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Thread: Shooting in low light (indoors)

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    Shooting in low light (indoors)

    I find it difficult to shoot with a hand held camera indoors. This is because the exposure requires slower shutter speeds like 2 or 5 seconds. I wouldn't like to increase my ISO, due to the fear of graining and I wouldn't like to use a tripod all the time. Should I get a flash gun or what can you suggest I do?

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Quote Originally Posted by Palesa View Post
    I find it difficult to shoot with a hand held camera indoors. This is because the exposure requires slower shutter speeds like 2 or 5 seconds. I wouldn't like to increase my ISO, due to the fear of graining and I wouldn't like to use a tripod all the time. Should I get a flash gun or what can you suggest I do?
    Hi Palesa,

    A flash will help, but until you have one, I'd suggest increasing your ISO setting. Yes, high ISO settings can introduce noise - but - (a) so long as the shot isn't severely under-exposed or (b) the shot isn't excessively cropped, you won't see much noise when looking at the entire image at once (it's only apparent when you magnify the image onscreen). And, high-ISO noise does a LOT less damage to an image than camera shake and/or motion blur due to excessively low shutterspeeds.

    Here's a couple of high ISO shots I've taken recently - neither have any kind of noise reduction applied, and both were shot on a Canon 1Ds3 camera, which doesn't have particularly good high ISO performance. How obvious is the noise?

    ISO 1600:



    Shooting in low light (indoors)

    ISO 3200:

    Shooting in low light (indoors)

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    On a practical approach, I would rather increase the ISO, deal with the grain later than to lose the shots. My other suggestion would be to use a fast lens (like the Nikon 50mm f1.8D lens which is affordable if you are a Nikonian) so you can keep the shutter speed to about 1/30 to 1/25 of a second. Examine your bracing technique to further reduce camera shake. I've done a handful of low-light photography with only one tungsten lamp as my source and I can get some good shots while handholding. It's takes some practice to make it work. Flash is definitely good, but you have to make it look balanced with the light source so as not to lose the atmosphere that you want to capture. Hope this helps, Palesa.

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Hi Colin,

    Thank you for your response. The shots are great and the noise is non-existance ! I will work on high ISO settings and will post some shots to see how well it works for me. Thank you !

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Hi Jiro,

    Thank you for insight. Yes I am a Nikonian :-). I am however not familiar with the 'bracing technique'. Is 'bracing' the same as 'bracketing'?

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Bracing is the way you hold your camera. If you tuck your elbows near your body, that can help you stabilize the camera better. Hope this helps.

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Hi
    I personaly find while taking an image it feels natural and comfortable to zoom/focus etc. with my left hand on the SIDE of my lens....but....having seen professional photographers at work, they all tend to hold the lens from underneath and sort of "cup" it.
    I presume this is to do with being able to easily push or rest there elbow on the there own body (re. bracing by Jiro).
    I'm trying to change to this technique, if i'm wrong and there is another reason unbeknown to me why this technique is used, please let me know!

    Thanks
    Rick

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDude View Post
    I'm trying to change to this technique, if i'm wrong and there is another reason unbeknown to me why this technique is used, please let me know!
    Rick - You're right.

    If you think about where your elbow is as you're holding the lens in the way you describe - it's flapping away out at the side. So you're essentially adding in fulcrum that will amplify any movement through into the lens. By holding underneath, you're forcing your elbow in close to your body and compacting the area that's supporting the lens.

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Thanks Donald.
    Just a thought.....it occured to while typing about "feels natural to me" that it must feel unnatural for a lefthanded person to use a camera because the shutter button is on the right!!!!!!!!!!! (just a comment)

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    The above suggestions cover the subject well. I often use a monopod in such situations. Leaning against a wall, door frame, or such is often practical. Placing the camera on a table, shelf or such and using the remote sometimes is practical.

    I never found the right-handed shutter un-natural, because I started shooting right-handed rifles before I started photography. Using my right eye is still a problem, however.

    Pops

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Thanks Jiro, I didn't know it was called that, but I always apply that technique :-)). And do hold the lense underneath as described by Donald.

    Colin - Here are some shots I took using a high ISO setting of 1600. (Sorry can't seem to attach my pics, will try tommorrow )

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    another point to bear in mind when shooting low light is ask yourself does the subject matter stand out from the rest of the scene (or can you make them stand out ) ? quite often you need a certain amount of light to fall on the main subject otherwise they blend in with everything else,
    whilst its great to take a pic in low light its equally important to seize the moment that light interacts with your subject in the darkness,for instance you can shoot a black cat in a black room, nothing special about that, but if you shoot a black cat looking at a lit table lamp its a different ball game,cheers martyn ps here is an example of what i mean, really bad hotel stage lighting but waiting for the moment when the rep has some lighting on her,
    Shooting in low light (indoors)

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDude View Post
    Just a thought.....it occured to while typing about "feels natural to me" that it must feel unnatural for a lefthanded person to use a camera because the shutter button is on the right!!!!!!!!!!! (just a comment)
    They just need to buy a left-handed camera like Ken Rockwell uses!

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    One more thing to consider: what lens are you using and what's its maximum aperture? A "faster" lens with a larger maximum aperture (say, f/1.4-f/2.8) may help you get a faster shutter speed, although you will have a thinner DoF, and probably be focal-length restricted to a prime lens. This is why a lot of newbies end up with a low-cost f/1.8 prime in the bag, as well as an 18-55 kit lens.

    Rick, the "cupping the lens from underneath" grip is mostly so that the majority of the camera/lens combination's weight is supported on the palm of the left hand, not hanging off the fingers of your right hand. It's easier and more stable as a "platform." You can use the thumb and forefinger of your left hand in that position to turn the focus/zoom rings, with a little practice. It also means that you have a more stable grip on the camera overall and you can let go with the right hand altogether and still have a firm hold of the camera.

