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10-04-2013, 03:33 AM   #1
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Shooting handheld in low light

I need a little help on shooting handheld in low light, what kind of ISO do you guys use when shooting in low light? I've got a K30 and am wondering what ISO to use and what kind of settings to use with regards to noise reduction. Obviously I want as little noise as possible but also I don't really want very unsharp and soft images.

I'll upload some photos in an hour or so to show you some examples of the low light places I shoot.


Thanks.

10-04-2013, 04:02 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by richardstringer Quote
hanheld
I guess it would depend on what the lowest shutter speed is that you are able to do hand held with stationary subjects, and what minimum shutter speed is needed if the subject is moving. You might go Tv according to what is needed or what you can handle, and let auto ISO decide what is needed for the specific shot...

Last edited by altopiet; 10-04-2013 at 05:37 AM.
10-04-2013, 04:34 AM   #3
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I've tried auto ISO a few times and it's made for lots of noise in my photos as it's selected a massive ISO. Anyway, the general aperteur I shoot at is between f4.5-f8, never really outside that range and shutter speed, well I can keep subjects pretty sharp down to a shutter speed of about 1/15th sec. Here's some photos I took in London last weekend and the settings I used :


17mm - f5.6 - 1/15sec - ISO250 - no exposure compensation
All sizes | Courtney & Charlotte, South Mimms, Peterborough, 27th September 2013 (1) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


30mm - f8 - 1/25s - ISO500 - no exposure compensation
All sizes | Charlotte, Lucy & Courtney, M&M World, 28th September 2013 (2) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


50mm - f5 - ISO1000 - no exposure compensation
All sizes | Lucy, Crowne Plaza Hotel, London, 27th September 2013 (1) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Would you guys say that in these photos there's decent sharpness and acceptable noise? Or what would be your opinions?

Last edited by richardstringer; 10-04-2013 at 04:44 AM.
10-04-2013, 04:48 AM   #4
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Hmmm, you think outdoors on a bright day and indoor lighting is considered "low light" ???? Try looking up fill flash and/or reflecting light.

10-04-2013, 04:49 AM   #5
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I use Auto ISO-6400 in my concert/low light shooting. Then in PP, I push to 8000+ equivalent.

If you want to keep the ISO levels down, you have no choice but to use larger aperture lenses.

low light examples throughout: DELUGE PHOTO
10-04-2013, 04:51 AM   #6
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The outdoors shot was reasonably low light, the roof overhead hung very far over and the trees blocked out quite a bit of light. The indoors shots had shop lighting but it really wasn't very bright, it was pretty dull lighting. I did think about fill in flash when I got back from London and viewed the photos on my computer, I know the out5doors photo would have definately benefited from fill flash. I'd call the shots inadequate light, I know proper low light is like night time or candle light etc..

Last edited by richardstringer; 10-04-2013 at 05:02 AM.
10-04-2013, 05:32 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by richardstringer Quote
I need a little help on shooting handheld in low light, what kind of ISO do you guys use when shooting in low light? I've got a K30 and am wondering what ISO to use and what kind of settings to use with regards to noise reduction. Obviously I want as little noise as possible but also I don't really want very unsharp and soft images.
I pick the slowest shutter speed that will combat camera shake and motion blur to my satisfaction.
I pick the widest aperture that will give me sufficient depth of field. Wide open is often fine for me in low light.
I set EC according to scene tonality.

The ISO then follows logically from the light level. I don't really understand the question. The lower the light, the higher the ISO, isn't that just the way it is?

Of course, when one approaches ISO 6400 and above, blur from noise reduction can start to rival the motion blur and camera shake. I'll then try to strike a sensible compromise with an even slower shutter. ISO 6400 is my personal pain threshold for low level people candids.

I often shoot in shutter priority with auto ISO in low light. I set the shutter speed from shot to shot according to the motion in the scene (are people sitting, walking, standing, gesturing, dancing, running?). The camera will shoot wide open and with an appropriate ISO and that's exactly the exposure I want. Auto ISO really works well for me there. And if it picks a "massive" ISO, well that's what it takes in that particular light level.

Regards,
--Anders.
10-04-2013, 05:57 AM   #8
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This is a very open-ended question that is kind of like asking "how fast can I drive my car around a curve?" It depends on so many variables, such as tires, tightness of curve, surface conditions, etc.

The ISO will be entirely dependent on how much light is available, what kind of shutter speed you need, and how big of an aperture you can (or are willing to) use. When it comes to exposure, ISO is generally the last thing you will be able to control for, and will be dictated by the amount of light, depth of field needed (aperture selection), and movement of subject and/or camera (shutter speed).

I also like to use as low an ISO as possible in order to get sharper/cleaner images, and here are three tips I can share from my experience:
  1. As a general rule, if I am shooting a person handheld, I usually try not to go below 1/30 sec, and that's only if they're holding still.

