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Old May 20, 2009, 6:32 AM   #11
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Yes - your problem is as expected - light levels are very low. A big challenge is the lens on that camera is not bright enough. It has an aperture of 3.6. Your shots are at ISO 1000, f3.6 and between 1/25-1/50 shutter speeds. There isn't a lot of camera shake thanks to IS but there's a LOT of motion blur. For that type of movement you need shutter speeds in the 1/400-1/500 range. That's not going to be possible really. Again, the best you can do is raise your ISO to 1/3200 instead of 1/1000. That will convert your shutter speeds to 1/150-1/175 range. The only other thing you can do with that camera is get closer so you don't have to use as much zoom - when you're not zoomed out I believe your camera has a wider aperture value. That will increase your shutter speeds as well. So, my advice is the same as before - aperture priority, ISO 3200, widest available aperture. It's still not going to be fast enough. But the problem is there just isn't enough light with the lens on that camera to stop the motion of the dancers without flash use. It's not uncommon at all to use f1.8 lenses on a DSLR for situations like this. That lens would let in 4x the amount of light your current lens does.
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Old May 20, 2009, 10:00 AM   #12
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I saw where you took one flash photo in that set. I wouldn't use a shutter speed that fast though (you were using 1/1000 with flash).

Instead, you could set it manually to around ISO 800 and 1/200 second with flash, leaving the aperture wide open (which is apparently around f/3.7 when zoomed in much with your camera).

That might let a bit more ambient light from the background in compared to 1/1000 second.

Since the image would be underexposed without the flash in that lighting with those settings, the flash itself should freeze the action (since a typical flash burst length is around 1/1000 to 1/10,000 second, depending on distance to subject, and the subject would only be properly exposed during the brief flash burst, freezing movement).

But, you may be outside of the flash range of the built in flash. Since your FZ28 does not have a hotshoe to support an external flash, you'd be limited to a slave flash arrangement (where an external flash fires when it sees the camera's flash fire).

Here's one example (but, the reviews seem a bit mixed and I wouldn't expect much for a $49 setup like that):

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...n.html#reviews

You should be able to reach out to 60+ Feet at f/3.7 and ISO 800 with a direct flash (not diffused or bounced) if the advertised GN is correct. To determine max range, divide the GN (Guide Number) by the Aperture (your f/stop) at ISO 100. Then, each time you double the ISO speed, flash range increases by 1.4x. Bouncing (so that you'd have more even lighting) would reduce range significantly, depending on ceiling height/color and more.

Sunpak also makes a "digital aware" slave trigger that you could use with a more powerful external flash.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...h_Adapter.html

Just keep in mind that these types of solutions are not ideal, as you may need to tweak your camera settings significantly for accurate exposure + other flashes being used can trigger your slaves, too). You'll also need to worry about flash recycle times (causing a longer wait before you can take more photos).

Make sure to get a "digital aware" trigger if you go that route (so that it's smart enough to ignore the camera's metering preflash that you have with digital).
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Old May 20, 2009, 10:12 AM   #13
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I checked a few concert pictures taken with fz28 at flickr (see links below)
How the heck can it be so relatively fast speeds (1/40-1/200) at low iso-settings (100-320)???
And some of the pictures are razor sharp and noise free at 1/20 2/3.6 @400
I've been to similar venues and most of the time my camera ends up like
1/8 f/2.8 @800 with a lot of motion blur...

/Peter

1/40 f/3.6 @iso160
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbillsonphotography/3479440734/meta/

1/60 f/3.7 @iso320
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbi...n/photostream/

1/80 f/3.7 @iso100!!!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbi...in/photostream

1/200 f/3.7 @iso100!!!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbi...in/photostream

1/20 f/3.6 @400
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbi...66929661/meta/

Last edited by peswe; May 20, 2009 at 10:35 AM.
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Old May 20, 2009, 11:18 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peswe View Post
I checked a few concert pictures taken with fz28 at flickr (see links below)
How the heck can it be so relatively fast speeds (1/40-1/200) at low iso-settings (100-320)???
And some of the pictures are razor sharp and noise free at 1/20 2/3.6 @400
I've been to similar venues and most of the time my camera ends up like
1/8 f/2.8 @800 with a lot of motion blur...

