advice for pictures in low-light?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Chris C, Dec 25, 2003.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Guest

    Here's my situation:

    A big part of my job is conducting in-home interviews with a wide
    variety of people. With the subject's permission I document our talks
    with a digital video camera and a digital still camera (mostly for
    internal review, not for high-quality publication). Although I have
    prior consent, it's critical that my recording doesn't disrupt the
    flow of the conversation: the video--amazingly--can be unobtrusive;
    the flash of my current Nikon Coolpix 3500 is not.

    I love the Coolpix. I can cradle it in my hands at waist level, glance
    down, and snap a quick picture. I can even palm the camera and shoot a
    picture between my fingers. The battery lasts a long time, the
    resolution is totally adequate, the interface is intuitive; it's a
    joy. BUT ... if I'm indoors in poor light, it's hard to get decently
    sharp shots. I wouldn't mind if the Coolpix warmed up and took
    pictures a little faster, too.

    I'm trying to decide what I can change to get the most picture quality
    improvement without losing flexibility. I've thought about:

    1. Improving ambient light and steadying the camera. (I do this as
    opportunity allows)
    2. Using the flash. (I'd rather not do this)
    3. Decreasing the picture resolution? (Could this speed up the
    capture, making the camera less sensitive to motion?)
    4. Getting a faster memeory card? (Would this help?)
    5. Getting a better camera.

    As to the last, I am certainly tempted by the form factor, features,
    and price of the Kyocera SL300R. I'm just a novice--any advice about
    improving pictures with my current camera or a better camera choice
    would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks,

    chris
     
    Chris C, Dec 25, 2003
    #1
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  2. Chris C

    DHB Guest

    Chris C Wrote:

    "Chris C" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Here's my situation:
    >
    > A big part of my job is conducting in-home interviews with a wide
    > variety of people. With the subject's permission I document our talks
    > with a digital video camera and a digital still camera (mostly for
    > internal review, not for high-quality publication). Although I have
    > prior consent, it's critical that my recording doesn't disrupt the
    > flow of the conversation: the video--amazingly--can be unobtrusive;
    > the flash of my current Nikon Coolpix 3500 is not.
    >
    > I love the Coolpix. I can cradle it in my hands at waist level, glance
    > down, and snap a quick picture. I can even palm the camera and shoot a
    > picture between my fingers. The battery lasts a long time, the
    > resolution is totally adequate, the interface is intuitive; it's a
    > joy. BUT ... if I'm indoors in poor light, it's hard to get decently
    > sharp shots. I wouldn't mind if the Coolpix warmed up and took
    > pictures a little faster, too.
    >
    > I'm trying to decide what I can change to get the most picture quality
    > improvement without losing flexibility. I've thought about:
    >
    > 1. Improving ambient light and steadying the camera. (I do this as
    > opportunity allows)
    > 2. Using the flash. (I'd rather not do this)
    > 3. Decreasing the picture resolution? (Could this speed up the
    > capture, making the camera less sensitive to motion?)
    > 4. Getting a faster memeory card? (Would this help?)
    > 5. Getting a better camera.
    >
    > As to the last, I am certainly tempted by the form factor, features,
    > and price of the Kyocera SL300R. I'm just a novice--any advice about
    > improving pictures with my current camera or a better camera choice
    > would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
    >
    > Many thanks,
    >
    > chris


    Chris C.,
    not sure if your serious or just trolling for responses.
    Seems to me that if your question & need is legitimate, your needs should be
    able to be met with almost any digital video camcorder. Most camcorders
    will allow your to capture & print an individual frame from the video.

    If for some reason this is not a high enough quality still resolution
    for your needs, consider a DSLR like the Digital Rebel / 300D with a $70
    50mm f1.8 II lens. This lens will act like an 80mm lens on this DSLR due to
    it's 1.6x FOV crop factor. Since DSLRs including this 1, have such low
    noise you should be able to shoot at ISO 800 with more than acceptable noise
    levels in most indoor lighting without a flash. Trigger the tripod mounted
    DSLR by hand held wired remote.

