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Author Topic: Low Light options  (Read 2799 times)

lexar

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Low Light options
« on: August 20, 2012, 10:08:10 PM »
I have a canon t2i and a canon 15-85, 50 f1.8, 55-250 lenses  (no tripod)

What the best option to compliment my lenses and give me better low light capability.
I will be at a cousins indoor wedding and want to be able to take some nice pictures, also when traveling in museums, restaurants, etc..  however I find that the 50mm is to long for those occasions.

I was thinking one of the following 3 options:
1. buy a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 nonVC and use built in flash if needed.
2. use existing 15-85 and buy a Sigma 30mm f1.4
3. use existing 15-85 and buy 430ex flash

each option costs ~$300-$400

Which option will give me the best results and are the best bang for the buck???
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 10:13:12 PM by lexar »

mdm041

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 10:20:47 PM »
40mm F2.8?  I've done some shots in museums and even at 2.8 I sometimes need 3200ISO to get a good shot.   There is a canon 28mm F1.8 that might do you well in your price range.
5D III, 7D, 16-35 F2.8L, 24-70 F2.8L, 50 F1.4
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AmbientLight

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2012, 08:26:23 AM »
I believe your best option is to purchase the flash. You can use it for a lot of applications. I don't think it is such a good idea to purchase the mentioned lenses, because their image quality is not exactly a step up from your 15-85 and you would have multiple lenses for the same focal lengths without so many distinguishing features making such a purchase a good choice. Some people may argue against this, but I believe you will fare better with a good flash such as the 430ex. You then have more options later on to purchase additional lenses irrespective of your current requirements.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 08:34:10 AM by AmbientLight »

Menace

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 08:43:49 AM »
Owning a flash is a good investment; you'll need to practice various techniques such as bounce etc to get the best results. Off camera flash will add extra wow factor to your photographs.

A word of caution though, some museums / wedding venues / churches may not allow flash photography - check before hand.

Have fun and enjoy

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 09:04:53 AM »
For your camera body, the flash would be the easier option.  I'd be wary of buying fast lenses for bodies without AFMA.

mikemilton

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2012, 09:21:28 AM »
Allowed or not, flashes at a wedding (at least the ceremony) are not really a thing that most welcome.

I'd rent a fast, short telephoto prime (like the 135 or the 200) for the day. If you have the chance, make it 2 days and practice portraiture on some willing victim as the shallow DOF needs a bit of practice.

The lenses you have will be just fine for jumping in on the photographer's setups (do ask) and you can probably get a bit of fill from the on-camera flash if needed.

Dylan777

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 10:15:35 AM »
I think rent/buy 580EX II or 600EX flash might be a better tool in this case. Tripod will help, but kinda hard to control the motion blur - shutter speed will be too slow.
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lexar

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2012, 09:01:50 AM »
Thanks for all the replies!

I just came back from a trip to Epcot and realize that a flash is not really feasible for travel.
I would not be able to put the camera in and out of my bag without having to take the flash on and off all the time.  This would make it very slow and difficult and I know I would not even bother with the flash after a while!
Also I was looking around at other people with SLR's and not one of them had a flash (except the Disney photographers, which are stationary)

I also realize that the 15-85 range is amazing for travel!!  I brought my 55-250 and only put it on once, for a couple of shots, just because I had it.. but really could of lived without it.  Good thing its very light, but next time I would rather bring a more useful lens unless I know I am going to be shooting telephoto.

So I realize I really need some low light capability.  At night and on the rides it was a challenge with the 15-85.  Most of the time you could not use a flash and I was at 3200 ISO (I even went to 6400 a couple of times)
Looking back most of my indoor shots were a lot of different focal ranges (many at the wide end) and I doubt the Sigma 30mm would of been usable since you do not always have a choice to move around indoors.

My question is, if I had the 17-50 Tamron f2.8 nonVC for indoor use how much would it of improved my ISO or pictures?

Here are some examples:
1.  Some of the really dark pictures from the rides I was at f3.5 at 3200 ISO and they were still not great.  What the f2.8 of been able to capture the shot?
2.  If I had indoor pictures at 3200 ISO from f4 to f5 then with the f2.8 what ISO would I get and would I be able to avoid using a flash?