/Peter
A couple parts to this question:
Question 1: light levels at concerts and how this guy got f3.6 1/60 and ISO 320 and you're getting f2.8 1/8 and ISO 800 (about 3 1/2 stops less light). That doesn't surprise me at all. It depends on several things - the light setup - in the one photo you posted there's a white spotlight on the singer's face notice how the face is exposed properly but the rest of the image is dark. without that white spotlight the image would be underexposed. You don't always have that white spotlight. Or it's not always the same intensity. It has nothign to do with magic, light is light. You'll find some varience between cameras but less than a stop. For instance, if you took 5 cameras in that club and at the same time all set them to those exact settings you might see some variation in the actual exposure because the camera's aren't exactly f3.6 or exactly ISO 320 - the camera says it is, but it really isn't. But you're not going to see 3 1/2 stop swings between one camera and another.

2. Motion blur. Motion blur can be stopped by one of two methods - flash or fast shutter speed. Let's take flash out of the equation and assume we're talking shutter speed. The amount of shutter speed necessary to freeze motion depends on the motion in question. In the same shot I was looking at, singer is singing and playing guitar. He's obviously not animated, he's hitting a loud note so his body and head are relatively motionless at the time the shot is taken. 1/60 is ample to freeze that motion. But there's still a lot of blur in his right hand because it's moving fast. Compare that shot to the OPs dance shots. In his subject there's a LOT of motion. 1/60 would not freeze the arms, head, tassles, legs, etc. So the type of movement matters.

3. Camera shake. blur in shots can also be due to camera shake - 1/8 of a second is going to be incredibly difficult to hand-hold anything even with IS. Some people will do a better job than others. The size/weight of the equipment, anti-shake technology and the hand-holding technique of the photographer all come into play. Some people can hand-hold a DSLR with 70-200 2.8 lens steady enough for a 1/60 exposure at 200mm without anti-shake. Other people need 1/200 or 1/320 to do it.

4. Noise. Initial image noise for same camera at same ISO can differ based upon a couple factors. First is - was the image properly exposed? Properly exposing an image will always produce less noise than an underexposed image - especially if you process that underexposed image to correct the exposure. Second, the colors in the image. Certain colors look worse than others with regards to noise. A white background vs. green vs red vs. black will show different levels of noise. Also, you don't know what noise reduction, if any, was applied. Dedicated noise reduction software (noiseware, neatimage, noise ninja) can do marvelous things for an image. The key is to remove offending noise without removing detail. So take 2 shots from same camera where exposure was proper and run one through GOOD noise reduction software and you'll see a very big difference. Note I say GOOD. A lot of the noise reduction algorithms in basic photo editing software does a very poor job - it's heavy handed and you destroy too much detail.
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Old May 20, 2009, 11:58 AM   #15
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I picked the "indian" photo as an example. The little girl is dancing. You had the camera zooming in at 470mm with a shutter speed of 1/10. This shot would look blurry even if the girl was standing still (unless you had the camera on a tripod). Even if you increased the ISO to the maximum you would still have issues. The amount of available light was not enough for such a FL. If you increased the ISO to 1600, the shutter would go to 1/20 or maybe 1/40, which is way below the rule-of-thumb. Shooting at 470mm, you should have the shutter set to at least 1/125 (if you have steady hands, perhaps 1/80 but that would be pushing badly).
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Old May 20, 2009, 8:36 PM   #16
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Aloha! My name's James, and as I was checking my stats at Flickr.com, I noticed some traffic coming in from this thread, so I thought I'd join in and see if I could help by sharing more info on how I shot those pictures linked to in peswe's post.

My technique in shooting concerts is very simple. I set it on Aperture priority, with the ISO speed on Auto, but I limit it at 800. I rarely have the camera go over 400 or even 500, but if I limit it to 400, it wants to stay there, and rarely goes lower as often. Its kind of weird, but just something I noticed. I turn the "Intelligent ISO" to off. I turn down the noise reduction to -2, and set sharpness, saturation, and contrast to 0. I then set the AF Mode on "Spot Focus" (the little crosshairs..), and set the light meter on "Spot" as well. I also have the PRE AF on "C". I also never use the "I.Exposure" feature. Lastly, I have the Stabilizer set to Mode 1. As far as white balance goes, I mostly use Auto, but depending on the venue's lighting, I sometimes switch the color effects to "warm" or "cool".

When I'm shooting, I point the crosshairs to the brightest spot on stage I can find that is on the same plane as the subject, and press the shutter release halfway. This sets the auto focus, and ISO speed. I check the f-stop, the shutter speed, and ISO level, then frame my shot and shoot. If the ISO level and shutter speed are not at acceptable levels, I try refocusing and re-metering until it is. Obviously, the lowest ISO at the fastest speed is what I look for. I usually never shoot if it says my speed is below 1/40. If its a slow song, with not a lot of movement, I allow it to go below around 1/15 or 1/20.

