Gear for Indoor Photography Advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by I AM THE MAN, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. I AM THE MAN macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    Hey all! I am at a situation where I need some help from all of you have any experience at all with indoor photography, specifically for taking photos inside a banquet hall.

    My family and I decided to throw my grandparents a surprise party for their 50th Anniversary and everyone wants me to take the photos. My question is do I need to or is it optional to buy anything additional to my current gear right now.

    Currently, I have my Canon T3. I have the 18-55mm Lens kit, the 50mm Prime Lens Kit, 28-135mm EF Lens and the 70-200mm f/4 NON IS lens.

    Do I need any other lens or any other equipment?

    Thanks for all the help in advance.
  2. macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    The only thing I'd recommend would be renting a good flash like the EX430 or 580 so you can bounce the light or use a diffusion adaptor with it to give a more natural fill. Your lenses are good, but their apertures are a little slow for lower lighting conditions. A flash will help with this. If you don't want to invest in a flash you can get a diffusion adapter for your built in flash. Gary Fong makes one called "The Puffer". Pretty sure it's only $30, but it will help diffuse your flash so it's not so harsh. Hope this helps!
  3. petjuli macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2010

    I'm going to make the assumption that the reason you are asking what equipment to use is because of low light needs? Do you have any clue if the venue will be very dark or with limited light? It would be great if you could scope it out ahead of time to see just what you are working with light-wise. Under the assumption that it will be pretty dark .... the only lens that's going to get you a decent shutter speed is the 50 at max aperture (1.8). All your other lenses are no better than f/4 (or maybe f/3.5 for the kit and the 28-135) which in low light even pushing ISO to 1600 with the T3 is still going to keep your shutter speed under 1/60 or worse which is going to result in a ton of motion blurred missed shots. And ISO1600 with the T3 is going to have you doing a lot of noise reduction which is going to impact your sharpness as well.

    Assuming you are on a budget so I won't waste your time telling you to spend thousands on new lenses, but you should probably look into a flash. Depending on how many pics you will take you could use a 430 flash and if the venue has light colored ceilings bounce the flash to get a little better pictures. If the budget allows you might want to look into a 580 used which allows better recharge and more power plus has a bounce card that lets you throw just a little light forward to get rid of the raccoon eyes with bounce flash. Getting a good flash will let you switch to manual, set a shutter speed of about 125-160 at max aperture and the flash should take care of getting your exposure right. If you're feeling frisky get an off camera cord so that you can hold the flash away from dead center and it will make the lighting even more attractive.

    Granted, there are hundreds of people out there that will have their own opinion, this is just mine based on my assumptions of your budget. If you tell me you have >$1000 to spend then my answer will be a bit different ...
  4. shawncooper78 macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2012
    RE: Gear for Indoor Photography Advice

    I also agree with Kevin. Your camera is perfect for the purpose. All you need is an external flash which will help you out in capturing and freezing the beautiful moments of your life. You can easily control the light according to you for better pictures, as well as after getting a flash you will have power to illuminate subjects situated much further away as compared to built in flash. Apart from it you will also get rid of red-eye.
  5. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    A fast lens is best for indoor photography. The 2.8 lineup, including the old 24-70, is perfect for your needs.

    However, if you're on a budget restraint, your 28-135 with a flash should do you good in a pinch. Of course, you would need to learn how to use flashes effectively, but once you got that down it'll be smooth sailing.
  6. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    Since I really don't take photos indoors I was a little bit confused on where to start from and with your comments, It really does give me a place to start, so thank you all!

    Since I do have a good amount of time (about 7 months) for this event, I might be able to gather up some money. As of now though, I think I might purchase a flash in the near future and use it with my 28-135mm to learn how to effectively use it. One question though, is that what is the difference in the 430 and 580? Does the 580 just have a faster recharge time?

    However, on the other side, if I had to buy a lens, what would you all recommend?

    Thanks again in advance.
  7. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    The 430 is a little weaker than the 580, yes. But the main differences between the two would be the ability to recharge rapidly and swivel the flash head. The 580 has the ability to do short bursts whereas 430 takes 3 seconds to recharge.

    Also useful is the 580's built-in bounce card.

    Given the choice, I'd save up and gut a used 580 if I were you.
  8. george-brooks macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    Use your fastest lens, the 50mm, if you can't or don't want to use flash. Your other lenses will be fine with a flash, but it sounds like you need to get an external flash. If you won't be using it for much after this event, a cheap Chinese one should be fine.
  9. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

    Mar 15, 2007
    Denton, TX
    7 months lead time? I'd buy a 430EX and rent some fast primes and maybe a second body so I could have 2 lenses mounted and ready without having to swap lenses.
  10., Oct 18, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2012 macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    I'm assuming your 50mm is the f/1.8 so I'd say if you want another good low light lens the 85mm f/1.8 would be a great addition or maybe upgrade your current 50mm to the f/1.4. Both have very fast autofocus and are very sharp (I currently have both in my kit). If you want to go the zoom route check out the EF-S 17-55mm 2.8. It's a great zoom and a pretty good deal right now.

