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04-18-2010, 01:38 AM   #1
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Night Shots

Hi Everyone,

Bought a Pentax k-x in Jan and started clicking snaps. Have been trying to read and experiment with combinations of ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Attaching a few night shots that I took.

Will be helpful to have guidance on how to improve these. Tried lower ISO settings for less grain but am not able to reach clarity due to camera shake and subject movement. These pictures have been taken without flash. As these have been taken while moving around did not have the luxury to of a tripod around.

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04-18-2010, 02:49 AM   #2
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Well you see the obvious problem here then, don't you? Raise the ISO. With the K-x you're not going to have very much grain at night until ISO 1600, and even after that you can easily remove it with something like Noise Ninja. Just keep experimenting with the ISO levels up to that, and you should be able to get a few more photos that aren't so blurry when you take them. Every ISO amplifies the sensor (not sure how to explain this, but each time you increase the ISO a full stop (100 to 200 to 400, etc) the sensor takes in twice as much more light, making your exposure times a lot shorter) you can take a lot faster exposures and not have to worry about the camera shaking while you're taking the photo.
04-18-2010, 02:52 AM   #3
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I like the first; the second is rather fuzzy.

Any kind of support helps. Brace yourself against something if possible. I sometimes use a hiking staff as a monopod.

Then there's the cheap portable monopod: Tie a big flat metal washer on one end of a cord; tie a bolt on the other end. Screw the bolt into your camera's tripod socket. Drop the washer end onto the ground and step on it; pull the cord taut. Now you have a monopod you can swivel around to shoot in any direction. When finished, unscrew the bolt and wad it into your pocket.

I find that when shooting places and things, I want great detail and little noise. But when shooting people, especially when they move, I can tolerate a great deal more noise. For people shots, raise the ISO to a level you're comfortable with, and then a little more. Try it and see. Have fun!
04-18-2010, 04:54 AM   #4
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I too like the first one as well; however, the second is a little fuzzy. If I were you I would try and place the camera on a wall or a post so that there will be no movement in the image. You could also invest in a good tripod or monopod so that the camera mount will be stable and taking long exposures becomes a breeze. Also, there is a decent amount of noise in the image as well which means you had the ISO up rather high. Next time you go out turn down the ISO and use your tripod to steady the camera. You will have a longer exposure but the photo will be sharp with very little to no noise. Another thing to keep in mind is that since the shutter speed will be rather long subjects like people and cars will blur if they more across your shots so you would want to plan accordingly to that. Or maybe that is what you want in the photo, I’m not sure. I really hope this helps as it look like a very nice area to take some great night shots. I look forward in seeing what you change and seeing the results of your new shots when you go out and take some.

04-18-2010, 05:53 AM   #5
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Hi Thanks for your replies...the idea of a portable monopod really excites me! I think it is a non expensive and a very easy way of carrying it..allows you to enjoy the place too!:-) I will try and get one in place next weekend and take more shots.

On the ISO settings, I have not gone beyond 1600 as it gets quite a bit grainy there. Think my kit lenses DA L 50-200mm f4-5.6ED & DA L 18-55 mm have limitations in terms of the kind of movement I can capture with them...think I was trying to get too greedy and expect a pro lens output from the kit lenses. Is there some way I can get a better feel of how much can I stretch my current kit for night shots with movements... say a not too fast dance? I like capturing people too in the night shots...adds more to the picture. I will also like to avoid using a flash..

I am posting two other snaps for review. Hope it not a burden! Can I improve any other settings too?

First photo specs: DA L 50-200mm f4-5.6, 50mm, 1/25sec, f4.0, multi segment metering, WB: Daylight, ISO 1600

Second Photo Specs: DA L 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, 28.1mm, 1\60sec, F4.0, centre weighted metering, Automatic WB, ISO 6400


Want to click the fun around in such atmospheres!! :-)
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Last edited by alokaga; 04-18-2010 at 06:08 AM.
04-18-2010, 12:08 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by alokaga Quote
On the ISO settings, I have not gone beyond 1600 as it gets quite a bit grainy there. Think my kit lenses DA L 50-200mm f4-5.6ED & DA L 18-55 mm have limitations in terms of the kind of movement I can capture with them...think I was trying to get too greedy and expect a pro lens output from the kit lenses. Is there some way I can get a better feel of how much can I stretch my current kit for night shots with movements... say a not too fast dance? I like capturing people too in the night shots...adds more to the picture.
I think other Kx owners will tell you that you shouldn't experience excessive graininess at ISO 1600. Maybe you expect too much, maybe you need to try different sharpness and contrast and saturation settings.

