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Thread: Getting relatively sharp images

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    Question Getting relatively sharp images

    Hi there,i'm a hobbyist photog and sometimes i shoot company D&D's and family events.Most of the time i'll be shooting under less than optimal light conditions.So my question is what can i do in order to capture moments when friends or family are sharing a laugh or having tears of joy without being too close to them.I reckon having a 70-200 is the way to go but i just cannot afford the IS version of the Canon lense.I also prefer to shoot with ambient lighting without relying on the flash gun too much and using a low iso.What can i do? Monopod? Tripod? Cheers for your help and input!

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    Senior Member digitalpimp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duinchlfc
    Hi there,i'm a hobbyist photog and sometimes i shoot company D&D's and family events.Most of the time i'll be shooting under less than optimal light conditions.So my question is what can i do in order to capture moments when friends or family are sharing a laugh or having tears of joy without being too close to them.I reckon having a 70-200 is the way to go but i just cannot afford the IS version of the Canon lense.I also prefer to shoot with ambient lighting without relying on the flash gun too much and using a low iso.What can i do? Monopod? Tripod? Cheers for your help and input!
    Hi. Low ISO without flash gun under less than optimal lighting conditions? Sad to say, but a camera can only do so much. You're depriving your camera of one of its fundamentals. LIGHT. Monopods are out of the question. You will get stability, yes--but how about your shutter speed? Would it be enough to 'freeze the moment'? Remember, there's no such thing as sharp blur.

    Given your scenario, here are some solutions I can think of: High ISO, or wide aperture lenses (f/1.4-f/2.8 ), or a flash gun, or shoot in well-lit environments. Apparently, you scratched them all off hehehe. You have to pick the lesser of those evils buddy. Cheers.
    Last edited by digitalpimp; 4th October 2011 at 06:22 AM.

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    Default Re: Getting relatively sharp images

    Quote Originally Posted by digitalpimp View Post
    Hi. Low ISO without flash gun under less than optimal lighting conditions? Sad to say, but a camera can only do so much. You're depriving your camera of one of its fundamentals. LIGHT. Monopods are out of the question. You will get stability, yes--but how about your shutter speed? Would it be enough to 'freeze the moment'? Remember, there's no such thing as sharp blur.

    Given your scenario, here are some solutions I can think of: High ISO, or wide aperture lenses (f/1.4-f/2.8 ), or a flash gun, or shoot in well-lit environments. Apparently, you scratched them all off hehehe. You have to pick the lesser of those evils buddy. Cheers.
    Hmmm true true.Then in that case,at what shutter speed should i use at 200mm in order to get decent sharp pics.The 550D has pretty decent noise up to 1600 so plus a flash gun would be okay.I remember there's a calculation for this kind of things,any clue?

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    Senior Member digitalpimp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duinchlfc

    Hmmm true true.Then in that case,at what shutter speed should i use at 200mm in order to get decent sharp pics.The 550D has pretty decent noise up to 1600 so plus a flash gun would be okay.I remember there's a calculation for this kind of things,any clue?
    Yep. Fairly easy. Rule of thumb is effective focal length should be reciprocal to shutter speed (e.g. 200mm = 1/200+; 100mm = 1/100+). Now the crop factor also comes at play here that's why I said 'effective', meaning your 200mm x 1.6 = 320mm, so your shutter speed should be 1/320+.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by digitalpimp; 4th October 2011 at 07:59 AM.

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    Default Re: Getting relatively sharp images

    Quote Originally Posted by Duinchlfc View Post
    Hmmm true true.Then in that case,at what shutter speed should i use at 200mm in order to get decent sharp pics.The 550D has pretty decent noise up to 1600 so plus a flash gun would be okay.I remember there's a calculation for this kind of things,any clue?
    Actually is up to you... what shutter speed should be optimal for you. We wouldn't know how steady you can hold your camera. Although like what Digitalpimp had stated, your shutter speed for 200mm should be around 1/320s... of course if you have a good support (doesn't necessary be a tripod or monopod, it could be anything from dustbin, tree, wall, beanbag, sand bag, table top, etc), you can significantly decrease shutter speed.