    Another difference between the 580 and 430 is that the 580 can use the 430 as a slave (I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure. That feature might depend on the camera you use). It also has a more power flash range. I'd spend the extra cash on the 580 myself. To me it's worth it.
  11. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    It might take 3 seconds to recharge at full power but I find at close range it never needs full power to get an exposure with my shots so I find I can shoot quickly without the refresh rate getting in the way.

    With the swivel head it's not that bad and is only 90˙ that the 430Exii can't reach but this is rectified by just shooting with the camera in the opposite orientation.
  12. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    For bouncing a flash in a banquet hall, where the ceiling is a little higher than normal, it never hurts to go stronger.

    I'd really, REALLY recommend a set of fast primes over a flash though, because it would help to keep the ambient mood of the photo. However, when a flash IS used well, it can accentuate and brighten up the exposure without changing the mood too much.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    ^^^ Agreed. Use the flash sparingly using a form of diffusion or bounce to help add a little fill or on a lower power setting. It will help separate your subjects from the background a bit better without being too obvious that a flash was used. Another nifty trick for dance floors would bee to rent a wireless flash setup and mount the flash high and to the right or left or your camera, then move around to get your shots. It acts as a key light and will blend in with the ambient light while providing a bit more fill. Wedding photographers often use this trick with one or two strobes.
  14. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    Kindle has a good book: Speedliters handbook. Of course also as physical book around.
    It gives you a very good introduction. For myself I now only flash manual mode; a bit slower to setup at the begin but much more consistent compared to ETTL.

    Then: see what highest ISO the useful one your camera and use the flash to fill in ambient light. Much better results.

    And use the seven month to practice, practice, practice ...
  15. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    Is this at someone's home? Can you practice ahead of time? The two problems I have with Christmas photos at my moms are having a wide enough lens and enough light. If this is a relative's home maybe you can arrange one or two areas with good lights for portraits. It wouldn't be real expensive to put up a couple of halogen room lights in a corner and maybe arrange a nice backdrop. When someone asks for a photo with aunt Julie and cousin Mark you can have them stand in the nicely lit area. Think ahead about doing a large group photo because people really like those. Figure out how many people will be in the shot and how much room you need. Get a book from the library about lighting and practice, practice, practice. Once the lights are set use the custom white balance feature on your camera to adapt to the lighting in the room. Good luck.
  16. lizardofwoz macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2012
    Realistically the ceiling of a Banquet Hall - Reception Centre? - will be too high to give any benefit from a camera-mounted bounce flash unit. They do not pack enough 'grunt'.

    Put a flash on your camera, diffuse the output and shoot direct flash with guaranteed results. These are record shots, not art. Having the flash head well away from the lens will also minimise redeye and prevent your family from looking like werewolves. If they really are werewolves there is nothing more you can do.

    Bounced light without some light directed forwards at the same time will give you shadows under noses like Greek women's moustaches :)
  17. mulo macrumors 68020


    Aug 22, 2010
    Behind you
    I'm not saying this is the best method, but renting a 5d mk ii with the old 24-70 could do the trick. doing that will run you $150 at my local dealer, but then prices here are stupid..
  18. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    When you say bounce card, what does that exactly mean? I'm sorry I really have poor knowledge when it comes to flash.

    I will most likely get a flash and use it with my 28-135mm! Would that be sufficient?

    The thing is, as it is already, I don't really use my nifty fifty often so I don't I'm not sure about buying another prime lens. However, if I had to I might sell my nifty fifty and look into the 50mm f/1.4. However, not sure if it would be justified after this one event.

    I understand! I am probably looking forward on picking up the 580 soon!

    If I honestly had the money, I would rent another T3 (Just because I am comfortable with it) and buy a 50mm f/1.4 and on my other body I would have the 580 flash and my 28-135mm. However, it is too much for me to afford right now!

    Thank you! I will look into the book as soon as I pick up a flash.

    This event is at a hall. In the next coming week or so, I will go and check out the environment!

    Haha! :)

    I see the point but I mean I've never had any prior experience with the 5D Mark so I really don't think I'd feel comfortable in using it.

    Thank you for all your answers!

