I'm off to Rwanda next month to observe mountain gorillas again. Two years ago I was shooting Canon, and it took ISO 1600 to get this shot at 1/125 at f/5.6 with my 24-70mm f/2.8 (at 40mm!).
I've since switched to Nikon, and I must admit that I'm a little concerned that I'll need to go high ISO again (I know some may find the image overexposed, but I wanted to avoid the wet gorilla just becoming a black blob).
So do I crank the ISO in my D2x and get the exposure I want, or do I go conservative in ISO and try to adjust in Capture NX afterward?
I know that you can't recover detail that you never captured, but where's the best compromise position?
D2x; 200-400 f/4; 70-200 f/2.8; 85 f/1.4; 28-70 f/2.8; 10.5 f/2.8
#1. "RE: Off to Rwanda" | In response to Reply # 0clew Registered since 06th Jan 2004Wed 10-Jan-07 05:10 PM
wow...you were TOO close on that shot. I would suggest using the 70-200 at f/3.2 or f/3.5 closer to 200mm. Weight-wise, the 28-70 is not much lighter than the 70-200 and you get VR with the latter. You'll get a higher shutter speed or lower ISO, take your pick depending on the situation if you run the lens near wide open. The 70-200 is really sharp at 3.2 and from a distance your depth of field will most likely be okay as I'm sure you know. Not to mention the fact that there would be a little more greenery between you and the gorilla. From an ISO standpoint, it's nice that the D2X now does 1/3rd stop increments above 800. I regularly get nice shots at 1250 and even 1600 using a noise reduction program in post.
whew. let us see some photos when you return!
#2. "RE: Off to Rwanda" | In response to Reply # 0ddubyaw Registered since 28th Oct 2005Wed 10-Jan-07 09:59 PM
>So do I crank the ISO in my D2x and get the exposure I want,
>or do I go conservative in ISO and try to adjust in Capture
Zuman, sounds like an incredible (repeat!) opportunity. You may know all of this already, but --
I used to freak out over noise, but I'm finally starting to appreciate that the D2X's noise isn't ugly in well-exposed ISO 400 images -- it's not very chromatic noise, so it looks more natural (film-like).
But it largely depends on what you want to do with your photos. If they're just for web display, I'd feel comfortable shooting raw and cleaning up ISO 800 or possibly 1600 from my D2X -- Capture (or better, Noise Ninja) and the downsize for web will clean up much of the noise.
I still don't shoot above ISO 400 for anything I want to print. I haven't printed larger than 8x12"ish, but I might think of keeping the ISO lower than 400 if going larger.
It also depends on how well everything else comes out in your photos. Underexposure is of course a dead end, and there's a balance between sharpening and noise reduction -- the more you need to do of one, the harder it is to do the other. And, of course, shoot raw so you have full post control of both noise reduction and sharpening.
So -- you have a starting point of f/5.6 @ 1/125s @ ISO 1600 for exposure value. I'd say take as many test shots of gorilla-toned stuff as possible in the next couple of weeks at this exposure value, do your post-processing and web/print output, and see what you can live with. I personally would open up to f/2.8 @ 1/125s @ ISO 400 on the D2X with the 28-70/2.8 in that situation (if I had the presence of mind to do anything at all), but I tend to prefer shallow depth of field anyway.
Oh, also -- make sure you're familiar with Auto ISO with the D2X 2.0 firmware. You can set a 1/125s minimum shutter speed and a 400 max ISO. If you have more light, it'll automatically lower the ISO until it's your naturally set ISO, and then start making the shutter speed faster.
#3. "RE: Off to Rwanda" | In response to Reply # 2zuman Registered since 04th Jan 2006Thu 11-Jan-07 11:07 AM
Thanks to both of you.
To be honest with you, I hadn't thought of the VR advantage of the 70-200. The biggest challenge when observing gorillas is that silverbacks will often approach you, at which time you need to do your best to avoid close proximity to protect them from disease. You also need to crouch down and "get small" to avoid any impression of challenging for dominance.
Of course, that's also when the best photographic opportunities arise, so I kept the Canon 24-70 mounted to allow maximum flexibility.
I only have one SLR body at the moment, so maybe I'll mount the 70-200VR, but also carry a point-and-shoot for those "close encounter" opportunities.
Thanks also for the tip on shooting "gorilla-toned" stuff in advance. Good idea! Also, I never use auto ISO, but your suggestion in that area is a good one, too.
I do print many of my shots, so I'm leaning toward an investment in a good noise reduction product and Nik Sharpener, which would allow me to customize my post processing to the output application.
#5. "RE: Off to Rwanda" | In response to Reply # 0
I took photos of the gorillas in Zaire in 1995, of course, on film. Your photo brought back wonderful memories of being that close. I have one photo of a juenile who came within 5 feet of us and beat his cheat with his fists.
If was going now, I would trust my D2X to generally meter correctly and would just boost the shadow details in Aperture or CS afterwards. I have found the D2X to have amazing shadow detail. The only time I find that boosting shadow details doens't work very well is when I've taken a photo indoors in low light without a flash.