Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jul 12, 2009, 6:28 PM   #11
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

You may want to take Exposure Bracketing Features into consideration, too.

With night scenes, you often have a lot of difference between brighter and darker portions of the frame, making it very difficult to capture images within the Dynamic Range limitations of the sensor. For example, you may see brighter city lights that are very overexposed, and darker areas that are underexposed.

So, some photographers are starting to use features in software like Photoshop and Photomatix to do HDR Tone mapping so they can blend multiple exposures together to produce a final image.

If you want to use a camera's Exposure Bracketing feature, most entry level models are limited to 3 Exposures. Some models allow larger steps in between exposures compared to others, too. For example, the D5000 is limited to 3 photos that are either 1/3 or 1/2 stop apart. You can set the starting exposure from +- 2 EV from where the metering is set. But,with only 3 photos at a maximum of 1/2 EV apart, it's not going to be very useful for HDR type shots where you'd want to combine photos taken over a wider range for best results (i.e., 4 or 5 stops difference between the exposures used by the first and last photos in the set).

If you move up to the D90, you get up to 2 EV difference between photos when using Exposure Bracketing. But, like the D5000, it's limited to 3 photos. My Sony A700 allows up to 5 photos in a sequence at up to 2/3 EV apart, or 3 photos at up to 2 EV Apart. With a Nikon D300, you can take up to 9 photos in an Exposure Bracketing sequence, which would be really nice for more flexibility. I've seen great HDR images with 5 photos taken at 1 EV apart with a D300. But, a D300 solution would be over budget. But, you could take 3 photos at 2 EV Apart shooting raw using a model like the Nikon D90 or Sony A700 and produce 5 or 6 photos at 1 EV apart by tweaking exposure during raw conversion, then combine the resulting set using software.

Of course, more sophisticated Exposure Bracketing is not a "must have" feature, as you could always take a few photos using a basic model's 3 photo bracketing feature with less difference between photos, then change your Exposure settings and take a few more to get a greater range between the photos in a sequence. But, it would be nice to have better bracketing features if you wanted to do a lot of that kind of thing. That way, it should be easier to get consistent quality with less time between frames, since you wouldn't need to change settings as much (which also risks moving the camera).

Here's a search for Photomatix and Long Exposure tags that pulled up a lot of night photos where people tend to use that type of software to combine multiple images. If you click on a photo and look at some of the other albums for a given photographer, you can find lots of examples.

http://fiveprime.org/hivemind/Tags/l...e%2Cphotomatix
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 12, 2009, 6:49 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

Hi JimC-

Photo Matrix is very impressive. It looks to be an excellent program for night photos. I am going to look into it myself.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 12, 2009, 8:10 PM   #13
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Photomatix seems to be well liked.

There's an open source (free) program called Qtpfsgui that's also cross platform (available for Linux, Windows and OS X). But, I haven't tried it yet to see how well it works.

http://qtpfsgui.sourceforge.net/about.php
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 12, 2009, 8:28 PM   #14
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 6
Default

hmm if there aren't much of difference between D90 and XSi then, I think XSi could be better. Although I have a budget of $1000 but, if the end result isn't significantly different why not spend less for a camera that can deliver the similar result.

D90 is very nice but, I'm not sure if the movie capture is worth the money. D90 does seem to offer little more than XSi in specs but, that movie capture really turns me off about this camera.

But I still haven't made up my mind as I look at the long term value of these cameras. D90 is perceived to be the next big thing whiel XSi is slowly stepping down from the spotlight (which may explain the discounted package deals out there).

Also I really appreciate your replies. Thanks
themovement is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 12, 2009, 8:38 PM   #15
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

I doubt you'd see a lot of difference in most of those models at lower ISO speeds (and if you're shooting from a tripod, you'd want to leave them set lower). But, I haven't compared their long exposure shots much.

At higher ISO speeds, you tend to start seeing more difference between them. For example, if you wanted to take some night photos without using a tripod, you may need to bump up ISO speeds relatively high, even using a stabilized lens (or camera body with built in stabilization) to reduce blur from camera shake. So, a model with lower noise and more retained detail at higher ISO speeds would be preferred for the most flexibility in more conditions.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 12, 2009, 8:39 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

themovement-

The Nikon D-5000 is a less expensive alternative to the Nikon D-90.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 12, 2009, 8:59 PM   #17
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

The only downside I'd see to the D5000 is it's exposure bracketing leaves a bit to be desired compared to the other models we've discussed.

For example, the Sony A700, Nikon D90 and Canon XSi would all let you select 2 EV steps between photos if you want to use a 3 Exposure Set. That way, you get more range (for example, a photo at -2EV, 0 EV, +2 EV, with 4 stops difference in exposure between the brightest and darkest one. If you shot in raw, you could stretch those a bit more, too (for example, producing a set of 5 images at 1 stop increments between them by tweaking the exposure a bit for each of the 3 raw files and converting them, then combining the converted set of photos using software).

But, with the D5000, it's my understanding that you're limited to either 1/3 or 1/2 stop (.5 EV) steps between photos in a 3 photo set with Exposure Bracketing, limiting it's usefulness for HDR type photos compared to the other cameras (without needing to change your exposure settings and take more than one set to get the same range of bright to dark exposures).

The D300 is really nice (able to take up to 9 photos in a set with Exposure Bracketing, allowing you to do things like produce a number of photos at one stop apart for combining in HDR software later). It's a higher priced camera though.

Anyway, if I were going to buy a camera that was primarly for night photos, I might consider bracketing options, too.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 13, 2009, 12:08 AM   #18
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1
Default

For your situation, I would recommend spending as little money on a camera body as possible and putting all that you saved towards quality glass. I have a 400d and a 5d and for night shots, providing you use iso 100, use mirror lock up, tripod and a cable release, I don't think you would benefit by spending the extra several grand on a better body. Believe me when I say pro glass is every bit as good as you have heard, and you won't regret it. Also when shooting at night make sure to use a small f-stop to ensure you get nice little stars on lights instead of a big messy light blur.
Regards, Adam
Adam John is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 13, 2009, 9:18 AM   #19
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

That is excellent advice, Adm-

The Canon XSi, now selling at around $(US)600.00 might be a better choice, providing it has enough of a Bracketing capability to use HDR software like Photo Matrix.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 13, 2009, 9:28 AM   #20
Super Moderator
 
Mark1616's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,452
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
That is excellent advice, Adm-

The Canon XSi, now selling at around $(US)600.00 might be a better choice, providing it has enough of a Bracketing capability to use HDR software like Photo Matrix.

Sarah Joyce
This is not essential as you can do HDR even without bracketing (although bracketing is going to make it easier.

As long as you are working on a good sturdy tripod then you just adjust the shutter speed yourself to get the exposures needed. After a few minutes reading you will be able to do this simply.
Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 8:08 PM.