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DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights

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Don Scrams
DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 4:20:31 pm

I have been shooting video with my Canon 60D and have been having some trouble getting good looking, well-lit shots when in very bright and low light conditions.

I am shooting at 24frames with 1/50 shutter speed. In both the hi and lo light conditions I have been tinkering with the ISO and aperture - basically at random trying to try and get something to show up in the LCD monitor. The results have been grainy shots in low light and somewhat overexposed shots in the brightness.

Are there some basic rules of thumb for settings that can help me get good quality shots in very bright or somewhat dark conditions?

Much appreciated.


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Richard Harrington
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 4:47:08 pm

Click podcasts tab and look at DSLR show.

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: From Still to Motion, Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques


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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 7:15:19 pm

Thanks Richard, I will definitely check that out.


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Sohrab Sandhu
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 6:16:18 pm

Don

Getting good exposure on a DSLR can be very tricky. What you see on that tiny LCD is not the true reprsentation of what you are recording. This is what i would recommend.

1. Keep your ISO fixed at 200 in the begining.

2. Open your aperture to expose the shot.

3. Hit the info button twice on your camera and you will get a Histogram on your LCD. This feature is a life saver. It will give you a true representation of your shot's exposure.

4. If however, your shot is still underexposed, you can go higher with ISO but at about 1600 you will see lot of noise. So be vigilant about this.

5. If your shot is still underexposed (perhaps time to buy a fast lens) you can they play with shutter speed but be very careful because this can cause rolling shutter. So if you are doing any pans or zooms, stay away from this trick.

I would suggest you do lots of test shooting before you try these on a paid gig.

All the best!

Sohrab

2.66 GHz 8-core, ATI Radeon HD 4870,
FCS 3, AJA Kona Lhi



"The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen." -- Carl Ally


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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 7:21:28 pm

Those are great tips, thank you.
Can you elaborate on what a "faster lens" will help with?


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Noah Kadner
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 7:29:17 pm

Which lenses are you currently using and with what sort of lighting gear if any? And in what sorts of shots are you finding the most trouble i.e. interior night, daylight exterior. Etc.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and Canon 7D.


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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 7:36:21 pm

I am using a 18-200 with no lighting equipment.

I had some trouble finding a good set up for shooting in the sun at the beach - everything was looking very exposed. ISO was 200, shutter 1/50, 24p...I was just messing around with the aperture - dunno what is best for these bright conditions.

I also had trouble shooting a band at a pub the other night - it wasn't very well lit so I raised the ISO and things were still kinda dark. I tried to lighten the shots with 3 way color corrector filter in FCP but things were pretty grainy.

Any tips would be amazing, thank you very much.


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Peter Burger
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 8:51:26 pm

[Don Scrams] "I had some trouble finding a good set up for shooting in the sun at the beach - everything was looking very exposed."

For shooting in bright conditions, it's common to use ND-filters. Maybe get a fader ND, which can be adjusted to the light conditions. Another big advantage of ND filters: you can use any aperture you like, and so have exactly the DOF you want, because you control the light with the ND.


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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 9:06:30 pm

Thanks...I will definitely look into the filter you suggested. Are there any basic settings I should be using in bright light situations?


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Peter Burger
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 31, 2011 at 7:33:50 am

As written in my post below, you can use the Highlight Tone Priority, which helps, to not blow out bright areas. As mentioned, some guys advise to definitly turn it off, others to definitly turn it on. So, test it for yourself. I personally find it useful in bright conditions.

An external viewfinder might be useful as well, esp. in bright conditions.

The "histogram" tip, Sohrab gave is definitly a livesaver! With Magic Lantern you can overlay histograms (rgb or luminance) on the display while recording. Very (!) useful. Check out, what the guys of Magic Lantern are doing. I don't know, what the current development status of the 60D version is, but this piece of software is really true magic. Provides so many handy features (like the built-in follow focus, higher video bitrates, etc, etc, etc...). I don't want to miss it for my T2i.

