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07-21-2009, 10:14 AM   #1
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Help with Nightclub/Event Photography

I just landed a second job with an online Nightlife Photography Company. I work full time, but am needing a second job bc I'm a single parent with too much debt! I was going to go the cocktail waitressing or bartending route, but I ran into a photographer with this company while out w/ friends! I'm really excited bc it's something I would actually ENJOY doing.


I've never shot nightlife before (well, technically I have, but it turned out horribly-before I knew all the things I know now) so, my questions are... What ISO do you ten to use inside of a club or bar? I haven't started shooting in this enviroment yet(frequently and while knowing what I'm doing anyway!), I start this weekend. I shot a friemds wedding about a year ago and used ISO 1000 a lot bc of the low light at the reception. I wasn't very happy with the result of the high ISO images. They were very grainy/noisy to me. Is it neccessary to go so high on ISO in a bar/club? or will a wide (but not too wide, maybe 4.5) aperture and flash be enough to keep the ISO low enough to save image quality?

Any other helpful tips anyone may have regarding this type of photography would be GREATLY appreciated. I have a K10D, kit lens 18-55mm, Pentax FA 28-105mm, Pentax 540Fgz Flash. Given the fact that I don't have a lot of lenses to choose from I will mostl likely be using my 18-55mm kit lens. I have read a lot on the forums here that wide is important in this type of enviroment. Also, since I am doing this as a source of second income I obviously don't have a large cash flow, so purchasing anything pricy right not is not possible. I do know that I will need some kind of light softener for my flash so any recommendations would be great.

Thank you in advance for your help!!!

07-21-2009, 10:33 AM   #2
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I try not to use over 800 ISO on my camera. But sometimes I will do 1600, but very rarely. Flash will probably do nothing unless you are close to the object you are trying to shoot but since you have the 540, you might be able to get away with it by going a little further but still be close. The best will happen is you get a tripod and increase shutter speed times. A tripod helps a ton, I just received mine yesterday. I bought my tripod for 44 bucks with free shipping off Amazon and it works great so far.
07-21-2009, 10:39 AM   #3
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I guess it depends on the light levels you are dealing with, but at most clubs I know, ISO 1000 wouldn't be nearly high enough if you're shooting without flash, but is unnecessarily high if you are using flash. Although an f/2.8 lens or higher ISO might help you take better advantage of your flash if you plan on trying to bounce it.
07-21-2009, 11:11 AM   #4
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I agree with leDave, a tripod is more useful. The flash just annoys people, leave it in the camera bag. If your shooting a night club/event show what the function looked like, ie available light, I wouldn't worry so much about people moving around, as long as the room is sharp. Depending on amount of light start at iso 400.
The attachment was shot with a K10D set at iso 400, f4, 1/30s on a tripod. Of course weddings would be totally different. Good Shooting!

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07-21-2009, 11:13 AM   #5
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I agree with Marc Sabatella also, a lens with a better F/stop will certainly help too. A lens I want right now is the 50mm f/1.4, I'm just craving for this thing.
07-21-2009, 11:21 AM   #6
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Sarah, get a flash diffuser - a really cheap peace of pearled plastic that goes over the flash head to soften the light (somewhat) on front-on flash photos, which you may have to do a lot of in your gigs.

Otherwise, I'd suggest trying bouncing your flash often (if walls/ceilings are light-coloured and not to far away) - sorry if I'm saying something you already may know...

A fast lens is also a gem in these circumstances. While your kit 18-55 lens is OK, it's not the best money-maker (if you know what I mean). Getting an FA 50/1.4 as suggested before is a very cost-effective way of getting portrait/small group shot photos with excellent sharpness at large apertures.

With a K10D I would not venture beyond ISO 800 regardless, but with the AF540 you could probably stick with ISO 400-800 and get good results. Be weary of the inconsistencies of P-TTL exposures, though.

Hope this helps.
07-21-2009, 11:40 AM   #7
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I'd strongly advise you to watch Chris (codiac2600) his youtube lessons on nightclub photography.
YouTube - K10D: Bar/Nightclub photography tips PART 1
It is worth watching despite him using a K10D then.

- Bert
07-21-2009, 12:13 PM   #8
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There has been a similar thread going over at dpreview, lots of useful tips: Nightclub photography - what went wrong? [Page 1]: Pro Digital Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

07-21-2009, 12:16 PM   #9
Igilligan
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May I recommend

a faster lens... The tamron 28-75. It is just about the perfect range for club shots and can look good in even low light wide open at 2.8...

K100d Iso 1600 Tamron 28-75 at F2.8








But Chris's video that Bert recommended is a great option. He did the club shots well.

Last edited by Igilligan; 07-21-2009 at 12:33 PM.
07-21-2009, 03:11 PM   #10
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Thank you to everyone who replied. A couple of you mentioned using a tripod, but honeslty I can't see dragging a tripod around a crowded nightclub. Bymy141, I did actually watch that you tube tutorial last night!! I was searching the threads on here and found that it was suggested to someone else. Chris is great.

So, I think my question was pretty much answered about the ISO. Igilligan, I can't wait to get a faster lens than my kit lens and 28-105mm 5.6!!! One day...One day... Nice shots by the way. I would have assumed you couldn't get anything good out of Pentax at ISO 1600. Also, Avenger, your pic is nice too. cool effect with the lights.

So since I won't be lugging in my tripod I will be using my flash. I'm going to set the power low (maybe 1/4?) so it looks more natural and buy a diffuser to soften the light. Does anyone reccommend a good one? Something that will spread AND diffuse the light. I saw on Chris's tutorial he uses the Gary Fong Whale Tail, but I can't afford that right now, so does anyone know of anything similiar but cheaper??
07-21-2009, 03:12 PM   #11
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Impact, I look forward to reading through the thread you gave me a link to on deepreview tonihgt. At work now so I will definitely check it out a litle later. Thanks!
07-21-2009, 03:14 PM   #12
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Ash, can you explain more about this problem with the P-TTL setting on the AF540fgz? I'd like to know any issues I may run into prior to being at the event so I can TRY to prevent them if at all possible.
07-21-2009, 03:26 PM   #13
Igilligan
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Sarahbell, the tamron 28-75 constant ap 2.8... goes for 349 new and I have seen it in this marketplace for 250 used. It is the ticket if you ask me. Even with a bounced flash in some places you will need a fast lens. And direct flash is a pain in most cases.

The 250 you spend on a used tammy 2.8 zoom is well worth it if you ask me... Especially on the K10 with ISO 800
07-21-2009, 04:55 PM   #14
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I'd get a faster prime lense; I did some club shooting a couple of weeks back and used the 40mm ltd and the 360 flash (mostly bouncing most of it). iso-wise, mostly 800 for non-flash and 200-400 with flash.

One thing that I learned for numerous years of clubbing and now taking pictures, is that you will learn to "play" with the lights that is available for you.

You could also experience with "slow-sync" flash.
07-21-2009, 05:50 PM   #15
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Thanks Igilligan and Thesorus. I know I really need to get more lenses. I can't afford to right now, but I've kind of had my eye on the 50mm 1.4 and the 16-50mm (2.8 I think?). Would these be good lenses for this type of shooting??
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