Nightclub photography (VERY Basic Beginner)

Sruttenb

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Hi there, so I'm not a photographer by any means. I have my Canon Rebel that I bought for an intro class and thought it was a good thing to keep instead of resell. My boyfriend and I work for a nightclub and we thought me taking pictures would amp up our social media while refraining from needing to spend money hiring a pro.

I've done a few days now and I think I'm doing ok, but my kit lense isn't cutting it. Things are either too dark, or too blurry, I mean this is really low lighting, and I'll use flash for pictures of people, but it's still just not very crisp.

I'm willing to buy another lense. Nothing fancy, just something to give my pictures a tiny bit more oomph. All of the "Nightclub Photography Tips" websites I go to have different recommendations and I think it's because they are either assuming the person is professional, or assuming the nightclub is packed with crazy dancing people.

The nightclub I work at is small and not that popular, there's plenty of room to move around and there's never really a ton of people. I mean some nights can get packed but I'm not worried about having enough space to move around. It's dim light with some colorful strobes, people dance, we have a DJ, mostly people drink and socialize. What lense should I buy to make these elements a little easier to capture without breaking the bank?
 

tirediron

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Unfortunately, it may not be simply a matter of purchasing a new lens; ISO (the camera's sensor's sensitivity to light) is also a critical factor, and if you can't produce relatively clean images at ISOs of 1600 and up, you're still going to be challenged. That said, my suggestion would for a 17-50 f2.8.
 

fjrabon

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I'd go for the Canon 50mm f/1.8, which is cheap and will help a lot. But as John said, you'll probably need to shoot at ISO 1600, if not 6400, which those rebels are just not good at.

Now with a flash, my guess here is that your kit lens is just having a hard time focusing in the dim light, since hte flash would freeze motion, you're probably seeing lack of correct focus, which again, the f/1.8 lens would help with, because it will let more light in to help your camera focus. Also see if you have a focus assist beam, and if you do, turn it on. Hard to get candids with it, since it alerts people you're about to photograph them, but it will at least allow you to get people in focus with a flash.
 

raventepes

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Hands down, I'd go with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8. It's a tad spendy, sure, but it gives you an extra stop of light compared to f/2.8, and it's pretty sharp, too.
 

fjrabon

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Hands down, I'd go with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8. It's a tad spendy, sure, but it gives you an extra stop of light compared to f/2.8, and it's pretty sharp, too.
The op doesn't strike me as somebody looking to spend $800 on a lens for a canon rebel
 

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Depending on what type of lighting you've got in there, a flash might help (or it could not help, depending).

The trick with a flash is to find the ideal modifier/reflector.

I envision bouncing a flash off something that is behind the photographer, such as a large white foamcore or poster board. The trick here is to use the flash at low power - low enough to not overpower the ambient lighting. So it's going to take some practice and planning, and a helper who understands how to hold the reflector to get this acceptable.

Now then; use a reasonable ISO, reasonable shutter speed, and the aperture and flash power need to work together to produce a good exposure for the subject(s) but not over-powered to the point of looking harsh.

Try one of the above suggestions and show us how you did.
 

DanOstergren

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I started my career as a nightclub photographer! It can be a lot of fun; you meet some really cool people. I would recommend also branching out to photographing artists and performers too, and hiring performers to come to your club because it will not only bring a following to your work but also bring more people to your club. I had such a fun time as a night life photographer, I kind of miss it.

Anyways, sorry for that tangent. I would recommend getting a speedlite and a wide angle prime lens, such as a 24mm or 35mm. If you want to avoid blur, shoot at faster shutter speeds.
 

pixmedic

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low lighting can be overcome by several different methods, but depending on just how low the lighting is, you may need more than one.

-a camera that performs well at high ISO. Full frame works best for this of course, but newer DX cameras can also do well at higher ISO's if you are getting a proper exposure.

-a lens that has a large max aperture. Primes are the fastest. (the most expensive being the f/1.2 and moving up to f/1.4 and then f/1.8 being the cheapest)

-Flash. if flash photography is allowed there, you can try a hot shoe flash either bounced (if ceilings and/or walls are good for it) or head on with a diffuser.

if your set on trying a lens first, the most bang-for-the-buck for low light would be a used 50mm f/1.4.
wider than that gets more expensive at the f/1.4 apertures. if you really think you need wider than 50mm, (and you might) you can always go to a 35mm or 28mm f/1.8, or look at the 35mm f/1.4 if you have the budget.
 

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The first thing you need is a flash. No questions about it. Your kit lens is enough to get you going and buying a flash is cheaper than a new lens. Even with the best lens possible you cannot have pictures of people with just the club lighting. They will be all purple and green etc.

I have shot in clubs a lot. Your kit lens at 18mm and f3.5 with image stabilization is totally doable... with flash. I usually shot around 3.5 even with 2.8 or 1.8 lenses in my bag.

Seriously, get a $100 flash and a cheap diffuser. Throw your camera into Manual mode, set it up at ISO 1200, 1/30 and f3.5 and rear curtain sync (means the flash goes off at the end of the picture, not the beginning (pretty important)) and you will be off to a good start.

A 50mm lens will almost be useless if the club is full, you wont have the room to get the shots you want. Wide angle is the way to go and wide fast lenses are not cheap.
 
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