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Old Feb 8, 2012, 4:49 AM   #11
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This will obviously require some experimentation, but your Nikon P500 has a longer (35mm equivalent) focal length than your D5100 and 70-300, so I'd set that up for spot metering on the license plate shots. Use an ISO that's high enough to get legible images of the plates in the dimmest light and still get a reasonable shutter speed. (An option might be to mount the P500 on a GorillaPod so you can position it for shots on the plate that may require longer shutter speeds, while you use your D5100 to get the car and person shots.) I think I'd try the High ISO sensitivity auto (See page 92 of the P500 User's Manual.) to handle varying lighting conditions. (The photos don't have to be perfectly exposed; they just have to be legible.) You may have a problem in very low light when the P500 tries to focus and uses its AF-assist illuminator, so you may want to disable that. (See page 196 of the P500 User's Manual.) As a result, focus may be hit or miss while you're busy with your D5100, so take several shots. Unfortunately, your P500 can't use a remote release, so you can't just lock a remote and let the camera shoot continuously.
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 5:22 AM   #12
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You could also auto-bracket the shots for a bit of extra help. (+-2ev on the D5100?)
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 10:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillDrew View Post
I can understand someone being upset enough about a sign in front of their house, but someone driving about to pull them up? In full size pickups with the price of gas?

Is someone paying them to do that?

If it was in my front yard, and I knew about the restrictions, and if it was still there at 12:00:01 Monday, it would find its way to the trash.

Not just that someone did it - when they did it.
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Lots of good info on photography by others,
No, most of the time one of them decides they don't like the signs and takes them all down in an given area every weekend. The placers never place the signs on the lawns or property, only ever few blocks and between the sidewalk and road, (which is city property) and usually near a stop sign or telephone poll. This company that hired me is pretty discreet where they place the signs.
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 10:09 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by TCav View Post
This will obviously require some experimentation, but your Nikon P500 has a longer (35mm equivalent) focal length than your D5100 and 70-300, so I'd set that up for spot metering on the license plate shots. Use an ISO that's high enough to get legible images of the plates in the dimmest light and still get a reasonable shutter speed. (An option might be to mount the P500 on a GorillaPod so you can position it for shots on the plate that may require longer shutter speeds, while you use your D5100 to get the car and person shots.) I think I'd try the High ISO sensitivity auto (See page 92 of the P500 User's Manual.) to handle varying lighting conditions. (The photos don't have to be perfectly exposed; they just have to be legible.) You may have a problem in very low light when the P500 tries to focus and uses its AF-assist illuminator, so you may want to disable that. (See page 196 of the P500 User's Manual.) As a result, focus may be hit or miss while you're busy with your D5100, so take several shots. Unfortunately, your P500 can't use a remote release, so you can't just lock a remote and let the camera shoot continuously.
I was thinking wide angle shots with the P500 to get the whole car and maybe person too. Because the P500 is much slower than the D5100 and tends to hunt in low light. The D5100 is much faster and better in low light, so I use it for the spot metering. I'll post some pictures I took last night shortly.

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You could also auto-bracket the shots for a bit of extra help. (+-2ev on the D5100?)
I thought about that and I think it is a good idea.
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 10:28 AM   #15
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License plates are generally very reflective, and are illuminated at night as long as the headlights or parking lights are on. Isn't that enough to get a good focus and exposure?
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 11:39 AM   #16
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OK, last night, I just concentrated on using spot and focusing on the license plate at different settings which is most important.
Tonight, I'll try getting the whole car with the P500 to see how that comes out. Other than re-sizing for the forum, no PP.
From about 15 yards away, like I'm parked across the street.

1600f4_5-10sec


1600f4_5-20sec


1600f4_5-40sec


1600f4_5-80sec


1600f4_5-100sec


Here is 100% crop of last pic
1600f4_5-100sec


That SB-800 will practically light up the whole block if I use it.
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Last edited by jack55; Feb 8, 2012 at 11:42 AM.
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 2:17 PM   #17
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The first (1600f4_5-10sec) shows a focus distance of about 8m, and a focal length of 70mm.
The second (1600f4_5-20sec) shows a focus distance of infinity, and a focal length of 70mm.
The third (1600f4_5-40sec) shows a focus distance of about 8m, and a focal length of 70mm.
The fourth (1600f4_5-80sec) shows a focus distance of infinity, and a focal length of 70mm.
The fifth (1600f4_5-100sec) shows a focus distance of infinity, and a focal length of 70mm.

