Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90

Started Feb 15, 2010 | Discussions
kaamos
Junior MemberPosts: 30
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Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90
Feb 15, 2010

Hi

I was asked to take pictures of this high school dance happening. I guess it's something like the prom dance in the US, evening dresses etc. Anyway, I'm pretty new to this but I would really like to get some decent shots. Can you give some general directions on what kind of settings to use, and which lens on which situation? I want to take dancing shots and then some portraits of the couple. I'm expecting dim lights, movement and zooming in from the edge of the dance floor.

Gear:
D90
18-105 VR
70-300 (non-VR)
Tamron 10-24 DiII
Nikkor 50mm 1.8 Prime (old manual lens)
SB-400

I'm thinking the 18-105 will probably be my choice for most situations because of it's reach and the VR.

How about shooting portraits with the SB-400? It can't be tilted so it would bounce sideways. Can that look good?

How about ISO? I have previously used 800 with good results. Dare I crank it higher?

AF-C for the dance, AF-S for portraits?

Thanks in advance!

wijnands
Veteran MemberPosts: 7,813
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Re: Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90
In reply to kaamos, Feb 15, 2010

kaamos wrote:

Hi

I was asked to take pictures of this high school dance happening. I guess it's something like the prom dance in the US, evening dresses etc. Anyway, I'm pretty new to this but I would really like to get some decent shots. Can you give some general directions on what kind of settings to use, and which lens on which situation? I want to take dancing shots and then some portraits of the couple. I'm expecting dim lights, movement and zooming in from the edge of the dance floor.

Gear:
D90
18-105 VR
70-300 (non-VR)
Tamron 10-24 DiII
Nikkor 50mm 1.8 Prime (old manual lens)
SB-400

I'm thinking the 18-105 will probably be my choice for most situations because of it's reach and the VR.

Sounds good, I would also take the tamron for some fun shots.

How about shooting portraits with the SB-400? It can't be tilted so it would bounce sideways. Can that look good?

You can overcome that partially by shooting landscape and cropping

How about ISO? I have previously used 800 with good results. Dare I crank it higher?

With a D90? Depends on what you're shooting for. A 1600 shot would be fine for web and small to medium size prints.

AF-C for the dance, AF-S for portraits?

Or AF-C all the way.

Thanks in advance!

Don't expect to do much available light, perhaps some overview shots only. Simple flashing, try to set for about 1.5-2 stops under exposure and let the flash handle the rest.

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kaamos
Junior MemberPosts: 30
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Re: Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90
In reply to wijnands, Feb 15, 2010

I'm guessing they just want pictures for their family album etc. so high ISO pictures would probably be OK. Also, shooting the portraits with camera horizontally and cropping would probably be OK. There's plenty of Mpix for that.

Thanks for you opinion.

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Soren47
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Re: Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90
In reply to wijnands, Feb 15, 2010

How about ISO? I have previously used 800 with good results. Dare I crank it higher?

With a D90? Depends on what you're shooting for. A 1600 shot would be fine for web and small to medium size prints.

The D90 can easily handle shots at 1600. Depends of the shot of course, but I've printed 20X24 prints at that ISO with no real problems.

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Marlene08
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Re: Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90
In reply to Soren47, Feb 15, 2010

Take your 50 1.8, just in case. The extra stops over what you can get with the 18-105 could be really useful. On the D90, it will have some reach, so it might work for dancing shots. For portraits of the couples, it might be your best bet. I can't recall if you wrote that it was manual focus, but if so, dance shots would be more difficult, but portraits should be just fine.

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El Duende
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Re: Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90
In reply to kaamos, Feb 15, 2010

If you are allowed to use a flash, bring that and shoot at a low ISO setting 200 - 400. Taking indoor shots without a flash is almost guaranteed to give you poorly exposed photos. Experiment with bouncing the flash around when you are close to the subject (point it straight up if it is too harsh) but when subjects are further away it's ok to point the flash straight at them. Set the shutter speed between 1/80 for still subjects and about 1/160 for moving stuff (don't worry about camera shake, the flash will freeze the action). I would shoot in manual mode and the TTL flash should give you perfectly exposed shots provided your subject is not too far away (the SB-400 is a bit weak in that respect). The 18-105 is probably all you need in this situation unless you are very far from your subjects in which case it's probably going to be too dark to get decent photos anyway.

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ciddyguy
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Re: Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90
In reply to El Duende, Feb 15, 2010

From my limited experience with the D90 and the kit lens from a week ago yesterday, shooting at late dusk (sky still had some blue to it), I was able to get some really nice hand held shots with the shutter as low as 1/10s, true, stationary shots but with the VR, the images were crisp and sharp.

You'd have to zoom in to at least 100% crop to really notice the noise at 1600, it's that good and depending on what they intend to use the photos after the fact, it might not be a factor at all.

The 18-105 is pretty good lens for most things but if you have to zoom in, it might not be fast enough in low light since at full 105mm, it only opens up to f5 but even there it might be doable if you can't use the flash but as others have said, the flash can help if you know how to use it and set it so it doesn't overpower your shot.

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kaamos
Junior MemberPosts: 30
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Re: Advice on shooting in low light conditions, D90
In reply to ciddyguy, Feb 15, 2010

Right, thanks to all for your help! Maybe I've been overcautious on the ISO setting. I'll be sure to give 1600 a try. I'll report back when my shots have been judged by the parents

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