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Lowlight indoor shooting

edited April 2016 Posted in » General Discussion
I am going to start shooting bands that play in small clubs. What type of affordable lens is best, and what settings are best for the color and clarity of the pictures?

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  • edited April 2016
    The camera is a Nikon D5100. I have a 18-55mm and a 55-300mm lens.
  • edited April 2016
    The first thing I'd do is try what you have in the situation you have, and see whether it comes close. You get a fair amount of digital noise from high ISO in low light, but often when shooting people and performers, this is less bothersome than it might be shooting nature or animals.

    It will be marginal, I think, but depending on distance, stage lighting, and your own taste, you might end up on one or the other side of that margin. The more you try what you have, the better equipped you'll be for upgrades.

    For settings, I'd stick with wide open aperture, and probably stay with auto ISO at its default setting, using the shorter lens. Aperture priority mode should work well here. Use a single point AF mode. You're probably best off with servo mode at "A" which automatically selects single or continuous, and usually guesses right, and "dynamic area" which allows the subject to move some. The default shutter speed at which ISO is raised is 1/30, likely OK for this work. If your musicians are blurred by either camera shake or their own motion, you'll need a faster shutter speed.

    White balance is likely to be all right set at Auto. If you shoot Raw, you can alter that later if you don't like the color temperature. Try metering in matrix mode first. If the performers are lit much more than a dark surrounding they might come out overexposed, in which case try center weighted metering, and if that still does not do it, go to spot metering. Center weighted metering will give extra weight to approximately 30 percent of the image in the center. Spot metering will meter only within a small portion corresponding to the AF point.

    When trying what you have, even if you can't seem to get good shots, keep a close eye on the focal lengths that suit you best. There are several good choices for faster lenses, in particular the 35mm f/1.8DX, and the 50mm f/1.8, both pretty affordable, and capable of good low light performance, including quicker AF than the slower zooms. They're prime lenses, though, which means you can't vary the framing except by moving yourself. Which of these might work best for you will depend a little on how small the clubs are and how close you are to the action.

    There are faster zooms as well, but they get pretty pricey. You can get a slightly faster 50mm, also, with an aperture of f/1.4, but they also usually involve a lot of extra expense for only a small amount of extra light.
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