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Thread: Shooting in low light - people

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    Shooting in low light - people

    Hi

    This has probably been asked a million times....maybe a zillion....but last night I was stuck. I was photographing our boys at footy training, which is about 4.30-5pm, with a couple of the Port Power players.

    I was frustrated that I could not get a good enough speed so they wouldn't be blurry. I was using a 55-250 kit lens (yep, only gets down to f4) and I really didn't want to push it past ISO 400, as the noise gets too bad (for my liking).

    My question is, how could I get my speed up with the equipment and settings I was using?? Prob couldn't, could I? I would prob need a lens that would stop down to f2 or something, hey??

    I did have my speedlite but I knew I was too far away for it to even be of any use. Only TWO IMAGES were salvageable. Shocking. The following images are not the salvageable ones either.

    Even when I did the posing photos, with the speedlite, they weren't perfect. Grrrrr.

    The first image here was 90mm, f4.5, 1/125 sec and the flash fired. Both are ISO 800

    I focused on the Port Player and it, I presumed, was in focus when I took the shots. When I zoom in they are sooo fuzzy and there is nothing I can see that is in focus.....even though in both images the speed was faster than the lens length, so hand held should have been fine!!

    IMG_8034.jpg

    The second image is 96mm, f5, 1/125 sec with no flash.

    IMG_8025.jpg

    These are SOOC, nothing changed.

    I recently had my camera's sensor cleaned from a reputable place. Since I got it back I can't seem to get any decent shots and I half think it is me, being out of practice, but also have a doubt about that.

    I also took pics of a morning soccer game, the day after I picked up my camera from the shop, and those were pretty hit and miss too!! Blurry (fuzzy) and not many keepers.

    So frustrating!!

    Maybe it is all me and I need to really consider what I am doing here.
    Last edited by Ms Monny; 05-06-2013 at 10:49am.
    Monika
    Equipment: Canon 60D, Nikon FE, Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lens, Fancier FT-662A tripod, 18-55mm kit lens, 55-250mm kit lens, 30mm 1.4 Sigma lens, LR4, PS Elements
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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Shutter speed greater than lens length? That was a rot for film cameras and full frame at that. It will never give you perfect images for digital resolution as it was aimed at relatively small print sizes. Even then, you needed steady hands. If you want pin sharp rest the camera on something, a monopod would be good, and/or try to get a higher shutter speed. Experiment a bit and see what works for you.

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    Thanks Steve. I always thought it was a good guide....but I guess low light is low light! I have a monopod on layby, along with a nice new very steady tripod. I guess once I get that, then I will have another go. It just seemed strange that hardly any were good at all, even the posed, flashed ones.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    M M. Monopods, yes, but also keep subjects still.
    Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Thanks Am. Unfort they were still....well the footy players were.....but many of the shots were when they were moving. If I had the monopod, would they be not so fuzzy?? I just think I couldn't get my speed high enough to do this type of work.

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    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    firstly, you must be very fussy if you consider the noise from a 60D above 400 iso "gets too bad (for my liking)."
    I would have every confidence that you can achieve very good, quite clean images all the way out to 1600 iso, with just a little bit of noise reduction software, even lightroom will do a pretty good job on 1600 iso images from a 60D.
    Of course dedicated programs, Topaz DeNoise, Nik Dfine, will do a better job.

    3 options to increase shutter speed - more light (flash), faster lens (more money, higher iso (no cost, just a bit of post production work)

    The first image is back focused I think, see the sign behind the players, quite sharp really
    The second image is just out of focus

    If you were using a single focus point on the Port Player that is going to make focusing very hard, low contrast subject in low light, any of the young blokes in the patterned shirts would have made a better focus target
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    The 1-pod steadies you/the camera, as would some image stabilisation in the lens/camera.
    Looking at the images again, I think that they handled the 800ISO fairly well. I wonder what 1600IDO would look like?
    You might try a few shots at about the same time using 1600ISO - anything, just to check noise levels.

    Sure, if you go from an f/4 lens to an f/2.8 that would allow you a "doubled" shutter speed, ie, from 1/125s to 1/250s.
    Do you have a 50/1.8 in your collection? They're fast at least. I don't know how good wide open, though.
    Am.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I reckon ISO1600 would have been fine.
    remember not to pixel peep too hard either, unless you really want to print at A3 sizes or greater.

    .. and a bit of NR via Lightroom or PS would also have allowed you to at least ISO3200.

    Where possible, I tend to use AutoISO up to about ISO3200 on the old D300 and ISO6400 on the D800E .. no problems!

    I suppose it's better to have a bit of grain, than a lot of blur, huh?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkChap View Post
    ....The first image is back focused I think, see the sign behind the players, quite sharp really
    The second image is just out of focus

    If you were using a single focus point on the Port Player that is going to make focusing very hard, low contrast subject in low light, any of the young blokes in the patterned shirts would have made a better focus target
    Mark, thankyou for your input.....yes, I am very fussy. I HATE noise with a passion, and many people have said the 60D should be able to perform at 800 or 1600 comfortably. I have Nik software for noise and it does a great job but I guess it comes back to me actually learning how to use it to it full potential, esp when it comes to people. I feel that I lose detail when using anti-noise software.

    Would you believe I woke at 5.30 this morning with your words "low contrast in low light" going through my head.....OFCOURSE! I was focusing on the black jumper and the camera obviously struggled. There are many rules that I forget, while I am still learning, and this is one of them. Hopefully I won't forget now!!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    .... I wonder what 1600IDO would look like?
    You might try a few shots at about the same time using 1600ISO - anything, just to check noise levels.

