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05-08-2012, 12:12 PM   #1
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improving low light pics

hi PF i hope you can answer a question for me, i have a K-R with the 18-55mm and 50-200mm kit lenses with take some pretty good pics when the light is nice and bright (i.e outdoors),
recently i went to an indoor car show although it was bright inside when taking pics of the cars at 200 iso they were coming out really dark so i upped the iso to get brighter pics and got upto iso 1600 which brightened things up,

now my question is if i invest in a new lens would that improve the low light pictures?

i was thinking of getting the Pentax 35mm f2.4 smc DA AL as i've read some fantastic reveiws on it plus i'm on a budget and this gets it to the top of my list

05-08-2012, 12:18 PM   #2
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Having a faster lens would definitely help, as your camera will be able to use faster shutter speeds, resulting in less motion blur and allowing you to use lower ISOs.

Here are some 35mm resources and links:
In-depth review: Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 - Review - PentaxForums.com
Get it at B&H photo (free shipping): Pentax 35mm DA L F2.4 AL Lens 21987 B&H Photo Video
User reviews (54 of them!) SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 AL Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

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05-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #3
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If I may suggest, at about $100 more, the Tamron 17-50 may be a better bet for something like a car show. It is F2.8, which is about half a stop slower than the F2.4 of the 35mm, but it will let you go wider and longer. It also have very good image quality.

I only suggest it because you mention the car show - I was recently at the NYC car show and most of my shots had to be between 21mm and 28mm in order to get the whole car in the shot due to the crowds.
05-08-2012, 12:41 PM   #4
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The basic options for working in low light are:

* Faster lenses help (let in more light)
* Wider lenses help (allow slower shutters)
* Tripod or flash always help (when permitted)

35mm is not wide on an APS-C dSLR like your Kr, and f/2.4 isn't really fast at 35mm. Alas, fast wide AF (autofocus) lenses aren't cheap. Fairly fast wide MF (manual focus) lenses ARE often fairly cheap on the used market, and MF isn't really difficult to learn. I shot for about 40 years before going AF. I have some suggestions:

* What focal lengths did you use most when you shot the car show? This will tell you how you should look at focal lengths for your next lens.
* 28mm is about 'normal' for an APS-C camera; 24mm is a bit wide. You might consider a good MF 24/2.8 for shooting fairly static scenes.
* The Kr is noted for good high-ISO performance. Is ISO 1600 really too noisy for you? Noise can be fixed in PP (post-processing), no cost.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

05-08-2012, 12:49 PM   #5
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I'll have a look into that lens cheers
05-08-2012, 12:57 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
The basic options for working in low light are:

* Faster lenses help (let in more light)
* Wider lenses help (allow slower shutters)
* Tripod or flash always help (when permitted)

35mm is not wide on an APS-C dSLR like your Kr, and f/2.4 isn't really fast at 35mm. Alas, fast wide AF (autofocus) lenses aren't cheap. Fairly fast wide MF (manual focus) lenses ARE often fairly cheap on the used market, and MF isn't really difficult to learn. I shot for about 40 years before going AF. I have some suggestions:

* What focal lengths did you use most when you shot the car show? This will tell you how you should look at focal lengths for your next lens.
* 28mm is about 'normal' for an APS-C camera; 24mm is a bit wide. You might consider a good MF 24/2.8 for shooting fairly static scenes.
* The Kr is noted for good high-ISO performance. Is ISO 1600 really too noisy for you? Noise can be fixed in PP (post-processing), no cost.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
Cheers for the advise and I'll refer to your suggestions when I finally get a new lens
05-08-2012, 01:52 PM   #7
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I have the 35 f2.4 and it is sharp, but is is only one stop faster than the kit lens or the 55-200 when at the wide end of the zoom. This will get you from ISO 1600 to ISO 800. The 35mm lens is equiv. to a 53 mm lens on your Kr (about normal) like a 50 on a 35mm film camera. I also have a 28 f2.8 that is still not that wide, stick with the 18-55 kit lens and post process.

Hans
05-08-2012, 03:47 PM   #8
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One final point... sure a faster lens lets in more light when wide open, but the depth of field is (mostly) constant across lenses for a given focal length and aperture. If your goal is to get an entire car in focus while standing near the car, you will have to stop down anyhow.

Regarding convention hall lighting... it looks bright only because your eyes have adjusted and have no other light to which to compare it.

05-08-2012, 05:58 PM   #9
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As everyone already mentioned the lens options, I'll suggest the fastest economical way.

Set your ISO higher.

3200 still looks good on a K-r. I've used 5000 when really necessary.

Yes you lose dyanamic range and colors get washed up as you go higher, but until you get a new lens, it's what you have at the moment :-)
05-08-2012, 06:31 PM   #10
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Oops, yeah, I forgot to list the other option for dealing with low-light: pump the ISO. Most of the downsides of high ISO can be ameliorated in PP. As I suggested: Noise can be somewhat fixed; motion blur can't. Contrast and saturation can be tweaked; lost shadow detail remains lost. And pumping ISO costs nothing. I like freebies.
05-08-2012, 06:44 PM   #11
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I would also suggest getting a tripod as the cheapest solution for a starter.
For my K200D last time I had the same issue, and tripod is not always permitted... after buying a fast prime, I have to say that it really open up my night time shots.
Noise reduction can be done PP, and I have to admit when using the K-R compared to my K200D, I could take photos in near darkness with the ISO range was so much greater than mine... so dont be shy having the iso higher.
05-08-2012, 07:10 PM   #12
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Shooting in RAW will also help, since you have much more exposure control in post.
05-08-2012, 07:14 PM   #13
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All the advise is good but what it actually takes varies from one situation to the next and depends of the kind of shot you're after. Take your car shots, for example. A f1.4 lens may give you faster shutter speed but somehow I feel you'll only get some of the car in focus. That may or may not matter.

Similarly with casual people shots at someones house. Take a waist up shot of two people offset in depth from the camera and only one will be in focus with that fast lens opened up. That may matter.

So having higher ISO capability is probably the better all-around solution giving you more aperture options. And the most economical option is a tripod or flash.
05-08-2012, 07:42 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by gixer1974 Quote
hi PF i hope you can answer a question for me, i have a K-R with the 18-55mm and 50-200mm kit lenses with take some pretty good pics when the light is nice and bright (i.e outdoors),
recently i went to an indoor car show although it was bright inside when taking pics of the cars at 200 iso they were coming out really dark so i upped the iso to get brighter pics and got upto iso 1600 which brightened things up,

now my question is if i invest in a new lens would that improve the low light pictures?

i was thinking of getting the Pentax 35mm f2.4 smc DA AL as i've read some fantastic reveiws on it plus i'm on a budget and this gets it to the top of my list


As stated having a faster lens will definately help. I shot a car show last summer it was indoors and lighting wasn't very good.

I posted a photo in another discussion on this site it was a 1917 Model T Truck on this site, take a look.

It was taken without flash @ISO 3200, f5.6, no sharpening or noise removal the only adjustment was an auto curves adjustment. I've shot up to ISO 6400 with good results using selective sharpening and noise removal techniques. I believe the EXIF is intact.

Forgot to mention that Auto WB was also used and although it was dark with mixed lighting, florescent and incandescent there was no problem with the Kr finding the proper WB.

Don't be afraid to up the ISO the Kr handles 3200 well and with some selective noise and sharpening you can get good results at ISO 6400
05-09-2012, 10:02 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the advice I'll try higher iso at the next show
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