But you also may need a faster lens, and not necessarily super-costly. On other threads here we talk about inexpensive manual lenses in the 50-58mm f/1.4-2 range. Manual lenses may actually be better for low-light than the costlier AF models. The fastest reasonable lenses are various Pentax 50/1.4's and the Noktor 58/1.2. Much less expensive (used) are various Pentax 50 and 55/1.7's, and the marvelous and dirt-cheap Helios-44 58/2. Any of these will let you shoot with faster shutter speeds, although you will also have reduced DOF (depth of field, the range of distance with acceptable sharpness).

QuoteQuote:
I am posting two other snaps for review. Hope it not a burden! Can I improve any other settings too?

First photo specs: DA L 50-200mm f4-5.6, 50mm, 1/25sec, f4.0, multi segment metering, WB: Daylight, ISO 1600

Second Photo Specs: DA L 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, 28.1mm, 1\60sec, F4.0, centre weighted metering, Automatic WB, ISO 6400
The first picture was shot too slow and a little too wide. That zoom is not best at either extreme of its focal range; and even with shake reduction on and good light, the old rule of 1/FL applies: a 50mm lens should be shot at 1/50 sec or faster. Slower can be done, but you lose sharpness. You have to decide just what level of sharpness and noise you are comfortable with.

To me, working handheld, that should have been shot at 1/60th or faster, for maximum sharpness, with the aperture stopped down enough to bring the whole area into acceptable focus. At night you'd really need a tripod or other good support, and/or higher ISO. When I see a scene like that, I look for a wall or post to brace against. As I've said elsewhere, when we see pictures of things, we like to see detail. We accept more fuzziness with pictures of people.

The second picture looks rather good, and you see that ISO 6400 hasn't hurt. I also see a slight focus/DOF problem -- the turbaned man's face looks sharper than the other's, at least as the picture shows on my screen. You might have gone a little closer, a little wider to maybe 24mm, which would increase DOF a bit. Or maybe changed your shooting angle slightly so their faces would be closer to the same distance from the camera. It's not a bad shot at all; I like it. And I would have worked on it some in PP, increasing sharpness and contrast a little, cooling the color a little. But that's just me. I work on everything. I'm not happy with a captured picture till I've tortured it.

Keep trying out different approaches. You'll find what works for you. Have fun!
04-18-2010, 02:01 PM   #7
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I agree - don't be afraid of higher ISO. You might see a little noise when viewing on screen at 100%, but not in most "real life" viewing situations (full screen size, or printed at less than poster size). Experiment with the in-camera noise reduction settings if you like, or with post processing. but one way or another, if you shoot in low light, all roads lead to high ISO. Faster lenses wouldn't hurt, of course, but even so, I'd still expect to be shooting at ISO 1600 or above a lot.
04-25-2010, 05:17 AM   #8
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Hi Guys!.....went out last night around the city to try out the points you taught me on this thread.

I wasn't able to make a monopod, but did try and tke support to remove the camera shake.

My initial pics were very white as the statue was lit with halogen bulbs, so I adjusted the wb manually to Fine tune M-G at magenta 7 and fine tune A-B at blue 6 (don't know what the settings were doing, but when I thought that visibly the colors looked like to my eye I stopped!!!!)

Seems the camera shake issue was taken care off, but still am not happy with the details. The statue seems very flat, the canopy carvings to do not seem to have come out any great!

Please comment on technicalities like Exposure, Color, WB, Details, D range, Highlight correction, shadow correction or any other parameters. Am giving the pic details below. Want to really improve upon these!

