I am using the Canon EOS 40D with Canon zoom lens EF 28-135mm lens and am getting just terrible results while shooting in low light in an auditorium.
Just mentally picture kids on a stage at a school function and you get the idea of the setting.
Is there a basic setting for this?
Is flash allowed? If so, will it reach? With that lens, there's a few variables. Use the largest aperture possible, and crank up the ISO as high as you're willing to tolerate. If you're able to move around, try moving closer and using a shorter focal length. That will "speed up" the lens slightly. What setting are you currently using, and what exactly is wrong with your results? Posting an image will also help with the diagnosis.
More details as well as the pic will help us to assist you. I suspect that the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO will tell us.
Too dark, too blurry?
You asked about a basic exposure for school stage/auditorium lighting...I found this exposure table listing basic school stage lighting as the Basic Daylight Exposure + 9 stops. (This BDE is often called the Sunny 16 Rule,which is the name I prefer to Basic Daylight exposure,since SUNNY differs from Basic Daylight, but the author's chart is using the term BDE,so we'll go with that for this discussion.)
As explained, the daylight exposure is the ISO speed as the shutter speed, and the aperture as the value of f/16. So, since the lighting is dim, let's just start with the camera's ISO control set to ISO 1600, and the lens set to f/16,with the shutter set to 1/1600 second,and then ADD 9 f/stops' worth of exposure.
If you open up the lens three f/stops, you come to f/5.6. If you slow the shutter down another six f/stops, you come to 1/25 second. So, the "basic" exposure would be ISO 1600 at 1/25 second at f/5.6. If the lights are brighter, you could up the shutter speed somewhat. Obviously, 1/50 second at f/4 would be equivalent, as would be 1/100 second at f/2.8.
Here's the chart showing the "offset values" for various lighting situations.
Last edited by Derrel; 05-16-2009 at 01:32 PM.
I never found a satisfactory solution, mainly because the stage was lit by spot lights. If you expose for a lit face everything else will be dark. However if the light is relatively even the advice given should work.
ars longa vita brevis
There's three problems when dealing with low light situations. Noise, blur, and underexposure. Images will be noisy from using an elevated ISO, blurry if you're using a shutter speed that allows proper exposure yet is too slow to freeze subject movement or camera shake, or underexposed if you use a shutter speed fast enough to eliminate the blur but is too fast to properly expose the scene. Again, posting an image would be helpful, but without seeing one, I'd probably suggest to slightly underexpose. If you can keep your ISO down slightly, some post processing with levels/curves in Photoshop can help bring you back to a more proper looking exposure, without enhancing the noise too much. There is also noise reduction software, although I wouldn't write home to mom about any that I've used. What you can't do is fix a blurry image caused by too slow of a shutter speed. 99% of the time, sharpening won't help with motion blur, unless it's very minimal.
Unfortunately, your stabilizer is probably virtually useless here, and that's part of the reason I think they're overrated. Yeah you might be able to get sharp, low light, slow shutter speed images you otherwise wouldn't be able to...unless your subject is moving. Then you're out of luck.
Derrel came up with 1/50 @f4, but if we're talking about "kids on stage" I'm not sure if that's fast enough for them to be anything but a blur. Also, f4 on the 28-135 would only be possible at very wide angle. And of course 2.8 on that lens is impossible.
I would use manual mode, and try to find a shutter speed fast enough to freeze, yet slow enough to get you in the ballpark of a proper exposure. Then tweak it on your computer.
Also, unless ALL your images are coming out bad, I'd look at the meta data on any that are decent, and try to stick to those settings.
The truth is, there are some conditions that are just plain hard to work under, regardless of equipment used. There may not be a foolproof solution, even if you had faster glass. Sometime you just have to try for the happy medium.
I would absolutely recommend against underexposing on purpose. Noise can be a problem with a properly exposed photo. It only gets worse when photos are not nailed exposure wise.I'd probably suggest to slightly underexpose.
I would love to see an example, because every noisy photo I have seen only gets worse as you use any method to brighten it up. It gets worse because the noise is there in the photo, it is not a product of post processingIf you can keep your ISO down slightly, some post processing with levels/curves in Photoshop can help bring you back to a more proper looking exposure, without enhancing the noise too much.
Then you haven't used Imageonic Noiseware Pro or Noise Ninja, both excellent solutions for noise.There is also noise reduction software, although I wouldn't write home to mom about any that I've used.
Image Stabilization is not overated, it is just a tool like any other tool. Is a hammer overratted because it won't tighten a bolt. No, it just isn't the right tool for the job.Unfortunately, your stabilizer is probably virtually useless here, and that's part of the reason I think they're overrated. Yeah you might be able to get sharp, low light, slow shutter speed images you otherwise wouldn't be able to...unless your subject is moving. Then you're out of luck.
They're kids on a stage, not Olympic sprinters. Just pick your spots and 1/50 should be fine.Derrel came up with 1/50 @f4, but if we're talking about "kids on stage" I'm not sure if that's fast enough for them to be anything but a blur.
Jay is right that the equipment you have will make this type of shooting difficult. My suggestion is to spend a little casheesh and get yourself a 50mm f/1.8. This little beauty runs about $99.00 and is great in low light situations. Sit close and shoot away.
Check out my postings on symphony shots. I use ASA 400 - 1600 depending on light, and lenses no longer than 80mm and no slower than f2.8. I use a spotmeter, my camera is on manual, and my exposures are usually about 1/30th at f2.8 on average.
If you view the selective focus in a few of my portrait-style musician shots, you have to know that you absolutely cannot do this type of thing without a lens that will give you sharp results at f2 or f1.8, and I'd say that categorically.
I use my Pentax 77mm f1.8 exclusively for head shots in this realm. Anything longer and you get into handholding hassles. My other using lenses are a Siggy 24-60 f2.8 and a Pentax 50mm f1.7.
If you do a lot of this type of photography, get the Canon "nifty-fifty" or their fabulous 85mm f1.4. Absolutely nothing longer or you'll be sorry. Theoretics be stuffed - I've done this type of photography all my life and it's my territory. Camera on manual. Spotmeter reading. Fastest lens you can get, no longer than 85mm. Remember, an 85 translates into about a 135mm in full frame, which is a ***** to handhold in real life at low light.
Can you get results otherwise? Yes. Consistently? Doubtful. I don't know one sports or theatre photographer who wouldn't say otherwise, or who doesn't drool over his f1.4 85.
Sorry for being so unhumble, but you have no idea how much time I spend helping people in this vein in real life.
Oh yes. Get there early for the best possible seat. You will find you cannot use a tripod in many of these situations, so build your technique without it.
Last edited by moltogordo; 05-16-2009 at 04:16 PM. Reason: speling and flow
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