I have a D7000, (and a D90). I use the D7000 for theater work (ballet): low light and motion. I need to keep the speed at 1/200 because of the motion. The light is very variable from scene to scene: in luminance and in balance. I have no control over that. I try to keep the ISO as low as possible to avoids noise, but to avoid the LO warning, I need to go as high as ISO = HI 1.0. This yields noise in even moderate cropping. (I know about the Hi-ISO noise reduction.
so the issues are:
(1) any suggestions on technique? (2) any suggestion on post-processing? Use DxO? Use Noise Ninja? Other? (3) if upgrading: since I on am on an amateur's budget: D600?
NOW, i know that this is the Nikonian forum, so I might be sticking my head in the lion's mouth, but: D600 vs. Canon 6D?
On the latter point, I have seen posts about DPR being biased toward Canon. But when I look at what appear to be the DPR hi-ISO test images, the MkIII (so i assume the 6D -- although no test yet on DPR) is more contrasty and slightly sharper than the D600 (more so, for the D7000) at every ISO setting -- independently of the noise. ((On with hi-ISO noise reduction turned off, the noise levels seem aurprisingly similar among the MKIII, the D700 and the D7000 -- the issue is contrast and sharpness. This is true in RAW and JPEG, although the Nikon JPEGs are particularly soft, relative to the MkIII (I thought I would stay away from the DPR commentary, but on this point, DPR says that this is a characteristic of Nikons.) If the issue is sharpness and contrast, does this become a post-processing issue?
(4) I also read that very warm incandescent light makes noise in digital cameras generally. i experience a lot of this with the stage lighting. Does fiddling with the white balance to reduce sensitivity to red help? Or do I misunderstand how the white balance works? I.e., that the red input is already on the sensor, and the white balance only controls the amplification of the red channel?
#1. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 0
St Petersburg, RU
Hi George You have selected a subject that creates limits on your control of the results since lighting and distance in a ballet theater are your enemy. As an aside, please fill in your equipment list in your membership profile so you do not have to repeat it each time a question is asked. What lenses are you using and how close are you to the stage? First off, if you are needing to crop much and in Hi-1, noise is going to be bad and detail will be lost in post processing NR. Whatever longest lens you have, it is not long enough if you are needing to crop a lot. My go to lens in ballet is the 70-200 but that is when close enough not to have to crop. A 300 2.8 would be better but few theaters would allow it so you have to consider other means of increasing signal and decreasing noise. Do you have a particular vantage point that you are required to shoot from. I like the first balcony in a classic ornate and opulent style 250 year old theater because I can shoot down slightly, get within 20 meters of the principle dancers. Shooting up from the floor level lowers contrast due to lights just above the shooting plane, hitting the front lens element just off axis. It is the same effect when shooting into the sun with it just out of the frame, contrast goes away. I would limit ISO to about 3200 if possible, one way is lowering shutter speed and concentrating on maneuvers that are dramatic but slow in movement such as lifts. Lifts look active but they are often some of the slowest action there in on stage because balance has to be maintained to make it look fluid. Chained Adagio movements are easy to capture at 1/60 or so with VR, but you have to know the ballet well to known when slow shutter movements are coming. Much of any ballet is Allegro however so pick your spots with practiced good timing to get transition between fast Allegro movements. The slowest most graceful moves come out best in still photos and the action comes out best in video. Another issue is the direction from which the light is coming. Costumes frequently have reflective elements like metallic thread and jeweled appliques. That can create some strong spot reflections that will fool your metering and end up with underexposed images. With any of your lenses, can you fill th frame with a dancer? If not you are at a disadvantage in getting lowest noise and finest detail.
The Canon Nikon comparisons are apples and oranges and does not reflect actual use. Nikon has been setting low sharpening and moderate contrast defaults in JPG and requires the user to increase it by choice so Nikon images on DPR are always less sharp than what you really get. Canon, in recent models have tried to fight back from the trouncing they have gotten at the hands of Nikons of the same class in high ISO. They have greatly increased non-defeatable NR at higher ISO which kills detail but appears in low res magazine reviews to have less noise. They do, but also have less detail and more artifacts that are almost impossible to fix in post. You get natively cleaner files with a lot more flexibility in Nikon NEF RAW files. Compare D7000 shadow noise and artifact with any camera in their line and it is plain to see. If you are shooting JPGs only and do not blow them up, the default settings of the 7d, 5DII or 5DIII or even their 1Dx. The D600 and D800 are in another league in file quality. So do not feel as if others have an advantage, they don't. Your problem is light, too much focus on fast movements that require higher SS than the light and noise level can support, and probably not enough reach. Can you post a few images that show the typical light and distance, a finished crop and an uncropped file. That will tell us more than describing it.
The question of the D600 is a common one for good reason, its high ISO performance and DR are excellent, above all other makes but the D7000 is the best for this among DX cameras. You would get better images at higher ISO but suffer from less reach with your existing lenses if they are FX image circle. Buying reach at the long, fast end is EXPENSIVE, ask any birder how much their 400 2.8 monsters cost. A used D3s would be hard to beat for cost/noise ratio but you would still need reach because detail would be lost more by cropping a 12mpx files. Fast primes would not be the final answer due to shallow DOF that would allow little tolerance in focusing or getting two subject in the same frame in focus. You are probably going to need 2.8 for two people on about the same focal plane and maybe f/1.8 for a solo or 1/2 figure detail. So lets see some examples of what you are up against now.
#2. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 1
Thank you so much for that extensive and very valuable response!
BTW, the last (& only time) that I have been in St. Petersburg (1968 or 1969), I had the extreme pleasure and privilege of sitting in the first row at the graduation performance of the Mariinsky! (No camera, of course). Is that the 250 year-old theater to which you refer? 1783 + 250 = 2033: close!
Meanwhile, back in Rockville, MD:
Short of filling in the equipment on my profile, for now: I have ben using only a 35 mm f/1.8 (DX) in the theater. But I also have a 50 mm f/1.8 (FX); my other lens is the 55-200 f/4-5.6 zoom (DX). I am only allowed to shoot at dress rehearsals, but then I have the run of the place (but I never asked to go up to the very shallow balcony at the back of the theater.) And no limit on lens size, either. That means right at the edge of the stage, or often about ten feet back from the front, at the first row. For the full stage, about 30-40 ft back. Wherever I wish. Typically, I am at the right corner of the stage, right up against the front (over the closed orchestra pit), or seated in the front row, about 10 feet back from the front of the stage. Or, to get the whole stage, about 35 feet back, up one aisle.
Shooting RAW, shutter priority at 1/200, manual focus (to avoid hunting in low light), ADR off, high ISO noise control off, auto WB, manually set ISO just above the LO warning. I check the histogram after each shot.
When shooting from the first row, there is a lot of black on the lower 1/4 - 1/3 of the frame: big waste; this is the front wall of the stage. I avoid letting this factor into the ISO setting, but obviously it needs to get cropped out, so it is part of the reach issue.
