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Thread: ISO800 or ISO1600 for a musical?

  1. #1

    Default ISO800 or ISO1600 for a musical?

    Need some help here...I'm quite undecided to use between ISO800 film or ISO1600 film to cover a musical. I've not seen the stage lighting yet (seeing it only one day before the event) so I don't really know how bright it is going to be. However, the musical is going to be held at the University Cultural Centre (UCC).

    The musical does not have many large movements except for some dancing in some scenes.

    I'm using a relatively slow telephoto 100-300mm zoom lens (f4-f5.6) mounted on a tripod. Flash is out of the question.

    For those experienced in covering muscials/concerts before, would it be advisable to use ISO1600 or just stick to ISO800?

    TIA!

  2. #2

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    Just get ISO800 film, you can push the film or just underexpose it by 1 stop and compensate in print.

    However, I don't think that the 100-300mm zoom will work. Try getting a 24mm f1.8, 50/85 f1.8 and 70-200 f2.8 combo instead.

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    i survived on ISO400 for most shots, and only some ISO800 for my school's musical - but i was using bright lenses, like 70-200 f/2.8 @ f/2.8, and 50/1.8 @ f/2 and 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 @ maximum aperture. shutter speeds were typically 1/60, since the actors can't be dashing around the stage in relatively low light either

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zerstorer
    Just get ISO800 film, you can push the film or just underexpose it by 1 stop and compensate in print.

    However, I don't think that the 100-300mm zoom will work. Try getting a 24mm f1.8, 50/85 f1.8 and 70-200 f2.8 combo instead.
    Actually, the 100-300mm works for me during the last NTU CAC Talentime with ISO 800 film on spot-lighted people (I got an aperture of around f/5.6 with speed of 1/60s). Of course, I would prefer a brighter lens.

    To save your worry, get Fuji Press 800. If you find lighting condition terrible at ISO 800, you can push the film one stop to EI1600.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ah Pao
    Need some help here...I'm quite undecided to use between ISO800 film or ISO1600 film to cover a musical. I've not seen the stage lighting yet (seeing it only one day before the event) so I don't really know how bright it is going to be. However, the musical is going to be held at the University Cultural Centre (UCC).

    The musical does not have many large movements except for some dancing in some scenes.

    I'm using a relatively slow telephoto 100-300mm zoom lens (f4-f5.6) mounted on a tripod. Flash is out of the question.

    For those experienced in covering muscials/concerts before, would it be advisable to use ISO1600 or just stick to ISO800?

    TIA!
    bring your camera there just to "test out" the lighting during the rehearsals. you also should watch and familarise yourself with the musical as well as the layout of the place.

    as for the tripod, i find that it impeds my movement around the huge area before the stage (i covered concerts at the Nanyang Auditorium before, Zerstorer i believe had one experience). in the end, i do without the tripod.

    one more advice. wear dark clothes on the actual day. good luck

  6. #6
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    From experience, I say you should keep to ISO 800. On Fuji Press 800, you can push it to ISO1600 without excessive grains.

    Fast lenses will help a lot, but not really complusory. However if the lighting conditions are really low, stick to the wide end where you can use the larger aperture.

    Anyway, mervlam and company, hope you guys enjoy Talentime this year, I wun be around to take pictures. ^^

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the advice so far. Looks like it's better to just stick to ISO800...unfortunately I don't have access to the multi-hundred-dollar fast lenses so looks like I've got to pray hard that the lighting is good.

    Press 800 is going to be my main working film (Superia 800 out of stock at CP).

    Another question: my fav lab doesn't do pushing. In the unfortuanate event that I do have to push my film +1 stop, which lab can I go to process the film? I really need a reliable lab because this is one of my very first few times covering events for friends and I don't want to mess up my credibility.

  8. #8

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    RGB can do push processing, but their printing is very costly. You might want to D/O there and print elsewhere.

    Alternatively, you try konota for just normal processing. Their print corrections for 1 stop underexposure are pretty satisfactory to me.

    It is not always necessary or desirable to push process due to the added contrast. For low contrast scenes you should push process, high contrast scenes you just process normally and leave the corrections to the printing stage.

    Prismatic: Sure hope to have a better run this year. We'll miss your presence

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prismatic
    From experience, I say you should keep to ISO 800. On Fuji Press 800, you can push it to ISO1600 without excessive grains.

    Fast lenses will help a lot, but not really complusory. However if the lighting conditions are really low, stick to the wide end where you can use the larger aperture.

    Anyway, mervlam and company, hope you guys enjoy Talentime this year, I wun be around to take pictures. ^^
    OT: have a nice exchange at NTU (the Taiwanese one)

  10. #10

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    After a total of 6 rolls of Press 800, I'm proud to report that I've covered the musical...well, pretty successfully, considering that some of the shots were better than I expected.

    No flash, no pushing, 70-300mm/F4-5.6 and 50mm/F1.8, Canon EOS 300, one lost lens cap (now at the bottom of the UCC), handheld with support. I'm glad I took up the challenge.

    Press 800 is a must if you want high speed with fine grain. It's even finer than the Kodak MAX 400.
    Last edited by Ah Pao; 6th January 2004 at 12:27 AM.

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    bottom of UCC? it buried itself under the foundation?