Pic 1: DA L 18-55mm, 55mm, 1/10sec, F7.1, sTV, Multi segment metering, WB: Manual, ISO 400, Highlight correction; yes, Shadow correction: Low, EV(-1), Noise reduction: Medium, Saturation:-2, Hue +2, High\Low key +1, contrast -1

Pic 2 changes: 18mm, 1/20sec & F 4.5

Pic 3: same as pic 2 only angle changed



04-25-2010, 08:42 AM   #9
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For a night shot, I would def increase the ISO up from a 400, and also use a monopod. At 1/10 it is pretty hard even with shake reduction to get an abosolute clear shot without some support. Don't be afraid of that higher ISO. You may like your results. Myself, I might try a tungsten lighting. The statue looks yellow to me, and that can be cleared up with using the tungsten setting. I know on my K20D, I can then hit the Function button, and then the lighting. The last picture that I took shows up on the review screen, and as I scroll through the white balance options, it changes the picture to review at each different setting. Try that and see if you can see any differences in your shot. But I would definately be using a monopod for night shots with higher iso. Although I use a nice professional level monopod, you can pick them up pretty cheap at a Walmart or wherever. Hope this helps. Have a great day!
04-25-2010, 12:36 PM   #10
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Hi Fallad....thanks for your comments! The initial pics that I took had the statue white (Auto WB) but in actual due to the halogen bulbs the statue was looking yellow and therefore I moved to manual WB to make it look more realistic. I was at higher ISO initially and then moved lower for better grain.

Seeing the moon in the pic I thought the WB was ok. Any other observations will also be welcome!

Thanks
04-25-2010, 01:00 PM   #11
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I agree - if you want sharper pictures without using a tripod, you simply must have faster shutter speeds. If that means raising ISO, so be it. Noise tends to only be noticeable hen pixel peeping at 100%, but the softness from camera shake is noticeable even at web size.
04-25-2010, 09:35 PM   #12
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Thanks Marc, Apart from the shake issue, It will be great to have comments on the other settings too in the given conditions. Awaiting tons of advice!

Want to know if my changing the WB settings was ok?
Does the snaps look too yellow for an Halogen light?
Highlight & Shadow correction should have been used or not?
Were the Saturation, hue & contrast settings ok or I should not have changed them?
Should I have used EV compensation?
04-26-2010, 08:27 AM   #13
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You mention setting WB to manual, but you don't mention *how* you set that WB. Not sure if you realize that setting WB to manual means you have to actually *set* the WB yourself (by shooting a picture of a white or gray object in the same light as your subject). Your pictures all looks very yellow, suggesting you did not in fact set the WB correctly. You could probably have set the WB directly off the sculpture (assuming it was close to white/gray) and done better, or just set WB to tungsten/incandescent.

As for the other settings, I can't tell you. The question isn't whether anyone else likes the saturation or contrast or anything else - it's whether *you* do. Your question is like eating a pepperoni pizza and then asking us if you should have had different toppings on it instead.
04-26-2010, 08:39 PM   #14
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Marc.....as I mentioned earlier, the statue was lit with halogen bulbs. first when I used the AWB, the pic showed the statue pretty white...i then changed the WB to manual.

My initial pics were very white as the statue was lit with halogen bulbs, so I adjusted the wb manually to Fine tune M-G at magenta 7 and fine tune A-B at blue 6 (don't know what the settings were doing, but when I thought that visibly the colors looked like to my eye I stopped!!!!)

And yes mention of the pizza make me hungry!!!!! Let me go and grab one!!
04-27-2010, 02:56 AM   #15
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call me lazy but I would not worry about the white balance.... is very easy to "adjust to taste" during post processing.... if you do severe changes in post processing better to shoot in Raw.

As has been said, to get sharpness you need to avoid shake... can either do this handheld by boosting ISO, opening aperture... 1/FL*1.5 puts you in safe territory... any less and you are reliant upon the SR and steady hands.... other option is to get a supporting surface, tripod, monopod, rock...

Good luck.... look forward to see more shots.
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