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Old Nov 8, 2008, 6:27 AM   #1
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Hey,

I plan on going to the circus this evening, and will take my camera with me in case they allow to take pictures.

I have no real clue about shooting distance and stuff, but t's a normal "travelling" circus, not one of these oversized ones.

What lens and what settings would you go for? It's not exactly available light, at least not all the time. On the other hand motion blur is something I want to avoid most of the time. So I aim for good shutter speeds (if possible), let's say 1/100s...1/500s. My AF lenses start at f/4, so I'd say forget about AF.

Basically I think I've got two choices: zoom or prime lenses.

fast Zooms I'd carry with me:
- Vivitar "A" 28-105/2.8-3.8
- Vivitar "A" 70-210/2.8-4 OR Kiron "M" 70-200/4 (much lighter)
- I will not use my Tammy 70-300, as it's way too slow, tried it already for stage/circus and wasn't any good

fast primes I'd consider:
- Pentax A 28/2.8 (don't really think I'll need it, but who knows?)
- Pentax A 50/1.7, already used that succesfully for stage/circus, stopped down to f/2-f/4 or the like I can stay at nice ISO values and IQ is very nice. Still it's a bit short for details.
- Pentax M 85/2 and Pentax K 135/2.5 --> choose one, stop down to f/3.5..f/4and stay with it during the show (depending on distance)

I'd underexpose a bit, which gives even better shutter speed and use RAW. My other choice is JPEG, bump up contrast, use lowest saturation setting and prolly "natural" over "vivid" colors --> this will help with camera internal noise reduction. Why JPEG? Continuous shooting.

So what's your opinion?
- lenses/settings?
- RAW/JPEG?

Anything else I should think of? What images/situations to avoid or and what are the "must-have" shots (beside the clown(s), which I always like).

Thanks in advance,
Th.
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Old Nov 8, 2008, 10:44 AM   #2
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Hello,

1) Don't forget to crank the ISO to 1600 or 3200 to see how it does. (If you get a good shutter speed there, try turning it down to 800 . . . but my guess would be that in low light like a circus, you're going to want to leave it at 1600)

2) Your primes 28mm & 50mm are small enough. If you got the room, take them. (I went to my daughter's dance recital & forgot I wouldn't be able to use flash and was kicking myself that I didn't take my 50mm 1.7! Even if you can use flash, having a big aperture gets you more distance flash!) [Ok, maybe not the 28mm 2.8 (since you're taking the 28-105 zoom - unless it is better quality or a slightly wider field of view.)]

3) Shoot RAW. It not only will let you play around with the levels a lot, if you are fighting colour balance issues in the circus lighting, you can play around with it and won't risk loosing detail because the camera didn't guess the right colour balance setting. (NOTE: If shooting continuous, yeah, you will probably want to shoot those JPG. but switch between modes . . .)

4) Underexposing. I never thought of that. Good idea, but if you haven't done it, make sure not to take all your shots at that setting. (Check the images & curves a lot to make sure that you're getting the shots. Make sure your not pushing too much into pitch black.)

5) Shots not to miss. If you're going with someone, don't forget to take shots of them in the crowd (in situ . . .) [Don't roll your eyes. I do it all the time <grin>] You can even do this with the 50mm 1.7 and let the stage lights light their faces & maybe there will be some back lighting? And thinking of it, don't forget to take some motion blur shots. I always forget . . . maybe if there is a bunch of motor cycles (or clowns) going around in a circle with someone stationary in the middle, maybe get that or something ?

6) Not sure if this comes into play, but I read somewhere that Adobe RGB setting has more colour range than the standard sRGB setting. I've never been able to see a difference (haven't tried any test on it yet), but I was wondering if this would come into play in a much more dynamic range of lighting and colour conditions as a circus.

Just some thoughts . . .

Take care,
Glen



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Old Nov 8, 2008, 10:45 AM   #3
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HI TH

While i am by far no expert!! My thinking Would be the "Vivatar A 28-105 2.8 That Will Give you Good Distance.
My second Choice Would Be either the 50mm 1.7 or the 85 F2. The 50 is a Great lense, but the 85 Would give you a little more reach.

If i were to restrict it to one lense, I would take the VIVATAR. It Covers the range of all the Lenses. And the extra loss at 3.8 You Could Compensate by raise the ISO to 800 or higher.

BTW I Agree shoot wth Glen shoot in RAW and Pay attension to your Color Balance


JMHO

Phil
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Old Nov 8, 2008, 3:07 PM   #4
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Update - I am back from the show

Thanks for the hints, I went for ISO1600 for the most part, lighting was a mixed back, but very often it was quite bad (lot's of changing in lighting situation, stroboscopes, the spot operators seemed to be drunk... red spot on red background and so on :P)

I'lll download pics to my PC and see what I've got.

After finding my seat I went for the M85/2 lens and choosed to use my (old) "A"-setting trick because I didn't have the time to manually meter, get focus and stuff. I forgot to set spot metering (duh!!! for the first bunch of pics), but shot in RAW.

Let's cross fingers, that I've got some keepers. Stay tuned.

Th.
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Old Nov 8, 2008, 3:37 PM   #5
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Update - first succesful shot. Acrobatics with two blankets. Faszinating! (the performance)

DL2 + M85/2 wide open, ISO1600, f/2, 1/60s, custom WB in RAW converter, slightly cropped.


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Old Nov 8, 2008, 4:13 PM   #6
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Well... that's one good one! Let's see the rest.:G
GW:bye:

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Old Nov 8, 2008, 7:51 PM   #7
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Goldwinger wrote:
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Well... that's one good one! Let's see the rest.:G
GW:bye:
Hehe, thank you!

Since I already had a nap on my sofa I guess it's time to hit the sack, two more until tomorrow then... Sleep tight! *yaaawn*

#2 - Tigers showing off
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Old Nov 8, 2008, 7:55 PM   #8
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#3 - horse dressage. A moment later the horses got up WITH the ladies on their back - all the while looking gracefully. I already altered WB here, but I can't do anything against red light... so sad, that they used that red light too often in the performances
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Old Nov 8, 2008, 10:15 PM   #9
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Neat pictures, that first one is wonderful. As far as your last one - I used lightroom's white balance color picker and got better (but not correct) white balance. The program's adjustment can't quite get rid of all of that red, though I got the grey horse to look just about right, but there was still quite a bit of red elsewhere. And the blue adjustment was pegged at the end.
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Old Nov 9, 2008, 3:30 AM   #10
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mtngal wrote:
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Neat pictures, that first one is wonderful. As far as your last one - I used lightroom's white balance color picker and got better (but not correct) white balance. The program's adjustment can't quite get rid of all of that red, though I got the grey horse to look just about right, but there was still quite a bit of red elsewhere. And the blue adjustment was pegged at the end.
Thank you!

As for WB in#3 - I did a "full" correct at first, too. Then I noted how bad the fire looked and since the whole scenery was lit by RED light anyway (probably to add to that fire/moody feeling, whatever... the guys, that operated the light liked stroboscopes and lots of red for some reason) I stopped at that point, where the fire almost looked white.

I'll b&w convert some shots just because I can't stand the bizarre lighting situation.
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