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Adapted lenses / low light / high ISO

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by mingus2112, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    Hey all,

    I've been thinking a lot about my adapted lenses in low light situations. A few weekends ago we went to the Cloisters in NYC and I started out with my 50mm 1.4 and quickly switched to the kit lens. I took some shots with the 50mm that I thought were blurry (I don't have the steadiest hands - I drink a LOT of coffee). It's tough to tell on the screen, but they didn't seem very sharp. With Auto ISO on it was forcing me to 1/20 for shutter speed and 3200 ISO in aperture priority. In shutter priority (still auto ISO) with the lens wide open at 1.4 it didn't seem "exposed" until I was at 1/40 or slower. That's when I switched to the kit lens, assuming that the Image Stabilization would help me get the shots. In the end, I got about the same percentage of keepers from each lens. I was able to bring up the exposure in some underexposed manual focus shots and got some great shots:

    14551938272_cc9d731a30_z.
    Tapestry / Detail - Cloisters NYC by jamesderose, on Flickr

    14573771046_66e0cc898a_z.
    Cloisters - NYC by jamesderose, on Flickr

    And then this one was done with the kit lens (16-50):
    14366229618_b1afe7bdb5_z.
    Painting - Cloisters NYC by jamesderose, on Flickr

    So the bottom line, I guess, is how do I get great shots in dark museums such as this with adapted lenses? I was able to salvage a few really nice shots (got more tapestry shots than that one, but that one showed the most detail close up), but they were all done at 1.4. There are times i'll want to stop down more than that to get more detail and won't be able to use a flash. I just tossed the crutch (sold the kit lens with my 3N to a friend). How high an ISO would seem acceptable with the NEX-6? Has anyone been doing anything similar?

    The plan is to go to Washington DC this summer or fall, and I want to bring some lenses. I'll have my Canon 60D with me, so that will cover the basic low light and zoom lens requirement. I won't be missing shots. But I definitely want to take some pictures INDOORS in places like the Smithsonian with the NEX/Rokkor combo!

    -James
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    Well I do go to Museums and similar conditions often and it depends really. Like my wife that just likes using the kit lens then she uses one of the built in options for Low light like Twilight and the other one I cant recall now.
    I normally just either go with a wide open aperture.
    I often carry a monopod to give me a bit extra lower shutterspeed option when shooting with non stabilize lenses. It helps to have "sharpish" lenses wide open. Then I always shoot in Priority mode and usually start at the speed that matches my lens (the usual 1/50 for 50mm etc ..well you may need to compensate for the 1.5 crop factor too).
    So with the Monopod and using common good technique for preventing extra shake, you should be able to do fine. I try to avoid anything over 3200 as I am picky about noise. Having a program like DXO with the Prime noise reduction though gives you that extra flexibility to use high ISO more often.
    Plus I just got the Lens Turbo 2 that gets me an extra stop so I cant wait to go try it under those conditions too.
    Sorry if this sounds like a mess of random thoughts...I am working and typing this :D
     
  3. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    It's certainly doesn't! I've thought about the monopod (and have one) but have a few issues with it. The first one being that, not being used to a monopod, I would think it's introducing MORE shake as i'm taking a picture from an unfamiliar position. I certainly get less shake now that I have the NEX6 (with a viewfinder), but still get worried about it. The other issue with a monopod is that a lot of places (Smithsonian is one of them) requires a permit to use a tripod - and I assume a monopod counts. So that may be an issue. I'll have to do some research on that.

    I certainly try to set my shutter speed accordingly, but as you can see above, I wasn't exposing properly any faster than 1/40 at 1.4 and ISO3200. I was able to bring up the exposure in post processing, but there's only so much I can do. I'd love to use 1/80 and faster for that lens, but I just may not get the exposure!

    I'll have to check some of the camera settings - I know a lot of them are "disabled" in RAW+JPG mode, so that's kind of a bummer! It'd be nice if they just applied them to the JPG and just saved the RAW data without it!

    -James
     
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  4. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    Tell me about it!
    Would be so nice when to get a warning when using those special options then being asked if you want to disable or make the change to proceed. :/
    I hear you about the Museum. Of the ones I visited, one of them told me that if I had a tripod it was consider professional so I needed to pay..thus I put the tripod back in my car :D
    Well, maybe consider getting a booster later since it will give you an extra stop which will be perfect for you I think. :)
     
  5. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    You mean the booster I ordered Sunday night? ;) How long did yours take from the time you ordered until it showed up at your door?

    -James
     
  6. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    Awesome. You are going to love it I am sure! :D

    Mine:
    Completed checkout on Jun-26-14
    Delivered July 2nd. :biggrin:
     
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  7. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    We'll see what kind of effect it has on my indoor shots. Did yours come with front and rear caps?

