Seeking Tips and Tricks for shooting low light (Indoors)

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by AlexGavillan, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. AlexGavillan

    AlexGavillan TPF Noob!

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    Happy Holidays!!

    With Christmas over and the few weeks leading up to it, I have been around visiting family and decided to take the camera and practice a bit. While I wont be sharing any photos in this post, I was just curios of tips and tricks for getting decent shots in low light.

    I played around with ISO, shutter speed, ,aperture, (using kit lens shooting at 55mm, could only stop down to 5.6) exposure compensation and couldn't really get what I considered "good" low noise photos. I thought about using my pop-up flash, but didn't want to be "that guy" haha. Not trusting my beginner skills, I used auto mode (no flash) for probably about half of the shots and they didnt seem much better

    I know, a faster lens can help in low light situations, as well as maybe going with a wider aperture but I like shooting at 55mm. A family member brought their T3i with a 50mm 1.8 and got some nice shots. She tends to underexpose (keeping ISO pretty low) and adjusts the exposure when editing the RAW file in post.

    Anywho, looking for any thing you guys have to throw my way.

    Thanks!

    Alex


     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    A shorter focal length lens, from 20mm to 85mm, and with an f/1.8 maximum aperture (Like the Nikon G-series 20-,24-,28-,35-,5-0,and 85-mm AF-S models) is a good place to start when the light level is low/poor. At longer distances, in the 8 to 30 foot range, there's a bit of depth of field even at f/1.8 to f/3.2, to allow you to get at least "something" into the depth of field band. The farther the camera-to-subject distance, the more depth of field there is to work with.

    Bracing your elbows on a table or leaning against a wall can allow you to hand-hold slower shutter speeds. When working in slow shutter speed territory, shooting more frames, rather than fewer frames, is a good strategy, as many may be blurred, so do not be stingy with the clicks !

    Adding supplementary light, from flash, or from a reflector might be the best choice, many times. Often, low light is ugly light...
     
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  3. AlexGavillan

    AlexGavillan TPF Noob!

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    Thank you very much for the reply! I'm happy to say that you helped solidify my initial thoughts. Practicing photography, and reading everything I can, especially on here has really helped. Instead of a post saying , "Crap photos in low light, HELP!" I at least understand the basic fundamentals enough to know what my possible options are. Not everything of course, but its nice to see myself grow... I digress.

    I had the same thoughts and will be picking up the a faster lens soon. Thinking a 50mm f/1.8, I think I saw a 35mm f/1.8 as well.

    Thanks again for the feedback.
     
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  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Nikon makes a 35mm f/1.8 DX-Nikkor, which is designed specifically for their DX-sensor cameras, and is very affordable, at around $199 with USA warranty the last time I checked. There is also a much more-costly model designed for FX-sensored cameras.

    A tripod, or even a monopod, can also be helpful in low light conditions. Depending on the camera, it's also possible to use pretty elevated ISO levels, like 3,200 up to say, ISO 12,800 if needed, to get a decent exposure. The real deal-breaker is, as you've found that f/5.6 maximum aperture size at 55mm...it just does not let in a lot of light, so the shutter speeds are by necessity fairly slow.

    The 50mm or 35mm f/1.8 lenses are very useful in poorer lighting conditions, compared against the 18-55 kit zoom lenses.
     
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  5. AlexGavillan

    AlexGavillan TPF Noob!

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    Yup! I was looking at both of those haha. Saved in my Amazon wish list.
     
  6. photoflyer

    photoflyer No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think you are looking for the answers that others have already provide. However, I will say that this summer I upgraded from a T5 to a 6D mark II and the difference in low light (high ISO) is astounding. I think a less expensive solution is the faster lens. I have an 85mm 1.8 that I use for portraits. At Thanksgiving I used it to take candid portraits of everyone. For Christmas I framed three of the kids in a single frame for their mother and gave it as a gift. She almost cried. Makes it worth it.
     
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  7. AlexGavillan

    AlexGavillan TPF Noob!

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    Thank you! Ya, wont be upgrading to a full frame anytime soon :) I'm with you on a faster lens which is probably the best bang for the buck for what I am looking for. Also, your use case matches mine to a tee. Some pics over the holidays, all indoor with crap lighting, slow lens means high ISO means grain, yuck hahaha.
     
