Fast lenses no more?


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canturn

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#1
Just a thought about a sports event I attended. Was one of the covering photographers and almost all of them were using 300 f4 or 400 f5.6 lenses. Everyone, whether they were using nikon or canon were practically shooting at ISO 1250 and above.

With low-noise sensors these days, it seems like telephoto speed kings with f2-2.8 are seemed as bulky pieces of glass. In the past, where people were using provia 400 slides or negatives for sports events, it is understandable why big f-stop can get you the shot.

With "build in TC", thanks to FLM on DSLRs, plus the ISO 1250+ advantage with very low noise, it seems like the only reason for a fast lens is for the sake of stacking TCs. Seems like the game has changed - lenses are no longer the king, but the technology behind the camera body.

Feel free to disagree with me, just wanna share the conversation I had with two of the pros that day.
 

LiOnElLiN

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#2
not that i feel a higher iso can replace a fast lens, but to put it simply...
...i havent the money for it!
:bsmilie:

(...but dont worry, i still have enough $ for the off-shoe flash mount :D )
 

sehsuan

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#3
canturn said:
Was one of the covering photographers and almost all of them were using 300 f4 or 400 f5.6 lenses.
uh... got me confused over this sentence. mind clarifying? you were one of the covering photogs, or were you talking to one of them? :dunno:

personally, fast lenses still have their application - for massive loads of background blurring and subject isolation. :)
 

behyx

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#5
What i know is, these days digital professional photog take their pictures in high ISO.. Because of advancement in digital bodies itself, minimal amount of noise is present. But to make a ISO800 photo looks like a ISO100 one, they will rely a lot on the DI assistant..
 

canturn

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#6
behyx said:
What i know is, these days digital professional photog take their pictures in high ISO.. Because of advancement in digital bodies itself, minimal amount of noise is present. But to make a ISO800 photo looks like a ISO100 one, they will rely a lot on the DI assistant..
Seen Capture one in action? Apparently, the noise suppression feature does wonders to high iso images...
 

behyx

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#7
canturn said:
Seen Capture one in action? Apparently, the noise suppression feature does wonders to high iso images...
What is Capture One? Is it some bundled software with Canon or Nikon cams?
 

waileong

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#9
Yes, it's true that usable high ISO's can compensate to a certain extent for slower lenses, and pros can get away with lighter and cheaper telephoto lenses.

But consider that

(1) Nobody ever complained that his lens is too fast-- like sex, speed is never enough;

(2) High ISO is not a substitute for fast aperture-- A faster max aperture may give a better DOF effect and higher viewfinder brightness

(3) Lenses, even L lenses, are usually sharper stopped down at least 2 stops. With a f 5.6 lens, 2 stops down is f11. With a f2.8 lens, 2 stops down is f 5.6. An f4 lens used at f4 will not usually as good an image quality as an f2.8 lens stopped down to f4. So it depends on how big your final print needs to be.

(4) Lastly, how much time do you have to do noise reduction and photoshopping? The higher the ISO, the more time needed to clean up the image, do you want to trade size and weight for less time in front of the computer? It's a tough question, which every pro has to answer for himself.

Wai Leong
===

canturn said:
Just a thought about a sports event I attended. Was one of the covering photographers and almost all of them were using 300 f4 or 400 f5.6 lenses. Everyone, whether they were using nikon or canon were practically shooting at ISO 1250 and above.

With low-noise sensors these days, it seems like telephoto speed kings with f2-2.8 are seemed as bulky pieces of glass. In the past, where people were using provia 400 slides or negatives for sports events, it is understandable why big f-stop can get you the shot.

With "build in TC", thanks to FLM on DSLRs, plus the ISO 1250+ advantage with very low noise, it seems like the only reason for a fast lens is for the sake of stacking TCs. Seems like the game has changed - lenses are no longer the king, but the technology behind the camera body.

