low light best practices

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by rhinodog15, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. rhinodog15

    rhinodog15 TPF Noob!

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    I am asked to shoot quite a few dance recitals, pageants, and other events that rely on the dreaded stage lighting. I use a Nikon D3300 and D3400 most often with 300mm Nikkor lens. I am seeing either very grainy photos or those that are way too dark to even consider keeping. I don't know if the cameras/lenses I use can't perform like I expect or my camera settings are not set correctly. I would love recommendation for a camera/ lens that will give me clear photos even on the darker parts of the stage.


     
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Post a sample image.
     
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  3. Peeb

    Peeb Semi-automatic Mediocrity Generator Supporting Member

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    You are limited by 4 things:
    1. widest aperture setting available for your lens (wider is better)
    2. low-light abilities of your sensor
    3. amount of light available at the venue
    4. ability to use flash or other supplemental lighting.

    Your present situation (to me) probably breaks down like this:

    1. Doubt you get lower than f/4 on your existing lens. Do you have an f/1.8 or f/1.4 nikkor 50mm you could shoot as an experiment to see how it does in comparison?
    2. Your nikon body camera is not best-in-the-biz, but it is pretty good.
    3. You can't control this, and it sounds like the light is simply not good.
    4. Cannot see a flash being allowed at a recital, so even tho it would fix your problem, it is probably not an option.
     
  4. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    anytime there's movement your Shutter Speed is also a limiting factor. Of course the higher the Shutter Speed required the more it moves up your ISO, which then may start involving grain or noise (or whatever ppl want to call it).
    along, as mentioned above, the available light and aperture of the camera.

    But we would have to see examples with EXIF to know if you could have improved on your images with settings, etc.
    Low Light - One reason I went to a Full Frame sensor camera.
     
  5. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    easy:

    D750 + 400mm f/2.8E
     
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  6. Peeb

    Peeb Semi-automatic Mediocrity Generator Supporting Member

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    If you can get close enough- 85mm f/1.8 should be nice.
     
  7. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    How much of your money can we spend?
    However, with a good solid understanding of how to use your camera gear to best advantage you should be able to produce acceptable images with what you have.
    In other words, you would upgrade your photography knowledge and skill rather than relying on changing/upgrading whatever camera gear you have.

    If you can't use flash you're likely going to need to upgrade your lens(s).
    Zoom lenses that will gather more light because they have a wide maximum aperture (a 'fast' lens) aren't inexpensive.

    If you can zoom with your feet you might get by with a telephoto prime lens in the 85 to 135 mm range.
    Your D3x00 bodies (and D5x00) are 'compact' Nikons and do not have Nikon's AF motor and screw-drive system in them like the D7xoo and up bodies do.
    So you can only use older, generally much less expensive, Nikon AF-D lenses on your D3xoo bodies if you manually focus the lens.
    However, your D3x00 bodies have a feature called Rangefinder that aid manual focusing.
    In fact that motor and screw-drive is the only part of the AF system you're missing. as you manually focus both your D3x00s will turn on the In Focus indicator when you have achieved focus by manually turn the focus ring of a AF-D lens.

    I have a pristine Nikon AF 80-200 mm f/2.8D push/pull to zoom lens w/Nikon lens hood I would sell for $350 including shipping in the US.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  8. rhinodog15

    rhinodog15 TPF Noob!

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    Not sure why but each time I try to upload a picture, I get an error message that says "Security error occurred. Please press back, refresh the page and try again."
    I've done this 8 times from 3 different computers using 5 different pictures.
     
  9. ronlane

    ronlane What's next? Supporting Member

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    Close but you may want to go ahead and suggest the D5 + 400mm f/2.8E. Just to be safe that the OP can get the shot.
     
  10. rhinodog15

    rhinodog15 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for your response. Good to know the body is pretty good. I do have a nikkor 50mm and it is not as grainy but I do have to manipulate the shadows in Lightroom to make the image darker and kill the grain. Not what I am looking for of course.
    External lighting and flashes are not options.
    I am certainly not expecting an image from the darker area to be as clear as if it were shot with nice lighting, but there has to be a better alternative to grainy faces.
     
  11. rhinodog15

    rhinodog15 TPF Noob!

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    Help me out, what about this camera/lens combo
    Thank you for your response Keith. Yes this lens is f/4.5-6.3. Looks like not a wide aperture variance there huh? I really would love to have auto focus with my zoom lens, so if I have to upgrade my camera/lens, I am willing to do so.
     
  12. SCraig

    SCraig Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The camera body is about $1,800 and the lens is about $11,200. Otherwise a fabulous combination.
     

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