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I am looking for a good wide angle lens: I am looking at the Sigma 8-16.

It has great reviews, by far the widest angle I can get on my camera. Only thing I am worried about is the relatively low f4.5. I do a lot of shooting in bars and nightclubs, one of the reasons I want a wide angle lense is to be able to take group pictures more easily. Right now my widest lens is the 18-55mm kit lens, but I mainly use the 35mm 1.8. So this would be SIGNIFICANTLY wider, but not nearly as nice of an f-stop. That being said I always shoot with my SB-600 anyways, so I don't think it would be that big of a deal.

The other option I am looking at is the new Tokina 11-16 Ver II.

Nice fast f2.8, but more expensive and not as wide (though 11 is still a lot wider then I have been working with).

Do you think have a f4.5 will be too much of an issue when shooting in indoors/relatively low light when i am using a nice flash (and my camera handles high ISO fairly well, plus I am pretty good with Lightroom noise reduction)?

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Difference of f/4.5 and f/2.8 is (4.5/2.8)^2 = 2.6:1 or 1.4 stops. If you can shoot at 1/70 second with the f/2.8 wide open then you can use 70/2.6 = about 1/30s with the f/4.5 wide open. Whether that difference matters depends on you and on circumstance. BUT comparing the 35mm f/1.8 to the f/4.5 you get (4.5/1.8)^2 = 6:25:1 - an immense difference in practice in marginal lighting conditions. BUT with a "nice flash" the difference is largely irrelevant. Without a flash f/4.5 is getting 'tricky' in low light situations with many cameras. –  Russell McMahon Aug 25 '12 at 0:13
2  
While I'll leave at others to answer your question, you should know these things before getting in a wide-angle lens: (1) Distortion is bad enough for objects but most people look terrible (heavier than they are), particularly those unlucky enough to be near the edges. (2) Unless you bounce the flash, covering 8mm is really unlikely. Most flashes only cover up to 28mm wide, maybe 24mm, so the edges of your frames wont be lit. (3) A wide-angle lens has an extensive DOF which will make it very hard to isolate your subjects, specially in a busy environment like nightclubs. –  Itai Aug 25 '12 at 2:15
    
I have the 8-16 and it is a great lens, but you most certainly do not want to be taking pictures of people at 8mm. To get people large enough in shot you will want to be closer, and they will be horribly distorted. It may be better at the telephoto end, but I've not really wanted to use mine on people. Close up cow faces however... I need to get me some of those –  Dreamager Aug 25 '12 at 13:37
    
I'd say, wide aperture is always important –  Arsen Zahray Dec 6 '13 at 10:21

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

First off 11mm is very wide, well into the so wide it's difficult to use territory. I can't imagine anyone feeling stuck with 11mm not being wide enough. You are likely however to run into problems with people looking stretched at the edges of your images, or getting too much unnecessary foreground detail in shot. Secondly you'll be able to use slower shutter speeds than you could with the 35mm lens so the aperture is less of an issue.

You should be aware though that ultra wide lenses are often not very Sharp wide open, particularly at the borders.

If you want wide and fast then you're a bit stuck on a crop body. I first upgraded to full frame for this very reason. I needed more options to shoot events in poor light where flash is not practical. On a full frame body you can get a 24mm f/1.4 lens. The fast lens matching that on a crop would be 16mm f/2.8, which is two stops slower. Two stops is a big deal.

I really don't think you need to go any wider than 24mm equiv. due to the problems mentioned above. Cutting through the crowds and making space for yourself are very useful skills. If I were you I'd stick with the 17 kit and save up for a full frame camera, used bodies are becoming available at good prices now.

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That a good point about needing slower shutter speeds on a wide angle lens. –  Chimera Aug 25 '12 at 0:16
    
As long as you can still use the flash with such a wide-angle lens, otherwise slower speeds wont be useful because people get blurry at low shutter-speeds. –  Itai Aug 25 '12 at 2:17

It all boils down to how much money you are willing to spend on a lens and much post-processing you wish to do to remove noise from photos shot with high ISO.

If you have the money, buy the f2.8 lens.

If you don't have the money, use a good flash with a camera body that produces low noise with high ISO and be prepared to do noise reduction in software if needed.

Also, be aware that in many cases a camera will be able to focus more quickly and accurately with a lens with a wide aperture. You may get "focus hunting" using a f4.5 lens in some cases. Hopefully your flash has a focus assist light.

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The limited maximum aperture won't be too big a problem, but the limited focal length will be.

The upper end of both of those lenses is 16mm, which is (on the Nikon DX format, which I'm assuming because of the SB600) equivalent to 24mm on a 35mm (full-frame) camera. That's a focal length (field of view, perspective) that requires a certain amount of skill to take people pictures; you need to keep your subject away from the corners and short edges (that would be the left and right edges when the camera is in landscape orientation) in order to avoid visibly distorting them. Getting much wider is a matter of including more of the environment, since you really can't move the people out of the center square of the 24mm (16mm) field of view. 8mm (12mm equivalent) or 11mm (a hair wider than 16mm equivalent) won't let you get more people in unless you are willing to let them get pretty weird-looking; it's only non-special-effect use would be to capture the environment as well as the people.

You will very likely find that focal lengths below about 14mm aren't going to see a whole lot of use unless you are shooting architecture or landscapes. Both of these lenses would be great for either application (and the Tokina is an especially good lens for the money). But you're probably going to find that it's the range from 16 to 20mm that is going to be your go-to range for groups in cramped quarters, and both of these lenses leave the cupboard bare in the 16-18mm range (assuming you'd switch to your 18-55 when you want narrower than 16mm). Two millimeters doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it's a huge hole for the purpose you've described.

For about the same price, you can get the Nikon AF-S DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED, which offers overlapping coverage with your kit lens (making lens swaps less likely) and goes wider than is really safe for people shots anyway. And there's also the AF Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X Pro DX, which is a bargain at the price and, again, goes wider than you'll ever need for people shots. (The Tamron and Sigma offerings in this focal-length range are low-priced and well-built, but optically unimpressive.)

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It is DX. Nikon D5000 to be specific. –  Taylor Huston Aug 25 '12 at 10:53

I think an ultra wide plays well in nightclub pictures, not so sure about a bar. Bear in mind that if you're going to get up close to people, your flash is going to be very powerful. A combination of high ISO and fast aperture may cause your subjects to be blown out by the flash (flash power is independent of shutter speed unless you are beyond flash sync). So if you're going to use flash with an ultra wide at very close quarters, wide aperture isn't that important IMO. Ultra wides don't play very well with flashes if you don't get up close, because you're going to get a lot of background in the image which, if not lit properly, will look like junk.

Either way, ultra wides are meant to get you very close to your subjects. If you stand too far from your subjects, they will just get lost in the background due to the nature of the perspective distortion.

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