Crisper pictures...without a flash...with zoom? Help a noob!

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by chapmaa, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. chapmaa

    chapmaa TPF Noob!

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    I proudly took my new DSLR camera to my children's recital last night. No flashes allowed so I turned off the flash setting and put my best (only) zoom lense on the camera. I was steadying myself on the seat in front but no matter how hard I tried I could not get a good clear headshot, they were always really blurred. I tried increasing the shutter speed (I was very proud of this BTW) but it made no perceivable difference ;)

    If I zoomed back and took a picture it worked well although the colors are a bit washed out maybe because the church was fairly dim.

    Do I need to use a mono/tripod or am I doing something wrong?

    One of the main reasons that I bought a DSLR camera was to be able to take these types of pictures...help a noob!
     
  2. Goontz

    Goontz TPF Noob!

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    Assuming your zoom lens has a variable aperture (e.g. f/3.5 - 5.6), when you zoom in, your camera needs more light to use the same shutter speed. It might be that your shutter speed is just getting too low to capture the movement of your children. Increasing your ISO would probably help, or a "faster" lens (meaning one with a larger aperture, like a constant f/2.8 zoom). That, or at the increased focal length, your shutter speed isn't fast enough and you're just not holding the camera steady enough (which a tripod would help with).

    That said, that's all basically a guess as to what the real issue is. To get the best help/advice, it would be best if you could post up an example shot of what's happening, along with the EXIF info on it (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc) so that we can better tell what's causing this.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    It would really help if you could show us an example shot, along with the EXIF data (shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc)

    You are likely on the right track in that you need a faster shutter speed. Too slow of a shutter speed will cause blur...both from movement of the camera and movement of the subject. So while it may help if you put the camera on a monopod or tripod, it won't help if you're shooting a subject that isn't perfectly still (so it wouldn't help in this situation).

    What does help, is a faster shutter speed...but it's not that easy.

    In order to make an exposure (take a picture) you need three things working for you. The lens aperture, the shutter speed and the sensitivity of the recording medium (ISO in this case).
    If you want a faster shutter speed (shorter time) then you will need to account for that with on or both of the other settings. The first thing is the lens aperture, it should be as large as possible (lowest F number). Unless you were in manual mode, it's likely that you were already at the maximum aperture. So the next thing to adjust is the ISO. As you turn up the ISO, the faster shutter speed you can use (to keep the same exposure). The problem with that is, that as the ISO goes up, so does the level of digital noise. Some cameras get pretty bad at ISO 800, some are good up to 1600 or 3200 and the best cameras can give decent results at ISO 6400. DSLR cameras are all pretty much better than digi-cams in this aspect.

    Even turning up the ISO as high as you dare, it may still not be enough. It really depends on the amount of light you have to work with.
    One way that we deal with this, is to use lenses with a larger maximum aperture. I'd guess that you zoom lens has a max aperture of F5.6, when it's at the long end of the zoom. That's not very big. You could get a lens with a max aperture of F2.8, which is 4 times as large as F5.6. You could get a prime (non-zoom) lens with a max aperture of F2 (or better), which is two times as big as F2.8 (8 times as large as F5.6)

    Another factor may be the scene you are shooting and how you are metering. For example, if there is a a spot light on your subject and a dark background, you camera won't know that. It just measures the light. So you could change your metering mode so that it only reads a small portion of the scene (centre or spot metering), that way, the dark background does not influence the exposure as much (or at all).
    Or if the lighting in the venue is pretty even and constant, you could use manual mode and just find the exposure values that work best, and keep it locked on that.
     
  4. Gaerek

    Gaerek TPF Noob!

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    Listen to Big Mike, he knows what he talks about. My rule of thumb is that it's better to get the shot with noise, than to not be able to get the shot at all. Some people will try to put artificial limits on you (Oh, 1600 is too high, you'll get too much noise!), but a lot of people fail to realize that the most important part of photography is getting the shot. If the only way to get the shot is with high ISO, then do it! If your equipment is limiting your aperture (i.e. it's f/5.6+ fully racked out) don't be afraid to crank the ISO up as high as needed to get a decent shutter speed.

