Best Canon EF or EF-S lens for "museum" shots (low light, no flash)? Need advice: Best Canon EF or EF-S lens for "museum" shots (low light, no flash) for Canon EOS 40D. I've been looking at Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM. I have a Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM as my main lens, so with its image stabilization it should allow photos in low light (if subject is not in motion) equal to f/1.4 or a little better. Would it be worth $1400 to get the 35mm f/1.4 L series prime lens, or would my existing f/2.8 zoom with IS be just about as good? Thanks!
For dark museum shots, I've also been using the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM on my 7D...along with the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM 1-to-1 Macro for details, or long range overalls in better light. I think that with proper camera settings and post-production, a lot can be coaxed out of the dark. They claim sometimes that up to 2 stops can be gained with the IS, so you're already in the zone of the 35mm f/1.4 L. The barrel and pin-cushion distortions of the EF-S 17-55mm can be a pain (but correctable)- which you wouldn't see on the 35mm f/1.4 L...
Most people seem to go for the 35mm f/1.4 L due to the DOF at 1.4, beautiful bokeh, and general image and build quality. I'm saving for it myself.
I used the 35mm f/1.4 with excellent results at the Musée D'Orsay in Paris. I found that I could get very satisfying results handheld with f/1.8-2.2, ~1/200sec and iso 400 or less.
I'm not familiar with the 17-55, but if you are satisfied with its sharpness wide open, the IS should get you into the range of the 35mm. The 35mm is a bit soft wide open, is very good at f/1.6, excellent at f/1.8 and amazing by f/2.8.
Do note that sharpness is only one of its standout features. Color and contrast are superb. Again, I don't know how the 17-55 compares.
I happen to have both the 17-55 f/2.8 and the 35mm f/1.4L for my 7D. Also borrowed the 50mm f/1.2L to try it out. You'll get good results with the 35mm in low light conditions but if you have a few more bucks, you should go with the 50mm f/1.2L. It is incredibly sharp and with the 1.6 magnifier effect, will work well when you can't get too close to the subject. Wish I bought that one instead of the 35mm.
If I'm only taking one lens with me to a museum, this one (35mm f/1/4L) is the one I take. Usually you can get a little closer in a museum, but sometimes it's hard to get farther away so I like to go a bit wider (can always crop later). The 17-55mm f/2.8 would be good as well, but I find I prefer prime lenses for dark museum-type shots. Your taste may vary.