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Old May 8, 2008, 5:13 PM   #21
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My suggestion.... Use your 50mm f/1.8 in that lighting, experimenting with various apertures and ISO speeds (i.e., try it at f/2, f/2.8; ISO 800, ISO 1600). I'd suggest using Av (Aperture Value, a.k.a., Aperture Priority) mode for best results, letting the camera select the shutter speed.

Make sure to set your white balance for the lighting (tungsten would probably be a good bet for live music), using Exposure Compensation if your photo is too dark or too bright to tweak the results.

If you find that the 50mm f/1.8 is not long enough, get an 85mm f/1.8 instead and go through the same experimentation with it. Then, see what kind of results you're getting. IMO, you really can't go wrong having brighter primes in these focal lengths. You'll find conditions you want or need to use them in.

If (based on your tests with the primes), you think you can "get by" with an f/2.8 zoom, buy one that includes the focal length you think you need most, based on experience with the brighter primes.

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Old May 8, 2008, 6:09 PM   #22
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JimC wrote:
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My suggestion.... Use your 50mm f/1.8 in that lighting, experimenting with various apertures and ISO speeds (i.e., try it at f/2, f/2.8; ISO 800, ISO 1600). I'd suggest using Av (Aperture Value, a.k.a., Aperture Priority) mode for best results, letting the camera select the shutter speed.

Make sure to set your white balance for the lighting (tungsten would probably be a good bet for live music), using Exposure Compensation if your photo is too dark or too bright to tweak the results.

If you find that the 50mm f/1.8 is not long enough, get an 85mm f/1.8 instead and go through the same experimentation with it. Then, see what kind of results you're getting. IMO, you really can't go wrong having brighter primes in these focal lengths. You'll find conditions you want or need to use them in.

If (based on your tests with the primes), you think you can "get by" with an f/2.8 zoom, buy one that includes the focal length you think you need most, based on experience with the brighter primes.

Sounds like very sound advice, again I offer many thanks for your time!

(as for the lighting used in THAT particular environment, halogen bulbs with various color gels would be the most common - perhaps that translates to "tungsten", I'm not sure)

Again, thanks, the suggestions are appreciated (and with a bit of luck, another newbie finds this discussion useful!)

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Old May 9, 2008, 8:25 AM   #23
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I'd use Tungsten. That's going to work fine in most stage lighting like that. The hardest part will be getting proper exposure (stage lighting tends to play havoc with metering systems, since you have brighter areas from the lights, with darker areas in shadows). I usually go with Manual Exposure after taking a few test shots to get an idea of the average lighting I'll find on performers. But, that technique can result in a number of overexposed and underexposed images (since the lighting levels do tend to change during performances), and it takes a bit of practice to determine when the lighting is just right for the photos you want to take that way (for example, when a performer leans into a light where their face is lit up if you dialed in the exposure that way).

Your best bet until you're more familar with your camera's metering is probably to use Center Weighted with Av (Apeture Priority) Mode. Then, dial in a brighter or darker exposure using Exposure Compensation after looking at some of the shots and histograms on your display.


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Old May 9, 2008, 9:33 AM   #24
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Thats close to what I've done in the past, except I always used full manual. Start at 1/40 and f3.5 on ISO400. Take a shot, see how it looks, tweak, try again, etc.

I've always had a bias against ISO greater than 400 because the noise in the picture annoyed me, I should probably spend a bit of time with PS learninghow to reduce the noise after the shot.

I tend to agree with the fact that its hard to meter in those lights... they move. To make things worse, he picture posted was actually a dance floor, and between the lights moving and the dancers moving, it's really hardto find that time where you can actually stop motion, especially considering how dim it is. Occasionally, I missed, and took a light in the face when I wasnt expecting it; I have a whole collection of pictures that look likeI took a picture of a mirror with a flash on ;-)

I'm still trying to decide if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I chose such a cruel, unforgiving environment to learn to shoot with my camera!

Thanks for your help!
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Old May 9, 2008, 9:56 AM   #25
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It will take some practice for more keepers, and a brighter lens does help to increase that percentage. I wouldn't be afraid of using higher ISO speeds. But, your exposure is critical for best results (noise is going to be worse in underexposed areas anyway, so you want to make sure the performers faces are in the light and exposed properly as much as possible. You tend to have the opposite problem with overexposure, making noise in the dark shadows on stage more obvious, while blowing out the detail in skin tones under lights).

I have to use ISO 3200 (not even available on the D50) for best results in some of the dimmer restaurant bars with live music in my area, even shooting with a brighter prime (sorry, no nice overhead stage lights). lol But, your lighting is a better than that, and with practice, you'll get more keepers, learning to time your shots as well as possible for the least amount of motion blur from subject movement.

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Old May 9, 2008, 10:19 AM   #26
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Thanks! not only for the advice but also the encouragement!
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