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05-31-2017, 05:53 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Dance recital = death or glory! :p

So this is take three (Third year) of my children's dance recital, and this time I think I could not be better equipped.

Instead of the K-5, venerable but now showing its age, I have the K-1. Flash is forbidden, so I lose nothing there. I have checked out the angles, I know my seating, and I know which lenses I will be taking. I have the FA50 and FA135, and with two turns of a knob I can (effectively) have a K-5IIs in my hands and what amounts in field of view terms to an FA75/1.4 and an FA200/2.8. I will also have more AF points than I know what to do with, and if the AF hasn't improved since the K-5 I will eat my hat. Nothing will be moving that fast.

SR is better; high-ISO performance in TAv mode should be better, so long as I cap it at 12800 or so.

If I take a bad picture tonight, it will be entirely my fault.

The only question is whether to write to two cards in raw simultaneously for backup or raw to one, JPG to the other and massage the Raws if the JPGs don't cut it. At times the burst rate may have to be quite high to catch leaps and cartwheels properly.

I get a chance to reshoot on Saturday night, but the seating will be different and I'll be up in the balcony with the 135 being pretty much the only suitable lens in my arsenal.

I should add that I am doing this as an enthusiastic amateur, not as a hired professional, and the focus is on getting pics of my own kids' performances - but the troupe director has previously appreciated the best of the shots I've provided them and I definitely understand now why a pro would have multiple active bodies on their person.

Advice is welcome - a report with lessons learned will follow in due course!

05-31-2017, 06:24 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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I'd shoot RAW, but since you have the option you might as well let the camera record JPGs as well, just out of curiosity.

Err toward underexposure to keep you shutter speed higher, you can lift underexposure.

If they have a professional, with closer access, let them take care of that. You can get a wider view or just some shots of your own. Otherwise, just enjoy Pathocsdottir's performance.

Here I thought they're dancing to Iron Maiden's Death or Glory:

Last edited by TER-OR; 05-31-2017 at 07:00 AM.
05-31-2017, 06:56 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
If they have a professional, with closer access, let them take care of that. You can get a wider view or just some shots of your own.
It's mostly shots of my own, but as I said, some of the better ones were appreciated by those concerned (an alternative viewpoint is always good).

QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Otherwise, just enjoy Pathocdottir's performance.
LOLOL. Pathdocsson is also performing, in a separate act.

QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Err toward underexposure to keep you shutter speed higher, you can lift underexposure.
I ended up doing a lot of denoising last time, so yeah, perhaps lifting exposure is the lesser of the two evils. I currently use Raw Therapee, as 99% of the changes I want to make are global sharpness, contrast and exposure shifts, but if I keep on doing this I think I might go for something that lets me do local changes also.
05-31-2017, 06:58 AM   #4
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Hah!

Seeing the title of your post reminded me of dance recitals I had to endure oh so many years ago. I can assure you that dance recitals have always been "death or glory" - even without a camera.

05-31-2017, 09:05 AM   #5
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Usually the lighting is fixed with no follow spot, and if this is the case suggest setting camera to manual and taking an initial shot(s) to see/adjust the exposure.
05-31-2017, 09:09 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
Usually the lighting is fixed with no follow spot, and if this is the case suggest setting camera to manual and taking an initial shot(s) to see/adjust the exposure.
Last year the lighting changed significantly between acts, which had specific themes, and sometimes within them, both in intensity and hue. This made things very difficult.

When it didn't, I got multiple shots very easily and had few problems editing to a relatively high quality.
05-31-2017, 09:45 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Last year the lighting changed significantly between acts, which had specific themes, and sometimes within them, both in intensity and hue. This made things very difficult.

When it didn't, I got multiple shots very easily and had few problems editing to a relatively high quality.
As you have done this you likely have worked out a method. But as I do this a lot maybe my experience may help. I generally (now) use the number 2).
1) spot meter the brightest area and use something like + 3 ev
2) use the lens aperture ring and camera in M mode, and by eye adjust f/stop. e.g., start at f/4, and if it (lighting) looks bright go to f/5.6 (or f/8), and dark go to f/2.8. This method obviously is very fast.

Also as boh cameras are basically "isoless" you may want to consider leaving at iso 400 (so you can look at the LCD and not see too dark an image) and a moderate shutter speed (to not completely freeze the motion) and a moderate f-stop (where DOF is not too tight), and leave camera at these setting for all pictures. I do this often w/ my K-5 , but use above 2) with my K-20D.

