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Quick cameras??

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by jpgreenwood, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. jpgreenwood

    jpgreenwood Well-Known Member

    Ive been taking photos for over 2 years now and feel I'm being held back in progressing. Maybe by my Nikon D3200. I have a good selection of nice lenses (IMHO), Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4, Tokina 11-16mm F2.8, Nikon 300mm F4 prime, Nikon 35mm F1.8 prime, which all suit my needs. I recently travelled 280 miles for a night shoot of aircraft and cars and was hoping to capture some stunning images. I was tripod mounted, and kept the F-stop as wide as possible without losing too much DOF. I also stuck to ISO 100. I didn't want noisy shots.
    Although I'm quite happy with the results, I noticed that people around me were taking shots super quick, and even hand held, in dusk light and night darkness. I was in awe of these folk and was wondering why my camera was giving me multiple second shots.
    There were staged shots with pilots in the foreground, and fog machines in the background. These were all spoilt by the long exposures.
    So after all that waffle, what was letting me down? Was it my technique or was it the limitations of my camera? Here are a couple of examples straight out of the camera.
  2. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I don't know your camera at all but I'd be surprised if you couldn't have the ISO somewhat boosted from just 100 before you start to get noisy shots. If everyone is working in the same light conditions and some are getting decent hand held shots but your tripod shots are struggling to get a fast enough shutter speed, the ISO is the first thing I'd be looking at.

    I quite like the bottom shot, alhtough given it was tripod mounted it doesn't feel overly sharp. The first is doing nothing for me at all - the bright spot at the rear, the general over exposure, the messy line on the floor and 2/3 of a plane in the background are all just very messy.

    Also, who organised this trip? Did you have access to lights?
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Just because people are working quickly it doesn't mean they are getting good results!

    Both these look soft. On the Jag it shows more and I think the reason is movement. You need to prefocus (so the lens AF isn't shaking the lens) turn off stabilisation and use mirror lock-up (or liveview) and a cable release.

    Focussing is also not so easy when it is dark. AF can need some help. Some cameras use an IR beam but some use the built in flash which isn't any good in these circumstances.

    I'd expect you could use iso 800 without too much trouble and if you save the raw files you have better post-processing options for noise.

    I have no idea what you mean by the camera giving you second shots - unless you mean you are hearing the shutter open then close which guves two clicks.
  4. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Try iso 800 just to test it. You might be surprised, and then push your luck even higher.
  5. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    You could certainly have raised the ISO setting, 100 is not necessarily best on most cameras anyway, I tend to use 400 as my normal setting, raising or lowering as necessary. On my Fuji CSC I have used 1600 at times, the quality still seems fine. Incidentally if you were using a lens with stabilization, the stabilization should be turned off when the camera is on a tripod.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  6. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    If they were shooting full frame, I can guess they would have been on ISO 3600 or not far below it. Six stops advantage is a lot of shutter speed.
  7. jpgreenwood

    jpgreenwood Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the advice guys. Just to clarify a few points,
    1. I cant remember if I turned stabilisation off. I was always tripod mounted. Tripod is a nice carbon fibre jobbie but its not heavyweight.
    2. I was always using live-view but I am guilty of not zooming in and checking focus before taking the shot.
    3. I was using a remote shutter.
    4. The photoshoot was at RAF Cosford and organised by Timeline Events. They supplied the lighting and fog machines.
    5. Focusing in the dark I found very difficult and the lens/camera struggled to lock on. I did try to manually focus using live-view sometimnes but my eyesight is terrible.
    6. When I said the camera gave me "second shots", I meant all low light shots were taking multiple second exposures (over 2 - 6 seconds normally)

    Does a long exposure shot in low light exaggerate noise?
    Would I have been better at a wide open F2.8 and cranking up the ISO to get a quicker shot, but risking some noise?
    Low light photography is definitely my weak spot and I would love to improve.
  8. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    I'm not a real techie, but yes, I believe a long shutter speed does heat up the sensor more, causing noise. It certainly used to. 2.8 is going to lead to some slight softness, which along with the fog (enemy of sharpness) is going to give a soft looking result. Your sensor is 5 years old, so I don't know whether cramming 24MP onto APSC at that time was going to lead to noise as well.

    My guess is main culprit was the fog machine, but need to be able to download the shots in original size and with Exif to know more.
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Mike,

    Seems likely. I really liked the second shot.

    On a separate topic, I am constantly amazed at the high ISO quality from my Nikon Df: full frame, 16 megapixels. I'd cheerfully have gone to 6400 for that shot.


