Last night I photographed a dress rehearsal for Senga Classic Stage Company‘s upcoming production, Playboy of the Western World. Usually, I shoot rehearsals with the 70-200 f2.8 lens, and that’s how I started out last night.
But after a while, I began to wonder whether I’d be better off using one of my slightly faster lenses for dimmer parts of the stage. Besides, I recently fine-tuned my camera’s autofocus for the 85mm f1.8, so I was itching to give it a try in the field. After the first act, I swapped lenses.
About halfway through the second act, I felt like the 85 wasn’t focusing fast enough (it’s a very old lens), so I switched to my 50mm f1.8. It’s a wickedly sharp lens, but seemed a little short for my position in the theater. Several times, I more-or-less rushed the stage to “zoom” with my feet, but I felt very bad about distracting the actors that way.
With the 50, I had to stop down because I was getting some halo-effects on high contrast areas when I shot at f1.8 or f.2.2. Since I ended up shooting at f2.8 anyway, it occurred to me that I could be using my 17-55 f2.8 zoom, which features better focusing technology and coatings.
Sure enough, I got some nice images, but decided I was missing too many opportunities for tighter framing, so I switched back to my 70-200, settled into a comfortable spot, and shot the rest of the performance.
Obviously, your shooting location influences focal length, and both influence perspective. But if you get comfortable zooming with your feet, here’s the kicker: two of the four lenses I used last night cost well over $1,000 each, but the 50mm f1.8 costs around $100. I think every photographer should have one.