    A tripod may or may not help in this situation. First of all, most things like this I've ever been at won't allow tripods for various reasons. Usually, fire marshall rules, or simply they don't want people with tripods blocking other peoples view. Next, if there's a lot of movement in the frame, a tripod won't do much, since you will still see a lot of blurriness with slower shutters. However, if it's just kids singing, or something like that, you might be able to get away with it, IF they allow the tripod in the first place.

    It's unfortunate, but the only way you can be assured to get these kind of shots is by spending buckets of money on faster glass. Something like this, if you shoot Canon, for example.
     
  5. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    As above a sharp shot with noise is better than a shot with blur (B+W shots can look nice with a bit of noise), what ever focal length you shoot at aim to get the equivalent shutter speed (100mm = 1/100) open your aperture as wide as it will go (smallest number) adjust ISO to get 1/100 if possible there may not be enough light, squeese yout elbows tight to your body or rest your lens on your partners shoulder
     
  6. chapmaa

    chapmaa TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all of the great advice. It sounds like I had the right idea with the shutter speed but I didn't factor in ISO at all. My camera Olympus E-420 has a setting where I can change the shutter speed and it will compensate for the aperture to suit. Maybe if I change the ISO and then play with that next time.

    I’ll post a few examples – the worst and some of the better ones along with the EXIF data,,,
     
  7. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Your best bet will be to get a relatively long lens with a really wide aperture. I am not familiar with the olympus line, but canon makes an 85mm f/1.8 that can be had for relatively cheap money. For low light, this is a necessity. I shot a concert this weekend, and I had my aperture at 1.8 nearly the whole time. 1.8 is about 3 and a third stops more light, which means you can use like 10x faster shutter speed, which is pretty great.
    To stop motion in the concert I was using a shutter speed of about 1/250 or so. I'd imagine at a dance recital, you're going to need an even faster shutter. That means you're going to need crazy ISO or really wide aperture. I'd choose the aperture.
     
  8. chapmaa

    chapmaa TPF Noob!

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    Here's an example of a really bad one...

    [​IMG]

    EXIF — this group of metadata is encoded in 24,566 bytes (24.0k)
    Color SpacesRGBComponents ConfigurationY, Cb, Cr, -CompressionJPEG (old-style)ContrastNormalCreate Date2010:01:24 16:19:02
    1 day, 15 hours, 10 minutes, 59 seconds agoCustom RenderedNormalDate/Time Original2010:01:24 16:19:02
    1 day, 15 hours, 10 minutes, 59 seconds agoDigital Zoom Ratio1Exif Image Size3,648 × 2,736Exif Version0221Exposure Compensation0Exposure ModeAutoExposure ProgramCreative (Slow speed)Exposure Time0.3F Number5.6File SourceDigital CameraFlashAuto, Did not fireFlashpix Version0100Focal Length150.0 mmGain ControlHigh gain upISO400Image DescriptionOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Interoperability IndexR98 - DCF basic file (sRGB)Interoperability Version0100Light SourceUnknownMakeOLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.Max Aperture Value4.0Metering ModeMulti-segmentCamera Model NameE-420Modify Date2010:01:24 16:19:02
    1 day, 15 hours, 10 minutes, 59 seconds agoOrientationHorizontal (normal)Print Image Matching(528 bytes binary data)Resolution314 pixels/inchSaturationNormalScene Capture TypeStandardSharpnessNormalSoftwareVersion 1.1 Thumbnail Length6,130User CommentWhite BalanceAutoX Resolution72Y Cb Cr PositioningCo-sitedY Resolution72
     
  9. chapmaa

    chapmaa TPF Noob!

