I already saw some usefull advice here: What should my plan be for photographing in a nightclub setting?

But My question would be specifically about the lenses.

I'll be covering a kinda "hot" nightclub party, mostly faces will be blurred in the end due to anonymity, and, except for some eventual group shots if some ask, the main goal is to get a good sense of "party", and the "hotness" feeling of the night. In order to advertise for future parties.

So here's what I currently own:

  • 5dmkIII
  • 3 TTLS flashes with yongnuo remote things
  • Samyang 14mm MF
  • cheapo ef 35 f/2
  • cheapo ef 50 f/1.8
  • the speedy (AF) ef 85 1.8
  • expensivo (is that a word ?) 85 1.2L
  • and a crappy tamron 11-24 that I can use from ~16mm if I don't mind hardcore vignetting but with AF.

Question: Will that be good enough? I was really tempted to take a 16-35 L for the occasion which seems perfect to me for such events, but I have never shot such events (neither I had shot really with a zoom).

Is that a good idea? Would you have a better alternative to propose?

Note: please just let's assume money is not the problem (it is, but, let's assume it's not)

  • Are your "cheapo" 35mm and 50mm lenses manual focus or autofocus? In the case of the 50mm is it the fairly slow focusing EF 50mm f/1.8 II or a different variety?
    – Michael C
    Oct 3 '16 at 11:49
  • it is the indeed the ef 50 1.8 II and the other his 35mm brother.
    – user978548
    Oct 3 '16 at 12:13

your gear seems more than sufficient. With the flashes you can create nice motion blur using a wide angle lens. The tamron 11-24, you can use this lens at around 20 mm (which should be wide enough) considering space constraint (a typical scene) in a crowded night club. The 85 1.2L would be great in low light if you wish to take low key pictures in the low light situations. Samyang 14mm MF would wide enough for group shots.

The gear you mentioned above is great to cover such a party with a low light situation.

  • The problem with the EF 85mm f/1.2 L is that it is very slow to focus (due to the weight of the glass that must be moved) and isn't well suited to a scene constantly in motion.
    – Michael C
    Oct 3 '16 at 11:47
  • also, I tend to shoot portraits and occasionaly landscape, so I'm not that familiar with advanced AF stuff that exists nowadays :)
    – user978548
    Oct 3 '16 at 12:00
  • @Kunal Bhale Your answer pleases me :) But I have doubts about practicality managing all that. constantly monitoring the 11-24 so it doesn't go past 16 (also it AF is bad but well it's UWA) and I don't know if I'm confident enough to play with the slow sync flash although, I can train before the event. Main thing with 16-35 or similar is the sentiment of security it provides, I carry only one lens, I don't switch lenses in a hurry and crowded, foggy place But I totally get your advice. And indeed, it may be a good Idea to carry the 85 to have 1 or 2 lovely shots from the dj booth or something.
    – user978548
    Oct 3 '16 at 12:12
  • @user978548, yes slow sync flash can be difficult at times when it gets crowded. EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens is a very nice and sharp lens (consider the high cost). If you feel comfortable using that zoom range, then buying that lens would be a good option. Also consider the future use of that lens. If you are going to shoot more in low light situations and if it suits your style, go ahead with buying that. You can also sell of the old gear. Oct 3 '16 at 12:32
  • @Kunal Bhale in my mind, the 16-35 could in the futur simply become my everyday lens for anything where I usually leave the grip, leave the flashes, leave the bag, and only take the 35mm, just to have a better option than my crappy phone camera. Otherwise, I tend to shoot more "studio" portrait and a tiny bit of landscapes. Anyway, thanks for the input
    – user978548
    Oct 4 '16 at 9:27

You're lucky to have such an arsenal available!

In my opinion I would opt for the 16-35, especially if you can only shoot the 11-24 from 16mm due to vignetting, it gives you a bit more reach for individuals, plus should be plenty wide for groups.

50 and 85 are lovely lenses but one thing to be mindful is how far you can get back from the subject, speaking from experience, the busier the place will be, the less breathing room you have. However I would definitely stick them in a bag just in case.

  • it's not luck, it's a decease ! I suffer from photo gear hoard disorder !
    – user978548
    Oct 4 '16 at 9:21

It depends on both the environment and what you want to show. If you will be in the crowd, being jostled and people moving around and in front of you, then you would want small and light. Quick focusing would be beneficial before someone bumps you, etc. A fast lens (f stop) would be beneficial for the same reason.

As for the what you want to show, it sounds like you want crowd scenes. It also sounds like you want to show the fun and spontaniety. A moderately wide lens would show this much more than a portrait lens. It also sounds like this is not to be used for large prints. In which case, you do not need the best lens. You also do not want such a fast lens that it blurs out most of the scene. I might suggest the 35/2.0. If you can dial it back 1 or 1½ stops, if will give more depth of field to show the action happening better. If not, the 35 being wider than many of the other choices will have acceptable depth.

These is a third factor most will not mention. But it does matter. What lens do you have confidence in and feel most comfortable with. Being at ease with your lens will allow you to relax and take better photos. Worrying if you have the right lens and if it will preform will distract you from the job of capturing the best moments.

  • The third factor you mentioned is especially interesting for me to read because I do totally agree, but I hadn't thought about that. Good point. Also a well spotted thing, It will be used for web and not for large print. thanks
    – user978548
    Oct 4 '16 at 9:17

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