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Thread: Intermediate

  1. #1
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    Intermediate

    Hello,

    My first post...

    I'm new to my Canon Rebel XSi/450D and I'm currently trying to master shooting live music in low light conditions. I only have a couple of lenses and I know that there are better lenses for what I'm trying to do but right now I need to get the best out of what I've got. I've gotten mixed results. As a newbie I've been using the Evaluative mode only but got a tip from a photographer friend to use Spot Metering mode. I worked a little with it last night at home and can see that it will definitely help me in the low light situations. My problem is that the manual says precious little about how to use this mode. My friend told me to "meter" the darkest part of the scene but I'm not sure how to do this and then get tack sharp focus on the main area that I want to capture.

    Any help would be appreciated...thanks.

  2. #2
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    I am no expert on low light photography but if you "meter" for the darkest part of the scene you are automatically tying yourself to a slower shutter speed than you may require which may cause blurring of the subject you are trying to capture (assuming the artisits are moving).

    I too would use Spot Metering Mode...but would use it on the subject I am going to capture. I'm assuming that they will be under lighting of some sort.

    As you have said, better lenses will allow more light into the scene but without these being available, and you want sharpness of the subject (which mean faster shutter speeds), you probably need to up your film speed (ISO).

    Of course, this will introduce more "noise" so you will need to weigh up the benefits.
    Canon 5D MKlll & Canon 50D
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Gaza View Post
    I am no expert on low light photography but if you "meter" for the darkest part of the scene you are automatically tying yourself to a slower shutter speed than you may require which may cause blurring of the subject you are trying to capture (assuming the artisits are moving).

    I too would use Spot Metering Mode...but would use it on the subject I am going to capture. I'm assuming that they will be under lighting of some sort.

    As you have said, better lenses will allow more light into the scene but without these being available, and you want sharpness of the subject (which mean faster shutter speeds), you probably need to up your film speed (ISO).

    Of course, this will introduce more "noise" so you will need to weigh up the benefits.
    Yes the "motion blur" is a problem. In practicing in Spot Meter Mode I tried to pick a scene that approximated the stage lighting I've had trouble with. When I spot metered the the dark area the picture lightened up considerably...this was good as my histograms have all been crowded to the left. Yes shutter speed will be critical. So far I've had the best real time results in Tv/Al Servo but there can still be some blur. I'd like to keep the ISO no higher than 800 but I'm not sure I can.

    Thanks

  4. #4
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    As for as lenses, the faster the better. I know a lot of people who shoot with the 50 1.4 and 85 1.8. Personally for night street photography I use the 85 1.8 and have switched from the 50 1.4 in favour of the 50 1.8. Don't be afraid to bump up your ISO. The 450 shoots pretty clean and anyway, a lot of night street and live music photography seems to benefit from a little grain in the image. I don't know exactly how the 450 compares to the 7D but I shoot night images at ISO 3200 and they are very acceptable.

    Metering can be a tricky issue at night. Personally I would not recommend spot metering. For myself, things move too fast in live, dynamic scenes for it to be an effective tool. I can't personally see how metering the darkest area in spot would help you either. If using spot metering you would want to meter the most important subject (a musician?) or at least something middle-toned. This way, you have the most accurate and consistant means of adjusting your exposure should you need to. Be aware that normal metering rules apply - metering off of something does not mean that it will be exposed properly. If you are unfamiliar with how a DSLR meter works I suggest you read up on it. It will save you some frustration.

    For night street scenes I use evaluative metering. Typically I find that the meter gets fooled by the brightest subjects (street/vendor lights, signs, etc.) so left to itself it will underexpose the image to compensate for those hot spots. When I add +1 stop exposure compensation I get an exposure that exposes the mid-tone details such as faces, vehicles, etc. much better.

    I hope this helps you out a bit. Post some examples one of these days.
    The respect of those you respect is greater than the applause of the multitude.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBPhoto View Post
    As for as lenses, the faster the better. I know a lot of people who shoot with the 50 1.4 and 85 1.8. Personally for night street photography I use the 85 1.8 and have switched from the 50 1.4 in favour of the 50 1.8. Don't be afraid to bump up your ISO. The 450 shoots pretty clean and anyway, a lot of night street and live music photography seems to benefit from a little grain in the image. I don't know exactly how the 450 compares to the 7D but I shoot night images at ISO 3200 and they are very acceptable.