    "1. Improving ambient light and steadying the camera. (I do this as
    opportunity allows)"

    Yes where needed, bounce a flood light off the ceiling if it white so
    they won't have a bright light in their face & fell like they are being
    interrogated. Better still would be to use a large reflector to redirect
    natural outside lighting toward your subjects (obviously only works in the
    day time). Tripod mounted camera, absolutely!

    "2. Using the flash. (I'd rather not do this)

    Not recommended as it's too intrusive!

    "3. Decreasing the picture resolution? (Could this speed up the
    capture, making the camera less sensitive to motion?)"

    No, camera resolution will only effect speed if your shooting in bust
    mode, otherwise in single shot mode it has not effect.

    "4. Getting a faster memory card? (Would this help?)"

    No, again no effect for the same reasons as above!

    "5. Getting a better camera."

    Yes, a DSLR with a 50mm F1.8 lens (effective 80mm on Digital Rebel /
    300D or 10D), so it can be mounted at a considerable distance away & still
    take quick close-ups pictures. Again a wired remote would be the least
    distracting but an IR remote might work as well but you will have to point
    it at the camera which will likely be behind you.

    Hope this information helps. If cost is a problem than do option #1 &
    set your camera's ISO higher & consider reasonably priced noise reduction
    software such as "Neat Image".

    Hope this information is helpful.

    Respectfully, DHB
     
    DHB, Dec 25, 2003
    #2
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  3. > 1. Improving ambient light and steadying the camera. (I do this as
    > opportunity allows)


    Something in the Nikon swivel range, 990, 995, 4500, allows a much greater
    flexibility in lens orientation relative to the body. So in low-light
    situations you can rest the body on a stable surface, table, desk, shelf
    etc., and move the lens to cover your subject. It gives a flexibility and
    potential for really sharp pictures that no other format offers....

    These cameras are now available quite cheaply.

    Cheers,
    David
     
    David J Taylor, Dec 25, 2003
    #3
  4. Chris C

    Dave B. Guest

    Why not crank up the ISO setting ?

    Dave

    "Chris C" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Here's my situation:
    >
    > A big part of my job is conducting in-home interviews with a wide
    > variety of people. With the subject's permission I document our talks
    > with a digital video camera and a digital still camera (mostly for
    > internal review, not for high-quality publication). Although I have
    > prior consent, it's critical that my recording doesn't disrupt the
    > flow of the conversation: the video--amazingly--can be unobtrusive;
    > the flash of my current Nikon Coolpix 3500 is not.
    >
    > I love the Coolpix. I can cradle it in my hands at waist level, glance
    > down, and snap a quick picture. I can even palm the camera and shoot a
    > picture between my fingers. The battery lasts a long time, the
    > resolution is totally adequate, the interface is intuitive; it's a
    > joy. BUT ... if I'm indoors in poor light, it's hard to get decently
    > sharp shots. I wouldn't mind if the Coolpix warmed up and took
    > pictures a little faster, too.
    >
    > I'm trying to decide what I can change to get the most picture quality
    > improvement without losing flexibility. I've thought about:
    >
    > 1. Improving ambient light and steadying the camera. (I do this as
    > opportunity allows)
    > 2. Using the flash. (I'd rather not do this)
    > 3. Decreasing the picture resolution? (Could this speed up the
    > capture, making the camera less sensitive to motion?)
    > 4. Getting a faster memeory card? (Would this help?)
    > 5. Getting a better camera.
    >
    > As to the last, I am certainly tempted by the form factor, features,
    > and price of the Kyocera SL300R. I'm just a novice--any advice about
    > improving pictures with my current camera or a better camera choice
    > would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
    >
    > Many thanks,
    >
    > chris
     
    Dave B., Dec 25, 2003
    #4
  5. Chris C

    Tore Lund Guest

    Dave B. wrote:
    > Why not crank up the ISO setting ?


    Because that cranking handle is missing on the Coolpix 3500
    --
    Tore
     
    Tore Lund, Dec 25, 2003
    #5
  6. Chris C

    JK Guest

    The lenses on these are quite slow at the telephoto end. These would
    be poor choices for his application. A Digital Rebel with a 50mm f1.8
    or 50mm f1.4 lens would be great. He can crank the ISO up to 1600
    on it if he needs to for shooting in extremely low light. If that is too
    expensive and bulky, an Olympus C5050 with its f1.8-2.6 lens might
    do the job? A Canon G3 or G5 with their f2-f3 lens might also be good?

