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Thread: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

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    Default your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Hi all,

    Personally, im a prime shooter, but have always kept a set of zooms for shooting events as i didnt feel comfortable shooting events with primes. recently however, i feel i ve become better and replaced my 80-200 for an 85, 135, 180 combo which has served well. i m looking to take the next step of replacing the 17-35 2.8 with a set of primes. For background, i shoot primes for all of my personal work so im very familiar with the pros and cons. my main concern is speed when the situation changes during events/weddings. in the end i'll have something like: 17, 24, 50, 85, 135, 180.

    my question is to anyone who shoots or has shot only or mainly primes:

    how do you keep up with the pace?
    what do you think of the above lenses and what's your set up like?
    any other advantages/disadvantageous?

    would greatly appreciate any feedback =)
    F3, FTN, D700, just primes =)
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    What I can imagine out of those lens would be a circus guy juggling lenses..
    Well, if you know when to use what lens effectively during the course of an event, this is definitely better. Maybe you can consider dun front or back capped ur lens during event itself to better efficient the changing of lenses. At ur own risk of course
    Equipment: D800|D700|11-16|28-75|105 Micro VR|50 F1.4G|85 F1.8G
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Just use/do what you are comfortable with.

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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    My focal range of primes are almost identical to yours, and I can relate to your situation.
    I personally feel its 'event centric', meaning that it depends on the nature of the event. If the event is fast paced, ever changing in scope, a zoom is appropriate.

    For example, if I have a group shot of 15 people, thereafter I need to take a portrait of a couple, I may want to switch up.
    If I had a 24 for the group, my tendency to want to switch to a 50/85 is high. The question is, do I have the time?

    The quick answer is to shoot with two bodies. One with a wide zoom (17-35), and a 50-85 prime on the other.

    Personally, I make do with a 35, 85 most of the time.
    The sooner you get it, the longer you enjoy it.
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77 View Post
    My focal range of primes are almost identical to yours, and I can relate to your situation.
    I personally feel its 'event centric', meaning that it depends on the nature of the event. If the event is fast paced, ever changing in scope, a zoom is appropriate.

    For example, if I have a group shot of 15 people, thereafter I need to take a portrait of a couple, I may want to switch up.
    If I had a 24 for the group, my tendency to want to switch to a 50/85 is high. The question is, do I have the time?

    The quick answer is to shoot with two bodies. One with a wide zoom (17-35), and a 50-85 prime on the other.

    Personally, I make do with a 35, 85 most of the time.
    Even with two bodies, not every event is suited for primes. In the end, the photographer have to look at the briefs, the layouts and plans to determine what lenses to use, and also whether to go prime or zoom.

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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Ang View Post
    Hi all,

    Personally, im a prime shooter, but have always kept a set of zooms for shooting events as i didnt feel comfortable shooting events with primes. recently however, i feel i ve become better and replaced my 80-200 for an 85, 135, 180 combo which has served well. i m looking to take the next step of replacing the 17-35 2.8 with a set of primes. For background, i shoot primes for all of my personal work so im very familiar with the pros and cons. my main concern is speed when the situation changes during events/weddings. in the end i'll have something like: 17, 24, 50, 85, 135, 180.

    my question is to anyone who shoots or has shot only or mainly primes:

    how do you keep up with the pace?
    what do you think of the above lenses and what's your set up like?
    any other advantages/disadvantageous?

    would greatly appreciate any feedback =)
    Its easy to replace the 2 zooms when primes are readily available but that's just a plan. Assuming you are using the 17-35 and 80-200 together at any one time, do you think its practical or even logical to replace 2 zooms with 6 primes?? I would imagine it to be a nightmare really. Am I against the idea of using primes? Hell no! My point being, is it necessary for you to get all 6 primes? As you've realised, primes are probably not as convenient for a zoom person. Does that mean you have to get a ridiculous amount of primes to replicate 2 zooms? I don't think so. Changing to primes will also involve changing mindset, work flow and probably shooting habits. You probably need to adopt a different set of skills to use primes. IMO, using primes with a zoom mentality won't work.

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    Senior Member Kit's Avatar
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    I'd advise you to assess the situation as well. If you are paid and you delivered, nobody is going to bother with what lenses you used. Now, if you didn't deliver and told your clients you missed the shot because you were holding the wrong lens at that time.......... you get the drift.....

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    Senior Member icarus's Avatar
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    IMHO - The best prime for (general) events is still FX camera + AF-S 35mm f/1.4G + 85mm f/1.4G... with the AF 20mm f/2.8D or AF 14mm f/2.8D for wide stuffs. Everything fits into a small bag.
    Its not necessary to replace the whole zoom range into primes la...
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Quote Originally Posted by icarus View Post
    IMHO - The best prime for (general) events is still FX camera + AF-S 35mm f/1.4G + 85mm f/1.4G... with the AF 20mm f/2.8D or AF 14mm f/2.8D for wide stuffs. Everything fits into a small bag.
    Its not necessary to replace the whole zoom range into primes la...
    Really depends on the shooting style and preferences of the photographer actually.