The lighting is so variable that I can get by with, say, ISO around 1000, or 1600, or 2000, depending on the scene. If possible I do try to stay at 3200 or less. But sometimes, I need the HI range. Perhaps I simply need to rule out action shots when I need more than ISO 3200.
The light is all overhead stage lighting, so I use a lens hood. The director seems not to like using spots. The lighting director argues with the artistic director that the light is insufficient. The lighting director is correct, but loses the argument.
The theater is modern & "small". Perhaps only 40 rows deep. There are no boxes.
As to depth of field, I do not see much issue there, as the focus is either on the featured performer or group, from about 10 feet back, or, if a large group, from 30-40 ft back from the edge of the stage. I say that using the in-focus spot. Perhaps looking at the results would show out-of focus personnel at the back of the stage when I shoot typically from the first row, but I don't see that in the viewfinder. It may show up in crops.
I agree that part (or perhaps most) of the problem is noise showing from blowing up. I had thought of using a zoom, but was concerned about the relative light loss. Perhaps that would be the way to go. Also, the 35 f/1.8 has no VR. I had guessed (apparently wrong) that f/1.8 and a 50% crop was better (from a noise aspect) than f/2.8 and no crop.
Apart from the crop/noise issue (which you suggest could be ameliorated with a longer focal length lens), I have not been familiar enough with the choreography to change shutter speed as the action continues. You have a point that there are moments when the action is slow enough to support a slow shutter speed. But I am still learning about anticipating them, as you refer. (I have experienced that to which you refer.) Meanwhile, I have been looking to capture grands jetees, etc. (Mostly, I shoot sports.) The director is looking for those shots from me.
Your summary of the issues as: reach, concentration on more motion that the light & SS can support is certainly to the point. Because I can locate anywhere, including at the very foot of the stage, reach is not always an issue, although, when the featured performer is at the other side of the stage, it can be. I'll need to look at some shots to see how much of the problem is reach. Recalling the last shoot, i think I typically need to crop to about half the frame much of the time, so, reach would be an issue.
To summarize: solve the reach problem first to avoid cropping (but the 70-200 f/2/8 is about $2400, the new f/4 is $1400). Then, avoid high shutter speed if the lighting won't support it (up to ISO 3200). This appears to come before the issue of moving to a used D3s. Unclear, though, is where in this plot moving to a D600 fits.
I'll pick out some samples.
But how do I post them? I don't see the post option now, but that may be because but I need to renew my paid membership, which recently lapsed. I'll do that now. (Done.)
Your explanation about the Canon vs Nikon sharpness comparison is very enlightening. The other thing I noticed (on DPR) is that with NR OFF, comparing the noise levels among the MKIII, the D7000, and the D600: at 6400, with NR off, the D600 and the MKIII are quite close, and the D7000 is a little (a vague term) noisier. Or is the comparison meaningless?
#3. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 2
Stan hit most of the highlights. I will just chime in with a couple of points...
>Shooting RAW, shutter priority at 1/200, manual focus (to >avoid hunting in low light), ADR off, high ISO noise control >off, auto WB, manually set ISO just above the LO warning. I >check the histogram after each shot.
I pay little attention to "lo" warnings. In fact, I pay little attention to nearly anything my camera tells me unless it is something unanticipated.
>When shooting from the first row, there is a lot of black on >the lower 1/4 - 1/3 of the frame: big waste; this is the >front wall of the stage. I avoid letting this factor into the >ISO setting, but obviously it needs to get cropped out, so it >is part of the reach issue.
Yep, you need more focal length.
>The light is all overhead stage lighting, so I use a lens >hood. The director seems not to like using spots. The >lighting director argues with the artistic director that the >light is insufficient. The lighting director is correct, but >loses the argument.
And here is the crux of the matter. I'll come back to it.
>I had >guessed (apparently wrong) that f/1.8 and a 50% crop was >better (from a noise aspect) than f/2.8 and no crop.
A 50% crop is a LOT. I'd certainly take the 2.8 and no crop.
>... Meanwhile, I have been looking to capture grands >jetees, etc. (Mostly, I shoot sports.) The director is >looking for those shots from me.
Wonderful. Alert the director that your hands are tied because the light levels are barely sufficient for audience viewing, much less photography. And if he (or she) is looking for action photos, then the light level will need to be increased, or strobes will have to be brought in.
>To summarize: solve the reach problem first to avoid cropping >(but the 70-200 f/2/8 is about $2400, the new f/4 is $1400).
The Nikon 80-200/2.8 is around $1100 new and around $500 used (older model).
>Then, avoid high shutter speed if the lighting won't support >it (up to ISO 3200). This appears to come before the issue of >moving to a used D3s. Unclear, though, is where in this plot >moving to a D600 fits.
I want you to pay VERY close attention to the following image that was shot on a D600:
This image was shot at ISO 100. That was a mistake. I was shooting some statics, then changed to my other camera. When the action started I picked this camera back up and started to shoot. I did a few frames before I realized I had not changed my settings from ISO 100 to the correct ISO 3200. So... this image was exposed FIVE stops under. I corrected the exposure in Lightroom, cleaned up some noise, and did a fairly significant crop. Then published it. You can see the result. Had I not needed to crop this image, it would have shown much better.
The D600 captures an AMAZING amount of detail and has incredibly latitude. The D700 is also very good in this regard though not quite as good as the D600. Should you choose to move from the D7000 to the D600, you may find you need to change lenses depending on what you've got.
>Your explanation about the Canon vs Nikon sharpness comparison >is very enlightening. The other thing I noticed (on DPR) is >that with NR OFF, comparing the noise levels among the MKIII, >the D7000, and the D600: at 6400, with NR off, the D600 and >the MKIII are quite close, and the D7000 is a little (a vague >term) noisier. Or is the comparison meaningless?
I shoot both Canon and Nikon. I have many friends who shoot Canon. We often shoot side by side at the same events. I gentleman shoots a Canon 1DMk4. I can say with complete confidence his camera is no more clean than my D7000. I have RAW images from him. If we take the 1Dx off the table, the D3s and D600 are cleaner than anything Canon makes. The dynamic range is superior too. I dare you to shoot a 5Dmk3 at 5 stops under and give me a file that looks like my photo.
There are several solutions to your problem. The best is to simply get more light on the situation. The next best is to eliminate the need to crop images by getting focal lengths that will work for you. And finally, you can look at changing cameras.
#4. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 3
St Petersburg, RU
5 stop push...gotta love these new sensors!! I regularly push 4 but that a 100 ISO is amazing. Try that with a 7d, 5dII or III or 1D4 or any other DSLR on the planet.
If you are shooting dress rehearsals the art director has to be more flexible if he wants the shots and wants the rest of the staff to see what they need to see in the production before live audiences see it.
