Night photography. equipment advice

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Firefly Lighting, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. Firefly Lighting

    Firefly Lighting TPF Noob!

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    I do a lot of night photography of my lighting work. I have a Nikon D40x but would like to either upgrade my lense or whole rig for something that will give me better results. I have not been able to get really tack sharp images and I am sure it because of the basic kit lense that came with the camera. I have been looking at a Nikon D90 with an 18-105mm lense. Is there a good low light lense anyone can recomend for my D40x or should I just be looking to upgrade.

    Here is some of my work and photography:


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  2. JimmyO

    JimmyO TPF Noob!

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    First and second are nice.


    If your shooting at small apertures like f/11 upgrading lenses wont really make any difference, most modern lenses are tack sharp when shooting stopped down. When using a tripod you might want to get a remote shutter trigger thing so when you press the shutter button you dont shake the camera (which is where any blur is prolly comming from). The Nikon trigger is like $17 bucks. If night photography is really your thing you might wanna look into a nice wide angle and a good tripod aswell. But again your lens is plenty sharp
     
  3. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Low light shooting means long shutter speeds, which means using a tripod. So any lens that can be a good night lens.

    Put camera on tripod
    Set your ISO low (100-200)
    Set your aperture to something small to ensure the whole scene is sharp, usually around f11
    Use a remote release or the 2 sec timer to trip the shutter. Hitting the button yourself can cause some shake.

    The terminology of "low light" lens is usually used with for a lens that has a wide aperture that will allow for a faster shutter speed in low light, such as an f1.4 or so. Doing so however when you are shooting landscapes at night means that the DOF is quite shallow.

    The kit lenses are often known to be not as sharp. So finding a good quality lens is key. Looks like you also like to do wider shots \ landscapes, so finding a lens that have a wide viewing angle would be good.

    I've heard alot of Nikon shooters love the Sigma 10-22 (or is that a 10-20?). Put on a tripod at low ISO would be a great night landscape lens
     
  4. JPooh

    JPooh TPF Noob!

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    get the d90 body and invest more on a little better lens. i see that you do a lot of architechtural types so you can perhaps invest in a faster wide angle lens. if you do a lot of night photos you're gonna wanna look at how the photos look at the higher iso levels unless you're gonna use longer exposure times.

    great pics btw
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    Nice work.

    As mentioned, since you are shooting on a tripod (or support of some kind) you can choose the aperture you want. Even the cheap kit lenses are pretty decent when stopped down a little. And you can also use the lowest ISO, so upgrading the camera body shouldn't make a huge difference (unless you need more pixels for large prints).
     
  6. Firefly Lighting

    Firefly Lighting TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input. I always shoot with tripod and don't have a problem with my aperature and shutter speed settings. I always shoot ISO 100 to reduce noise. I am just conflicted if buying better more expensive equipment is going to make that big of a difference in my shots.

    One main problem with the D40x is that is not compatible with a remote shutter release cable (which sucks). So I have to set a 10 second delay on all my shots. I will check into that Sigma lense, If I can get a good lense I will probably keep the camera a bit longer and buy a good battery grip for it.
     
  7. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Do you have any photo shops in your area or know of any online where you can rent a lens?

    If you are unsure, maybe rent one for a weekend and go out night shooting and see the results.
     
  8. JimmyO

    JimmyO TPF Noob!

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    false

    [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Wireless-Control-Digital-Cameras/dp/B00007EDZG]Amazon.com: Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control for Nikon D40, D40x, D60, D80 & D90 Digital SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo[/ame]
     
  9. C-Towner

    C-Towner TPF Noob!

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    One thing to keep in mind is to set both a delay timer an mirror lockup to redece any vibrations. Also, if you aren't already, taking advantage of dark frame subtraction reduces a lot of noise.

    A new lens would benefit you more than a new body in my opinion. You would be surprised at the difference in sharpness between a kit lens and a midrange one.
     
  10. Vautrin

    Vautrin No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Looking at your images, I don't see the lack of sharpness. If you're seeing some issues when zoomed in, maybe the issue is resolution.

    For instance, if you're trying to blow a print up to poster size, the 6MP on the Nikon won't cut it.

    Can you provide an example (maybe blown up) where the image isn't as sharp as you'd like...

    Other thing. I read somewhere that movement as small as 1mm can affect sharpness... Your rig for night photography could be causing some problems. Is the tripod sturdy enough that a strong wind won't shake it, and the neck band secured so it's not flapping around? Are you shooting with the mirror already up and on remote shutter release (or timer)? You want to eliminate any and all movement or vibrations from your camera when you take the picture.

    I think what you really need to do is take your set up, and take a picture on a tripod at f/11 in broad daylight. If your images are as sharp as you're looking for, chances are you need to look at your rig for night shots.

    If the set up still isn't as sharp as you'd want, that's when you'd try switching lens or body. Since it's not really cost effective to just buy a new camera kit just to see if it'll improve your pictures, you may want to find a friend who can let you try their kit, or rent a body / lens. (Or maybe you just want an excuse to pick up some new kit? In that case just go for it :lol:)

    Also, I'm not really sure if a faster lens is really what you need, since speed isn't going to mean sharpness (quite the opposite).

    Other thing, if you're focusing buildings be careful of how wide an angle lens you get. The wider the field of view, the more distortion you'll see. Lines that should be parrallell will meet and perpendicular lines will bow.

    You'll see this to some degree in all lenses if the perspective isn't right -- you might want to invest in a perspective shift lens. Actually, come to think of it this may be the source of your lack of sharpness if you see that part of the picture is sharp and another part isn't -- google perspective shift lens and their use.
     
  11. Vautrin

    Vautrin No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Oh yeah -- on long exposures anything moving in your scene won't be sharp. So things like flowers, plants, water will look ethereal. Great effect if it's what you're looking for, but maybe you want to shoot at the highest ISO possible to minimize that effect...
     
  12. Firefly Lighting

    Firefly Lighting TPF Noob!

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    Isn't this the kind you have to be in front of the camera sensor to activate? If that's the case that wouldn't work. My hand would be in the scene when I activate the shutter. I would have to set a time delay so I could make sure to have my hand out of the scene, what is the benefit? I can set time delay from behind now as it is without buying a remote.
     

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