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Author Topic: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85  (Read 4764 times)

sootzzs

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Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« on: September 11, 2012, 04:43:30 PM »
Hi.

I am a bit baffled here. I own 60D with 50 1.8II and recently purchased EF-S 15-85. Also just got the Yongnuo 468II flash (no experience with it yet). Shooting at low light (tungsten, no flash) I've noticed that to get reasonable IQ I had to stop the 50mm to F/2 or even 2.8; While my 15-85 is 3.5-5.6 (3.5 only at 15mm if I remember right), it has an image stabilization which supposed to give me about three full stops more. So, while shooting at maximum F/5.6 with 15-85 IS on, it equals to F/2 if I use my 50mm (right?) and even faster with larger F-stops. Well...why do I need my 50 1.8 then when I can get the same images (or better) and use a zoom??? Ain't it supposed to be a low light lens?? Do I miss something here?

I ask this because I have to shoot low light event this Saturday (Flamenco dance). It will be a small event in a small, packed, dimly lit room. The stage will probably have some lighting from above but I doubt it will be enough. I will be close (very) to the stage and probably won't be able to use my newly purchased flash. I have a nice ball-head tripod (Sirui) but from my few recent experiences, it doesn't help a lot when the person you trying to shoot moving around. Having the (not so stellar) tools I have, how could I maximize the good/bad picture ratio (ISO, lens, tripod: yes or no)? Which lens is better to use with the flash (if I'd have the possibility)?   

Sorry for the multiple questions. I've tried to shoot few low light events recently for my friends and was really disappointed with my results. This one is really important for me, don't want to @#@# it up again :).

As always, thank you for your time and advice!
 

 

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Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« on: September 11, 2012, 04:43:30 PM »

shadowsatnight

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2012, 05:29:26 PM »
Hi,

I should start by mentioning that I'm pretty new to photography, so don't take my opinions too seriously - there are people on here who're _way_ more experienced.  However, most of the shooting i do is in night clubs, a chunk with the two lenses that you're considering and a 7D, so hopefully i can say something useful :-)

The reason that the 50 is faster is that, while IS is great for things that don't move, it doesn't stop motion like a fast shutter or a flash will.  If you're shooting people who're dancing, the shutter speeds you'll need to get decent images will probably mean it makes little difference.  However, by the sounds of things, you're not going to have enough room to get anything other than pretty close up shots with the 50mm, so you may not be able to use it.

In your circumstances, I'd definitely ask if using the flash is ok, at least for a few shots.  It seems to offer the best chance of getting at least some good shots, so it would be a shame not to at least ask the question.

For shots that you can't use the flash for, i'd either try the 15-85 at its wide end (i think the f/3.5 goes up to 18mm or so from memory, so i'd just stick at 15) and see what shutter speeds you can get away with.  If that doesn't work, you may have to go for the 50 and take tight shots, or possibly try from a bit further back and holding your camera over people's heads, shooting downwards.  You may find that you have trouble getting focus though, at f/1.8 you'll have a pretty narrow depth of field.  In either of those circumstances, i'd suggest starting at ISO 800 and seeing how you do.  I tend to end up shooting at 1600 in clubs, as i'm not particularly happy with the noise past there, but need faster shutter speeds than 800 will allow, but the 800 does produce nicer images if you can manage it.

Have you considered hiring a lens for the event?  Something like the 24 f/1.4 would probably make your life easier.

Good Luck :-)
-Evie

regdab

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2012, 05:33:00 PM »
IS stabilizes your shakey camera due to your hands. It doesn't actually let in any more light on its own. The way that happens is that you can have a slower shutter speed to let in more light but the IS reduces the blur that is caused by the camera's movement.

