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What is Canon's best lens for low light?

Andy Glogower , Mar 03, 2005; 11:09 a.m.

I shoot alot of pictures at my daughters dance performance in low light situations and want to know if the 70-200mm f2.8L IS, would be my best choice? Or if there would be a better choice of lenses. Thanks for your input.


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Dhiren . , Mar 03, 2005; 11:25 a.m.

depends on what focal length you are looking for ?

200 ? 300 ?

Andy Glogower , Mar 03, 2005; 11:51 a.m.

I am mostly in theaters about 5-15 rows back, but can go most any distance.

Bert Armijo , Mar 03, 2005; 11:56 a.m.

DSLR or film? If you can go to ISO 3200 then f/2.8 should be sufficient.

Of course, if you have the money to buy/rent one, the 85 f/1.2 is about as fast as they come and also one of the sharpest ever built.

T C , Mar 03, 2005; 12:07 p.m.

Canon's best lens for low light work it would have to be the FD 50mm f0.95 - they don't come much faster than this...

Shaun O'Boyle , Mar 03, 2005; 12:22 p.m.

Many of the primes would qualify, 85 1.8, 100 2.0, 135 2.0 50 1.4, not to mention the expensive lenses already mentioned. If your shooting digital, you can pump the iso to 1600 and clean it up with noise reduction software like Noise ninja, works very well.

Del Gray , Mar 03, 2005; 12:25 p.m.

While the two lenses listed above are indeed phenomenal for what you ask, you can get close to the same performance for much less money with a 50/1.4 or 85/1.8. A zoom would indeed be nice when you are stuck in a chair and can't move around very well, but the 2.8 maximum aperture is not really very fast. If you have a DSLR you can bump up the ISO and do just fine, but if you want to shoot with slower ISO (film or digital) then a fast prime lens is the way to go. The trick would be finding the right focal length for the type of shots you do. Do you want to get a feel for the whole stage? Then the 50/1.4 would probably work best (or the 50/1.8 for a real bargain). If you like to get a closer shot of one or two dancers, I've used the 85/1.8 for this and been very happy with it. If you want to go even longer but still keep a big aperture, your only real choice is the 200/1.8, which is horribly expensive and discontinued I believe. Personally I would get both the 50/1.4 and the 85/1.8 for half the price combined of the 70-200/2.8 zoom (and maybe even add the 200/2.8) for a kit that would give much better low light performance.

Paul - , Mar 03, 2005; 12:29 p.m.

From the looks of your dance photos taken with the 70-200 IS, you could be telling us!

The IS allows you to use a slower hand-held shutter speed, which helps in low light, but slower speeds tend not to work well with moving subjects. Apparently you have already had lowlight success with that lens though!

If you want to use a higher shutter speed to help avoid motion blur, the excellent optics and wider apertures of the 50mm/1.4 and 85mm/1.8 make them good choices.

Roger Krueger , Mar 03, 2005; 01:20 p.m.

Depending on your focal length needs and budget the 135/2 and 35/1.4 are both winners. The 200/1.8 is wonderful, but getting very expensive since discontinued.

The IS won't help much--you'll be limited by the movement of the dancers.

pierre bize , Mar 03, 2005; 02:17 p.m.

I currenly use the 85 1.2 for concerts were musicians are snot moving around a lot. For dance performance it depends... The AF in this lens leaves some to be desired. I have tried to shoot a martial art contest but with the fighters jumping all around the place I had a hard time getting a single infocus shot. If the dancing style implies a lot of moving around on the the stage I would definitely recommand the 85mm 1.8 over the 1.2 for more info read this: http://www.wlcastleman.com/equip/reviews/85mm/

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