When choosing a lens for party photography you need to make sure it is as small and discreet as possible. Whilst there are some people who don’t mind having a camera pointed at them and enjoy having their photo taken there are people out there who are more camera shy and find being in front of the camera intimidating. The bigger the lens the more intimidating it is, so to make the more camera shy guests feel as comfortable as possible it is best to choose the smallest lens capable of the job. Smaller lenses are generally lighter too, which means you can shoot pain free for longer.
Parties are often held indoors, therefore you need a lens that is capable of capturing a lot of light unless you want to rely solely on using flash as the primary light source. For close up portraits you won’t have any problems using the flash as a primary light source, and provided the flash is powerful enough, you can choose whatever aperture you want. Using a flash as the primary light source for the wider shots of more of the ‘scene’ is where a lens that can gather plenty of light is essential.
There are effectively two options when choosing the focal length for party photography:-
The first option
The first option is to use a tele lens and take photos out of the way from a distance, using the zoom facility (if using a zoom lens of course) to get in nice and close for a tight shot or pull further back for a wider view. This stealth like approach is great for taking photos of the camera shy as it is possible to take a photo without them even knowing. It is also a good way to get a natural photo of those people who like having their photograph taken and will play up to the camera if they know they are the subject of the photo.
The best type of lens for this type of party photography is the 70mm – 200mm zoom lens. The f2.8 versions are the 70mm – 200mm lenses to buy, which are damn expensive, but you can get away with the f4 versions if you are prepared to bump the ISO when needed. The 70mm – 200mm f4 lenses are very good and have awesome image quality but because of the maximum widest aperture you often have to work them differently when taking party photos.
The 70mm – 200mm lens is an excellent portrait lens and because of the tight framing it is a flattering lens too. This lens also allows you to be a good distance from the subjects for those stealth like candid party photos, which work very well.
Top rated 70mm – 200mm lenses
The 70mm – 200mm tele lens is a popular lens, therefore there is a selection of different models to choose from. If the 70mm – 200mm tele lens suits your style of photography below are the most popular, all of which get consistently good write ups and reviews.
Canon and Nikon also make their own 70mm – 200mm lenses (in fact Canon makes four different models) however they are expensive compared to the lenses above. The Canon and Nikon 70mm – 200mm are likely to be your first choice, but before spending your hard earned money on a Canon or Nikon branded 70mm – 200mm lens you may want to take a closer look at the lenses above as I think you will be quite surprised.
TOKINA 24 – 70 F2.8
SIGMA 24 – 70 F2.8
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 24mm – 70mm /38.4mm – 112mm/ Aperture:- 2.8 - 22/ Min focus:- 15.0”/ Dimensions:- 3.53” x 4.23”/ Weight:- 25.8oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $880.00/£900.00
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 24mm – 70mm/38.4mm – 112mm/ Aperture:- 2.8 - 22/ Min focus:- 15.7”/ Dimensions:- 3.5” x 4.7”/ Weight:- 24.7oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $500.00/£490.00
Which lens is best?
The answer to this will vary from photographer to photographer and will, among other things, depend on your shooting style and whether you are a ‘people’ person or not. Ideally, you will carry both a 24mm – 70mm zoom lens and a 70mm – 200mm tele lens, but in the real world carrying all this kit around isn’t practical and is going to be more of a hindrance.
Regardless of your photography style, and your ability to make people feel at ease and comfortable in front of a camera I guarantee that both of the types of lenses described above will result in awesome party photos.
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