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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    For personal shooting, I do use primes where I know what I am going to be doing next, e.g. select the subject, plan the composition, etc., and where I specifically want a big aperture (for DoF or poor lighting reasons). In fact, my primes are mostly manual focus, e.g. Zeiss ZF 25mm/f2.8, ZF 50mm/f2, ZF 100mm/f2. I also shoot with some Nikkor primes, e.g. AF-D 20mm/2.8, AF-S 50mm/f1.4, AF-D 200mm/f4.

    But when shooting events, often, although we can guess what's coming up next, the actual shooting situation/opportunity can spring on you suddenly and you want to be able to capture the 'best possible shot' given the fast pace of events. This is where the zooms come in. Fortunately, nowadays, there are pro quality zooms that produce image qualities close or equal to primes.

    Finally, zooms or primes, also depends on the kind of events you're shooting. I you are quite sure of the shooting environment and lenses required, sometimes I carry to camera bodies (a D3s and a D700). One is mounted with a standard zoom, e.g. 24-120/f4 and the other mounted with a 70-200/2.8. I keep a 20mm/f2.8 prime in the pocket of my shooting vest in case the 24mm end is still not wide enough.

    This works for me though. Hope this helps.

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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    There is a reason why the 24-70 range (or thereabouts) are such a fav for events.

    You can easily replace a telephoto zoom like 70-200 with a telephoto prime like the (85/105/135) and feel ok but NOT with the 24-70 mid range, where most of the dynamic changes in focal length occurs.

    And I have seen seasoned wedding pros freaked out after the brief; quote a recent example, a wedding pro friend helped me out and we co-shoot a big event with another 2 event photogs. My friend shows up with 24 1.4G and 85 1.4G people can drool and whistle "wee-you-wee" BUT after the brief he approached me and ask if he can switch roles with me for certain parts of the brief as the gear he brought is not suitable - wrong focal length (too wide, and too long) and not reactively agile enough in terms of shooter's speed - with a zoom you can go from wide to telephoto in less than a split second and back again repeatingly effortlessly. Try doing with dual bodies primes.

    Don't get me wrong, for a wedding his setup is perfect for his environment and genre and its many people's dream setup. Also not saying wedding is not fast event but just very predictable - unlike some events, you never know whats the surprise.

    I know someone mentioned depend on the brief, but hey, I cannot remember how many times there is no brief, the person briefing has no idea, or plans changed and kept changing and changing. A busy event pro might shoot up to 3 to 4 different sessions on a sat, plus managing other stuff, plans for lens setup is seldom a thing on the mind.
    Last edited by JasonB; 26th November 2011 at 07:34 PM.

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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Quote Originally Posted by icarus View Post
    IMHO - The best prime for (general) events is still FX camera + AF-S 35mm f/1.4G + 85mm f/1.4G... with the AF 20mm f/2.8D or AF 14mm f/2.8D for wide stuffs. Everything fits into a small bag.
    Its not necessary to replace the whole zoom range into primes la...
    +1

    D700, 35mm and 85mm are what i used for my office event and I'm ok with it. Most of the time, the 35mm is mounted, the 85mm is reserved for head & shoulder and portrait shots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB
    There is a reason why the 24-70 range (or thereabouts) are such a fav for events.

    You can easily replace a telephoto zoom like 70-200 with a telephoto prime like the (85/105/135) and feel ok but NOT with the 24-70 mid range, where most of the dynamic changes in focal length occurs.

    And I have seen seasoned wedding pros freaked out after the brief; quote a recent example, a wedding pro friend helped me out and we co-shoot a big event with another 2 event photogs. My friend shows up with 24 1.4G and 85 1.4G people can drool and whistle "wee-you-wee" BUT after the brief he approached me and ask if he can switch roles with me for certain parts of the brief as the gear he brought is not suitable - wrong focal length (too wide, and too long) and not reactively agile enough in terms of shooter's speed - with a zoom you can go from wide to telephoto in less than a split second and back again repeatingly effortlessly. Try doing with dual bodies primes.

    Don't get me wrong, for a wedding his setup is perfect for his environment and genre and its many people's dream setup. Also not saying wedding is not fast event but just very predictable - unlike some events, you never know whats the surprise.

    I know someone mentioned depend on the brief, but hey, I cannot remember how many times there is no brief, the person briefing has no idea, or plans changed and kept changing and changing. A busy event pro might shoot up to 3 to 4 different sessions on a sat, plus managing other stuff, plans for lens setup is seldom a thing on the mind.
    Thank you for ur insight
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Quote Originally Posted by Benji77 View Post
    My focal range of primes are almost identical to yours, and I can relate to your situation.
    I personally feel its 'event centric', meaning that it depends on the nature of the event. If the event is fast paced, ever changing in scope, a zoom is appropriate.

