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lorilu
09-02-2008, 06:32 AM
Hello!
I am the happy owner of a D40, but one continuing issue bothers me, and that is blurry low light/fast action pictures. I have a 500-200mm VR lens, but of course, that doesn't help much. I have been investigating the purchase of a 50mm f/1.8 lens, which is very attractive with its reasonable price. I do understand that should I buy this lens, I will have to manually focus it. My question is, how much of a learning curve is this going to be for me? Will I be so frustrated that I will regret my purchase? For those that have the lens, does it come with decent literature to explain how to use it? If not, where can I find it? Thanks for any information you can share.

Rooz
09-02-2008, 06:42 AM
can you post some examples so we can see the exif and the subject matter.

Dread Pirate Roberts
09-02-2008, 07:05 AM
Lorilu a lot depends what you're shooting. The 50mm 1.8 is wonderful for things like flowers on manual focus where you want to blur backgrounds.

If you're after fast action shots though what can I say - the subjects going to be moving too fast for you to manually focus on it. Unless you know where the subject is going to be eg skaters going round and round so you can pre focus on the spot they'll move through.

I didn't like the literature that comes with the lens but even so I had it working allright after an hour's shooting. You just turn the focus ring to focus manually, pretty intuitive really. One thing that surprised me was how shallow the depth of field is at F1.8, for example a nose will be in focus but the eyes OOF. However the lens makes really lovelly images around F4.

Actaeon
09-02-2008, 08:09 AM
I don't have the 50mm f/1.8, but I do have the 50mm f/1.4. Almost the same thing...

It takes a little while to get used to, but you'll get the hang of it.

You may be able to practice to see if you could get the hang of it. I'm not sure if any of your lenses have an external focusing ring, but if you do, simply set the lenses to manual focus and spin the focusing ring. Try moving around and focusing on different subjects to get them in and out of focus. Take a couple of shots and review them later. It should give you a pretty good idea of manual focus, but keep in mind, the DOF will be much shallower at 1.8 vs the 3.5 on your current set of lens, so you will need to be a bit more precise with the 1.8 to get sharp results.

Also, I don't remember this light being on the D40, but I do know the newer Nikons have a "focused" light that appears in the viewfinder display once its focused. If you have one, that may help...

fionndruinne
09-02-2008, 02:07 PM
The D40 has the focus indicator dot all right. I was just playing around with an 85mm f/1.8 this weekend, and all ten or so photos I snapped in the store were perfectly in focus (at f/1.8, in a dimly lit shop. The dot is a lifesaver). Well, what small area of the frame was actually supposed to be in focus, that is.

lorilu
09-02-2008, 08:36 PM
Hello!
Well, here's one of the first photos I took tonight (no pp) with my new 50mm f1.8 lens. I took it with a D40, set on manual. Shutter was 1/320 at 1600 ISO, and aperature was f2.5. Thank goodness for the green light that let me know I was in the ballpark as far as manually focusing. Comments/suggestions, please. Thanks for the encouragement in the earlier post. So far, I am pleased. Forgive me if I did not post this picture correctly; it's the first time I did it.

K1W1
09-02-2008, 09:33 PM
You need to resize the image so it fits entirely on the screen. 1024 pixels wide is about as far as you should use.

fionndruinne
09-02-2008, 11:39 PM
I'd resize the image to 800 pixels, actually, it's best that way for webpage viewing.

I'd rethink your settings too. 1/320 sec. is not really fast enough for this kind of action, and for whatever reason (maybe it's noise reduction in post-processing, or quite possibly the photo is just slightly under-exposed, which has the same effect) ISO 1600 has eaten a lot of detail here. I would use f/1.8 or f/2, even though that will mean shallower depth-of-field. But it might let you use a lower ISO or at least expose an ISO 1600 shot better, which will preserve detail better.

Actaeon
09-03-2008, 08:51 AM
The D40 has the focus indicator dot all right. I was just playing around with an 85mm f/1.8 this weekend, and all ten or so photos I snapped in the store were perfectly in focus (at f/1.8, in a dimly lit shop. The dot is a lifesaver). Well, what small area of the frame was actually supposed to be in focus, that is.

Ahh, thats what it was called. Thanks for bringing up the proper term. I knew there was some sort of indicator light for focus :).

Glad to see its been useful for you lorilu.

As mentioned by fionndruinne, the ISO1600 seemed to kill a lot of the detail from the pic. I'd be curious to see if going down to f/2 or f/1.8 will help. The DOF will be a bit more shallow, but it should give you a shutter speed of 1/500ths at the same ISO or at least the ability to drop the ISO to 800 with around the same shutter speed, where the D40 does quite a bit better at noise. Play around with it and see which gives you the best results.

For lighting situations like this, you should also consider shooting in RAW and applying noise reduction in PP. That should clean up the images quite a bit too.

fionndruinne
09-03-2008, 01:31 PM
f/1.8 would definitely help. This pic was probably in lighting conditions very similar to yours (I know action/still is apples/oranges, but I'm not getting that technical), but only ISO 400:

39421

This was the 85mm f/1.8. I still got 1/200-1/320 sec. shutters, and as you can see ISO 400 saves a lot more detail:

39424
39422
100% crop

You can get good results using ISO 1600 with this camera, but the trick in saving detail is to make sure you expose properly, maybe even leaning to overexposing. In an action shot like yours, of course, you want a faster shutter, which makes for a darker exposure, but you can counter that by opening up the aperture more.

