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Old Oct 12, 2006, 3:56 AM   #1
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I realise this is probably futile (I am relatively new to photography, so forgive my ignorance if it comes across like that, it probably is ), but I really need to get myself a lense which works well in very low light.

I take photos at video gaming event and more so of the pro players at these events. The events in question generally have poor lighting, mainly to help the players concentrate I guess. I cannot use flash in the player area while they game, but I am charged with getting "intensity" shots of them as they play. Most shots are close up portrait and I have tried a number of lenses now without the kind of results I expect.

There is of course a big question here, is it the lense or me?

Here is my setup :

Canon 350D
Canon 18-55 (that came with the camera and seems useless unless outside)
Sigma 18-200 DG 3.6 - 6.3
Sigma 70-300 DG 4.0 - 5.6

I find I cant stand too close to these players, so I have to use a lot of zoom, usually close to maximum on the 18-200, but of course that increases the AF and makes the pictures seem too dark.

I also had to use 1600 ISO at the last event, to get even remotely lightened pictures, but that added way too much grain and still didnt give the photos much more light.

Several examples here :

http://itgredeye.co.uk/dslr/wsvg06_036.jpg
http://itgredeye.co.uk/dslr/wsvg06_118.jpg
http://itgredeye.co.uk/dslr/wsvg06_121.jpg
http://itgredeye.co.uk/dslr/wsvg06_122.jpg
http://itgredeye.co.uk/dslr/wsvg06_125.jpg

I generally use the camera on the TV setting, leaving the AF to the camera and then lowering shutter speed until I get enough light in. The issue with this of course is that I have to be super steady on my feet, which is not always the case

I have found that if I go to the Av setting on the dial, I can adjust the AF but the shutter speed it choses is stupidly low (like 2 seconds lol).

I would therefore ask for two things of you fine people on this forum and that is, A) Is it my lenses and B) What settings would you recommend for me to try with the camera.

Be gentle please, I have not long got back into photography after 15 years away and the dSLR is relatively new to me.

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Old Oct 12, 2006, 5:21 AM   #2
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It looks like you just don't have enough light as all your pictures are way under-exposed (whch tend to increase the graininess)
-> Without flash the only solution for you is faster lenses and they don't come in zooms

Cheapest is the EF-50mm f/1.8 and next up will be the 85mm f/1.8 - You may go for two of the newer f/1.2 lenses as well but I'm afraid their prices will exceed many times of the camera!

What does the EV scale in your viewfinder indicate when you shoot theses scenes? (i.e. -2..-1..v..+1..+2) - If the bottom pointer is still within the left quadrant then you might get by with one of the faster constant f/2.8 zoom...
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Old Oct 12, 2006, 5:48 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I have messed about today at home and found that if I manually move the EV scale to -2, it certainly helps. I have also set the camera to 1/30 f3.5 and it has vastly improved the shot.

The issue as you rightly said, is that it is un-zoomed and therefore when I got to my next event I will have the same issue I guess.

I also played about with the mirror lock setting in the custom funcs. With it set to enabled, the picture is much sharper, but you seem to have to frame the picture, press the shutter button once, which then sets the mirror and then hit it again to get the picture to be taken, which is odd, but does seem to get better focus (less blur under low light).

I guess I will just have to invest a lot in a top end f1.2 lense at some point.
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Old Oct 12, 2006, 6:11 AM   #4
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redeye27 wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for the reply. I have messed about today at home and found that if I manually move the EV scale to -2, it certainly helps. I have also set the camera to 1/30 f3.5 and it has vastly improved the shot.
If you manually move the EV scale to -2, the shot will get darker!!!
-> you need to go the other way +2EV... to lighten up...
What this has proved is you may get by with any of the constant f/2.8 zoom... :idea:
(i.e. f/1.2 or 1.8 may not be required)
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Old Oct 12, 2006, 10:11 AM   #5
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get a fast lens like NHL mentioned. And shoot wide open using Av mode. You might still need to shoot at ISO1600 or ISO3200. Look at your histogram and adjust.
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Old Oct 12, 2006, 10:47 AM   #6
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Um I did of course mean +2 !! hehe.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old Oct 15, 2006, 5:08 AM   #7
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All is not lost with an under exposed image, Photoshop and a noise reduction program can save the day.
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Old Oct 16, 2006, 4:29 PM   #8
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If you can afford it, look at one of these lenses:
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/158/cat/10
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/217/cat/31

Otherwise one of these:
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/154/cat/10
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/157/cat/10
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/180/cat/30
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/221/cat/30

But if you are relying on the autofocus, you might want to stay away from the Macro lenses above and go right for the Canon 85mm f1.8 if on a budget. The f1.8 will also handle some lighting conditions where even the f2.8 wouldn't be enough, it's about 2.4X as bright (or abouut 1.2 stops).

Otherwise, the 70-200 f2.8 seems to be about what you are really wishing for.

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