  12. #12

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    eventually u will realise there's not much difference

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by sehsuan
    bottom of UCC? it buried itself under the foundation?
    It is not a solid block of foundation below the audience seats at the UCC theatre; it's hollow. Similar to those foldable/collapsable seats found in Suntec Exhibitions Halls and S'pore Expo. And there are gaps around the theatre and the stage that can easily swallow up your rings, coins and lens caps if they happen to roll into those gaps.

    So even if a tripod, it's practically impossible to shoot the musical at the audience area itself. The floor of the seats is not rock stable.

    I also dunno how to explain...next time if you ever step into the UCC Theatre you'll get what I mean.

    BTW, anyone happen to know how much a 52mm Canon lens cap cost?
    Last edited by Ah Pao; 8th January 2004 at 01:34 AM.

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    sounds like the "concert hall" back in WTC... foldable, stackable type one right?... AH Pao, next time can volunteer as cleaner in such places to find hopefully free photography accessories

    a 52mm canon cap shouldn't cost more than $10. probably $5? CP should have a ready stock of them, btw - last bought a nikon cap for a friend of mine...

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    Sorry for the late comments: A properly lit up stage shold be almost daylight in brightness at the brightest scenes, so even 200 film will work. However, if the scenes are night all the time, then you'll need faster film to capture the background. In any case, the actors' faces should still be lit close to daylight.

    Beware of copyright and photography rights issues. Flash is certainly no-no, as it disturbs the audience and actors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yowch
    Sorry for the late comments: A properly lit up stage shold be almost daylight in brightness at the brightest scenes, so even 200 film will work. However, if the scenes are night all the time, then you'll need faster film to capture the background. In any case, the actors' faces should still be lit close to daylight.

    Beware of copyright and photography rights issues. Flash is certainly no-no, as it disturbs the audience and actors.
    Read: FAST lens!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by yowch
    Sorry for the late comments: A properly lit up stage shold be almost daylight in brightness at the brightest scenes, so even 200 film will work. However, if the scenes are night all the time, then you'll need faster film to capture the background. In any case, the actors' faces should still be lit close to daylight.

    Beware of copyright and photography rights issues. Flash is certainly no-no, as it disturbs the audience and actors.
    Nope, your comments are not too late. Hopfully others who are interested in stage photography can pick something up from here as well.

    Personal experience (albeit limited) tells me you're generally correct. I've gotten exposures of 1/125-f4 (my lens not fast enough to go brighter than f4) when the all the lights on, with the actors wearing light-colored clothes.

    However, with the spotlights only, the actors become cast in shadows (high contrast), made worse with dark-colored clothes. In this case I had to use partial metering (sorry my EOS 300 don't have spot metering) at the actor's face to get a more accurate exposure, but in the end the rest of the picture became grossly underexposed, with lots of grain showing.

    All in all, don't take my word as gold, take the effort to go down for rehearsals and understand the lighting situation and flow of the play. Helps tremendously.

    The ideal is still what many others have suggested: go beg, steal or borrow a fast lens if you don't have one. My 50mm/f1.8 really helped salvaged some scenes that was otherwise not possible with my slow telephoto zoom.

    As of copyright issues, that is very correct. If the organiser commissioned you for the work (i.e. pays you or otherwise compensates you for your work in a commerical sense) then the organiser retains the copyright. For my case it was not so; the project was done in goodwill (charity show) with prior arrangments that the copyright belongs to me. The point being: make your stand clear with the organiser with copyright issues.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by sehsuan
    sounds like the "concert hall" back in WTC... foldable, stackable type one right?... AH Pao, next time can volunteer as cleaner in such places to find hopefully free photography accessories

    a 52mm canon cap shouldn't cost more than $10. probably $5? CP should have a ready stock of them, btw - last bought a nikon cap for a friend of mine...
    Yeap, good, at least one person here understands what I'm saying.
    I was dumb enough to step into CP yesterday to stock up film and yet forgot to get a lens cap...now very lehchey, have to wipe the lens everytime I use it...

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ah Pao
    Personal experience (albeit limited) tells me you're generally correct. I've gotten exposures of 1/125-f4 (my lens not fast enough to go brighter than f4) when the all the lights on, with the actors wearing light-colored clothes.
    One problem here is that to get a good exposure, you should not meter on light coloured subjects as it would lead to an underexposure, always meter on a midtone unless you are delibrately trying to get a higher shutter speed. That's why despite having spotlights, it is extremely desirable to have high ISO film or fast glass.

    However, with the spotlights only, the actors become cast in shadows (high contrast), made worse with dark-colored clothes. In this case I had to use partial metering (sorry my EOS 300 don't have spot metering) at the actor's face to get a more accurate exposure, but in the end the rest of the picture became grossly underexposed, with lots of grain showing.
    This illustrates what I originally posted and also reinforces the previous point. In high contrast scenes, the difference between the spotlit subject and the background can be 2EV or more. Performing metering on the spotlit area will result in underexposure for the rest of the scene. To avoid this, meter a midtone as stated above.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zerstorer
    One problem here is that to get a good exposure, you should not meter on light coloured subjects as it would lead to an underexposure, always meter on a midtone unless you are delibrately trying to get a higher shutter speed.
    This was what was going through my mind with the limitations (basically slow lens) I have:

    "I need to aim for high shutter speed--at least even if it was (slightly) underexposed, I can freeze the action rather than having a mess of blur. I should meter the face so at least the face turns out correctly exposed..."

    What would be a good mid-toned subject?

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