Super Low-Light portraits with the Takumar 50/1.4

Started Nov 14, 2012 | Discussions thread
Charlie Lab
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Re: Super Low-Light portraits with the Takumar 50/1.4
In reply to sean lancaster, Nov 14, 2012

sean lancaster wrote:

Charlie Lab wrote:

sean lancaster wrote:

You have some terrific shots mixed in that sample.

I don't think of those shots and that scene as "super low light," though. Many of those shots are in lighting that I shoot daily. In fact, I'd call that regular indoor lighting found typical homes. Pushing your lens wide open (i.e., f/1.4) and still needing ISO 3,200 or 6,400 (or, taking darker images) is where I'd draw the line to get to super low light and that may even be generous.

I can't really disagree with you, Sean. "Low light" not "Super low light" indeed. In looking at the EXIF data, it's interesting to see how varied the lighting was. I also tried to capture the adults as they were near a light source, but since I was moving between some extremes of light with some fast-moving subjects, I fell back on auto-ISO to help (limited to 1600).

I am curious about your experience with wide apertures at very high ISO - I'm not happy with my results so far. I may try a longer lens to capture closer crops, and take advantage of the many pixels to compensate, or just shoot a little darker (i do use that trick sometimes)

I really don't like going above ISO 800 if I can help it (and I will lower shutter speed and try at ISO 400 even more than staying at 800; I'd at least try once). I'll go up to ISO 3,200, but when I am at a higher ISO with my 5N I prefer to have the subject (e.g., a person) fill up much of the frame rather than be smaller in the frame. I lose all detail in eyelashes and hair, etc. when the subject isn't filling much of the frame (e.g., and this is crummy if I need to crop - which can easily happen when you're shooting primes). Here is an older shot from May that I liked, but I can't go much larger than 800 pixels wide in size because the detail is lost. This is ISO 3200, f/1.8, and a shutter speed of 1/10 - really low light in a cigar bar:

I might shoot ISO 3200 for evening street photography but I also lower my expectations with regard to sharpness.

I am still learning what works well in different lighting conditions. It's amazing what detail is captured in RAW, but I find the slower shutter speed is impossible with kids - something is always blurred because they are always moving. I think my process works okay with shorter lenses, but 1/60 for a 50mm is pushing the limits of motion blur.

I am starting to play with "S" mode now, which (if I get good with it) should help. I can adjust the shutter speed for the focal length, play with aperture manually, and let the ISO be handled behind the scenes. I will still get some grainy high-ISO results, of course, but it's interesting testing it.

I am still looking for a nice fast wider lens (20-25mm) - I think I may be forced to get an e-mount for the wide angles. Not the end of the world, but I really like working with the manual glass.

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If you take a great photograph, I really don't care whether it came from a Leica or smartphone. Just share it.

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