Shooting at a Party?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jplg842, Oct 25, 2008.

  1. jplg842 macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2007
    Hey all.
    What are the best settings on my Canon XSi for shooting at a party. both inside and outside.
    and should i use my telephoto end or wide angle on my zoom lens?

    Second question: can i disable flash in automatic modes?

    Thanks everyone for all ur help. ur the best :)
  2. digitalfrog macrumors regular


    Nov 26, 2007
  3. jplg842 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2007
    Nice article! very helpful really

    though im referring to a house/afternoon party
  4. digitalfrog macrumors regular


    Nov 26, 2007
    oh sorry, I associated party with night club too quickly :)

    Your best bet is to google for wedding photography techniques I guess, they will cover the party aspect of it.

  5. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    No, you cannot disable flash in automatic modes. Use "P" to get the next most automatic setting. But better yet for indoor shots, switch to AV and use the widest aperture (that is, the "lowest" number) you can.

    As for which end of your zoom to use, your composition should determine that, but you'll get better low-light shots with the wide end, since you have a wider aperture at that end (so it will let in more light).
  6. apearlman macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2007
    Red Hook, NY
    Party suggestions

    Some of these answers depend what zoom lens you're using. Phrasikleia is right, though, just zoom in or out until you like what you see in the viewfinder.

    As for the flash, it depends on the quality of available light. If the light is good, go into P mode and keep the flash off. But if the light is bad...

    1. Set the ISO as high as you can without causing really bad grain/noise. On my Rebel XT, I find 800 is acceptable, but 1600 is usually sloppy. So I'll avoid 1600 unless the light is REALLY bad.

    2. Choose AV mode and set the widest aperture. Some lenses aren't sharp wide open, so I'll often use 3.5 or 4.0 on my 17-50mm lens, even though it goes to 2.8. With my lens, photos at 2.8 aren't quite as sharp as 4.0.

    3. Start shooting, but take note of the shutter speeds the camera chooses. If you're getting 1/60 or faster, you're probably okay. But if people are moving around quickly or dancing, you might see motion blur. 1/125 or 1/200 will work better.

    4. Look at a few pictures on the LCD screen, and zoom all the way in to check their quality and sharpness. If you're not getting a fast enough shutter speed, you'll need to either increase the sensitivity (ISO) or use flash.

    5. I assume the only flash you have is the pop-up on camera. If you use flash, you might try lowering the flash exposure compensation to -2/3 or -1 stop. This will allow the flash to throw just a bit of light onto faces without making them look too bright. On-camera flash is not flattering light.

    6. Another approach I sometimes take in dark settings is to set exposure compensation (not flash exposure, but overall exposure) to -1 or so. This makes the images look dark, but they *should* be dark -- it's a dark place! Without exposure compensation, the camera sets aperture and shutter assuming that the scene should have "normal" illumination -- in other words, it will make a dark scene look like it was average brightness. If you want dark to look dark, try some shots with negative EC and see if you like them.

    Hope this helps. Also, don't forget to put the camera down and enjoy the party for a while.
  7. Qwest905 macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2007
  8. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Alpine, UT
    ^^ That's the important question, what are you lens choices? Go with your fastest if possible. The nifty 50 1.8 would do great inside a party, the biggest holdup would be the autofocus on it.

    Ideally you'll want to stop your lenses down just a little bit to gain a little bit of sharpness, and try no to shoot any slower than 1/60 unless you're going for motion blur. If you're using a zoom then try to keep the shutter to match your zoom mm. If you're zoomed to 100mm, keep the shutter faster than 1/100. The wider you go, the slower you can have your shutter and not have hand-holding blur affect you. With my 17-40 I feel pretty safe at 1/40 if I focus on keeping myself steady. With my 135, 1/40 would never work.

    Lastly, while noise does suck, don't be afraid to set your ISO at it's highest (1600?). I use 3200 on my 20D often enough and can generally make the noise more part of the picture than detract from the quality, especially in BW. Just avoid red, red is a nasty color for high ISO (at least on my camera).
  9. jplg842 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2007
    Thanks all for your help.. the party is just a couple hour away..

    Im using XSi Kit lens 18-55mm.
  10. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    You'll probably want to ramp the ISO up quite a bit then as that's not a fast lens. You need to get a fast shutter speed as people tend to move around quite a bit at parties and you'll get blurry shots otherwise...

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