    Metering can be a tricky issue at night. Personally I would not recommend spot metering. For myself, things move too fast in live, dynamic scenes for it to be an effective tool. I can't personally see how metering the darkest area in spot would help you either. If using spot metering you would want to meter the most important subject (a musician?) or at least something middle-toned. This way, you have the most accurate and consistant means of adjusting your exposure should you need to. Be aware that normal metering rules apply - metering off of something does not mean that it will be exposed properly. If you are unfamiliar with how a DSLR meter works I suggest you read up on it. It will save you some frustration.

    For night street scenes I use evaluative metering. Typically I find that the meter gets fooled by the brightest subjects (street/vendor lights, signs, etc.) so left to itself it will underexpose the image to compensate for those hot spots. When I add +1 stop exposure compensation I get an exposure that exposes the mid-tone details such as faces, vehicles, etc. much better.

    I hope this helps you out a bit. Post some examples one of these days.
    My only lenses are an 18-55mm (came with the camera) and a 28-135mm. I have shot up to 1600 ISO (max) but it seems pretty grainy. I could live with that if everything was sharp. I'm shooting mainly in a small club with a minimum of lights and getting a sharp focus seems to often escape me. The assist beam is helping but getting everything on this relatively small stage is difficult.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty K View Post
    My only lenses are an 18-55mm (came with the camera) and a 28-135mm. I have shot up to 1600 ISO (max) but it seems pretty grainy. I could live with that if everything was sharp. I'm shooting mainly in a small club with a minimum of lights and getting a sharp focus seems to often escape me. The assist beam is helping but getting everything on this relatively small stage is difficult.
    You are going to struggle unfortunately. The only way to get everything sharp, is to change the Aperture to a larger F/Stop number to increase your Depth of Field (but reduces the amount of light that is let in), and in turn requires a slower shutter speed....and therefore, blurred subject.

    You will need to try Manual Focus if the lens is having difficulty focusing in the limited light.

    Your variable aperture lenses are hurting you...especially if you are zooming in. Do you have the budget for a Nifty-Fifty ? It will allow more light in and you may have more success.
    Last edited by Honest Gaza; 01-02-2012 at 08:00 PM.
    Canon 5D MKlll & Canon 50D
    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM | Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM | Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM | Canon 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro | Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM | Canon 50mm f/1.8 | Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 | Canon 430EX Flash | Lowepro Mini Trekker AW | Lowepro Toploader 65 AW | Lowepro Slingshot 200AW | Kata 3n1-10

    Panasonic Lumix FZ200
    Panasonic Lumix TZ7 (aka ZS3)
    Panasonic Lumix FT3 (aka TS3)

    Ali Baba.....the Thief of Bad Gags

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Gaza View Post
    You are going to struggle unfortunately. The only way to get everything sharp, is to change the Aperture to a larger F/Stop number to increase your Depth of Field (but reduces the amount of light that is let in), and in turn requires a slower shutter speed....and therefore, blurred subject.

    You will need to try Manual Focus if the lens is having difficulty focusing in the limited light.

    Your variable aperture lenses are hurting you...especially if you are zooming in. Do you have the budget for a Nifty-Fifty ? It will allow more light in and you may have more success.
    Yes, I've gotten some good shots with manual focus...I'll go back to that. It's very hard to find the sweet spot under these conditions and with the limits of my equipment. We have added a little more light to the stage and it's helped but we're trying not to completely destroy the room visual ambiance. Yes I was told by my friend that I could pick up a fixed focus lens that would help for about a $100. I'll get it asap.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, you'll do better with a faster max. aperture lens. The 50 1.8 should serve you very well. As for your grain keep in mind that the higher your ISO, noise and grain will be less apparent if you expose properly. The more you start messing with your exposure in post processing, the stronger the grain/noise will appear. This is why I feel you are doing yourself a disservice using spot metering on the dark area of the scene. The dark area says nothing of how the rest of the scene or main subject might be lit. Expose properly for what is important in the final image and you may find ISO 1600 very acceptable.
    The respect of those you respect is greater than the applause of the multitude.

