Right lens for this lighting technique?


TPF Noob!
Sep 14, 2011
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I'm a new photographer in the middle of researching buying a used camera to do a specific lighting technique called light painting. Black background, 10 sec shutter speed, cutting all the lights and illuminating the piece with a quickly moving flashlight beam. The guy that made the how-to video I'm following uses an older Canon Rebel T3i camera with a 50mm Canon EF50mm F1.8 lens. He says you can use any DSLR camera with manual mode, but for simplicity's sake I'm researching buying the same camera and lens.

So in searching ebay I'm finding lots of T3i cameras but very few with the 50mm 1.8F lens he mentions. 95% of the T3is offered are bundled with either or both... an EF-S 18-55mm lens with F 1:3.5-5.6 and/or an EF-S 55-250 lens.

I've read how the larger 1.8F would be better in low light conditions, and I wondered how this extra functionality over the more common 3.5F lens would be a factor with this technique.

Is anybody familiar with this type of lighting scheme or have an idea what type of lens would be better for it?

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Both lenses will work equally well for this application.

The 50mm f1.8 will be a bit sharper but the light painting technique will be the same. F1.8 is better in low light conditions but that's not what you are doing. Light painting is not necessarily a low light situation. It usually involves just as much light as a studio set up but the light is just applied in a different manner.
I have light painted before with my 18-55 without issue.

Now onto the camera. Just because someone used a 15year old camera in a tutorial is not a very good reason to buy a 15year old camera. You will find that if you are going to use manual mode, every DSLR/mirrorless will work the same. The only difference is where you find the functions may be a bit different on some models.
Please don't limit yourself based on this criteria alone.
It is better to look at all of the features of each of the cameras in your desired price range. Then try to get hands on with them. I love the functions of a few cameras that I could never own due to ergonomics that I can't stand.
Canon T7 with 18-55 or Nikon D3500 with 18-55 should be all you need to get started. You could always add a 50mm 1.8 down the road as you advance your photography. As the veteran photog, zombie suggests, don't limit yourself out of the gate from an old video. Both cameras are excellent entry level cameras and can accomplish your goal with the kit lens.
Thank so much for all the great info, feels good to be back into photography. I've asked my questions in a few of the forums and I've gotten a lot of great responses. Looking back I wish I would have given a little more detail about the shots I'm intending to make, but I think I see the direction things are going. First, I'll be making the exact same shot as the one I pictured. They'll be of dining tables or similar furniture up to 8 ft long, oriented the same direction. Thankfully I have a lot of room to stage and about 20 x 24ft of black backdrop.

I've decided to go with the Canon T7 and probably the 18-55 lens. Only thing I haven't reconciled yet is that I've seen suggestions for both the 18-55 lens and that I'll probably be around f8 for my shots, although this lens doesn't go smaller than f5.6. Haven't quite figured that one out yet but it seems like the 18-55 will do the trick.

Does knowing the exact shoot scenario effect the advice on what lens I should look for?
With a smaller aperture you may have to just paint a bit more light (or use a brighter light) to get the same exposure as the wider aperture. A little practice and I'm sure you'll do just fine.

Can't wait to see it.
Here's a link to the EF 50mm f1.8 STM from B+H: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

That should be the slightly newer version of the lens you are talking about, but perform exactly the same if not a little better. For the price it's a really easy lens to justify having in the kit bag.

If price is no object, I'd go for the EF 24-70mm f2.8 L II,or the EF 24-70 F4 L IS both of which are superbly sharp lenses. He uses f10 upwards in the video, so I don't think you'd need a fast lens,where the zoom could be really handy and make framing a little easier. If both of them are too costly, I'd just stick with the kit lens.

Just a bit of info to bear in mind: To maintain sharpness you typicaly won't want to go above f16 if it's at all avoidable, as diffraction will kick in and you'll get a slight softening of the shot.

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