Stephen Melvin

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2012, 09:50:43 AM »

So I realize I really need some low light capability.  At night and on the rides it was a challenge with the 15-85.  Most of the time you could not use a flash and I was at 3200 ISO (I even went to 6400 a couple of times)
Looking back most of my indoor shots were a lot of different focal ranges (many at the wide end) and I doubt the Sigma 30mm would of been usable since you do not always have a choice to move around indoors.

Though it is the one lens that would have seriously improved your low light capability, at about 2 1/3 stops wider.

My question is, if I had the 17-50 Tamron f2.8 nonVC for indoor use how much would it of improved my ISO or pictures?

You seem to be confusing aperture with ISO sensitivity. One can affect what you need to do with the other, but they are independent variables.

In any case, f/2.8 is only 2/3 of a stop brighter than f/3.5, which is what you have at the wide end. It won't affect your wide photos much, though at 50mm, it will give you a bit more capability.

The Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM would give you more flexibility, with its excellent IS implementation, though at twice the price.

Here are some examples:
1.  Some of the really dark pictures from the rides I was at f3.5 at 3200 ISO and they were still not great.  What the f2.8 of been able to capture the shot?
2.  If I had indoor pictures at 3200 ISO from f4 to f5 then with the f2.8 what ISO would I get and would I be able to avoid using a flash?

1. As I said above, f/2.8 isn't really that much brighter than f/3.5. You could crank up the ISO to 6400 just as easily.

2. f/2.8 is one stop brighter than f/4, so you could go from 3200 to 1600.

Don't be afraid to raise the ISO. The image quality of modern dSLR's at high ISO's is quite remarkable. I've printed ISO 1600 photos from my old 40D at 24 x 36 inches and they look great. Just be sure to be shooting in RAW.

If you really want improved low light capabilities, your best choices are that Sigma or a 430EX. For the wedding, I'd suggest the flash. Don't forget to spend some time learning how to use it correctly, which means bouncing it most of the time.

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2012, 09:54:52 AM »
Thanks for all the replies!

I just came back from a trip to Epcot and realize that a flash is not really feasible for travel.
I would not be able to put the camera in and out of my bag without having to take the flash on and off all the time.  This would make it very slow and difficult and I know I would not even bother with the flash after a while!
Also I was looking around at other people with SLR's and not one of them had a flash (except the Disney photographers, which are stationary)

I also realize that the 15-85 range is amazing for travel!!  I brought my 55-250 and only put it on once, for a couple of shots, just because I had it.. but really could of lived without it.  Good thing its very light, but next time I would rather bring a more useful lens unless I know I am going to be shooting telephoto.

So I realize I really need some low light capability.  At night and on the rides it was a challenge with the 15-85.  Most of the time you could not use a flash and I was at 3200 ISO (I even went to 6400 a couple of times)
Looking back most of my indoor shots were a lot of different focal ranges (many at the wide end) and I doubt the Sigma 30mm would of been usable since you do not always have a choice to move around indoors.

My question is, if I had the 17-50 Tamron f2.8 nonVC for indoor use how much would it of improved my ISO or pictures?

Here are some examples:
1.  Some of the really dark pictures from the rides I was at f3.5 at 3200 ISO and they were still not great.  What the f2.8 of been able to capture the shot?
2.  If I had indoor pictures at 3200 ISO from f4 to f5 then with the f2.8 what ISO would I get and would I be able to avoid using a flash?

f/2.8 would not be sufficient for what you want to do.  f/1.4 might, but then you'll be focusing on 1 person wide open for rides, which is usually good enough.  f/4 is one stop from f/2.8, so you would be at ISO 1600 at f/2.8 instead of ISO 3200.  f/1.4 would get you down to ISO 400 with a thinner DOF.

Fast primes give you larger apertures but you don't get focal length flexibility.  I think you should look at the Sigma 30 f/1.4.  It'll work better in low light situations that you found at EPCOT.  The flash would still be a better option for wedding situations, where the rooms are dim and you're often taking group shots.  Ideally, you would like to get both a flash and the Sigma 30 to cover your bases.

preppyak

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2012, 09:59:53 AM »
My question is, if I had the 17-50 Tamron f2.8 nonVC for indoor use how much would it of improved my ISO or pictures?

