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Nightprowler Jul 26, 2009 1:57 PM

What am I doing wrong?
Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum, and need help with my camera
I have an Olympus stylus 760 I bought over 2 years ago.
My Husband and I like taking shots at night in cemeteries, but my shots are coming out way to dark, also If I use the night mode, the picture is blurred.
What am I doing wrong? I am about to ditch this camera and start over with another one.
Any advice?

JimC Jul 26, 2009 2:08 PM

You'll need to use a tripod. The camera will need to keep the shutter open long enough to expose the image. So, you can expect blurry photos trying to take them at night without a tripod.

If you try to use faster shutter speeds for the lighting, ISO speed (which is how sensitive the sensor is to light) and lens aperture opening size, you'll get underexposed (too dark) images.

The Auto Exposure settings on your camera are not allowing slow enough shutter speeds for the lighting at night (which is why you're getting underexposed images). The slowest shutter speed in Auto modes is going to be 1/2 second with it.

The Night Scene mode is what you'd want to use with your camera model (it allows shutter speeds up to 4 seconds long). But, you're going to need a tripod to prevent blur from camera shake at shutter speeds that slow.

If you take the photos closer to Sunset, you may be able to get by with fast enough shutter speeds to hand hold with stabilization if you increase your ISO speed high enough (which will cause image degradation with higher noise levels and/or loss of detail from noise reduction as higher ISO speeds are used). But your best bet is to get a tripod and use the Night Scene feature with your current camera (or, use a flash instead).

Nightprowler Jul 26, 2009 2:14 PM

Thank you for the info. Yea, I did go to higher ISO and lost so much image quality.
and using a tripod on location is just not going to work.
Can I ask what would be a good Camera to use for taking good image shots at night without having to use a tripod?

JimC Jul 26, 2009 2:37 PM

None of them if you can't add some light. ;-)

If you shoot closer to sunset (i.e., within about an hour of sunset), you may be able to get by with a hand held camera at higher ISO speeds. A dSLR model with good ISO 3200 or higher ability (not the entry level models) would be your best bet trying to do it that way.

The quality you could expect would depend on your budget. For example, the Nikon D3 is very good in that area (with decent ISO 6400 shots and higher ISO speeds that could be used in a pinch). You'd still need some light from stars, moon, sun over the horizon, etc.; and don't try to take them too long after sunset if you want to go hand held (don't expect to use it with a darker sky without a tripod). But, it's a $4000 camera (not even counting the cost of the lens you may want to use). The less expensive Nikon D700 uses the same sensor (but, it's still not cheap). You'd also need a bright lens to go with one, and if you try to use wider apertures (represented by smaller f/stop numbers) to let in more light, you'll have a shallower depth of field, with less of the image in focus as you get further away from your focus point (which may not be what you want). So, even with a camera like a D3 using a bright lens, a tripod can be a good idea for better quality

I'd give users a better idea of total budget for more options.

A better bet would be to use a tripod, even with a camera capable of higher ISO speeds if your subjects are stationary. That way, you can use apertures that give you better depth of field and keep ISO speeds set lower for higher image quality, using slower shutter speeds as needed.

If you use a tripod, you could also bracket your images (taking them using different exposure settings from lighter to darker) and combine them later with software for better Dynamic Range.

Could you use a flash? If you had a large flash (or flashes with suitable diffusers and light modifiers), you could probably cover a pretty good area. You'd lose the ambience of the night sky lighting that way, though.

interested_observer Jul 26, 2009 2:40 PM

Tripods come in all shapes and sizes, some of which will fit into your pocket and can be pretty inexpensive. Take a look...

They do not need to be massive. Also, you can put the camera on something solid that has the desired view and while holding it down, then push the shutter. It works very well...

I took these with out a tripod, but the camera was set on a wall, mail box or something solid, held down and the shutter pressed, while I was holding my breath (I did not want to induce any vibration).

I am not advocating that you get another camera, you just need to understand the camera that you have and to work within its limits, and then be creative. For every problem there are multiple solutions that can be applied. For night photography, you need to leave the shutter open for usually several seconds, and while its open - you can not move the camera. That is the basics - just as Jim explained...

peripatetic Jul 26, 2009 2:58 PM

There is no camera that can take pictures in the dark without a tripod.

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