  2. I also try to stay below ISO 1600 on my K-30 whenever possible, since pictures can still turn out fairly clean at that level as long as the overall scene isn't too dark.

  3. And finally, when it comes to getting sharp images, I have found that frequently using a higher ISO than I might want to will actually allow me to get overall sharper images (despite the increased noise), since I can use a faster shutter speed to reduce motion blur. Be sure to experiment with this, and you will see what I mean.

I don't know what lenses you own, but if you don't already have some fast glass (f/2.8 and faster), then you will want to get some as soon as you can afford it. Large aperture is not the answer to everything, but it can be vital when shooting indoors or in low light. I mostly shoot indoors, so my Sigma 30mm f1.4 and Sigma 85mm f1.4 and my two most-used lenses.


Last edited by Edgar_in_Indy; 10-04-2013 at 07:57 AM.
10-04-2013, 07:34 AM   #9
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10-04-2013, 08:01 AM   #10
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For the longest time I resisted using an external flash because I thought it was too complicated and because the onboard flash produced lousy pictures. However, the so-called high ISO capabilities of the newer dslr cameras may save the day in emergencies but thats it. I learned how to use manual flash. It wont work everywhere but bouncing the flash on the ceiling/off walls will give you a zillion times better pics than any high ISO nonsense. Yongnuo flashes are great and cost about 50bucks or so...

For indoor shooting without a flash, my hands are not steady at all. I can only manage about 1/100, so shutter priority 1/100, auto ISO is about what I personally use if I have to. But that is very much dependent on each person.
10-04-2013, 09:11 AM   #11
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Well shutter speed wise, I virtually never take a photo of anything moving so I don't need that fast a shutter speed, I don't really like using aperteurs larger than f4.5 because the depth of field started to get extremely small and I don't want that because most of my photos are of my kids and the places we go. I've got noise reduction completely turned off and so maybe I should keep it turned on and use ISO's upto aboput 1600. I used to have sharpness on hard so as you can tell, the noise in low light was very obvious, even at ISO's around 400 and 500. I did set the sharpness to normal in the above photos so that's why, although noise reduction is turned off, it's not really noticeable. I just worry about using higher ISO's than 800 because of noise, but i'm also under the understanding that in low light (hand held) it's a choice between sharp photos with noise or softer photos (with noise reduction turned on) with less noise.

Would you guys say the last photo take at ISO1000 the noise is acceptable?
10-04-2013, 09:45 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by richardstringer Quote
but i'm also under the understanding that in low light (hand held) it's a choice between sharp photos with noise or softer photos (with noise reduction turned on) with less noise.
I would dispute this and have hundreds, if not, thousands of examples of otherwise.

It sounds to me as if you need more work on the exposure triangle, as well as understanding how to post process and manage noise. In my case, I'm conservative and like a bit of grain, but smart noise reduction is possible when you don't leave it to the camera to figure it out and apply one setting for anything it puts out in a certain range.

The K-30 should not even break a sweat to ISO 2500, 3200 will still be very good, with more chroma noise that needs to be smartly removed. Anything after requires both forms of noise to be smartly handled in post processing.

For example, here are ISO 6400 pics, pushed in PP to beyond 8000: The K-30 is purported to have a weaker AA filter and is quite good compared to the K-5 (though using 12 bit vs. 14 bit will reveal itself in my conditions, but under your less demanding ones, there is essentially no difference).

10-04-2013, 09:56 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edgar_in_Indy Quote
I also try to stay below ISO 1600 on my K-30 whenever possible, since pictures can still turn out fairly clean at that level as long as the overall scene isn't too dark.
Same here...I notice the chroma noise is a fair amount worse with my K-30 than it was with my old K-5 where I would try and limit myself to ISO6400.
10-04-2013, 10:25 AM   #14
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Snake,

I know how to use the noise reduction in Photoshop but i'm no way near a master of photography in any way so my photos won't ever be anything better than snaps I shouldn't think. But I DO try my best. When you shoot in low light, do you have sharpness set to normal? And do you have noise reduction turned on in camera or do you use Photoshop to process the image's noise afterwards?
10-04-2013, 10:49 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by richardstringer Quote
Snake,

I know how to use the noise reduction in Photoshop but i'm no way near a master of photography in any way so my photos won't ever be anything better than snaps I shouldn't think. But I DO try my best. When you shoot in low light, do you have sharpness set to normal? And do you have noise reduction turned on in camera or do you use Photoshop to process the image's noise afterwards?
Do you shoot in RAW or just rely on in-camera JPEGs?
I think one of the best things you can do is learn to shoot in RAW in low light situations. Then do the noise reduction and sharpening in lightroom or whatever post-processing tool you use.
That way you can see in real-time the effect as you adjust the sliders. The noise reduction and sharpening tools tend to be a lot more "robust" in these software than in camera JPEGs.
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