Here are some examples:
1.  Some of the really dark pictures from the rides I was at f3.5 at 3200 ISO and they were still not great.  What the f2.8 of been able to capture the shot?
2.  If I had indoor pictures at 3200 ISO from f4 to f5 then with the f2.8 what ISO would I get and would I be able to avoid using a flash?
Well, the difference between f/2,8 and f/4 is one stop. So, if you're shooting 3200 ISO and f/3.5 and f/4, then you'd be shooting at ISO1600 with the Tamron. Maybe ISO800 on shots you took at f/5.6.

Some things to consider; if you are taking more posed shots (not kids running around, etc) then IS would allow you to lower your shutter speed by 3 stops or so. But, if its for moving subjects, thats not help. Likewise, an f/1.4 lens would represent a 3 stop improvement over your current lens, and f/1.8 is a little more than 2. Those are big enough differences that you'll either get faster shutter speeds (less blurry shots) or be able to shoot lower ISO.

If you like your 15-85's range, then a prime or two in that range is probably your answer. The 50mm f/1.8 is cheap, the f/1.4 version would be even better. As someone mentioned, the 28mm f/1,8 would be good for shots that are a little wider, and the 85mm f/1,8 would be good for closer in shots. I'd see what focal length you use the most and grab that first.

As for using them on a body that doesn't AFMA, then you want to either be able to test it out before hand or buy it from somewhere that allows easy returns. Or, send it in to Canon to calibrate.

preppyak

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2012, 10:02:13 AM »
The flash would still be a better option for wedding situations, where the rooms are dim and you're often taking group shots.  Ideally, you would like to get both a flash and the Sigma 30 to cover your bases.
For the pro hired to take the pictures, yes. For a guest just taking snapshots; flash is a good way to piss off people. I agree that there are situations where a flash will be nice (birthday parties, events, etc); but there's also plenty of times where its not socially acceptable; or worse, where your flash will actually ruin other's photos.


sdsr

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Re: Low Light options
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2012, 11:22:12 AM »
By all means get a flash, but as others have said you shouldn't expect to be able to use it in public much, so it won't really solve your specific problems - museums and popular churches, for instance, won't allow flash photography at all (nor tripods, for that matter); they irritate other people; and the results seldom look good anyway (there likely won't be a suitable surface to bounce it off) except in very controlled situations such as you don't describe.

I've not tried the Sigma, but I do own the Canon 28mm f/1.8 which tends to get similar reviews.  I've not tried it on my Rebel, but the photos I took with it inside Notre Dame Cathedral (which is pretty dark) on my 5DII at f/1.8 are horribly soft around the edges (at least those will be missing on a Rebel) and not that impressive elsewhere; I got much better results with the 24-105 L and 70-200 f/4 IS L at f/4 (their IS helps, of course).  The 85mm f/1.8 produced far superior photos than the 28mm, but based on what you've said that may not be wide enough; if it is, I would certainly recommend that.  I like the 20mm f/2.8, but that's not brighter enough than what you already have to make a significant difference. 

As for the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, I owned one of these when I owned a Pentax K-5, and when it focused properly (a chronic problem with Tamrons, evidently) the results were excellent - but the K-5 has built-in IS, which helps in low light; I've not tried using it without IS.  Reviews indicated that the IS version of the Tamron (they call it VR) isn't as good optically as the non-IS version.  I suspect that the Canon 17-55 f/2.8 would be better than either - if nothing else, it will focus better and has IS - but like the Tamron, at the wide end the difference in aperture compared to what you already have will have little practical effect.

You complain about the quality of low light photos taken from rides.  Assuming the ride was moving, if the light was low enough there might not be any lens fast enough to cope with that! 

One last thing - as someone else mentioned, if you're not doing so, make sure you shoot RAW (or RAW + JPEG); conversion software will likely do a better job of noise reduction than the camera's built-in software (I like DxO for this).  My Rebel t3i isn't as good in low light as my 5Dii, but I took some photos inside the Madeleine (a really dark church) with the 70-200 f/4 IS L which, with the help of DxO, look remarkably good, all things considered.