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Old Mar 11, 2008, 7:36 AM   #1
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Hello all. What settings are best for shooting in low lighting? I have a D80 with the Nikkor VR 18-200mm lens. I guess I'm a little confused about using shutter speed and film speed properly. Whenever I adjust the ISO I either get blown out photos or they are extremely dark. I guess I need to find a middle ground. But when there's a low-light situation which is the best to adjust? ISO or shutter speed?

Also, I will be attending a Japanese festival this weekend. It will take place at night and involve big crowds, floats, and fire. I won't be able to bring a tripod so what do I need to adjust to get the best pictures in this sort of situation?

Sorry for the newbie questions but I've only had my D80 for three weeks now and I'm still learning. I've read a lot but as I said the ISO and shutter speed stuff confuses me.
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 10:17 AM   #2
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Shirasagi wrote:
But when there's a low-light situation which is the best to adjust? ISO or shutter speed?
Neither !
If things are moving - May be a flash(or flashes) is what you need
-> Lighting is essential in photography (more so than high-ISO or fast lens)

In big crowds for example, you'll need large DOF to capture everyone and fast lens won't cut it
... and if anyone(or something) move neither VR nor a tripod will do it either...
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 11:35 AM   #3
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For dealing with low light situations, i don't find adjusting the shutter speed useful. It's far to easy to underexpose when using just shutter priority. Start with DOF, or in other words aperature. Figure out how much you need in focus, or typically in low light this will mean shooting wide open. Then look at your shutter speed. If it's not fast enough to prevent camera shake or stop motion (if needed), then raise you ISO, until the camera is selecting an appropriate shutter speed.

As NHL said, using a flash makes this process even easier. The on camera flash is typically not powerful enough to do it, though. You'll likely need either the SB600 or SB800.
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 6:59 AM   #4
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So you adjust your ISO for things like sports photography or when you have a subject that is moving quickly? Or is that the shutter speed? Again those two confuse me. ;D

Thanks for the tips on the aperature/DOF settings. I want to buy a flash but since I just spent a lot on the camera and lens then I need to wait a bit before spending any more hobby-money.
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Old Mar 13, 2008, 8:41 AM   #5
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The ISO adjusts the sensitivity of the sensor the higher the ISO the less light is needed to correctly expose the picture. The downside is that as the sensitivity is increased the noise in the picture increases, noise being unwanted artifacts usually showing up in dark areas of the picture.

As a rule of thumb I'll always use the lowest ISO I can to get the picture I want. On the D80 ISO up to 400 really isn't an issue higher and the noise may start to be a problem. (Steve's review suggests ISO up to 800 is fine).

So follow the advise from rjseeney, select an aperture that gives you the depth of field that you want. Using A mode is the best way to do this. At this aperture what is the shutter speed? Really low and you'll need to increase the ISO which will increase the shutter speed, higherISO less light needed. You need a certain shutter speed to prevent camera shake. What this is depends on the lens. with your 18-200 I suggest at least 1/30 if you're shooting at the 18mm end and 1/250 if you're at the 200mm end. Other than that it depends on the subject someone walking past you needs a faster shutter speed than someone walking towards you or away from you, same applies to someone running or a vehicle but these will be moving faster and need a faster shutter speed to stop the action. Set the camera up as you think it should be then review your shots. Be aware the light may change over time and you may have to adjust things.

Finally stopping the action may not always give the best result. Panning, following a moving subject before during and after pressing the shutter, can give a sharp subject against a blurred background emphasising themotion. The on camera falsh can also be used to pick out a subject and freeze action but waon't be powerfull enough for a large subject or over a distance.


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