Question #29: About Lens Choice For Low Light Situations

Q: "Hi Valerie! I really enjoy your blog. My dream would be to take one of your workshops in Paris one day. I need guidance on which lens to purchase next. I have a Nikon D80 camera. The ISO stops at 1600. Eventually I would like a full frame DSLR. I have an 18-200 lens. The largest aperture is 3.5 . I am trying to decide if I should get a 35mm 1.4 or should I consider the 24-70 2.8. Or something else. Photography is my hobby and now that my children are grown I am trying to make growing in my knowledge a priority. I love to photograph anything. Children, landscapes, candid moments. Street and food photography really interests me. I need something that handles well in low light. Thank you!" ~ Kathy

A: "Thank you for your kind words Kathy, I hope you join my Paris workshop some day!

I am quite familiar with the 35mm and the 24-70mm lenses. My Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 has been my bread and butter lens for years. I used to travel with it but it's heavy and bulky and I've been leaving it behind, along with the DSLR for months now. It's a great lens. I almost exclusively use prime lenses these days and 35mm is the perfect lens for me. It's ideal for street photography (my Fuji x100s has a fixed 23mm lens which is the equivalent to a 35mm). I also travelled for several weeks with that focal length only and loved every minute of it (see images on blog post). The 35mm lens will be a great choice in low light and a great exercise in creativity as it will make you work harder at your composition skills. Another lens to consider would be a 50mm f/1.8, it's a great little lens and a good way to get used to working with a fixed focal length rather inexpensively. 

Keep in mind too that 1.4 will let a lot more light than 2.8 (four times more light if i'm not mistaken) and will be your best choice to shoot hand held in low light situations. 

Before you invest in expensive glass, make sure you want to stay with a DSLR system. Mirrorless cameras are definitely the way to go for most photographers today, amateurs and pros alike. You may enjoy a smaller and lighter system without compromising on the quality of images. Food for thoughts...

I hope this helps! Thanks for submitting a question for the blog!"

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