What's the key to taking great night shots w/ my Canon SD850IS?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by spaceballl, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. spaceballl macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    Hi all,

    I'm currently in St Thomas, and I have a beautiful view of the bay / cruise ships from my hotel room. The whole things looks wonderful at night, and I'd love to capture it on my SD850IS.

    When I try to take the picture, I put it on a ledge and I use a 2 second timer. That way, I can press the button to be sure that my hand doesn't move the camera when it's taking the picture.

    I've tried many different modes and experimented w/ both really high ISOs and really low ISOs.

    Anyhow, if anyone has some great advice, I'd love to hear it!
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    Tripod, release cable, low ISO, and shoot while there's still some light in the sky (the hour after sunset can be special}...
  3. polar-blair macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2008
    Most important thing, TRIPOD, also a remote shutter, and use a long shutter speed, just fiddle around with the exposure and shutter speed until you get the right combination.
  4. markfc macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2006
    Prestatyn, Wales, UK
    I just got the Powershot G9 and I've been playing a little over the weekend. The slow shutter speed defo makes a big difference.

    Once I've mastered it I'll post some settings.
  5. theSeaHawk macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2007
    The original poster is on the right track. Since there is no place to put a cable release on this (indeed most) digital cameras, the use of the self timer is the best approach to release the shutter.

    While a tripod would be ideal they can be bulky on travel so finding a steady place to rest the camera is the way to go.

    I've done a lot of night photography outside with both point and shoot and DSLR/film SLR/TLR cameras, here's what I'd recommend:

    1. manually set the camera ISO to its lowest setting to minimize noise/grain

    2. set the camera to aperture priority (A) mode and set the aperture to a lower setting, such as f 8

    3. frame your shot and release the shutter

    The camera will calculate the shutter speed depending on available light.
    The aperture stopped down will help ensure focus and also keep any light points from being indistinct blurs.
    After some test shots, if you want to make the exposure lighter or darker you can use the +/- exposure compensation or note the exposure values (shutter speed in this case) then set the camera to manual (M) mode, put keep the aperture at f 8, and adjust the shutter speed longer for lighter scene and shorter for darker.

    If the camera's focus points don't have any distinct objects to focus on (as in if you are shooting the night sky or horizon) the autofocus might not be able to handle that. In that case, set the camera focus to manual and focus out to the far end of the scale.

    Don't forget to share some of the results!
  6. spaceballl thread starter macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    Thanks for the all the advice! I'll give it another go tonight and i'll repost w/ results!
  7. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I'm pretty sure that the 850IS doesn't have Aperture mode. It seems very limited in terms of manual modes.

    You might want to play with the pre-programmed modes. My old Sony had a Night Scene mode that turned off the flash, set the ISO to the lowest setting, and held the shutter open for up to 2 seconds. The results were pretty good ... with a tri-pod.

  8. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    I'm not familar with what controls that camera has, but my general approach has been to put the camera in manual mode, get it stabilized and try a photo.

    Chimp the results,

    Change control settings.


    Three pieces of generalized advice:

    1) Don't delete questionable results until you get home (see it on a good monitor)

    2) Don't be afraid of using black

    3) Don't forget that what works on sunsets can be done at sunrise too...



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