Here's a crop from a well-exposed ISO 1600 shot:
39423

anco85
09-04-2008, 05:53 AM
It's a great lens, but I wouldn't want to manually focus action shots with it, especially in low light conditions

lorilu
09-07-2008, 09:59 PM
Hi,
Here's another attempt at a good low-light action photo with my 50mm f1.8 lens. I used ISO 800 at 1/400 with f 1.8. No post-processing yet. Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. I'll keep trying. Comments?

ssil2000
09-07-2008, 10:30 PM
hi there, i could be wrong but that orangie cast to the photo tells me it may be a little underexposed, the incandescent light tends to have that effect, try dropping your shutter speed down, but thats pretty impressive manual focusing!

fionndruinne
09-07-2008, 10:35 PM
A lot better noise ratio. You might do something with the white balance. Was this auto WB? Under incandescent lights it's best to use the WB setting meant for them.

Rooz
09-07-2008, 10:35 PM
Hi,
Here's another attempt at a good low-light action photo with my 50mm f1.8 lens. I used ISO 800 at 1/400 with f 1.8. No post-processing yet. Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. I'll keep trying. Comments?

i will say one thing, your MF skills are very impressive. imo though, you would get more keepers by increasing your dof. a bit of fiddling around with your exposures should give you at least 1 or 1.5 stops more dof.

fionndruinne
09-07-2008, 11:48 PM
The problem though is that any more underexposure will bring a lot of noise in ISO 800 or 1600. It's not exactly an ideal predicimate to be in, with an older-gen CCD sensor, mr. spanky D300.;)

Rooz
09-08-2008, 02:38 AM
you could make up the 2 stops ok though. iso1000, 1/160s and then +0.7EV. that will give you roughly the same exposure for more dof.

K1W1
09-08-2008, 02:58 AM
Will a D40 do ISO1000? I think they only go 800 then 1600.

lorilu
09-08-2008, 12:27 PM
Thanks for all the comments. I must be on the right track if I got you guys to go back and forth with each other like this. I think I will try to change the EV values next as Rooz suggests. Unfortunately, K1W1 is correct as the D40 goes from 800 to 1600. Someday, when I am done putting four kids through college, I will buy cool toys like you guys have. I did have the WB set for incandescent, btw. Gross gymnasium for lighting.

fionndruinne
09-08-2008, 04:03 PM
You can get more ISO values when using auto ISO. You might try experimenting with it, maybe you can hit a happy medium where it'll bump ISO to a managable level while giving you a little bit more DoF.

K1W1
09-08-2008, 04:25 PM
You can get more ISO values when using auto ISO. You might try experimenting with it, maybe you can hit a happy medium where it'll bump ISO to a managable level while giving you a little bit more DoF.

If the D40 is like the D50 which I suspect it is (same sensor and similar age) the Auto ISO option is fairly limited. You can set upper levels of ISO but in my experience the D50 just tends to go straight to the upper level and stay there. You get the odd shot that may show as ISO 1250 or similar but most are just at 1600.

fionndruinne
09-08-2008, 04:52 PM
Sometimes the case, not always. I'm guessing that with large apertures the camera might go for more reasonable values, but I could be wrong. Ah well, I'll see when I get my 50mm sometime this week.

Maybe try shutter priority mode, along with auto ISO? I dunno.

K1W1
09-08-2008, 05:02 PM
Maybe try shutter priority mode, along with auto ISO? I dunno.

There is a certain person who recommends that set up for sports. I tried it once and ended up with a whole day of grainy ISO 1600 shots that were no better than I had got in the past.
I guess in a gym setting the light is at least reasonably consistent so it could be worth a try but it's not when you are shooting Soccer on a pitch surrounded by forest. :)

mugsisme
09-09-2008, 11:18 AM
Lorilu, I have a 50mm lens, and it is a nifty little lens. I will tell you this. It is NOT for fast actions shot, because of the manual focus. I did use it the first night I had it at a basketball game, and got some awesome shots. but it was hard to focus the first time using it. Also, the action was too far away for good shots.

I find kids are really hard to take pictures of using this lens. My little one moves faster than I can focus. My 6 yr old will wait while I fiddle. Also, bright outdoors light is very, very hard for me to see the little green light inside showing the picture is in focus. It might be just me, but I am not throwing a jacket over my head to see the inside light, especially when it is 90 degrees outside.

I do like the lens, but I do also realize that for me, it has some limitations.

Here are some pictures I took with the lens:
(from the first basketball game, my MIL)
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/149/419539640_f622808b71.jpg

(I do think it is incredibly sharp!)
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/178/435176145_56fbfc289b.jpg

a moving object, a cat chasing a stick (so fast moving is possible, just hard):
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2129/2107318149_7e0b31a8e2.jpg

lorilu
09-13-2008, 03:58 PM
Thanks, Leah! I really appreciate your comments, as I have admired the work you have posted. I understand the limitations of this lens and only plan on using it in low light situations,mainly indoors. I am getting better at focusing, IMHO. When I am in the stands, and the action comes to me, once I have the lens focused, I can just snap away. What settings do you use; I am especially interested in in your exposure levels.

lorilu
09-28-2008, 09:02 PM
Well, it's been a few weeks since I started using this wonderful little lens. I think the manual focus on my D40 is going well. This gym was an extreme lighting challenge to say the least. I thought I'd be brave and submit this for some comments. It was shot at 1/400 @ ISO 1600, aperature set at 1.8.

lorilu
09-28-2008, 09:10 PM
FYI - Both volleyball teams were playing to raise money for breast cancer, hence the pink shirts and pink-striped ball. It's called "Volley for the Cure" and is done across our entire state. Way to go, girls!

Rooz
09-28-2008, 09:51 PM
your ability to get that shot in focus using MF and f1.8 is nothing short of amazing.