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11-18-2014, 07:40 AM   #1
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Help!: Pentax P30T - Night Shooting

Hello there,

Recently I have purchased a SLR Pentax p30t camera. I am new to using SLR cameras.

As part of a college assignment I wish to take some black and white documentation style night shots of graffiti artists.

The lens that came with the camera is a Pentax- A Zoom 1.5 ~ 4.5 28 ~80 mm.

However, after researching online I am confused as to what would be the appropriate settings to use for this.

Should I use a tripod? What film would be required for night shooting with this camera?

Many thanks.

Ais.

11-18-2014, 09:55 AM   #2
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Welcome to the Pentax Forums!

Your question is a deep one. I say this because exposure for night photographs depends a lot on your intent for the final image. Conventional wisdom goes something like this:
  • ISO 400 film at minimum. Tri-X is the standard and push-processing to a higher ISO (say 1600) should be considered.
  • Your camera's meter may not be your friend. The amount of light may be below the meter's sensitivity.* The meter will also indicate a setting that will turn night into day, so to speak.**
  • Manual mode may be your best option (see above point) with exposure determined using available charts on the Internet. Do a search using the term "night exposure table".
  • Tripod may be needed, but remember that long exposures of living subjects usually means blurry subjects.
If the assignment is for a photography course and is specifically for night work, your instructor would be a good resource. If it is for a different course, I would seriously consider doing a mix of night and daytime photos to hedge your bets towards success.


Steve

* Your camera's meter is good down to 1 EV (100), which is about the same as a dim room light. This the case regardless of your film ISO.

** The meter will average the scene to give reasonable exposure to the film overall. There is also the issue of a few bright lights and very deep shadows. The result is that the meter result may not be what you want.

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-18-2014 at 10:06 AM.
11-18-2014, 09:59 AM   #3
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It depends on how you will be shooting, Are you actually looking to get pics of them working, or just static shots? Will you be able to use a flash? What kind of look are you going for?
11-18-2014, 10:20 AM   #4
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If you can stretch your budget to it then consider buying a Pentax-M (or Pentax-A) 50mm lens. Your images will be vastly improved compared to that 28-80mm. Plus the 50mm will have a larger aperture, so you'll be able to use a faster shutter speed in low light.

If you want to push film to higher than the rated ISO on a P30t you'll need to research how to modify the DX coding sticker on the film, as the P30t has no manual over-ride.

Good news is that you can use a cheap, simple cable release to trigger the camera remotely while it's mounted on a tripod, just don't tug the cable while pressing the plunger. If you buy a locking one then you can also expose film for more than a second, by setting the camera to B and locking the shutter open with the cable release. That'll let you try light painting as well, which tends to give better results than flash in my experience.

11-18-2014, 10:34 AM   #5
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Your best bet is to look at a place like flickr, google "night long exposure graffitti" and you'll be surprised at how many results you'll get

Find some pictures that show exposure. I flipped through a few and saw that a common setting is ISO 100, 30sec, f/8. (You'll need a tripod and a shutter release cable, by the way - I wouldn't use the Bulb setting for this unless your tripod is REALLY firm). Depending on the film you use, adjust the exposure. I've seen some shorter exposures that worked well for when there are lights in the frame, if your subject is right under a street light, 10-15 seconds might be all you need at f8.

With that particular lens you have, I would use f8. It's not a very good lens, I'd get a prime or two at least, at some point (older 28mm and 50mm are very affordable for Pentax). Still, your lens should be fine for black and white and f8, so for your project you should be ok.
11-18-2014, 10:41 AM   #6
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A tripod is a great idea because your subject is static. A cable release would be nice. I think the P30t has a socket for it on the front of the camera, the same side as the film rewind crank, below the button labeled ML. It is an old-style mechanical cable release. They used to be really common but now may be hard to find.