Feel free to disagree with me, just wanna share the conversation I had with two of the pros that day.
 

szekiat

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#10
Before the pros poke in i'll add my 2c worth.
Whatever event u were shooting, u must have had very good lighting to be able to get decent speed at f5.6 iso 1250. I'd wager a guess that it was in daylight. Unfortunately most events, especially do not allow for such good conditions, and if i'm not mistaken, the highest ISO in most cams is still 3200.
Secondly, u also mentioned later on about how with software like capture(i assume it to be C1dslr from C1), you can reduce the noise. There really is no real cure to noise. No matter how good the algo used, cutting down noise also equates to some loss in detail. It just won't do if u need to crop. In addition, Capture only works with raw file. Considering that on the average most sports pro have a very short turnover time, post processing raw or even converting raw to jpg just isn't viable. correct me if i'm wrong. RAW also takes up too much space. In an average sports shoot, i'd expect to have at least 1-2gb worth of jpg files. The equivalant no in raw would be scary.
Thridly, a wide apperture actually improves AF speed, believe it or not. A faster lens will allow more light into the AF sensor blah di blah. Just go read up on how AF works and u'll figure that the more light the merrier. thats why in general, AF doesn't work for lenses slower than 5.6. It degrades downwards.

I'm sure a few others here will have a lot more to add. And i can only bow down to them as we do have some sports pros amongst us. I'm still trying my hand at this. Pls correct me if anything i said is wrong.
 

oeyvind

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#11
On Canon, without the f/2.8 or faster lenses, you lost most of the high precision cross-sensors on the 1 series DSLR... why you wanna do that?

f/4 and f/5.6 lenses are basically too slow for non-daylight usage.
 

behyx

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#12
oeyvind said:
On Canon, without the f/2.8 or faster lenses, you lost most of the high precision cross-sensors on the 1 series DSLR... why you wanna do that?

f/4 and f/5.6 lenses are basically too slow for non-daylight usage.
now what is this high precision cross sensors thingy?
 

clive

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#13
the 45 AF point thingy only 7 out of the 45 are crosstype with 2.8 or faster. the centre one is crosstype with f4 or faster. the rest are line type. around there lah..exact details are all found in a eos3/1v/1d brouchure
 

canturn

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#14
szekiat said:
Before the pros poke in i'll add my 2c worth.
Whatever event u were shooting, u must have had very good lighting to be able to get decent speed at f5.6 iso 1250. I'd wager a guess that it was in daylight. Unfortunately most events, especially do not allow for such good conditions, and if i'm not mistaken, the highest ISO in most cams is still 3200.
Secondly, u also mentioned later on about how with software like capture(i assume it to be C1dslr from C1), you can reduce the noise. There really is no real cure to noise. No matter how good the algo used, cutting down noise also equates to some loss in detail. It just won't do if u need to crop. In addition, Capture only works with raw file. Considering that on the average most sports pro have a very short turnover time, post processing raw or even converting raw to jpg just isn't viable. correct me if i'm wrong. RAW also takes up too much space. In an average sports shoot, i'd expect to have at least 1-2gb worth of jpg files. The equivalant no in raw would be scary.
Thridly, a wide apperture actually improves AF speed, believe it or not. A faster lens will allow more light into the AF sensor blah di blah. Just go read up on how AF works and u'll figure that the more light the merrier. thats why in general, AF doesn't work for lenses slower than 5.6. It degrades downwards.

I'm sure a few others here will have a lot more to add. And i can only bow down to them as we do have some sports pros amongst us. I'm still trying my hand at this. Pls correct me if anything i said is wrong.
Interesting to hear from some of you.

So far, C1 is able to remove visible noise w/o compromising image quality. Using high ISO is already by itself a compromise, but producing acceptable quality isn't entirely impossible.

Regarding RAW files, it's back to this RAW vs Jpeg debate. Two of my friends working as sports pro shoot exclusively raw. Another guy I know doing bridal would stand by jpeg for the same reason as szekiat has mentioned. All boils down to individual's work flow.

Oeyvind is right about the AF points, technically, AF points becomes more sensitive with a faster lenses. Maybe the guy whom I spoke to doesn't make full use of his gear, and he only believes in using the centre AF point for the stuffs that he's shooting.

