Wide aperture vs. high ISO... Is my reasoning good here?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by splproductions, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. splproductions
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    splproductions New Member

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    So next year I'll be going to the Dominican Republic for humanitarian work and I'm trying to decide which lenses to bring. The goal is to bring the smallest and the fewest lenses so I don't look like an attractive target to a thief. I'm not going to bring a Speedlite.

    Last night I was thinking through this... let me know if this reasoning sounds logical or not.

    I already know I'm going to be in low-light situations in the buildings we'll be working in (no power most of the time). So for one of my lenses, you would think it would make more sense to bring a 50mm 1.4 instead of a 40mm 2.8, right?

    However...

    The 40mm at 2.8 is much sharper than the 50mm at around 1.6. So to get the same exposure with the 40mm, I have to up the ISO quite a bit. But I can remove noise fairly easily and get a quality pic, but I can't really sharpen up a photo that wasn't sharp in the first place.

    So it seems to make more sense to me to bring the 40mm (plus it's small enough to fit in my pocket - which would be a huge plus).

    Does that make sense? Any thoughts?
  2. Underdeveloped
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    Underdeveloped New Member

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    the 40 makes more sense to me, but why not a cheeper wide angle zoom. That way, if it's stolen, you're only out a small amount of coin? (just thinking of indoor shots of tight spaces at 40mm vs 24 or 18)
  3. splproductions
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    splproductions New Member

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    I'm pretty much ruling out zooms because I feel like even 2.8 would be pushing it with the available light I'll have (I've done this trip before). A 3.5-5.6 zoom would be worthless (since I don't want to bring a Speedlite and I'm not going to use pop-up flash). I would feel nervous as heck bringing my 24-70 just because of how big and "professional" it looks.

    If I bring a cheap zoom, which would require me to use pop-up flash... I might as well just use a P&S. I used a P&S this summer for this same trip and just was not pleased at all with the results.

    40mm is pretty tight. But I think most of the shots that I want to look "pro" will be close-up work anyway. I think I'm going to bring an 85mm as well for street stuff. For the group shots indoors, someone's iPhone will suffice.
  4. BobSaget
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    BobSaget New Member

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    You could by a holga bounce flash for $10 and not care if it gets stolen or give it away at the end of your trip.
  5. MLeeK
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    MLeeK New Member

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    I think it'd make more sense to take the speedlite. You are working in dark buildings. You aren't going to get good results even with an incredibly fast lens and maximum ISO.
  6. amolitor
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    amolitor New Member

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    Would you use the 50mm wide open?

    If so, you're gonna have to go up two stops, and I bet you're not going to be starting off at ISO 100, so you're getting in to the Land Of Noise big time.

    If you'd never use the 50 any wider than f/2.0 or whatever, and you ARE willing to use the 40 wide open, go for the 40. If you're always going to be two stops slower, take the 50.
  7. enzodm
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    enzodm Well-Known Member

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    For me, 40 or 50mm inside a building may be too long.
    By the way, noise is never just removed with no consequences: it brings away some sharpness too.
  8. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    +1 on - Take a hot shoe flash unit.
  9. The_Traveler
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    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent

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    Insure your stuff and take whatever gets the best image.
  10. bratkinson
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    bratkinson Well-Known Member

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    If I were going there, I'd probably pick up a used 40D or 50D, a used 440 EX, and a used 18-135 f3.5-5.6 and go with just that. I might also pack the 50 f1.4 as well, for low light situations where the flash can't be used. When I had an EF-S 18-135, I found it was a great all-around lens, but needed flash indoors.

    With a total investment target of about $700-800, if it gets lost or stolen, it would certainly 'hurt', but not as bad as losing a 24-70 + body + <whatever else>.
  11. jaomul
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    jaomul Well-Known Member

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    Canon? EF35mm f/2. Cheap fast and wide
  12. Dikkie
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    Dikkie New Member

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    I think the same, but without the speedlite.
    I'd take a stable mini-tripod with me, and use longer shuttertimes instead. So I don't need to worry about the large aperture or the high iso. That way you can carry a cheaper zoom too, like 18-55mm ?

