Tips for Indoor, low Lighting Photos. with No Flash ???

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by jtice, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    I was wondering if anyone had any tips for general indoor photos taken with NO Flash.

    I know that I should be using the flash, and I can get pretty good results doing a ceiling bounce flash.
    But I would like to get better at the No Flash shots also.
    Alot of times the flash can be very annoying to people, so I like to try to get some without it also.

    but, naturally, they come out bad, generally warm tinted (fixed that pretty good with white balance though)
    and the subjects are blurred from movement.

    I try to use a fast shutter speed to get rid of the blurring, but then it seems underexposed.
    I need to try a few more with higher ISOs also.

    I know that its mostly just playing around finding the right combo.
    and that for the most part, I need a fairly fast shutter, and high ISO,

    but, I was wondering if any of you had any general tips, or something I might be missing.

    Thanks
    ~John
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    A lot of people don't like to use flash, if you can get away without it, good on ya.

    The thing you have to watch, is your shutter speed. If you are shooting hand held, or you are shooting moving subjects, then you will need a shutter speed that is fast enough to freeze the camera shake and/or the subject movement. The rule of thumb for camera shake is a shutter speed as fast as the focal length of the lens. So for a 50mm lens, use a shutter speed of at least 1/50 (1/60).

    To get a faster shutter speed, the first thing to do is to open the aperture (use Av mode and adjust the aperture to it's biggest (lowest number). If you still can't get a fast enough shutter speed...turn up the ISO. That's about it.

    This is one reason why 'fast' lenses are so beneficial. If you can use an aperture of F1.8 instead of F5.6...you will be able to get a much faster shutter speed.
     
  3. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    Thanks , again, for the input Mike.

    Sorry, should have said what lens and camera I have.
    I have a Canon 30D and a Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Lens

    I think for the most part, I was trying to keep the ISO too low.
    I am too used to Point and Shot cams, it bothers me to go above 400 ISO hehe
    But I know I should be able to go higher without much noise.

    ~John

     
  4. shingfan

    shingfan TPF Noob!

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    well....when you are shooting indoor....flash is almost unavoidable.....you just need to choose a good balance between flash and ambient.....using flash isnt necessary a bad idea.....at high ISO....if you are shooting with only ambient....the shadow area will be very very noisy...if you use a flash.....then you might be able to fill in those shadow area and get a picture with less overall noise......especially with your lense.....for sure you are not going anywhere without the aid of a flash indoor....even if you boost it all the way up to ISO1600....it is still not bright enough for your lense......the way our eyes work and the camera is very different.....our eyes have a super crazy processor to do all the processing before you realize picture (also with a very large aperture).......super crazy high dynamic range.....with a camera.....your dynamic range is very limited in one exposure
     
  5. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    hmm, I didnt realize my lens was just too slow for that, period.

    I guess I need to look into a good fast lens for low light indoor shots,
    any suggestions?
    (bare in mind, I am on a budget) yea yea, i know, arent we all.

    ~John
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    Yes, that lens is certainly not made with indoor shooting in mind.

    I suggest the 50mm F1.8, I think it's the least expensive Canon EF lens you can buy...it's made with a lot of plastic, rather than metal...but the glass is really good and the option to use a wide aperture is a great tool.

    Other good options would be the Canon 85mm F1.8, the 50mm F1.4, the 35mm F2.0, the 28mm F1.8, the Sigma 30mm F1.4 etc.
     
  7. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    Hm, buddy of mine just mentioned the Canon 50mm 1.8, seems popular. and very well priced.

    Only thing I am worried about with it, is the fairly narrow, FOV.
    Since I would be using it indoors also, I am worried it wont be wide enough for me.

    The 28mm ones are QUITE a jump in cost.
    I may have to grab the 50mm 1.8F for now, just to have a way of doing better indoor shots.

    ~John
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    I hear you. I loved my 50mm on my old film camera, but on my digital body...it's just too long for a lot of indoor stuff.

    The Sigma 30mm F1.4 gets really great reviews. It's a fair bit more expensive than the 50mm F1.8, but not too much.

