camera / lens advice

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#1 Oct 22nd, 2018, 11:41
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  • vaibhav_arora is offline
#1
hi All

I need some advice re: camera and lens. I need better low-light performance. My problem is, when shooting at anything over 800 ISO, the results have unacceptable grain (when viewed at full magnification). I use a D7000 with 18-140VR. I have two options -

1. Use a sharper lens. Open to suggestions - since i tend to do mostly street / art , etc - a variable focal length is preferred, unless someone can suggest otherwise.

2. Sell the current set up and move to something else. What do i move to?

I dont necessarily do only night photos, but in museums, art galleries, temples, etc the light is often quite challenging.

thanks for any tips.

-Vaibhav
#2 Oct 22nd, 2018, 14:44
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  • Nick-H is offline
#2
I think that the noise (digital graininess) is inherent to the camera, not the lens. Having said that, I seem to get more of it with certain lenses, eg the low-cost small zoom kit lens that came with my Sony a6500. What do our real photographers have to say about this? My theory is that faster prime lenses are giving me shorter shutter speeds, which means less noise even at the same ISO.

A year and a half into my new return to real cameras after a decade or two, I have discovered one thing: nothing beats a fast lens! Looking through the viewfinder in a dim room, through my 30mm f/1.4 or even my 50mm f/1.8 lenses is like shining a torch on the scene! Instant addiction to fast primes. OK, I wouldn't say no no to fast zooms, but doubt that I'll ever be able to afford them from Sony. But... cost. The next fast prime on my wish list costs more than my camera.
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#3 Oct 22nd, 2018, 18:38
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#3
I am not conversant with nikkor lenses, but if I recall correctly, the widest is at F3.5. That is really not useful if you want to allow more light in while trying to keep your ISO within 800. An obvious choice would to use a lower F stop lens. I personally like to Sigma 18-35 1.8 (1.8 is constant throughout the zoom range) ART.

Like Nick, primes are my go to lens. My nifty fifty is a personal favorite and available at a throwaway price (Canon). You legs are the only zoom you need, unless your in a cramped space. A 30mm 1.4 almost allows more than 3 stops of light than 3.5.
#4 Oct 22nd, 2018, 20:09
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#4
My 30mm 1.4 is a Sigma. Not an Art, but a modest Contemporary. It is very nice, and matched to my camera for autofocus. Lack of stabilisation doesn't matter so much at this focal length and speed.

Those with steady hands, eg long-practised photographers can make good use of longer 3rd-party lenses and zooms with no stabilisation. I feel that there is a world of such lenses that is just not open to me. I don't know where, or rather how firmly, Vaibhav stands on this one.
#5 Oct 22nd, 2018, 21:10
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#5
My hands are ok, see this for example -

https://www.indiamike.com/india-imag...red-house-hill
#6 Oct 22nd, 2018, 21:28
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#6
Don't show us evidence from the past VA! Showing us photos from 2015 is not going to convince us about your hands of today..



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#7 Oct 22nd, 2018, 21:41
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#7
An idea about the budget would help zoom in on possibilities.
The Nikkor trioka 14-24mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f 2.8 are all great lenses. For street photography, i would recommend the 24-70mm f 2.8, although there are many more of equivalent or better credentials. I have the 24-70 and it is my staple lens.The 50mm f1.4 is a must have and it is quite reasonably priced too. You can try the D series too, which is tack sharp.

My experience has been that one must buy the camera and lens, that is just over the border of affordability or makes one feel guilty of splurging. This would allow one to be happy with the purchase for a longer period....till the bug bites again.

Most cameras have very good low light performance now.
#8 Oct 22nd, 2018, 22:19
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My experience has been that one must buy the camera and lens, that is just over the border of affordability or makes one feel guilty of splurging. This would allow one to be happy with the purchase for a longer period
What perfect advice! I'll do it!
#9 Oct 22nd, 2018, 23:58
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#9
Vaibhav, 18-140 is a wonderful lens for street / candid photography. You may get another 35 mm (f 1.8 ) for doing indoors, specially inside temples / exhibition halls with low light conditions.
#10 Oct 23rd, 2018, 10:37
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#10
Thanks all. Haven't really thought of the budget so far as havent spent any money on camera for some years now. However computer also requires replacement so funds are not unlimited.

Arup - Ive evaluated the 35 mm so many times but can't convince myself to use that focal length (effective focal on aps-c would be 50 mm). I looked at a 20mm f/2.8 but it doesn't seem popular and is not cheap I think.

