Best DSLR + lens combo for low light, indoor kid shots

Started Jan 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
Guidenet Forum Pro • Posts: 15,748
Re: APS-C cameras with minimum shutter speed settings?

Ted, you seem to be interested in full automatic ways of capturing low light and that's fine. Professional sports photographers generally do not need to worry how Shutter priority works so much because it's easy enough to know what exposure setting you need is and just set it. With regards to sports or your toddler, the lighting probably doesn't change very much during a shooting period, especially inside. Outside, it doesn't change much unless you're close to early morning or evening unless a serioius cloud bank rolls in. Most of the time, it's fairly steady and even lighting from lights or the sky.

Think about your subject more than the surroundings. Most of the time the sun isn't directly hitting the side you're looking at. If it were, your toddler would be squinting and turning away. Most of the time, no matter how high in the sky the sun is, the part of the child facing your lens is probably shady. So, meter some grass in the shade or maybe your hand and determine the exposure. Your hand is a stop brighter than a grey card and green grass is pretty dead on. It's easy to learn other items too. Once you've metered, you can choose the shutter speed, aperture and ISO best suited and then just set your camera for that. Maybe snap an experimental shot of that grass and take a look at the histogram for affirming your exposure choice.

Once set, just leave it there for a while. Things aren't going to change dramatically over a short while like 30 min or an hour. Leave it there, occasionally verifying by chimping and histogram. You might leave blinkies on too for highlights. I'd rather control the highlights by underexposing then bringing it back later, but that's up to you. The point is you're done and should need to keep worrying about the exposure or whether your shutter priority is ok or auto ISO is right. You've locked in everything in manual and it's easy.

For casual indoor use, I like Nikon's Creative Lighting System with a CLS capable flash unit set to iTTL-BL. I can then light up a wall, ceiling, curtains, etc. and let the reflected light natually increase the ambience to a nice level. Nikon's CLS really does a nice job with fill light in these situations or even all flash if need be. I don't have to pay attention to it other than deciding what I wish to light up as my secondary light source. Just place that big blob of light on some surface and let it do it's job. I may pick a wall for dramatic side lighting or the wall/ceiling high for a nice increase in ambience. That's fun and doesn't bother people like putting flash in their eyes might. It also looks natural instead of harsh. It's like having a window into a sunny yard there whereever you wish.

Other brands have their own flash programs and I'm not sure if they are as sophisticated as Nikon's CLS.

Have fun.

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Cheers, Craig
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