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Old Nov 17, 2008, 8:44 AM   #11
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Turn the mode dial to A (that's Aperture Priority). Then, a control wheel on the camera is used to vary the aperture (set it to the lowest f/stop number available). The camera will pick the correct shutter speed for proper exposure. Look up Aperture Priority in your camera's manual for more information.

If you want to control both Aperture and Shutter speed (which is usually the way I approach things in that type of lighting), you'll need to use the M position on your mode dial (Manual Exposure). See your manual for more details on how to use the control wheel to set them.

The one with the most blur was overexposed a little bit (that's why the black was turned to gray). A brighter exposure helps with noise. But, the problem is that you'll have slower shutter speeds that way. So, if you're not using manual exposure (for example, you're shooting in Aperture Priority), you'll want to use a -EV setting with Exposure Compensation if your photos are coming out too bright in any given lighting (and one lighting condition may be different than another). Check your manual for Exposure Ccompensation and you'll see more information on how to use it.

If you use Manual Exposure (where you're controlling both the aperture and the shutter speed), your settings for both take the place of Exposure Compensation.

You'll need to learn how to adjust your exposure in different lighting if you are seeing an exposure that's too bright or too dark (lighting is not always going to be the same, as you can see by the exposure differences between those two samples). The color of the clothing being worn and much more can impact how a camera meters a scene (for example, it may try to turn black a mid gray, since it doesn't know that it's supposed to be a darker black).

It looks like you'll probably want to use ISO 3200 in that lighting (the Hi 1 setting you'll find for ISO speed). That will give higher noise levels (but, allow shutter speeds twice as fast as ISO 1600).

In that lighting, I'd probably go manual exposure (the M position on your model dial) and use f/4 at around 1/100 second with that lens, with the camera at ISO 3200, adjusting shutter speed as needed for correct exposure (faster shutter speeds will give you a darker exposure, slower shutter speeds will give you a brighter exposure).

Here's the problem.....That's still *way* too slow to prevent blur if your subjects are moving any. You must have caught that dancer on stage when she wasn't moving any for the stage shot (it was at 1/50 second and f/4.5 using ISO 1600).

In that type of lighting, even if you got an f/2.8 lens and shot at ISO 3200 (twice as sensitive as ISO 1600), your shutter speeds are still only going to be around 1/200 second. That's better. But, you'd still have blur from any rapid subject movement.

IOW, you'll need to try and time your shots when your subjects are not moving as much (during pauses, etc.) to get more non-blurry shots with most lenses, even if you spent the money on a brighter zoom for use with your camera model

Now, you could use something like a brighter fixed focal length versus zoom that can AF on your camera. For example, a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX HSM (around $500) would let you get a bit faster shutter speeds.

If you wanted to use manual focus, you could get something like a 50mm f/1.8 AF lens (around $100), or 85mm f/1.8 AF (around $400) and use one of them (these lenses won't Autofocus on a D40).

Your D40 would give you focus confirmation in the viewfinder with them (you'd half press the shutter button and turn the focus ring on the lens until the green focus indicator in the viewfinder is steady, letting you know when it's properly focused).

As long as you're roughly the same distance from your primary subject, that may be a cheaper way to go if you can get as close as you were for the shot of that dancer on stage (a 50mm f/1.8 AF lens is only around $100), and that stage shot was taken at a 62mm zoom setting).

Using a brighter prime (fixed focal length versus zoom lens) with the aperture set to around f/2 at ISO 3200 would let you use a shutter speed of around 1/400 second for proper exposure. You'll get much better results with that approach if your subjects are moving fast (less motion blur). But, noise (the grainy look you see at higher ISO Speeds) will be worse that way (although the D40 is better than many cameras at it's highest setting).

There are a number of tools that can help you reduce noise at higher ISO speed settings. Here are some popular choices:

Noise Ninja


Neat Image

If you find noise to be unacceptable for the print sizes needed at ISO 3200 (and you may be OK with it at smaller print/viewing sizes) you may also want to try shooting in raw and post processing your images.