    You'll always have to shoot from the floor or on top of something, that will be your only disability.
  13. SCraig
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    SCraig Well-Known Member

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    All of this revolves around not taking a speedlight or not using a pop-up flash, and I don't get it. Take a speedlight or use the pop-up flash. I just don't see the problem. A speedlight will fit in a pocket. A couple of layers of tissue or a couple of pieces of white cardboard to make a reflector and the pop-up flash is quite functional.
  14. JAC526
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    JAC526 New Member

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    Definitely take the speedlight. Will make you much more flexible. And if you don't know how to use bounce flash effectively what a perfect time to learn.
  15. curtyoungblood
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    curtyoungblood Active Member

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    I think we need more information to really answer your question. What body are you using and what ISO are you comfortable going to and what are your plans on displaying these images? If you are determined to have no noise in the images and want to stick to low ISO, then the flash advice may be relevant. I don't think you need to bring one though, but instead learn to work the light that is there. The buildings may be dark, but I bet they have some windows that let light in. Stay near them and shoot stuff that happens nearby heavily.

    As far as equipment goes, It seems like you already have the 50 and are thinking about getting the 40 for this trip. If that's true, I think you'd be better served with the added flexibility of something like the 28 1.8 or 35 f2 (they're a little more expensive though).
  16. splproductions
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    splproductions New Member

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    I'm using a T1i. These photos will be used primarily for a website I am building for this charity. I want them to look top-notch, but I'd certainly be comfortable going to 800 or 1600 and reducing noise afterwards. I doubt any of these will end up as prints.

    I'm probably not up to par with many people on this site, but I do feel like I have a decent handle on bouncing flash indoors. Here's one possible problem though - a lot of the schoolrooms we worked in last year were painted those pastel colors you see in Caribbean countries - greens, yellows, etc. I wasn't paying attention to the ceilings last year - so I don't remember if those were white. Using a card in front of the pop-up flash might be a better bet - that way I'm not relying as much on the walls or ceiling.

    I know 40mm and 50mm on a crop-sensor is pretty tight for indoors, but I'm envisioning a lot of head and shoulders shots. We're doing dental work, so we'll be focusing on smiles and happy faces anyway.

    The reason I was leery on bringing the Speedlite is just due to bringing more bulk. I'm going to be working in people's mouths, and taking pictures throughout when I'm not working on someone. I was hoping to keep my camera on my person while I worked. We do stash our bags in a corner while we work, and there is a security guard supposed to be watching that corner, but that didn't happen 24/7 last year. I do have two 580EX ii's, and I rarely use both at the same time, so I guess if one got stolen I wouldn't absolutely need to replace it.

    Anyway - there's some more info.
  17. Patrice
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    Patrice Well-Known Member

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    Just a quick margin note:

    I was attached to a World Bank project in a country struggling with a failing economy and emerging democracy, we found out that the best things to 'forget' while leaving were Levi's, soccer balls, toilet paper and peanut butter. Electronic toys were pretty useless with no reliable power, no stores for batteries and no money for computers.

    Kudos for donating your time to a humanitarian effort.
  18. Vautrin
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    Vautrin New Member

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    Why exactly do you feel like you need a dslr?

    It sounds to me you might be better off with a point and shoot

    Ok, maybe you could have more control with an slr, but you apparently cant use a zoom lens or a flash. and youre worried about something flashy that could get stolen?

    a $100 point and shoot will give you good enough pictures, and if it gets stolen, youre only out $100
  19. splproductions
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    splproductions New Member

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    I took a point and shoot last year and the pictures were point and s___.

    I guess I'm asking for the holy grail of photography - awesome IQ, lots of options, sufficient light, but no bulk.

    The 40mm pancake came today so I'm going to start playing with that and experimenting with a 3"x5" note-card in front of the pop-up flash.
  20. splproductions
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    splproductions New Member

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    Several people have said I should just bring a speedlite. Instead of bringing a 580, I was thinking... has anyone used the tiny little 270 EX II? I could buy one used on eBay for $100. It doesn't swivel, but I could bounce 90 degrees straight up.

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