DSLR+Lens for nightclub photography


TPF Noob!
Apr 1, 2010
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Here is the honest answer, you can't do what you want to at the price that you are willing to spend. Let me qualify that, you can't do it well. Anybody can take a direct flash shot in those conditions and get a shot that you can recognize the subjects. I am assuming that you want something more?

For those conditions, you need a camera body that you find acceptable at ISO 1600. I won't give you a recommendation, everybody has their own definition of acceptable. You need a flash that can adjust both side to side and up and down. Since you are on a budget and can't spend what you need to on a flash, you will also need a lens that has a max aperture of 1.8 or better.

Within your budget, for the type of shooting that you want to do, that puts you at around a used D90($650), an SB600($250) and a 50mm 1.8($120). You might also be able to get away with a D5000/D5100, SB600, and a 35mm 1.8. I don't know what the Canon equivalents are, but I am sure they are out there.

You should also budget at least 7 bucks for a library card to learn how to use that gear to the best of it's ability. In average night club conditions, you will be pushing it to it's limits.

You picked a difficult form of photography and it's expensive to do right.

If your standards are somewhat lower, you can get away with any DSLR, kit lens, cheap external flash, point the flash directly at the subject, and set the flash exposure compensation to around -3 and get fairly decent results.


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Jun 12, 2011
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From personal experience, I'd say that the D5100's ISO1600 is superior to the D90's.

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