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Dance Recital, low light, no flash, basic lenses

edited July 2014 Posted in » Canon T2i Forum
I'm trying not to beat a dead horse here, but I can't seem to find an answer that is an exact fit for me, so here goes. I'm attempting to take pictures of my daughter's ballet recital. It's in a theater with stage (low) lighting and the darn ballerinas refuse to hold still! My kit includes an 18-55mm and a 50-250mm lens. I've read many answers on the forum that eventually lead to getting a better lens (the nifty fifty sounds like my next purchase), which is great, but I don't have the time or money to do so right now. I need a "best fit" answer in the meantime using my existing equipment. I've used the TV mode and set the speed to 1/80, ISO 1600, f-stop is either f/4.5-5.0. My shutter is on continuous burst and I'm using the AI Servo. Results: When I use these settings I get somewhat underexposed images with some blur, but somehow I've managed to miss those perfect ballerina poses (much to my wife's dismay!). When my wife tried these same settings she had a heck of a time getting it to focus quickly. Once focused, it would take pictures, but eventually revert back to the focus problem. I used the viewfinder and she used the LCD display. Would that affect results at all?


  • edited July 2014
    You're limited by your lenses' small maximum aperture, so a faster lens is definitely what you need. If you want to stick with your current gear, I would bump up the ISO further to 3200 or 6400. This will let you shoot with faster shutter speeds to give you a better hit rate of non blurry shots. I'd rather have noisy sharp shots than clean blurry shots. If you make 4x6 prints with them, you probably can't even see the noise.
    Oh, and don't use liveview (the LCD) to take stills. Always use the optical viewfinder. Liveview uses contrast based autofocus which is inherently slower than phase detect used with your optical viewfinder. There's significant shutter lag since the mirror has to flip twice, and that causes additional vibration which may effect your sharpness.
  • edited July 2014
    I second what @ohyeahar has said. In addition, have you tried panning with your subject? By trying to follow your subject in relation to their speed, you effectively cause them to 'be still' although the background will show blurred movement. Panning takes a little practice, but I have managed useable pictures in situations like yours.
    If you don't want to try panning, then try to be in a position where the dancer is coming straight at you rather than at an angle.
  • edited July 2014
    Thanks for all of the advice! I didn't know that about the LCD screen so that was especially useful! Next time I plan to have a better lens ready!
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