    Just a few more questions, would it be wise to look into just a 50mm f/1.4 without a flash or should I just buy a flash and use it with my 28-135? One of the biggest reasons I love using the 28-135mm is because I can zoom and for me its easier than moving around all the place and missing some good shots.

    Thanks once again in advance.
  19. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    It's a white card, usually plastic or paper, that photogs stick into the top of their flash so that the light bounces off the white card to create a diffused, more even flash.

    Here's how one is used: [​IMG]
    While the external bounce cards can be massive, here's a typical, small bounce card: [​IMG]
  20. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Be aware of the potential huge problem of having a relatively cool light from the flash versus a warm amber (incandescent lights) or green (florescent lights). So go see the facility before hand and get gels for the flash that match the room lighting. Once the shots are made (in raw format) you can easily change the color temp/tint to correct any overly yellow or green room light. Needless to say, use diffusers on the flash.
  21. wolfpuppies3 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    Practice at the venue

    Go there when no function is taking place. Introduce yourself to a manager type and tell him/her that you want to practice lighting and exposures for the event you will cover. 99% of the time they will be happy to let you prowl around and do just that.

    Take all the advice above and practice practice practice. It's free. Be concerned with recharge rate of whatever flash you use. The harder it has to fire, the quicker it will flatten the batteries. Know you can't bounce off a 15' ceiling effectively so improvise as some have suggested above.

    Go to instructive websites like Luminous Landscapes ( and read.

    Practice practice practice. Use manual exposures vs automatic. Use a powerful flash like the Speedlite 600 if you can buy/borrow one.

    Take a look at other's work in similar venues for ideas. is my nephew's wedding this past summer.
  22. Mojo1, Oct 23, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012

    Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    All you need is a decent flash, a light modifier such as the LumiQuest UltraSoft and an inexpensive Rosco gel to match the flash output to the ambient room lighting. Shoot RAW so you have more exposure and post-processing latitude.

    Fast lenses are fine but they are expensive and they aren't always fast enough. The narrow depth of field when shooting wide open is also a consideration. So don't waste your money unless you have money to burn...

    My flashes always have a Rosco 1/8 CTO taped to the flash panel; use Scotch 811 to make it easier to remove the tape and eliminate tape residue. The gel slightly warms the usually bluish flash output. I substitute other gels for tungsten and florescent lighting; same goes when shooting outside at sunset. Automatic white balance can be iffy indoors so it is generally best to manually set the WB to match the ambient/flash combo. But if you shoot RAW you can easily adjust the WB after the fact. Just be sure not to mix light sources with different WBs or you will find yourself in post-processing hell...

    Rosco's website has a lot of info. B&H Photo and other stores carry the filters. Depending on the size of your flash panel a Rosco sample book of gels may be all you need. Otherwise, buy the smallest Rosco gel sheet and cut the gel to size.

    Depending on the amount of room light and the activities you will be photographing you may be able to "drag" the shutter (slower flash sync...) which allows the sensor to record the ambient light. That is how you avoid images where the subjects are properly illuminated with the flash and the background is pitch-black. Shoot on manual or auto settings that allow for slower shutter speeds. And you don't have to always freeze your subjects: combining flash with a slow shutter speed can allow you to create some neat pictures. Dancing people are perfect for that technique.
  23. I AM THE MAN thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    Thank you! That really made things clear for me!

    Thank you! Will do!

    I am thinking of looking into the 580 or 430 either one. Great shots btw!

    Thanks! I always shoot RAW and have been since like the second month of owning an DSLR. I will look into the gel when I pick up my flash.

    Thank you to everyone who answered!
  24. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Just a suggestion but take a look at the Canon EF 85mm and 100mm lenses. Canon has the 85mm f/1.2 which is a VERY pretty penny although I know photographer with a 5D and she swears by it and she does video of concerts in the dark! Next is the 85mm f/1.8 for like $419 and the 100mm f/2 for like $499...I think those are great deals if your going to be doing allot of indoor photography and have no idea about lighting conditions....also the 85mm and the 100mm are some very very very sharp lenses even wide open...they both have very high marks on DXO Mark. Not really a flash junky but a good flash indoors helps soooo much! I've got a shaky hand from nerve damage so if I don't even try to shoot under 1/125th without IS and/or something stabilizing it.

    For now you can try bumping the friend has got a 60D and has an assortment of lenses, allot of nice wides and miss but has only got his 55-250 f/3.5-5.6 (although he's springing for a 100mm f/2 soon like me!) and he pushes his 60D's ISO to 5000 and cleans up allot...was very impressed by some of his pictures even at 6400 with allot of cleaning up and obviously reducing the resolution.

    Canon EF 85mm f/1.8:
    Canon EF 100mm f/2.0

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