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    Here's that EXIF data with better formatting...sorry about that

    EXIF — this group of metadata is encoded in 24,566 bytes (24.0k)
    Color Space sRGB
    Components Configuration Y, Cb, Cr, -
    Compression JPEG (old-style)
    Contrast Normal
    Create Date 2010:01:24 16:19:02
    1 day, 15 hours, 18 minutes, 19 seconds ago
    Custom Rendered Normal
    Date/Time Original 2010:01:24 16:19:02
    1 day, 15 hours, 18 minutes, 19 seconds ago
    Digital Zoom Ratio 1
    Exif Image Size 3,648 × 2,736
    Exif Version 0221
    Exposure Compensation 0
    Exposure Mode Auto
    Exposure Program Creative (Slow speed)
    Exposure Time 0.3
    F Number 5.6
    File Source Digital Camera
    Flash Auto, Did not fire
    Flashpix Version 0100
    Focal Length 150.0 mm
    Gain Control High gain up
    ISO 400
    Image Description OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Interoperability Index R98 - DCF basic file (sRGB)
    Interoperability Version 0100
    Light Source Unknown
    Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
    Max Aperture Value 4.0
    Metering Mode Multi-segment
    Camera Model Name E-420
    Modify Date 2010:01:24 16:19:02
    1 day, 15 hours, 18 minutes, 19 seconds ago
    Orientation Horizontal (normal)
    Print Image Matching (528 bytes binary data)
    Resolution 314 pixels/inch
    Saturation Normal
    Scene Capture Type Standard
    Sharpness Normal
    Software Version 1.1
    Thumbnail Length 6,130
    User Comment
    White Balance Auto
    X Resolution 72
    Y Cb Cr Positioning Co-sited
    Y Resolution 72
     
  10. coreduo

    coreduo TPF Noob!

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    Lean your elbow or body on a permanent fixture so as not make your hands trembling. You see those pics I took with zoom? I leaned my elbow on the rail or on my knee or lean my body on a wall. It helps.
     
  11. chapmaa

    chapmaa TPF Noob!

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    [​IMG]


    EXIF — this group of metadata is encoded in 24,566 bytes (24.0k)
    Color Space sRGB
    Components Configuration Y, Cb, Cr, -
    Compression JPEG (old-style)
    Contrast Normal
    Create Date 2010:01:24 16:59:26
    1 day, 14 hours, 36 minutes, 53 seconds ago
    Custom Rendered Normal
    Date/Time Original 2010:01:24 16:59:26
    1 day, 14 hours, 36 minutes, 53 seconds ago
    Digital Zoom Ratio 1
    Exif Image Size 3,648 × 2,736
    Exif Version 0221
    Exposure Compensation 0
    Exposure Mode Auto
    Exposure Program Program AE
    Exposure Time 0.3
    F Number 5.1
    File Source Digital Camera
    Flash Auto, Did not fire
    Flashpix Version 0100
    Focal Length 102.0 mm
    Gain Control High gain up
    ISO 400
    Image Description OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Interoperability Index R98 - DCF basic file (sRGB)
    Interoperability Version 0100
    Light Source Unknown
    Make OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.
    Max Aperture Value 4.0
    Metering Mode Multi-segment
    Camera Model Name E-420
    Modify Date 2010:01:24 16:59:26
    1 day, 14 hours, 36 minutes, 53 seconds ago
    Orientation Horizontal (normal)
    Print Image Matching (528 bytes binary data)
    Resolution 314 pixels/inch
    Saturation Normal
    Scene Capture Type Standard
    Sharpness Normal
    Software Version 1.1
    Thumbnail Length 7,749
    User Comment
    White Balance Auto
    X Resolution 72
    Y Cb Cr Positioning Co-sited
    Y Resolution 72
     
  12. chapmaa

    chapmaa TPF Noob!

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    I tried that but I think the combination of my camera settings and the light were causing more of the problems. Thanks for the advice though.
     

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