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Nikon D7000 - higher ISO + exposure to the right...

SupraDad

MERRIMACK, US
287 posts

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SupraDad Silver Member Nikonian since 25th Apr 2012
Tue 09-Jul-13 09:50 PM

A very important part of my photographic journey involves shooting pictures of my daughter (and her friends) riding in Morgan Horse Shows. There are some very specific issues which makes this very difficult:

(1) Distance: The horses ride in a ring such that when closest to me I can be within a few meters of them and at others they can be upwards of 100+ meters away. (So I really need a zoom lens to capture both.)


(2) Speed: Of course the horses tend to move rather fast - I typically need at least a shutter speed of 1/400 - and think things look better at 1/500 or better.

(3) Variable lighting - indoors and at night the lighting can be horrible. Outdoors it tends to be extremely bright - but very harsh too.

For equipment I have Nikon D7000 + a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (+ a Sigma 1.4x teleconverter).

When I'm outdoors, I tend to use the teleconverter and use the combo at f/4.0, indoors and outdoors at night I leave the teleconverter off and stay at f/2.8. Outdoors is never a problem - I can get shutter speeds well in excess of 1/400 - often above 1/1000 - at ISO values below 400. (I tend to use the AUTO ISO approach, so it tends to range above 100 only when it's cloudy...)

Indoors and at night is another story altogether: @ f/2.8 & 1/400 I usually need ISO values well above 3,000 - and often near 6,400 - which produces very noisy photographs (almost a muddy look to them). At least that's what I've found when shooting without any exposure compensation, typically w/ matrix metering enabled.

In the last show I was shooting, however, I tried something a bit different: I put a 2/3 stop extra exposure compensation - exposure to the right - and let the ISO's go up to 6,400. The thought process was as follows: I typically get muddy/dark pictures w/out the compensation (trying to keep the ISO values as close to 3,200 as possible) and then in post-processing I end up trying to lighten the shadows and use noise reduction to manage things. (And never been quite happy.) So I thought: "Why not overexpose a bit - reducing the need to bring up the shadows so much - and see what would happen" - figuring that the noise would tend to be most noticeable in the shadow areas anyhow.

Anyhow, long story short ("too late"), I found that the images tended to be much more palatable. Meaning: Slightly overexposed at ISO 6400 looked better than exposed/underexposed at ISO 3200. I haven't fully quantified this yet - it's more of a gut feeling then anything: the shots earlier in the week don't seem to be as good to me as those taken later.

So, I'm wondering does this sound like a reasonable approach? (Exposing to the right at high ISOs versus "proper" exposures with lower (but still "bad") ISOs.)

Regards,
Alan

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

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