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How to take an indoor candid pic

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  • How to take an indoor candid pic

    Brand new DSLR user...
    I want crisp rich candid indoor pics in low light situations with no flash.
    I took tons of pics at a richly ornate restaurant with awesome ambient lighting, but HATE the look of flash photography. Only a few planned shots tuned out without blur. I've read all about large apertures, high ISOs, and long shutter speeds. All I get is blur.
    I have a Sony A500 with 18-200mm lens. The only way it seems I can change aperture is in A mode,but then everything else is auto leaving me with long shutter speed= blurrrr.
    So how about a Nifty Fifty lens?

    Movement in low light/ no flash

    1/8 exposure time
    ISO 1600
    brightness -2.38
    Nikon D700

  • #2
    Check these topics on flash photography at DPS, hope this would help you

    How To Get Better Digital Photos In Low Light Conditions Without Using A Flash
    How To Get Better Digital Photos In Low Light Conditions Without Using A Flash

    7 Strategies for Avoiding Flash Blow Out
    7 Strategies for Avoiding Flash Blow Out

    Slow Sync Flash
    Slow Sync Flash
    Nikon D200 | Nikkor AF-S DX 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR | Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens
    Canon Powershot SD850 IS
    Flickr photostream
    OK to edit and repost my photos on DPS forums.


    • #3
      The shutter speed (1/8) is pretty slow for shooting candid shots of people unless they're trying to hold still. Try switching to shutter speed priority (I think "S" on a Sony) and using 1/30 or 1/60. That seems fast enough for most candid photography, but you might need to go faster. In a darker space like that I would probably bring my exposure compensation down a bit (-1/3 or -2/3).

      That may not even matter since your lens will probably run out of aperture at those shutter speeds and the shot will be underexposed anyways. There's where a "nifty fifty" would help. That same photo shot with a 1.8 aperture could have the same exposure with a shutter speed of 1/30 (if I counted right), so there'd be one quarter of the motion in the shot. Still not enough to freeze any motion, but it's a start. My guess is that it would have prevented most of the blur in her face but the hand would still have some motion blur.

      Of course, with the 50mm lens, you'd only be able to see less than a quarter of this shot. A 50mm on a crop-sensor body really isn't wide enough for a shot across the table like that. You could probably get a decent head and shoulders shot of one person from that range, but not much else. Something like the Sony f/2.8 28mm lens might work a lot better for close-up shots like this.


      • #4
        Hi, two things really.

        One is getting something faster than the lens you have. at 18mm your lens just isn't fast enough. As said above, you want something in the range of f/1.8. I know the sigma makes a pretty good 30mm (to make it more like 50mm on full frame) which is at least 1.8.. maybe even 1.4.

        Second - you hate the flash because you don't know how to use it. You can get perfectly lovely indoor shots with great ambient light using flash IF you know what to do and it won't look like those dreaded blown out flash shots. Don't discount it yet, look into using flash properly and you may surprise yourself.


        • #5
          I'm a newbie too, so I guess I'll give my thoughts on what I've learned thus far, as someone starting off with limited equipment.

          1. With the kit lens and no flash, I was rarely able to get a properly exposed shot in low lighting... Even zoomed out so I could use the maximum aperture.

          2. I bought a Nifty Fifty (max aperture of 1.8). With this lens in low light, I can get shutter speeds of 1/50 or 1/60s if I crank up the ISO to 400 or 800. This is USUALLY fast enough to avoid motion blur....

          3. Shots with a large aperture have a distinctive look due to the narrow depth of field. In a setting like the one you posted above where you're across the table from your friends, only your subject will be in focus.

          4. On my digital cropped sensor (I'm using a Rebel XS), I think 50 mm is a little long for me... Sitting around a table with your friends, you'll get pictures where their faces fill most of the frame. These can be nice, but if you want a "roomier" frame, you might be happier with a 35 or 28 mm. Of course, these are more expensive than the 50 mm.

          5. For better looking flash pictures, the links from maverick28 are quite useful. The basic gist is that the pictures will look better if you get more ambient light from the room. I usually increase the shutter speed to what I can handhold, use a wider aperture (but pay attention to DOF), and possibly a higher ISO. If I can experiment, I play around with flash exposure compensation until I get what I want.

          Still, if you're using the on camera flash, you'll be limited to a direct flash, unless you get/make something like a LightScoop and can bounce it off the ceiling. I've played around with my own makeshift diffusers (parchment paper, tissue paper).... but I'm not convinced it really helps much.

          Also, if you're taking pictures candid pictures with the on-camera flash in, say, a bar... be aware that it might be annoying to other patrons because it'll be going off directly in their face. I once had a drunk lady get very upset with me after snapping only a few pictures of my friends. It was the first time I was ever given a hard time about it... Maybe the flash on my DSLR is more powerful (er, obnoxious?) than one on a typical point and shoot?
          Last edited by jentenna; 03-07-2011, 06:01 AM.
          Cameras: Canon 5D, Panasonic Canon S95
          Lenses: 50mm f/1.8, 28mm f/1.8
          Flickr stream.


          • #6
            and sometimes there is just not enough light... period.

            For the shot mentions, a 50mm 1.8 would still have give some motion blur but not as much.
            It also would not been nearly wide enough.
            Sigma 30mm or Can 35mm F2 is the one to look at.