View Full Version : Advice Needed: Best digital for night shots

10-28-2005, 07:35 PM
Hello and thanks in advance to all who may answer,

We are photo amatuers who are having a very difficult time with night shots (i.e. Spectromagic parade, Spaceship Earth lit up). We aren't looking to do fireworks, yet, just general night shots.

Everything we take seems to be blurry. Are there any good, reasonably priced, cameras that can be used easily at night? We are the point and shoot type of family, so we aren't looking for too much where we need to adjust the setting ourselves.

Does such a camera exist?

10-28-2005, 08:44 PM
I am a lover of night shots. We have a sort of point and shoot (but we just replaced it with our dream camera :love: ), but we can override that and switch it to manual. We always use a tripod when shooting at night (or at least place the camera on a steady surface). We take the camera off of 'auto mode' and set it so it takes longer exposures with the shutter speed (like a full second) and let the camera set the f/stop.

I know many will say to set the ISO setting to 400 or higher, but we usually keep ours at 100 to get that nice crisp picture (higher ISO setting gets grainy, but it allows the shutter speed to not be open so long).

For SpectroMagic I probably would switch the ISO to a higher setting because they are moving. Poke around with your camera. You would be surprised what you can get them to do for you.

Not sure about replacing your current camera. What kind do you have?

I am no pro, so I hope my answer helped a little bit. Hopefully others will chime in.

10-28-2005, 09:45 PM
Muushka is right. The best thing to do to take a night shot is to use a tripod. The reason your photos are blurry is because the camera is exposing for a longer period of time (could be several seconds) and you hands shake slightly during the exposure. For reference, if you are hand holding your camera then you shouldn't use a shutter speed that's longer than about 1/60 of a second (or less depending on how much you lens is zoomed). At night there simply is not enough light to capture a scene at this quick of a shutter speed.

The solution is to use a solid surface to support your camera. You can hold your camera on top of a solid object (a wall for example) or, better yet, buy a mini tripod. They cost about $10 and generally fold up to only a few inches. Most point and shoot cameras have a night shot or a fireworks mode so that you don't have to worry too much about the settings.

Long story short, use the night shot mode on your camera, secure it to a tripod or brace it against a solid surface, and shoot away! Also, make sure to practice before you go so that you know how to use your particular camera. There's nothing worse than missing an incredible shot while you fumble with the controls.

Good luck!

10-29-2005, 12:52 AM
Here's an example that I took with a tripod. The exposure is 1 second, f/4.0, and ISO 100.



10-29-2005, 10:47 AM
That is one cracking photograph. Unfortunately with a troop of 3 in tow a tripod is a luxury reserved for photograph trips alone :rolleyes:

10-29-2005, 06:55 PM
I would never bring a full size tripod into the park. You're right, that would be a pain to tow around all day. This photo was taken with a small tabletop tripod (about three inches tall when folded up) on top of a garbage can. Not exactly glamorous but, hey, it worked.

Kelly Grannell
10-31-2005, 09:49 PM
You'll need a camera with good high ISO capability such as Nikon D50 (minimum requirement, brand new around $599 body only) or Canon Rebel Digital (refurbished with 1 year warranty, around $499 body only).


For Spectro, because it's a moving object, long exposure is not an option. So you'll need ISO 800 or preferably ISO 1600 to grab the pics with all the lights minus the motion blur.

10-31-2005, 10:47 PM
Someone PM'ed about using their CoolPix 995 for Spectro, here was my advice:
I haven't tried Spectro, but here's how I'd approach it... You can try and increase the ISO sensitivity on the 995, but I don't think the camera's got enough range to make nice crisp shots of the floats. So, in cases like this the best thing to do is "make art". Turn off the flash, use auto exposure, and pan the camera with the floats as they pass by you. This is what I do with FOTLK at AK. You get a lot of "throw-aways", but included will be some gems. Here are my "keepers" from one performance of FOTLK:

FOTLK1 (http://www.abbycandlesmi.com/June08_023sm.jpg)

FOTLK2 (http://www.abbycandlesmi.com/June08_025sm.jpg)

FOTLK3 (http://www.abbycandlesmi.com/June08_029sm.jpg)

FOTLK4 (http://www.abbycandlesmi.com/June08_032sm.jpg)

FOTLK5 (http://www.abbycandlesmi.com/June08_037sm.jpg)

FOTLK6 (http://www.abbycandlesmi.com/June08_040sm.jpg)

FOTLK7 (http://www.abbycandlesmi.com/June08_041sm.jpg)

FOTLK8 (http://www.abbycandlesmi.com/June08_045sm.jpg)

All of these were taken with my CoolPix 950.

Good luck!

GeoffBTW, the CoolPix 950 is a 2.1 MP point-n-shot.

To me, high ISO ("higher noise") "freeze" photos of Spectro don't sound too appealing.

As for the issue of tripods and the desire to get a decent shot of SE at Epcot, bag the tripod and get creative. Here's SE at Epcot, D70, 1.6 sec, handheld braced against stroller handle:


Kelly Grannell
10-31-2005, 11:08 PM
To me, high ISO ("higher noise") "freeze" photos of Spectro don't sound too appealing.

Well, you should really see ISO 1600 performance on the Rebel XT. It's virtually clean (with no filtering necessary) for prints up to 8"x12". Or better yet ISO 3200 on a Canon 5D which is actually CLEANER than any point and shoot ISO 400 (of course for the price of 5D body you can buy 10 mid-level point and shoots :) )

My point is that high ISO does not necessarily translates to higher noise. Maybe you like the blurry pics of your FOTLK pics, but as a matter of preference, those will be the pics I delete on the spot. (Don't mean to offend though, every photographer have different style. It so happens that your still doesn't jive with mine)

10-31-2005, 11:33 PM
I don't doubt that it's possible to get good high ISO images out of many dSLRs. But the OP stated that his interest level was in the P/S range. This was the constraint I was trying to work with in my response.

So, how best to utilize the features of the class of camera you have to work with? One of the prime directives in photography classes is to try and make images that are "unique" and grab the viewer's attention. Use an unusual angle, try something different, experiment, etc. WDW is one of the most heavily photographed places on Earth. Everyone's got a photo shot down Main Street of the Castle.... everyone. I try to keep that in mind when I take photos there. I don't just want to stop and take the same photos as the person to my left and right. So, when I go to FOTLK with a P/S camera and flash isn't allowed in the theater, I go make "art". You're right, it's a "style" issue. But I think the "blurry" images accent the motion and energy of the performance and present a "new look" of a show that most of us have seen. If you don't like it, that's fine... but you should still try and stretch your work beyond what makes a "good" technical image.