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03-05-2008, 08:44 PM   #1
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Interested in Night Photography, should I look for a different lens?

Hi,

I recently got a K10D, and the tamron 18-250 to complement it for normal shooting. I'm finding I'm more and more interested in night photography (city scape, moonlit landscape, sunset etc). Is the 18-250 an appropriate lens for this, or should I look for something else? What should I be looking for? I'm definitely still learning a lot, so please be detailed :-)

Thanks!

03-05-2008, 09:44 PM   #2
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Night shooting breaks down into two categories.
1. low iso and or small aperture time exposures on a tripod. The exposure times can be several seconds long, or even minutes. Good for non moving subjects or streaked moving subjects. Very high quality images.
2. High iso/ handheld with shorter exposure times and wide open apertures. Good for capturing action without streaking. Bright aperture lenses (f2.8 or larger - smaller #) very helpful. These shots will be noisier and more photojournalistic looking. With less depth of field.

Both methods have a distinct look. Which are you going for? The zoom you have would work fine for #1 and not so fine for #2. Zooms don't let in a lot of light which is a requirement for #2. A 50mm F1.4 would be a great affordable lens for handheld shooting. Some prefer a wider angle lens (allows shooting at a lower shutter speed). Maybe 24 or 35 f2. Hope this helps.
thanks
barondla
03-05-2008, 10:14 PM   #3
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Any lens will do the job just get a tripod or a monopod if you want that pristine imagery look. If you want to shoot wide open or handheld the 50 f.14 (short tele) or the 35 f2 (normal) should serve you well.
03-05-2008, 10:19 PM   #4
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Thank you very much for the reply barondla- I've unfortunately been doing probably the worst of both :-( (definitely a novice here)

I think I definitely favor '1', but I would be curious if there is any way to get high quality with a short exposure? Or for something like that am I looking at a much more expensive class of equipment?

I found someone locally with an M 50mm f1.4, 8 blade lens for ~$80, is that a good price? Good lens? Would that also be good for the #1 style, or am I hitting diminishing returns with that technique?

Thanks again!

03-05-2008, 10:27 PM   #5
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A 50mm 1.4 or a 1.7 are a great investment...

Check out ebay to see what prices the lenses go for... a M50 1.4 runs around $60-$100, an M50 1.7 runs around $25-$50.

I have a pristine M50 1.7 and absolutely love it.

And the best way to get started is to grab your cam and just go right ahead and experiment...

Pet
03-05-2008, 10:34 PM   #6
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I know this is detouring from the lens discussion, but from the technique standpoint- what should I be looking for in a tripod? For long exposure would I use one of the IR remotes or a shutter cable? Are they all about the same, or are some better than others?

I'm obviously really starting out with all of this and really appreciate the help! Are there any recommended books for various techniques, either for the K10D itself or in general?

Thank you again!
03-05-2008, 10:40 PM   #7
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My first prime is the FA 50 mm f/1.4 and I love that lens but it is harder to use than others. I highly recommend the lens not just for night time but it does more. If you are on a budget, find the other versions as in M 50mm or the A 50mm in ebay. But if you are used to AF, this prime serves me well

I wrote up a blog post gathering my thoughts on the lens:
Thoughts on Pentax FA 50 f/1.4 - Hin's Tech Corner

And you can see many samples of nighttime and indoor photos in my blog done on this lens hand held with K100D

ABC Wednesday -- Yahoo Year End Party - Hin's Photo Blog

ABC Wednesday -- Late Espresso - Hin's Photo Blog

ABC Wednesday -- Train Station - Hin's Photo Blog

Thanks,
Hin
03-05-2008, 10:44 PM   #8
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Can't really help you with tripods, I only got cheap ones... but stability is a must for long shots...

An IR remote is great, but most can't be used in "bulb" mode (where your shutter stays open as long as you press it). A cable remote on the other hand can do that, but you are tethered to the camera... each has their advantages.

If you don't have a remote, you can always setup your shot on the tripod, and then use the cameras timer function so that your pressing the shutter won't shake the cam before a pic.

Pat

03-05-2008, 10:54 PM   #9
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Here is a quick and dirty example...

