Personal vs. Job Lens Choice

KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
Looks like my wife picked up another art director / food stylist gig for a dessert cookbook, and I serve as food photographer - it'll be our second. I shot the bulk of the first cookbook in DX with a 50mm f/1.4 AF-S and my learning was that it'd be good to be able to back off away from the table and give the chef and stylist more working space around my tripod. My working distance was typically 3-4 ft. Keep in mind that the first book featured full plate settings: steak, fish, chicken breast. This next will be smaller subjects, closer: brownie, mousse, muffin.

I don't plan to be a full-on pro product photographer (despite the strobes, softboxes, backdrop, light stands and Nikon gear ;-) - these projects are a bit of a rarity. So I'm thinking about this gig as an opportunity to finance my camera bag, and what would both serve the job, but more long-term give me a better telephoto lens option for general purpose photography.

I think the obvious choice for the "job" would be the 105mm f/2.8 VR. Working distance, sharpness and 9-blade aperture all make for the professional beauty and look I aim to achieve. However; it seems like a limited-purpose lens for a guy who generally likes to walk around with less in my bag for personal uses. If I'm going to carry around that much bulk, I'd more likely want a zoom.

Next choice would be the 85mm f/1.8 AF-S. It wouldn't back me off from the subject as far, but it offers a little there, plus reviews to be crazy sharp as well. I have tubes for the possible case I need to get really close. This seems like a great DX walk-around telephoto.

Third choice might be the 70-200 f/4. Its range is the most lacking in my bag (see signature) and I suspect it would get me more working distance and flexibility for the gig. However, it's the most expensive. I like to control the narrow focal plane but found I mostly shot the 50mm at around f/2.8-5.6 which got the front-to-middle of the plate in focus and pushed the background sides and props into a nice blur. I'm not sure that f/4 will be fast enough to make a shallow DoF on something so small as a flan - sure if I'm close in, but f/4 might not be shallow enough if I'm 6-ft back.

I also have on my wishlist both of the DC lenses, 105 and 135, but these seem even more limited-function. For fun I shot some samples with my cheapo 18-105 zoom. At print sizes it's probably fine, but onscreen at 100% I could tell the edges were mushy and the transition to mush wasn't a nice beautiful bokeh kind of quality look - though the subject was all sharp.

Short of renting them all and test, I thought I'd bat this around here - especially if anyone has used these first 3 in product situations. I don't really call it macro because I'm not that close. Thanks in advance for any experience and ideas.

D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii

Comments

  • starralaznstarralazn Posts: 204Member
    For general photography, I guess it depends on what you need for walk-around. How often do you shoot with your 18-105 in the 85-105 ranges? How often have you felt that 105mm was not enough? personally, i've never needed longer than a 50mm on fx for street shooting, or travelling around(just came back from a vacation in Japan and my longest lens was a 58mm on FX, only ever felt like i needed something longer once or twice)

    even personal lens choices are purchased with an intent, for a type of usage, specific or vague.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
    edited March 2016
    The desire for something beyond 50mm DX (75mm equiv.) is certainly there. Zoo visits. Wildlife in the parks. The moon. Birds and sea otters on the coast. I use the 85-105 range often. I've been limited to 105mm (158mm equiv.) all my life (never had greater including FX film days). I grew up a wide angle guy.

    I'm pretty sure I'd prefer either the 85 or 105 to my zoom because the latter vignettes pretty badly at full zoom where the former are both high-res full frame lenses. If the 70-300 weren't so old, I'd be tempted (for personal use) but I doubt it would satisfy for this job. So the 70-200 f/4 is tempting for personal use and might do well for the job.

    In sum, yes my 18-105 is pretty good for walkaround, but its quality lacks at 105 so it doesn't satisfy at that length. I could get the 55-300DX for personal use and the 85mm for this job and it'd cost less than all the other options I guess.

    So i guess the questions are: Can the 70-200 f/4 suffice for product/macro work? do the 85 or 105 work brilliantly for at the ocean, at the zoo, at the moon?

    Thx


    Post edited by KnockKnock on
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,370Member
    edited March 2016
    100mm f 2.8 or 85mm f 1.4 Samyang ..cheap sharp ,tax deductible and you got time to focus just where you want .( 85mm is good from F2 -f8)
    Post edited by Pistnbroke on
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,185Member
    I love my 70-200 F4 ... one issue you may have with it for product photography esp small ones is the minimum focus is about 1 meter....
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,491Moderator
    I would go 70-200/f4 and let the longer focal length take care of the DoF. Another is the 60mm micro - every time I use mine on tabletop I wish I could get closer so that sounds good for you. You even get the now cheaper and excellent 'D' as focus speed doesn't matter to you?
    Always learning.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 398Member
    @PB: True, I focus manually on the job, and yes all being tax-itemized!

    @HF: My spacers/tubes should help on min. focus - I guess that then asks for the added lens-mount ring huh?

    @SnP: Good point, I think you were the one who pointed me to Depth of Field Master. I just ran the calculation and at f/4, 6-ft, 70mm: I can limit focus to 4". Which isn't bad. At 105mm it's 1.8" which is plenty tight. For the average dessert, I'm going to want about 3" in focus.

    Is the 70-200 f/4 good and sharp wide open at 1-2 meters? Figures, it's the most expensive option - alas, life on NR forums.

    Thanks guys - assuming you're guys.
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,491Moderator


    Is the 70-200 f/4 good and sharp wide open at 1-2 meters? Figures, it's the most expensive option - alas, life on NR forums.

    Thanks guys - assuming you're guys.

    Mine is. Considering it doesn't get a lot of use, when I say it is my favourite lens gives you some idea of how much I like it. The VR will not help you on a tripod, but it is so good that you will consider not using a tripod.

    If it helps, I will take a shot at one meter and send it to you? PM me if you want that.

    ...and yes, I am a guy (in case you can't tell from the avatar)!
    Always learning.
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,251Member
    The 105mm is a good lens for food photography, but get used to backing up from the subject unless you want tight tight shots of details. I shoot with a D7000 and I always found myself needing to back up far from food shots. If you have the room it's not a big deal, but my kitchen is not that large.

    I think the 70-200 F4 might be the best compromise if price wasn't a problem.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • starralaznstarralazn Posts: 204Member
    hm if price is an issue i'd go with the 105mm micro over the 85mm. also forgo the 105mm DC in the future(save for the 135mm DC instead).
    but yeah, other than the cost, i think 70-200 F4 would probably be a better choice for other everyday things
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 2,370Member
    edited March 2016
    Plug in a monitor to the HDMI socket and then you get instant approval from the client....no arguments or re shoots. I do it with Corporate staff photo shoots. 14 inch tv is fine
    Post edited by Pistnbroke on
  • retreadretread Posts: 574Member
    I use a 70-200 2.8 with a doubler for flowers and insects and it works great when I watch my depth of field. It lets me keep enough distance not to scare insects. It should work even better with out the doubler so don't know why the F 4 would not work for you.
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