    For example, if I have a group shot of 15 people, thereafter I need to take a portrait of a couple, I may want to switch up.
    If I had a 24 for the group, my tendency to want to switch to a 50/85 is high. The question is, do I have the time?

    The quick answer is to shoot with two bodies. One with a wide zoom (17-35), and a 50-85 prime on the other.

    Personally, I make do with a 35, 85 most of the time.
    Thanks Benji77, thats the exact issue for me too. i recently shot a solemnization with just a 24 2.8 and a 50 1.2 and it went v well and to my liking. but i feel thats cos it was a small, 5 person event and very predictable.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kit View Post
    Its easy to replace the 2 zooms when primes are readily available but that's just a plan. Assuming you are using the 17-35 and 80-200 together at any one time, do you think its practical or even logical to replace 2 zooms with 6 primes?? I would imagine it to be a nightmare really. Am I against the idea of using primes? Hell no! My point being, is it necessary for you to get all 6 primes? As you've realised, primes are probably not as convenient for a zoom person. Does that mean you have to get a ridiculous amount of primes to replicate 2 zooms? I don't think so. Changing to primes will also involve changing mindset, work flow and probably shooting habits. You probably need to adopt a different set of skills to use primes. IMO, using primes with a zoom mentality won't work.
    I've actaully alrd got the 24, 45, 50, 90, 135, 180. only the 180 is AF. i only use the 17-35 on events so i really am a prime shooter at heart. haha. and i find i shoot better with primes than zoom which is my incentive for switching up. though less versatile i find i have the freedom of shooting at wider apertures without having to worry about soft corners and CA. also being stuck at 1 focal length somehow helps me 'see' better. might probably help me win a lens changing competition too (≈11sec from lens in my bag =P)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kit View Post
    I'd advise you to assess the situation as well. If you are paid and you delivered, nobody is going to bother with what lenses you used. Now, if you didn't deliver and told your clients you missed the shot because you were holding the wrong lens at that time.......... you get the drift.....
    exactly my concerns =X would like to see if there're any suggestions from you guys to prevent something like this

    Quote Originally Posted by sf_kang View Post
    For personal shooting, I do use primes where I know what I am going to be doing next, e.g. select the subject, plan the composition, etc., and where I specifically want a big aperture (for DoF or poor lighting reasons). In fact, my primes are mostly manual focus, e.g. Zeiss ZF 25mm/f2.8, ZF 50mm/f2, ZF 100mm/f2. I also shoot with some Nikkor primes, e.g. AF-D 20mm/2.8, AF-S 50mm/f1.4, AF-D 200mm/f4.

    But when shooting events, often, although we can guess what's coming up next, the actual shooting situation/opportunity can spring on you suddenly and you want to be able to capture the 'best possible shot' given the fast pace of events. This is where the zooms come in. Fortunately, nowadays, there are pro quality zooms that produce image qualities close or equal to primes.

    Finally, zooms or primes, also depends on the kind of events you're shooting. I you are quite sure of the shooting environment and lenses required, sometimes I carry to camera bodies (a D3s and a D700). One is mounted with a standard zoom, e.g. 24-120/f4 and the other mounted with a 70-200/2.8. I keep a 20mm/f2.8 prime in the pocket of my shooting vest in case the 24mm end is still not wide enough.

    This works for me though. Hope this helps.
    Thanks. i shoot with mostly manual primes too. i used to use 2 d200's with a 17 35 and 80-200 AF-S, but felt that it was rather heavy and was never completely happy with the image quality of either.

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB View Post
    There is a reason why the 24-70 range (or thereabouts) are such a fav for events.

    You can easily replace a telephoto zoom like 70-200 with a telephoto prime like the (85/105/135) and feel ok but NOT with the 24-70 mid range, where most of the dynamic changes in focal length occurs.

    And I have seen seasoned wedding pros freaked out after the brief; quote a recent example, a wedding pro friend helped me out and we co-shoot a big event with another 2 event photogs. My friend shows up with 24 1.4G and 85 1.4G people can drool and whistle "wee-you-wee" BUT after the brief he approached me and ask if he can switch roles with me for certain parts of the brief as the gear he brought is not suitable - wrong focal length (too wide, and too long) and not reactively agile enough in terms of shooter's speed - with a zoom you can go from wide to telephoto in less than a split second and back again repeatingly effortlessly. Try doing with dual bodies primes.

    Don't get me wrong, for a wedding his setup is perfect for his environment and genre and its many people's dream setup. Also not saying wedding is not fast event but just very predictable - unlike some events, you never know whats the surprise.

