Wedding low light

Robin Usagani

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Jun 6, 2010
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Denver, CO
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Lets say you are using 24-70mm f/2.8L or 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. I've seen a lot of people use shutter priority at around 1/30 - 1/40 with flash to freeze the subject with the flash, and let more ambient light with slower speed and set the flash to ETTL (bounced or diffused). Keep raising the ISO until you get the ambient light you want (but with my camera I wont go over 800). Do you guys/gals do that? IMO, using shutter priority is pretty much using manual at f/2.8 because the room is pretty dark. Do you do something different?
You're not talking about ceremony, right? You never use flash in ceremony.. :p

I usually have my shutter speed up higher than that (around 1/180) and ISO 1600. This is with my flash on ETTL, bounced and diffused. I think that with my shutter speed any lower, I'd be missing key shots in the long haul. To each their own! :)
why no flash during ceremony? Not all places disallow it.
why no flash during ceremony? Not all places disallow it.

I've always been told and taught that it was unacceptable and distracting from the ceremony itself. I suppose it does matter on the church/ceremony in the circumstance, but it's always been an etiquette issue. Sometimes they'll allow you to use flash for the bride/wedding party walking down the isle/exiting ceremony, but it's all circumstancial..
Gotcha.. makes sense. So what do you do? Take the f/1.4 out? Or keep shooting with f/2.8 with super high ISO?
ISO 1600 and keep that 2.8 wide open! Hope my advice helped a little :)
ISO 1600 with my 500D .. yikes... let my LR3 denoising do the work! :p
F/2.8 should allow enough ambient light in to use faster shutter speeds than 1/30. If not raise your ISO like you said.

Shot in manual mode. Aperture set to f/2.8 or whatever is necessary and meter the scene adjusting the ss for proper exposure.
Is noise ninja that much better? LR3 denoising is pretty nice I think? What do others think?
I honestly don't know which is better, especially with LR3. I'm pretty sure you can DL a trial of noise ninja. Might be worth testing to see which works best for you. If LR3 works well enough, no sense dropping $50.
No i would use manual, in shutter priority you have no control over your DOF

I am afraid to change my aperture smaller than f/2.8 and depend too much on my flash. But I guess you are right. I was going to keep my aperture wide open at the church.
Not sure about Canon but on my Nikon for ceremony shots I use 70-200 on 2.8 on Aperture. Set as auto ISO so i dont have to worry and set minimum shutter at 1/40 (i have a steady hand)- only if really dark does the auto iso ever hit 3200+. That said shots around this level of ISO are still more than acceptable if sharp. I never ever use flash during ceremony - even if allowed - I really like ambient light.

Your enquiries on ambient light/drag shutter speed/low flash/increase ISO tend to come more into play for first dances for me. I also use the good old 50mm 1.4 high iso to capture all the lovely light.

Odd point - I get just as much interest about how much noise my shoes make as if im going to use flash or not!! I invested in some black rubber plimsole so I could get around the place quitely :)
I am no pro especially in regards to weddings, but have shot one before. Here is my advice

I would not use flash during the ceremony if it can be avoided. I also would not go wider than f/2.8 unless its during the formal portraits. You will kick yourself afterwards when you look at the shots on a big screen and realize most of the shot is OOF. I don't think that shutter speed should be an issue during a typical ceremony. I would shoot in Av mode at 2.8 if needed, and then up the ISO to compensate accordingly ( I wouldn't go too terrible slow though, but people typically walk the aisle slowly and then everyone is pretty much standing in place the whole time. Speed becomes a bigger problem during receptions when people are dancing and moving about much more. During this time, I would use Tv mode to get a decent shutter speed along with ISO. Then let the camera choose the Aperture. (it will most likely choose 2.8, just make sure if you do this, that you don't use the 50mm 1.4 or it will probably default to wide open.
If you don't know already, get comfortable with the exposure comp. That way everytime you enter a new area or room with this method, you can snap off a quick test shot, glance at the histogram and maybe over or under expose slightly for that room. ( if there are candles and other wierd lighting, it may throw off the automatic metering depending on your mode, so you don't want to just ASSUME the camera is getting it right.

As for the flash, since I assume it will be on camera, your idea seems decent if it will in fact freeze people dancing. Afterall, letting in ambient light will help avoid that "Flash" look.

Thats just my 2 cents. Take it for what its worth.

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