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Old Feb 27, 2007, 12:18 PM   #1
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I have Nikon D80 with the kit lens 18-135mm and Nikon 50mm/f1.8 prime lens.

I don't have external flash now.

My friend asks me to take pictures atthe dinner party. It will be in a restaurant.
My questions are ....

1) which lens (18-135mm or 50mm/f1.8) should I use to take pictures of people at dinner?

2) I don't have external flash but I can use the built-in flash. But I don't want the pictures turn out bad because of the built-in flash.
So what f-stop and shutter speed should I use in this condition? with or without built-in flash. (It is in Hotel restaurant so I hope the room will be well lit.)

3) For the group photos (2 person, 3 or 4 person, 5 or 6 person and more) which lens should I use?

Thanks for any input.
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Old Feb 27, 2007, 2:33 PM   #2
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On a D80, the 50mm is a portrait lens, so for groups it may not work well unless you have a lot of room to move around (not something you can count on in a restaurant.)

I think you should go with the 18-135mm and use the built-in flash for fill. (Adequate lighting in a restaurant is not something you can count on.) Make sure the built-in flash will cover the range of your zoom on the wide end.

But you probably shouldn't go too wide or, in the close quarters of the restaurant, you mightstart getting a "fisheye" effect.
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Old Feb 27, 2007, 2:49 PM   #3
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I'll say use both. Use the 50 for portrait shots of individuals during dinner - natural lighting really looks good. But you'll probably have to shoot wide open at 1.8 to get enough light. I'd suggest trying AV mode - set ISO to 800 and aperture to 1.8 and see what type of shutter speeds you get. You probably want 1/60 or better. Your choice if you want to go to ISO 1600 if needed. If not or if 1600 still isn't good enough then bag the 50mm option. But, it's worth a try for the natural lighting affect.

Use the other lens for all other shots with the built in flash. The problem there will be red-eye so plan on removing that in post processing. Normally I use an external flash so I prefer to put the camera in manual mode - I'm not familiar enough with nikon's built in flash to know how it will respond. You have 2 choices - Program mode or manual mode. In either case, set ISO to 400. If manual, set shutter to 1/60 and Set aperture to 5.6, 6.3 or 7.1 depending on how many in group. Once you get to f8 and beyond you may not have enough flash power for proper illumination. Also realize you don't have much spread in the flash so taking a shot of 6 people next to each other may not work - you'll likely have too much fall-off at the edges. Try to stick to 3 people wide. And when using the flash try to stay about 5' away. Too close and you get too much flash burn and a black background.
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Old Feb 27, 2007, 3:09 PM   #4
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JohnG wrote:
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Use the 50 for portrait shots of individuals during dinner - natural lighting really looks good.
I agree. I've always been an "available light" photographer. But in a restaurant, the lighting is likely to be inconsistant. An available light shot of one couple might turn out fine, but an available light shotof a couple on the other side of the same table might have some harsh shadows. You don't want to spend all evening changing techniques. Take all the shots the same way, and post processing will be a lot easier.

If you want to use the 50mm for available light shots, get there early, pick out a well lit spot, and take people's pictures as they arrive. These will be a hit. (Suit jackets and dresses always look better when the people wearing them are standing.) (And people will know who you are when you start walking around taking pictures.)

Bring a large, full camera bag. (It'll impress the chicks!) But keep it simple.

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Old Feb 27, 2007, 3:13 PM   #5
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And don't take any pictures of people while they're chewing.
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Old Feb 28, 2007, 4:50 AM   #6
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Thanks to JohnG and TCavfor their advice.

All ofthese suggestionsare very helpful to me. I'll keep them in mind.

Again, I really appreciate all of you foryour good advice.

Always nice to learn more.

chwin
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