  8. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    If you like shooting at 50mm, get the nifty fifty. It's cheap enough to justfy it, and likely shooting with f5.6 was an issue as in low light it's just not fast enough without flash.

    A note though: underexposing and bringing exposures up in post is a bad idea with canon sensors, you'll get more noise and banding issues, even if you shoot raw, than you would properly exposing with a higher ISO given the same aperture. Nikon, with the class leading sony sensors are much better and offer no penalty (aka ISO invariant) woth shadow noise and banding.
     
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  9. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The power output level of the built-in flash is adjustable.
    A bit of experimentation using it, the built-in diffuser/bounce card or some simple but effective light modifiers revels the built-in flash is more versatile than many think it is.

    Using a radio trigger or a cord from the hot shoe to an off camera hot shoe flash unit you hand hold can also be very effective after doing some experimentation and practicing.

    Only using available light is often very limiting since we have often have no control of both the available light direction, quality, and ouput.
     
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  10. bratkinson

    bratkinson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Having a fast lens such as f1.8 or even f2.8 will greatly aid low light photography. The 'cost' of shooting with those lenses wide open is a thin depth of field and a slight loss of sharpness as very few lenses are sharpest at their extremes. Being further back from the subject(s) will increase DOF. But trying to have 2 rows of people all sharp at f1.8 in a small room cannot be done. Spend some time playing with this DOF calculator to know what your results will be Online Depth of Field Calculator

    Shooting in low light without a flash requires going to extremes. First and foremost is knowing how high an ISO setting can be used and still be 'acceptable' in terms of noise. Some noise can be cleaned up in post processing. Shooting with ISO set higher than whatever your limit is will only produce deleted results.

    That leaves only shutter speed as the most flexible. As a general rule, I don't like to take pictures of people slower than 1/125th due to slight blurring at lower speeds. But don't be afraid of shooting slower. The 'cost' of shooting at slower shutter speeds is an increase in blurred images, either due to camera jiggle or subject movement. However, as Derrel said above, "don't be stingy with clicks". The solution is to take 5, 10, even 20 shots of 'Grandma with Little Jimmy' to get one or two keepers. The slower the shutter, the more blurred shots you'll get, so take lots! (AKA 'spray and pray') I've taken indoor photos of people with shutter speed as slow as 1/5th! And yes, I took perhaps 20-25 shots to get one keeper! Keeping the camera stable while taking a picture is a significant step in getting slow speed success. If possible, be sitting down and use a monopod. Better yet, a tripod. Lacking those options, leaning against a wall or simply kneeling having your arms on a table will stabilize your camera.

    Of course, turning on as many lights as possible will produce better results. But even more lights will not completely eliminate 'odd' images where people look gaunt, their eyes appear like empty, dark eye sockets, or bright spots on their foreheads or bald heads, etc. Low light photography is essentially a gamble in whether the results will be pleasing. The solution is take lots and lots of shots and find he 'gems'.
     
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  11. AlexGavillan

    AlexGavillan TPF Noob!

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    Thank you so much! Lost of great info. Basically what I was doing as well, I set ISO with what I thought was acceptable and then shot in Shutter Priority, I did go as low as 1/50th, with continues mode on so the "spray and pray" was in full force :) I managed to get a few good ones. Another thing I am noticing as well, the room had very "red" colors. Red brick fireplace, red curtains so the white balance is ALL over the place. Of course, I can/did clean this up in post, but it was pretty interesting to see that when I was looking through the photos.

    Got a tripod for Christmas so.... I have one moving forward should I need to use it. I was going for the candid shots vs the "OK everybody, picture time" but I'm sure it would have helped. Going to be picking up this (AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G) pretty soon which will help in low light, but really give me the DOF that I cant get shooing with my kit lens.
     
  12. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Photography is as much craft as it is science. You need to shoot a lot of low light in order to apply all the technical/science/techniques and find what works out best and under what conditions to use/combine all the advice given.


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    Low ISO w/Tripod

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    Careful/Selective Metering - Spot Meter

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    Fast Lens - f/2.8

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    High ISO - ISO 3200

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    High ISO - ISO 1600

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    High ISO - ISO 3200

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    Image Stabilization - SS 1/20 w/IS On (MFT sensor w/ 45mm lens)

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    Image Stabilization - SS 1/15 w/ IS On (MFT sensor and 45mm lens)

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    Waiting for the Peak of Action (timing)

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    Showing Action w/Motion Blur
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    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
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