    David J Taylor wrote:

    > > 1. Improving ambient light and steadying the camera. (I do this as
    > > opportunity allows)

    >
    > Something in the Nikon swivel range, 990, 995, 4500, allows a much greater
    > flexibility in lens orientation relative to the body. So in low-light
    > situations you can rest the body on a stable surface, table, desk, shelf
    > etc., and move the lens to cover your subject. It gives a flexibility and
    > potential for really sharp pictures that no other format offers....
    >
    > These cameras are now available quite cheaply.
    >
    > Cheers,
    > David
     
    JK, Dec 25, 2003
    #6
  7. > The lenses on these are quite slow at the telephoto end. These would
    > be poor choices for his application. A Digital Rebel with a 50mm f1.8
    > or 50mm f1.4 lens would be great. He can crank the ISO up to 1600
    > on it if he needs to for shooting in extremely low light. If that is too
    > expensive and bulky, an Olympus C5050 with its f1.8-2.6 lens might
    > do the job? A Canon G3 or G5 with their f2-f3 lens might also be good?


    With respect, what you are proposing as a DSLR solution would cost 5 to 10
    times my suggestions.

    Perhaps you have not owned one of the swivel-body line of Nikon cameras
    and am not therefore aware of their capabilities in that area? I suspect
    that neither the Olympus not Canon solutions offer a swivel body. We have
    had some quite remarkable results.

    Happy Christmas,
    David
     
    David J Taylor, Dec 25, 2003
    #7
  8. Chris C

    Paul Rubin Guest

    "David J Taylor" <-this-bit> writes:
    > Something in the Nikon swivel range, 990, 995, 4500, allows a much greater
    > flexibility in lens orientation relative to the body. So in low-light
    > situations you can rest the body on a stable surface, table, desk, shelf
    > etc., and move the lens to cover your subject. It gives a flexibility and
    > potential for really sharp pictures that no other format offers....
    >
    > These cameras are now available quite cheaply.


    They also can't AF worth a darn in low light.
     
    Paul Rubin, Dec 26, 2003
    #8
  9. Chris C

    someone Guest

    On Thu, 25 Dec 2003 08:24:06 GMT, "DHB" <> posted:

    >Chris C Wrote:
    >
    >"Chris C" <> wrote in message
    >news:...
    >> Here's my situation:
    >>
    >> A big part of my job is conducting in-home interviews with a wide
    >> variety of people. With the subject's permission I document our talks
    >> with a digital video camera and a digital still camera (mostly for
    >> internal review, not for high-quality publication). Although I have
    >> prior consent, it's critical that my recording doesn't disrupt the
    >> flow of the conversation: the video--amazingly--can be unobtrusive;
    >> the flash of my current Nikon Coolpix 3500 is not.
    >>
    >> I love the Coolpix. I can cradle it in my hands at waist level, glance
    >> down, and snap a quick picture. I can even palm the camera and shoot a
    >> picture between my fingers. The battery lasts a long time, the
    >> resolution is totally adequate, the interface is intuitive; it's a
    >> joy. BUT ... if I'm indoors in poor light, it's hard to get decently
    >> sharp shots. I wouldn't mind if the Coolpix warmed up and took
    >> pictures a little faster, too.
    >>
    >> I'm trying to decide what I can change to get the most picture quality
    >> improvement without losing flexibility. I've thought about:
    >>
    >> 1. Improving ambient light and steadying the camera. (I do this as
    >> opportunity allows)
    >> 2. Using the flash. (I'd rather not do this)
    >> 3. Decreasing the picture resolution? (Could this speed up the
    >> capture, making the camera less sensitive to motion?)
    >> 4. Getting a faster memeory card? (Would this help?)
    >> 5. Getting a better camera.
    >>
    >> As to the last, I am certainly tempted by the form factor, features,
    >> and price of the Kyocera SL300R. I'm just a novice--any advice about
    >> improving pictures with my current camera or a better camera choice
    >> would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
    >>
    >> Many thanks,
    >>
    >> chris

