Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Evening Among Friends

D7000 + 70-200
I took photos for my friend's party.  It was an intimate affair for close family friends, with approximately 60 people, at a hotel.  In this post, I'd like to share some of the photos and give my thoughts on the cameras and lenses I used.

I used three cameras: the Nikon D600, Nikon D7000 and Fuji S5 Pro.  I used a clone of the black rapid strap (reviewed here) while the other camera was on my neck.  The setup worked well, allowing me to access any of the three cameras quickly.  The only thing was, by the end of the evening, my lower back was starting to ache, probably from the weight of the 70-200.

I used several lenses:
Nikon 28-70 2.8D and Sigma 35 1.4 (with the D600)
Nikon 70-200 VR II and for a few macro shots, the Nikon 28-105 (with the D7000)
Tokina 11-16 and Tokina 10-17 fisheye (with the S5).

I also brought the Nikon 85 1.8G but did not get to use it.  The party was in a ballroom with beige walls and a white ceiling, approximately 25 feet high.

A couple of weeks before the party,  I asked my friend to check out the place for me so I was aware of the high ceiling and the general layout of the room.  I brought my handheld umbrella but found that I was able to use bounce flash without problems.  So I just used bounce flash and my hand as a flag, the way I normally do.  In retrospect, using a black foamie thing or a similar device would have been better for the D7000 and 70-200.  That combination was quite heavy to hold with just one hand while using my other hand as a flag.

Nikon 70-200 VR II
A while back, I had bought a 70-200 VR I.  However, I was not too impressed by the sharpness or the image stabilization.

For this event, I wanted a fast telephoto, and rented the Nikon 70-200 VR II.  I had never used it before.  I was very impressed.  It focused quickly and accurately.  Most of the shots I got were sharp.  I was concerned that the effective focal length would be too long for the D7000 (because of the APS-C crop factor).  However, it was about right.

D7000 + 70-200
D7000 + 70-200
D7000 + 70-200
Nikon 28-70 2.8D
This lens is the predecessor of the 24-70 2.8G.  I had used it before on the Nikon D3 and was pleased with it, but I sold it when I got the 24-70.  Later, I found that I was not using the 24-70 much so I sold that one too.  For this party, I was thinking of renting the 24-70, but I found the 28-70 for a very good price, so I bought that one instead.

I knew the 28-70 was great on the 12mp Nikon D3 but I didn't know how it would perform on the much more demanding 24mp sensor of the Nikon D600.  I was pleasantly surprised that it was every bit as sharp as the 24-70.  Even the focus was also fast and accurate (though louder).  Another surprise was that I found it could focus much more closely than the specs say.  The minimum focusing distance is listed as 2.3 feet.  However, I found it could focus as close as one foot, which seems to be closer than the minimum focusing distance of the 24-70.

Anyhow, the 28-70 performed marvelously at the party, giving me sharp shots again and again.

D600 28-70
D600 28-70
Sigma 35 1.4
I wasn't planning to use the Sigma for the party, but at the last minute, I brought it with me.  I'm glad I did.  At one point, when I felt I had enough 'safe' shots from the 28-70, I decided to use the Sigma to change up the shots.  It got me some of the better shots from the evening, as you'll see below.  The depth of field is noticeably more shallow, making the subjects a little more prominent.

While using the Sigma, I did not feel too limited with the focal length, partly because if I wanted a tight shot I could use the 70-200 on the D7000 (although at that point, I did wish that I had been using the 70-200 on a full frame instead).

The one thing about the Sigma is that the focus was a little off, as I've noted in my preview.  The shots were still usable but some of them will not withstand zooming to 100%.  I'm hoping the Sigma USB dock will help me correct the AF (the USB dock was delayed and the Nikon version will be available in June).

D600 Sigma 35 1.4
D600 Sigma 35 1.4
D600 + 35 1.4
D600 + 35 1.4
Tokina 10-17
I used this lens more than I expected and was glad to have it with me.  However, I did wish that the S5 had better high ISO capability because the 10-17 goes only as wide as f/3.5.
S5 + 10-17 fisheye