The 35mm prime is my favourite “event” lens. On a full frame camera it makes images like this, right out of the camera (shot at a corporate event the other day):
In other words, this is a great lens for portraits at events, of one or two people. The ideal length (on a crop camera you would want a 24 mm lens, which would give you the same angle).
I was originally reluctant to use this. Surely a zoom lens is better. Yes?
Actually, no. The prime lens, although it necessitates walking back and forth a bit, is great, because:
- It is relatively light and small
- It is very sharp
- It is fast – f/1.4. Meaning it goes to a low “F” number, which means that you can go to that low F-number in low light; it also means that when you shoot at even a slightly higher F-number,like 2.0 or even 2.8, it is very sharp indeed.
- It enforces the right discipline: many images are just right because I move the right way.
We overestimate the need for zooms. When shooting an event that involves pictures like the one above, this prime lens gives me excellent, repeatable, consistent, and professional results. What more can you want?
Oh, and one more note: a quick start guide for events:
- Use an external flash.
- Aim that flash behind you, as I have pointed out many time here.
- Set your camera to manual mode: start at f/4, 1/30th, at 400 ISO.
But you can’t shoot at low aperture numbers.
Wrong. The above picture was shot at f/1.6. I used that aperture and 400 ISO at 1/60th second, because I wanted optimal image quality, and yes, you can shoot at low “F” numbers with a wide angle lens without running into depth of field issues.
So: go for it. And above all: have fun. Your pictures are guaranteed to be better than Uncle Fred’s.