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Thread: Low light photography

  1. #1
    Senior Member JDANDO's Avatar
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    Low light photography

    I have been struggling a bit with shooting at higher ISO settings. I was blown away when I saw this image;
    http://www.jetphotos.net/viewphoto.php?id=7014436

    There is a thread about it also;
    http://forums.jetphotos.net/showthread.php?t=52000

    Any tips for us lowly Canon shooters!
    Jeremy in Minnesota

    My pictures on jp.net

  2. #2
    Senior Member Zee71's Avatar
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    Jeremy,

    Although I am a Nikon shooter, Canon doesn't have the same low light capabilities as Nikon that I am aware of. By the way the photographer used a Nikon D3S and a 200-400mm lens. This camera has a high ISO capabilty of ISO 102,400. By the way this camera body cost about $5,200 and the lens goes for about $6,800 (not counting tax on these two items). So, for about $12,000 +, you too can take photo's like this!!!! The lens used, is probably one of the best that Nikon has.

    Hope this helps.
    Mark
    Queens, NY

    My website: http://mbsphotography.smugmug.com
    My photos at: JetPhotos and ANet

  3. #3
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    Jeremy,

    I hate to say it but at present Nikon kinda has us beat here. Zee already pointed what my first thought was - if you have 12k to spend you too can take photos like that! The equivalent Canon in terms of quality would probably be the MarkIV and the 300 f/2.8L II. Otherwise it depends heavily on your body and your lenses. I have a 7D, which is OK ISO wise but far from anything great - but the lens tacked onto it can significantly effect the quality from there. My 70-200 f/2.8 II produces far cleaner images than my 100-400 and the 24-70L much better than the 28-135. If you don't have one and have the money I'd recommend a 5Dmkii or also a 5D classic. The 5D classic has a reputation for being pretty good grain wise but I don't think it has the ISO capacity anything close to the D3s. What do you have for gear?

  4. #4
    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    I can tell you guys that combo rocks. I have the lens and the D3 which is my workhorse setup. Not as good as the D3s by about a stop or two but otherwise identical camera.

    IT IS HEAVY as anyone who has spotted with me knows as I let anyone use the combo if they want to :-) I have gotten excellent results from this camera/lens. You can not imagine the EDGE TO EDGE sharpeness and IQ of that lens. BTW, the lens is for sale as I am looking to get the VRII version which is yet another $1K more :-(

    Here is the D3 at ISO 6400. Mind you if you know JFK at all, at night, there is NO LIGHT WHATSOEVER out on the runways and 50 higher than the ground there is ZERO light at all. The Qantas shot enjoyed some light leaking from nearby sources as it was close to the ground :-0 which helps!!

    ALL these are hand held. If I had the luxury of a tripod with wimberly head (which I should be using LOL) the results would be much better. I plan to get me a Wimberly for summer when Bayswater is more reasonably warmer :-)







    ISO 3200

    Manny Gonzalez
    Thrust Images | General Photography | R.I.P. Matt Molnar 1979-2013
    BRING BACK THE KJFK/KLGA OBSERVATION DECKS

  5. #5
    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    ISO 6400 is the highest rated ISO on D3 ... D3s is up to 12800. Anything above that is not calibrated as per Nikon specs but still amazingly useful. On my D3, I don;t go above the rated ISO because results are unpredictable.

    Here, it is ISO 6400 but I rested the camera on my window frame and braced it as hard as I could and stood as still as possible for the longer exposure. But there was also a lot more light still left in the air. It looked considerably darker than the image lets you think ... :-)



    The Canon 5D Mark II is just as amazing as the D3 and so is the full frame pro EOS 1Ds Mark III which is now old and due for an upgrade with similar capabilities to the D3s.

    The D3s has no current competition at this time in the higher ISO department. But you must use lots of care in taking the pictures and also use Nikon's software to extract the most details and least noise.

    The Qantas shot proves that there IS a place for gear. A lot of photographers will tell you is not the gear but the photographer. In many cases yes. But try that shot with a lesser camera or a point and shoot? LOL.. nto happening.

    Same shot could be made with any of the Canon pro cameras and using a tripod with a Wimberly head with enough time and space to properly follow and track and pan and then fire 9 fps to get the ONE shot. Believe me, he did not reveal how many other shots were motion blurred in the series. It certainly isn't a single shot
    Last edited by gonzalu; 01-13-2011 at 09:03 PM.
    Manny Gonzalez
    Thrust Images | General Photography | R.I.P. Matt Molnar 1979-2013
    BRING BACK THE KJFK/KLGA OBSERVATION DECKS

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    Senior Member JDANDO's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the feedback guys! 12k for a body and lens should deliver good pictures. I feel a lot better now. I picked up a Canon 100-400 last summer and I think I had higher expectations of this lens even when "all' the reviews say it needs good light for a good image. Perhaps I can trade it out for a 300mm F4, not as good as F2.8 but $4,000 cheaper.

    Manny, that Emirates shot at 6400 is great. I guess it is all about longer exposures and not underexposing at those high ISOs.

    Also some good comments about using a tripod and we only get to see the good picture, not the 49, 99, 199 blurry ones.
    Jeremy in Minnesota

    My pictures on jp.net

  7. #7
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    The 100-400 in my experience is awful in the dark even on a nice body....just too slow. I'd go 70-200 f/2.8 (old or new or whatever) and add a 1.4x

  8. #8
    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    Yes, lens quality costs money. Look a 70-200mm f/2.8 from ANYONE (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Nikon, etc.) always costs the same (or more in my case, over $2K for Nikon VRII Geesh!!!) But I digress.

