shooting mode for low light--preventing blur

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by kallisti, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. kallisti, Aug 28, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014

    kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #1
    This is an example thread and not a question thread.

    One of the problems with shooting in low light is the relatively long shutter speeds that can be required. "Faster" lenses with larger maximum apertures are designed to offset this.

    Many people shoot in "aperture priority" mode, which allows you to set the aperture (in this case wide-open) while allowing the camera to pick the two other elements of the digital exposure triad--shutter speed and ISO.

    Even with fast f/1.4 lenses, if the light is really low you can find yourself with longish exposure times at max acceptable ISO. The results if shooting handheld are blurry images. VR lenses or some camera bodies can overcome blur caused by camera shake, but they can't fix blur caused by subject motion at slow shutter speeds.

    Manual mode is often avoided by many people. But in low-light situations it can be very helpful.

    The following were all shot during the day, so I specifically adjusted the exposure to mimic shutter speeds that are common when shooting in low-light. Manual focus which was constant between the two shots.

    [​IMG]
    ISO 200, f/8, 1/6th second. This was taken in aperture priority mode with the ISO set at 200. The camera determined a proper exposure of 1/6th second. This resulted in significant blur from camera shake.

    [​IMG]
    ISO 200, f/8, 1/30th second. This was taken in manual mode by setting the shutter speed at the minimum I considered acceptable to prevent camera shake hand-held. Since I kept everything else constant, it is clearly underexposed.

    [​IMG]
    Above image with exposure boosted in LR by 2 1/3 stops.

    Not sure how obvious this is with the small internet images, but the last image is sharp as compared to the first image which is extremely blurry. Shooting in RAW allowed me to correct the exposure in post. Given the choice between a properly exposed but blurry image vs an underexposed but sharp image, I would choose the latter for most subjects.

    Most cameras will allow for ISO to be automatically adjusted even in manual mode. So you are kind of getting an auto-mode while still preventing blur from slow shutter speeds. Alternatively could just shoot in shutter priority mode and let the camera adjust aperture and ISO to compensate for the scene.
     
  2. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #2
    Equally, people forget that sometimes it can be more beneficial to push the ISO in camera rather than rely on boosting in post.

    Due to signal to noise ratio sometimes you will get much better results getting the exposure in camera rather than pushing it later.
     
  3. kallisti, Aug 28, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014

    kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #3
    Won't argue. If shooting hand-held in low light, being aware of the shutter speed is critical. Intentionally underexposing can be a good strategy if the alternative will be a blurry image.
     
  4. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #4
    Try two shot bursts too, sometimes the act of pushing the shutter button introduces more camera shake and a second automatic shot will fare a bit better.

    Paul
     
  5. Alexander.Of.Oz macrumors 68000

    Alexander.Of.Oz

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #5
    This is the beauty of the modern sensor, allowing you to go up to ISO 25,600 if need be, without an excess of noise. Dependent on your camera body, of course. With my old 1100D/T3 I couldn't go above ISO 200 without too much noise creeping in, with the 60D it was a limit of ISO 400 and with the 6D it's a mind-blowing ISO 25,600. :eek:

    ----------

    A great tip, Paul, that many don't do.
     
  6. cebseb macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #6
    Great tips. You forgot the most obvious one. And IMHO, the most important.

    Use a tripod and a cable/wireless/timed release.

    Whilst shooting landscape, scenery, or pretty much anything static, I just set the ISO to base (most likely 100), choose the optimal aperature (most likely between f7 to f8), hit the shutter then leave it alone.
     
  7. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
  8. Nickwell24 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    #8
    I was about to say exactly the same thing. I shoot a lot of night landscapes and I often have shutter speeds of 60 sec+. These wouldn't be possible without a tripod clearly. The release cable isn't extremely important, just very helpful, use the 2 second delay when taking shots if you don't own a cable (this is my backup strategy when I forget my shutter release).
     
  9. cebseb macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #9
    I opt for 5 seconds on my timed release. I did tests with my setup and it was obvious that 2 seconds was not long enough for the vibrations to go away from my initial shutter press. I think it may have more to say about how heavy handed and clumsy I am though than a deficiency of my setup.
     
  10. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #10
    VR/IS lenses allow a slower shutter speed, too.
     
  11. xStep macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2003
    Location:
    Less lost in L.A.
    #11
    I've tried a few things when I don't have a tripod and need a slow shutter speed.