  9. #9
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    rusty, you're probably gonna have to learn to use manual mode for live shows...otherwise you'll get some inconsistent exposures. also, shoot raw so you can change the white balance.

    first, i'd set my ISO. 1600 would probably be a minimum unless it's really well lit. then open the lens up. get the 50mm f/1.8 and shoot at f/1.8. then adjust the shutter until it exposes correctly. the tricky part is making sure you use a fast enough shutter speed. if you have a 50mm lens, try to get at least 1/100s, on an 85mm lens, i try to get 1/160s. someone told me a long time ago to double the focal length and use that as a minimum for a shutter speed to account for hand shake...and it really works well. if it's a band that moves around a lot, you'll need to use as fast as you can to account for them moving though.

    i took this one with my old ef 85mm f/1.8 lens at a the curtain club in dallas.
    shot at ISO 1600 f/2 1/160s


    this one was shot with my sigma 50mm f/1.4
    ISO 1600 f/1.6 1/250s


    on your camera, 30mm is the equivalent of my 50mm and a 50mm lens would be equivalent to an 85mm lens because your camera is a 1.6x "crop camera" and mine is full frame. but in theory, your camera would be able to take nearly identical pictures at the same settings and same equivalent focal lengths.

    if i were you, i'd start with the canon ef 50mm f/1.8 since it's only $100. bump up the ISO to 1600, shoot at f/1.8 or f/2, then adjust the shutter accordingly til you get the right exposure. if your ISO is expandable to 3200, try that if the light is super low or you're not getting fast enough shutter speeds. you can't EVER take grain into account when shooting in this circumstance. exposing the picture properly is priority. what good is a grainless underexposed photo?

    also, if your camera is capable of "live view" mode, practice using that, zoom in on your camera while in live view move and use it to manually focus on stuff. it can really come in handy when the light is too low to auto focus.
    Last edited by adam75south; 01-03-2012 at 07:55 AM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by adam75south View Post
    rusty, you're probably gonna have to learn to use manual mode for live shows...otherwise you'll get some inconsistent exposures. also, shoot raw so you can change the white balance.

    first, i'd set my ISO. 1600 would probably be a minimum unless it's really well lit. then open the lens up. get the 50mm f/1.8 and shoot at f/1.8. then adjust the shutter until it exposes correctly. the tricky part is making sure you use a fast enough shutter speed. if you have a 50mm lens, try to get at least 1/100s, on an 85mm lens, i try to get 1/160s. someone told me a long time ago to double the focal length and use that as a minimum for a shutter speed to account for hand shake...and it really works well. if it's a band that moves around a lot, you'll need to use as fast as you can to account for them moving though.

    i took this one with my old ef 85mm f/1.8 lens at a the curtain club in dallas.
    shot at ISO 1600 f/2 1/160s


    this one was shot with my sigma 50mm f/1.4
    ISO 1600 f/1.6 1/250s


    on your camera, 30mm is the equivalent of my 50mm and a 50mm lens would be equivalent to an 85mm lens because your camera is a 1.6x "crop camera" and mine is full frame. but in theory, your camera would be able to take nearly identical pictures at the same settings and same equivalent focal lengths.

    if i were you, i'd start with the canon ef 50mm f/1.8 since it's only $100. bump up the ISO to 1600, shoot at f/1.8 or f/2, then adjust the shutter accordingly til you get the right exposure. if your ISO is expandable to 3200, try that if the light is super low or you're not getting fast enough shutter speeds. you can't EVER take grain into account when shooting in this circumstance. exposing the picture properly is priority. what good is a grainless underexposed photo?

    also, if your camera is capable of "live view" mode, practice using that, zoom in on your camera while in live view move and use it to manually focus on stuff. it can really come in handy when the light is too low to auto focus.
    Nice shots...very nice! I'm at the club tonight and I'll go back to "Manual" and try some of these suggestions. I can see right now that I've got to get this lens. I just have this thing for not using a flash...for someone like that...the proper lens is a must.

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