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11-11-2010, 11:09 AM   #1
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Nightlife: With or W/O flash + appropriate Gear

My new title as a nightlife-photographer has been easy so far. In the beginning i carried my compact camera around, which most of the time is sufficient and takes adequate pictures from clubs etc..
But since i started, my interest for photography has developed into a spare-time hobby, with daily/weekly photographic-trips where i rehearse my techniques.

But.
When carrying a DSLR -- Pentax K-x -- in the same crowded areas, i get more sensitive when it comes to safety:
  • Which gear should i get, for protecting my camera ?
There's also the questions about light. Personally, i feel more comfortable taking pictures with a fast prime and no flash, being that a flash either makes the set unnaturel (due to the extremely dark surroundings and blinding flash), or the external flash that can be held in the other hand to fire a flash in a selective area (which again, would be pretty difficult in a crowded area)
  • What are your thoughts on this subject?
  • And can you recommend either a prime or flash, according to your own experiences?

Oh yeah, and finally: Is there other equipment i should consider looking in to?
My gear is standard-low, with a Pentax K-x, DA 18-55mm f/3,5-5,6 + DA 50-200mm f/4-5,6 + Lens Hood.
That means: No filters, flashes etc. in my current inventory.

Thanks for your support - You guys are the bomb. Glad to be part of the crew.

11-11-2010, 12:54 PM   #2
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I also prefer a fast lens and/or high ISO (to a point) over a flash for a lot of night shots.

Depending on what and how you shoot, an older SMC-A fast 50 might be the ticket if you don't mind manual focus.
If you want auto focus, I'd consider the new inexpensive 35mm. Sounds like a great deal on a nice lens.
If you want small, the DA40 2.8 is a great choice although not quite as fast and more expensive than the 35.
I have a fast 50 (SMC-A 1.7) and the DA40 and use the DA40 a lot more because of the convenience of AF, the small size, and of course the IQ is great.
11-11-2010, 01:03 PM   #3
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Without a mention of budget, focal length preferences or lens type (MF/AF), I'd be guessing what you'd be interested in, but for a decent large aperture AF prime for relatively small spaces, an FA 31 ltd or Sigma 30/1.4 may suffice. Any cheaper, and the DA 35/2.4 may work well too, particularly since it's so small and lightweight. You also have the options of the DA 40 as mentioned, or FA 43 ltd if these are not getting too long for you.

I'd say that if you're doing this thing seriously, then you wouldn't go without *both* a fast lens as well as a flash - there will be times when lighting is so inadequate or of poor quality that having some control of your own lighting for photography is very useful. The best flash for the job is the Pentax AF540FGZ, but other cheaper P-TTL flashes aren't too shabby either (Metz AF-58 and Sigma EF-530 Super).

All the best in your decision.
11-11-2010, 01:16 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Without a mention of budget, focal length preferences or lens type (MF/AF), I'd be guessing what you'd be interested in, but for a decent large aperture AF prime for relatively small spaces, an FA 31 ltd or Sigma 30/1.4 may suffice. Any cheaper, and the DA 35/2.4 may work well too, particularly since it's so small and lightweight. You also have the options of the DA 40 as mentioned, or FA 43 ltd if these are not getting too long for you.

I'd say that if you're doing this thing seriously, then you wouldn't go without *both* a fast lens as well as a flash - there will be times when lighting is so inadequate or of poor quality that having some control of your own lighting for photography is very useful. The best flash for the job is the Pentax AF540FGZ, but other cheaper P-TTL flashes aren't too shabby either (Metz AF-58 and Sigma EF-530 Super).

All the best in your decision.
Siiiiigh, I WISH the Metz 58 was a cheaper alternative! At least there's the 48.

What I like about both Metz flashes is that the light source is (in my opinion) designed to make straight on shots not look flat and have that "drivers license" look. I've been impressed with that. That way if you decide to use it in club shots the light looks more blended in.

All in all I prefer either Metz over the 540 when it comes to build and light quality but the 540 rules with its ease of controls.

11-11-2010, 01:22 PM   #5
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I have not done club shooting but I do take pics at house parties that I attend. Some of the things I have learned, while shooting a large aperture with a fast lens with no flash sounds like a great idea, getting focus right is a challenge because of the limited DOF. You end up with a lot of blurry shots. I find that I have better luck with a flash. ALso Dragging the shutter makes for much better flash shots by allowing the ambient light to fill the background so you don't get the "black hole" look. It doesn't have to look bad if it's done right. Here are a few example of what I mean. But by no means do I have any idea what I am doing.

I go for two "looks" when I am shooting this type of stuff.

1: I like to shot something reminiscent of a "portrait" to get the feel of "hey look who was there"

This was shot with a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 at 1/50 sec, f/1.8, ISO 800 with a Metz 48af mounted to the camera bounced of the ceiling.



This is more of the "party' shot that give a better impression of how much fun the party was:

This was shot with a Sigma 10-20mm, 1/10 sec, f/4, ISO 800 with the metz hand held upper left of camera.



I really like the look of handheld flash, its a bit of a pain but the results look nice:

self portrait flash held with my right hand above my head. Sigma 10-20 1/10 sec, f/4, ISO 800,



Last edited by mtroute; 11-11-2010 at 01:33 PM.
11-11-2010, 01:48 PM   #6
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you'll need both a nice fast lens (or 3) and the flash, most areas in clubs are realy dark and there is no getting around the flash. that being said dance floor areas in big clubs frequently have a lot of lighting rigs so a 50 1.7 (I use MF but you can find good used AF as well,) coupled with higher iso works great. for anything more distant (ie stage shots) it's easier with a zoom (i use my 24-70 f2.8 most of the time - but I've also used MF 100 f2.8, 28 f2.8, 200 f4.0 depends on the light......)
the kit lenses really are so slow at the long end that without flash usable shots will be limited

good luck with the gig
11-11-2010, 01:50 PM   #7
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oh yeah get a good diffuser for the flash ( gary fong for example) you'll have difficulty in big clubs bouncing the flash ceilings are usually way too high, off camera works well but it's cumbersome.
11-13-2010, 05:31 PM   #8
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So, if im right, you guys are saying it's not a matter of "this or that", rather than a "both off/on". I Tried out slow sync flash and high iso values combined with low f/-numbers .. So..
My results were actually not that shabby. Although it still needs the items mentioned above by you guys.
As of exclusivity, is the Flash-component similar to the optics? (With most optics fitting only one camera-model)
and... What protection do i need to get for my gear?

Again - Thanks you guys. I really got a lot from the things you already mentioned .

11-15-2010, 06:32 AM   #9
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Protection is a tough one to answer, for me I shoot a lot of hardcore and punk shows so weatherproofing (or beer proofing ) is handy - IE a good used k20,k7 or new k5 unfortunately the wr lenses aren't much use in low light but that won't matter as much with a k5. Honestly the only damage I've suffered is a stage diver taking the flash off the top of my camera. I haven't used flash since at a show (except withing the crowd or where i'm isolated a little)
otherwise the best protection is being aware of whats going on around you and your elbows lol. (at aggressive live shows the bouncers are handy as well, I've had people who were overly aggressive tossed -
11-16-2010, 05:48 AM   #10
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There have been multiple threads on club photography, and, while I've been unable to locate it internally with the search function, there was an excellent video from a photographer named Chris showing how to use flash linked at some point.

This is a two part video, and, if the link does not work (I get confused on the link policies) then search the web with Google for Pentax k10d bar/nightclub photography. The K10d would not be my first choice today, and I would expect the results from the Kx to be better. Chris' tips helped me.
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