How to take Photos in Low Light?


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Apr 7, 2008
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#1
Hi night photography experts,
I just got myself a new Canon DSLR with lense kit EFS 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6IS. I was trying to take some candid shots in a restaurant at night. I dont want to use flash as the ambience of warm light will be lost. As such, I choose to use aperture priority and set it to max opening of f/3.5 and increase the ISO to 800, shutter speed is auto based on the aperture size for enough exposure. The ambience is there but the moving subjects in the photos are blurred since they are not posing and not keeping still.
As such, what is the best way to settle this? Use a prime lens with bigger aperture of f/1.2 so that the shutter speed is increased?
 

night86mare

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Aug 25, 2006
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#2
if you do not want to use flash..

if you do not want to bump up the iso further (to 1600 or 3200).. which is probably understandable

then yes, you will need a bigger aperture to freeze action

but even then, it might not be enough, it all depends on the lighting in the restaurant

then again, you can do deliberate underexposure - it dpeends on what you want to achieve. sometimes camera metering is not that accurate.
 

senray

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Nov 25, 2006
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#3
You are taking your pictures at Aperture Priority, that is why your shutter speed is so slow and you get moving subjects. If you don't want to buy a new lens, try setting your camera to ISO auto. Then take your pictures using the manual mode, with your lowest f-stop. Try not to zoom in too much in your shots.

I think that's the best you can do with your current lens.
 

emerald

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Dec 17, 2007
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#4
For ur current lens, not much u can do to achieve a good exposure, either it's bright enough but lurred, or it's sharper but very dark. Can try to increase the shutter speed to get sharper images, then boost the underexposed images using PS or DPP. If die die want a nice bright shots, go for a fast lens. :D
 

Apr 7, 2008
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#5
Aperture is already max at f3.5. If I were to increase the shutter speed manually, the photograph will appear dark. ISO if its increased further, the photos will appear grainy.
Anymore advice? If its use fast lens, what is a decent lens to recommend that is not too expensive?
 

Anson

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Jul 31, 2006
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#6
Aperture is already max at f3.5. If I were to increase the shutter speed manually, the photograph will appear dark. ISO if its increased further, the photos will appear grainy.
Anymore advice? If its use fast lens, what is a decent lens to recommend that is not too expensive?
Depending on the distance that you are shooting, a prime lens (f1.4 or 1.8) with a fix focal length should not be too expensive. You can even try out third parties lens from sigma with a canon mount.
 

b2973

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Feb 25, 2008
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#7
If its use fast lens, what is a decent lens to recommend that is not too expensive?
The least expensive fast lens is the 50mm f1.8. @ about $130. Its really worth buying if you intend to take indoor available light photos. However, at 50mm it is quite long for indoors, so you may find yourself backing up against the wall quite often (especially if you like to take group shots, full body shots, etc). Its very good value if you like to take portraits indoors.

If you find that too long though and want something wider, you'd have to fork out about $500-600 more to get either the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 or some other fast primes in the 28 to 35mm range.
 

#8
Hi night photography experts,
I just got myself a new Canon DSLR with lense kit EFS 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6IS. I was trying to take some candid shots in a restaurant at night. I dont want to use flash as the ambience of warm light will be lost. As such, I choose to use aperture priority and set it to max opening of f/3.5 and increase the ISO to 800, shutter speed is auto based on the aperture size for enough exposure. The ambience is there but the moving subjects in the photos are blurred since they are not posing and not keeping still.
As such, what is the best way to settle this? Use a prime lens with bigger aperture of f/1.2 so that the shutter speed is increased?
Just use a flash, and lower down your shutter speed to maybe 1/20, plus bluming in high iso, you still able get the warm ambience.
The subject with flash, will not have much noise if is well control.
 

viewwing

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Nov 6, 2006
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#9
if the picture still comes out well enough to be printed. bumping it up to 1600 can be an option. A noisy picture is still better then no picture...

Also u can do photoshop for underexposed pictures. Adjust the levels and u should be able to get the details back up. Try not to use iso more than 800 if u wanna choose this option. the noise will be quite clear when u up the levels. since u're a canon user i guess u love noiseless pictures...
 

giantcanopy

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Feb 11, 2007
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#10
I think u got the answers for shooting in low lighting situations.

