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02-21-2009, 12:36 AM   #1
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DA 40 Ltd.-how useable in low light/interior photography?

Hello everyone ,
Need advice-like to buy something new (is this LBA?), so far playing with the kit lenses only.
Any experience regarding the DA40 Ltd. in low light/interiors welcomed.
Sample pictures would be great

Thanks,

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02-21-2009, 12:39 AM   #2
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DA 40mm has f2.8, you can set your camera to ISO 1600, should still ok in low light. but not the best. 50mm F1.4 might have better result in low light.
02-21-2009, 01:29 AM   #3
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how better is the FA50 1.4 or even the FA35 2.0.?
Is it like you can use Iso 1000 instead of 1600?

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02-21-2009, 02:20 AM   #4
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it really depends on available ligt/camera combination.
DA40 is stunningly sharp from 2.8, there is no need to stop it down. It focuses fast (apparently one of the fastest focusing Pentax lenses).
The question is what are you goint to take pics of and what camera with?
If your subject is not moving very much/very fast or is static, then as long as you can get handholdable speeds (around 1/15 for 40 give and take depending on individual) DA40 will not let you down. I've seen many great shots here with K20 on ISO1600. And honestly I'd be really thinking twice if I could choose K10 + 50/1.4 at ISO400 @f1.4 or K20 + 40/2.8 at ISO 1600 @ f2.8!
another issue is DOF. At f1.4 you'll get very narrow DOF. f2.8 is slightlymore forgiving. But that again depends on what effect you desire
BR

PS: for other then low light DA40 will be much more usable lens, wilth better colours and better corner to corner performance then 50...


Last edited by axl; 02-21-2009 at 02:23 AM. Reason: PS added
02-21-2009, 12:32 PM   #5
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I agree with the observation that the answers depend on the light. There ar *some* indoor situtions where f/2.8 allows you to use ISO 400 and still get 1/60" shutter speeds. Others where you might need ISO 800 to get 1/60". Others where ISO 800 will only get you 1/30". Oothers still where you need ISO 1600 to get 1/30". And others still where you'll have to increase ISO even higher - or shoot underexposed at ISO 1600 and push it in PP - just to get 1/20".

So sure, there *are* times when a larger aperture would seem nice. On the other hand, as axl observes, DOF is shallow enough at f/2.8 - going to a larger aperture to get a faster shutter speed often results in images with so little in focus, or the focus area just off where you intended, that it's barely worth it. On the *other* hand, there are situations where if you're reasonably careful, you can nail the focus perfectly at f/1.4 and the shallow DOF can make for a stunning effect. Oh, the difference betwene f/2.8 and f/2 is one stop: meaning you can either double the shutter speed or halve the ISO. And f/1.4 is another stop from there. So no denying you'll get faster shutter speeds at a givn ISO, or lower ISO at a given shutter speed, with a faster lens. The only question is whether f/2.8 is fast *enough*, and while others say no, I find that often enough, it *is*. See my followup below with the samples.

I like having a faster lens available for the situations when I absolutely need it (because the light is just *so* bad, or because I *want* the extremely shallow DOF. I have a manual focus 50 (A50/1.7) I have for just this reason; cost me around $50. But most of the time, the DA40 does the job better, because the focal length works better for me.

Speaking of focal length, that's another issue of course. I think 40mm is just about perfect on APS-C for candid photography - at typical (for me) shooting distances, it gives me as much of the person and the surroundings as I'd normally want. In situations where I'm especially interested in the surroundings at least as much as the person, having something wider and coming in closer can make sense, so I use a manual focus 28 (M28/2.8) in those cases. Others might prefer to split the difference and have a single indoor lens at 35mm (eg, the FA35/2 or DA35/2.8 macro).

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 02-21-2009 at 02:11 PM.
02-21-2009, 02:04 PM   #6
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Oh yeah, you asked for samples. Seems I keep posting the same ones over and over when this topic comes up (which it does every few of weeks or so), so I'll try a few different ones to illustrate particular situations. And maybe I'll bookmark this post so I can point re-use it next time :-) All images shot with my K200D.

Here's one where light was good enough for f/4, ISO 400, and 1/60" - relatively bright office lighting, and some filtered daylight coming through the window blinds. f/4 of course gives more DOF than f/2.8, and I took advantage of the opportunity to go there because while I was obviously interested the subject (hi, Mom!), I wanted to the office itself to be a significant element of the picture. This is a scene I'd probably have been better off shooting with my 28 to better capture the surroundings. I had to step back a bit further than I'd have preferred to take this, and I still chopped of the desk rather abruptly. But a 50 would not have allowed me to get the shot at all.



Here's one with direct window light only, but quite a bit of it (a sliding glass door, actually). So I was able to use used ISO 400 and 1/60" again, but I chose f/2.8 this time, since I *wanted* to blur the background. If I had my A50/1.7, I might have used it at f/2 to blur the background more, but I'd have been fighting DOF big time. It would have been better to find a way to compose the shot without the background distraction.



