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Old 02-16-2009, 01:57 PM   #166
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zackiedawg-
Thank you sooo much for the help. I am having fun with the camera (and I reeeally need to take a basic photography class) but I just couldn't understand what the different functions were supposed to to, so I didn't know what I should do .

I have been trying to figure out how to take night and low light pics, but they are all turning out blurry or too dark when I use the night setting. Is there something I am missing? Should I be changing the shutter speed? And I didn't know anything about changing the ISO, so should I be doing something with that as well?

Thanks for the input!
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:07 PM   #167
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zackiedawg-
Thank you sooo much for the help. I am having fun with the camera (and I reeeally need to take a basic photography class) but I just couldn't understand what the different functions were supposed to to, so I didn't know what I should do .

I have been trying to figure out how to take night and low light pics, but they are all turning out blurry or too dark when I use the night setting. Is there something I am missing? Should I be changing the shutter speed? And I didn't know anything about changing the ISO, so should I be doing something with that as well?

Thanks for the input!
Cassandra

I want to know the answer to this question. I was under the impression that they end up a bit blurry because the shutter is open longer and the slightest hand movement can cause that. Is that why you would want to use a tripod? But I am still learning how to use my camera and I have had it for almost nine months now! Any assistance would be really helpful!
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Old 02-16-2009, 02:58 PM   #168
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I have been trying to figure out how to take night and low light pics, but they are all turning out blurry or too dark when I use the night setting. Is there something I am missing? Should I be changing the shutter speed? And I didn't know anything about changing the ISO, so should I be doing something with that as well?
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I want to know the answer to this question. I was under the impression that they end up a bit blurry because the shutter is open longer and the slightest hand movement can cause that. Is that why you would want to use a tripod? But I am still learning how to use my camera and I have had it for almost nine months now! Any assistance would be really helpful!
Pixiedust - you've got the right idea.

A basic breakdown of the three primary controls of a camera (any camera) are this:

1. Shutter speed - the faster the shutter, the less time it's staying open, therefore the less light it's actually letting through to the sensor. Therefore, you need lots of light coming through to be able to use a fast shutter speed. The slower the shutter speed, the more light the sensor can absorb in a lower light scene, but the flipside of that is that if anything is in motion at all, be it the camera, the subject, a tree branch in the background, etc...the longer shutter is going to 'see' it throughout the movement. A 3 second shutter will be 'seeing' the scene for 3 whole seconds without closing it's eye...so if something moves through that 3 seconds, the sensor is going to pick it up everywhere it goes, like a long streaky blur. So you either have to use fast shutter but need lots of light, or a slow shutter and need complete stillness.

2. Aperture - this is like the iris of your eye - a bigger aperture opening (denoted rather confusingly as a SMALLER F-stop number) lets in much more light than a smaller aperture opening (bigger F-stop number). So in bright daylight scenes, you tend to want much smaller apertures to get rid of all that excess light not needed. In a low light situation, you want a bigger aperture to let in as much light as you can.

3. ISO - In film days, the film speed denoted the sensitivity of the film to light. More sensitive film could be used in lower light situations to get the shot you needed at a faster shutter speed to avoid blur, even when the light was low. The downside was that there tended to be alot more noise, or graininess, in the shot. Digital ISO works much the same way - it basically turns up the gain on the sensor so it is much more sensitive to even the smallest amount of light - the higher the ISO, the more sensitive it becomes. At the same time, the more sensitive the sensor becomes to noise and graininess. P&S cameras often can't shoot much above ISO400 as they get so noisy or grainy as to obscure the subject. Most cameras have some type of built-in noise reduction that will get rid of alot of this noise, but the downside is that while it wipes away the noise, it also wipes away alot of the detail.

There are three primary types of night shots.

1. Flash. That's the most obvious - just use a flash to light up whatever scene you're taking. Problem is, that tends to only be useful for close objects or portraits, unless you have a heck of a powerful flash.

2. Handheld high ISO. This type of night photography is fairly straightforward - when you want to take snapshots, handheld, at night, just like you do during the day, you need a whole lot of light coming through the lens for the sensor to pick up. Unfortunately at night, there usually isn't a whole lot of light, unless you're standing in front of a very well lit subject (like a Vegas hotel sign). So you have to turn up the ISO so your sensor can perform at normal shutter speeds even in the dark. It helps to have a very wide aperture lens too - those lenses marked with F1.4 or F1.8 or so are best, because they can let in so much light. The downside to wide open apertures is that they tend to significantly shrink your 'depth of field', or how wide the area is that the camera is in focus. At F1.4 and 50mm, you can focus on the face of someone 15 feet away, and have everything out of focus just 6 inches in front of and 6 inches behind that face.

