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FaithfulPastor Nov 9, 2009 4:50 PM

Video Camera vs. DSLR
I have a low end digital video camera and a top of the line DSLR.

Our church uses primarily spotlighting to illuminate the stage. If I take a video of the people on stage, the video comes out fairly decent.

But when I use my DSLR (without a flash) the photos are loaded with hot spots on light colored clothing and the faces of Caucasian people. In the low light, I can't shoot the DSLR at a very fast time value, but people are moving, so i get blurring.

Why is it that a video camera is able to handle the contrasted light so much better than a DSLR?

Faithfully Yours,

TCav Nov 9, 2009 5:40 PM

Try using center weighted or spot metering.

BillDrew Nov 10, 2009 8:55 AM

I suspect that if you looked at a single frame from your video you would be much less impressed with the quality. Motion hides many flaws - which is just fine, but makes that kind of comparison a bit suspect. Blurring is a good example: the blur is part of the motion.

Have you tried cranking up the ISO? That will allow faster shutter speeds. The video camera has a *MUCH* shorter lens so it can have a larger relative aperature (lower f/number). That allows working in lower light.

I am a bit puzzled about the hot spots and blown faces. Could you post an example?

FaithfulPastor Nov 10, 2009 10:17 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Here's an example of a photo that almost works.

The three singers holding microphones have their clothes color right, but the guy in the middle, (fair complexion and red hair) is too bright.

Notice the lady wearing a blue shirt, long blond hair in the front row. Start on the right and come about 1/3 of the way over. Look at the lady wearing the yellow sweater just behind her. Those two folks look way too bright, a few others are also overblown, while people appear to be in decent shape.

F 2.8
iso 2000
95 mm (70-200 2.8 canon lens)
Pattern Metering

Any ideas?


TCav Nov 10, 2009 10:49 AM

Pattern metering is giving equal weight to the black background and the brightly colored shirts. This results in people's faces being overexposed. Switching to center weighted metering will give less weight to the black background and cause the people to be more properly exposed.

TCav Nov 10, 2009 10:51 AM

You could also replace the black backdrop with a gray one. That will make everyone's photos better, not just yours.

JimC Nov 10, 2009 11:00 AM

I do a lot of low light shooting, and because you have a lot of dark areas in those types of conditions, most cameras will tend to overexpose your primary subjects.

Either dial in a -EV setting using Exposure Compensation, or just switch to manual exposure if the light is more constant when performers are hit by the lights (what I do most of the time shooting stage type events). Some users prefer spot metering (but, you have to be careful of what you're metering on, since if you meter on a darker subject, you'll still get overexposed images).

You're going to have a lot of brighter and darker areas in most stage type lighting. So, you'll want to set your exposure to properly expose the faces when they have lights on them (which means that some areas of the image may be underexposed a bit).

I'd also suggest shooting raw (so you have a bit more leeway for adjusting exposure differences between images due to lighting variations).

As an added bonus, you'll get much faster shutter speeds for a given aperture and ISO speed if you're not overexposing your primary subjects.

BillDrew Nov 10, 2009 4:44 PM

I agree with JimC: manual exposure and shooting RAW will help.

However, the root problem is uneven lighting across the stage. The folks on the left are in lower light than the ones in the right-center. The eye compensates nicely for that, but a camera does not. I would guess that the blue shirted blond has at least one stop more light than the far left folks have: wouldn't be surprised if it were two stops.

Adjust the stage lighting if you can.

VTphotog Nov 10, 2009 10:44 PM

Definitely agree about adjusting the lighting. Checking the shadows, it looks as if the woman in the yellow sweater is standing directly under a light. The highlights on the hair of several of the people seem to be green/cyan. Is this due to your WB setting, or are there mercury vapor lights being used - or possibly colored spots?
Stage lighting is a bear, anyway, but if you have some control over it, you should be able to get a happy medium between the highlights and shadows.


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