    Just for a laugh, have a look at the 24mm F1.4 L or the 35mm F1.4 L. :shock: :lol:
     
  9. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    :confused: Looked at the 24mm F1.4 L,,, crapped my pants. Yea, that was a great laugh. thanks :meh:

    That Sigma 30mm F1.4 does look nice, and would be a much better FOV.
    Seems its about $300 more than the Canon 50mm 1.8 though.

    I will have to think about this some, I need to get something though.
    I will end up doing alot of indoor shots, need something worth using.
    May have to settle on the Canon for now though due to budget.
    I am about broke after getting the 30D, etc. ;)

    ~John
     
  10. darich

    darich TPF Noob!

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    I've never had a seperate or remote flashgun and hate using the pop up style ones on cameras due to red eye and nasty shadows.
    I had a Canon Digital Rebel, a 20D and now a 5D.
    The 5D doesn't even have a pop up flash meaning i have no option but to use ambient light - apart from colour cast i've not had any great problems shooting indoors.

    I know the 5D has amazingly low noise levels at high ISO but even with the 20D i was ok. It just proves that the lenses are so influential in your photos - Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L - what a lens. Sharp, fast and for most cases means i don't need a flash.

    I've got a 50mm 1.8 and it's great - yes the DOF is shallow at 1.8 but you don't need to use it at that - you can reduce the aperture a couple of increments (not stops) and it'll still be faster than the f3.5 - 6.3 you have just now.
     
  11. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As the previous posts stated, shooting in low light is a fight against the shutter speed to prevent blur due to camera shake. There are a few things to work towards:

    1) Faster lens. As stated the 50mm f1.8 is a bargain but may be a bit too long for a cropped sensor. Also be aware how DOF comes into play when shooting at wide apertures.
    2) Wider focal length. Wide angle lenses can be shot at a significantly slower shutter speed handheld. This is where the rule of thumb states that at any given focal length you can handhold 1/(focal length). Shorter the focal length the slower the shutter speed you can handhold
    3) Increase ISO. Many DSLRs now a days shoot well at higher ISOs and process to reduce noise. If its still a problem, there is a limited amount of processing that can be done post production: noise ninja for example.
    4) Bracing. When you shoot, you lean against a wall or use some sort of support. I use a lightweight monopod at times to get me a stop more.
    5) Practice: My cousin can shoot hand held at a shutter speed 1 slower than I. Its a matter of keeping that camera as steady as possible. In his case, he has a technique of wrapping the camera strap around his body and shooting between breaths. During those times, he also avoids moving around quickly to keep his heart rate lower... sounds strange but it works for him.
    6) Image stabilization: We all know about this as it has been heavily marketed. Unfortunately, it also comes with a cost. Remember, it doesn't help blur introduced by subjects movement.

    In many cases, using a flash is unavoidable... I have always hated the look of on-board flashes: weak and flat. Bouncing the flash is a good option but often not possible. (I once bounced flashed several photos and didn't realize that the cealing was a deep red in color... oops...) You best bet in this case is to look into some sort of flash bracket or off camera flash setup. I still avoid using flash as much as possible. I noticed that once people see or notice a flash, they behave differently and the photos look less candid. This is especially true if your intention is to photograph the public... I personally like NYC subways.
     
  12. jtice

    jtice TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again for the help guys, lot of good info and ideas here.

    I think I will end up getting the Canon 50mm F1.8 for now, as it seems to be the best bang for the buck.
    The FOV is a bit narrow, but I think it might be good for other things also, maybe some of my product shots.

    I just found it a bit disappointing that my Canon SD630 P&S was capable of taking just as good of indoor shots with no flash.
    But when you take into account the limits of the lens you are using it all makes sense.

    usayit, your cousin sounds like a sniper :)
    I am also a "gun nut" and found "shooting" with a DSLR had it similarities to shooting guns.
    I bought a hand strap for mine which seems to help alot,
    I dont have to squeeze the camera all day to hold onto it.
    Its a big reason I took the DSLR step, the taking of the photos is just so much fun for me.

    Ultimately, when I can, I will use a bounce flash, I have had great results with it.
    There were a few times I needed to bump up the flash power a notch or two,
    but other than that, the 30D has done a good job of exposing the bounce shots.

    I also want to experiment with using a very very soft direct flash and see if it fills in enough, probably be able to increase the exposure speed a bit also.

    Thanks
    ~John
     

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