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Old May 15, 2006, 9:42 AM   #1
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I just obtained a Nikon D50 and since it has been awhile since I used a SLR, I am starting over- so these will probably be fairly stupid questions. From all the literature about the D50 it sounded like it could take decent pictures in low light. I was at a large brunch in a somewhat dimly lit buliding and tried to take photos of the crowd as they were moving to the music. Unfortunately the photos all came out blurred at 400 and 800 ISO. Even shots of people standing still were blurred but not as bad -In addition the coloring in the photos was heavily weighted to the red. This was not the case in the areas of the stage where artifical lighting was used -there colors were more accurate, but still got very blurred pictures.

Obviously I picked too low light a situation and the camera is more limited than I thought or isthere is a better way to take these kinds of pictures without a flash?

Is there a good book or DVD out there that would help me to learn the D50? The manual is vague on many issues.

Thank you for any help you can offer.
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Old May 15, 2006, 11:21 AM   #2
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Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
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Keep an eye on your shutter speeds while you're shooting. When you get blur, you're likely seeing a combination of blur from camera shake and motion blur from subject movement.

So, keep camera shake in mind when squeezing the shutter button.

What lens do you have? You've got two things fighting you with most zoom lenses.

One is that most lenses lose a lot of light as you zoom in more to longer focal lengths.

The other is that camera shake is magnified as longer focal lengths are used.

If you're using something like one of the 18-55mm kit lenses, in typical home lighting at night, you'll probably need to stay on the wide end of the lens where it gets more light and shoot at ISO 1600, trying to catch subjects when they're relatively still. These lenses are more than twice as bright at their widest zoom setting (least magnification) versus their longest zoom setting (more magnfication).

In most of the auto modes, the camera should be setting the lens to the largest available aperture (smaller f/stop numbers) anyway. But, it wouldn't hurt to make sure that's what it's doing. If not, shoot in Av (Aperture Priority) mode and open up your aperture (use smaller f/stop numbers). That way, the camera can use faster shutter speeds (but, you'll have a shallow depth of field at wider apertures, so it's a tradeoff).

The red cast is probably due to a combination of exposure and white balance. Auto White Balance doesn't work very well in artificial lighting with most cameras. Try setting it to incandescent (tungsten).

Even better, use the camera's custom white balance feature. If you don't have a photographic gray card (the preferred way to set it), try setting it in the lighting you're shooting in using a couple of white coffee filters stacked together. That will get you pretty close.

Shooting raw is one way to help out with white balance issues (since you can more easily change it after you shoot).

If you're going to shoot indoors without a flash often, I'd consider getting a brighter lens, too. In closer quarters, something like a 35mm f/2 would probaby work better than a 50mm f/1.8. But, the 50mm is so inexpensive, that it should be in everyones bag for conditions requiring a brighter lens with it's focal length. It may be a tiny bit long in close quarters though.

Sigma makes a new 30mm f/1.4 that you may want to look into. It's around $429 now at vendors like B&H. I'm currently using a Minolta 28mm f/2 more often than not when I shoot in existing light indoors with my Konica Minolta 5D, and I'm thinking about replacing it with the Sigma (since f/1.4 is twice as bright as f/2).

Or, simply use a flash when you are in low light. ;-)

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Old May 16, 2006, 10:37 AM   #3
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Wow! Thank you so much for writing such an informative response. This helps immensely. I have been reading a lot, but this brings it all together.

Thank you again

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