If you have free range, that is a big help. I like the idea of the 80-200 but on a tighter budget, a 85 1.8 is a very effective lens on DX as a short tele with great optics and speed and only $450. Grand jeté when executed well are easy to pan because the better dancers appear to be suspended in air for a full second or more with mass-less bodies for those moments, their path is elegant predictable and slow at the apex. If it is beginner or student performances the impression of weightlessness will be replaced by an athletic leap that is still predictable but is not as smooth nor having as elegant line so a little higher shutter is needed to freeze. Mariinsky is my favorite but not the oldest here, I was thinking of the 256 year old Alexandrinsky Theater that has been carefully restored recently and beautiful. There are 54 classical venues within walking distance of my apartment so it is a great place for culture, if I am not spending all my time in dance clubs dancing until 6am several nights a week;>). Although Mariinsky is the premier ballet theater, Alexandrinsky Theater is a mere 22 meters from the most famous and prestigious ballet school, the Vaganova Academy. Alexandrinsky Theater stages primary drama now however. There are 330 drama theaters in the city. Another advantage of the D7000, it is so quiet that you can get permission to shoot from the audience if you talk with the production staff or theater admin. I proved my D7000, in quiet mode not be heard on stage so got a letter from Mariinsky Theater saying it was permitted. My D800 can't be used during performances due to noise. Q-mode D7000 is really quiet.
Lenses, yet, fill the screen and don't crop, that will be the biggest solution to noise. Shooting at the lowest ISO you can, even if it is way under exposed will give cleaner results if you shoot RAW and can boost the exposure in post. The D7000 is good for a full 3-4 stops of recovery.....that is why we love Nikon's. What else in DX could do that? I think I would approach this one with a bit of arrogance to match the art dirctor, like Perrone said, "you want action shots? OK, give me light, otherwise I am outta here", failing that, a 85 1.8 shot close enough to fill the frame and time the leaps, lifts and slower pas. Even an allegro arabesque develops slowly and very predictably with a line you know exactly where they are going to be moment to moment. Lifts in ballet are also slow in developing because the real skill and tremendous athleticism is focused on seeming smooth, light and ballon. Those might be done briskly but are easy to predict because of the the smoothness in which they develop. A Entrechat, on the other hand where there is in intentional appearance of speed and abruptness, even when you know it is coming needs higher shutter speeds to freeze movement, or just guess. If the art director wants these shots for evaluation of the forms, shoot from slight higher then center line so the relationship between the torso and turn-out of the hip to toe can be clearly seen, they will be interested in that. If your work is for publicity and public viewing, demand more cooperation, your images are going to help put butts in seats. All that aside, don't be afraid of under exposing so the featured dancers are still bathed in shadows, as long as some highlights are there to describe at least one edge, that is enough for compelling promotional shots that convey the romance and etherealness of the performance. Shadows are not the enemy in such scenes, better than starkly lit sets that do not look so good from stage, they look good with dim light 10 rows out in the audience. If for artistic evaluation for the director and choreographer, you need detail, and do not cut off feet. They need to see lines and form, turn-out and position and they do not have to be as pretty as detailed. Put some photos in your gallery then post a link to them. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#5. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 4
Aha! Thank you both.
The purposes of the shots are:
o Records for my niece, who is one of the dancers. She also uses them to study her form. o Publicity for the theater. o Records for me.
The personnel are what I would call students or advanced amateurs. This is a community theater, subsidized by the city. The art director runs the associated ballet school. Some of the dancers are pretty good (IMHO), but this is no St. Petersburg!
I think if the art director wants action shots, I might get her to stage them at the rehearsal with better lighting (but I think some of mine are adequately lit)-- ll check that out. Depends on the particular scene. She was already staging poses for her own point & shoot at the end of the last rehearsal. As to performance lighting, though, I don't think she will not budge. She simply likes, e.g., dim (& blue & flat -- ugh!) stages. That's her idea of an outdoor night (moonlight) scene. She doesn't understand graduating the light up to the faces. Or localized highlights. Ethereal, indeed. She is getting to know me enough so that I might be able to make suggestions, though.
Lessons learned here already (news to me):
o The crops I need to do (from that 35 f/1.8) are too extreme. The noise problem is closely tied to cropping. o Don't be afraid of underexposure. OK to Expose less than LO. o Check out 85 mm. (That lens gets great reviews on optics. I could set my 55-200 at 85 to verify the framing.)
About underexposure & puahing: from reading the D7000's instrumentation, how do I tell how far I can go?: 3-4 stops of recovery in PP would be huge.
Speaking of framing, is there a web site that shows frame sizes at various focal lengths (for DX & FX) where the focal length is a parameter? Might save me a trip to the theater.
As to shooting angle to show the foot positions better. I think I'll bring a kik-step (a rolling stool that locks when stepped on) to gain about 14 inches off the floor. Or a small step ladder. Otherwise I am quite close to stage floor level. Another approach might be telephoto from the balcony. With a tripod. And 200 mm.
Shooting live performances would only be practical from the balcony (if permissible); otherwise I am locked in one row (row 12, assigned to the art director.
Hey, I sure wish i had known all this last year. But there are four shows a year (from the limited repertory). Plenty of time to improve!
Also, particular thanks for your responses, because I had briefly lost faith in Nikonians: something like 34 people had read my post with not one response, until I signalled Stan! I thought I was being blackballed because I mentioned the C-word. (But then there are other posts that compare Nikons & the C-stuff, so I rather doubted that. And I probably would have heard from the forum administrator if I had done anything objectionable.)
#6. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 5
PS. Another look at that basketball shot. Five Stops! Stan says i can get 3-4 stops in PP on the D7000. If I can get close to that basketball shot quality with a D7000 (assume no crop)I wouldn't need a D600. Comments?
#7. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 5
>Check out 85 mm. (That lens gets great reviews on optics. >I could set my 55-200 at 85 to verify the framing.) > I have an 85/1.4 and love that lens for a lot of things. Just be aware that at F1.4, the DOF is REALLY shallow depending on distance from the lens. At the distances you'll be shooting it shouldn't be too bad if your subject is a single person. I wouldn't bet on it to get a person, and a second person behind the first, in focus.
>About underexposure & puahing: from reading the D7000's >instrumentation, how do I tell how far I can go?: 3-4 stops of >recovery in PP would be huge.
Go test it in your environment. Shoot at proper exposure, and then dial down the exposure compensation 1-2-3-4 stops and see what you can recover in post. We can tell you what *we* think, but this is not substitute for having your own files on your own computer.
>Speaking of framing, is there a web site that shows frame >sizes at various focal lengths (for DX & FX) where the >focal length is a parameter? Might save me a trip to the >theater.
Yes, these sites exist, but are rather hard to translate into real world. Best to go try it for yourself.
>Also, particular thanks for your responses, because I had >briefly lost faith in Nikonians: something like 34 people had >read my post with not one response, until I signalled Stan! I >thought I was being blackballed because I mentioned the >C-word. (But then there are other posts that compare Nikons >& the C-stuff, so I rather doubted that. And I probably >would have heard from the forum administrator if I had done >anything objectionable.)