3. Tripod-mounted slow shutter. This type of night photography is usually the type folks refer to. It is the kind shot usually with the lower ISO, to avoid noise, apertures somewhere in the middle, so as not to be too shallow on the depth of field, and a long shutter speed, usually in the seconds, to pull in all the light needed for a shot. This is most effective for landscape shots, buildings, etc., since they do not move while taking that long shutter. The tripod (or a flat, level surface) is needed to avoid even the tiniest vibrations to the camera when pressing the button, which will introduce blur in the shot. For these, it's usually best to turn the flash OFF, which can cause the camera to mis-meter the scene if you're in a nightshot more or program/auto mode. Once you get the hang of it, A or M mode is usually best for these shots.

Using ISO or not is based on the situation. Sometimes, you may need it...if you take a shot in a night scene mode that still comes out too dark, then raising the ISO may allow you to brighten it up enough to get the shot. Or, leaving the ISO alone, and manually choosing a longer shutter speed (requiring the camera to be on tripod or level surface), can also get you the shot you need.

Hope that helps!
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Old 02-16-2009, 03:13 PM   #169
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Thank you for all the great advice! What do you do about a low light situation with high speed tumbling? My DD9 can do a round off back handspring, back tuck. The light inside the gym is poor. I put it on action mode and bumped up the ISO a little, but I still had some blurring of the feet. Is there a way to totally get a crisp shot? Thanks!
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Old 02-16-2009, 03:46 PM   #170
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That's a pretty tough call, even for the best pro cameras in the world! Folks underestimate how hard indoor sports can be, unless the lighting is fantastic.

First off, you may have to really crank up the ISO. Don't be too afraid of going to 800, or even ISO1600 - sure, it'll have some noise or graininess...but you'll get the shot without the blur.

A funny thing about noise at high ISO...it mostly occurs when a shot is underexposed. Strangely, you can take a shot at ISO400 which is underexposed (you didn't get enough light at ISO400, and therefore the scene ended up darker), and get a large amount of noise and grain - especially if you try to fix it in post-processing...then take the same shot at ISO1600 (which you'd think would be noisy as anything), and actually have LESS noise, because you were now properly exposing the shot (the extra two stops of sensitivity allowed the sensor to get the perfect amount of light for the shot).

So if ISO1600 gets you a properly metered and lit shot, you can use it and get less noise and still very usable shots for prints.

An example...

Here's a shot with my A300 taken at ISO1600 that was very underexposed:



I was using a Minolta 50mm F1.7 lens, at F1.7 and got a 1/13 shutter speed in Aperture priority. I haven't done any processing to this shot. See how noisy and grainy it is? This was taken after midnight - pure dark night, handheld...just as an example of a very very underexposed shot and how it produces alot of noise.

Now...same lens, same settings - Aperture priority at F1.7, ISO1600, this time with a 1/40 shutter speed because there was alot more light for the sensor to absorb:



Again, no processing to the shot. See right away how much less noise and grain there is in the shot, and how much cleaner and crisper detail you can see in the cat? Even though I'm shooting ISO1600, I still get a nice, usable result because I got the exposure right. ISO800 might have in this case actually been noisier than ISO1600, because it would become an underexposed shot. Make sense?

Now, for your indoor shots, you'd be better getting a good, sensitive lens. Something that can shoot at the distance you need at the gym but with the widest open aperture you can get. The downside is that this means $$$! A 75-300 lens can go for under $200 for a basic F3.5-5.3 range. A 70-300 F2.8 can go for well over $1,000. Used lenses might be a good alternative. In fact, that lens I used in the example above was only $65 - you can still get them for a little over $100. The downside is that there isn't much zoom - 50mm, times your 1.5x crop factor, = 75mm. But if you're sitting close, this lens is cheap and lets in lots of light.

But raising the ISO to at least 800 should get you the shots without the blur, and still be high enough quality to print medium sized (8x10) to great result!
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:17 AM   #171
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polkadotminnie View Post
Thank you for all the great advice! What do you do about a low light situation with high speed tumbling? My DD9 can do a round off back handspring, back tuck. The light inside the gym is poor. I put it on action mode and bumped up the ISO a little, but I still had some blurring of the feet. Is there a way to totally get a crisp shot? Thanks!
As zackiedawg mentioned getting good indoor sports photos is tough. A few weeks ago I went to my nieces gymnastics event. For a gym the lighting was decent enough. I had my ISO set to 1600 and used a couple of different lenses so I had somes shots with a 3.5 aperture and some with a 2.8. I was typically getting shutter speeds of 1/125 seconds which wasn't quite enough to stop the foot and hand movements on the tumbling runs.

Tumbling runs are also tough because if you are to the side you also need to do some panning or else pick the spot where the action is that you wish to capture and time your shots. Getting good shots is going to take proper settings on the camera and practise. A fast lens will also help a lot but as was mentioned can be expensive. If you can stand a little closer to the action the Minolta 50mm 1.7 would be a good inexpensive option.

My best recommendations are to shoot multiple shots during the tumbling run and try to get a shutter speed faster than 1/125. To get the shutter speed you will probably need an ISO of at least 800 and probably 1600 which will produce more noise in the picture but probably won't be too visable in smaller prints. Plan on taking lots of shots and and deleting a lot to get a few that you really like.