    I'll have to find some local museums to do day trips to for testing! There are a lot of museums that I can go to for free (through my bank) on the first weekend of each month. Time to put that to good use and test out some shots! I have a feeling the 50mm 1.4 could be a great lens indoors with the Lens Turbo II. Maybe i'll break out the monopod and practice just in case!

    -James
     
  8. stephen431

    stephen431 TalkEmount Regular

    112
    May 2, 2014
    The shots you posted were at 1/125 and 1/100, so you shouldn't try to dip down below 1/50.
    Try shooting in aperture priority at 1.4, setting your ISO to 6400, and increasing your exposure comp somewhere around +0.7 through +1.3. Then you'll bring your exposure down in post. Noise reduction software is much better at cleaning noise out of a slightly overexposed image than out of an underexposed image.

    The handheld twilight mode is excellent. It is JPEG only, but it does a fantastic job in low light museums. Just watch your WB if they've put colored "mood lighting" in some exhibits.
     
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  9. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    Yeah - the ones at 1/40 were blurred. I was able to get them unblurred at 1/100 and 1/125 (as you can see above), but had to bring up the exposure a bit in post processing. I'm OK with that, but the photos were DARK on the screen. I wasn't sure what I could and couldn't fix which is why I switched to the kit lens. I guess I know now and shooting and being confident that I can bring up the exposure later is no different than shooting on film and having to wait until it's been developed! ;)

    Wow - good to know! And i'll try that! That's why I need a few days of experimentation before vacation!

    I'll have to try it!

    Thanks for the suggestions,
    -James
     
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  10. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    That simple tip has opened a whole new world to me! I even tested some crazy 25,000 ISO shots and using Prime to clean them up and even that turns out to be decent at 1440p aside from the usual blotchy background that you can get with Prime depending on the image but its simple amazing. 6400 is certainly something I am super willing to use and heck may even try 12800 if the situation calls for it.
    Cant thank you enough for this! :)
     
  11. stephen431

    stephen431 TalkEmount Regular

    112
    May 2, 2014
    Fantastic! It's a technique I picked up in an astrophotography lecture. These guys were taking exposures of the night sky over the desert. Straight out of camera the exposures looked like a picture of white stucco, but would then pull some amazing details out of them by pulling the exposure down (and a few other techniques like stacking).
    Don't be afraid to push the ISO up. Noise is easier to deal with than blur or unexposed areas.

    You have to use your judgement for how much you want to vary your exposure comp depending on the subject you're shooting. In low light, if the subject has lighter colors, lots of whites, blues, purples then you may only overexpose by 2/3rds of a stop (+0.7). If the subject is darker, with more reds and yellows, lots of details in shadows then you might want to increase exposure comp by 1+1/3rd (+1.3) or even more. You'll pick up pretty quickly how much to push it without blowing out highlight details and/or leaving the shutter open too long for a handheld shot.
     
  12. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    Yes indeed. I was making the mistake of trying to keep shutter speed low to prevent having to use higher ISO but then cleaning wouldnt give me back the lack of sharpness due to not so good stable image taking. I was always blaming the higher ISO for the lack of detail and now after trying that, I realize that it was due to the slow shutter as now I can get pretty decent detail and a very high iso.
    Cant thank you enough! :)

    Here are two quick examples of the JPG trying to expose perfectly at 0 as by the reading on my camera (my jpg settings are a bit off since i dont really use them) vs the same 25,000 ISO image but over exposed and ran with PRIME noise reduction. Pretty usable I would say. :)

    The top one is the 25,000 ISO over exposed and cleaned up with PRIME and the lower one is the 25,000 ISO JPG untouched.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    A bit noisy, but hard to believe that's 25,000 ISO!
     
  14. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    To clarify, both are 25,000 ISO. I am happy. :)
     
  15. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
    I think I missed that the first read-through. That, my friend, is VERY impressive noise reduction! How much did you over-expose it?
     
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  16. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    I think on that one it was 1.7 or so. Thanks :)
     
  17. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Just seeing this thread....I take it your referral to 'PRIME' is some sort of noise reduction software ??
     
  18. mingus2112

    mingus2112 TalkEmount Regular

    142
    Jun 16, 2014
  19. stephen431

    stephen431 TalkEmount Regular

    112
    May 2, 2014
    Yeah, PRIME is in DxO 9. I haven't used it but it's getting excellent reviews, and judging from the shots above I might have to pick up a copy.

    I use Nik Dfine. It's great when you need to apply selective noise reduction to certain areas of the picture, but you need to learn to use control points.

    Topaz DeNoise is another one that I hear good things about.
     
  20. shaolin95

    shaolin95 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    942
    Jul 3, 2013
    Yes indeed I am using Prime from DXO 9 :)