That being said, you're not going to want a slower shutter speed if you are shooting people dancing. What you need to use is your 50mm with it at f1.8 or f2 and then increase the ISO. You'll want a relatively fast shutter speed so your pictures aren't blurry because of the dancers. And because you'll need to have that fast shutter speed, a tripod isn't going to help either. A tripod and IS fix the same problem, which you shouldn't have in this situation anyway. And the flash isn't going to be that much help either. The best you can hope for is to aim the flash at the roof. 

robbymack

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2012, 06:38:01 PM »
don't bother with the 15-85 unless you can use flash.  Check with the event, they may be fine with flash in which case it's probably your best option.  If not then stick to the 50 and look to shoot probably at f1.8 or f2 and see what shutter speeds you get, my guess for flamenco dancing you'll probably want shutter speeds of at least 1/100 and probably more like 1/200 to stop the action.  Sounds like you may be a bit new to all of this so maybe set the camera on Tv mode and play with the shutter speed until you get what you like.  If you can get comfortable with full manual that will give you the best results .  Also play with the metering modes and af modes, but don't expect the 50 1.8 to keep up in servo mode more than likely. 

CharlieB

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2012, 06:42:46 PM »
Thinking outside the box...

IS is not going to freeze action, just help stabilize the camera like a tripod or monopod.

Ok, so what did we do in this situation, back when men were men and cameras had film to make pictures....

You got creative.

You may find, that the only good way to shoot will involve intentionally having blur "for effect".   In that case, you may find a monopod suitable, and keep the IS operation - OFF.   You've got a digital camera... experiment a little as you go, find a speed that lets some detail show, but also allows for the dancers action and motion to be blurred.

Just sayin... more than one way to punch out of a paper sack.....

sootzzs

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 04:29:13 AM »
Thanks for the replies, guys. Yes I am new to this and still learn the basics.

Evie: As "a pretty new to photography" you seem to know what you're talking about :). Thanks. Unfortunately I can't rent the 24 f/1.4.

robby: can you please elaborate more why manual could produce better shots than lets say Av at 1.8?

Charlie: Yep. Totally agreed. "In those days" I was still wetting my pants :). I will try to get the best out of your advice for now and for the future to come. Thanks!!   

verysimplejason

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 06:42:53 AM »
One thing, don't be afraid to push your ISO.  Sometimes, it's better to have grainy shots than have no shots at all.  You can also explore the world of B&W.  High ISO shots are more forgiving with B&W or Sepia.  The grain also gives the perfect "old" effect to your pictures.  Don't be limited by your camera.  +1 to a previous poster for creativity.  Saying that, use 50mm 1.8 if you can't or don't want to use flash or the focal length is just enough or use the 15-85 for those wide angle shots.  You have 2 great lenses and 1 great camera with you.  Just shoot. :)

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 06:42:53 AM »

charliewphotos

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2012, 07:46:07 AM »
One thing, don't be afraid to push your ISO.  Sometimes, it's better to have grainy shots than have no shots at all.  You can also explore the world of B&W.  High ISO shots are more forgiving with B&W or Sepia.  The grain also gives the perfect "old" effect to your pictures.  Don't be limited by your camera.  +1 to a previous poster for creativity.  Saying that, use 50mm 1.8 if you can't or don't want to use flash or the focal length is just enough or use the 15-85 for those wide angle shots.  You have 2 great lenses and 1 great camera with you.  Just shoot. :)

+1 on the ISO point. My live music photography was really limited when I first started out becuase I was afraid of anything over 800. I too own the 60D and I'll happily take my ISO up to around 2000 before I start getting worried about shots being unusable. I always think a sharp grainy shot is better than an unusable blurry shot especially if you convert to black and white.

