D60 f/1.8 35mm - Low lighting noob help.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by AaronJAnderson, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. AaronJAnderson

    AaronJAnderson TPF Noob!

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    I've got a D60 body and picked up the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 to try and get better results in low lighting scenarios. I spend a lot of time taking pictures at restaurants (dinner club)

    It's safe to say that most places are dim but not dark. The best universal example would be the way Starbucks is lit. Very comfortable if you ask me.

    This picture is taken @ f/4.2 ISO 1600 1/60sec. with the 18-55 VR kit lens. Kind of grainy. Slightly more than I'd like.
    [​IMG]


    So I bought the f/1.8 lens. This lens is not VR.

    So what do I need to do to utilize this lens in this environment? It seems like (just playing with it in my house) that when the camera is in auto (no flash) that it will run the lens at f/4 or f/5 so it can keep the shutter speed low, and the shots are still at ISO 1600. To be expected I suppose.


    What does a noob need to do?
     
  2. Dominantly

    Dominantly TPF Noob!

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    The sensor in the D60 is going to be your biggest limiting factor with shooting in poor lighting.
    Now for glass, the faster, the the better (IE f/1.4 VS f/1.8)... You'll want to shoot in M or A mode. IF you want to have some automation then stick with A priority. IF you shoot and see the photo is under exposed you can look at the shutter setting the camera used and adjust it accordingly in manual mode.

    With slower shutter speeds, you will have to think about the risk of blur from shooting hand held (or they can be a bit soft). You can raise your iso to try and minimize this but then you will have to deal with the excess noise.

    Programs like Topaz Denoise 3 can be used in post production to reduce the noise present.
     
  3. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Unfortunately, for low lighting conditions, your sensor sux. Shooting anything above ISO 400 you're running risk of grain as you saw. HOW MUCH grain, is up to you...
    Slow shutter speed w/o flash = motion blur. Even shooting at 1/60 will probably be problematic w/o a flash.
    Wide Apertures: keep in mind where you focus point is. Shooting at f/1.8 means your dof field is very shallow thus even mm movement will cause u to mis-focus on what you want.
    Solution: flash and shooting RAW. My feelings for shooting raw is 50/50. I've been shooting JPGs when got into digital, not to long ago switched to RAWs only and few days ago went back to JPGs again. Hate the time it takes processing RAWs. In your case, shooting RAW will capture a WHOLE lot of 411 thus running noise reduction you'll probably get a cleaner final result then running it on JPG. & of course - shooting with flash to actually get light :)
     
  4. AaronJAnderson

    AaronJAnderson TPF Noob!

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    I always shoot RAW + Sample JPG.

    I know a full sensor camera would be BEST for these situations, but those are also very expensive (comparatively speaking) and much bigger. I like the compactness of the D60 since It's usually around my shoulder at social events.

    I am noticing just how thin the depth is when shooting at f/1.8 or f/2. Almost too thin for the speed that it is able to focus. :er:

    Considering returning the lens. It's 200 bucks I can spend on an SB600 (I have an SB400 now) or towards a better body later down the road.

    Is the 35mm 1.8 lens going to produce any better shots at f/4 than the kit lens would at the same f stop? (and the kit 18-55 is VR, whereas the 35mm is NOT)
     
  5. AaronJAnderson

    AaronJAnderson TPF Noob!

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    What specifically about it is lacking? Would a D90 suck the same amount? Going to a Nikon FX would be several thousand dollars!
     
  6. CWN

    CWN TPF Noob!

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    D5000, D90, D300 all have CMOS sensors, which are great in high ISO's. The D40, D60, D3000 have CCD sensors. They don't 'suck' but by todays standards they're not up to par so to speak.

    You could get a D5000 for around $700, D90 for around $900 or D300s for around $1700 and have excellent high ISO performance.

    PS
    VR only helps with camera shake, and usually more noticeable on 200mm + lenses.
     
  7. AaronJAnderson

    AaronJAnderson TPF Noob!

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    Good info on the CCD/CMOS bit. The local shop gets used D5000 bodies all the time for a good price. I'll keep my eyes and my budget open.


    So is the f/1.8 lens really of any use to me? is it going to be any better than using the kit lens at say f/4 or f/5?
     
  8. Dominantly

    Dominantly TPF Noob!

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    Not sure on the 35mm, but i have experience with the 50mm prime (1.8 and 1.4) and the answer there would be yes.
    Both of those are sharp as hell at f/4, the 1.4 becoming sharper before the 1.8 of course.

    Like mentioned a CMOS sensor would help you out quite a bit. A used D5000 would be a good move.
     