Keep the response coming guys, like to hear from you (esp those pros)
 

szekiat

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#15
err, well just to quote "AF points become more sensitive with a faster lensES"
U said it, now why would anyone want less sensitive AF? it still gets better regardless of whether he uses the center af point or not.

Secondly, RAW vs JPG is really not a matter of preference. I think we'd all love to shoot RAW if we could, except that if u have a few hundred shots to process, i don't think u have the time. Again this is dependent on the usage of your photos. I think most of us shoot for some form of print media or another and it just takes too long. I have had to work with turnaround times of less than 12hrs, including time in transit. Try post processing that many shots. U just can't beat getting the shot right when u shoot it and submitting it on the spot.
 

Jed

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#16
canturn said:
So far, C1 is able to remove visible noise w/o compromising image quality.
I really would be surprised. It might do a very good job, but noise is random and there is no way you can distinguish it from certain types of fine detail. There is always a loss.
 

Watcher

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#17
My 2 cents worth:

I disagree that fast lens is not needed. Fast lenses give like everyone here had said, DOF and brighter viewfinder, etc. Even on Nikon pro and prosumer DSLR with ISO 6400 equivalent, frankly, no one wants to shoot at that, if possible. I know coz I have done so for testing purposes. It is like ISO 800 on a P&S digicam (if it has that :D )

Noise removal can asymptotically remove noise without degration (ie if the algorithm is perfect) but this means practically not possible; how does the algorithm determine if a pixel is or is not noise? :dunno: It can only guess and you are left with an image that is more or less pockmarked and soften image. USM cannot really sharpen an image (if that is your knee-jerk response); it only gives an appearance of sharpness.

As for RAW vs JPG, that is another discussion. Note the following quote from here:
"It's a workflow based on using JPEGs for most editing tasks and RAW files to make the highest quality images for the printing press." With the cost of CF media dropping with increase in writing speed, RAW will soon be the format that will be mostly used by those looking for the highest quality output, be it pros or amateurs.
 

clive

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#18
Watcher said:
As for RAW vs JPG, that is another discussion. Note the following quote from here:
"It's a workflow based on using JPEGs for most editing tasks and RAW files to make the highest quality images for the printing press." With the cost of CF media dropping with increase in writing speed, RAW will soon be the format that will be mostly used by those looking for the highest quality output, be it pros or amateurs.
yappari ne..this is what i long suspected
 

szekiat

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#19
oeyvind said:
I have yet to see anyone that shoot RAW for any editorial works... RAW is nice, but frankly the problem here is not with the media nor writing speed but TIME to process.

Time is money in real world.
finally someone who speaks the same wavelength. Frankly, with most current dslr, pro or otherwise, the quality of jpg is almost as goood as raw. To use a common if somewhat lousy epitomy, raw is like negs and jpg is like slides. With jpgs, the ability to manipulate is minimalised. But pros don't need to manipulate. Part of being professional is being able to get it right the first time around. That is not to say that they do not shoot raw, if we could we'd all shoot raw. But those of us that have to go through thousands of shots per day, it is just not sensible to do so. Time can be better spent doing other things, like SLEEP.
 

Watcher

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#20
It really depends on what is the setup and other factors. We should move the discussion about RAW vs JPG to another thread as it has nothing to do with fast lenses. That said, oeyvind, seems to have deleted his post... ;)

szekiat said:
finally someone who speaks the same wavelength. Frankly, with most current dslr, pro or otherwise, the quality of jpg is almost as goood as raw. To use a common if somewhat lousy epitomy, raw is like negs and jpg is like slides. With jpgs, the ability to manipulate is minimalised. But pros don't need to manipulate. Part of being professional is being able to get it right the first time around. That is not to say that they do not shoot raw, if we could we'd all shoot raw. But those of us that have to go through thousands of shots per day, it is just not sensible to do so. Time can be better spent doing other things, like SLEEP.
 

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