Photography Equipment Research Tip
I’m trying to decide between dropping around $800 on the Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens or $1600 for the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. Since I do a fair bit of low light photography (live music), I should, theoretically, go for the 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. It’s faster and designed to excel in low light conditions. But, I also shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, which is a behemoth in low light, so that made me also consider the 17-40mm f/4 lens, since the camera can compensate for the 1 stop.
I did typical research by looking through the Canon forums, doing Google searches, and flipping through Reddit. I found a mixed bag of opinions, but two things were consistent: the combination of the 5D Mark III with the 17-40mm lens made that lens a contender, and the 16-35mm lens was continually described as being not worth double the price of the 17-40mm, because it can soft focus at f/2.8 (which is the whole point of buying it in the first place).
So I decided to mine EXIF data on Flickr. I searched for images taken with my camera using the camera finder tagged with music and 17-40mm. I didn’t find a lot of images, but I found proof that I can achieve what I want with that lens, and I contacted the photographer for an honest opinion (still waiting for a response). I also remembered that another live music photographer than I know uses that lens, and flipped through his images. Sure enough, he made it work with the predecessor to my camera (5D Mark II) in tricky lighting with and without flash.
I guess the point of this post is that there are a lot of people who go into photography forums and pontificate on how much better one lens is than another, but there is no proof until you see the their images, which many people don’t share. Flickr is a MOUNTAIN of data that you can use to research cameras, lenses, and even locations to shoot from. Use it!