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Thread: The best camera for nightshots

  1. #1

    The best camera for nightshots

    Dear experts
    Here a question from Denmark, I am looking for a new camera to supplement my Canon Eos 500 with a 50 mm 1,8 lens.
    I want to make the best night shots in up to A2 sizes - which camera with no noise would you recommend?

    An Eos 5D og an older EOS 1D Mk3 or maybe something completely else as Nikon D700

    Best regards Simon Riedel

  2. #2
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: The best camera for nightshots

    Nightshots of what? Moving things / static scenes?
    With what? The 50/1.8 lens you have . . . and a really steady tripod and remote release?

    WW

  3. #3

    Re: The best camera for nightshots

    Relevant questions. Nightshots in cities primarily, on a tripod, yes, and I guess I will use an 28 mm in about 7,1 /several seconds.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: The best camera for nightshots

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Riedel View Post
    Nightshots in cities primarily, on a tripod, yes
    Then, especially if you have other Canon lenses apart from the 50/1.8 sticking with Canon has advantage for you.

    Using a tripod and a longer shutter has relevance because you do not necessarily require HIGH ISO with LOW NOISE and combined with the fact that noise is more noticeable at 100% crop on screen than in the print and assuming the A4 prints will not be looked at arm’s length a 5D will manage that OK, for example shooting at ISO400 or ISO200.

    The most critical element is that the exposure be nailed accurately and to that end you might consider exploring HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging).

    There is a bloke on this forum who dabbles a bit in Landscape work and you should take notice of what he might suggest – you might start researching ahead of time some of his posts on the topic – Colin Southern is his name.

    Another other important element is the lens you choose to use and the aperture at which you use it – firstly to consider Flare, especially Veiling Flare and secondly to use the lens at its better apertures: although there are some who very successfully use a zoom lens for night-time shots you will find value for money in Prime Lenses.

    My comments are slanted towards “value for money” – the next step which would give you a better result (most likely noticeable at A2 size), would be to buy a 5DMkII (second hand).

    I shall not comment on which is the best 1Series Camera to buy for the task, although I have my opinion, which would likely very much agree with Colin’s opinion, he is by far more experienced in this genre than I and I am sure he will expand.


    WW

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    Re: The best camera for nightshots

    Hi Simon,

    Just to expand on Bill's post ...

    ... somehow!

    If you're shooting static scenes at night - on a tripod - when long-exposures aren't a problem - then as Bill mentioned, you don't need anything particularly special in the way of super-duper low-noise cameras; even a 500D should do a pretty reasonable job. The key to good night shots is getting a good exposure; night scenes are usually extreme contrast scenes where we have some very bright highlights (usually point light sources) - some very dark shadow areas (unlit) - and often a whole bunch of midtone inbetween. "Unfortunately", normal camera metering tends to try and protect highlights from blowing (to a significant degree) - thus shifting midtones down 2 or 3 stops into the low-tones, and thus moving the shadow areas right down to where all the noise is. When one tries to compensate in post-processing for the gross under-exposure they end up with a lot of noise (and other problems). So the "trick" is to get the exposure correct, right from the start.

    When I say "correct" though, I need to be careful -- an automatic exposure that protects the bright highlights is probably "technically correct", but it's far from ideal; because night scenes have such an extreme range of contrast, the scene is effectively impossible to capture fully in a single exposure. One solution is as Bill suggests, to use HDRI techniques - but another (which I use most of the time) is to just accept that highlights from point light sources are going to blow and instead, concentrate on getting the midtones correctly exposed (as this is where the vast majority of the image data will lie). To accomplish this I usually shoot manual-exposure, or (if the exposure is less then 30 seconds), I may use an automatic exposure with an appropriate dose of exposure-compensation ("EC") dialed in. Histograms can be a big help, but my personal "rule of thumb" is that "if the exposure looks good on the camera review screen then it's probably going to be OK after I've processed it" (keeping in mind that I probably won't need to push the exposure more than 1 to 2 stops) (of which a RAW capture can withstand quite easily).

    So personally - rather than investing in a new camera or lens, I'd consider investing in a sturdy tripod (one that won't give any movement during a multi-minute exposure), and a Timer/Counter similar to the TC80-N3 (different plug required for a 500D though) so you can expose for many minutes if necessary (thus breaking the 30-second automatic exposure barrier).

    Lots of examples of low-light work in my Landscape Gallery if this helps.

  6. #6

    Re: The best camera for nightshots

    Thank you very much for your answers. Not only very professional views but I am also surprised about the high level of communication here. So I will just use the tripod, normally I use a selftimer to keep it steady. Which lenses are top of the pop when we are talking for instance 20 or 28 mm?
    And by the way, fantastic pictures on your site, Colin
    Here is some of my c...
    www.Riedels.dk
    https://picasaweb.google.com/simonri...eat=directlink

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Riedel View Post
    Which lenses are top of the pop when we are talking for instance 20 or 28 mm?
    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the kind words

    Traditionally, the workhorse of this range is the EF16-35mm F2.8L USM II, but good landscape doesn't always mean wide-angle lenses (in fact I'm using longer lengths far more these days).

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