I also find it important to keep depth of field in mind. For instance, if the brightest spot on the stage happens to be lighted up fog behind the band, and you meter and spot focus on it, when you reframe for the singer, or guitarist, or whomever, the fog and backdrop will focused, but not the subject. I try to find something on the subject (the white panel on a guitar, the subjects' clothing or skin, or light hitting the floor in front of or next to the subject...) light enough to meter and focus on. It helps to keep the focus on as much of the same plane as the subject. Its not a really "fast" technique that lends itself to clicking away constantly, but if you don't mind watching a lot the show through your viewfinder, it makes for decent quality shots. Also, the more I've been shooting this way, the faster I've been getting at it.

Another thing, JohnG is right. There's no magic - "Light is light". However different venues have different lighting setups, and its always something to consider before deciding to shoot at certain places. There are some places where the FZ28 will never achieve a fast enough shutter speed with acceptable ISO level no matter what you do. Its not entirely the camera's fault.

My dirty little secret is that my girlfriend is a lighting tech. She has kind of gotten me into the "biz", and through rigging different lighting, and starting to have a general knowledge of what kind of lights do what and how powerful they are, and I can tell even before a show starts if it would be worth getting the camera out at all. Just take a look at the light rig on the stage, and it'll tell you almost everything you need to know.

The pictures I shot of Theory Of A Deadman were mostly done under Source 4 on trusses. The brightest lights came from various Vari-Lite movers on stage and on trusses flying above. They used spotlights, but they were lightly gelled, and also barely noticeable. The 1k to 5k plus watt movers were more than bright enough, and the overall quantity of the Source 4s made a big difference. I was surprised myself that I managed a few shots at 100-200ISO with shutter speeds of 1/125 and higher.

Most of my other concert photos were shot in the club my girlfriend does lighting for. A lot of them were done without a spotlight. On the downstage rig, there are Lekos focused towards the different positions of the band, and 750watt moving lights to help brighten individual members. I also do have a slight advantage when I'm shooting because my gf can see where I am in relation to the stage, and changes her lights accordingly to afford me the best shots possible. If you can, get to know the lighting tech or "LD" at the venues you plan to shoot at regularly. You don't have to date them, but they do carry a wealth of knowledge about lighting, and can sometimes help you find the best vantage points to shoot from in any given venue. Just don't pester the house light tech with requests for better lighting. They have a lot going on at once, and if you ask for the lights to be brighter, they may go darker just out of spite.

Anyway, I hope some of this helped, and I'd be more than happy to "talk shop" with anyone else interested in shooting live bands and concerts. Mahalo!

Last edited by JamesBillson; May 20, 2009 at 10:22 PM.
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Old May 21, 2009, 5:04 AM   #17
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Thank you John & James for sharing your knowledge and settings.
I've made a "concert-template" and saved it at C2.
I noticed that setting the "Intelligent ISO" to ON actually made me loose control of the situation (i.e you don't see what ISO that will be used until after the photo was taken).
I'll take those tips and settings with me to the next concert. I know there's a lot of practice behind those fine concert picture of yours. If I can improve a little bit on every concert, I'm fine.

/Peter
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Old May 21, 2009, 11:10 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesBillson View Post
Aloha! My name's James, and as I was checking my stats at Flickr.com, I noticed some traffic coming in from this thread, so I thought I'd join in and see if I could help by sharing more info on how I shot those pictures linked to in peswe's post.

My technique in shooting concerts is very simple. I set it on Aperture priority, with the ISO speed on Auto, but I limit it at 800. I rarely have the camera go over 400 or even 500, but if I limit it to 400, it wants to stay there, and rarely goes lower as often. Its kind of weird, but just something I noticed. I turn the "Intelligent ISO" to off. I turn down the noise reduction to -2, and set sharpness, saturation, and contrast to 0. I then set the AF Mode on "Spot Focus" (the little crosshairs..), and set the light meter on "Spot" as well. I also have the PRE AF on "C". I also never use the "I.Exposure" feature. Lastly, I have the Stabilizer set to Mode 1. As far as white balance goes, I mostly use Auto, but depending on the venue's lighting, I sometimes switch the color effects to "warm" or "cool".

When I'm shooting, I point the crosshairs to the brightest spot on stage I can find that is on the same plane as the subject, and press the shutter release halfway. This sets the auto focus, and ISO speed. I check the f-stop, the shutter speed, and ISO level, then frame my shot and shoot. If the ISO level and shutter speed are not at acceptable levels, I try refocusing and re-metering until it is. Obviously, the lowest ISO at the fastest speed is what I look for. I usually never shoot if it says my speed is below 1/40. If its a slow song, with not a lot of movement, I allow it to go below around 1/15 or 1/20.