The other thing you could try is you're using your flash is slow sync. I normally set my flash to 2nd curtain so it flashes at the end of the exposure and my shutter speed to about 1/6 or slower. Takes a bit of trial and error but you can get some really interesting looking shots!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keziaphoto/7242280612/#

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keziaphoto/7252005202/#

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keziaphoto/7839462698/#

sootzzs

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2012, 03:33:54 PM »
One thing, don't be afraid to push your ISO.  Sometimes, it's better to have grainy shots than have no shots at all.  You can also explore the world of B&W.  High ISO shots are more forgiving with B&W or Sepia.  The grain also gives the perfect "old" effect to your pictures.  Don't be limited by your camera.  +1 to a previous poster for creativity.  Saying that, use 50mm 1.8 if you can't or don't want to use flash or the focal length is just enough or use the 15-85 for those wide angle shots.  You have 2 great lenses and 1 great camera with you.  Just shoot. :)

+1 on the ISO point. My live music photography was really limited when I first started out becuase I was afraid of anything over 800. I too own the 60D and I'll happily take my ISO up to around 2000 before I start getting worried about shots being unusable. I always think a sharp grainy shot is better than an unusable blurry shot especially if you convert to black and white.

The other thing you could try is you're using your flash is slow sync. I normally set my flash to 2nd curtain so it flashes at the end of the exposure and my shutter speed to about 1/6 or slower. Takes a bit of trial and error but you can get some really interesting looking shots!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keziaphoto/7242280612/#

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keziaphoto/7252005202/#

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keziaphoto/7839462698/#

I will push the ISO. Actually even 3200 looks not so bad after some LR retouching.

Thanks for your replies guys, really helped.

bvukich

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2012, 04:54:52 PM »
robby: can you please elaborate more why manual could produce better shots than lets say Av at 1.8?

Exposure for what you want to capture should be relatively consistent, and sometimes AE on lower end bodies will get a little goofy when shooting in darker conditions.  If I'm shooting in dim lighting with my 50/1.4 (and also a 60D), if things aren't moving too fast I'll set it to 1/60 with aperture somewhere between 2.8-2.0 depending on the light (opening up to 1.8-1.4 only if I really need to), and then set the ISO accordingly.  If things are moving a little faster, say dancing, I'll take the shutter up to 1/150 or so.  For flamenco dancing you'll probably want to take it up to 1/250 or faster to freeze the action (but be sure to take a couple at like 1/50, if the subject is still-ish but she's waving her dress around or something, it could turn into a REALLY cool picture)

If lighting is less consistent, I'll leave it on Auto ISO, and set the max to 1600 if possible, and switch the metering to spot or evaluative depending on how much of the frame the subject is covering.

robbymack

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2012, 04:56:08 PM »
Thanks for the replies, guys. Yes I am new to this and still learn the basics.

Evie: As "a pretty new to photography" you seem to know what you're talking about :). Thanks. Unfortunately I can't rent the 24 f/1.4.

robby: can you please elaborate more why manual could produce better shots than lets say Av at 1.8?

Charlie: Yep. Totally agreed. "In those days" I was still wetting my pants :). I will try to get the best out of your advice for now and for the future to come. Thanks!!   

Manual gives you full control of the exposure, av puts the camera in charge. No doubt at your level of experience the little Japanese guys who programed the processor will get it right more often than not, but if you are willing to stray out of your comfort zone you will be rewarded in manual. We have all seen photos of flamenco dancers, your goal should be not to simply recreate those images but to tell a story that is unique to your eye. The only way to do that imho is in manual. Read "understanding exposure" by Brian peterson, take just one thing you learn from that book to your shoot and try to apply it. Good luck and post some images after the event.

sootzzs

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2012, 12:03:55 PM »
Thanks robby and bvukich. I will try manual and 50mm prime, though I'll miss the 15-85 versatility. I will post some photos for your judgement and critique as it will help me understand my bads and my goods.

Lastly I would like to seek advice on which focusing and metering modes to use. I've seen a tutorial advising to use the AI Servo as it re-focuses during subject motion. Also should I use spot metering when I shoot single dancer and evaluative when shooting a group?   

verysimplejason

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 12:11:53 PM »
Thanks robby and bvukich. I will try manual and 50mm prime, though I'll miss the 15-85 versatility. I will post some photos for your judgement and critique as it will help me understand my bads and my goods.