I see much the same sometimes. I wouldn't worry about it too much. And we talk about other camera brands all the time here. I suspect many of us have used several brands of camera, and a lot of us own several brands.
#9. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 8
Back to Stan
Issues about stage lighting
(I know, I need to attach samples.)
I just looked at my "proofs" (just on this monitor --- Eizo Flexscan L578, which has a direct setting to sRGB), no prints). There are (at least) two mistakes: (1) saturation was set +2 (reading too much Ken Rockwell) , and (2) the "Save warm colors" WB was ON (I had never done that before, and was hoping that I would not get too much warmth. Was that wrong! Other than that, the picture control was neutral. The result is a bunch of flaming red pictures (except the blue ones). Joke's on me
BUT: I thought, perhaps, there was something wrong with the camera. With the same settings, I took over a dozen shots of woodsmen working in the forest next to my house in the late afternoon winter sun, and the picture looks quite normal for exposure and sharpness.(I'll get around to posting it.) The stage lighting, on the other hand, is not only flamingly hot, but it appears to me that it tends to overexpose. As I said, I kept the shutter speed at 1/200, and varied the ISO, so that the camera set the aperture (of course), but I did not see the histogram flooding at all, and yet that's what the proofs look like. (On the same computer that shows the normal outdoor winter scene.)
Also, those "moonlight" scenes on stage that looked so dim to me -- don't look dim at all in the proofs.
The metering was set on SPOT, because I wanted to expose for the featured dancer (and because there is usually a large dark area which is the front wall of the stage, which I did not want to bias the meter).
What do I need to know about stage lighting & the D7000 that I don't know? (I had no trouble with my Leica & Tri-X in the '60s) I'm sure that's a lot -- but how about a hint? -- other than to reduce saturation in the camera. That's obvious.
Perhaps there was also glare? The images don't look sharp, even though I had accidentally left sharpening to + 7 (another Rockwellism)(but same as the outdoor shot.) So this is strange too. I don't think it is motion blur or hand-held blur -- generally I am smoothly tracking the action.. I had thought I might have an inherently soft lens (Nikon 35 mm f/1.8) But the brush in the forest looks reasonably sharp.
I'd think there was something wrong with the lens or the camera, but that outdoor shot was shot within a few days of the ballet, and looks quite normal, as I said.
What is there about that tungsten stage lighting that leads the camera to (apparently) overexpose? Or am I misled by the oversaturation? Is that the main thing? Set saturation to a negative value?
(I'll understand if you withhold comments until I post some images.)
Looking at these shots, I see that the elevation standing on the orchestra pit cover in front of the stage is adequate to show the feet. I don't need a ladder.
#10. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 8
>Thanks, Peronneford > >According to Photozone, the 85 mm f/1.8G has 95% of the image >quality of the f/1.4 (he does not say whether D or G) at 1/3 >the price. But the f/1.4 D price dropped (relatively). > >Today's Adorama prices: > >f/1.4 D $1200 >f/1.4 G 1650 >f/1.8 D 460 >f 1/8 G 500 > >Any comment on that?
I own the 1.4D. I should have bought the G. I have never ONCE in my life bought a fast lens and wished I'd chosen a sower one. Unfortunately, I have on several occasions purchased slower lenses and cursed myself for not buying faster lenses.
Buy what your pocket dictates. Or if getting paid, buy what the job demands.
#11. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 9
Three comments here:
1. Shoot RAW. You are sabotaging your own efforts by shooting JPG.
2. Get off Rockwell's page. Some of his equipment review advice is very helpful. Following his advice on picture taking will walk you off a cliff. There is a reason his name lives in infamy on nearly all photography sites and forums.
3. Camera sensors are at their best when they are exposed to full spectrum light. There is an abundance of red, green, and blue light in natural daylight, and strobed light. In general, sensors are most sensitive to green light and least sensitive to blue light. Therefore, when the light spectrum begins to shift warm (like incandescent), we must add gain to the blue channel to compensate. This is what happens in a white balance. We add gain, and corresponding noise, in the blue channel. If the light goes warm enough, the sensor cannot compensate and we oversaturate a channel. If you shoot RAW, you have a fighting chance to rescue your images. Shooting JPG, it's a lost cause. Imagine shooting outdoor slide film indoors with a red filter on. This is essentially what you are doing to your sensor.
>Issues about stage lighting
>I just looked at my "proofs" (just on this monitor >--- Eizo Flexscan L578, which has a direct setting to sRGB), >no prints). There are (at least) two mistakes: (1) >saturation was set +2 (reading too much Ken Rockwell) , and >(2) the "Save warm colors" WB was ON (I had never >done that before, and was hoping that I would not get too much >warmth. Was that wrong! Other than that, the picture control >was neutral. The result is a bunch of flaming red pictures >(except the blue ones). Joke's on me
>What do I need to know about stage lighting & the D7000 >that I don't know? (I had no trouble with my Leica & >Tri-X in the '60s) I'm sure that's a lot -- but how about a >hint? -- other than to reduce saturation in the camera. >That's obvious.
>Perhaps there was also glare? The images don't look sharp, >even though I had accidentally left sharpening to + 7 (another >Rockwellism)(but same as the outdoor shot.) So this is >strange too. I don't think it is motion blur or hand-held >blur -- generally I am smoothly tracking the action.. I had >thought I might have an inherently soft lens (Nikon 35 mm >f/1.8) But the brush in the forest looks reasonably sharp.
>What is there about that tungsten stage lighting that leads >the camera to (apparently) overexpose? Or am I misled by the >oversaturation? Is that the main thing? Set saturation to a >negative value?
#12. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 10
St Petersburg, RU
Good points... The 85 1.8G is the bargain of the group, excellent lens that is 95% of the 1.4 big brother. I have the 1.4D and it is a very good lens, the 1.4G is better and in some ways, the 1.8G is better still, as in CA is lower. You will not want to shoot wide open because of the shallow DOF but for your task, shooting at 1.8 will be better than 1.4. The Blue Channel noise problem is exactly as Perrone said, sensors struggle with it and it is a miracle of engineering that cameras are as good as they are with the cruddy light we feed them sometimes. All bets are off when the light is not broad spectrum. What helps, in RAW is to use Photoshop and apply selective noise reduction on only the blue channel or more aggressively on the blue channel. A common probem when shooting dim color-filtered scenes is trying to bring the image up to daylight tones. If it is dim and masking detail that naturally occurs with dim light and the human eye, try to recreate the dim illumination in your image in post. The lost detail using more NR will look more natural because we decern less detail at dusk or later levels of light. Cameras like the D3s have gotten a whole generation seeking to use the camera as a nightscope, to get daylight rendering of dim, low detail discernible scenes. It does work sometimes but it is not natural looking from an artistic point of view. Photojournalists however are not looking for art, they are looking for detail that propels the story and that is perfect for them. The metering on your camera will try to brighten the dim scene so shooting in manual or with negative Exposure Compensation will achieve more natural dim night-like scenes. Your camera metering will try to expose to middle grey and the scene the art director has created is much lower tone than that, so either turn off the auto exposure or command it to bias towards the under-exposure side. That will reduce the noise a lot, but also reduce detail while being more realistic captures of the actual scene. If the art director thinks the images are too dark, reply that you are capturing his lighting accurately and realistically.....and praise his wise choice when he brings up the light as a result.
