Low light photos - choosing next lens
So after having my Alpha a couple of weeks, and seeing what I am taking pictures of, I'm feeling limited by light.
I really enjoy candid shots of friends, family, dogs, etc, in the house, without using flash. I have a flash, it works well, but its obtrusive, and I'm not skilled enough to take the pictures I want with it.
So right now I have the kit lens and the Sony 75-300 (which I may try to trade out for the Tamron, b/c it seems to be better for less money), but I'm going to try to pick up another lens. I originally was planning to get an older Minolta 50mm f/1.7, but from what I'm reading here, you guys seem to strongly suggest the Tamron 17-50 2.8. The Minolta would have a larger aperture and be a lot cheaper, but the Tamron would also allow me to pretty much replace the kit lens. I think I need a new paperweight anyway.
But to be pragmatic, my issue is low light, and I have a baby on the way so budget is an issue. So my question is mainly about how these lenses perform at higher apertures. If it turns out the Minolta isn't very usable at 1.7, and I'll be using a higher aperture most of the time anyway, and the Tamron is usable at 2.8, then the Tamron is obviously a better choice. But if the Minolta is going to allow me to reasonably use higher aperture and get the shots I want, I'll buy that one soon and pick up the Tamron later. How big of a difference will I see in low light shots between the two.
Thanks for any thoughts on this.
Facing the future family ...
Well ... almost all lenses tend to shoot soft-looking stuff under f/2. It's just the nature of having all that light flooding into the lens from the sides. If you have ever had an eye-exam and they have dialated your eyes ... for a look-see inside, you will probably tend to recall how awful it was to try and focus on any kind of bright areas, indoors or outdoors. Sure, you get a brighter shot, but it tends to look horrendous.
Normally, your best and sharpest looking images tend to come in around f/5.6 aperture ... but, as you have correctly identified, that normally requires the assistance of a flash, indoors, because most people don't light their homes and businesses like they were operating in the noon-day sun! :cool:
So, you are in a quandry about what lens to use. A common issue.
Personally, my Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 and SONY AF 50mm f/1.4 spend a lot of time in the lens bag. They are terrific when I am doing measured shots with studio lighting. They offer terrific range of aperture ... and can be carefully crafted to whatever I want ... I AM NOT IN RUSH under these conditions, nor am I usually constantly moving the position of the camera relative to the item under the gun. Definitely NOT your normal family shot.
But, what does get the "heavy-lifting" is the:
- 17-50mm f/2.8 (80%) or 28-75mm f/2.8
- 70-200mm f/2.8 (15%).
I would go so far as to say that these two lenses would be all anyone should really need to have, overall. They (are):
- FAST (usable under normal lighting conditions, indoors)
- SHARP (good focus)
- OFFER EXCELLENT IMAGE QUALITY (colors and contrast are excellent)
- QUICKLY ADJUSTABLE TO DISTANCE (convenient)
When mounted, the 50mm actually looks like you are shooting at 75mm. That's a short-telephoto range, in the old school (or Full Frame) camera. It's really not that practical, indoors. The better choice would be a 35mm f/1.4, which, of course costs a lot more ... because they know it works better on a APS-C sensor (it looks like a 52mm shot, instead).
Anyway ... for the budget conscious photographer, that needs some flexibility and speed in his shooting, as well as a good-looking shot ... I have to say it is the 17-50mm f/2.8, everytime. You are just not going to like what you will have to settle for with a bright PRIME starting out. Wider aperture will make you sacrifice something you many not want to ... Image Quality. The f/2.8 will keep you honest.
Good luck, however you go.