As you mention fast paced--if you are close enough a wide angle lens zone focused with an optical finder is useful. I use a K-x with a 35 mm (equiv. FOV) finder and usually a 20 mm lens. (I take 4 DSLRs and cover from fisheye to telephoto.)

Last edited by dms; 05-31-2017 at 10:04 AM.
05-31-2017, 02:14 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
The only question is whether to write to two cards in raw simultaneously for backup or raw to one, JPG to the other and massage the Raws if the JPGs don't cut it. At times the burst rate may have to be quite high to catch leaps and cartwheels properly.
If you think you will need a fast frame rate, and you are shooting the full-frame size and not the APS-C crop, then save only RAW, and save only to one card, to get the maximum frame rate. If you go with just APS-C crop, you shouldn't have any buffering issues, but you could save only RAW if you needed to maximize it even more.

Saving FF RAW to two cards will halve the speed of writing to the SD (which is pretty slow already given the field sizes) and you would likely run into trouble if you are shooting pretty continuously.

---------- Post added 05-31-17 at 02:18 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
2) use the lens aperture ring and camera in M mode, and by eye adjust f/stop. e.g., start at f/4, and if it (lighting) looks bright go to f/5.6 (or f/8), and dark go to f/2.8. This method obviously is very fast.
This is what I generally do when shooting performances, though I kind of figure out what apertures to go to early on via trial and error when I'm there. But I do not go "ISOless" but instead set what a reasonable ISO would be (usually 6400 if it's reasonably dark, though it could be adjusted from there depending on what you encounter at the event).

I don't use the aperture ring, but instead the rear dial for aperture, front for shutter (which I try to avoid changing, to maximize motion-freezing). But to each their own.


Last edited by leekil; 05-31-2017 at 02:20 PM.
05-31-2017, 02:50 PM   #9
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I would cap ISO at 3200 (maybe 6400 at a pinch) if shooting TAv. Stage lighting is generally quite decent for these concerts, and sometimes the metering settles on something black in the background and blows the ISO to produce an unusably overexposed file. I'd much rather push a RAW file four stops than have that happen.

Personally, unless the lighting is highly variable, I would meter for the faces early in each performance and set manual exposure appropriately. I also avoid bursts. Timing with the music and your experience with the ebb and flow of dance (if you're a ballet dad you should get it by now!) gives me a better signal to noise ratio than a spray and pray approach.
05-31-2017, 05:51 PM - 1 Like   #10
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The light was highly variable and I let the ISO do what it would. Bursts (where used) were short and controlled, limited to the more prolonged twirls, leaps and cartwheels.
06-04-2017, 03:17 PM   #11
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Second night lessons (Little Miss has graduated to the big league, so there was no separate matinee event for her this year):

I followed Sandy's suggestion to set for 3200, though I did push to 6400 in the second half where the light tended to be dimmer, and I dialled in -1 EV, shutter speed 1/250 for the cartwheels and f/4 for DOF; anything I could to get the sharpest focus on moving targets in dim available light. I might in retrospect just as easily have dialled in -2EV, but it still looks like I have some really good saves, and the tendency of the stage lighting to cause blown highlights at the slightest provocation was greatly suppressed.

For the second night I started with my 32GB card practically empty, and by the end of it I still had a respectable few dozen shots still up my sleeve, but I did also have a 64GB secondary backing it up with sequential feed (every shot was Raw).

I was by no means an Official Photographer, so taking more than one body was out of the question. I also knew I was going to be way up the back of the theatre last night, which meant that the FA135 was the only real option. Had I taken the D-FA 100, I might have had a slightly newer lens with identical maximum f-stop and just wider enough to take in all the dancers in all their groups, but knowing the tendency of that lens to saw loudly back and forth between min and max focus if it misses (which it sometimes does even on the K-1), I didn't dare.

The ISO never really dropped much below 500 even in the brightest light.

A full-frame 50-135 or 50-200 would be ideal for my current situation. If the kids keep this up with a vengeance I might have to look at the DFA*70-200, or maybe a 60-250 with the full-frame conversion, but I currently have no other use case for either lens and so I shall stay my hand for now.

Post-processing right now is showing me the true meaning of the term "ISO invariance", and it is awesome.

Perhaps the most useful things about this camera in the field under these conditions were its ability to nail focus in really low light (it's a definite improvement on the K-5) and the in-viewfinder level ( I'm having to rotate and straighten a lot less in post this year). As for afterwards, even really vicious cropping still gets rewarded with reasonable file sizes, so yeah - 36MP full frame, thank you. You were awesome, little camera; thank you.
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