In addition, noise can be slightly controlled with softwares such as Noise Ninja.
And it is pretty effective. In certain instances, you can play noise to ur advantage in processing.

Ryan
 

karnage

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Feb 26, 2005
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#11
I'm no dSLR user but I'm thinking if u use shutter priority, and since it's dark enough already, the camera will definitely place the aperture at it's largest. Of course, that's the same as manual la... U just control the shutter to determine how dark you can live with. Some ambience are meant to be dark and it's not what the camera wants (which is good exposure) but what you want (which I assume, an accurate reproduction of the scene)...
 

#12
In addition, noise can be slightly controlled with softwares such as Noise Ninja.
And it is pretty effective. In certain instances, you can play noise to ur advantage in processing.

Ryan
Yes, software like Noise Ninja and Neat Image are good and affordable -- especially with the low US$ now.

I have no problems shooting with my Fuji S5 Po at ISO 3200. Most situations I do not even have to apply Noise Ninja.

I believe many of the newer DSLRs, especially those launched in recent months, have very good noise control. Don't hesitate to use the highest available setting, be it 1600, 3200 or higher in the case of the latest Nikons.

Someone here said noisy picture still better than no picture. It is also better than blur picture with camera shake or people moving (unless you want to capture the movement).

It is also easier to remove noise than to remove camera shake. To minimise camera shake, take a deep breath and hold your breath when you press the shutter. Also, push your arms close to your body, or rest on something stable, like the table.
 

#13
if the picture still comes out well enough to be printed. bumping it up to 1600 can be an option. A noisy picture is still better then no picture...

Also u can do photoshop for underexposed pictures. Adjust the levels and u should be able to get the details back up. Try not to use iso more than 800 if u wanna choose this option. the noise will be quite clear when u up the levels. since u're a canon user i guess u love noiseless pictures...
Correct me if I am wrong... I believe it is also better to shoot raw when you want to under-expose and adjust later?
 

mahojazz

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Nov 20, 2007
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#14
Hi, may i know at what shutter speed is consider fast enuff to capture pple without blur? Let say at f2.8, ISO 800 or even 1600. Is 1/125 enuff?
 

dark72

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Nov 22, 2007
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#15
Hi, may i know at what shutter speed is consider fast enuff to capture pple without blur? Let say at f2.8, ISO 800 or even 1600. Is 1/125 enuff?
I think it'll still be blur if people are moving around under low lighting. Probably u'll want to set around 1/60, ISO even higher than 1600 if you really want the picture to be less blur but more grainy
 

giantcanopy

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Feb 11, 2007
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#16
Hi, may i know at what shutter speed is consider fast enuff to capture pple without blur? Let say at f2.8, ISO 800 or even 1600. Is 1/125 enuff?
A shutter speed of about 1/60 is often quoted to be sufficient for freezing normal human motion, might not be able to catch a sneeze in action though :confused:

While fast enough for freezing usual human motion is one thing, being handholdable at the focal length u using is another seperate issue.

Ryan
 

lsisaxon

Senior Member
Nov 29, 2004
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#17
Hi night photography experts,
I just got myself a new Canon DSLR with lense kit EFS 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6IS. I was trying to take some candid shots in a restaurant at night. I dont want to use flash as the ambience of warm light will be lost. As such, I choose to use aperture priority and set it to max opening of f/3.5 and increase the ISO to 800, shutter speed is auto based on the aperture size for enough exposure. The ambience is there but the moving subjects in the photos are blurred since they are not posing and not keeping still.
As such, what is the best way to settle this? Use a prime lens with bigger aperture of f/1.2 so that the shutter speed is increased?
Get Nikon D3, set to ISO6400 or if you can tolerate, ISO25600 and use f/1.4 lenses. ;p
 

zoossh

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Nov 29, 2005
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#19
without flash or framing of brighter scenes,

1. underexpose to the limit of your taste
2. increase ISO to the limit of the camera's noise control and your threshold for noise
3. increase aperture size to the limit of the lens
4. shorten the focal length to the limit of your lens.

i think wide angle prime may be the best option, or if you can afford, think tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 sounds good (which i will look at when my sigma 10-20mm dies)
 

yehosaphat

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Oct 28, 2005
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#20
Get a prime lens that has a big aperture like f1.4-f.12, boost up your ISO, and you're there!
 

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