    Sure, if you go from an f/4 lens to an f/2.8 that would allow you a "doubled" shutter speed, ie, from 1/125s to 1/250s.
    Do you have a 50/1.8 in your collection? They're fast at least. I don't know how good wide open, though.
    Am.
    thanks Am for your suggestion....I will go to the oval one late arvo and do some test shots. I am also going to test my camera, as I feel what is showing me on my small screen is not what is showing me on my computer. It looks like the screen light/dark isn't set correctly, and I am underexposing my image. I have a 30mm 1.4 in my collection. Too wide for this type of shot though, but it is super sharp wide open and great for closer work.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    .....

    I suppose it's better to have a bit of grain, than a lot of blur, huh?
    You are soooo right there, Arthur!! I would have a lot of keepers in the lot, than not.

  10. #10
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    when choosing your point for focusing, remember how DOF works.

    eg. if you've set the lens to f/5.6 and you're a fair distance back, then your DOF will usually be quite deep(up to a certain focal length of course).

    So taking this into consideration, you have a few options for points that you could focus on and still get the subjects you want sharply rendered. You don't always have to focus on a point you want rendered sharply if it falls within the zone of focus.

    So instead of focusing on a black jumper where focusing may be troubled, you could focus for example on the kids face just immediately in front of the player(in #1) or on the post next to the player (in #2) ... etc, etc.

    AND! Don't assume that because you have used the 1/focal length rule for shutter speed(or faster) that the image will automatically not be affected by camera shake either.
    Sometimes you don't breathe right, or you may have a temporary case of the wobbles, or whatever ... if in doubt, try to use your camera's burst feature .. but in a limited manner.
    I do this all the time, usually to ensure against subject movement .. but now more so to offset my rubbery technique(D800! )

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    Thanks again Arthur

    Yes, that is one of the things I forget....even if it is shallow, it is a fair distance so there is quite a bit of room to chose a focal point. I will go to bed everynight saying this to myself to make sure I remember this point!!!

    What do you mean by "camera's burst feature" ?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Always remember that just because you have the lens set to f/5.6(which may or may not be wide open) .. doesn't mean that DOF is shallow!

    On a 600mm lens it may be shallow, or on a 10mm lens focused at 0.1m it may be shallow.

    90mm and f/5.6 focused at about 5-10m away is not going to give you a shallow DOF(unless you always pixel peep, or print very large).

    as an example. in your first image, the blur doesn't really become obvious until you look way out to the fence .. which must be about 15 or more meters back from the people.
    Even the car looks 'acceptably' sharp given that it's technically out of the DOF zone.

    The point is to take the reproduction size of the image into account too.

    Burst mode on your camera .... 3, 4 or more fps. I usually do a burst of about 3 frames, and have the camera set this way in continuous low shooting mode.
    (that is, on many Nikon cameras, there are two continuous shooting modes. High continuous and Lo continuous: High is predefined at the maximum rate the camera can shoot. But Lo can be set up to the maximum rate the camera can shoot.
    So I set it to 3fps, and only 6 frames for any one burst.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms Monny View Post

    What do you mean by "camera's burst feature" ?
    Page 81 of the manual. Continuous shooting.

    I'll try and get back tomorrow about high ISO.
    Last edited by Mark L; 06-06-2013 at 8:23pm.
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    ahhhh! Yes, I do 'burst' mode .... or High Continuous Frame mode when I shoot the footy or soccer. Wouldn't do without it!!

    Thanks for the points on the DOF, Arthur. Very good to know.

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    Hi Ms, I use the 60d for my bird photography, I have quite a few times used ISO 1600 due to lack of light, I know of quite a few other people that do the same, as long as you expose more to the right with the histogram.
    Just experiment.

    Peter
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    thanks Peter. yes, in my footy and soccer, I usually +1/3 EV. I am def going to go and do some testing. I also think my gorgeous, lovely, wouldn't-trade-for-anything-else (NOT) kit zoom lens just doesn't cut it past 100mm!!! Looking at pics from todays soccer, and when it is below 100mm they are very acceptable.....anything above that and I start to cringe. Yes, I am fussy, yes I pixel peep - but who doesn't!!!

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    In raw mode canon does a really good job with its onboard noise reduction setting set to high reduction, this picture was shot witha 50D at ISO 1600 and the only noise reduction is what the camera applied and no further reduction. The raw image was processed using canon DDP and I am happy with how turned out.

    p.s. the site wont let me upload cause I haven't posted for a while but if you want to see result let me know and will post once I am in the clear.

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    Thanks hus

    Yes, I would be interested to see. A lot of people say to turn the in-camera noise reduction off and just use software in PS to do the noise reduction. I was wrong before when I said I used Nik software...I use Imagenomic Noise Reduction software but I still feel it 'softens' the features on peoples faces too much for my liking. But prob not as soft if it was all blur because I didn't go high enough in the ISO!!

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    Member hus's Avatar
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    Ok I am in the good books again here is that pic I mentioned

    - - - Updated - - -

    I have tried noise ninja and Corel photo paint to reduce the noise but for me when I use the onboard noise reduction my images seem sharper. Maybe its just me thiniing that way.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by hus; 10-06-2013 at 10:44pm.

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    Well, it looks good to me. I might just give it a whirl this weekend at soccer. Can't hurt, hey?

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