The camera has some limitations. Its slowest shutter speed is 1 second. Any slower than that, you'll have to time yourself using B mode. The meter is limited in many ways on this camera, so the charts Steve suggested are a better idea.
11-18-2014, 10:44 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dangermouse Quote
If you want to push film to higher than the rated ISO on a P30t you'll need to research how to modify the DX coding sticker on the film, as the P30t has no manual over-ride.
Thanks for the reminder regarding the DX encoding requirement on the P30T. I forgot to mention it. I would still recommend foregoing the camera's built-in meter for other reasons, but the DX limitation is a consideration as well.

Also good is the suggestion of using a fast prime lens. That makes focusing easier and is generally easier to manage. If the OP has access to a 35mm focal length f/2 lens, that would ideal.


Steve

---------- Post added 11-18-14 at 09:47 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
A tripod is a great idea because your subject is static.
I believe the subject is the artist(s) in situ. That is the complicating factor. Exposure would depend on the photographer's intent and the nature of the lighting. Strobists love this sort of thing, but if the intent is to use available light...

There is also the issue of the activity being generally illegal...pack light and wear running shoes.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-18-2014 at 10:53 AM.
11-18-2014, 10:59 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dangermouse Quote
If you can stretch your budget to it then consider buying a Pentax-M (or Pentax-A) 50mm lens. Your images will be vastly improved compared to that 28-80mm. Plus the 50mm will have a larger aperture, so you'll be able to use a faster shutter speed in low light.

If you want to push film to higher than the rated ISO on a P30t you'll need to research how to modify the DX coding sticker on the film, as the P30t has no manual over-ride.
I think these are all reasons to ignore the meter. It only goes down to Ev1, and is limited to ISO 1600.

A Pentax-A lens allows Program mode, maybe useful in better light or with a flash, but still won't allow shutter speed below 1 second. For just this purpose, I wouldn't spend extra to get a Pentax-A. It's useful for other uses.

11-18-2014, 11:38 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dangermouse Quote
If you can stretch your budget to it then consider buying a Pentax-M (or Pentax-A) 50mm lens. Your images will be vastly improved compared to that 28-80mm. Plus the 50mm will have a larger aperture, so you'll be able to use a faster shutter speed in low light.
i think a fast 50mm lens is a great idea. i am quite happy with my A 50/1.7 (very sharp but reasonable) but there are also much other good lenses around.

QuoteOriginally posted by Dangermouse Quote
If you want to push film to higher than the rated ISO on a P30t you'll need to research how to modify the DX coding sticker on the film, as the P30t has no manual over-ride.
i think the camera meter system calculates for a ISO 100 film by default, if it can't read or if there is no DX code on the film. should be easy to compensate manually.

i only have a P30 and i am not aware of a possibility to connect a cable release (i may have overlooked it), but if your P30T can be used with a cable release, do it.
otherwise i suggest to use the self-timer if exposure time of 1 sec is enough.
a sturdy tripod for the bulb mode won't hurt either.

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Manual mode may be your best option (see above point) with exposure determined using available charts on the Internet. Do a search using the term "night exposure table".
i have never used such charts but they sound like a good idea to start. i suggest you shoot at the beginning more than one picture with different exposure times of every object (and make notes, to check which settings get the best results (if possible also note the settings the camera suggested, than you can make exposure compensations on your own in the future)) - you might need 1 or 2 films to find the right settings.
if you have a digital camera at hand you can check immediatly what settings probably work best (much fewer pictures to scrap)

good luck
patrick
11-18-2014, 12:16 PM   #10
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The P30T does have a cable release input socket. It's on the side of the lens mount. I was the one who suggested it and I looked at my P30T to make sure, before suggesting it
11-19-2014, 12:45 PM   #11
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The P30t and P30n have cable release sockets.

Later examples of the P30 do, but not earlier ones. I have two P30s without the socket and one with it. Slightly strange behaviour on Pentax's part to leave it off, as the B setting is a bit useless without it!

The meter isn't bad, as I understand it can cope up to 1600 ASA so you can adapt the film coding sticker. Just check it by pointing the camera at a fixed target with no film in, taking a reading, then inserting the modified film. Assuming the aperture is the same your shutter speed should be four stops higher, if it was 1/30 before it should now be 1/500 for example.
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