    I know someone mentioned depend on the brief, but hey, I cannot remember how many times there is no brief, the person briefing has no idea, or plans changed and kept changing and changing. A busy event pro might shoot up to 3 to 4 different sessions on a sat, plus managing other stuff, plans for lens setup is seldom a thing on the mind.
    did he only have those 2 lenses? was just asking cos atm i carry 2-3 lenses around with me at a time, and then switch them out based on whats coming next. If he had a 35 and 50 as well do you think that might have saved him?

    thanks everyone for the comments. i appreciate the help. would really like to do the shift but dont wanna screw up a shoot.
    F3, FTN, D700, just primes =)
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Quote Originally Posted by icarus View Post
    IMHO - The best prime for (general) events is still FX camera + AF-S 35mm f/1.4G + 85mm f/1.4G... with the AF 20mm f/2.8D or AF 14mm f/2.8D for wide stuffs. Everything fits into a small bag.
    Its not necessary to replace the whole zoom range into primes la...
    Quote Originally Posted by cichlid View Post
    +1

    D700, 35mm and 85mm are what i used for my office event and I'm ok with it. Most of the time, the 35mm is mounted, the 85mm is reserved for head & shoulder and portrait shots.
    do you guys still use zooms though? I've alrd got the 24, 50, 90, 135, 180 anw so will just add the 17 and take out the 17-35.
    F3, FTN, D700, just primes =)
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    Senior Member icarus's Avatar
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Ang View Post
    do you guys still use zooms though? I've alrd got the 24, 50, 90, 135, 180 anw so will just add the 17 and take out the 17-35.
    The only zoom i have is the 16-35mm... using it only for events with a 50mm or 105mm. For my leisure shoot, i used 20,35,50,105... adding a 85 (again) soon.. f1.4 of course
    Yngwie J. Malmsteen - "...I've never considered myself a fast guitar player..."

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Ang

    do you guys still use zooms though? I've alrd got the 24, 50, 90, 135, 180 anw so will just add the 17 and take out the 17-35.
    I shoot with prime for a living, 2 body setup you may need time to get use to it. The may issue is you need to see what the situation requires, and use the right len, maybe some zooming with your feet.

    Lots of primes in my bag, but depend on situation i load up the appropriate ones, at most 3 on my lowepro ultility belt, plus 2 on camera. The rests just in car boot. All lens in len pouch (always open and no lens cap, well if you earn a living with ur equipment, dun worry if its scratched, how many pro have equipment it tip top condition, more than often their lens are full of dust, scratches).

    Example, in wedding makeup session, usually in confirm space, i load up 24 prime and 50 prime on 2 fx, i keep 35, 85 in pouch. This is sufficient for me as i know what i need to shoot. If need to do portrait shoot, i add in 135. So at most 3 pouch on waist.

    For dinner reception, in will be 35 and 85 on 2 bodies, 24, 50 in pouch. I do keep a zoom len for spare in car, but so far i dun see the need to use it.

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    Senior Member cichlid's Avatar
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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Ang View Post
    do you guys still use zooms though? I've alrd got the 24, 50, 90, 135, 180 anw so will just add the 17 and take out the 17-35.
    I don't use zoom as my only zoom is in the 150-500mm range

    Although I rely on the 35 and 85mm, I have other primes in the bag just in case I need them. Plus 2 flashes too even though sometimes I've already decided not to use flash for a particular event.

    For me, I think it's the kiasu syndrome or put it in a better way, I want to be ready for anything.

  19. #19

    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    This is definitely one of the more meaningful, interesting & useful discussions on lens I come across. Not all those lens X vs Y stuff. I share the many opinions expressed here as they are all valid. Different lens, different styles, different situations. All choices relevant, effective, with the same objectives - getting the job done, getting the best photos possible. At the end of the day, all boils down to personal perferences, experience & skill sets. Planning & preparations (both mental & physical), anticipation & timing, dexterity & improvisation etc are also crucial & great levellers, whatever the lens used. Cheers!
    Last edited by s1221ljc; 27th November 2011 at 04:11 PM.

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    Default Re: your thoughts on prime lenses for events please =)

    Having shot a few events, I feel that fast AF zooms are still the way to go (particularly for very important shots - VIPs, hand shakes, group poses, where there is a lot of unpredictabilities). But keep a prime or two handy (in your bag) for less primary captures (during less crucial time periods where you can go around and shoot leisurely to fill up the event's portfolio).

    Space constraints (this is usually a major concern for me - even if you don't mind zooming with your feet, doesn't mean there are always enough room or time to do that). While, you may get floor plans and itineraries to predict your angles, there is always a chance that the angle you want maybe found only within a tight corner (been there done it, and happens more often than seldom) - you may not even get the room to switch your cameras!

    A good zoom is extra insurance to get all the crucial shots you need (and to select from), particularly if you work alone. A prime deprives you a lot more. Just my two cents...
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