Nick - your mirrorless camera is very good. I think near top of the line in the Sony alpha series?
#11 Oct 23rd, 2018, 12:07
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#11
I like the composition of the photo, though the sharpness isn't what I would have liked (its not you, its me). A general rule would be to keep the shutter speed higher than your max mm. So if you were using the 18-40, then more than 1/40th of second (to minimize the shake that could creep in).

I really do not see too much difference between the cheaper set of lenses and the more expensive ones (though the dust/weather sealing is a boon on the expensive ones). The center sharpness is mostly equivalent.

If, as you seem to like, landscape photos is what you shoot, then read up on using hyper focal distance.

If you ask me, pick up a cheap prime and start using it. Start with any F1.8 (though lower is still better) lenses which would tell you the immediate difference.

PS : I use a strobe paired with a remote for most low light pictures. Heck, I even use it during the day to cut the ambient light out (though I like taking portraits more than anything else). I don't usually share this, but here goes - https://www.flickr.com/photos/104871395@N04/
#12 Oct 23rd, 2018, 12:20
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#12
First things first - I think you need to share samples of what you think is a noisy image and then share lighting conditions and EXIFs around those images. That'll help quantify the problem.
Usually, when such a discussion comes up, I think, the problem can be attributed to the following factors,
1. Old body
2. Shooting technique
3. Processing
4. Current lens setup

The cheaper solutions to this issue are #2 & #3. And those should be the first ones to be targeted.
#2 can be addressed by shooting to the right, if you are not doing that already. So ETTR should be your friend. A ETTR ISO 1600 should yield less noise to an under [or just about] ISO 800 image. Also, try to gauge how far you can go on the shutter while getting an acceptably sharp image. May be use continuous shots for getting a sharper image.

#3 works well in most cases with today's software. I don't know your current setup but there are ample solutions in Photoshop and plug-ins like Topaz, Nik to reduce noise effectively without comprising on the image much.

#1 in your case can be the culprit. It is an old sensor and a relatively older [though an awesome] body. Technology has moved on quite a bit in the last few years with mirrorless killing the APSCs quite a bit in performance. I would say look at options from Fuji [or even Sony] - may cost you a bit but get a good used deal and you would be carrying lesser loads for far better performances. [I recently changed my entire Canon line-up for Fuji and can't be more happy about it]

#4 is an arrangement between #1 and #3,#4 from a cost perspective. As others have suggested you can opt for a fast prime with the option of switching lenses in field. The Sigma 30 f1.4 is a good lens, if you have a sharp copy. May be you can look at that keeping that option.

Having said all these, I think for you I would have tackled the problem in the following order #2, #3, #4 & #1. I have printed an A4 size album for a client which was shot in a nightclub at ISO 1600-6400. That was a combination of 7D & 550D - sensors roughly equivalent [or slightly worse] than D7K. Don't switch unless there are other factors contributing towards it [or you have enough money].

All the factors above would effectively matter to you depending on the final usage of the image. If it is mostly online/social media uploads, then probably you can work on #2 & #3 and get away with it. If you print and print large may be you'll have to look at a more comprehensive solution.
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#13 Oct 23rd, 2018, 12:30
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#13
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Originally Posted by gautam023 View Post
Having said all these, I think for you I would have tackled the problem in the following order #2, #3, #4 & #1. I have printed an A4 size album for a client which was shot in a nightclub at ISO 1600-6400. That was a combination of 7D & 550D - sensors roughly equivalent [or slightly worse] than D7K. Don't switch unless there are other factors contributing towards it [or you have enough money].
Could you please share the remaining exif details for those ISO level? esp the f- stop?
#14 Oct 23rd, 2018, 13:18
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Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Could you please share the remaining exif details for those ISO level? esp the f- stop?
The lenses used were the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and 35 f2. So I would have shot at 3.2 and 2.2 on those lenses. Rough shutters would be ranging from 1/20 to 1/180, depending on the part it was shot at and those coloured disco lights. There was a flash used occasionally as well but I won't add it to this mix.
#15 Oct 23rd, 2018, 13:34
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#15
Ok. Looking back at some of my shots it's entirely possible that there was most likely an exposure compensation setting issue. Now that I've uploaded a few photos (for backup) to my Google account, it keeps offering me a 'fix brightness' option.

This holds true for all the photos taken this Friday .
Either the exposure issue or because It was also very polluted - this dussehra evening.
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