In your current setup, I would use manual exposure, buy or beg a 85 1.8G, zoom with my feet since I would have the flexibility for that comes from rehearsals, expose to the scene and not to the meter's middle grey bias, shoot raw, get close enough to fill the screen with the subjects while being sure not to chop off feet or hands(note to self: take my own advice), use selective noise reduction on the Blue Channel, increase contrast a bit, selectively sharpen only edges or not at all, print small. Use AF-S and turn on the AF Assist light to nail focus in dim light. A better choice for focus assistance would be to use a SB series CLS compatible speed-light, set to Commander mode, so its much better patterned near IR AF assist light is engaged. You will get a flash but it will not contribute to the illumination of the shot since the flash control pulses occur before the shutter opens. Tell the art director that he will not need to freak out if he sees the commander flash, the images will be just as dark and moody as he wants the audience to see. With these steps, the D7000 and 85 1.8G should be able to do all you need. As a side benefit of the faster prime, AF performance in low light will be dramatically better. AF sensing occurs with the lens at its widest aperture and then the camera stops down the aperture to reflect the settings, the instant the shutter opens.
A 85 1.8 will meter and AF using 1.8 no matter what you have the camera exposure set for. That means, with no other changes, the AF will have a LOT more light to work with in poor light than your 55-200, even if both are being shot at f/5.6. That is one reason people see big differences in their images when getting their first fast prime in place of their kit lens. AF just works better(besides the optics....some at widest aperture are not as good as the kit lens wide open, like the old 50 1.8D is poor wide open but one sharp mother when stopped down to f/2.8 or smaller. The wider aperture allows the little 50 1.8D to AF better, even if optically it is not great wide open). With the 85 1.8G, you will notice better color and contrast, better AF and lower noise besides excellent resolving power, better than anything you can likely afford without causing marital discord.
Shooting amateur ballet is harder than top dancers because the extreme precision and grace of the best are easier to predict where a movement will start and end and where the apex will be, consistently within an inch or two. Speed seems to stop, some of the leaps appear that the laws of gravity have been suspended, all of which give the photographer a helping hand. It is almost inhuman, the athleticism and strength they have in reserve to make it look so effortless. With amateurs you know they are working hard, it shows in every move and that translates into inconsistency. When shooting at the Mariinsky, I could set a camera at a pre-focused spot in mid air and have them fill that frame when the expected set is executed with a repeated precision to +/- an inch. And only those within 2 feet could tell the extreme muscle control and power being used to make it look so graceful and light, weightless. I think ballet is one of the most physical of "sports". There has never been a great dancer who was not also a supreme athlete. One of the main elements that hold back most amateurs is lack of conditioning. Few people have the drive and dedication to will themselves into the ultimate movement machines that great, or even good, dancers are. Just training the joints so have extension and power when rotated 90 degrees from normal is a feat that takes years and needs to start young. Most movements in classical ballet start and end with the whole leg, from the hip, "turned-out" 90 degrees from the torso. Good Luck and have fun! Stan St Petersburg Russia
#13. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 12
Thank you both. A few clarifications:
1)I do shoot RAW, never said I didn't. Card 2, for backup, is JPEG.
2) So now I need to get all that red out in PP. I'll never make that mistake again.
3) Re; "expose to the scene" manually. How would you do that? I thought I was doing that with spot metering & manual ISO)
4) Re AF: I have been using ONLY the 35 mm f/1.8 in the theater. Even that seemed to hunt for focus in low light. (Unless, as noted below, I was confusing the freeze with buffer dump.) The reference to the 55-200 (set to 85) was for using it ONLY to check out the frame size that the 85 would give me, to decide whether to get that prime out a zoom. Stan appears to believe that the 85 would be OK.
5) About using flash for AF: I do have an SB 600. i think the problem won't be with the art director (it's a she) But the dancers don't like flash. They say it distracts them. Isn't the manual focus dot in the viewfinder accurate on the D7000? If it is not, this might account for an apparent lack of sharpness. (Unless that is apparent glare from oversaturation.) If it is, if find that the dancers operate mostly in the same foreground plane, and this is very little refocussing. A few weeks ago, at the prior performances, even the 35 mm f/1.8 was freezing, so i assumed it was a "no focus" lock. i have not had that since I started focusing manually. I was able to isolate that freeze that from freeze due to buffer dumping. (I also keep my bursts very short now, also I use a SanDisk 95 MB/s card.)
5a) Is there such a thing a oversaturation glare (halo?)
5b)However, I do not understand "so its much better patterned near IR AF assist light is engaged".
6) About noise (where all this started): unlike a few months ago, this time I tried to push the ISO down to just above the LO signal, ass the scene lighting varied (as I said), so there is much less underexposure. in fact, as I said, this time it looks like there is mostly overexposure. But i may be confusing that with saturation (as I said. As to noise from cropping, i suppose there will be a difference between the underexposed shots and the overexposed shots. That is to be seen.
7) Depth of field: looking at the recent proofs, I could see that the line of dancers at the back of the stage was out of focus (desirable), while the featured group was (relatively) in focus --although, as i say, the apparent lack of sharpness bothers me. Could that be an oversaturation halo?
8) Amateurs v. pros: I see exactly what Stan means. yes, most of the locals are obviously working hard, although the best of those around 18, who have been at it since age five or so, like my niece, are quite smooth. One remarkable element is the art director's sister. She is over sixty, and her body and performance look better than the 18-year olds. And relatively effortless. I don't know if she ever was a pro. (I'll ask.) But her face looks her age! it is strange. Her body looks 17. On the other hand, she often dances with the art director's husband. I think he is 60 around looks it. Wobbly. But still trying. In contrast to him (on physical condition: One of the boys (around 18-20, was warming up with (to me perfect front/back and side/side splits on the floor. & Kicks. I said: if that leg were any looser, it would fly off!)
9) Re Rockwell: I fully agree with what you said. I had learned some time ago to take what he says with several grains of salt about picture taking, as he frequently takes really inconsistent positions, some of which tries to explain away with (true) clarifications, and others, he just changed his mind. Especially a lot of his points are BAD for sports. BUT the saturation issue trapped me, exacerbated by the new D7000 WB option. As you say, I should (have) quit reading Rockwell on picture taking.
10) I do this for free. I think I can buy the 85G w/o much marital discord. (Balances the iPad I just gave my wife.) More might be an issue. I see a lot about that from the amateurs on DP review forums.
11) I really do appreciate all the time that you both are putting in to educate me! I think we have just about talked this out (if you have time to respond to the above.)
