Low light options

sebs_color

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Anyone have any recommendations on a good lens for common lowlight situations? Like in dim lit rooms? Thank you!!


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phigmov

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A good sensor, fast glass, steady hands, a good flash and a tripod. Or any combination thereof.

What is the occasion ? How close/far will your subjects be ? What type of quality image are you after (eg how much noise is acceptable) ?
 

sebs_color

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A good sensor, fast glass, steady hands, a good flash and a tripod. Or any combination thereof.

What is the occasion ? How close/far will your subjects be ? What type of quality image are you after (eg how much noise is acceptable) ?
I guess I could've been a little more descriptive..

I am about to have my first child, and I can just imagine many low light situations such as in the hospital after she is born, and the first few weeks at home. I have this images I have thought of in my head of pictures I would like to have, and I picture most in a dimly lit room.
I don't plan on using a tripod in most situations.

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wjiang

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I'd go with a wide/normal prime with aperture ratio wider than f/2, e.g 20mm f/1.7, 17mm f/1.8, 25mm f/1.8, 15mm f/1.7, 25mm f/1.4.

The 20mm is probably the best value out of the lot. It's slower to focus, however, so once your child starts running around it might be a bit harder to keep up :p
 

phigmov

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^^^ Pretty much spot on

I forgot that 'Budget' is another factor - how much would you like to spend ?

The 45mm f1.8 (or the pricier but lovely Panasonic 42.5) might also be useful for mom/sprog portraits.

M43 is a pretty great system for primes at the moment so you can't go to far wrong at the sub-f2 end of the spectrum.
 

kevinparis

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Use spot metering, learn to live with grain... get to love black and white and concentrate on getting the moment.

Fast lens helps but you dont need to go crazy, 1.8 can serve you well

there is no magic lens that makes bad light good you have to learn where the light is and learn to expose for the light you have

this is on an e-p1 ( old tech now) with 20/1.7 at 1600 ISO in a dark scottish living room

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cousin and another cousins child by kevinparis, on Flickr

K
 

usayit

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Exactly what Kevin said.

My first son was shot with a 2 year old 6mp Epson RD1 with its obsolete sensor and 28mm. My twins born in 2012 was shot with a Leica M9 w/ its 2009 "obsolete" sensor. Neither of these cameras are known for high ISO performance even when first released. Our current models of m4/3rd cameras can do better to control noise.. so that's good news. Photography == shooting light. You work with what you have. Meter tightly, expose for the subject and work in post.. During the day, the hospital was well lit in my case... just awful fluorescent lights with mixed temperatures.

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If I were to shoot those times with m4/3rds. I would bring my OMD EM5 and 12mm f/2 and 25mm f/1.8 Don't go crazy.. enjoy the moment. Keep it simple. Also recall that you have a triangle; ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed. My personal choice is to maintain a shutter speed I know can reasonably stop subtle motion and handshake. Grain from higher ISO, I can work. Shallower DOF from faster aperture I can work via composition. Blurry pictures... no can do. A clean, noiseless, well composed photo will still fail if the subject is blurry (unless intended) from motion or handshake.

Think about how you want to tell a story. Might be a good opportunity to learn a little flash work too.

Our system has fast aperture lenses at almost all focal lengths. I would decide on what focal length you like. If a single lens and on a budget the 20mm f/1.8 would be top on my list.
 

usayit

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BTW..

Soft constant light from an ipad works well for a light source with a sleeping baby subject. The light is very diffused and adjustable.

E-PL1 + 20mm f/1.7

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emorgan451

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Keep it simple. Also recall that you have a triangle; ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed. My personal choice is to maintain a shutter speed I know can reasonably stop subtle motion and handshake. Grain from higher ISO, I can work. Shallower DOF from faster aperture I can work via composition. Blurry pictures... no can do. A clean, noiseless, well composed photo will still fail if the subject is blurry (unless intended) from motion or handshake.
Well said usayit.

Sebs_color,
I would suggest an Olympus body with the 16mp sensor and the 5 axis stabilization. I have the E-M5 and have not been disappointed. I would suggest the Olympus 25 1.8 and/or the Olympus 45 1.8. The 45 is awesome for newborn portraits (or portraits of any kind) and the 25 has all the same aspects, just a normal perspective. If you can only do one camera and one lens I would suggest a E-M5 (or E-M10 with the 3 axis) with the 25 since it would be more flexible, but if you can get two lenses I would suggest adding the 45. Below are some pictures I took for a friend with the EM5 and my 45 1.8.

