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12-26-2014, 10:09 AM   #1
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Need Help: Regarding low light photography

Hi Folks,

Merry Christmas to everyone...!
I am new to Pentax k50, I have below kit lenses -

1. Pentax SMC DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR
2. Pentax SMC DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED WR

I will be attending a place tonight to see Christmas Light show and this puts me in a place to optimize my camera for best Low light photography.
I know there are lot of articles on this, but I would really appreciate if someone can help me tune my camera and recommend me what lens I should be using out of the two and what aperture setting and shutter settings i should be Using.
Being new, I keep Auto ISO now.

Note - I do not have a monopod or tripod.

God Bless you all.

12-26-2014, 10:28 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoisonF86 Quote
Hi Folks,

Merry Christmas to everyone...!
I am new to Pentax k50, I have below kit lenses -

1. Pentax SMC DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR
2. Pentax SMC DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED WR

I will be attending a place tonight to see Christmas Light show and this puts me in a place to optimize my camera for best Low light photography.
I know there are lot of articles on this, but I would really appreciate if someone can help me tune my camera and recommend me what lens I should be using out of the two and what aperture setting and shutter settings i should be Using.
Being new, I keep Auto ISO now.

Note - I do not have a monopod or tripod.

God Bless you all.
if you use Av mode,you can Keep the aperture at max(3.5 or 4)and set ISO to 1600 or 3200, other settings are automatical. It should work.

Then the next thing you want to do is to have stable shots to avoid the body shake as the shutter speed should be still low assuming not using flash.
12-26-2014, 10:47 AM   #3
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Try to put the camera down on something and use a remote or a self timer.
12-26-2014, 10:51 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoisonF86 Quote
I am new to Pentax k50, I have below kit lenses -

1. Pentax SMC DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR
2. Pentax SMC DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED WR

I will be attending a place tonight to see Christmas Light show and this puts me in a place to optimize my camera for best Low light photography.
I know there are lot of articles on this, but I would really appreciate if someone can help me tune my camera and recommend me what lens I should be using out of the two and what aperture setting and shutter settings i should be Using.
Being new, I keep Auto ISO now.

Note - I do not have a monopod or tripod.
First, It's not going to be easy without a tripod. If you have a beanbag or anything like that take it to set the camera on. Using the beanbag or setting your camera on a flat surface will be like using a tripod, set your ISO to 100 (if it is a static display). I would try multi metering, maybe center weighted depending on the scene and I would also use live view, it would be very hard to compose otherwise. Start with Av and set the aperture at F8. If you have a wireless remote, set the camera to use it, if not set it to fire on a delay, either of these settings will also turn off shake reduction (when you are done remember to change the setting back). Take a test shot and see what you have, look at the shutter speed and check your screen, most likely it will be overexposed. Switch to M (Manual) on the dial. If it was overexposed, slow down your shutter speed, keep adjusting until it looks good.

If you have no where to set the camera and have to shoot handheld it will be really difficult. Night shooting normally takes slow shutter speeds to get enough light. Longer lenses are harder to hold still, so the 18-55 would be the lens choice. One thing in your favor is the high ISO ability of the K-50, I would use auto ISO at least up to 6400, use the widest aperture setting that you feel your lens is good at. Just getting your kit you probably don't know the lenses well yet. Many lenses don't do real well wide open, they lose sharpness, I don't have the lens so I don't know. Either do some testing or read the reviews, testing is better due to variations in lenses. You want to keep the shutter speed as fast as possible to have less motion blur. The motion blur will come from you holding the camera. you really have to have good technique here and it can help to lean against something to help keep steady. There are some good articles on how to hold a camera. Search for hand holding long exposure.

Most of all, Good luck!

12-26-2014, 11:00 AM - 1 Like   #5
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ramseybuckeye has good advice.

Of the two, the 18-55 is your best bet. Wide open, it's not going to be very sharp, though. I would look for a used Pentax A 50mm 1.7 or 1.4 lens. Either will give you much better low light results, and the 1.7 version will be pretty cheap. (around $60 used) If you wanted to save more money you could look for the M version of a 50mm lens and use green button metering. You could probably score a Pentax M 50/1.7 for $30 or less.
12-26-2014, 12:01 PM   #6
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Any option you have to make the camera more stable and steady will help. As, an example, you can lash a camera to a pole vertically if you can do so safely and without interfering with the lens etc. It is a clumsy but worth doing in some situations. Even just holding your arms tightly against your body and leaning on a wall or tree or pole can help.
12-26-2014, 01:59 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by starjedi Quote
if you use Av mode,you can Keep the aperture at max(3.5 or 4)and set ISO to 1600 or 3200, other settings are automatical. It should work.

Then the next thing you want to do is to have stable shots to avoid the body shake as the shutter speed should be still low assuming not using flash.
Thank you StarJedi, Ramseybuckeye and GibbyTheMole, This is some real knowledge that I couldn't have learnt just by reading some techniques and tricks.
I hope to talk to you all again.

I am trying to arrange a tripod and planning to use 18-55mm lens, but will carry 50-200mm lens too just in case, I think I will have to spend a good amount of time and will have to do trial and error to click the best possible shots.

Gibby, Do you have links for Pentax M 50/1.7, I am looking forward towards checking its reviews and buying it.
12-26-2014, 05:48 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoisonF86 Quote
Gibby, Do you have links for Pentax M 50/1.7, I am looking forward towards checking its reviews and buying it
Here are some reviews.

Here's one in excellent condition with caps for $62.

You might also look around the marketplace here on the forum. They pop up often.

The 50/1.7 is a superb lens, but you do need to practice with manual focusing to get the best out of it. Your camera's catch-in-focus feature is helpful, too.

It's focal length on an APS-C DSLR like yours is equivalent to a 75mm very short telephoto. If you want to see what kind of field of view it has, pop on your 18-55 and zoom it out to 50mm. That should tell you if it will be the right focal length for your needs. It also makes an excellent portrait lens, and you can buy a reversal ring for about $4 on eBay and reverse it on the front of one of your existing lenses for very close macro.


Last edited by GibbyTheMole; 12-26-2014 at 05:54 PM.
12-27-2014, 10:47 AM   #9
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I always use my K5 on AV. Select 3200 and shoot wide open with the slower lenses. I shot Xmas on 6400 and the shots were usable, but not fantastic.
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12-27-2014, 12:34 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Hello Everyone, So this is how the photos have come

---------- Post added 12-27-14 at 01:35 PM ----------

Link - https://plus.google.com/photos/115723925590602140169/albums/6097601434524370257
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12-27-2014, 12:48 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Looks like the photos came out fine.

I'd skip the M series lenses if you're not up to manual focusing. The bokeh that comes from them is an acquired taste too.

I'd savea little more money and then buy a used DA 50mm f/1.8 if you are looking for a 50mm lens That or maybe the F 50mm f1/.7 would be ok and either would give you autofocus.
12-27-2014, 01:47 PM - 1 Like   #12
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To the OP; I think you did a really nice job on your night Christmas photos! Congratulations!
12-27-2014, 04:06 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoisonF86 Quote
Hello Everyone, So this is how the photos have come
Very nice! You did well... :-)
12-28-2014, 09:29 PM   #14
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Thank you everyone, your advises did help me, I took all the pictures in a slow moving car through moon roof...
12-29-2014, 09:54 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoisonF86 Quote
Thank you everyone, your advises did help me, I took all the pictures in a slow moving car through moon roof...
Well done!
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