#14. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 13
St Petersburg, RU
3. Whatever you meter on in spot will cause the camera to suggest exposure setting that turn that spot to middle grey. Find something that IS middle grey in level and meter on that and lock exposure.
4, and 5, Hunting is not unusual in really low light which is why I suggested using an AF mode that offers the assist light. AF-S, center point will do that. But the camera assist light is bright white and not patterned grid projection of a SB600-910 speed light. Mount your SB600 and go to a dark room, Put the camera in AF-S mode and enable the assist light. Turn off the speed light and try to focus on a wall. Notice the bright white AF assist like come on. It will greatly help AF in low light. Now turn on the Speed light which will switch the AF assist lighting task to the flash. Press the shutter release 1/2 down to start the AF function. You will see a red grid pattern is projected that is dim and hardly noticed by subjects but is very important to the AF system. That pattern lets the AF sensor detect phase differences better and really improves AF speed and accuracy. Using the speed light without emitting flash can be done by 1/2 pressing the release and locking focus as soon as it locks on(AF-S mode) but remember, the DOF is really shallow so any movement of the subjects in the focal plane will impact focus. With the AF locked, turn off the flash and shoot away on any subjects on that focal plane. All this is much too fast to manually focus, if the dot turns on, a 1/th second later the subject might be out of the Focal plane unless you have stopped down to give a deeper DOF....which further lowers signal to noise ratio. The dancers and anyone else do not like direct flash and they are mostly used to someone blashting away with a point and shoot close to them and assume the worst while a flash comes out. If properly used, they would not mind at all because they would hardly notice it. First off, you need to point the flash away from them, so the light is bounced from the room itself and is highly diffused. The apparent intensity lowers by a factor of 1,000 or more. A straight on directed flash tube in a concentrating reflector is really really intense but we do not need the whole scene at those levels we just need to raise the effective ambient a few stops. The point and shoot flashes they see in their face and dislike are slow, they last a long time compared to a SB600 pulse. It is so fast that the light detection and transmission of the information the brain and the brain registering it never completes fully. 1/10,000 of a second is pretty darn fast. That is why dogs and babies do not react at all to diffused flash. The pulse of light is gone before the brain fully registers it. A point and shoot produces a different more upsetting reaction however due to its slower rise and fall time of the strobe tube. If you tried using flash in a way that helped you and was not noticed by the cast, the images would look good, they would look good and they would not even notice. Bad use of flash gives us all a bad rep. 6, I do not understand the question or even the set up used, can you post an image of it? 7, If you were manually focusing and had the lens opened up, the front line was definitely not in optimum focus. DOF is pretty shallow, and even if the dancers looked like they were at a constant distance from you, they weren't. AF is going to be a lot more accurate and faster for moving objects. That is why I was suggesting the AF assist lighting. That is still in Single Servo so it is not going to track like AF-C but AF-C without the assist light is just going to hunt. the Assist only works in AF-s mode.
10, I can't think of a better bang for the buck and least distruption of marital harmony than a 85 1.8G for all round use besides the dim light dance shooting.
Single shots will likely produce more keepers than burst because either manual or AF-S is not going to track and they ARE moving so any shots away from the first acquired focus, will be out of focus. Do you have a friend who will loan his D3s to you? ;>) That would solve a lot of these issues. Shoot at f/4-5.6 for more deeper field and just let the magic of a usuable 51k ISO do its thing. A D800 can use 25k for small prints or for a newsletter/web posting and deal with this light. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#15. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 14
Thanks again, Stan.
Re 6: My point in 6 was badly stated. What I meant was: at the prior performances, I kept the D7000 at ISO 6400 because the stage lighting was so dim, and saw horrible noise when doing "extreme" crops. That was the genesis of this thread.
At the recent performances, i kept resetting the ISO manually down as low as "possible" above the LO warning (to reduce noise. Both sessions were speed priority (1/200). Most of the shots in the recent session don't look underexposed, they look over exposed. OR, I confuse over exposure with over-saturation (which seems definitely to be the case, especially for reds, whether or not there was also overexposure. (I need to pick some samples to post. But I need to sort through a huge file, which I have been going through.)
Re: Using the SB 600. I can try that. Would you care to suggest a type of diffuser? I just use StoFen, as it is neat & unobtrusive. There are hundreds of diffusers. Have you seen the Rogue Flashbender: it's a flexible reflector that straps on.
About the P&S flashes. They ARE very obtrusive. They are very distracting. They bother me, too, when I am shooting flashless (always). I did not know that the 600 would be unobtrusive. How far from the camera to set it?
Re my point 5b. Your reference to remote flash in your prior post,which i quoted, had a sort of odd grammar, so i did not quite understand. Please refer back.
re D3s. I don't have friend who has one, but the one local camera store that has (sort of) survived the recession & the on-line competition -- they had to merge with Calumet and shut all but three of their local stores -- is Penn camera. They sell & rent equipment. Renting the D3s costs $180 (you heard me) for one weekend.
I see that you suspect that my pictures were not in focus. Is it possible that there I am seeing (perhaps also) flare from oversaturation?
#16. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 15
PS. Best place for the SB 600 for flash assist? I could put it on a tripod right at he edge of the stage. Or perhaps at the front row. In the center (seems more logical than at te side, where it would, however, be out of the way.
As for setting exposure by putting the spot on a neutral gray. There's a good chance that there is no neutral gray -- either because of the stage setting, the costume, or the set lighting. What then? I probably can't put a gray card on the set
The art director's husband, who, as I said, has gray hair. I don't think that's exactly neutral though, and he is not always on the set, anyhow.
#18. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 16
St Petersburg, RU
Think balck and white, middle grey is the perceived mid point in brightness between pure black and pure while, it is not a color as much as light intensity. You camera tries expose so that tone is mid-way in the capture range of the sensor.
If you are thinking of a bounce surface for the flash, look at the direction you would want like coming from to illuminate your scene and trace backwards where you would have to put the flash, pointed at the reflecting surface so that when it bounced and diffused the light would be coming from the angle you want. Find as neutral a surface color as possible, not shiny preferably for better diffusion/scattering, and you will be amazed how much a small amount of controlled light can help and hardly be noticed by the subjects. I scout a venue before an event shoot and find whatever bounce surfaces I can direct remote Slave speed lights towards that would help. I try to find a vantage point above the crowds to tape or bungee the speed lights so no one will be messing with my SB900's Very little additional light is needed to be able to shoot at 1/200 f/2.8 to f/4 on DX and f/4 too 5.6 on FX at a reasonable ISO, in placed tht otherwise would have required 2.8, 1/60 and 12k ISO. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#20. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 19 Sat 15-Dec-12 08:16 AM by km6xz
St Petersburg, RU
Yes, two different uses of your flash. The help with focusing that requires mounting the flash, being in AF-S mode and the flash head in the direct forward angle Either put the flash into Commander mode or simply 1/2 press the shutter release to activate AF and the AF assist light, lock focus and turn off the flash to take your shot normally using ambient light. That of scourse works best in a Trap Focus mode where you focus to a spot and when the subject moves into the focal plane, the shutter releases. You press the release the whole time. Set the Focus priority to "Focus Priority" which is probably already set to that mode. The IR assist light will allow accurate AF in total darkness.
