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02-01-2015, 09:51 PM   #1
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Best AF settings for available light performance photography

Duplicate of my post to Pentaxians FB group.

Seeking advice: Two questions pertaining to interactions of some of the AF functions on the K50.

Being a relatively recent convert to Pentax, I wanted to ask for advice on photographing stage performers.

Background: I have a K-50 and an old 70-200mm 4-5.6 F lens, which I was planning on using to photograph a friend's vocal school event in a local coffee house. Usually in the afternoon with light from windows and stage light.

Question: I've been trying to get a handle on the AF interaction in the K-50 between face-detection mode and AF.C mode. I would usually use a spot focus under manual control with AF.S mode, but would expect to lose more shots if the performer was dynamic. It seemed to me that AF.C and face detection might be a promising combination, but I was going to have to find some venues to practice with it to see if I could make it work.

Anyone shooting performers in other than dark venues with spotlights at night? Any hints on how you push the AF system to get what you want?

02-01-2015, 10:14 PM - 1 Like   #2
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In similar situations I use AF-C (or sometimes AF-S) with my own selected AF point. This way I can control the composition as well, getting the subject/performer out of the center of the frame into a more aesthetically pleasing position (when I see a whole series of center-point AF portraits - including action photos - it drives me nuts!). So I'm usually using one of the four corner AF points, unless an athlete (e.g. a dancer in a gym) is moving so fast I'm better off using a point in-between two corners (as the performer moves side-to-side).

Don't be afraid to use a fast enough shutter speed, and turn off SR if there's much motion. It's better to have high-ISO noise then unwanted motion blur (I know motion blur is still desirable sometimes).
02-01-2015, 10:16 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Don't be afraid to push the ISO up with that camera. I often shoot stage performances at ISO 6400 and occasionally go up to 8,000 with my trusty K-5. You will get a little noise but that is easily dealt with in post-processing. I never use AF.C for stage shooting, only sports or fast moving planes, cars, etc. You will probably need a shutter speed of at least 1/60. If the performer is really moving around, that might need to go to 1/125 or even higher. For dance performances, I use 1/250 or 1/500 at f/4 and adjust ISO as needed. You will have to see how it goes. I would say to close the aperture down a bit to provide a little more depth of focus but that lens will pretty much do that for you, forcing you to f/5.6 when racked all the way out. Take some test shots early in the evening and make adjustments as you go. Don't just look at the back LCD. Look at the histogram and zoom in on a few of your test shots to check focus. I use center-weighted metering and spot focus. Full zone metering tends to get fooled by large expanses of dark stage.

Stage lighting can be very tricky, especially when you don't know ahead of time how it will be lit. Many venues like to use arty colored lights which will mess up your white balance. I generally set WB to incandescent and go from there, making adjustments as needed. Shooting Raw helps here as you can adjust in post-processing. Auto WB does a poor job on stage lighting.
02-01-2015, 10:24 PM - 1 Like   #4
hcc
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In low light, pre-focusing (MF) is important and useful. That is, in MF, focus manually to the best of your ability. Then switch to AF and let the AF do the micro-adjustment, I prefer to use a centre point for the process.

In very low light (ie really low light), I use MF only and use MF lenses. (MF lenses tend to have a longer focusing ring enabling you a much control.)

Hope that the comment may assist.....

03-18-2015, 10:49 PM   #5
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Anyone with a Q or Q10 who's done low-light?

It occurs to me that my daughter is also gonna be right beside me shooting with her Q10 in the same venue. She's got both the 02 and 06 lenses.
I guess I'd wonder what's the highest ISO anyone's been able to push a Q10 to and still get good pictures in post processing?
03-18-2015, 11:45 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
In low light, pre-focusing (MF) is important and useful. That is, in MF, focus manually to the best of your ability. Then switch to AF and let the AF do the micro-adjustment, I prefer to use a centre point for the process.

In very low light (ie really low light), I use MF only and use MF lenses. (MF lenses tend to have a longer focusing ring enabling you a much control.)

Hope that the comment may assist.....
I don't know how you can see anything. When it's even moderately dark, I can't tell what's in focus and what is not. Then you are relying on focus confirmation, which doesn't have any better sensitivity than AF does.
03-19-2015, 02:57 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by rekrabm Quote
It occurs to me that my daughter is also gonna be right beside me shooting with her Q10 in the same venue. She's got both the 02 and 06 lenses.
I guess I'd wonder what's the highest ISO anyone's been able to push a Q10 to and still get good pictures in post processing?
For my Q (similar to your Q10), up to 800, and that's pushing it. Beyond that, .

For the Q7, 1600 is still acceptable after cleaning it up, if you'll be willing to lose some details.
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