You weren't very far away, and the reliability of the autofocus was pretty bad. In addition to the noise, most of the images are out of focus but legible because of the depth of field at the focal length of 70mm.

I still think you should use the P500 for the plates. It will undoubtedly produce more noise, but its smaller sensor provides a much greater depth of field, so the license plates will be sharper however badly the autofocus does. In addition, I think the better image sensor in the D5100 would be put to better use capturing the image of the vehicle and the perpetrator. You might also want to use a 70-200/2.8 on it for better performance.

Plus, once they figure out that they're being watched, they might be on the lookout for you, and you may need an even greater working distance, and thus a longer focal length. The P500's greater DoF would be even more valuable in that case. Also, the 70-300 on your D5100 probably gets dimmer faster than the P500.
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 4:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
The first (1600f4_5-10sec) shows a focus distance of about 8m, and a focal length of 70mm.
The second (1600f4_5-20sec) shows a focus distance of infinity, and a focal length of 70mm.
The third (1600f4_5-40sec) shows a focus distance of about 8m, and a focal length of 70mm.
The fourth (1600f4_5-80sec) shows a focus distance of infinity, and a focal length of 70mm.
The fifth (1600f4_5-100sec) shows a focus distance of infinity, and a focal length of 70mm.

You weren't very far away, and the reliability of the autofocus was pretty bad. In addition to the noise, most of the images are out of focus but legible because of the depth of field at the focal length of 70mm.

I still think you should use the P500 for the plates. It will undoubtedly produce more noise, but its smaller sensor provides a much greater depth of field, so the license plates will be sharper however badly the autofocus does. In addition, I think the better image sensor in the D5100 would be put to better use capturing the image of the vehicle and the perpetrator. You might also want to use a 70-200/2.8 on it for better performance.

Plus, once they figure out that they're being watched, they might be on the lookout for you, and you may need an even greater working distance, and thus a longer focal length. The P500's greater DoF would be even more valuable in that case. Also, the 70-300 on your D5100 probably gets dimmer faster than the P500.
I thought about that, but the problem is they're moving as fast as they can picking up the signs, since they know it is illegal to remove them and I have to be quick. The P500 is a lot slower than the D5100 due to the lag which is at least a second and when it shows up in the veiwfinder/lcd again, I have to refocus again and it does that much slower than the D5100. With the D5100 I can shoot continuous and still see what is going on in the viewfinder.
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 8:19 PM   #19
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That makes sense.

With the D5100 and 70-300, at longer focal lengths, you'll edge closer to f/5.6 which will almost double the shutter speed required to get the shots you got last night, but you'll get a larger DoF which will help with the focus.

Try different ISO settings to see what you can get away with. I would try Active D-Lighting too, to see if you can eek out a little better image.

It would be nice if you had a way to quickly switch between Spot metering for the license plate, and Center-weighted metering for the car and perpetrator, but the D5100 doesn't have a button for that. Do you think you might be able to keep the spot on the perpetrator's face?
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 8:27 PM   #20
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That makes sense.

With the D5100 and 70-300, at longer focal lengths, you'll edge closer to f/5.6 which will almost double the shutter speed required to get the shots you got last night, but you'll get a larger DoF which will help with the focus.

Try different ISO settings to see what you can get away with. I would try Active D-Lighting too, to see if you can eek out a little better image.

It would be nice if you had a way to quickly switch between Spot metering for the license plate, and Center-weighted metering for the car and perpetrator, but the D5100 doesn't have a button for that. Do you think you might be able to keep the spot on the perpetrator's face?
At pitch dark it is hard to lock onto anything that doesn't have light source.
Question? If I am using spot, I have to be precise on the license plate.
How about using center weight... would that still get me in the range, but quicker? I'm gonna try it tonight and see.
I'll experiment with the 70-300mm VR anyway. May lose a stop or so, but get me in closer.

BTW, just got the email, it is a go, they want me to get the guy who's been taking the expensive A boards. I'll be working from 4am to 10am Saturday morning.
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