ISO Settings for night festival

Please could someone recommend settings for night time festival in India. I have Nikon D5100 with 18-200 lens. In the ISO sensitivity menu - what level should it be? Hi0.7, Hi1 or Hi2? And then ISO Auto? Maximum sensitivity? Minimum shutter speed?


  • Sorry I missed this earlier, and hope you're still around, @sallyw.

    It's hard to say for sure, but what I would recommend is to take the camera out in night time conditions, and set the ISO to manual (auto iso off), and take pictures at varying settings, from HI2 down. Evaluate the results, and then set your maximum auto ISO to the highest ISO you can tolerate for noise. Some scenes like this may tolerate a noisier look than some others, like landscape or wildlife, but it's a judgment call only you can make in the end.

    For most such things I suspect you'll need shutter speed more than depth of field, so there are a couple of ways to approach it. One would be to use shutter priority, set a speed that seems workable and let the camera adjust first aperture and then ISO. Another would be to use aperture priority, and set the ISO changing point in auto ISO to the lowest shutter speed that works, and let the camera choose shutter speed and ISO. Or you could go to manual mode, set both and let the camera adjust only ISO. What shutter speed you can go to may depend on how lively the action is. Many times you can get away with something as low as 1/100 or less, if the subjects stand still momentarily. You can shoot short bursts and occasionally get a few. If they're dancing around, and moving a lot, you'll need to stay faster.

    If this is a spotlit event with a lot of dark area and bright highlights, you may do better to use exposure compensation, as the meter will tend to overexpose the dark areas. For a spotlit performance on a dark background you can often go to -2 compensation. That will keep you from blowing out the lit areas, and also give you faster shutter speed or lower ISO.
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