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Noise Difference between 135 F2 & 70-200 F2.8
I know it is not apples to apples when comparing a prime & a zoom, but what I'm really trying to better understand is the difference I may see in noise levels as a result of the f stop difference. In other words, all other things being equal (same camera, pro level lens quality, available lighting, etc., etc.) will the F2's noise level at ISO 3200 be about the same as the noise level for the f2.8 at ISO 1600, or perhaps even 800? Thanks...

Comments (11)

Mario C wrote:.

I know it is not apples to apples when comparing a prime & a zoom,but what I'm really trying to better understand is the difference Imay see in noise levels as a result of the f stop difference. Inother words, all other things being equal (same camera, pro levellens quality, available lighting, etc., etc.) will the F2's noiselevel at ISO 3200 be about the same as the noise level for the f2.8at ISO 1600, or perhaps even 800? Thanks..

The noise you are tlking about is solely a property of the sensor and the ISO setting used. In lower light, as you increase the ISO setting, fewer photons hit the sensor, so the resulting signal has to be magnified (a gain is applied). This magnifies the noise as well as the signal, rather like turning the volume on a small radio up to maximum to compensate for the low power: the music gets louder but so does the hiss and the sound quality is terrible..

So your camera (whetever it is) will deliver more noise in the images as the ISO setting increases. On my DSLR I find that any ISO setting up to 400 gives clean, essentially noise-free images at 'normal' print sizes. ISO 800 produces a smalll amount of noise that is not distracting in a 10x8 print. ISO 1600 is significantly worse; ISO3200 is pretty horrible and only for use in emergencies..

So it has nothing to do with the lens, except indirectly: an f/2 lens (used at f/2) lets in one stop more light than a lens at f/2.8, which will allow you to use a lower ISO (say, 800 instead of 1600 to get the same shutter speed), giving less noise in the image..

The optical quality of the lenses (resolution, chromatic aberration etc. etc.) is quite different and can vary hugely. Generally a good prime lens will out-perform a zoom, so for critical image quality a prime is better than a zoom although of course you do lose flexibility..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #1

No, the noise level has nothing to do with the lens, except in relation to what ISO levels are available to you. Noise has to do with the ISO on the same camera, so either lens at 3200 will have more noise than either lens at 1600, all else being equal..

The 135 lens at f2 will allow one stop lower ISO and therefore lower noise levels than the other lens with the same ambient light because it's a one stop faster lens. Quality of lens also has nothing to do with it...

Comment #2

Thanks Mike. This is very helpful info. I'm trying to make a lens purchase decision and am willing to give up the added flexibility of the zoom, if the faster prime would allow me to shoot at a lower ISO. So if for example I can shoot the F2 prime @800 in a lighting environment that would require 1600 or higher on the F2.8 zoom, the trade off is well worth it...

Comment #3

Thanks Guidenet... I appreciate your explanation. I'm deciding between lenses for kids ice hockey photos and the lighting at the rink is pretty challenging. That said, I may be better off getting a couple of faster primes like the 135 F2 & an 85 F1.2 than buying a 70-200 F2.8 zoom. The rink is roughly 85 by 200 feet, so hopefully these two lenses will do the trick... I certainly can't afford a 200 F2...

Comment #4

Mario C wrote:.

So if for example I can shoot the F2 prime @800 in a lightingenvironment that would require 1600 or higher on the F2.8 zoom, thetrade off is well worth it..

Exactly..

Just bear in mind that with a 135mm lens at f/2 you are going to have very little depth of field... have a look at the calculator on.

Http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html.

Using a typical crop-sensor DSLR (like a Canon XTi), and a 135 mm lens at f/2, for a subject 20 feet away the depth of field is only 0.25 feet (3 inches) in front of and behind the focus plane. This may not be a problem if your subject is stationary and you are using a tripod but if you are shooting anything moving (e.g. people) you are going to end up with a lot of out of focus shots. If the autofocus picks out the nose of someone facing you, their ears will be out of focus....

Although the 135mm prime lens will allow you the slower ISO setting, you may need to stop down a bit to increase depth of field anyway (depending what you are shooting), in which case you might as well get the 70-200 f/2.8 for the much greater flexibility it offers. The latest round of DSLRs offer very good performance even at ISO1600....

Finally - you can get good reviews of many lenses athttp://www.photozone.de.

Interestingly, it says of the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 that.

'... is an impressive piece of lens with superb build quality combined with an excellent optical performance which is, in fact...comparable to the best fix-focals in it's range'.

- so if that is the sort of thing you have in mind the difference in optical quality bewteen zooms and primes is not going to be significant..

Best wishes.

Mike..

Comment #5

Mario C wrote:.

I'm decidingbetween lenses for kids ice hockey photos and the lighting at therink is pretty challenging. That said, I may be better off getting acouple of faster primes like the 135 F2 & an 85 F1.2 than buying a70-200 F2.8 zoom. The rink is roughly 85 by 200 feet, so hopefullythese two lenses will do the trick... I certainly can't afford a 200F2..

... for this purpose, the importance of a wide maximum aperture (to get a fast shutter speed and freeze the action) easily trumps depth-of-field issues. Get the widest maximum aperture you can, i.e. the two primes you suggested..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #6

Thanks again Mike, much appreciated!.

I know I can certainly crop using software later, but I'm now wondering how many feet away I can expect to be with a 135 and have a kid about 4 feet tall fill the entire image top to bottom? Same for the 85. Any place on the web that has any "calculator" that would give me some additional perspective on this sort of thing?..

Comment #7

Personally, I don't know what camera you have. I have a Nikon D300 and can use ISP 1600 with very acceptable results. I'd opt for the 70-200 f2.8 for it's zoom and extra reach, making up the stop with ISO push. I've never shot hockey so maybe I"m just spouting hot air, but I'd think the 135's reach wouldn't be enought and what you'd lose in cropping would end up worse than the 1 stop increase in ISO..

I do birds in flight, and rely on this formula for hand holding long lenses for panning. I then let her rip at 3-6 frames a second and end up with a few keepers..

Other's might have better experience in this. I'm just learning myself..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #8

Guidenet, I agree with your assessment on being worse off after the crop, but I probably won't be doing much cropping... I'm just trying to figure out where I'll need to shoot from... parents are generally the only people attending these kids games and you can pretty much shoot from just about anywhere... I can even shoot from the penalty box sometimes, which puts me at roughly center ice so maybe at most 120 feet away from the action. Again, hoping 135 can do the trick at least at that distance..

BTW... Nice photo...

Comment #9

Mario C wrote:.

Thanks again Mike, much appreciated!.

I know I can certainly crop using software later, but I'm nowwondering how many feet away I can expect to be with a 135 and have akid about 4 feet tall fill the entire image top to bottom? Same forthe 85. Any place on the web that has any "calculator" that wouldgive me some additional perspective on this sort of thing?.

No doubt there is a formula somewhere... but it's easier just to do the experiment. On my crop-sensor camera (Pentax K100D) with my tele zoom set at 135mm, my approximately-four-foot-high son fills most of the longer dimension of the frame (with the camera held sideways) at a distance of around 30 feet..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #10

Try this: Distance (in feet) = [field (in feet) * focal_length (in mm) ] / desired_size_on sensor (in mm). For a size of 15mm on the sensor this gives us 36 feet for the 135mm and 23 feet for the 85mm..

Shoot...

Comment #11

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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