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Low light Photography


KevSB 10 1.5k 5 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2011 10:31AM
Recent months have seen me staying overnight at living history events and has given me some great opportunity's for night time shots, This has taken me out of my own comfort zone of daytime photography, only having the 5dmk2 I have no internal flash and until now could not justify buying a flash for the limited amount of use it would get, Iso 3200/large aperture is proving not to be enough and shots are often blurred, I do have a tripod but would prefer to use camera for more spontaneous moments which I cannot prepare for.

But now I want to address the issue, and considering options atm, should I buy a good quality compact with flash, buy a flash for the 5dmk2 or is there any handheld equipment available for lighting a subject, I would have plenty volunteers to hold a light in place. I would like to avoid harsh light and maintain the mood and drama.

Main subject is around fires at night outside and inside with paraffin and candle light, sometimes in very dark huts lit by candle light and open fires, subject are often in dark non reflective clothing.

Any advice welcome, economy always an issue but open minded

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Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
8 Feb 2011 11:28AM

Quote:Iso 3200/large aperture is proving not to be enough and shots are often blurred


A large aperture and ISO 3200 ?


Quote:Main subject is around fires at night outside and inside with paraffin and candle light, sometimes in very dark huts lit by candle light and open fires, subject are often in dark non reflective clothing


What are you metering on ?
KevSB 10 1.5k 5 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2011 11:36AM
I did say this was outside my comfort zone

Tv( Shutter Speed ) 0.3
Av( Aperture Value ) 4.0
Metering Mode Center-Weighted Average Metering
Exposure Compensation 0
ISO Speed 3200
Auto ISO Speed ON
Lens EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM
Focal Length 32.0mm
Image Size 5616x3744
Image Quality RAW
Flash Off
FE lock OFF
White Balance Mode Auto
AF Mode One-Shot AF
Picture Style Neutral
cameracat 11 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
8 Feb 2011 11:43AM
KevSB 10 1.5k 5 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2011 12:05PM

Quote:Perhaps a word with " KathyW " She encountered similar issues with this image, Plus many others....Grin

Wink


Thats a stunning shot which i would love to take, i will upload a shot from this weekend as an example of shots I would like to cover
MeanGreeny 9 3.7k England
8 Feb 2011 12:06PM
Trying to take low light pictures with a compact camera - good quality or not - would probably be the wrong way forward. Depends on the quality of the images you require and what/where the images will be used

A full size flash by a cheaper 3rd party manufacturer, maybe a flash diffuser of some sort [do a search on here] and practice, practice, practice and learn by your mistakes. Good flash aided photos do not happen if you don't.

There are some decent tutorials on the ePz.TV site to start you off

HTH
Tandberg 11 1.2k 2 England
8 Feb 2011 12:12PM
you could try longish exposure and bring the main subject in with a torch or flashing them with off camera flash,Snooted or gridded and that would allow some of the ambient to come in.
flash would freeze them.
But many variables to concider with different shoots so its trial and error but as meangreeny says practice and more practice
8 Feb 2011 12:18PM
Kev, a couple of comments based on recent experience with my 5DII...

First - You only went to ISO 3200. ISO 6400 is plenty good enough for printing at A3 with a teeny bit of noise reduction. ISO H1 is usable up for prints up to about A4 but needs noise reduction and colour tweaks. H2 is emergencies only, but here's one I took last year at H2 (ISO 25600) in a location so dark I couldn't see anything. It's not good enough to print at A4, but very usable for web piccies.

Second - you mentioned firelight. The metering has a problem with scenes that are almost entirely red/amber. The white histogram will look fine and there will be no clipping indication - but the red channel on the RGB histogram will be completely blown. Ignore everything except the red channel and expose accordingly - you will find you need to under expose by about two stops to get a properly exposed image. Last weekend I was photographing a band who had asked for dark and moody - so the stage was lit by two amber spots; nightmare! I was 2.5 stops below the metered value before getting decent exposures. You can tell when the red channel blows because the highlights look yellow instead of red.

So...
Say you gained 2 stops from using ISO H1 (12800)
and another 2 stops from exposing correctly for red/amber lighting.
0.3s -> 1/6s -> 1/13s -> 1/25s -> 1/50s
Which is plenty fast enough for hand holding a 70-200 f4 IS L and coincidentally is very close to the shutter speed I ended up using last weekend - 1/80s!!!!!
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
8 Feb 2011 12:33PM

Quote:Trying to take low light pictures with a compact camera - good quality or not - would probably be the wrong way forward


Not always, very much depends on the camera and its widest aperture.


Quote:Your f4.0 lens isn't really suitable for the lighting conditions. You could get a 50mm 1.8 for around 75


It should not be a problem with the 5D 11, but with a lens with a wider aperture you would be able to use lower ISO`s. I do a lot of stuff in low or very little light and often use nothing more than 400 ISO using film and a cheap camera.
digipix76 7 577 England
8 Feb 2011 12:38PM
Took this with a 450d 3.5fps iso 1600 canon 50mm 1.8 @1.8. The lighting was two weak dj lights from the far right. with a little work most were fine for printing at A4. It can be done with patience and some thought!img-6293-copy.jpg

KevSB 10 1.5k 5 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2011 2:11PM
Thankyou all, I now add a new lens to the mix and the advice about dealing with fire makes alot of sense. Would a 50mm 1.8 lens be more efective for what im trying to capture than using a flash gun, below is a few examples of conditions im trying to capture, and an I dea of the results im getting with current equipment

-mg-6373murton.jpg


using hight powered torch(rest had blown out areas)

-mg-6359murton.jpg


lit from fire only

tatton-park-2010--24-.jpg


external fire scene
JackAllTog e2
5 4.0k 58 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2011 3:27PM
Kev, your Tv shutter speed was listed as 0.3s if people are moving you need to start by speeding this up a bit - i'd say at least 1/20 sec or even upto 1/80 to stop the subjects bluring. Of course now your really needing that f1.8 lens and ISO 12800/6400.

Also as you are outdoors try the early evening just as its getting dark, may help with some ambient light - rather than trying under a cloudy moonless sky.
User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
8 Feb 2011 4:00PM
A great challenge to try to get photographs in those conditions - but get it right and it will be very worthwhile.

Lots of good advice here. In particular, the use of a fast prime lens is well worth following up. I find that I use my 50mm f/1.8 lens quite a lot these days (and on my film FM2n the 50mm f/1.4) just because of the sheer versatilty and image quality.

As someone mentioned above, a 50mm f/1.8 for a Canon (or a Nikon) will cost well under 100 and, as such, must be one of the biggest lens bargains around.

If you decide to go for a Speedlight flash, you will find that, spec for spec, the Nissin range are a lot less expensive than Canon (or Nikon)- but some of the shots you are looking for might be spoiled by flash.

Finally, you say you do not want the restriction on spontaneity that a tripod would bring. You might find a monopod less restricting (and cheaper).
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
8 Feb 2011 4:25PM

Quote:using hight powered torch(rest had blown out areas)


I found those hot shoe mounted video light can work out useful in low light, and they can also assist in autofocus. The 5D has no hot shoe, easily sorted with a cheap bracket.

This light includes one and linked as an example.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Portable-Digital-Camcorder-Light-Included/dp/B003V8OSQU/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1297182045&sr=1-6

And how about a hand held reflector.
KevSB 10 1.5k 5 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2011 5:05PM
When I started this post I was thinking down the flash route and very aware of the cost but threw it in there air for some help, From what Ive read here aside from the good technique advice I'm now thinking a strong external light source, Reflector and a good 50mm lens may well cover what I need and save me Big wedge in the process.
Thank you again for the help.

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