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I am a novice amateur photographer. My only equipment right now is my Sony Nex 3N and the kit 18-55mm zoom. I had been hesitant to sink much money into lenses when I realized that building up a lens collection is far and away more expensive then the body itself, and didn't feel like I knew enough about the competing lens families to decide what I'm going to be shooting with for the next few years. But I just need to bite the bullet and start playing with the lenses.

The lens in question is the Rokinon FE14M-E 14mm F2.8. It is a very wide angle prime, and I want to get an experienced opinion if it will meet my use cases as well or better than one of the more ordinary primes available for E-Mount (The pancake 16mm, the sigma 19 and 30, some nice 30 and 50 sony primes).

Some of its key uses, astronomical and landscape, are obvious so I won't be asking much about these. The only question here is whether one of the other primes would be serviceable here.

I would also like to use it for portrait/action. My "break even" point for whether this particular lens is worth it right now is a very specific situation: Shooting portrait and action shots of people in indoor lighting from about 10-20 feet. It's an indoor gym with a smaller than regulation size basketball court where my friends play a lot of odd made up sports that make for some great action shots. I would like a faster lens to get the action shots more easily without too small of a depth of field(I am not fast on the focus wheel!).

Useful? Or should I just go for the 30mm "nifty fifty" like I know I should at the expense of wide angle shots?

  • For sports/action, 30mm is wide angle. – Michael C Dec 19 '15 at 2:31
  • You already have an 18/3.5 (I guess). How useful is that for that purpose? Does it make you want to go even wider? Is it likely that having 2/3 extra stops of aperture available would help? – Carsten S Dec 19 '15 at 18:19
  • @CarstenS You guess correctly. All very valid points. – wedstrom Dec 19 '15 at 18:24
  • @MichaelClark Is that for full frame or APS-C? – wedstrom Dec 19 '15 at 18:26
  • With either one 30mm is pretty much wide angle when talking about sports/action. A medium lens for most sports shooters is their 70-200mm. – Michael C Dec 19 '15 at 21:09
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Probably not. The Rokinon/Bower/Samyang/whatever else it is being marketed as this week 14mm f/2.8 is a manual focus lens. That makes it difficult to use for photographing action. And while it is true that before the late 1980s pretty much all lenses were manually focused, it took many folks a lot of practice and years of experience to get highly proficient at shooting sports.

To get the advantage of a "fast" lens you need to shoot it at a wider aperture that allows you to use shorter shutter times. This means dealing with the narrower depth of field that using a wider aperture entails.

In the case of the 14mm lens in question, the problem is compounded because at that focal length you need to be very close to your subject to fill the frame. At closer focus distances the depth of field is even narrower than the same lens at the same aperture when focused at greater distances. But for a wide angle action shot to work you need the action to be in the foreground. There's not much more boring than an "action" shot with an empty foreground and all of the players in the background!

  • After taking all the points into consideration, I think my plan with the wide angle would basically amount to standing farther away than I should, spraying and praying and then cropping out facebook quality shots. I'm thinking a paradigm shift is in order and going with something more like this amazon.com/gp/product/B00EPWC30O/… (I'd open another about question about whether to go with a 30mm or a 50mm but besides there being plenty of existing material on the subject, I think I just need to go outside and shoot more) – wedstrom Dec 19 '15 at 18:33

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