly wider than a "normal" 35mm field of view. When I'm using the 11-16, I tend to have it set hard to either end of its zoom range, either 11mm or 16mm. This is partially because I'm mainly a prime user, and I honestly forget I have a zoom ring sometimes. But I don't think you'd be unhappy with either lens. Just a matter of which focal length(s) you need.

    There's also a pretty wide selection of ultra-wide-angle, f2.8 or wider manual-focus primes on the market from 8 to 16mm. Manual focus would be no problem for landscapes, but it's a disadvantage for shooting kids.

  8. #8
    Adrian's Avatar
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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    Sigma's new 18-35 f1.8 (crop bodies only) is pretty fast and pretty wide and half the price of say the Canon 16-35L. It is getting very good reviews. I frequently use the Canon indoors on a FF body and can certainly see the benefits of fast wide angle.

  9. #9

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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    Thanks everyone for the helpful advice, I'll definitely check out some of these options you have mentioned, now I just have to get some "hands on" time with some of these. Thanks WW for the very detailed response.

  10. #10

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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    I am not a fan of any WA lenses...the reasons are based on personal results and the MTF characteristics listed here http://software.canon-europe.com/fil...Book_10_EN.pdf The image edges tend to lose clarity and detail.
    I am a huge fan of photo-merging images to obtain that "WA look" that don't suffer from the above problems.

    You have not listed your level of experience...do you understand that your having a 1.6 crop sensor results in that 15-85mm lens imitating a 24-126mm lens? Multiply any lens times 1.6.

    You, my friend, are asking the same questions that plagued me many years ago.
    The journey is incredible.

  11. #11

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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    Quote Originally Posted by chauncey View Post
    I am not a fan of any WA lenses...the reasons are based on personal results and the MTF characteristics listed here http://software.canon-europe.com/fil...Book_10_EN.pdf The image edges tend to lose clarity and detail.(...)
    One thing with those MTF functions: they are supposed to be for 10 and 30 lines/mm on the test chart. So, does that mean that the lens-target distance is changed to make sure the test chart image occupies the same area, independent of focal length, or are the lenses all tested at the same distance from the chart?

  12. #12

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    Re: Wide angle Lens for low light?

    I would vote for two lenses. A wide angle lens is best suited for scenic/architecture type shots but does not offer very flattering focal lengths for people pictures regardless of speed. The Sigma 18-35, as mentioned, might be the closest to a one lens solution since it does reach more normal focal lengths long. But, why not just get a wide angle lens that best suits your landscape needs and an inexpensive 35mm prime for your indoor work? The 35 is also lighter, smaller, and easier to operate in fast-changing indoor scenes. The wide angle lens will include more of the scene but do you want every aspect of the living room in the shot with the person deemphasized as well? Unless you shoot really close and then the person will look distorted. You should be able to get the Tokina 11-16 2.8 (for instance) and a 35mm prime inside of your budget.

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