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Old Dec 14, 2009, 3:21 PM   #1
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Default Which settings to use for indoor party - Canon Rebel XS

Hi all,

Can you please tell me which mode and what settings should I use for an indoor party with low lighting? I have Canon Rebel XS with 18-55mm IS lens.

Thanks
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 3:29 PM   #2
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With that setup, you need to use the flash. If you don't want to use flash, you need to get a lens with a larger aperture and/or a camera that can shoot at higher ISO settings.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 3:33 PM   #3
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Thanks TCav...
However, the party is tonight and I cannot get a new lens. So what would you recommend to get good photos with this setup?
Thanks
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 3:34 PM   #4
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There are three camera settings that affect exposure:
  • Aperture - The amount of light that gets through the lens to the image sensor.
  • Shutter Speed - The length of time the image sensor is exposed to light.
  • ISO - The sensitivity of the image sensor to light.
If you shoot in low light, you need to increase all of these. If you increase the shutter speed too much, you get motion blur becuase your subject moved. Unfortunately, the maximum aperture on your 18-55 lens is too small to help, and the maximum ISO on your XS to too low to help too.

All you can do is use the flash you've got.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 3:36 PM   #5
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Yes. If you leave the camera in auto or P mode it will engage the flash automatically as needed. You won't get good results without flash.

In P mode, you could do a program-shift to change aperture for more DOF for group shots but in general auto or P is a good start with the equipment you have.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 3:49 PM   #6
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Thanks TCav and JohnG... I shall try P and Auto modes.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 7:24 PM   #7
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And let us know how it worked out!
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Old Dec 15, 2009, 1:50 PM   #8
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One thing you can do to help with the harshness of the onboard flash is to tape some bubblewrap or something else over the flash to diffuse the light a bit. It will help prevent undesirable harsh shadows.
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Old Dec 16, 2009, 3:01 PM   #9
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So, I did take pictures in P-mode and RAW + JPG. As I thought, the lighting was very low. On first look JPGs looked okay (not great). But then I created HDR by creating 4 to 5 TIFF images from the original RAW image with different exposures in Adobe Camera Raw. Then did a Tone Mapping. This is the first time I worked with RAW, HDR and tone mapping. Once done, I saved it as 16bit TIFF. File size was huge (50Mb). So I had to save it in JPG(7Mb). Then when I compared tone mapped images and the original JPGs, I said what the heck.... Original images felt like Monochrome images. Although my tone mapping wasnt great( have some noise in the background, and some faces turned red with the red t-shirt of someone becoming very red), these images are far better than the original ones. Thanks for your suggestions ! I would appreciate any comments from experienced guys !
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Old Dec 16, 2009, 4:40 PM   #10
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OK, now you're running into some of the issues with flash photography. You wanted something to work for a simple situation. To get better results you need a more complex answer.

If you post a downsized photo from the camera (not the hdr version, but one of the original photos with the only work done to it being re-sizing for posting) we can talk about WHY it looks like it does and what you can do differently in the future. It's important to have an actual photo because the exposure values as well as the background and subject distance from that background come into play.

But, in general: the flash can only illuminate what it's light reaches. So the further away the background is the less likely the light will illuminate it (known as light fall-off). So, a wall 2 feet behind a person will be well lit by your built-in. A wall 10 feet behind not so much.

Also, you're going to have much more contrast if the camera's chosen exposure is well below ambient exposure. If your camera's exposure is say 3 stops below ambient - your direct flash is responsible for almost all lighting. The metering is going to try and protect highlights (faces, whites, etc...) When it does that, there are a LOT of shadows left over especially when there is distance between your subject and background. There are a couple things that will help this. First, an external flash that is bounced - the light bounces off a ceiling (or wall) and diffuses so it fills in shadows a bit better. Second, you have to UP the camera's exposure so it is closer to ambient. You do that by raising the ISO or lowering the shutter speed or opening aperture (lower f-stop). You can't do that in auto mode and I don't know how well it works in P mode. This is why most people that use flash on DSLR indoors do so using manual exposure. That way you the photographer control how much ambient light you let factor in. For example, Let's say ISO 800 f5.6 1/15 is ambient exposure. If you're using flash and drop ISO to 400 (1 stop) and increase shutter speed to 1/30 you are now 2 stops below ambient. Flash will be the dominant light source in the exposure. Up the ISO back to 800 (1 stop below ambient) and the ambient light will be more balanced vs. flash. In very small spaces with a wall behind your subject it's not as noticable. But the more distance and shadows involved the more you'll see it. You'll see the shadows lighten and more of the background will be visible.

BUT, the first step to better flash photogrphy is an external bouncable flash like the 430exII.
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