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Old Jan 16, 2004, 11:40 AM   #1
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Default Shooting Live Music in Darkened, Smoky Bars

Hi all:

The other night I brought my Canon S50 to a show here in town. The stage had low-budget colored spotlights and such, but the rest of the place was dark and had smoke in the air. I tried with a flash -- not bad but lacking in character, then toyed with manual setting to get shots without a flash. I started to get some decent, fairly atmospheric shots but upon zooming into the just-taken photos I noticed they were terribly grainy.

So, what's the trick to shooting in these conditions?
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Old Jan 16, 2004, 4:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Shooting Live Music in Darkened, Smoky Bars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrubman
... upon zooming into the just-taken photos I noticed they were terribly grainy.
You are seeing noise. The higher the ISO, the higher the noise. Take a look at the EXIF data for those shots to find out what the ISO value was. High ISO means being able to shoot in low light at the price of higher noise..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrubman
So, what's the trick to shooting in these conditions?
The best predictor of low noise levels in a camera is high price, so the simple answer is to buy a much more expensive camera. Even the most expensive camera will do the same thing at a low enough light level.

The other solution is to trade resolution against noise. If you downsize your images, the adjacent pixels are "averaged" thus reducing noise. Somewhat the same "averaging" can be done by reducing the image to black & white. Using both can sometimes slavage a very high noise image - albeit one that only has the resolution for a very small print.
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Old Jan 17, 2004, 11:39 PM   #3
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Your camera uses a 5 Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD. It's relatively dense, with a small 2.8 Ám pixel pitch (size of the individual photosites for each pixel).

As a general rule, the smaller the pixel pitch (as in many of the newer, subcompact cameras), the higher the noise level.

I like to think of noise from a CCD, in the same way I think of a Sound Amplifier turned up without any input. You get lots of hum and hiss with the sound amplifer.

With a Digital Camera, the photosites for the individual pixels work in a similiar way. When not enough light reaches the sensors, at higher ISO speeds (which is "turning up the volume" from the sensor), you get image noise (versus sound noise).

In order to make up for the small size of the photosites (which can't gather as much light), the manufacturers must amplify the signal from them to get the equivalent sensitivity of a larger sensor (or a lower resolution sensor of the same size, using larger photosites).

Amplifying the signal from the sensor increases noise in low light and underexposed areas of the image.

A much better camera for low light is a Digital SLR, using a fast (able to gather more light) lens. But, this is a much more expensive solution. They can shoot at higher ISO speeds, with lower noise, because of their much larger sensors.

The S45 (the model that preceded your S50) is better in low light, because it's 4MP sensor is not as dense. But, it's not exactly a good camera for low light either (because of it's slow lens). The G3 is even better, because it has a much faster F2.0/F3.0 lens (but it still has dramatically more noise than a Digital SLR like the Canon EOS-300D/Digital Rebel).

You can help out a little. First of all, try to shoot at wide angle. Several times as much light can reach the sensor at wide angle, versus zoom on your camera. This will help with exposure, as well as letting the camera use a faster shutter speed to help prevent blur from camera shake/subject movement.

You can also use some software tools to help remove the noise. Here are links to two popular tools:

Neat Image:
http://www.neatimage.com

Noise Ninja:
http://www.picturecode.com
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Old Jan 18, 2004, 12:04 PM   #4
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thanks for the info, guys
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Old Mar 17, 2004, 12:13 PM   #5
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I've been Google-ing for DAYS regarding this same senario. I'm using a Nikon CoolPix5000, and prefer natural stage lighting ... however I'm not opposed to using flash, if it doesn't interfere with the stage lighting or band members. I don't want to annoy the performers with trial-and-error flash shots, and I don't want to be in-their-face either. My shots are suffering from major motion blur with proper lighting, or not-enuf-light, while the photo is sharp. I do understand the basics ... the use of a tripod is almost a necessity. (I prefer not to. I'm somewhat disabled, and rubber-tipped-crutches on a beer-soaked tile floor while trying to set up camera equipment in a crowded bar, don't mix well) I understand ISO settings, and "the longer the shutter is open, the more light will enter the camera, but motion blur will likely result."

If you (or anyone who claims to be a 'pro' ) were to enter a typical nightclub/bar (I know ... there's no such thing as a typical nightclub/bar, but ... ) where would you start as far as camera settings? ... ie:

Aperture Priority?
Shutter Priority?
Metering?
Auto Focus?
etc :roll:

My equipment:
Nikon CoolPix 5000
Sunpak Power Zoom 40X Ext Flash
Tripod(s)
Remote shutter release
Various lens filters
Cup holder attached to my crutches to hold my frosty beer mug

Many thanks for any pointers or links!!

Dale
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Old Mar 17, 2004, 10:02 PM   #6
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Hey, this post caught my eye as a major part of the live music experience for me is capturing images of the event. Till now I've had a fully auto Polaroid iON 230, which has given given me good practise in terms of developing an eye for a good image. However I've just got a Canon A80 in the hope of developing my skills with a manual cam, and was wondering if there were any pointers y'all could give me as I don't want to waste time at a show fiddling with aperture/shutter/etc. The one thing I do know is that I should avoid using flash, purely because I prefer the tones that non-flash shots yield. Any advice?

On a related topic, I just posted my first set of shots with my new cam on my site, www.paintnothing.tk - there's older live music shots and other stuff there, feedback much apreciated.
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Old Mar 19, 2004, 7:09 PM   #7
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First of all noise shows first in darker areas. So take the image at max camera light settings. Don't squeeze the iso, out of fear for noise.
Secondly depending how dpending someone is; crutches may be an advantage, a monopod.
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Old Mar 23, 2004, 4:11 PM   #8
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Hope u like this pic
Shot in a bar, with smoke and poor lightning

EXIF attached to the post
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Old Mar 30, 2004, 12:12 AM   #9
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I dont see anything attached..
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Old Mar 30, 2004, 5:30 AM   #10
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oops
forgot the link

here it is

http://www.stevesforums.com/phpBB2/v...ic.php?t=23463
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