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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-17-2013

Best Lens for Photographing cars

I have the Canon Rebel 4ti.

I generally photograph kids.... just for fun.

My favorite lens is the 1.8 - 50 mm   maybe someday I'll get the 1.4 but this works for me right now.

 

However, I have been asked by my husbands Camaro Club to photograph Camaro's at an event.

Each car will be driving in front of a backdrop - and I will photograph it.

I'm not great with this, because not sure what would be the best lens to photograph a vehicle outside.

 

Any suggestions would be great.

Again, I'm very new at this....I'm doing it for free....  but like the creativity.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,723
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

A slight wide-angle lens works well on cars because it exagerates the size.  When shooting from the front or back, the car appears longer.  When shooting the interior, the interior seems roomier, etc.  You can use a wide angle not just to be "wide" but because of it's property of extending "depth" it makes long objects seem longer as it stretches the depth of the scene.

 

You could do this with the kit 18-55mm lens (assuming you have this lens).  You could go really wide by getting something like the EF-S 10-22mm but I'm not sure you'd really need the extra wide angles below 18mm that the kit lens would already provide.  I'm thinking you'll probably like the look at around 24mm range -- but that's a guess on my part.

 

I probably would _not_ use the 50mm lens for a car (but it's not like there are "rules" for this stuff.)  It's just that a car is large and you'll have to walk back farther to get the whole car in frame when using the 50mm.  

 

I think moderately wide (but not extremely wide) is a nice look for most car photos.

 

I probably would not actually "buy" a new lens until you're certain you like the look.  If you're thinking of experiementing with a different focal length then you own, I'd suggest renting the lens for a few days to try out the look before buying.

 

You might also go browse through car photos on a well known site such as Flickr and then check the EXIF data to look at the focal length of the images you like.

 

Tim Campbell
5D II, 5D III, 60Da
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

I don’t think this is a heavy lens situation.   And as always, it depends: on the setup, lighting, crowds, etc.

 

With the exception of macros I don’t think ultrafine detail is really crucial for cars.  If anything, the really nice car shots you see are softened and touched up to make the car look like it’s in mint condition.    The focal length you use will depend on the look you want and the setting – are you going to have free reign as a ‘pro photog’ and pick your spot without anyone in front of you, or will you have to squeeze up next to a barrier and fight with every other enthusiast trying to get a shot?  Assuming the later, I’d take a couple zooms for flexibility.  Ultrawide angle can look really good on cars, presuming you get to get up close.   Whereas standard zoom (18 – 70-ish on crop) will cover most situations.  And a telephoto – 100mm+ is great because the perspective can get rid of all the other distractions in the background – but if you can’t get far enough away without people getting in front of you then it’s worthless. 

 

If you’re not forced into one spot a fast prime like your 50mm is great for a couple reasons:

They’re sharper than cheap zooms

They’re fast, and the narrow depth of field can help reduce background distractions

They’re fast, and the lighting may not be great so you may need the speed

 

And for the bad news.  The really nice car shots that you see in the magazine, the thing that makes them isn’t the lens, it’s the lighting.  Cars, especially nice ones, are very reflective, so you don’t light the car, you light (or don’t light, see ‘subtractive lighting’) the surrounding which creates the perfect highlights and contrast areas on the cars.  This takes a lot of time, space, huge reflectors, and practice, and is impossible at a car show.

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎10-12-2013

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

[ Edited ]

I don't think it matters all that much. This picture was taken using my 18-55mm lens at 29mm no flash. In my opinion, photographing cars is more or less about the angle of the photo, good lighting (natural), and an eye for shapness. But that is just my opinion. This photo was compressed to fit on the fourms, so it may not be very shap if blown up.Car.jpg

MY EQUIPMENT:
EOS Rebel T4i
EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
(2) B+W 5.8 010 UV - Haze 1x MRC (F - PRO Series filter)
HOYA 58mm HMC Multi-Coated ND8 Filter
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,039
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

There's some information here

 

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1315358

 

and here that might help too

 

http://www.carphototutorials.com/do_i_need_a_fistful_of_dollars.html

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-17-2013

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

Thank you all..... I appreciate your advice and suggestions.

I have taken some pictures of my husbands Camaro....but didn't know if there was a better lens or suggestion.

I am currently using my kit lens.  But I worry my pictures can appear amateur

If I help out the club with this photoshoot, I obviously will not have the freedom to find the ideal location.

But if there are suggestions a better lens, or ideas on how to accomplish this - I'm all ears Cat Happy

 

I did go to Flickr and look up the pictures pf cars with EXIF data and was wicked impressed.

 

I do like the idea of renting lenses and have been looking into this prior to investing in a lens where I'm just not sure I would have a lot of use out of it.

 

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-17-2013

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

Thank you.....this is very helpful
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,039
Registered: ‎11-14-2012

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

Your photos have way too much reflected "glare" which is a by product of the time of day, lighting, and angles you used. Although I'm not expecting you to get deep into this whole car photo shoot thing here's a thread about post processing car photos which should at least show you what people in general like to see. I don't think you'll have much control at that club event but it's going to be important that you understand what isn't desirable.

 

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1007907

"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,723
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

You can knock back the strong reflections by getting a "circular polarizer".  This is a round screw-on filter and they come in sizes... you need the size which matches the threads on your lens.  For example... the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II has a 58mm thread diameter.

 

The polarizer rotates and if you look through the camera at something with a reflective surface (like a car windshield) while rotating the filter, you will notice the reflections getting stronger or weaker (depending on much you rotate it).  You want the car to have *some* reflections of course... but not so much that it's not possible to see through the glass.

 

Polarizers don't work well on ultra-wide lenses because the amount of light blocked also depends on the angle.  This means you end up with a "sweet spot" where the polarization works well... but at other angles it doesn't cut as much.  It will look fine on moderately wide angle lenses or anything narrower.

 

Tim Campbell
5D II, 5D III, 60Da
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,132
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Best Lens for Photographing cars

Photography is all about light and angles. From your photos above you are well on your way.

If you have the means, I would get a Canon 24-105mm f4 L. Use the lens hood. The correct lens makes your work easier.

The T4i and that lens will make a outstanding package.

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
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