The use of bounced flash to augment ambient light is a very good way to get the noise handled, decrease ISO get better color but does involve the flash going off. Try some experiments. Go to a rehearsal and bounce flash a couple times without teling dancers that you will be doing it. Ask them afterwards if they noticed your presence, not referring to the flash but to your just being there. There is a good chance that they will not have even remembered the flash going off. I shoot in events a lot and if a flash is not direct, people tend to not even notice it. I'll show them a photo of themselves and they comment that they did not even know I was taking their photo. If I was to be so rude as to point a flash directly at their eyes from close range they would not be so happy with me, it IS very distracting. It also results in bad images. I think if you can find a suitable bounce direction that adds a few stops of light, all your problems will be over. Last night, bored, I dropped by a little bar and found they were big into Kareoke, which I hate, but stayed since everyone was friendly and having a great time on a Thursday night. I got out my camera from across the room and took a few shots. This one is of a biker who was actually a very good singer and a good conversationalist. It was ISO was 1000, f/2.8 1/100 and 200mm, hand held. Ambient light was very dim, and mixed source, mostly florecent beer signs. SB900, pointed up and directly to the rear at 45 degrees. Shot in JPG SOOC, and a 100% crop. Just to show that an indirect flash is not intrusive, he was very surprised that his photo was taken when I showed him after his song. There is a redish cast because the bounce ceiling and rear wall was painted a redish brown. You don't have much leeway in adjusting WB in JPG compared to raw NEF files. Stan St Petersburg Russia
#21. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 20
Very good trick, that bounce! Sure does not look like dim ambient light! I suppose that was your 70-200 f/2.8?
1) Back to AF assist: some elementary mechanics: i am a bit confused. In each case, camera is in AF-S. Suppose I want the flash only for AF assist. (After i sent the prior message, i realized that diffusion should be irrelevant for AF assist. The only issue is whether the focus circuitry gets enough light.
2) Re focus trap: another trick. I do use focus priority all the time, but I never though of holding the shutter release and letting the camera decide when to shoot, when it decides that the subject is in focus.
3) Related to that, can't we trust that "in focus" dot in the viewfinder? i was relying on that for confirmation of focus before I shot. (Small area focus setting.) You said that I might have thought I was in focus when I was not. Also, the camera was at all times in focus priority. Does manual focus override focus priority, so that the camera would shoot even if the focus was not accurate?
(1) The flash is on the hot shoe. Does commander mode apply? Your test suggests that it does not matter whether commander mode or half press is used. Is that correct?
(2) The flash is remote. same question.
(30 I saw my niece, the dancer, this evening. She immediately reacted negatively to using flash. Then I explained that she would not perceive it if it is only for AF assist. That would work. I told her of our discussions. when I told her that you could predict the positions of professionals w/in two inches, she was not at all surprised.
(3) As to bounce flash, that would be politically possible during rehearsals. The problem here is that the theater ceiling over the audience is two stories high (not so much by theater standards), and the ceiling over the stage is higher, and full of lights and drops. Who knows where the scattering would go. I think only the ceiling over the audience might help. If the flash were pointed up at 45 degrees, I might get a lot of bounce light onto the stage. Certainly worth experimenting!
4) Speaking of "a lot of light", when I read the specs on the SB 900, it didn't appear to have a "really significant" increase in power over the SB-600.
5) Another issue is that I can only get access during dress rehearsals, which is also the only time I can get action. (But it has occurred to me that there are other shows than ballet that have rehearsals there ...)
6) The theater rules seem to have been changed to allow the art director to permit photos from the audience during a live performance, but I would have no freedom of position. Previously this was forbidden. The usher claimed that the LCD was distracting to neighbors.She was not the type to show that I could dim it significantly. Somebody had made a rule.) But that would still be absolutely w/o flash in any case.
7) Re that 85 mm. Not only is it 1/5 the cost of the 70-200, it is 1 1 /3 stops faster. I just saw that the 85 weighs 330 g, the 70-200 weights 1540 g. Thus, x 5. Is Nikon pricing by weight? When I held a 70-200 mounted, in the camera shop, it did not feel as heavy as I had expected. Bjt that was only for a few minutes. At baseball games, I am hand carrying the camera with an SB-600, and after an hour, it gets heavy. I think I need to use my monopod at the games.)
I still feel that i need to check out the practically of the field of view of the 85.
#22. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 21
I'm no expert in the challenging setting you are shooting in, this post just caught my eye and made for some very interesting reading.
I'll go ahead suggest if you need a sharp longer constant f/2.8 zoom that you consider the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX OS HSM (the newest non macro version). The reviews of it are good, and there are lot of fans of it here in the Third Party lens forum. It goes for around $1250 today, and is a great performing lens that rivals the sharpness and color rendition of some of the older competing Nikkors. I have a much earlier version of the non-OS Sigma 70-20mm f/2.8 and have been very happy with it. But by all reports the newest version is even better then my 7 year old sample.
Do a little research there's some good info and reviews out there on it, see what you think.
#24. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 12
Hi! I'm back.
I am looking for clarification of your statement:
"A better choice for focus assitance would be to use an SB series CLS compatible speed-light, so to commander mode, so its much better patterned near IR AF assist light is engaged."
I just got through an extesive dialog with very patient & helpful Gray-star on this forum, re the "mechanics" of using the SB-600 mounted on the D7000, and why I need to set the camera to AF mode S (as you did say), and how AF area mode is irrelevant in that case.
As to the quoted language:
I have an SB-600, as i said. I believe it is "CLS compatible" (accordidng to the D7000 manual, p 225):
(If the SB-600 on mounted on the D7000, the built-in flash settiungs don't matter, I am told). Accoridng to p. 225: If the SB-600 is off the camera, set the built-in flash to commander mode; the built-in flash will emit only "monitor pre-flashes".
So, I assume that you mean that the on-camera flash, not the (remote SB-600) is set to commander mode.
But the, which is the "much better patttern IR assist lighht" to which you refer? On the cmaera, or on the remote SB-600. If on the SB-600, why is this better when the SB-600 is remote than remote than when the the SB-600 is mounted on the camera?
#26. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 25
OK. i reviewed #14. I still have the question about the SBN-600 remote vs. on the camera. I see that you were comparing the SB-600 red light pattern with the built-in white light flash for AF assist.
As to shooting, you suggest acquiri9ng focus with AF-assist, locking focus, turninig off the flash, and shooting single frames when the subject is in the same focal plane. It could be clumsy turing off the SB-600 whiler trying to track the subjec. Gray-star has suggested repeating acquring focus with the SB-600 by repeatedly half-pressing the release. This seesm easier mechanically than turning off the SB-600.
Does the SB-600 use less power for AF than for the image exposure? I am thnking about batttery consumption.