  10. jpgreenwood

    jpgreenwood Well-Known Member

    Not sure if this is a valid question but which would give the sharper image in low light situations, where everything was static...
    F5.6, ISO 100 FOR 6 SECONDS
    F5.6 ISO 4000 FOR 1 SECOND

    if I'm talking complete bollox, please feel free to correct me.
  11. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Ah now you need one of our tekkies. But you are wading in deep water when you try to define "sharpness". There is no real reciprocity between noise and lens sharpness in the final result far as I know. But I would not be trying to achieve the ultimate in whatever sharpness is to you with a fog machine belching forth.
    nimbus likes this.
  12. jpgreenwood

    jpgreenwood Well-Known Member

    I'm not taking into account lens quality as I know the lens is good. I'm just talking everyday shots, taken with different parameters. Which would give the more pleasing, less noisy image. Lower ISO/long exposure or higher ISO/shorter exposure?
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    I very strongly suspect that it would depend on the sensor/camera.


  14. jpgreenwood

    jpgreenwood Well-Known Member

    I'm not really fussed what everyone else has. LOL. Just my Nikon D3200. :)
  15. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    In theory the longer exposure and lower ISO would generally give you the 'cleaner' image (not to be confused with 'sharper'). But as with so many things, it depends. Depends for instance on what you're shooting - and what kind of light you're dealing with, and whether the scene you're shooting has a lot of contrast in it or not...as to how evident the noise becomes. It also depends on your camera. Might be worth experimenting and seeing what you get.
  16. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    For a correctly exposed static subject I'd expect no difference in sharpness. A noisy image can still be a sharp image. The caveat is that you are within the camera ISO range. Extended settings + underexposure is usually pretty awful.

    Where there is smoke/mist moving about then the longer exposure will likely be more affected and look more unclear. It depends how much of it gets in the optical path and how variable the interference is. Contrast also tends to get reduced and low contrast csn appear less sharp.
  17. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Then why not try it?


  18. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    I used to own the D3200 and I never had a problem with noise at reasonable ISO - under the circumstances of the shots you've taken I'd have thought that you could easily have got away with ISO 1600 without the noise being terrible.

    The one thing that stands out for me from when I used my D3200 is that it was awful at focussing in anything less than daylight. I had absolutely no problems with it in any other respect.

    I suspect that what you're suffering from here is either one, or a combination of two things:

    1. In this light I'd trust the D3200's autofocus about as far as I could spit a rat - in other words not very far. Whipping the camera into manual focus and live view, magnifying and checking focus is a pain - but sometimes it's necessary.

    2. There's a possibility that you left the image stabilisation switched on. That's fine hand-held, but with the camera on a tripod the image stabilisation does the opposite of what you'd expect...the camera's steady but the stabilisation is still trying to compensate for movements. This results in the stabilisation actually creating movements, and causing camera shake.

    I know that it's a bit of a daft thing to say - stable door bolted, horse already vanished and all that - but if I'm going to be taking pictures in an environment that I'm not familiar with I usually have a bit of a 'dry run' at home - getting as close to creating the conditions I'm expecting as possible and checking that my technique will work the way I expect it to. Oddly enough, the most memorable occasion that I didn't do this was before I took my D3200 to a wedding reception, only to find that it had no intention of holding focus!

    Cheers, Jeff
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  19. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I'd suggest to follow Roger's advice and set up some test shots to practice the technique and evaluate the effect of ISO. If relying on the camera AF to set focus either use back-button AF so that the shutter release doesn't cause the motor to activate or lock focus for several seconds with the release before taking the shot. Although some newer lenses will not activate their stabilisation when on a tripod it is better to turn it off. A last thought for the Jag shot. Ground vibrations can shake a tripod. If there was a generator providing the electric for the lights and smoke machine that might be the cause. I am reasonably sure that we had someone years [?] back failing to get sharp night images and it turned out he/she was trying to work near a main road and it was the ground shaking that was the cause.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  20. jpgreenwood

    jpgreenwood Well-Known Member

    Many thanks guys. If only I had a fighter plane and fog machine to experiment. lol. I'm learning all the time and making some expensive mistakes along the way. My next Bucket list tick is the Mach loop and definitely don't want to travel 6 hours to Wales to take photos of fast, fighter jets through the valleys, only to get blurry, rubbish photos.
    As for ground vibrations, I'm not sure? The light stations were all electric. I think the main fault here may have been my fear of high ISO, the stabilisation switched on and my poor eyesight in low light conditions just not getting the right results.

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