Normally, when you don't have much sunlight coming in through a window, f/2.8 isn't a choice - it's a necessity. Here's one lit primarily by ordinary household lamps, but reasonably brightly. f/2.8 again, ISO 800, 1/30". DOF comes close to covering both the stuffed penguin and my niece, but as you may be able to see, it isn't *quite* enough. I think it works here, but this gives you an idea of why I say that apertures larger than f/2.8 are sometimes less useful than one might think: you often have to sacrifice the focus on part of your subject even at f/2.8:



Overall, my usual assumption is that I'll shoot f/2.8, ISO 1600, and use 1/30". I probably take more pictures indoors at those settings than any other. I usually just make those settings in "M" mode, take a test shot, and assuming it's in the ballpark, I don't think about exposure again. I find that 2.8 / 1600 / 1/30 covers an awful lot of indoor situations. Sometimes the exposure is perfect, sometimes a little overexposed, sometimes a little underexposed, but nothing not easily deal with in RAW PP. This one, for instance, required a 1/2 EV push:



Here's the worst-case scenario: a subject hiding in a dark corner of a dark room. Luckily, it's a pretty light-colored subject, but even so, I needed to go down to 1/10" at f/2.8 & ISO 1600, and then still needed to shoot underexposed and push it one stop in PP (meaning this was the equivalent of ISO 3200). Luckily, the subject was content to sit still long enough for 1/10" to yield a reasonably sharp picture:


Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 02-21-2009 at 02:12 PM.
02-21-2009, 02:08 PM   #7
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I like this lens for low light photography even though f/2.8 is not that fast.
The rendering of the lens is awesome. It's a very capable lens, don't let the size of it fool you.

02-21-2009, 02:15 PM   #8
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Thanks a lot Marc that was really nice from you! Actually from now on I will search the previous post before opening a new thread
BTW looking into older posts the DA35 ltd. came into sight...

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02-21-2009, 02:17 PM   #9
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this week I've been in a very similar boat in terms of wondering whether the DA40 LTD is that great with low light photography.

As long as there's decent light, I find it does a fantastic job.

However, right now I'm testing some wider aperture lenses (F/2 instead of F/2.8) to see if there's a major benefit. A few test shots show that even at F2.8, I can get creamy bokey with the DA40 if I place the subject/lighting right. And if the lighting is bad, I'm trying to adjust ISO now instead. Anyways, will update soon enough one I put my lenses through a few more tests.

Marc S., strangely enough I've been following all your posts on the DA40 Maybe consider writing an article on it!! hehe
02-21-2009, 02:22 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dugrant153 Quote
Marc S., strangely enough I've been following all your posts on the DA40 Maybe consider writing an article on it!! hehe
I think I just did :-). I may adapt that and make a blog post out of it.
02-21-2009, 02:30 PM   #11
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Sooner or later I'll buy one of these that's for sure
Hope it's going to make a huge difference from the kit lenses

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02-22-2009, 02:27 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
...you often have to sacrifice the focus on part of your subject even at f/2.8:
I am also thinking about buying the DA 40 in the future (I don't have the money to buy anything right now...), but I'm worrying about the narrow dof. Your above statement is exactly what I'm worried about.

I take close shots of my 2 months old daughter with the kit lens usually around 18-30mm fl. The dof is just 2-3cm in these cases, which is too narrow: I lock focus on the little eyes, they are sharp on the picture but most of her head and body is out of focus. If I recompose after locking focus, then it's even worse. I think at 2.8 I'd get even worse results than now at 3.6 - 4. I admit that it might be just user error as I have to get used to dslrs again.

The lightning conditions are pretty bad for taking shots: iso 1000, f 3.6 - 4 lets me use 1/15 - 1/20 shutter speeds - enough when she doesn't move, slow to capture anything else. To be honest I don't think a faster 2.8 lens would be a big improvement regarding shutter speeds in this case, so I think I'll buy an external flash to be able to "bounce" - it also costs half of the DA 40's price . Of course in the future I'll (hopefully) buy this lens, but probably not for this really low light shooting.
02-22-2009, 11:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by simico Quote
I take close shots of my 2 months old daughter with the kit lens usually around 18-30mm fl. The dof is just 2-3cm in these cases
That doesn't seem right. Are you computing that based on some DOF calculator, or by looking at your images? Is it possible you simply missed focus? If you're using AF, there is no way to be absolutely sure the camera is focusing on the eye (not even by selecting a focus point - they are too broad for that level of precision). See my images above - I don't have any accurate way of measuring DOF, but it sure seems to be at least a few centimeters even at f/2.8. Of course, those aren't closeups, either, and I know DOF gets shallower as you get closer. But shallow DOF isn't a bad thing with portraits. Some people pay extra for that...

Can you post some pictures that you think suffer from too shallow a DOF?

QuoteQuote:
The lightning conditions are pretty bad for taking shots: iso 1000, f 3.6 - 4 lets me use 1/15 - 1/20 shutter speeds - enough when she doesn't move, slow to capture anything else.
Right. You'd be *way* better off using ISO 1600 to get a faster shutter speed.

QuoteQuote:
To be honest I don't think a faster 2.8 lens would be a big improvement regarding shutter speeds in this case
The kit lens can only do f/3.5 at the very widest end. As soon as you zoom even one millimeter in, you're at f/4, and it gets worse from there. So f/2.8 gives you shutter speeds that are *at least* twice as fast at any given ISO. In your example above that would have been 1/30 - 1/45. it really does make all the difference in th world. But if you're in situations wher flash is OK, and you don't mind using it, by all means, solve the problem that way instead.
02-23-2009, 12:17 AM   #14
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The DA40 Ltd and Pentax flash make a great combo actually, although it makes the Pentax body top heavy as the lens is light and 'not really there' (nothing to grab onto with the DA40! I usually just grab the side of the camera).

Marc, I know you posted some pics of ISO 1600 with the DA40 Ltd on the K200D (my current setup). Would you mind posting a few more? I find that when it's darker, there's a lot more noise... and am wondering if the loss in detail becomes really significant.
02-23-2009, 12:43 AM   #15
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how low is the light?


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