I am often asked what gear I am using or more commonly, what camera I am using. As many photographers would argue it is the photographer that matters most not the camera he is using which I agree with whole-heartedly but having a good body and solid glass don’t hurt either. For my first official Sight of Sound Gear Talk I am going to break down my lens of choice, the Canon 28mm F1.8.
I want to start by saying that I am a minority of concert photographers who use prime lenses and in fact I often get a lot of crap for it from “veteran” photographers in the field. To each their own, I like to own each shot that I take and by shooting with a prime it forces me to move around and change my perspective to get every band member. This isn’t the only piece of glass in my kit when I head out to a show but more often than not this ends up being the only lens I need.
Despite what some reviews on Amazon and B&H say this lens is quite sharp for what I use it for. However, this comes with a small catch that all photographers should be aware of if they are considering this lens. The 28mm is a F1.8 which means you can really let a lot of light in if you have to but it comes at a major cost to the sharpness. I really shoot with this lens below F2.5 because after that you lose a drastic amount of sharpness and focusing range. In fact I would say that the jump from F2.5 to F2.0 costs you about 1 foot of overall focus distance which can make for some really wonky blurs on band members arms and legs.
The other downside of this lens is easily fixable, lens flare. All it takes is a 4.99 after market lens hood and that issue is solved 90 percent of the time, unless you are pointing the thing right into a strobe or something in which case you deserve the lens flare you are getting.
I’m sure you are all dying to see just what this lens looks like in the field but you probably already have seen images from it and just not known. Here is a sample gallery of moments I’ve captured with it :
If you have not shot with a prime lens I would recommend starting with the 50mm F1.8 before diving into this lens because there is a slight learning curve in shooting style as I mentioned before you have to move yourself around a lot which can be a pain when you only have 3 songs to shoot. Photographers who are shooting the club scene or even the medium size arena venues that want to get the perfect wide shot on a full frame or crop sensor camera I recommend the 28mm too you because it has served me faithfully for the year and a half I have been using.
I hope you enjoyed this first “Gear Talk” and you continue to follow Sight of Sound Magazine as we make some transitions in the coming months.