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Low light zoom lens

Teresa Santosus , Dec 10, 2008; 12:34 p.m.

I am looking into a zoom lens that works well in low light. One suggestion I was given was the Sigma 17-70mm 2.8 - 4.5.
I know that primes are usually suggested for low light/portraits, I do have the Canon Prime 50mm. I just find I take better candid shots of the kids with my zoom lens (I currently have the Quantaray 70-300 4.0) and I have no issues other than it does hunt a lot when there is low light (late afternoon, etc).
With a 17 month old, I want a camera where I don't have to be right in his face to get a good close-up. Also, I take most of my photos outside. I am not looking to spend a lot b/c as you can see I am an armature. I just want to get good shots of the kids.
Here are some samples (gallery 1) www.teresasphotos.synthasite.com
Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Responses

Jared Bauer , Dec 10, 2008; 01:13 p.m.

The two lenses that you have mentioned have very different zoom ranges - 17-70 and the current 70-300. I think that the range of the 17-70 would be good for shooting kids around the house. I use a 24-70mm range lens around my home with the kids and it works great. It would be great for low light shooting to try and grab a constant aperture lens - one that will give you the f/2.8 at all focal lengths. Sigma makes a lot of nice (affordable) options in that arena. They make a 24-70mm f/2.8, a 24-60mm f/2.8, a 18-50mm f/2.8 and all of these offer the constant aperture. Look into these models.

Sinh Nhut Nguyen , Dec 10, 2008; 01:28 p.m.

The fastest zooms are f/2.8. If you can't stop action with f/2.8, prime and high ISO are the way to go.

Dan Mitchell , Dec 10, 2008; 01:39 p.m.

Unless I overlooked it, you didn't tell us what camera you have. If you have a cropped sensor DSLR (a digital Rebel or a 20D, 30D, 40D, or 50D) I think that the best large aperture zoom for the sort of shots you describe could well be the Canon EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens. f/2.8 is a large a maximum aperture as you will find on a zoom lens. The image stabilization (IS) feature can let you hand hold the camera a slower shutter speeds - though you'll need to try to get the kids to hold still if you really push this.

A flash unit might be even more useful for you and less expensive.

Dan

Matthijs Claessen , Dec 10, 2008; 03:17 p.m.

Sorry Dan but the 17-55/2.8 might be above budget as the OP said: " I am not looking to spend a lot b/c as you can see I am an armature."

Dear Teresa, are you sure you need a zoom? If you want to get close and need fast you might want to look at other lenses like the prime lens EF 100/2.

I'm afraid you wont find an affordable fast long zoom. (two out of three is possible: Tamron 17-50/2.8 is fast and affordable but not long and the Canon 70-200/2.8 is fast and long but not affordable.)

If you were pressed on this issue, could you prioritize these: focal length, speed, zoom, cheapness? That might help answering your question.

Kind regards, Matthijs.

JDM von Weinberg , Dec 10, 2008; 04:33 p.m.

I too think that a prime is the way to go- consider that a 50mm f/1.8 on a crop body is really a short telephoto. Besides, not even the fastest zooms are going to equal that aperture. Even if money were no problem, I'd simply recommend a still faster 50mm.

However, that being said, even the Rebels (grr.., hate the name), do reasonably well at ISO 1600, and unless you blow things up a lot, the pictures should look reasonably good. Better than not getting the picture for sure.
Besides, as a parent myself, you are going to need all your spare change. I'm guessing a van is on the way if you haven't already "vanned"

Teresa Santosus , Dec 10, 2008; 10:26 p.m.

Thank you so much for all your replies.
Yes, the camera is the Rebel. I have the Quantaray 70-300 4.0, and the only problems I have with it are:
1. not good in low light situations
2. Sometimes the lens is just too bulky.
I know the cheaper (and faster) way to go would be a prime, but I really would love to get a zoom (because being with the kids, it is just easier). In the past, I have researched the Canon EF 85mm 1.8. It has gotten so many good reviews.
I basically wanted a good walk around lens. We take the kids to this huge park by the water and usually the kids are off in all different directions, which makes a zoom a lot easier also. I wouldn't mind a zoom that was less than 200mm - 70, 75 or eveb 105mm would be good (I think). I just needed something that would work better in a low light situations. Since I don't have much of a problem with speed with my Quantaray, I think the lenses suggested would be fine (speedwise). I am also basically happy with my picture quality if the Quantaray. The only time it isnt on my lens is when I am inside - then I use my 50mm or my kit lens.

Teresa Santosus , Dec 10, 2008; 10:26 p.m.

Thank you so much for all your replies.
Yes, the camera is the Rebel. I have the Quantaray 70-300 4.0, and the only problems I have with it are:
1. not good in low light situations
2. Sometimes the lens is just too bulky.
I know the cheaper (and faster) way to go would be a prime, but I really would love to get a zoom (because being with the kids, it is just easier). In the past, I have researched the Canon EF 85mm 1.8. It has gotten so many good reviews.
I basically wanted a good walk around lens. We take the kids to this huge park by the water and usually the kids are off in all different directions, which makes a zoom a lot easier also. I wouldn't mind a zoom that was less than 200mm - 70, 75 or eveb 105mm would be good (I think). I just needed something that would work better in a low light situations. Since I don't have much of a problem with speed with my Quantaray, I think the lenses suggested would be fine (speedwise). I am also basically happy with my picture quality if the Quantaray. The only time it isnt on my lens is when I am inside - then I use my 50mm or my kit lens.

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