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Settings for low light

edited March 2014 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
I need settings for shooting in low light. Any help?


  • edited May 2014
    Hard to help without knowing where or what you're shooting. Here are some general tips for low-light situations:
    1)Use a lens with a large maximum aperture (i.e., primes or fast zooms).
    2)Shoot at your lens maximum aperture.
    3) Use a high ISO setting but don't go too high to avoid noise. I find ISO 3200 to be pretty clean. ISO 6400 is still usable. Anything over than that, I'd try to avoid.
    4) Use a slow shutter speed but keep it fast enough to avoid camera shake and motion blur.
    5) Underexpose a bit and then just boost the exposure in post processing.
    6) Use your pop-up flash, but know that your photo will come out crappy; at least you got your shot.
    7) Use a speedlight and bounce the flash.
  • edited May 2014
    My D5100 refuses to shoot in low light with AF 55-300mm VR. I even thought it might be a lens issue and replaced it at the store but still the same issue. Would that be something in camera or is this lens not low light preferred? Advise please.
  • edited May 2014
    I think what you mean when you say your camera “refuses to shoot in low light” is that the camera is unable to lock focus and so it doesn’t shoot. To see if this is true, toggle the switch on the lens for manual focus. Now, your camera won’t try to lock focus and will just shoot when you press the shutter button.
    If you want to use auto focus in the dark, try turning on the AF-assist lamp. It won’t reach very far so if that’s not sufficient, you can try to shine a flashlight onto the spot where you want to focus. Once focus is locked, turn off the flashlight before taking the shot.
    The photo is likely to be underexposed (i.e. dark) because the 55-300mm is definitely not a low-light lens. Its maximum aperture ranges from f/4.5 on the wide end to f/5.6 on the long end. Zoom lenses with constant f/2.8 would be better. Prime lenses with maximum aperture at f/1.8 or larger is best.
  • edited June 2014
    Hi there Mr. Moose!! Long time since I have visited your forum. Anyway, since last year I've been doing great in RE Photograph wide angle lens and Portraits with my astounding 85mm f/1.8 which I adore working with. The only thing is I have to back away from my subject pretty much but it's not a problem when I shoot outside. I'm looking to buy the 50mm f1.4G for my Nikon D5100. I also saw the same but f/1.4D and I'm not sure what the difference is. It may be that I cannot mount the f/1.4D on my D5100? I just love prime lenses. The reason I'm considering buying the 50mm f/1.4G is that lately I've been asked to do corporate headshots or portraits in an office environment where the lighting is low and yellowish. Last time I went to shoot was for RE and I had to bring the shutter to 1/30th sec even with window light at 200 ISO and with exposure correction afterwards. Anyway, now a women attorney asked me for a headshot, yahoo! Not sure how I will shoot, but I don't want to bring a big softbox to the office. She wants to try the reception area but there's no window but a little more light, not much but some. I have a manfrotto tripod, 2 flashes, camera and lenses. What can you suggest to bring soft light for an nice headshot? I was looking at buying either a reflector or fotodiox softbox to install on your flash that is on the camera hotshoe. How can I organize all of that? Your advice is always welcome. Jo.
  • edited June 2014
    Jo, the 50mm f/1.4D lens will mount on the D5100 but it doesn't have a AF motor which the D5100 requires for auto focus. If you get it, you'll have to manually focus. The G lens has the AF motor for autofocus on the D5100.

    For portraits indoors, perhaps bounce the flash off the white ceiling while having a reflector angled below your subject to fill in the shadows.
    Although, sometimes you can make use of shadows on the face to create a more dramatic look. Try bouncing the flash to the side to make harsh shadows. This tends to make the subject slimmer and works well if made into black and white.
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