I have a couple examples of shots with slightly different shutter speeds. The pics were taken with different lenses and different focal lengths and apertures. All were at ISO 1600 and all were cropped from the originals since I was sitting in the bleachers to take the shots. The first three were her warm up run and shot with 3.5 aperture and 1/90 seconds shutter speed. Focal length was 45mm.






These four were 2.8 aperture which allowed a slightly faster shutter speed of 1/125 seconds. Focal length was 75mm.






You can see in comparing the pictures that the slightly faster shutter speed did better in stopping the hand/foot motion though it still did not totally freeze it. Faster would have been even better. I do not completely recall but I think I shot most of these in aperature priority mode b/c I had set my ISO as high as I wanted to go and was more concerned about underexposing and getting more noise rather than completely stopping action. I also was panning on these shots which adds movement unless you completely nail the motion.

If I were able to shoot again I would go for more stopping of action and would shoot manual with a faster lens and keep the ISO 1600 to get a faster shutter speed in this particular gym's lighting. Uneven bars and balance beam are easier to shoot if your daughter is going to do those!
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Old 02-17-2009, 12:21 PM   #172
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zackiedawg-
Thanks so much for your help!

Just to make sure I am reading this right:

1- Fireworks - Put camera on a flat surface. Using A mode, set to f5.6 or f8 and set ISO to 100. Using S mode, set shutter to 3-5 seconds, set ISO to 100 and trun off long exposure noise reduction (which I did figure out how to do ). ** Question: Should I turn off the noise reduction if I am in A mode as well?

2- Night shots - Turn up the ISO to 800-1600 and the aperture to a lower setting like f1.4 - f1.8. OR Use low ISO with mid arperture and a long shutter speed (but really should only be used with tripod since the slightest movement will blur the picture). ** Question: Do you recomend using the night mode on the camera for this and just changing the settings, or using A or S mode?

Thanks again for all your help!

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Old 02-17-2009, 12:30 PM   #173
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You've got the idea, Cassandra. Of course, the fireworks settings are flexible - that should just be a good rule-of-thumb area to start from. if you end up seeing your shots have too much fireworks, then just change the shutter and aperture as needed (less fireworks = shorter shutter, more open aperture, more fireworks = longer shutter, more closed aperture). Turning off the long exposure noise reduction in any of the modes you use when taking fireworks at a low ISO is recommendable...so you can keep shooting without delay between exposures.

As for night shots - you've got the basic idea - it's always going to be one or the other - handheld means high ISO and open apertures (low F-stop), tripod mounted gives you the luxury of longer shutter speeds and lower ISOs for clean results.

As for Night mode...I'd really only recommend that to someone who is still scared of A, S, or M mode, to help wean them off of auto. If you're willing to learn and want to get better, I'd strongly recommend starting with A and S mode, until you start to see the relationship between the aperture and shutter settings the camera chooses in response to your setting...then as you get better, you'll start to develop an instinct for the amount of shutter needed at any given aperture to get the scene right, and can start using M mode.

Oh, and don't forget about that long exposure noise reduction - though you may not want it for fireworks, there may be some types of shots where you may want it - so always remember to go back and turn it on or turn it off as needed, now that you know how to find it!
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:19 PM   #174
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I can't thank you enough for all your advice (and patience ). I am going to bring my camera manual with me so I don't forget how to change all my settings, but my biggest plan is to write down what I wrote in my last post in case I confuse myself when I get there . You are the best and I will be sure to include my pics when I get back and give the credit to you for how well they turn out . Thank you so much!
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Old 02-20-2009, 02:35 PM   #175
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Here are some photos I took with my new A300.
Please let me know what you think.






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Old 02-20-2009, 09:01 PM   #176
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It has been a busy week so I am finally having a chance to get back on these boards. I would like to thank everyone for the advice on the tumbling shots. I will take my camera back to the gym and keep shooting. Unfortunately, she only tumbles for cheer so no balance beam or bars. The good news is she has been pulled to be a flier so I can get some pictures of her on top of the stunts. Thanks Again.
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Old 02-20-2009, 09:50 PM   #177
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These were taken with my new alpha 300. Keep in mind that I just moved up from a point and shoot.




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Old 02-20-2009, 09:56 PM   #178
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Old 02-21-2009, 12:26 AM   #179
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Nice stuff, RivaLJ...Looking good! The A300 does beautiful skies and blues, and I always enjoy wide angle stuff like looking up at architecture.

Also nice work Polkadotminnie...especially for someone just taking their first shots with a DSLR from a P&S. You'll get better and better as you learn how much less limitations you have with the DSLR...just keep shooting!
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Old 02-26-2009, 11:53 AM   #180
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Polkadotminnie - Awesome pictures, doesn't look like you just stepped up at all, and the Pyrenees puppy with the rare wolf grey ears is adorable.
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