    And seriously do not be too concern with noise... you would just have to PP it later on... and 550D shares the same sensor as 7D and many times I was shooting my 7D at ISO 3200 and still get decent result...
    I am not a photographer, just someone who happened to have a couple of cameras.
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    Default Re: Getting relatively sharp images

    the other option is to go close and use a prime lens to shoot.

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    Default Re: Getting relatively sharp images

    Even F2.8 is not enough sometimes. I would suggest you go for prime lenses with wide apertures, something like 135L or 85L. If too expensive, maybe try out the 85/1.8 first.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Getting relatively sharp images

    I'd suggest you don't try to sniper shoot with long lenses from a distance in these kinds of situations. Get closer -- it's possible to shoot with a 50mm (a 17-50/2.8 perhaps?) and not be too intrusive. That will lessen your need for faster shutter speeds right away (except for subject motion of course). With longer lenses and shooting distances, it's harder to maintain a clear line of sight with others walking across your frame.
    I normally prefer to use flash -- bear in mind that in crowded gatherings your flash might not even be noticed by your subjects, esp if there's a lot of activity and other flashes firing. If you insist on ambient light, then as others have said, no choice -- higher ISOs. 550D has pretty low noise levels anyway

  9. #9

    Default Re: Getting relatively sharp images

    Quote Originally Posted by Duinchlfc View Post
    Hi there,i'm a hobbyist photog and sometimes i shoot company D&D's and family events.Most of the time i'll be shooting under less than optimal light conditions.So my question is what can i do in order to capture moments when friends or family are sharing a laugh or having tears of joy without being too close to them.I reckon having a 70-200 is the way to go but i just cannot afford the IS version of the Canon lense.I also prefer to shoot with ambient lighting without relying on the flash gun too much and using a low iso.What can i do? Monopod? Tripod? Cheers for your help and input!
    I'm looking into your requirement of getting ambient lighting without flash.
    1) It is possible to get your ambient and still using flash together. You don't necessarily have to sacrifice any of them. The key here is balance of light which can be achieved by your gear if your flash support TTL. If you find your flash too strong, compensate by adjusting the flash strength. Also it is good to use the correct gel to correct the colour of the flash to match the surrounding lighting. Flash is normally by itself too cool for candescent lightning. You might wanna use CTO gel to seek a balance. Then because AWB will tune the scene towards white in the end, use a fixed WB to maintain the colour cast. It's not all that difficult after all

    2) Using monopod or tripod will only solve the issue if your lens are moving. If your subject are moving, even IS or VR will not save your day.

    3) At high ISO, you end up with less usable images which not only suffer from grainy images, you also suffer from inaccurate colours rendition. My recommended max is ISO 800, beyond that, you will notice very significant colour lose. Also noise are especially apparent in dark areas, so if you keep your flash on to fill up the area and also using a moderately high ISO, you can balance between ambient and flash light.

    4) The fact that professional photographers can capture expressions on the face of your audience doesn't necessarily means he is very far away and have to use tele lens. First of all perspective of wider angle lens give a closeness factor and obviously also less susceptible to vibration due to short focal length. The key here is subtleness. Move around your subjects. Don't let them feel you are always eyeing on them. Make disappearing act. Look at your camera as if you are adjusting something on it and not focusing on them. When you feel the expression is right. Aim fast, shoot fast and move on.

    5) If the light is really too dim, don't hesitate to use your exposure compensation to stop down a feel notch. It's okay to get under exposure and fix it in the software than a blur image due to insufficient shutter speed.

    6) Learn to operate in manual mode. Fix your shutter speed and aperture, let the flash fill up the rest to the correct exposure. In dim light condition, the camera can very easily be mislead that it need to boost up a lot of get the mid tone grey. Use the exposure compensation to stop down the exposure so that you get the correct mood and also faster shutter speed.

    7) I uses 24-70 f/2.8 with no VR either. So I don't see the need for a image stabilizer for such short range.

