Lightning photography...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by marshall, May 20, 2005.

  1. marshall

    marshall TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone, this is post number one. Sorry I have to make it such a long one.

    I'm new to the photography scene, and I purchased an HP Photosmart 850 4.1mp digital camera not too long ago for a very fair amount at the time. I also have a tripod I purchased. After some recent nighttime pictures, I'm starting to believe it may not have been the best choice for lightning photography. I'll link one of my better lightning shots from last night to show the details(you'll want to zoom in on the photo).

    If you notice in the photo, a lot of places towards the lighter areas you can see the various pixels which are not realistic, but a combination of blues, reds, and greens. Is there simply no way of getting around this when using a digital camera?

    I'm willing to purchase a fairly expensive camera for lightning photography, but one of my main concerns is a camera with less downtime in between frames, and much higher quality than this one. I lost many lightning shots last night as this camera takes a while to load between pictures, especially when taking an 8+ sec exposure.

    Are there any digital cameras which will provide the utmost of quality and detail when taking low-light time exposures? I have thought about switching to a 35mm camera, but the cost would go up quite a bit due to the amount of time exposures which need to be taken. I appreciate advice anyone has to offer.

    http://img283.echo.cx/my.php?image=lightning10do.jpg
     
  2. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    Eww that sucks

    You need a serious DSLR or at least a more recent point and shoot.

    Canon 300D, 350D, 20D
    Nikon D70, d50 D80 ?

    This is how much noise a 12 second exposure gives you on 300D:
    it's 100% crop
    http://andrew4137.fotopic.net/p12534231.html
     
  3. wxnut

    wxnut TPF Noob!

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    Doc is right. Your camera looks to have major issues with low light situations. I have a D60 (canon) and I took all these lightning pics... (and many others, but these are the best) With no problems what so ever.

    http://www.wxnut.net/lightning.htm

    As well as all the pics on my site...

    http://www.wxnut.net/

    You can get a used D60 on ebay for about $750, or you can get a new 20D for around $1400.

    If you get a digital SLR, I will help you out with what you need to do to get great lightning photos.

    Doug
    wxnut@charter.net
     
  4. marshall

    marshall TPF Noob!

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    Are those the two better deals out there I should look for? I'm willing to purchase something fairly expensive, as I will have it for a long time. I saw some of the newer cameras in the 12+mp range, but they all looked like they were about $2500+, which is a little high for me. If it is an SLR, does that mean it will have no load time?

    Wxnut those photos are all beautiful. I will definitely seek your advice.
     
  5. wxnut

    wxnut TPF Noob!

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    What do you mean by load time? If you mean write time, or, the time it takes after you take a picture, to the time you can take another... 2 things affect that. With the digital SLRs I mentioned, they have buffers. Which means you can take something like 8 pics in a row before you have to wait for the data to catch up writing. Also, you will want to get a fast CF card, which is the media the camera writes to. Youll want to get a fast one. Something that writes a few MBs per second. Again, when it comes time to buy this stuff, if you have any questions, give me a yell.

    Doug
    wxnut@charter.net
     
  6. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    It will write fast enough... especially for lighting shots

    You get to see the pic pretty much instantly... and the slowest it takes to write a pic is about 2 seconds on a 300D

    20D can take about 40 shots at 5 frames/sec and then it slows down to about 2 ?

    You do long exposures anyways, so don't worry about the writing speed.
     
  7. tr0gd0o0r

    tr0gd0o0r TPF Noob!

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    I would caution against using the # of frames per second as the guide for time inbetween photos. I have also experienced twhat you're talking about w/ my *istD (could just be this camera) it has a 6 fps rate (i think) and when taking longer exposures, i get some serious write times. It usually takes several seconds to stop processing longer shots. I don't know if this is true with other DSLRS though, anyone?
     
  8. john3eblover

    john3eblover TPF Noob!

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    Doug, those lightning shots are simply amazing. :hail: please, write a book or something about it. but seriously, if you want to write up some sort of tutorial, or direct us to some links about how to do this, i'd appreciate it. Its probably something like use a large aperture, and do 10-30 sec exposures with focus set on infinity... the only thing i need to work on is a good vantage point to see the storms.
     
  9. marshall

    marshall TPF Noob!

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    Wow Doug, I just realized you even got a shot of some beautiful strikes during a tornado! That would be simply amazing to accomplish. I guess I will start my hunt around Ebay soon for the new camera. By the way, does anyone use a nice rain guard for their camera that they could recommend to me? I never used to like storms, now I jump for joy when I see a storm warning!

    By the way, I think I'm going to go with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, or the 20D. I feel their both a good compromise between price and megapixels, as well as other features. 20D having a slightly faster frame rate.
     
  10. wxnut

    wxnut TPF Noob!

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    It is really quite easy. Ill write my "formula" here in the next couple days.
     
  11. wxnut

    wxnut TPF Noob!

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    I use plastic walmart bags. I wrap it around the camera so it covers everything but the glass. You can press the shutter buton easy enough. You generally do not need to change settings or preview pics, cause you should have gotten all that down before it started raining. Otherwise an umbrella works well if its not windy. Yhose are my low budget ideas.
     
  12. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    I think *ist D has 2.5 fps and 6 shot buffer...

    You should check the camera of course, but I just checked my rebel and it takes MAYBE half a second longer to show preview of a 30 second exposure vs a 1/125

    Plus, it doesn't stop you from shooting the next frame immediately after the first one.

    But 20D is even faster anyways... kinda like a bolt action vs a machine gun. :)
     

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