Shooting raw will also give you more latitude for adjusting exposure later (since light is going to be varying some in typical stage lighting.

Bibble has Noise Reduction using Noise Ninja Technology built in:


I'd also take a look at the new DXO Optics Pro (version 5.3). It looks like they've made some major breakthroughs in reducing noise at the raw level.

See more about the new noise reduction algorithms in version 5.3 here, including comparisons with Nikon Capture NX (which is pretty good for noise reduction) and Adobe Camera Raw:


Both Bibble and DXO Optics Pro have fully functional trial versions you can download to see how they work with your images.

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Old Nov 17, 2008, 9:01 AM   #12
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...and what does it mean by f/?????
Aperture, as expressed as f/stop is the ratio between the focal length of the lens and the size of the aperture iris diameter. The smaller the number, the wider the opening (letting in more light).

You have 4 main variables to take into consideration for exposure, and I use the term "main" since there are a lot of nuances to how you measure the light (for example, your metering mode), as well as different film characteristics if shooting film, and camera settings if shooting digital for the desired tone/contrast curve within an image, your White Balance setting to match the type of lighting, and more.

1. Light (typically measured as EV for Exposure Value in Photography).

2. Aperture (which works similar to the pupils in your eyes, where you can open up the aperture iris wider to let in more light, or close it down to let in less light). If you let in more light with a wider aperture, you can expose the film or sensor faster. If you let in less light with a smaller opening, it takes longer to expose the film or sensor. Note that aperture is normally expressed as f/stop, which is a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the aperture iris. So, smaller values represent a larger iris diameter.

3. ISO speed. This is how sensitive the film or sensor is to light and is the same thing as the older ASA rating for film. The higher the ISO speed, the faster you can expose it, given the same aperture and lighting.

Higher ISO speeds are desirable in low light, so that you can use faster shutter speeds to help prevent blur from subject movement.

4. Shutter Speed (this is how long the camera's shutter stays open to expose the film or sensor).

IOW, it all boils down to how sensitive the film or sensor is to light (which you control via the ISO or ASA speed of the film you use with film, or the ISO speed settings you use with digital), and how much light you need to let it see to "expose" the image which you control via the aperture opening size and shutter speed).

These exposure calculators and simulators may help your understanding. Film speed is the same thing as ISO speed (the same principles apply to both film and digital photography):



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Old Mar 2, 2016, 6:18 AM   #13
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Default Nightclub Photography

All I have is a 50mm f/1.8 , 18 - 55mm and 55 - 200mm (D40x) . Will i be able to get good shots of performers in nightclubs or low-light areas period with any of those lenses ?
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Old Mar 2, 2016, 10:06 AM   #14
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Use the 50mm f/1.8. It is much brighter than your zoom lenses. I'd use aperture priority mode, keeping the aperture close to wide open to let in more light (e.g. f/1.8 or f2), and increase the ISO speed as high as tolerable (e.g., ISO 3200) and see what kind of shutter speeds you're getting.

The faster the shutter speeds the better. resulting in less blur from subject movement. Timing your shots carefully so that you're taking more of them when the subject is relatively still can also help increase your number of "keepers"

I'd also set the White Balance to match the lighting (incandescent is usually what you find in most indoor environments). careful use of metering options may also help out. For example, you can easily get overexposed or underexposed images if one part of the frame is much darker or lighter than other parts of the frame. Depending on the camera model, one type of metering may work better than others (spot. versus center weighted vs matrix). sometimes a bit of exposure compensation (-EV setting if the photos look overexposed, +EV setting if they look underexposed) can help out.

shooting in raw vs jpeg can help give you more flexibility in adjustments made in post processing of images.

If all else fails, use a flash (assuming you can get close enough to your subjects so that it is effective).

short answer to your question:

Use the 50mm f/1.8
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