Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An Evening with Friends Part 2

Some more observations from the photos I took a few weeks ago at my friend's party.  Part 1 is here.

I spent about 6 hours taking photos (not including the time for setting up and for dinner).  In that time, I took a little over 1,500 shots.  I narrowed that to around 250 shots which I edited and gave to my friend.  I found it interesting that of the final shots, more than half (131 shots) were from the 70-200.  I would have thought that the majority would have been from the 28-70.

The shots I chose tended to be the ones where I liked the expressions and emotions, so I think it's not a coincidence that many were from the 70-200.  It was simply easier to capture candid moments with the long focal length.

And I think even when the subjects were aware that I was taking a photo, they were more a little more at ease because I was farther away.

To be honest, I was kind of distant and aloof, focused on my task instead of being friendly and co-mingling with the guests, so perhaps that was a factor, and a more friendly photographer would have had more keepers from a closer range.  Anyway, this makes me reconsider the importance of a telephoto lens for an event.

Speaking of taking photos at a closer range, I liked the group shots where I was closer to the group and was using a wide angle lens (28mm or 35mm), like the shot at the beginning of this post and the one below.

Those shots feel more natural and intimate to me than shots taken from a distance.  However, I should note that when I'm using a wide angle lens this way, the subjects have to be kind of close to each other or else they will appear too spread apart.  In that regard, a lot of the credit goes to the guests, because they were close friends so they were physically closer to each other.  The people at the party were also friendly to me and most were comfortable in front of the camera.

I'd like to talk about the Sigma 35mm 1.4 as well.  I found it incredibly useful.  I didn't use the 35mm for a long time, relying instead on the versatility of the 28-70.  However, the Sigma 35 1.4 had a much higher percentage of final keepers.  The 28-70 had 66 finalists out of 588 shots (11%).  The 35mm had 35 finalists out of 131 shots (27%).  At least part of that is because I was able to warm up with the 28-70, but still, even during the time when I was switching between the 28-70 and 35 1.4, the 35 1.4 had more keepers.  I think it was partly due to the field of view and partly due to the shallower depth of field.

Switching topics, about the Tokina 11-16, I didn't use it as much as I thought I would.  On the other hand, the shots from it were unique and would not have been easily done on other lenses.

In the shot below, the flowers were actually very small.  The Tokina 11-16 allowed me to move close to them and make them appear large relative to the hotel.

I used the Nikon D600, Nikon D7000 and Fuji S5.  It was incredibly useful to have the D600.  The shots from it were far cleaner than those from the D7000.  It was not even close.

The D600 could get clean shots at 25,600 ISO.  The shot below was SOOC (except for white balance and a slight crop) with no noise reduction.  With the D7000, I had to use a lot of noise reduction.

ISO 25,600
The D600 also allowed me to adjust the photos as much as I wanted.  Nonetheless, I was glad I used flash.  The flash improved the shots significantly, compared to those where I turned off the flash.

I would say my ideal combination for this kind of event would be two D600s -- one with a 35 1.4 and the other with a 70-200.  The D7000 actually is fine with the 70-200.  The only thing is that with the crop factor, the gap between the 35mm and 105mm equivalent is a little too wide.

Anyway, here are more shots from the party.


  1. Hi, Mic.

    Just curious... I noticed that it appears that you don't correct the lens vignetting in post. Is that correct or am I just ludicrous? And if so, why? I prefer to leave the natural vignetting, which is considerable on my Sigma 35 1.4. Thoughts?



    1. Hi Michael. You're right - I generally don't correct for vignetting when it comes to portraits. I feel that the vignetting helps to focus the viewer's attention on the subject. If anything, I usually add post-crop vignetting in LR, and in LR5 I like to use radial gradient to achieve a similar effect.

      Best regards,

  2. Hi Mic,

    I am not surprise that you got more keepers with 70-200. I got a 70-200mm VRII recently (was looking at 85mm f/1.8 G, used 80-200mm, and 70-200mm VRI initially but got a deal on VRII), it quickly became my favorite lens for outdoor portrait. f/2.8 at 200mm creates some beautiful head portraits.


    1. Congratulations on your new lens Xiaoli! It is indeed a great lens.

      Best regards,

    2. Dear Xiaoly,

      I am using a D7000 + Sigma 17-50 OS 2.8 / 35mm 1.8G / 85mm 1.8G. Lately I am in a prime mood, so I leave home with my 35 + 85. It was mainly for outdoor events. I barely used my 35mm. I find it a boring lens. It did serve me well taking a group shot, of a group that was spread out very wide, and I am happy with the result.
      I noticed that my 85mm stays on most of the time. It's about 127,5mm, and it allowed me to make great candid shots. There were more photographers at the event. I have seen their pics with a D800 + 24-70, which were nice, though, on most of these pics I found people were posing, as where with mine it allowed me to record emotion/expression.

      Once I'll move to fullframe, I was considering a 70-200, though, I may skip it and invest in a Sigma 150mm OS 2.8, as I have read it is an excellent piece of lens.

    3. Hi Ozmanguday,

      I think you have a good combination,35mm with 85mm are very light yet capable combinations. Nikon 85mm 1.8G was my top choice when I started to look for a portrait lens (already had 17-55mm and 35mm 1.8G) until I got 70-200mm VRII (actually with 24-70mm and 105mm macro in a package). Now this inevitably make me enter full-frame much earlier than I expected. I may get a D700 and Tokina 11-16 to complete my setup.


Thanks for your comment. It will be published as soon as we get a chance to review it, sorry for that, but we get lots of spam with malicious links.