    AS you get better with more practice, you can almost feel what shutter speed, what aperture and how much flash compensation and exposure compensation for a scene. That is what differentiate a pro from an amateur. It's not the gear, it's the experience. Also as a photographer, you need to be engaging in your expression. Why make your friends feel like you are doing a job. You are a friend, you are capturing their happy moment. Get them together. Take a group photo. Make them feel good! Smile at them, mingle with them. It makes you a better photographer than a man holding a camera.
    Last edited by David Kwok; 4th October 2011 at 02:56 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Getting relatively sharp images

    Quote Originally Posted by David Kwok View Post
    I'm looking into your requirement of getting ambient lighting without flash.
    1) It is possible to get your ambient and still using flash together. You don't necessarily have to sacrifice any of them. The key here is balance of light which can be achieved by your gear if your flash support TTL. If you find your flash too strong, compensate by adjusting the flash strength. Also it is good to use the correct gel to correct the colour of the flash to match the surrounding lighting. Flash is normally by itself too cool for candescent lightning. You might wanna use CTO gel to seek a balance. Then because AWB will tune the scene towards white in the end, use a fixed WB to maintain the colour cast. It's not all that difficult after all

    2) Using monopod or tripod will only solve the issue if your lens are moving. If your subject are moving, even IS or VR will not save your day.

    3) At high ISO, you end up with less usable images which not only suffer from grainy images, you also suffer from inaccurate colours rendition. My recommended max is ISO 800, beyond that, you will notice very significant colour lose. Also noise are especially apparent in dark areas, so if you keep your flash on to fill up the area and also using a moderately high ISO, you can balance between ambient and flash light.

    4) The fact that professional photographers can capture expressions on the face of your audience doesn't necessarily means he is very far away and have to use tele lens. First of all perspective of wider angle lens give a closeness factor and obviously also less susceptible to vibration due to short focal length. The key here is subtleness. Move around your subjects. Don't let them feel you are always eyeing on them. Make disappearing act. Look at your camera as if you are adjusting something on it and not focusing on them. When you feel the expression is right. Aim fast, shoot fast and move on.

    5) If the light is really too dim, don't hesitate to use your exposure compensation to stop down a feel notch. It's okay to get under exposure and fix it in the software than a blur image due to insufficient shutter speed.

    6) Learn to operate in manual mode. Fix your shutter speed and aperture, let the flash fill up the rest to the correct exposure. In dim light condition, the camera can very easily be mislead that it need to boost up a lot of get the mid tone grey. Use the exposure compensation to stop down the exposure so that you get the correct mood and also faster shutter speed.

    7) I uses 24-70 f/2.8 with no VR either. So I don't see the need for a image stabilizer for such short range.

    AS you get better with more practice, you can almost feel what shutter speed, what aperture and how much flash compensation and exposure compensation for a scene. That is what differentiate a pro from an amateur. It's not the gear, it's the experience. Also as a photographer, you need to be engaging in your expression. Why make your friends feel like you are doing a job. You are a friend, you are capturing their happy moment. Get them together. Take a group photo. Make them feel good! Smile at them, mingle with them. It makes you a better photographer than a man holding a camera.
    Thank you so much for the tip!

  11. #11

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    Read up on Slow sync flash, or 2nd curtain flash. I think your pop up flash might not support it. Cheapest solution is 270ex.

    In fact, I like to use flash most of the time, yet with a balance of natural light.
    Sometimes, in daytime as well using
    High speed sync.
    | 5Diii | 24 ii | 40 | 24-70 ii | 24-105 | 70-200 F4 IS | 270 ii | 600EX-RT |

  12. #12

    Default Re: Getting relatively sharp images

    Quote Originally Posted by Duinchlfc View Post
    Hi there,i'm a hobbyist photog and sometimes i shoot company D&D's and family events.Most of the time i'll be shooting under less than optimal light conditions.So my question is what can i do in order to capture moments when friends or family are sharing a laugh or having tears of joy without being too close to them.I reckon having a 70-200 is the way to go but i just cannot afford the IS version of the Canon lense.I also prefer to shoot with ambient lighting without relying on the flash gun too much and using a low iso.What can i do? Monopod? Tripod? Cheers for your help and input!
    inadequate research prior to purchase...

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