I also find it important to keep depth of field in mind. For instance, if the brightest spot on the stage happens to be lighted up fog behind the band, and you meter and spot focus on it, when you reframe for the singer, or guitarist, or whomever, the fog and backdrop will focused, but not the subject. I try to find something on the subject (the white panel on a guitar, the subjects' clothing or skin, or light hitting the floor in front of or next to the subject...) light enough to meter and focus on. It helps to keep the focus on as much of the same plane as the subject. Its not a really "fast" technique that lends itself to clicking away constantly, but if you don't mind watching a lot the show through your viewfinder, it makes for decent quality shots. Also, the more I've been shooting this way, the faster I've been getting at it.

Another thing, JohnG is right. There's no magic - "Light is light". However different venues have different lighting setups, and its always something to consider before deciding to shoot at certain places. There are some places where the FZ28 will never achieve a fast enough shutter speed with acceptable ISO level no matter what you do. Its not entirely the camera's fault.

My dirty little secret is that my girlfriend is a lighting tech. She has kind of gotten me into the "biz", and through rigging different lighting, and starting to have a general knowledge of what kind of lights do what and how powerful they are, and I can tell even before a show starts if it would be worth getting the camera out at all. Just take a look at the light rig on the stage, and it'll tell you almost everything you need to know.

The pictures I shot of Theory Of A Deadman were mostly done under Source 4 on trusses. The brightest lights came from various Vari-Lite movers on stage and on trusses flying above. They used spotlights, but they were lightly gelled, and also barely noticeable. The 1k to 5k plus watt movers were more than bright enough, and the overall quantity of the Source 4s made a big difference. I was surprised myself that I managed a few shots at 100-200ISO with shutter speeds of 1/125 and higher.

Most of my other concert photos were shot in the club my girlfriend does lighting for. A lot of them were done without a spotlight. On the downstage rig, there are Lekos focused towards the different positions of the band, and 750watt moving lights to help brighten individual members. I also do have a slight advantage when I'm shooting because my gf can see where I am in relation to the stage, and changes her lights accordingly to afford me the best shots possible. If you can, get to know the lighting tech or "LD" at the venues you plan to shoot at regularly. You don't have to date them, but they do carry a wealth of knowledge about lighting, and can sometimes help you find the best vantage points to shoot from in any given venue. Just don't pester the house light tech with requests for better lighting. They have a lot going on at once, and if you ask for the lights to be brighter, they may go darker just out of spite.

Anyway, I hope some of this helped, and I'd be more than happy to "talk shop" with anyone else interested in shooting live bands and concerts. Mahalo!


James, thanks for sharing your technique. The information is much appreciated. Keep up the good work.

