Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions
DtEW
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to smallLebowski, Apr 11, 2013

Another vote for the SEL35F18 for its OSS.

Shooting by campfire-light is virtually daytime relative to shooting by screenlight.

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smallLebowski
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to DtEW, Apr 11, 2013

Holy mother of God! ISO12800 at 1/8 sec! Oh, man - now I'm confused - so many choices - which way to go? This forum is overwhelming me with info. Damn you SONY - why couldn't you just make 2 lenses for whole lineup of NEX - the choice would be so much easier.

I'm starting to love NEX - would I be wrong to say that NEX is probably currently the most versatile camera/system in the world (so many adapters and lenses)?

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Stephenhampshire
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to smallLebowski, Apr 11, 2013

I use a Pentax K5 which has a similar(same?) sensor as the 5R. I use ISOs up to 3200, the shot below which is lit entirely by firelight is using a pentax 16-45 zoom, the second one using the Sigma 30mm f1.4 For both use apertures less than f1.4 purely to give me a bit more DOF  I always brace myself against something if I can, or use a monopod. Your initial guess on the sort of exposures needed to capture firelight isn't far off....

All shot in RAW

ISO2000, 1/30 F4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/arleimages/6408133357/in/set-72157630845077560

One with the Sigma 30mm f1.4

ISO 1250 1/15 F3.5

http://www.flickr.com/photos/arleimages/8176731059/in/set-72157631984056673/

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to Faketastic, Apr 11, 2013

Faketastic wrote:

Mel Snyder wrote:

smallLebowski wrote:

Hey guys,

In near future I have a trip with my class to national park including 2 nights: campfires, low-light e.t.c. I ordered LA-EA2 adapter and I'm salivating over Sigma 30mm f1.4 (older one) - mainly for it's low light capabilities at wide open f1.4. I know it's soft wide open at corners and that is ok with me for low light.

However, my main concern is that using LA-EA2 I won't have OSS and I was wondering if that would defeat the purpose of this lens for low light photography (longer shutter speed/blur due to absence of OSS). I won't be using tripod (don't want to be a "Photographer" while my class will have fun). So what shutter speeds I'm looking at with that lens at f1.4 (is it realistic to get during campfire 1/50 at 3200/6400 ISO) - or should I abandon that idea?

P.S. I have NEX 5R.

Thanks!

With all due respect I think you are overthinking this. Campfires bright enough to see your friends are plenty bright enough to shoot with the kit lens. People just sitting around a fire are not point guards taking jump shots. ISO 400-800, f4-5.6, 1/4 second should give you fine results. Just start there, and adjust.  You don't need a tripod - God gave us knees and hands for that.

Too many people on the forum think you need to run out and buy expensive new lenses to get some shot. There's almost always a way to get great shots with whatever you own. Take a look at the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson or W. Eugene Smith - how DID they get those low-no light level scenes without some whiz-bang f1.4 Sigma and OSS, often at ISO 80?

Many of our best photographers were also tech-junkies. Bresson shot with a Leica and a fast 50mm most of the time. And he didn't shoot campfires much.

1. Bresson may not have shot campfires much - but as a former scout and scoutmaster, I have, so I know what I'm talking about.

2. Shooting with a Leica and a fast lens didn't make you a tech-junky in 1950 - it meant you were making money with your camera and you needed reliability. Name some "best photographers who were also tech-junkies" that you know or knew first-hand. I had a father who was one - check "Clarence Snyder" in Wikipedia. And I spent 2 semesters studying with Philippe Halsman, 43 years ago.

3. Now that Leicas are priced outrageously, owning one today may make you a tech junky, because the digital models have been too problematic for most pros to count on them.

4. Back in the film era, there was nothing special about shooting with a Leica and a fast lens. As the photo below shows, I've been doing it since the 11th grade, circa 1959 (1938 Leica IIIa with an uncoated 50mm f2 Summar). I bought it with the profits from shooting night football and basketball games for the local newspaper, beginning in the 10th grade. Not because I was a tech junky, but because I needed a reliable camera, too. If the local paper was sending me 30 miles for a game, I had to be sure I came back with photos.

And as for Henri Cartier-Bresson, he did his share of low light shooting:

Those of us who grew up with these guys as our gods would just sit and stare for hours at their images in galleries, in LIFE. Those photos were - and still are - our highs. The cameras and lenses themselves were irrelevant.

You know all those guys talking about Minolta SLR lenses? Some us were around where they were new more than 40 years ago, when W. Eugene Smith was shooting them in near darkness without OSS or autofocus in near darkness, shooting real people, like the victims of Minimata, Japan - and never, I can bet you, thinking of his lens IQ:

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to Stephenhampshire, Apr 11, 2013

Stephenhampshire wrote:

I use a Pentax K5 which has a similar(same?) sensor as the 5R. I use ISOs up to 3200, the shot below which is lit entirely by firelight is using a pentax 16-45 zoom, the second one using the Sigma 30mm f1.4 For both use apertures less than f1.4 purely to give me a bit more DOF  I always brace myself against something if I can, or use a monopod. Your initial guess on the sort of exposures needed to capture firelight isn't far off....

All shot in RAW

ISO2000, 1/30 F4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/arleimages/6408133357/in/set-72157630845077560

One with the Sigma 30mm f1.4

ISO 1250 1/15 F3.5

http://www.flickr.com/photos/arleimages/8176731059/in/set-72157631984056673/

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Gorgeous shots.