Also great: The new Cinecolor picture style from Technicolor. An awesome "flat" style that helps to preserve detail in dark and very bright areas. Like all "flat" styles, it creates very dull (is this the correct english word?) pictures in the first place and needs grading in post, but the results are stunning. With the look-up table (LUT), that is part of the free bundle, grading is easier than with other flat styles. Just import the LUT in FCP or use the free Red Giant "LUT-Buddy" plugin for Premiere and After Effects. Of course you can grade to your taste with any correction filter you are familiar with (levels, curves, ...)


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Sohrab Sandhu
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 7:33:49 pm

By faster lens i mean a lens with low F Stops.They allow a lot more light in to the camera sensor. For example a 50mm F1.4 is a fast lens. These faster lenses are a great asset if you are shooting in low light conditions.

2.66 GHz 8-core, ATI Radeon HD 4870,
FCS 3, AJA Kona Lhi



"The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth-century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen." -- Carl Ally


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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 7:45:09 pm

Gotcha - fast = more light

Thank you very much!


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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 8:36:17 pm

What sort of things do you sacrifice (if any) by having a faster lens?


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Peter Burger
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 8:54:38 pm

You'll sacrifice money ;) and a lot of grain...

Joking aside: With faster lenses it's harder to keep focus, but you'll be gratified with less noise (because you don't have to take high ISOs) and beautiful bokeh.

By the way: When choosing ISO, try to take multiples of 160 (160, 320, 640, ...) if possible with your camera. I think the 60D offers those ISOs. They produce noticably less noise!

You also might want to try the Highlight Tone Priority, when shooting in bright conditions. The use of HTP is most controversial. Some like it, some avoid it.


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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 9:27:41 pm

Much appreciated. Never knew about the ISO multiple of 160 concept - got another rule of thumb to work with - I need as many as I can get:)!


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Noah Kadner
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 9:47:25 pm

Yeah Zooms are great to get a variety of frames sizes easily- versatile. However they sacrifice speed and sharpness to do so. Well unless you want to spend a lot of money on high-end zooms. In Canon I recommend at least a couple of primes.

A great starter prime to learn about what makes them so special would be the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens. It's not the fastest made but way faster than your zoom and won't break the bank.

Now this will serve you much better indoors and at night. In daylight you have the opposite problem- which is too much light. In that case you end up knocking down the exposure with shutter speed once you run out of ISO and aperture to lower- and that means inconsistent motion from shot to shot.

To fix that- get ND filters. The fader NDs are convenient but IMHO way overpriced. If you get say an ND2(.3) and ND8(.9) for starters you'll have most situations covered as they can be screwed together for varying degrees of light-stopping power and are much cheaper than a single vari-ND.

Your 18-200 has a 72mm thread so you want 72mm ND filters, such as this Tiffen 72mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filter. Then you can use a 52 to 72mm step-up ring to use the same ND filter on your new lens.


-Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and Canon 7D.


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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on May 30, 2011 at 10:25:48 pm

Thank you very much, that is extremely helpful!

Thanks for the product tips as well, looks like I have some shopping to do:)


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Michal Trzaska
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on Jun 2, 2011 at 2:11:55 pm

Using a faster lens in darker situations was addressed, intervals of 160 on the ISO was covered as well, external monitoring and use of histogram help tremendously.

I'll touch on the bright situations, and hopefully help with your overexposed images.

Fader ND (neutral density) Filter, a must. Basically adjustable sunglasses for your lens. Because you need to keep your shutter speed at 1/50 when shooting in 24p the ND Filter will allow you to control how much light goes into the lens.

Invest in a good filter, I would get a 72 or a 77mm side filter and then get step up rings for the different size lenses you have.

Matt Box with french flags, or a lens hood. I must say I don't have ether but I wish I did. It will help in controlling sun flares.

Michal Trzaska
Editor, Colorist, Director of Photography, VFX Artist and Motion Graphics Artist


MeHow Design
TV Commercials for your Google TV ads. Web Videos that get results



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Don Scrams
Re: DSLR - Shooting in hi & lo lights
on Jun 2, 2011 at 4:02:51 pm

Right on, thank you very much. Looking forward to trying those tips out.


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