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Thread: Low light conditions techniques

  1. #1
    GreenTea's Avatar
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    Low light conditions techniques

    Although Jesus lived and preached in an area of extremely sunny climate here, the churches in his honor and those in honor of his saints are often dark inside and so I'm constantly faced with the dilemma: shoot with natural light (and get lots of noise from a high ISO + blurred photo due to very slow shutter speed) or solve all the lighting problems at once by turning on the flash - and thus ruin the atmosphere of the place in the photo.

    Just back from visiting 5 monasteries+churches outside Jerusalem, I'd like to ask how do you guys go about solving this problem?

    I have a semi-compact camera (Fuji Finepix) with noise already at ISO 400 and aperture range 2.3 to 8 only.

    Thank you in advance for your comments!

  2. #2

    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    The best method would be to use a tripod, since you can't use a diffuser or bounce flash.

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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    The best method would be to use a tripod, since you can't use a diffuser or bounce flash.
    Or buy a better camera?

  4. #4

    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Even with a better camera, I would still use a tripod. At times, even at 6400iso and f/1.4, the shutter speed is a mere 1/4. You have to use a tripod to get good images at this shutter speed.

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    GreenTea's Avatar
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    Even with a better camera, I would still use a tripod. At times, even at 6400iso and f/1.4, the shutter speed is a mere 1/4. You have to use a tripod to get good images at this shutter speed.
    Yes, of course. But I usually go on organized tours and can't take the time to set up a tripod.

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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Then maybe a mono-pod, or a bean bag?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Hi Greentea,

    I was just thinking along similar lines myself ... a "walking stick" with a camera on the end

    Not sure what size of buildings we are talking about, but if they are small, cosy chapels, and flash is permitted, then a different camera (with a hot shoe) plus a bounced and/or diffused flash may work OK.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 23rd July 2009 at 06:33 PM. Reason: corret typo

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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    I can't find any explanations on Google of how to use a bean bag...

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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    try searching on "bean bag camera"

    It turned up this and this

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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    rest the bean bag on something, then rest your camera on the bean bag. This provides a reasonably stable and flexible platform for your camera. Its not going to be as good as a tripod, but the portability may be usefull.

    Heres a link to show how you might use one: http://www.camerabeanbags.co.uk/products.html

    Of course for a compact, you wouldnt need anything as large as those.

    edit: pipped to the post by dave, see above also.

  11. #11
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Wonderful links, thank you!

  12. #12

    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Nice find about beanbags. Would ricebags work as well too?

  13. #13
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    I understand that the generic name is "bean" bags but what they have inside can be rice or synthetic material balls. The problem with rice, from my experience, is that after some time you may get bugs inside. And it's heavier than the synthetic material (styrofoam balls are very good).

  14. #14
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    rice sucks up moisture too and even fresh out the packet has enough moisture in to tarnish metal it's stored in contact with even when airtight. Also turns a bit horrible over time and can go moldy easy as well as weevils and other bugs causing a problem (which I've only seen in imported eastern grown rice in 10Kg sacks. Most western grown or packaged rice is treated and/or washed eg. Easy cook is presteamed under pressure (hence doesn't need to be prefluffed and doesn't stick together)).

    Drying rice by baking it in the oven at just above 100C for about 30min does the trick (I know about this from something completely different) to thoroughly dry it out without burning helps but for this purpose rice would just be too much of a pain.

    If you were to use any cheap food as a filler then tapioca balls is probably your best bet.

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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Notre Dame. Hand held. My old Nikon D40 and its 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.
    Imagine a faster lens, with VR. Imagine a better high ISO performance camera.
    U don't need to go bothering people around with a tripod. U need better equipment. And, maybe, a monopod.


    Low light conditions techniques
    Last edited by Felipe; 27th July 2009 at 03:22 AM. Reason: typo

  16. #16
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    What is VR?

    Your camera gets less noise than mine, I see. And your image is sharper, which means you must've been able to use a faster shutter speed than my Fuji allows...

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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    VR means Vibration Reduction. Canon calls it IS (image stabilization).
    I really donīt understand how it works (you can find plenty of information on the net), but it allows you to make sharp shots about 3 steps slower than you could without it, cause it optically corrects the motion blur (hand shake and stuff).

    This photo was made at 1/15 sec, ISO 720 (most certainly I was using AUTO ISO), f/3.5.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Greentea,

    Just to be completely clear on Felipe's wording; VR (or IS, or OS) only corrects camera/lens movement (e.g. due to camera shake).

    It does not stabilise subject motion blurring; e.g. due to say, people moving in shot, or, as seems to be the case above, candle flame blur due to drafts

    Nice shot though Felipe, hope you don't mind the clarification.

    Thanks,

  19. #19
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    I didn't think of using the Image Stabilization function in my camera... I'll try it next time.

  20. #20
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    Re: Low light conditions techniques

    Just to add, image stabilization also does not freezes action. Most point & shoot and semi dslrs (in betweens) will have image stabilization built in.

    Another option you might want to consider is Gorilla pods (http://joby.com/products/gorillapod/), just light weight/portable/easy to use.

    What you're experiencing is typical of most P&S and in between dslr. Just because a camera is capable of using higher ISO's doesn't necessarily mean you should. Often times you will have to search the menus in order to get the control that you seek, but not always available. Hence, why many people moves onto full size dslr.

    Recommendations for your camera:

    1) Camera already with pod attached.
    2) Leave your lens at the widest setting which will also be your widest/fastest aperture.
    3) Turn off flash and set for highest ISO while format is set to RAW.
    4) Try to find the best light source area and take a custom wb. Whether vertical or horizontal, use the pod as a stabilizer held against walls, wrapped around columns, or placed on flat surfaces.
    5) Self timer at 2 seconds.
    6) Clean up image in Ps.

    Good luck.

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