#1. "RE: D90 for indoor event photos" In response to Reply # 0
Hey Andrew, Welcome.
I am not the person that you want to get full advice form as I'm not a wedding photogrpher, but I have shot a couple of weddings (and ironically, used a D90 as a backup at one of those weddings in fact). It you're only using the one camera, I'd get a more flexible lens (better zoom than the one you currently have - not that there is anything wrong with that lens for vacation/general use as it's a great little lens, but...). I did read somewhere at some point around the time I did the first wedding I shot, that there was a person (sorry - bad memory) that shot an entire wedding with a 50mm lens... but my bet is that the camera being used was full frame and not the cropped body (DX) you have (for that body to get the "normal" view out of lens, you want that little Nikon 35mm f1.8 DX lens which is a great lens by the way). I'd probably try and get a 24-70mm f2.8 (maybe rent this lens as it's not cheap) or the 28-70mm f2.8 (used they can be found if you keep your eyes open). Alternates might be to go with a third party 24-70/28-70 lens (Tokina, Tamron, Sigma all make something in this range). For the DX bodied D90, you might look at the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 (not cheap either) of for a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens (I had the one of these without the DC for that D90 at the time which was a great lens too and sharp, good color). When I used the D90 as a backup, I used an 85mm f1.8 lens and it was a great support to my D700 at the time... I had both the Nikon 17-55 at one point (different camera) and the Tamron 17-50. The Nikon was in my opinion a dream to use and was on my D300 almost the entire time I owned it (I only sold the lens as at the time I need the cash), but the Tamron is no slouch. You'll like either one (and most likely sell the 18-55 when you get one of these). The Nikon is a much larger lens, so if size is of concern, go for the Tamron. As for flash - yes. You should have an external flash just because. You'll use it in and outside (for fill flash if nothing else). If you can't afford something too expensive, look around for at least an SB-400 (new they're only about $110 or somehting like that)... used around $85-ish. The head flips up for bounce flash (does not rotate) and you can make a little diffuser out of tape and paper if you need too (I have a little 400 that I keep just for travel and it's perfect size to haul around in your pocket). If you can get a better flash, do that - but at least the 400. Take at least another battery for your camera and making sure the night before, they're all charged up (including the one in your camera) and a few extra batteries for your flash (the 400 only takes 2 AA's, so have a few on stand-by). Have a large enough SF card in your camera or a couple of those too if they're smaller than 8 GB each - you can shoot a lot of pictures at a wedding and not even realize it. Always shoot in RAW (NEF) and convert afterward to JPGs - that way if you mess up your White Balance or something, you may be able to save the picture anyway... At least with me, I always shoot RAW for everything - even vacation photos.
I hope that at least gets you moving in the right direction ... now a real wedding photographer can chime in and point you in the "real" direction! Good luck and have fun.
#2. "RE: D90 for indoor event photos" In response to Reply # 1
Thanks for the info.
Because I like images from the 50 mm/1.8 so much more than the 18-55 that came with the camera, I was also thinking maybe I could get a 35 mm/1.8 for the whole thing. Do you think this is reasonable, or should I stick with a zoom lens?
#3. "RE: D90 for indoor event photos" In response to Reply # 2
Sorry, I guess you did cover that question above.
One last question though. With the 17-55/2.8 you mentioned, is the image quality a lot better than the 18-55/3.5 at similar aperature settings, or is image quality similar but you get more flexibility with being able to go to f/2.8. I know these are pretty basic questions, but I appreciate the advice. Thanks.
#4. "RE: D90 for indoor event photos" In response to Reply # 3
I go with the motto that no question is a "bad" question...
To try and answer your question about the 18-55 vs. the 17-55 (or 17-50 for that matter). I don't know that the image quallity is "better" and that would really depend on your specific copy of each lens (I only had the 18-55 for a short period of time and it was actually on my wife's camera so I didn't really use it that much - but I remember hers was the VR version and was actually quite sharp). I think its more the low light options and that f-stop of a 2.8 being much better. I'm in California and that 17-50 Tamron I had, I bought used for about $350 if I recall - that was pretty inexpensive for such a nice lens. In that same thought, the 17-55 is going for about $850-950 used right now in my location. Is that 17-55, $500 better than the Tamron... well, Id take the Nikon over the Tamron (at least based on the two copies I had of each lens) any day. But that Tamron was a really nice lens. Now, had I never had the Nikon first, I'd say that the Tamron was an excellent lens and I'd buy another one and wouldn't have even thought about it. Even in comparison to the copies I had, for the price, the Tamron was a steal. And, it's going to give you that 2.8 f-stop you want inside in low light over the 18-55. Can you shoot this event with the 18-55, yes. Will you be happy with the images, probably. Would you notice a huge differnce if you had that 17-55? My opinion (and that means nothing to you) is yes, I think you would. You would notice a difference, if nothing else, you'll be shooting more because you just spent a bunch of money on an expensive lens... But seriously, I think you would notice a difference. Enough to validate spending that kind of money, that's something you'll have to decide... I've read numerous places that the equipment is not what makes the great picture, the photogrpher is. I belive that. I also belive however that the equipment gives the photographer more confidence and makes their life easier - which helps their photography. Another way to look at it is this - two race drivers, equally matched and very skilled on the track. One gets a brand new Toyota Prius to drive, the other gets a 5 year old Ferrarri GT - who do you think will win? Maybe that's not a fair comparison, but you get the picture. I play guitar... When I pick up a knock-off electric guitar and play, it makes music. But when I pick up a Fender Strat, it too makes music, but it sounds so much better - is that the guitar, or my confidence in what I'm doing and playing that sounds better? Again, you have to decide. Hope that helps and good luck on your decisions.
#5. "RE: D90 for indoor event photos" In response to Reply # 4
One more thing Andy,
I just noticed that is is the rehersal dinner and not a wedding. You may be able to shoot this entire thing with the 35/1.8 DX lens you said you were going to ad to your lens lineup. You're not going to be moving around as much at this dinner as you would at a wedding. That lens can be had for about $200 new or aobut $150-180 used and will serve you well (VERY WELL) for amny other things. You can pretty much sell the 18-55 and offset the cost of the 35 and later ad something else to cover the wide end of things for you down the road (or keep the 18-55 for just that). I replaced my wife's 18-55 with that 35 and it was a spectatular lens (and actually one of my favorites to be honest for general photography). Very, very sharp lens. It became her general lens...
Do however pickup a flash - maybe the SB-400 like I mentioned and flip the head up to bounce off of the ceiling and get some nice images.
If you bought a used Sb-400 and a used 35/1.8, you'd be in them about $225-$240 and honestly would be set for a while. Less expensive than buying any of the other zoom lenses too...