  9. AaronJAnderson

    AaronJAnderson TPF Noob!

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    I should probably put the camera up on a tripod and take some static pictures over the next few days and see if there's a big difference. 200 bucks is 200 bucks closer to a better body.

    For reference, I found this link:

    Nikon D40, D5000, D300 and D3 High ISO Comparison

    If Ken hasn't documented it, it doesn't really exist I say. :)
     
  10. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    The newest generation of Nikons using CMOS sensors (D3000, 5000, 90, 300, ...) do have lower noise than the previous generation using CCD (D40, 60, 80, 200). The difference is about 1-1.5 stops. That is a D3000 at ISO1600 has similar noise to a D60 at 640-800.

    The difference in speed between an f/1.8 lens wide open and the kit zoom wide open at a middle FL, f/4.2, is around 2.5 stops. The bottom line is that a D3000 at ISO 1600 using the kit lens like the posted example would have more noise than the older D60 using the 35mm f1.8 lens wide open at ISO 400 and the D60+ISO400+f/1.8 would end up with a slightly higher shutter speed, ~1/80th.

    Of course, it would be better yet to use both the faster lens and a lower noise body, but the D60's performance at ISO 400 shouldn't be an issue.
     
  11. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The D3000 has the same CCD that is in the D60. About all the D3000 got, improvement over the D60 wise, was the upgraded AF module and an additional 9 focus points.
     
  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Aaron, in reply to your question, "What does a noob need to do?", the answer would be to shoot in RAW capture mode, at ISO 800 or so with your camera, and set the lens aperture to around f/2.5 to f/2.8. In a shot like the one of three friends all equidistant from the camera, you could set the lens aperture to a wide opening, like f/2.5 let's say, and still get a hand-holdable shutter speed.

    As you've noticed, the default camera-selected exposure would favor a bit more depth of field, with the aperture in the f/4 to f/5-ish ranges, which gives more depth of field and a bit more margin for focusing errors.

    Another option would be to use just a very small,small amount of flash, which would boost the lower values; look at the guy's black shirt on the left,and you can see some color noise called chroma noise; if you had even a 1/16th power flash pop to go with that exposure, the entire image would have been "lifted" up above the noise floor.

    By tiny amount of flash, I mean setting the flash to Minus 2.7 stops, or to manual flash and as little as 1/16 power. At such low levels, the flash will be a minor portion of the exposure; "most" of the exposure will be made by the lens aperture and the shutter speed, and the flash will provide a lot of help to the darkest values, which is where the chroma noise is worst. Please note---I am suggesting working at ISO 800--the D60 at ISO 1600 is well past its acceptable noise level for most people. It would be far better to shoot at ISO 800, or even to shoot at ISO 400 in RAW mode and underexpose a 400 ISO capture and "rescue" the underexposed ISO 400 shot in post processing by lifting the exposure in software. The other thing is that 1/60 of a second is really not a slow, indoor speed; if you want to shoot indoors in low light environments, the short focal length lenses like 35mm will allow you to work at speeds more like 1/15 to 1/25 second, in that range. it might not seem like much of a difference, but ISO 1600 and 1/60 second are both on the fringes for your current situation. Sure, at slower speeds like 1/15 second, more shots are lost due to camera shake or subject motion blur, but the difference is two full f/stops....ISO 1600 to ISO 400 is two f/stops' difference, so you kind of have to compromise one thing for another at the fringes. If your images at ISO 1600 look too noisy, you need to give reduce ISO level...to get the apertures you want, you might have to lengthen the shutter times. You might have to open the aprture up to f/2, or f/2.2 or f/2.5, where depth of field is shallow and focusing becomes critical. On single-person shots, depth of field at f/2.2 is "manageable"---not great, but not that bad either.

    What you kind of have to do is to find the low limit of your own hand-holding ability; if you can practice breath control, and taking advantage of found supports like chair arms, tables, bracing against walls or door jambs, etc, and practice tucking your arms in and supporting the camera with your left hand pressed firmly under the lens, and with the camera strap wrapped tightly around your right hand, it's possible that after some work, you'll be able to hand-hold the 35mm lens well enough to get 75 to 80 percent keepers with the shutter dragging as slowly as 1/8 second. And speaking of that--if you set the camera to Continuous shooting mode, the second shot, or the third shot triggered from one press and hold of the shutter release button can be the most shake-free shots. When shooting on the "fringe" of your gear or own hand-holding abilities, shooting in three-shot bursts is a very productive way to ensure getting a good shot.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009

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