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Old Dec 16, 2004, 6:42 AM   #1
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I am abeginner. I just received myfirst digital camera - Canon A95. Can you give me advice for shooting photos in this situation? Ballet performance, low lights (well, no light except on stage), obviously dancers dancing across the stage. I tried a couple different settings but all my action pictures still came out very blurry. None worth keeping. The photos of the still poses came out better. The backdrop on stage came out perfect. It's just the dancers in action that are blurry. By the way, the flash is NOT allowed, and I believe I had the camera set to the highest resolution and superfine compression. Am I giving away my ignorance?

I found it difficult getting the shot I wanted. When a dancer would strike apose, I'd snap the picture, but the picture I actually captured was her turning away. Is this a digital camera thing?

Thank you for any advice you can give.
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Old Dec 16, 2004, 7:53 AM   #2
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It depends on how low the lighting condition really is, but here is a tip that should get you the best possible result with that camera.

1) Set the camera on manual. This gives you maximum control to ensure the camera doesn't do anything that would cause blur.
2) Turn off zoom. When you zoom, your camera sacrifices a bit of aperture, which in turn reduces the amount of light your camera can absorb.
3) Set the aperture to your lowest value (2.8?). This allows the camera to absorb the maximum amount of light possible.
4) Without a tripod, set the shutter speed to a maximum of 1/30 second (to eliminate hand-shake blur). If you use a tripod, you can probably set it to as low as 1/10 of a second before the dancer moves to fast to cause blur.

With all the above conditions, your camera is set to record with the maximum amount of light gathering power and best quality. Now you need to play with the ISO modes.

5) Set the ISO to 400. Higher ISO gets lower quality images (due to noise), but it allows you to see darker objects.

If the scene comes out very bright on your viewfinder, then the lighting conditions in the room are not all that bad. With the above steps, work backwards until you get an exposure (brightness quality) you like. For example, reduce the ISO to 200, then 100, then 50. If at 50 it's still bright, begin to reduce shutter speed to 1/60 second, 1/125 second, and so forth. Or if you're a bit shaky with the camera, keep the ISO at 100 or 200 and start reducing the shutter speed.

This should get you up and running to taking the best low-light shots with the camera. Hopefully the lighting conditions in the room aren't so low that even at the max you still can't see much. If it is, I don't think there's anything you can do about it. Perhaps you could request for a much brighter environment.
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Old Dec 16, 2004, 8:27 AM   #3
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In low light, with flash forced off, the camera is going to use the largest available aperture anyway in Programmed Autoexposure (P)Mode (f/2.8 at wide angle for your model). So, if you want properly exposed images with less blur, just increase your ISO speed (which will increase noise). Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast.

Alternatively, you can use Av (Aperture Priority) mode, setting your camera to the largest available aperture (represented by smaller f/stop numbers).

But, in low light with flash forced off, it really doesn't make any difference (the shutter speeds will be so slow that the camera will always be selecting the largest available aperture for the focal length you're using anyway with Programmed Autoexposure).

If you're willing to sacifice properly exposed images for less motion blur, you can use Exposure Compensation, settingit toa -EV value. This will cause the camera to use a faster shutter speed than the metering believes is needed, resulting in underexposure. You may find it easier to do it this way, versus using full manual exposure. Personally, I wouldn't recommend underexposed images, but sometimes this is preferred to more motion blur.

Don't use anymore zoom than you have to (since more than twice as much light reaches the sensor at the wide angle lens setting with your model, compared to full zoom).

When shooting at higher ISO speeds, you'll get a lot of noise (colored dots, similar to film grain). Some popular tools to reduce it later are Neat Image (http://www.neatimage.com) and Noiseware (http://www.imagenomic.com).

Forindoor shooting of non-stationary subjects without a flash, you really need a model with a brighter lens, capable of shooting at higher ISO speeds with lower noise (a DSLR with a bright lens is the recommended solution, since these can shoot athigher ISO speeds with lower noise compared to the non-DSLR models).

So, you'll need to do the best you can with your model in this type of scenario, taking lots of photos in order tomore "keepers". A tripod or monopod can also help (since this will reduce blur from camera shake you'll have at slower shutter speeds). Although, this won't help for subject movement,some of the blur you're getting may be from camera shake, too.

Ifyou decide that you'll be taking lots of photos like this (existing light without a flash), then you may want to look at other models (preferrably a DSLR, or at least a model with a brighter lens).

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Old Dec 16, 2004, 11:13 PM   #4
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Thank you very much for your suggestions.
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Old Dec 17, 2004, 9:40 AM   #5
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You say the backdrop is perfect and just the dancers are blurred. I don't think you have to mess with anything. Just learn to pro-focus by half depressing the shutter. When the dancers strike a pose you can grab the shot in less than 1/10 second as opposed to nearly a second when the camera has to focus before it takes the shot.
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Old Dec 19, 2004, 1:24 PM   #6
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Slipe's idea is a good one. If the background looks ok then pre-focussing and taking the pic may solve the problem. Just to re-iterate what Slipe is saying:

(i) Half-press the shutter long before you want to take the dancer. This will make hte camera focus on the backdrop or whatever else you are pointing at.

(ii) Keep holding the button down half-way

(iii) When you are ready to take a pic (say the dancer is moving closer to where your camera is pointing), press the button fully.

See if Slipe's idea helps.
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