Low light issues

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Gary Evans, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Gary Evans

    Gary Evans TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    I have had a Nikon D5000 for a while, but only started to use it properly over the last few months. It is generally pretty good, but I am having a few problems in low light situations.

    As an example. I was recently in a dimly lit cave and could not use a tripod, so I used aperture priority with the largest possible aperture, and an ISO of 800. With these settings, I was getting a shutter speed of 1.5 - 2 seconds, which obviously produced a lot of blur. I didn't want to increase the ISO much further.

    The thing that really made me wonder was that the guy next to me was snapping merrily away with a much faster shutter speed.

    I realise that the D5000 is a few years old now, so there are technical limitations with the sensor etc. I was also using the kit lens: Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3,5-5,6 VR.

    The best solution would be to get a new camera, the D7500 or similar, but I don't really use it enough to justify the spend.

    So the other option is the lens. I have been looking at the Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C, which has a lower aperture and pretty good reviews.

    So my question: is this lens any good for general use, and how much difference would it make in the type of situation I mentioned?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated


     
  2. Fujidave

    Fujidave Blue eyed and Beautiful Supporting Member

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    Hi Gary and welcome. I can`t help you on this but if I`m right both @Braineack and @Derrel use Nikons and might be able to help.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  3. Tropicalmemories

    Tropicalmemories No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    An f2.8 lens fully open will give you 2/3rds of a stop more light than f3.5. Better, but not a big improvement. And to get the benefit with a variable aperture zoom, you need to go wide.

    I'd recommend looking at an f1.8 or even f1.4 50mm prime lens. Cost is not huge, and you'll notice better low light shots.

    Of course your depth of field will also reduce, so watch your focussing.
     
  4. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Hi Gary,
    I´d assume you used the wide-angle end of your zoom lens - so 18mm - which would have f3.5 as the maximum aperture.
    The new lens you are considering has a max. aperture of f2.8 so the difference would be 2/3 stops. Sounds complicated and a lot like maths, but to give you an idea: your shutter speed would change from 1.6sec to 1sec. So the change wouldn´t be that big.
    Newer cameras definitely have lower ISO noise at the same setting. You need to ask yourself though: how often would you shoot in a situation like that, and how important is it to you to have clean images for those maybe rare occasions.
    Also: the guy in the cave maybe didn´t care much about noise, or may had no idea how the images would turn out. There are situations where you just have to live with noise. Just because somebody is firing away doesn´t mean he knows what he is doing ;). I hope that helps.
     
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  5. greybeard

    greybeard Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Best cheap option would be a Nikon 35mm DX f/1.8 prime. They can be had used for around $100 or so and are much sharper and faster than the 18-55 zoom you are using now. You will however, have to zoom with your feet.
     
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  6. Gary Evans

    Gary Evans TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies :)

    I don't really want a prime lens, a zoom is better for what I need.

    From what you have said, and due to the camera limitations I think that it may be worth getting the Sigma lens. Even a small improvement would be an improvement on how things are at the moment.

    However, as was mentioned, the circumstances I outlined would probably not occur that often, so the question is would the Sigma lens be as good, or better than the Nikon kit lens in general use ?
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In a cave with very limited light you have a few options:

    1) Raise the ISO. Yes this means more noise, but it means getting that short sharp. Noise you can deal with in editing and much of it won't even appear on real world displays of the photo; however blur you can't fix. If you've already opened the aperture up as wide as it can go then the next option is to raise the ISO.

    2) Monopod/leaning on a wall. This will help reduce blur from handshake and whilst its not a tripod its at least better than purely handholding. It might get you a little bit of a slower speed but once you're dealing with whole seconds that starts to become a real challenge to work with.

    3) Anti-shake lenses - again this can get you a few extra stops of handholding; note be careful if you combine this with things like monopods since any anti-shake that has no actual shake to counter (eg the up down that a monopod is stopping the motion of) can generate its own shake. Some have panning mode that helps counter left to right motions.

    4) Wide angle lens. Yep a wider angle generally lets you get away with slower handholding shutter speeds; whilst a telephoto is going to be more demanding as it will amplify any shake as a result of its magnification on the scene.

    5) Flash. Adding light to the scene can be a big help and learning how to properly control a flash, to bounce the light and diffuse it can be a big boon in many situations; though might not be practical in a cave situation.
     
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  8. D7K

    D7K This is the right time.. Supporting Member

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    Best way is a tripod or an "Improvise-pod" - Many a time I've had to use a pack of smokes, a sunglass case, a rock covered in my sweater when I didn't have my tripod. I now carry it everywhere always. The guy next to you may have been using much higher ISO if he was snapping away as you say, likely 6400 or more..

    Even with the low light capability of the D850, there's no chance I'd have gotten this shot without a tripod..

    Saeva_Cave_Concert_Hall_.jpg

    The EXIF is stripped for some reason but I think it was around F8, 30 seconds for this shot, having that tripod or something to stabilise the camera on allowed me to shoot at around ISO100. This was with the 24-70 2.8 lens. (I know - the edit isn't great it was over a year ago when I did this one.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  9. D7K

    D7K This is the right time.. Supporting Member

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    Got me excited talking about caves, I found another one here, again for some reason I've messed up the export and the exif is dead, But even with this lamp 2ft away from me lighting this rock, I'd never have caught this without a tripod.. It was around 20 seconds I think and the detail speaks for itself.. A tripod is an absolute must for any photographer IMO.

    Saeva_Dupka_The_Alien_.jpg
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Downside is many cave sites won't allow you to use a tripod; mostly because even if the cave is opened up and easy to walk in, there's other people and photographers taking long exposures on tripods just get in the way. It's the kind of thing you might enquire about though as there are always slow days and offseasons - a monday during the non-holiday periods could be particularly dead in terms of other visitors so might allow you to bend the rules. Other things such as offering them free prints can help too.
     
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  11. D7K

    D7K This is the right time.. Supporting Member

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    Kind of what happened to me, We were with a group but hung back, this was "The only hall in which you could take photographs" but no tripods / pro cameras etc. I just kept my tripod attached and walked at the back of the group, when we were back inn this hall, a couple of guys decided to play some flute music (previously agreed) - as the crowds and guide turned to them, I just setup quickly, and hit the shutter and stood in front of the camera to obscure it, lucky I guess. However, we visited another cave where we were waiting for a group, the guide saw me and my camera, I was wearing a traditional necklace but he knew I was not local, asked my girlfriend about this and then all of a sudden he said, you two can go now before the group! We had a good 15-20 minutes of the entire cave for only us, and even when the group started we were 15-20 minutes ahead of them... Left a lot of time for shots..
     
  12. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Did his shots turn out?

    At 1.5-2.0sec handheld, I'm sure yours didn't.

    The conditions you were shooting in seems like hand-holding was simply out of the question. Even if you had bumped the ISO to 6400, at a 1" shutter speed, that would still only bring you up to 1/8s which is still too slow to handhold.

    Assuming f/3.5 above and if you dropped money on the 35mm 1.8, going from f/3.5 to f/1.8 -- even at ISO6400 -- would still require a shutter speed of 1/30s; again way too slow.


    My best suggestion would be a tripod.
     
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