Taken out of my dirty window, with my M50 1.7 at f11 for 10 seconds, ISO 400.

Shot in RAW format as differing lighting sources becomes an issue in night shots and I had to quickly adjust white balance and compensate for the low pressure sodium lighting which makes everything an icky dull orange.

Pat
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03-05-2008, 10:55 PM   #10
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Hin - Those are some great shots, based on the previous descriptions it looks like you were using a mix of exposure times, is that correct? I'm not sure I understand the differences between the various 50m F1.4s though, what is the difference between FA, M, and A? Is one better than another? Thanks!

ve2vfd- is there a point of diminishing returns with exposure? I've seen some posts where people have done a 20 minute exposure at night, is that a huge difference over 10? 5? I assume for anything like that I'd need to be using the shutter release cable?

Thanks!
03-05-2008, 11:01 PM   #11
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FA = autofocus, A = manual focus but auto exposure, M = manual everything.

Your exposure time is inversely proportionnal to your apperture size... and generally speaking, the smaller the apperture (f16, f32...), the sharper and "everything in focus" deep depth of field your pic will be and the wider the apperture (f1.4, f1.7...) the thinner that DOF will be.

But the price to pay is that small apperture needs more time, large apperture has low DOF

Pat
03-05-2008, 11:11 PM   #12
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Thank you very much ve2vfd, those explanations help a lot.
03-05-2008, 11:21 PM   #13
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To make it more confusing, the fastest lens would be your tripod. I personally don't enjoy tripod as I find them not easy to carry around in night shooting. But that is an essential item if you are into night time pictures.

For me personally, I trust my fast lens as in FA 50 f/1.4 or some reasonable fast lens with aperture such as f/2.8. I am novices but I find anything above f/2.8 would be difficult for me to shoot indoor and night time pictures without a tripod. To get steady shots, you have few options as mentioned by others:

1. tripod -- a capable tripod
I highly recommend a good tripod for investment. Don't rush into buying, do you own study. With a tripod, you can save money and keep using your own 18-250 lens and use long shutter exposure with a wireless remote. I do have a simple tripod with ballhead which I get from ebay, look for tripod on my gear list, I pay less than $90 for the whole thing


2. a mini-tripod for trying out indoor shots home



I find the ultapod ii great for my casual everyday use, I have it 24/7 in my backpack for night shooting. And it cost only $15 with a store visit to REI. Some stores don't have it on stock and you can try to order it online.

3. a fast lens,
Any of the FA 50mm f/1.4 and any variations of 50mm should do for you. If you are on a tight budget, I recommend A 50 f/2.0. Not as fast, but with 'A' for auto aperture, you need to do less as the lens can meter for you in Av aperture.

If you have a tripod, you can do away with your Tamron 18-250.
03-05-2008, 11:32 PM   #14
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With my SMC FA 28-105 f/3.2-4.5, I shot these at night without a tripod in pushing the ISO to 400 and 800. With a monopod or a full tripod, I would have done much better in lower iso without blur pictures. But at f/4.0, I am pushing my hand holding limits. These sets of pictures would have been better had I brought a tripod or my faster lens as in the FA 50 f/1.4 but I was in a business trip and those two items are not on my list.


around sunset


All shots hand-held in iso 400 and 800 later in the evening

#1 1.6 sec, f/4.0, 50mm, iso 400, 0 Ev
I was sitting on the stairs using my knees to support my elbows


#2 0.8 sec, f/4.0, 50mm, iso 400, -1 Ev


#3 1/8 sec, f/4.5, 85mm, iso 200, -1 Ev


#4 1/10 sec, f/4.5, 105mm, iso 400, -1 Ev


#5 1/13 sec, f/4.0, 60mm, iso 200, -1 Ev



Last edited by hinman; 03-06-2008 at 12:26 AM.
03-06-2008, 12:02 AM   #15
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Some shots from FA 50 f/1.4. All are taken hand held with K100D


Some shots from a Vivitar 24mm f/2.8 manual, hand held with K100D


blurry but I like it







Had I brought a tripod, I might not be that mobile in the new year eve to capture both the night scenes and the fireworks. Fast lens and tripod are both needed.

Thanks,
Hin
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