Difficulty shooting indoors with low light - new lens?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by pauliec, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. pauliec

    pauliec TPF Noob!

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    I really like shooting in low light situations -- candlelit still life and low light portraits. I really dislike using a flash and try to use it as least often as possible.

    However, I have great difficulty in pulling off a fantastic low light shot with my D40. I have tried adjusting the ISO, f/stop, and shutter speed, but have not yet found the perfect combination that produces sharp images with the least amount of yellow tinge.

    I know that the answer may lie in a new camera with a higher ISO, but for right now, what about a new lens? I came across this lens and read some reviews, and it sounds pretty good to me: Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX.

    Would this lens be the answer to what I'm looking for? A larger aperture would indeed aid in low light/portrait situations, and I was hoping in might increase the ability of my D40. Has anyone used this lens and can they recommend it? Basically, I'm not sure as to what this lens would be best used for.
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The color tinge is due to white balance issues; you need to make sure the white balance is appropriate for the type of lights; incandescent or tungsten lights require you to set the WB to the little light bulb setting; fluorescent lights require the fluoro-tube icon; with the ISO set in the higher ranges, you should be able to get decent images.

    One of the biggest questions is how dark to make low-light images appear; sometimes the camera will artificially "brighten up" the metering resulting in a night or low-light scene that looks too bright; other times, the scene will be rendered far too dark.

    I would set the WB to the right setting, and try manual exposures where you pick an f/stop, like f/2.5 or f/2.8 or maybe as small as f/3.5, and then select an appropriate shutter speed; the speeds might be slow, like 1/5 or 1/8 second to maybe as fast as 1/30 second at f/2.8, with the ISO between 800 and 1600. A relatively short focal length lens like a 35mm f/1.8 is a good choice for low-light work--the lens is "fast" at f/1.8, and its shorter length means lower magnification, so the lens can be used at slower speeds, even hand-held at slower speeds, with pretty good results. I can hand-hold a 20mm lens as slow as 1/4 second with around 40-50% keepers on static scenes, but on a 200mm lens, I need to be at 1/80 second for 40-50% keepers under many situations. The 35mm f/1.8 AF-S is going to be probably your BEST bet for an affordable "fast" lens for low-light shooting with the camera body you currently own.
     
  3. pauliec

    pauliec TPF Noob!

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    I just took some shots with my stock AF-S Nikkor 18-55 lens to show you what I'm talking about. Sleeping dogs are the best subjects because they don't really protest. Per the previous poster's suggestion, all were shot with a white balance set to the "light bulb" setting:

    1.
    [​IMG]
    Program Mode
    f/5.3
    0.5 seconds
    ISO 1600

    2.
    [​IMG]
    Program Mode
    f/5.0
    .077 seconds
    ISO 1600

    3.
    [​IMG]
    Program Mode
    f/5.3
    0.5 seconds
    ISO 1600

    Is there anything I could have done to make these photos a little more clear, and have the colors a little more balanced? #3 is obviously the best because there was the most light (the blue on parts of her fur is coming from the TV, just above the dog and to the right). The second one isn't bad, but if you look close there's a strange blue tinge in some areas -- on her nose and left eyebrow. #1 is the worst - the colors look hot and it's just not a clear shot.
     
  4. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    Those shutter speeds are just way too slow... faster glass (like that 35 f/1.8) would help quite a bit.

    As far as the white balance, you can set up a custom white balance with a piece of printer paper or paper coffee filter. Either that or shoot RAW and adjust it after the fact.
     
  5. pauliec

    pauliec TPF Noob!

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    Would you care to elaborate on that? As far as shooting RAW, I am definitely not at that point yet.
     
  6. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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  7. pauliec

    pauliec TPF Noob!

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  8. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    I had it, I know it will :D I used it to take photos of my kids when they were babies and sleeping (didn't want to startle/blind them with flash) - GREAT lens.
     
  9. pauliec

    pauliec TPF Noob!

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    Excellent. Is it also useful in outdoor shots, landscapes, some sports, etc?
     
  10. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    I used it for all of those... the only disadvantage is the fixed focal length (prime), if you're in an area that doesn't allow for much backward/forward movement you're stuck with that you have to work with, but that's not fault of the lens - just something to be aware of.

    I can't say anything bad about it. I'd still have mine today if someone didn't offer me an even trade on a Nikon 35-70 f/2.8 lens.
     

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