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Body, lens and speedlight for restaurant reception

edited March 2014 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hi! I was recently asked by my good friend to be the main photographer at a reception/award ceremony with 60-70 guests that will be held in a restaurant between 7 and 9 pm.

I don't know the exact room dimensions or the ceiling height, but I have pictures of the space from the restaurant website:

I have a Nikon D5100 and AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8 lens (and can borrow 80mm f/1.4 lens) for individual or small group portraits of the guests. Which portrait lens should I choose for this event?

I want to invest in an additional body, lens, speedlight and tripod that will take nice long shots.
Please recommend or comment on my considerations.

Body: I am more familiar with Nikon rather than Canon, but wouldn't mind having both. I don't want to go much over $1000.
Lens: considering Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 or Nikon 55-200mm
Speedlight: considering Nikon SB-700. Is there a strong reason to go up to Nikon SB-910?
Tripod: I should be quite mobile while getting to and from the event. I also plan to set up the tripod with long shot lens and shoot the whole award ceremony from the same spot. So for these purposes I am considering the Dolica ZX600B103 Professional 60-Inch ZX Series Carbon Fiber Tripod. Any other recommendations?

Many thanks! I did read some answers on the forums posted here, but being a mother of a small kid I have limited amount of time so I hope to get specific answers.


  • edited May 2014
    Between the 35mm and the 80mm, I'd choose the 35mm. The 80mm is quite long, but I suppose it depends on what you're shooting. The 80mm would be good for snapping candids. The 35mm would be better for general group shots, but may not be wide enough for larger groups.

    For an extra body, get another Nikon so your lenses can go on either bodies. It would be inconvenient to have 2 bodies and 2 sets of lenses. Anything from the D3xxx, D5xxx, or D7xxx series should be within budget.

    Lens: Definitely get the 70-200mm rather than the 55-200mm. The 55-200mm is practically useless when indoors with less than optimal lighting. I used to have this lens but just couldn't find any use for it since I'm usually shooting indoors. I've since sold it and replaced it with a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 which I love.
    Other than this tele and the prime, I would also try to get a fast normal zoom like the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 or the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. You'll be able to shoot wider for large group photos.

    Speedlight: Only reason to use a SB-910 over the SB-700 is for the additional power. The SB-700 should be more than adequate.
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