I’ve been researching this 85 mm lense for awhile now and was wondering how it would perform in a low light dance recital situation. I’m shooting with a d7000 and an old 28-70 sigma 2.8 (10 yrs old) that has serious focus issues, and its just a little too short, unless I'm really close, it's time for a new lens. I feel the 85 would be a nice distance but would I also find it useful for general use or too long on the D7000? Of course I would love the 24-120 F4 but don't think It would be fast enough. One of the the few negatives I’ve seen with the 85 is slower focusing. Does anyone think this lens would be a good performer for this low light situation?
My other lenses are 35mm 1.8 and a 70-300 F4.5/5.6 (no VR)
Thanks in advance.
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#1. "RE: 85mm 1.8 for indoor dance " | In response to Reply # 0Floridian Nikonian since 11th Feb 2007Thu 02-May-13 03:28 PM
You should have a pretty good idea about whether 85mm will work as a focal length. You say your 28-70 is a little too short, so it would seem the 85 would work.
As for the lens being a good performer in low light, the answer is definitely yes. I have an older version I often use for basketball in relatively dark gyms, and it works great. I'll typically set it at f2, and at that setting it lets in twice the light as an f2.8 wide open. So, you can halve your ISO, or double your shutter speed, or any intermediate combination. Having the extra stop can be a real advantage.
As for focusing speed, I can't say directly. Mine is an older 85 f1.8 AF, which is a screw-drive lens, but it focuses fast enough for basketball. With dance, your subjects will all be about the same distance away from you, so I'd think even a slow-focusing lens would not be a problem.
#2. "RE: 85mm 1.8 for indoor dance " | In response to Reply # 0blw Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Thu 02-May-13 03:52 PM
Although I agreed with what Randy said when I read it, I think I've got more questions. First, let's put a little more precision in the problem statement. You said "its just a little too short, unless I'm really close." What does "a little" mean? Similarly, what does "really close" mean? A related question is "what is the intended use of the images?" A D7000 produces a 16x11" print directly out of the camera. If the 70mm is "just a little" too short, I would think that you can "only" make a 14x10" straight out of the camera, without reducing resolution at all. In other words, maybe 70mm is plenty of focal length? There is an enormous difference in flexibility between a 28-70 and an 85mm prime, which is something you should consider.
There's nothing wrong with the 85/f1.8 AFS - the questions are more about your situation than the lens.
> Of course I would love the 24-120 F4 but don't think It would be fast enough.
What shutter speed, aperture and ISO are you shooting now? The 24-120 is only one stop slower than your f/2.8, so you can certainly make it work as well as your existing lens if you can turn up the ISO by one stop. If you're already at ISO 6400, that'd be a serious problem, but I'm guessing that you aren't given the description.
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#3. "RE: 85mm 1.8 for indoor dance " | In response to Reply # 2Thu 02-May-13 10:20 PM
First, I thank you for the quick response...let me try and address your questions. To start with the Sigma 28-70 is probably my biggest problem, it worked fine with my older D100 but ever since I got this new D7000 (a year now)I can't get any pictures in focus, it seems like it's back focusing. I tried playing with the fine tune but no luck. First I thought it was the camera but my 35 1.8 is fine.
What I mean by a little too short is usually I'm sitting 10-15 rows back and I would like to fill the frame with just my daughter, I know I can crop, but being I can't get crisp pictures to start with it just gets worse. I feel that a little extra reach would be nice. I also noticed that when I checked my pictures in general using this lens indoors or outdoors I'm usually at 70mm, that's why I'm interested in the 24-120. But you're right, it is only 1 stop slower than my 28-70. But what I did notice, my last shoot I was at 2000 ISO but very slow shutter speeds between 100 and 200, not quite fast enough to get sharp pictures. I think you hit the nail on the head...the questions are more about the situations than the lens.
The more I think about it the 85mm might limit my flexibility a little bit, maybe with a lens adjustment (if possible) along with bumping up my ISO and some better technique, I might be able to get some better results.
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#4. "RE: 85mm 1.8 for indoor dance " | In response to Reply # 0
If you need to increase your shutter speed and can deal with a single focal length, an 85 f/1.8 is a great choice. I used an AF 85 f/1.8D as my go to lens for indoor kid school/sports events. I used one on both a D300 and D700. Overall I preferred using this lens to increasing the ISO and using a f/2.8 lens.
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#5. "I have used this lens for dance and theater" | In response to Reply # 0
My daughter has been a stage rat since about 6 years old, and I have learned all I can about theater and dance photography in order to capture those memories. She graduating high school in a few weeks, so over that time I have moved through a progression of Canon cameras and lenses, then to Nikon. Currently shooting a D800 with 24-70 and 70-200 f2.8's, 85 1.8g. Now that she is moving on, my needs are changing, and I have been playing with a D600 and several lenses, including the 24-120 f4, 105 VR, and Sigma 35 1.4.
I have often found my 24-70 just a tad too short, unless shooting a dress rehearsal, where I can get right up in front, or even better on stage. The 70-200 was often too long at 70. So I used the 24-70 for rehearsals, and the 70-200 during the shows.
However I shot several shows with just the 85 1.8g, and was very pleased with the results. In fact, more so than the 24-70 in terms of sharp images. The 24-70 is a great lens, but the extra speed of the 85 let me get more shutter speed to freeze action better. And the 85 being a prime is sharper in and of itself, wide open.
The 85 fits a nice place between the 24-70 and 70-200, especially if you can foot zoom a dozen feet in either direction. The extra speed can be very useful in low light, giving more shutter to better freeze action. Or stop down a few clicks and it's sharper than any zoom, even the f2.8's when they are wide open.
The drawback to any prime is of course when you cannot get the FL you need quickly enough. If you are on one side of the stage, and suddenly see a shot you want across the stage, you can't zoom in.
I have tried the 24-120 this past weekend at a show, typical lighting, and found the 24-120 f4 lacking in several ways. First, it needs to be stopped down a stop or so to get sharp. And often f4 I knew the shutter speeds were much too slow. VR is great for the shooters motion, but useless when then subject is moving. Even a little movement.
I quickly changed lenses to the 24-70, but really wished I had the 85 handy. The 70 was a little too short, given where I could physically get positioned, and I missed some great images because f2.8 could not freeze subject motion blur: my daughter had a solo under colored lights (singing), and cropping because the 70 was not close enough, and just her motion (normal singer kind of motions), were too much. Images are just not sharp.
The 24-120 is fine outdoors or in very good light, when you can stop down, or in low light when the subject is static. My verdict is not good for low natural light stage. The 85 is a great option, with advantages and limitations over fast zooms like the 24-70.