    The compromises made on a super zoom are great unless you go with uber expensive and even then it is limited to 200-400mm ... I can tell you there are times I can shoot myself because I need to step back as I run out of zoom on the wide end :-) LGA is that kind of a problem. You set up for 99% of the planes and then a 757 comes in and you're suddenly too close :-( Need 70mm. So the deal there is two bodies and a 70-200mm on the second.

    Open up an image shot with the 100-400mm Canon or 80-400mm Nikon, a PERFECTLY exposed and sharp as a tack shot, and you will see CA on the edges. Bad enough to make you not happy. Decent enough to resize it for web and make it usable. Anyway, on my own side, I justified it once I saw that even the 70-200mm f/2.8 + TC-17 returned good images, but the 200-400mm consistently excellent image quality, even wide open at f/4. The 200-400 is a beast to handle and indeed I get a LOT less keepers due to Motion Blur. When I nail the vibrations down and get the exposure right, you say "That's why I spent all that money" lol.

    BTW, I did not pay full price for my D3 as it was used with 50K actuations for $2900. The 200-400mm f/4 was brand new, Berger Brothers (great place) got one copy for me when there were NONE available in reputable dealers... I paid about $5900 + tax.

    Jeremy is right, a 70-200mm f/2.8 + a TC14 is a killer combo. Better wuality is a 400mm f/5.6 Canon or a 300mm f/4 Canon/Nikon. Unfortunately, Nikon only makes TWO GREAT 400mm lenses. The 400mm f/2.8 (bucko bucks at over $10,000 if you can find someone to sell you one) or the 200-400mm f/4. The 80-400 is not that great ...

    Also in my opinion, a good tripod or even a monopod can make the worst lenses at least $500 more expensive looking in the results you'll get. I use my car window frame very effectively in the winter, thank you very much. My monopod VR-OFF shots are typically much sharper than my hand-held VR-ON shots but that's to be expected.

    If you or anyone is interested in seeing an original RAW file from the D3 or D2Xs with the 200-400mm f/4, let me know. I'd bve glad to send you one or two to pixel-peep
    Manny Gonzalez
    Thrust Images | General Photography | R.I.P. Matt Molnar 1979-2013
    BRING BACK THE KJFK/KLGA OBSERVATION DECKS

  9. #9
    Program Coordinator
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    Better wuality is a 400mm f/5.6 Canon or a 300mm f/4 Canon/Nikon
    In my opinion the quality from the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II is better than the 300 f/4. I bought the 70-200 over the 300 and haven't looked back once since testing them. I wouldn't even give that lens up to fund the 300 f/2.8L, which is another lens dear to my heart - but not to my wallet ($4500 for the version 1.0).

  10. #10
    Senior Member sporky's Avatar
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    Look a 70-200mm f/2.8 from ANYONE (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Nikon, etc.) always costs the same (or more in my case, over $2K for Nikon VRII Geesh!!!)
    I have been looking at the Sigma or Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 and I can say they run about $800 ($1200 cheaper than the Nikkor version). Now the Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 is only $1000. I recently used a friends 80-200 f/2.8 and have personal mixed results, but that may also because I really didn't have a chance to put it through its paces and am quite critical of my own work.

    -Tad

  11. #11
    NLovis
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    Let me throw in my 2 cents here. 1st off in low light photos have a tendancy to blur even if you dont move. You need a longer exposure time and a higher ISO in order to have a shot at it. With my pocket camera its more about getting lucky as it isnt good with low light but I try my best. I usually keep my ISO on auto which so far has had mixed results. Another thing is to try and take multiple shots so this way you have a batch to pick the best one from. If you only take one and it blurrs then your out of luck. but if you take 5-6 odds are you will have at least 1 photo that is a keeper. I also find holding my breath to be a big help in low light as takes away any movement associated with breathing. This method may not be the best there is but I find it to work pretty well when all of this is combined.

  12. #12
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    Jeremy-

    Don't feel too disheartened by the original picture you posted- Chris's A380 shot..

    He is a local spotter here and on local forums has said his equipment is valued at 17k.. goes to show!

    As Mark etc say- the Nikon is MUCH better in low light.. But to me thats its only advantage ha ha ha (expecting payback lol)

    I find with my EOS 50D and a 100-400 USM IS lens.. if im shooting at night i cant get anything decent unless with a tripod.. and even then the results are average..

    Alot of airport lighting and lightposts help!
    Qantas orders 188 narrow body aircraft!!!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Zee71's Avatar
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    Here are a few images of the Qantas I took today (1/24/2011) on the way from home work (I side tracked myself through JFK). Qantas was landing on 13L and the light was going really fast. These images were taken at 5:07pm (just as the sunset), and at ISO 2000. I did my best to make the images presentable after my post processing efforts.







    The photo's below were taken hand-held






    Mark
    Queens, NY

    My website: http://mbsphotography.smugmug.com
    My photos at: JetPhotos and ANet

  14. #14
    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    Nice catch on that TNT which I can never get ;-)
    Manny Gonzalez
    Thrust Images | General Photography | R.I.P. Matt Molnar 1979-2013
    BRING BACK THE KJFK/KLGA OBSERVATION DECKS

  15. #15
    Senior Member Zee71's Avatar
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    When the weather gets warmer (above 32 at least), we'll have to do some night spotting!!!
    Mark
    Queens, NY

    My website: http://mbsphotography.smugmug.com
    My photos at: JetPhotos and ANet

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