    Sometimes I've been able to set the camera on some other object to act as my tripod. At times it isn't perfect as I need a complicated angle, but even then it helps. You can also place objects, like the camera strap, under the camera to get proper framing. People have suggested keeping a beanbag for this purpose.

    I've used vertical spaces to lean against to still my body. Sometimes I can press the camera to the space to keep the camera still.

    For you Sony users with smart phones, even iPods and iPads. I downloaded something (PlayMemories Camera Apps or Time-Lapse, not sure) from the Sony App Store that gave it the Smart Remote Control app. Along with the PlayMemories app (I'm running an iPhone) you can control the camera. I'm usually in full manual mode but it can be handy even for triggering the shutter when your ready, rather than a timer.
     
  12. Alexander.Of.Oz macrumors 68000

    Alexander.Of.Oz

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #12
    Apart from the timed delay or shutter release helping reduce camera vibration, look at your camera and see if you can use mirror-lock too. My camera body (the 6D) also has various quiet modes to help too, each offering different assistance to dampening vibration and operating noise when in different environments.

    The biggest tip I can offer with using a tripod is NOT to hang a bag full of goodies off the central stem for stabilisation! Given that it will inevitably wave around in the breeze, causing all manner of vibration in the tripod. If you are shooting in gale force winds, grab and lock down the tripod with your own mass. It takes a bit of experimentation and practice to get it right, but I've taken many long, long exposures (over 3 to 5 minutes) doing this and they have come out tack sharp, even on sand! This is also where a solid and sturdy tripod with thick legs and minimal sections to the legs comes into its own.
     
  13. kallisti, Aug 31, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014

    kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #13
    Kind of ironic in a sense. I shot this series specifically as a teaching example for my niece who is learning photography--and then right after I took it bought her a tripod and head for shooting in low-light :). Couldn't agree with you more.
     
  14. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Location:
    At my cat's house
    #14
    I use a bungee cord with hooks at the end. I attach one to the hook on the bottom of the central column and the other to a rock on the ground. If there are no suitable rocks around I use my hiking pole, which I weigh down with my backpack. That way nothing is hanging freely. If the tripod is lower to the ground I attach both bungee cord hooks to the central column and create a loop with the cord ... One of the more useful pieces of equipment in my bag.
     
  15. aerok macrumors 65816

    aerok

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    #15
    One of the reasons I love my X100.

    I use my X100 for stress free shooting when I leave my DSLR rig at home.

    The Auto-ISO is customized to have a minimum shutter speed at 1/100th and I leave the camera on AV mode. And since ISO performance is amazing on the X100, it's worry-free and easy shooting.
     
  16. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #16
    Out of curiosity, what does the X100 do when you have it set up as you describe but the available light is too low for max ISO and your shutter speed of 1/100th? Does it lower the shutter speed attempting to make a correct exposure or does it allow the shot to be underexposed?
     
  17. aerok macrumors 65816

    aerok

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    #17
    AFAIK, it just shoots it underexposed, I never had a situation where there was not enough light. My max ISO is set to 3200
     
  18. kallisti, Sep 2, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014

    kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #18
    I'm not familiar with the workings of the X100. Most cameras in aperture priority mode (in your case AV from what you are saying) will respect the lowest shutter speed you set as long as the ISO can be increased to still obtain proper exposure. Once the maximum ISO is reached (in your case at 3200), then the camera will lower shutter speed in AV mode to attempt a proper exposure. This can result in much slower shutter speeds than you intended with resultant camera blur. This was actually the point of this thread :)

    Possible you don't shoot much in low-light handheld. May not be your thing or you may use a tripod. But I would encourage you to see how the X100 behaves in this type of shooting environment. Easy enough to test--take a photo in a dark room with your usual settings and see what the camera does. Needs to be dark enough that even at ISO 3200 with a shutter speed of 1/100th sec the image will be either underexposed or the camera will automatically lower the shutter speed to compensate for the exposure. My suspicion is that the shutter speed will be slower than 1/100th.

    Even if this isn't what you normally shoot, good to know in advance how your camera will behave if the situation ever arises.
     
  19. aerok macrumors 65816

    aerok

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    #19
    Yeah of course, I'll test that as soon as I get it back. (the GF took it for a week)
     
  20. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #20
    True. But be careful what you are shooting. Just because you are static doesn't mean that the motion in the image will be!
     
  21. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #21
    Excellent point.
     
  22. cebseb macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #22
    Only to a degree. 1 stop maybe. I also try to overcompensate for shutter speed whenever I can. Do not depend on VR or IS to make up for poor technique.
     

Share This Page