    If that's still not stable enough, one technique I've seen (and used) is to make a fist of your left hand, and then rest the lens/camera across the platform of your knuckles. Unlike your wrist, they won't flex or give more than 90 degrees, so it can be more stable that way. For longer lenses, you can try the machine-gun hold, where your left hand is on your right shoulder, and the lens rests on the crook of your elbow, but that's never worked too well for me. And then there's Joe McNally's grip against the shoulder. Everybody's got different ways of doing things. But yeah, having your left hand on the top or side of the lens does tend to mark you as a newbie.

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Abs right Jiro.
    In my case 35mm 1.8g Nikon is doing this job for me in low light. On my d7k upto 1600 ISO no noise visible.
    I am now considering 50mm 1.4g . Will appreciate your opinion on it.
    Amol

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Hey Kathy,
    Very interesting and useful observations.
    I think first and formost a good lense with 1.4 -2.8 ap. perhaps with VR will solve many issues.
    What's your view on Nikon 105mm 2.8 VR Micro ( in case if you are a nikonian )
    Amol

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    There are several parameters which will determine how slow a shutter speed you can use. Some of these parameters are controllable and some are not. Additionally, paying attention to your technique and not getting excited when shooting will usually pay dividends in a more stable hold...

    General health/age: I could do a better job hand holding my camera at 30 years old than I can at 70+ years. However, I do exercise and keep myself as fit as possible. But, age has deteriorated my holding ability. I was an expert marksman with both rifle and pistol in the Navy and shot pistol competitively. I know that I could not compete at the same level now as I did when I was younger. Getting old is hell but, IT SURE BEATS THE ALTERNATIVE...

    Weight and balance of camera/lens vs. photographer's strength: As in shooting a weapon, a camera with a bit more weight can be more stable than a very light unit - but, only if the photographer has the strength to hold the camera. WEIGHT: my wife is a very petite lady and she simply cannot hand-hold my 40D with 300mm f/4L IS lens attached because it is simply too heavy for her (the weight of my 300mm f/4L IS lens close to the weight of a 70-200mm f/2.8L lens). BALANCE: I could hand hold my 24-70mm f/2.8L lens better mounted on my 40D than when I tried to use it on my 350D because of balance...

    Caffeine or alcohol use and smoking: As with competitive shooting, heavy caffeine or alcohol use is not conducive to a steady hold. Often smoking will result in shortness of breath. It is difficult to hold a camera steady with your chest heaving from exertion...

    Your physical hold: Most camera manuals contain tips on how to maintain the steadiest hold. I place my left hand beneath the lens and trip the shutter with my right hand with elbows braced against my chest (except when my chest is heaving from running or climbing). I can hold an x0D camera better than I could my XT because the camera fits my hand better. The XT was just too small. This should probably not need to be said but, HOLD YOUR CAMERA USING BOTH HANDS!!!

    Pressing the shutter release: When you shoot a weapon, you need to squeeze the trigger, not jerk. When shooting a camera, you need to press the shutter release not punch down with your index finger. Often when using a shutter speed slower than the minimum the recommended; shooting in burst mode and cranking off three shots will provide a sharper image on shot number two since the motion of pressing the shutter button impacts that shot least...

    Taking advantage of available rests: Bracing yourself against walls or resting on tables or fences etc. Will often allow you to shoot at a slower speed...

    My personal technique: I had some eye surgery which resulted in a temporary vision deterioration in my left eye. I needed to shoot using my right eye and found out that I cannot hold the camera as steady when sighting with the right eye as I can with the left eye. I expect that this is due mostly from habit since I am left eyed. However, now that I have my full vision back in that eye, I always sight with my left eye...

    Don't use your darned live view: Any photographer can hold a camera more securely when viewing using an eye level viewfinder than when having the camera extended away from his or her face and looking through the LCD. This is doubly true for folks who use P&S cameras held by one hand, at arms length...

    Finally... use a monopod when possible: Proper use of a monopod will allow me to shoot at a far lower speed than if I try to hand hold. I use an Arca Compatible quick release on my monopod to take advantage of the stability of my RRS L-bracket in the vertical or portrait position. I can release the camera from the pod with a twist of the screw and replace the monopod on my belt carrier...

    String Pod: Attaching a string to an eye bolt screwed into your tripod socket and stepping on the other end of the string may help some photographers accomplish a more stable hold. However, I don't use this technique but, it might be worth trying...

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Quote Originally Posted by amolsan View Post
    What's your view on Nikon 105mm 2.8 VR Micro ( in case if you are a nikonian )
    Sadly, I am a Canonite, but my instinct would be to say it's absolutely terrific if you need a macro lens. But if you're planning on using it for portrait double-duty, just make sure it gives you enough background blurring and isn't too sharp for your personal tastes. Macro lenses tend to be super-sharp (they're nearly always the sharpest lenses in any lineup) and the ability to clearly delineate every pore and nose hair isn't necessarily something everyone wants in a portrait lens.

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    I agree that razor sharp imagery is not particularly flattering - especially for women.

    On the other hand, a sharp image can be toned down in Photoshop or with Portrait Professional so that every pore doesn't show. I like my 90mm f/2.8 Tamron Macro for portraiture but will most often use my 70-200mm f/4L IS because of the focal length flexibility. Both of these are very sharp lenses but, can produce excellent portraits...

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    Re: Shooting in low light (indoors)

    Quote Originally Posted by inkista View Post
    Sadly, I am a Canonite
    Oh Kathy -- be PROUD to be a Canonite!

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