RC
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Old May 21, 2009, 12:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesBillson
My technique in shooting concerts is very simple. I set it on Aperture priority...
Why Aperture priority? When I shoot in low light conditions (specially with a long zoom camera), my major concern is the Shutter speed, not the aperture. I can set the Aperture to its widest value but if I'm zooming in at 504mm and the shutter speed drops down to 1/10, I have a problem...a big one in fact unless I have the camera on a tripod.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesBillson
... ISO speed on Auto, but I limit it at 800. I rarely have the camera go over 400 or even 500, but if I limit it to 400, it wants to stay there, and rarely goes lower as often. Its kind of weird, but just something I noticed. I turn the "Intelligent ISO" to off.
Although I do understand the rational behind limiting the ISO to 800 (noise becomes almost unacceptable at anything above it), by limiting the ISO to 800, you can easily run into a situation where the Shutter speed will drop below minimum levels to compensate for the lack of light. If that happens and you already have the Aperture wide open, then you have no recourse but to increase the ISO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesBillson
I turn down the noise reduction to -2, and set sharpness, saturation, and contrast to 0. I then set the AF Mode on "Spot Focus" (the little crosshairs..), and set the light meter on "Spot" as well. I also have the PRE AF on "C". I also never use the "I.Exposure" feature. Lastly, I have the Stabilizer set to Mode 1. As far as white balance goes, I mostly use Auto, but depending on the venue's lighting, I sometimes switch the color effects to "warm" or "cool".
Sharpness, Saturation and Contrast settings play no role as far as resolving blurriness due to camera shake. Setting NR to -2 may preserve detail at the cost of noise at high ISO. Spot focus can be tricky when photographing moving objects (although having pre AF set to C will help some). Spot metering is a good idea to bring out light since what you really want is the camera to meter the stage correctly and not compensate for the darkness of the surroundings. But, if the stage is not well lit, then the lack of light issue will remain. Setting IS to Mode 1 is an interesting idea. As for WB, the best thing is to set it manually at location. That way it will be adjusted according to the actual ambient light you are under.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesBillson
When I'm shooting, I point the crosshairs to the brightest spot on stage I can find that is on the same plane as the subject, and press the shutter release halfway. This sets the auto focus, and ISO speed. I check the f-stop, the shutter speed, and ISO level, then frame my shot and shoot. If the ISO level and shutter speed are not at acceptable levels, I try refocusing and re-metering until it is. Obviously, the lowest ISO at the fastest speed is what I look for. I usually never shoot if it says my speed is below 1/40. If its a slow song, with not a lot of movement, I allow it to go below around 1/15 or 1/20.
When you press the Shutter release half way, you are also setting the exposure, which will then determine the Shutter and ISO values (but not the aperture since, as you stated, you have the camera set to A mode). Now, say that the camera sets the ISO to its maximum allowed (800 was your limit) and the Shutter to 1/15 and you are zooming in all the way (504mm). How do you know whether this acceptable or not? Well, the RoT says that the Shutter speed should be 1/focal length. Then in this case, the shutter speed should be 1/470. Take into consideration that IS can save you about 1 f/stop, I'd say the shutter speed should be no less than 1/250. If you have real steady hands, you may try 1/125 but I seriously doubt the image will be sharp. What do you do then? By the time you re-adjust the camera settings, you already missed the moment. IMO, instead of playing with S and ISO, I think it is much more efficient to set the Shutter to the minimum acceptable value (say 1/125) and the ISO to either AUTO or iISO (no limitation) and let the camera pick what's needed. The Aperture value will be automatically set to the widest for the specific FL (the camera will do that for you...guaranteed). I don't think re-focusing and re-metering will suffice if the shutter speed is not at "acceptable" levels. Setting the shutter to 1/15 or 1/20 will not be fast enough to prevent camera shake when zooming in 504mm (again, unless the camera is on a tripod). No matter how good the IS system is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesBillson
I also find it important to keep depth of field in mind.
When you are shooting in low light, zooming in 504mm, it's impossible to control DoF. The widest the aperture, the shollower the DoF. Also, the longer the FL, the shallower the DoF. Since in low light you need the widest aperture and you are shooting at 504mm, DoF will be as shallow as it can be and you can't make it any deeper. So, it is very important that you focus on the subject, exactly.

Please don't take my comments as if I'm trying to bash everything you wrote, James. I'm just expressing a different opinion on the subject. The bottom line here is that, as long as you are obtaining good pictures using a particular thechnique, that's what matters most. The trick is to try, try and try. Experiment suing various camera settings. Understanding your camera, its stengths and limitations is a must if you want to obtain good results most of the time.
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Old May 21, 2009, 12:55 PM   #20
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Why Aperture priority? When I shoot in low light conditions (specially with a long zoom camera), my major concern is the Shutter speed, not the aperture. I can set the Aperture to its widest value but if I'm zooming in at 504mm and the shutter speed drops down to 1/10, I have a problem...a big one in fact unless I have the camera on a tripod.
The reason is - at high ISOs you have an even bigger problem if you underexpose the image. The key to quality low light photography at high ISOs is to expose the image properly in-camera - even a slight bit of over exposure. That gives you the most detail and least amount of noise. Using aperture priority guarantees you the the fastest shutter speed AND properly exposed image. Set a shutter speed too high in shutter priority and you'll end up with an underexposed image - sure no blur but the image is still useless because of noise and lack of detail. The TRICK is to find out how much leeway your particular camera provides. Can you underexpose by 1/3 stop for a slight bit of shutter speed and still recover? Depends.

As a sports photographer I feel your frustration - I need fast shutter speeds (1/400 minimum) for what I do in most cases. 1/640 is better. But shooting a lot at ISO 3200 and 6400 and having done high ISO shooting for 6 years with several cameras I haven't run into a camera yet that doesn't produce it's best work at highest ISOs when I underexpose vs. sacrificing shutter speed for proper exposure.

The reasons above are why the vast majority of competant sports photographers shoot manual or aperture priority - especially at higher ISOs.

But at some point you hit a wall with any camera. Sometimes it simply is not possible to get quality shots with the gear you use (even when using the best money can buy). Then you simply put the camera away and enjoy the show.
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