    >
    > Chris C.,
    > not sure if your serious or just trolling for responses.
    >Seems to me that if your question & need is legitimate, your needs should be
    >able to be met with almost any digital video camcorder. Most camcorders
    >will allow your to capture & print an individual frame from the video.
    >
    > If for some reason this is not a high enough quality still resolution
    >for your needs, consider a DSLR like the Digital Rebel / 300D with a $70
    >50mm f1.8 II lens. This lens will act like an 80mm lens on this DSLR due to
    >it's 1.6x FOV crop factor. Since DSLRs including this 1, have such low
    >noise you should be able to shoot at ISO 800 with more than acceptable noise
    >levels in most indoor lighting without a flash. Trigger the tripod mounted
    >DSLR by hand held wired remote.
    >
    > "1. Improving ambient light and steadying the camera. (I do this as
    >opportunity allows)"
    >
    > Yes where needed, bounce a flood light off the ceiling if it white so
    >they won't have a bright light in their face & fell like they are being
    >interrogated. Better still would be to use a large reflector to redirect
    >natural outside lighting toward your subjects (obviously only works in the
    >day time). Tripod mounted camera, absolutely!
    >
    > "2. Using the flash. (I'd rather not do this)
    >
    > Not recommended as it's too intrusive!
    >
    > "3. Decreasing the picture resolution? (Could this speed up the
    >capture, making the camera less sensitive to motion?)"
    >
    > No, camera resolution will only effect speed if your shooting in bust
    >mode, otherwise in single shot mode it has not effect.
    >
    > "4. Getting a faster memory card? (Would this help?)"
    >
    > No, again no effect for the same reasons as above!
    >
    > "5. Getting a better camera."
    >
    > Yes, a DSLR with a 50mm F1.8 lens (effective 80mm on Digital Rebel /
    >300D or 10D), so it can be mounted at a considerable distance away & still
    >take quick close-ups pictures. Again a wired remote would be the least
    >distracting but an IR remote might work as well but you will have to point
    >it at the camera which will likely be behind you.
    >
    > Hope this information helps. If cost is a problem than do option #1 &
    >set your camera's ISO higher & consider reasonably priced noise reduction
    >software such as "Neat Image".
    >
    > Hope this information is helpful.
    >
    > Respectfully, DHB
    >


    what he said, but change the dslr to the nikon d100. it can do ISO 6400.
    that coupled with a 50mm f1.4 should serve your needs. slightly pricier
    than the cannon alternative though.
     
    someone, Dec 26, 2003
    #9
  10. Chris C

    Don Coon Guest

    "Paul Rubin" <http://> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "David J Taylor" <-this-bit> writes:
    > > Something in the Nikon swivel range, 990, 995, 4500, allows a much

    greater
    > > flexibility in lens orientation relative to the body. So in low-light
    > > situations you can rest the body on a stable surface, table, desk, shelf
    > > etc., and move the lens to cover your subject. It gives a flexibility

    and
    > > potential for really sharp pictures that no other format offers....
    > >
    > > These cameras are now available quite cheaply.

    >
    > They also can't AF worth a darn in low light.


    Depends on what you call low light. "Dark" I'll agree but then most digicams
    have problems in extremely low light. "Low" meaning there's dim light, I
    have to disagree; my Nikon 995 has no problem focusing.
     
    Don Coon, Dec 26, 2003
    #10
  11. "Paul Rubin" <http://> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "David J Taylor" <-this-bit> writes:
    > > Something in the Nikon swivel range, 990, 995, 4500, allows a much

    greater
    > > flexibility in lens orientation relative to the body. So in low-light
    > > situations you can rest the body on a stable surface, table, desk,

    shelf
    > > etc., and move the lens to cover your subject. It gives a flexibility

    and
    > > potential for really sharp pictures that no other format offers....
    > >
    > > These cameras are now available quite cheaply.

    >
    > They also can't AF worth a darn in low light.


    So you have actually used them? My 990 is OK for indoor availabel light
    shooting, and we have some great outdoor shots using the stabilisation
    techniques I mentioned above. Camera shake is much more of a problem than
    focussing, and shake can be elegantly avoided with the swivel body design
    without requiring a tripod.

    Cheers,
    David
     
    David J Taylor, Dec 26, 2003
    #11
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