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to DtEW, Apr 11, 2013

DtEW wrote:

Another vote for the SEL35F18 for its OSS.

Shooting by campfire-light is virtually daytime relative to shooting by screenlight.

You are SO right!

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, Apr 11, 2013

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

OSS would not help you make shutter speed faster. It could, potentially, make your shutter speed slower as it only address camera shake issues. Besides, I don’t think you will have much issue with ISO under relatively dark conditions. In fact, if you don’t mind shooting RAW with manual mode, you could simply set ISO 800 (you might be able to use even ISO 400), set the shutter speed and aperture as needed. If the lighting conditions did require ISO 3200, you could simply bump up the exposure in RAW by 2-stops. The advantage will be in better dynamic range at ISO 800 compared to 3200. But, you could take a few test shots prior to choosing this setting so you have a benchmark for the conditions.

Alternatively, you could go with aperture priority and manual ISO. If you must leave the lens wide open, you simply increase the ISO to get at least 1/50s. And again, if shooting RAW, you notice getting a good exposure at 1/60s, f/1.4 and ISO 800, but want to freeze action, switch over to shutter priority. Leave the ISO at 800 and increase the shutter speed by 1-2 stops (1/125s-1/250s). The aperture value will blink but ignore it. And then increase the exposure in RAW processing by 2-stops. You won’t have a noticeable benefit in terms of noise compared to ISO 3200 but you will be able to recover highlights better (and color will be better too at lower ISO).

Excellent advice! Of course, if you choose "P" mode on the NEX-6 and watch the shutter speed in the EVF, you can use your thumb to adjust the shutter speed to optimize aperture.

Also - make sure you use the spot metering mode. You care only about the illuminated faces. The reason why so many newbies blow campfire type scenes is because they try to balance the illuminated area with the darkness. That's why they believe they need faster lenses than they really need.

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to TiagoReil, Apr 11, 2013

TiagoReil wrote:

wictred wrote:

smallLebowski wrote:

I appreciate your info. You are right. As it was mentioned here - SAL35f18 should do just fine or even try kit lens first (at least it has OSS) and go from there.

The SEL35F18 is an E-Mount lens with OSS. For low light it is a very nice "normal" lens. F1.8 and OSS is not really common, usually ... for moving subjects not important though.

But it is also expensive.

You could also go for a Konica AR 40mm f1.8

That should cost you like 50$-70$ including the adapter and a few extra $ for a good lens hood (the Konica 40mm really lacks contrast if it's wide open without a hood).

It is really a nice lens .... not as sharp as a modern lenses .... and it has quite a bit purple fringing wide open ... a bit longer than the 35mm lenses (eq 50mm) but a good choice if you don't want to dish out a couple hundred for a fast 35mm lens.

I would go for the SEL3518 too instead of LAEA2 and sigma. The sigma is faster, but but with the translucent mirror the speeds match. you will have a very good lens, small, with good speed and OSS

Of course if you already have the LAEA2 or already have other lenses and a sony alpha camera (DSLR ir DSLT) it makes sense to get the sigma.

Take a small flashlight to focus. you could have it with the same hand you press the shutter, and be able to focus. Both will focus very bad in low light, you need the extra light. the nex is quite bad if you dont have acceptable light. And the DSLRs have an IR assist, that you wont have with the LAEA2. So use the flashlight with the same hand you you hold the grip (have it between the grip and your hand pointing the same as the lens) and use it to focus.

Finally, be intelligent. Dont take a a tripod, but find support. That would be the same as using OSS. Use a chair, use a branch of a tree. Sit down, stabilize your legs and use your knees, take a small bean bag and put sand in it, etc. That will save you a lot of shots. Practice that at home till you get the feeling.

and have fun!!!!

That flashlight is like using a strobe. Unnecessary. The NEX focuses WONDERFULLY in low light - PERFECTLY, anywhere you can see. Just focus manually, as below. Because of the backlight and low ambient light, I couldn't really see her face except with the light-amplifying effect of the NEX-6 EVF. Shot handheld with the 85mm f1.2L at f1.4 - check the EXIF for the shutter speed and ISO, don't remember it.

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smallLebowski
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to Mel Snyder, Apr 11, 2013

Thank you - spot metering! So much new info I've got from this forum.

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smallLebowski
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Re: Thank you everyone!
In reply to smallLebowski, Apr 11, 2013

Just need some time to learn and try all the wonderful advices given!

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wictred
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Re: Advice on low-light photography (s30f14? no OSS)
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, Apr 12, 2013

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

smallLebowski wrote:

Wow - great info - thank you for teaching such tricks! I need to try that.

You're welcome. You might want to practice it before trying. There is a downside to it though: review. Since you will be using a lower ISO, the review will render a darker image.

And actually there is no gain if you only use the lower part of the dynamic range (i.e. the shadows etc).

It could even get worse if you have to push shadows a lot afterwards...

But if there's a lot of shadows in the frame and you only want to push brighter areas afterwards (e.g. campfire in the dark), then going for an underexposed (lower iso) shot might do the trick.
I used that for concerts ... mostly because you can't rely on metering anyway with all those lights etc, so I just set the camera to manual 1/200, wide open, ISO high but not too high, and made adjustments in pp.. used to work fine in the heat of the moment

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Thank you everyone!
In reply to smallLebowski, Apr 12, 2013

smallLebowski wrote:

Just need some time to learn and try all the wonderful advices given!

Just set up with a small lamp in your living room, and practice the advice.

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