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Elizabeth-1260082 by Eli.Morgan, on Flickr
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Elizabeth-1260041 by Eli.Morgan, on Flickr
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Elizabeth-1260064 by Eli.Morgan, on Flickr
 

sebs_color

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Thank you for such amazing feedback everyone! I'm on a relatively tight budget considering I am having a baby, but all the questions I continue to ask, I usually get responses leaning towards the 20mm 1.7 saying it's the best bang for you buck. I've also peaked around a lot for possibly a good priced used 25mm (1.4 or 1.8).

But, needless to say, soon you will all hopefully be seeing pictures of my baby girl come the end of June!

And again, I can't thank you all enough for all the help I have relieved in this forum over the last 6 months.


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sebs_color

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Well, I am so excited to say that I went ahead and got the 25mm 1.4 from this forum. Now I just need to hope it makes it here to Sicily in time for my baby!

And usayit, I would love to start learning a little bit about flash. That's probably the one thing I know NOTHING about I photography.

Any pointers on where I could begin learning about this??

Thanks again for all the help everyone!


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laser8

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Good choice! Regarding the flash topic, google "strobist" and check the first result you get, a very good blog. Just one tip for indoor shots-do set a custom wb instead of auto wb if tou're on pana body (don't know how the oly is as I never had one)
 

fin azvandi

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Strobist is a great resource for flash, one quick tip however is if you're just looking to add some extra light to the overall scene indoors you can direct the flash toward the ceiling - in most situations the bounced/reflected light will be diffuse and natural-looking and much better than aiming the flash directly from your camera to the subject.
 

usayit

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And usayit, I would love to start learning a little bit about flash. That's probably the one thing I know NOTHING about I photography.
Learn the basics, keep it simple at first, then experiment with complex setups. I'd start out working experiments at home without the pressure of actually producing something with artistic merit. Heck, I've used lamps, ipads, flashlights, etc.. doesn't necessarily have to be a strobe although a strobe is a popular lighting source for a good reason. The nice thing about digital is the instant feedback really makes the learning process via experimentation fairly interesting.

Understand that you are dealing with two exposures at the same time; ambient and flash. For sake of visualization, think of a subject under a tree in a shade (foreground) and the background is in daylight. You'll be using flash fill to illuminate the subject in tree shade. The ambient exposure, or background, is framed by your choice of aperture and shutter. The flash exposure (foreground) is framed by your choice of aperture and flash power. Notice that the commonality is the aperture. Adjusting the aperture will change both foreground and background exposure. Adjusting the shutter value (sync speed in consideration) will change the exposure of the background while maintaining relatively steady foreground exposure. Adjusting the power of the flash, will in turn have a much greater impact on foreground exposure than the background.

Once you realize that each exposure can be controlled to a degree of independence, you start to visualize what you can do creatively. You can take a base exposure reading of the background and then decide to stop down the shutter by 2 stops or even more while maintaining even exposure on the foreground via aperture and flash power). You can produce a photo that looks like it was taken in the evening even while in reality you are in broad daylight.

Add gels to balance the cooler light of the flash (add warmth) with the warm light of sunlight. Add additional strobes basically adds additional exposures to work with. More gels for different color effects. More light modifiers to change the way light falls on subjects... etc. Study how different light sources or strobes w/ modifiers give out light. Almost all successful portraits whether outdoors or indoors, use some sort of strobe. If anything, just to give that tiny bit of twinkle in the eyes and depth to the face.

As you have probably figure by now, I generally shoot manual so I have full control over ambient/background exposure via aperture and shutter. I also generally shoot with non-ttl very basic but powerful flashes and they must provide a degree of control over their output. No need for really fancy fully rich featured flashes such as the olympus fl600r... often a basic strobist set will be cheaper.

But don't necessarily think of just strobes... any light works too creatively (in the case of my previous post, an ipad). The essence of photography is capturing light. Ironically in all of our obsession over light light ISO performance, people tend to forget that.

A good resource too: www.strobist.com
 
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