#27. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 26
St Petersburg, RU
Hi George, I was a little confused with some of the questions. The AF assist light only works in AF-S mode and does not work when the flash is used as a slave off-camera. I do not get the answer about have pressing the shutter release. Sure that means the AF Assist light will activate but so will the flash when the shutter is depressed fully when you do want the shot. I assumed you do not want the flash to fire, even the CLS pre-capture burst commands? The only way to keep the flash from firing in that mode is turning it off. There is a lot of confusion about Assist lights using remove slaves. It does not work because the communications link between the camera and slave exists solely through the coded light pulses emitted by the built-in flash and the slave flash responses in level reference flashes. I still think your best bet is to use a fast prime and high ISO and as low a shutter speed as needed for the scene to freeze action. with many actions, pretty slow speeds can be used. An example is a movement's resolution, before beginning another movement sequence, action stops momentarily, or at the apex of a lift, actual movement is slow. A good frozen action frame could be had at 1/60th or even less if you caught the transition point between movements. For full speed leaps on the rise, 1/250 would work. You could try an experiment, shoot with no additional lighting and on one shot use bounce flash even if the director is against it and put it into her corner....which will she be happy with. If she wants the no-flash version but you are not comfortable with letting your reputation be determined by her whims, I would suggest she hire a pro with a D4 and $85/hour. It is her choice. When given a bad choice, the advantages of not being a pro is being able to walk away from a situation you are not comfortable with. At the very least, if she is insistent and you still want to do it if the suggestions here are not suitable, ask her to rent a D3s or D4 for you for the sessions. A D800 or D600 could come close and be a lot cheaper to rent. Here is a shot, the only one I tried in a much worse lighting situation last week when I was still in San Francisco. Needed wide open 85 f1.4, at 1/100 SS in a almost pitch black pub with no interior lights on in the evening. The only light was back light through a window of dim street lights....behind the subject. ISO 12,000 on a D800: Stan St Petersburg Russia
#28. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 27
Nice SFO shot! Amzing for a drak room!
Although you may have said that the SB-600 must be mounted on the camera for AF-assist, I thought you also had suggested otherwise.
What I want is the SB-600 to fire those red flashes that the camera uses for AF assist when set to AF-S focus mode, and nothing more. For this I assume that the SB-600 is set to AF assist mode, the camera set to AF-S, and the built-in flash to be closed. To take the actual shot, I want no flash.
Is that all there is to it? You had made a reference to setting the built in flash to commander mode, I think (& so did Nikon support days ago), but I read on this forum that the built-in flash does nothing for AF-assist when the SB-600 is mounted (so it might as well remain closed and commander mode is immaterial). I think your context was testing the red patern from the SB-600 in a dark room, vompared top the built-in flash.
I don't even know if the built-in flash can even be used for focus assist, but its range is too short, anyway. From my checking 85 mm with my zoom, I'll be operating at around 25-30 ft from the subject.
Do I understand?
BTW, I was able to stop action at 1/200 (at least, it looks that way, before cropping). I shot everything at 1/200 (speed priority), with the ISO varied manually all over the place.
I'll check the rental prices for the 600 & 800.
I just checked DOF for 85 mm at 30 Ft. At f/1/8, the depth is 2.71 ft, at f/2.0, the dpeth is 3.02, at f/2.8, the depth is 4.23 ft. not much! I used the calculator on Cambridge in colour. NOTE: I used to use DOFMaster. The last time I went there, Kaspersky Internet Security would not let me; said it was trying to load a trojan!
#29. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 28
St Petersburg, RU
I think some confusion came in when in 1 paragraph I mentioned two options, for lighting, not two for AF Assist. Flash and Assist are not related other than when the SB700 is mounted in the shoe, its IR 3 LEDs are used instead of the visible light camera Assist Light which is a bright white light. The advantage of using AF Assist is simply for faster and more accurate AF with much less if any hunting in low light. Using a faster maximum aperture lens does about the same thing, allows more light hit the focus sensor. A camera meters and uses the AF and VF at maximum light gathering, the widest aperture with the lens iris fully open, then, when the shutter is triggered, the aperture closed down to reflect the calculated exposure. So a f/1.8 lens, even is taking the image at f/5.6, meters and focuses at 1.8. So a fast lens focuses with hunting, in lower light than a slower lens,at f/3.5 as maximum aperture. So if you got the 85 1.8, everything related to taking the shot will be better than a f/2.8 lens regardless of what aperture is used for the actual exposure. So getting that 85 1.8 will improve everything; metering, AF, manual focus, VF etc. even if you shot at f/8
#30. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 29
That's clear nowe. Except: what is "VF"? Visual focus? = manual focus?
Recall that i was the f/1.8 35 mm, so i was getting full aperture for focus acquisition if I had been using AF. But I was using manual focus. Is it true that in manual focus, the lens does NOT go to max aperture during focussing?
That would seem to be logical. (Not that Nikon programming is intuitively logical.)
The light was still too dim. Hence your suggestion to use the D600 for AF-assist.
Am I right that the built-in flash cannot be used for focus assist?
#31. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 30
PS. since the camera HAS a built-in focus assist light (bright white), I wouldn't expect that the camera's built-in flash could be dset to focus assist. So when the SB-600 is mounted, that supersdes the camera's built in flash assit. Setting the SB-600 mode to AF focus assist tellsthe camera to use the SB-600 (re LEDs) , instead of the camera's white focus assist light. Right?
>That's clear now. Except: what is "VF"? Visual >focus? = manual focus? > >Recall that i was the f/1.8 35 mm, so i was getting full >aperture for focus acquisition if I had been using AF. But I >was using manual focus. Is it true that in manual focus, the >lens does NOT go to max aperture during focussing? > >That would seem to be logical. (Not that Nikon programming is >intuitively logical.) > >The light was still too dim. Hence your suggestion to use the >D600 for AF-assist. > > >Am I right that the built-in flash cannot be used for focus >assist?
#32. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 30
>That's clear nowe. Except: what is "VF"? Visual >focus? = manual focus?
Viewfinder (I suspect).
>Recall that i was the f/1.8 35 mm, so i was getting full >aperture for focus acquisition if I had been using AF. But I >was using manual focus. Is it true that in manual focus, the >lens does NOT go to max aperture during focussing?
No, that is not true. The lens always stays at its maximum aperture (f/1.8 in this case) until you fully depress the shutter release to take the picture - at that instant it closes down to the selected aperture. That's the same whatever focus method you're using.
#34. "RE: noise, upgrade?" In response to Reply # 33
I thought Stan's reference to IR3 LEDs was to three infra-red LEDs, but I see that it is probably to Pacific cybervision's IR3 LED, the current generation, & presumably visible. Yes?
But I also thought that using the SB-600 for "wide Angle AF Assist feature" (not "mode") avoids the white light for the actual shot capture. But Gray_star says it does not; that it is necessary to set the fn button to FLASH OFF and press it for each shot. to avoid capture illumination from the SB-600, which would be rather tedious.