Lastly I would like to seek advice on which focusing and metering modes to use. I've seen a tutorial advising to use the AI Servo as it re-focuses during subject motion. Also should I use spot metering when I shoot single dancer and evaluative when shooting a group?   

If you find your 50mm too tight, you may want a 35mm F2 or 28mm F2.8 for a wider lens.  Of course you will have to spend a little bit more money.

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 12:11:53 PM »

Rocky

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2012, 12:36:05 PM »
Flamenco is a dance with very fast movement. Therefore you will have more problem with the subject movement than than your hands being shaking. Bring the 50mm 1.8.  I would use center point only to make sure that the subject is in focus. I think (I am not sure, check your manual) in this focusing mode, the metering also becomes sport meter for 60D. Use ISO 1600 or 3200 if the noise is acceptable to you. A noisy picture is better than no picture or bad picture.

distant.star

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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 01:50:24 PM »
Thanks robby and bvukich. I will try manual and 50mm prime, though I'll miss the 15-85 versatility. I will post some photos for your judgement and critique as it will help me understand my bads and my goods.

Lastly I would like to seek advice on which focusing and metering modes to use. I've seen a tutorial advising to use the AI Servo as it re-focuses during subject motion. Also should I use spot metering when I shoot single dancer and evaluative when shooting a group?   

A few thoughts from my experience with dance.

1. To answer your questions about focus and metering modes, if you're in manual as you've said you're going to try, it's a moot point. The AF and metering only tell the camera what aperture and/or shutter to use. In manual mode, you've done both of those. If you do not use manual, my practice is AV mode selecting the fastest aperture I can manage to get the fastest possible shutter speed. As has already been said, you may also want to doctor up your ISO. The 50mm at f/1.8 will give you a fast shutter speed, but it's not very sharp and the DOF may be too narrow to be effective. I'd try selecting a F/2.8 and see what kind of shutter speeds it gives you -- then adjust ISO, etc. from there.

2. If you're not doing manual, use center point only and whatever that camera's version of AI/Servo is. There's too much going on in dance to fool around with getting other focus points involved. Put the spot on what you want and shoot it. As for metering, I've usually used partial as it's a larger area than spot, but it doesn't bring in a lot of background stuff that can screw up the focus of your picture. But stage lighting is tricky and varies a lot, so experiment. Do a lot of checking with this stuff in the beginning so you can make adjustments as needed.

3. I agree the 50mm is really the only option here, so be prepared to move, if you can. Be prepared to be assertive and get to where you need to be to get your pictures -- those people who are only watching are only watching; let them accommodate you as what you're doing has a higher priority. Oh, and if you can use the flash, probably not a good idea. First, it's new and you never want to experiment when your life is on the line, and second it is really distracting to everyone concerned. I've never shot dance where they even dreamed of allowing flash.

4. The point about "creatively" slowing to use blur to communicate motion is a good one. I would do some of that, but I would also want to pointedly choose focus points that will be well focused. One thing to do in dance is to look for the quiet moments. No matter how fast the movement, there are always points when the motion stops -- anticipate these and be prepared to press that button at that exact second. For example, a dancer may whirl around and stop instantly at some point -- the head will be still at that point while a dress may still be catching up -- be ready for this. You can have a face in perfect focus while communicating motion in the colorful dress material. That kind of contrast gives you a sure winning picture. Also, this is where burst shooting comes in -- you'll maximize your chances of getting just the right shot. That also means you'll need a fast card and lots of storage. When I shoot ballet, 1000 to 2000 images is common for an event.

5. Get there early and size up the shooting situation. Find the best place for you to be with the equipment you're using. You may want to plan on moving just once if moving is difficult. From one pov you may shoot tight faces, torsos, etc. From the other pov get groups.

Fun, huh? Have a great time and get some killer pictures!
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Re: Shooting low light event with 50 1.8II or 15-85
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 01:50:24 PM »