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Minimum shutter speed for street photos

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by barry13, Sep 27, 2014.

  1. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi,

    Using my E-M1 with IBIS on auto, and Oly 17mm f1.8 lens in Aperture priority @ 1.8, ISO auto (3200 max), I've been getting shutter speeds at night around 1/60 sec but people aren't very sharp.

    Non-moving objects in the same pics are sharp enough so it's not a missed focus issue.

    If I use Shutter priority, or Manual (with auto ISO), what shutter speed would be best.
    Subjects are walking, and I often am too.

    Also, where can I find a good explanation of the zone focus scale on the lens? AF is slow sometimes.

    Thanks,
    Barry

    Sent from my Note3
     
  2. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Hasse
    I've heard that 200-250th of a sec is ok for people movement. Some famous street photogs (if my memory isn't failing me atm) likes to keep their shutter near or at 1/1000 sec.
     
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  3. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Depends on whether you want to stop movement and then it depends on the movement you want to stop. I've seen street photographs where the photographer deliberately did not want to stop the movement and deliberately chose a shutter speed slow enough to blur it. There's nothing that says that people and/or moving objects can't be blurred in a street photograph. It's usually more important to stop shake from your own movement because if you don't do that then nothing is going to be sharp, everything will be blurred.

    The zone focus scale: there's a focus mark and aperture markings either side of that focus mark going from the widest apertures closest to the focus mark to the smallest apertures further away from the focus mark. The distance on the distance scale that is aligned with the focus mark is the distance at which the lens is focussed. The depth of field **should** extend from the distance aligned with the mark for your chosen aperture on one side of the focus mark to the distance aligned with the mark for your chosen aperture on the other side of the focus mark. The reason I say "should" is that the markings may not be accurate on some lenses and also because depth of field isn't absolute. It's based on an estimate of when a point will become blurred enough to appear out of focus and that depends on image size and viewing distance amongst other things. It also depends on how accurately you set the actual focus distance. Let's say you set it at 10' but your subjects at 12' distance from you. In low light and a wide aperture a 2' error may actually mean the subject is out of focus but you can't tell because the viewfinder is dim in the low light. Even if the subject is in focus you won't have as much behind the subject in focus as you would if you got the focus distance right but you'll have more in focus in front of the subject.

    People often talk about focussing at hyperfocal distance when zone focussing. When a lens is focussed at the hyperfocal distance everything should appear in focus from half the hyperfocal distance on out to infinity. The way to set focus at hyperfocal distance using the focus scale is to align the infinity symbol with the mark for your chosen aperture on long side of the distance scale. Once again a lot is going to depend on viewing conditions for the finished image and also on the accuracy of the scale.
     
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  4. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    You need a faster shutter speed, or pan with the subject as it moves. I'm not sure how you are judging non-moving objects as being in the same plane of focus as the subject, especially at night. But you also need to practice, practice, practice.
     
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  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I shoot with zone focus, but also use a wider lens to increase DOF at a given aperture, which allows for a faster shutter and wider aperture than with a 35mm equivalent. I also just prefer a wider field of view for the angles it tends to create, with most lines pulling toward the center of the frame. When I was shooting with m43, I used the Olympus 12mm as my main street lens, only occasionally shooting with the 15mm body cap in broad daylight. I'd set focus for about two meters or five feet, whichever was clearer on the distance scale. I didn't use hyperfocal except in the brightest light because you really don't need infinity in focus, but you usually do want everything from about 3 feet out to at least 10-15 feet in focus. Spend some time with a DOF chart/table and you'll see where your tolerances are. I'd generally use about f6 point something in daylight (which is close to hyperfocal) but would open up to about f3.5 in low light to keep the shutter speed up, but I just have to be cognizant of the narrower zone of focus. I shoot street mostly with a Nikon A now, which allows for auto-ISO where I can set the max ISO (I'll set that to 6400 with that APS sensor) AND the minimum shutter speed. I find 1/500 to be best when I'm trying to stop action. I've done some shooting with much slower shutter speeds specifically NOT to stop action and allow for motion blur, or sometimes I'll keep a stationary subject in focus but let the movement around them blur. But when I'm moving and the subjects may be moving as well, I find that it takes about 1/500 to get consistently sharp shots. At 1/250, I lost a lot of shots. Somewhere around 1/400 most of them start to be in focus, but I still lose a few. At 1/500 I almost always get sharp shots, assuming the subject is within my zone of focus.

    -Ray
     
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  6. 1/500sec. I use autofocus via the touchscreen so this is usually pretty easy to achieve by using large apertures without needing to raise the ISO very high.
     
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  7. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    ㅇtㅈyㅅr
    For street photography, there are basically three types of focusing that's commonly used. Pre-focusing, Zone-focusing and Hyperfocal.

    This will give you a pretty good explanation of the three: http://www.leicalux.com/blog/pre-focus-zone-focus-and-hyperfocal-distance

    As for an explanation of Zone-focusing and Hyperfocal, see this: http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/04/24/zone-focusing-and-shooting-hyperfocal/

    In general, for street photography, I personally prefer speeds of at least 1/250 or faster and an f8 aperture is pretty much standard, give or take a stop. For night street photography, obviously you'll need to open up the lens in order to get the faster shutter speeds.
     
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  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I'd say that auto-focus is more "commonly used" than all of these combined! And for some shooters it works just fine. I'm a zone focus guy myself, which sometimes slips becomes hyperfocal in good light when the aperture is small enough and, therefore, the zone deep enough...

    -Ray
     
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  9. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    ㅇtㅈyㅅr
    I should have stated that those are the "three classic forms of focusing techniques for street photography", but you're probably right.

    In any case, I think anyone who has an interest in street photography become familiar with these focusing techniques as it can only help and not hurt their photography.

     
  10. You're livin' in the past, man :smile:
     
  11. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    619
    Feb 15, 2011
    Toronto
    Is it a bokeh out of focus issue shooting at 1.8 (even 3.6 ffeq) is a bit thin for street. Its nice having the extra light gathering but if you're shooting at 1/60... just because 1/35mmeq rough guide..

    The lack of tact sharp could be confounded by thin'ish dof and slow shutter for random street movement and figuring out which may be tough..

    I would suggest going for 1/250 shutter min. And increasing the dof to say f4... and narrowing the dof only if you pan the subject and need the extra light to keep iso down. Then it's a decision based on composition whether to open up the lens or slow the shutter to get the exposure.
     
  12. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi, Thanks for all the helpful replies!

    Last night I boosted the auto ISO to 5000, and was able to get between 1/100 and 1/250 at f1.8... Moving people are definitely sharper now.

    Wondering if I should boost ISO even higher.

    A faster lens would be nice, but since this is while traveling I wouldn't really want anything much larger than the 17mm 1.8.
    I'm using the 12-40mm during the day, which is great.

    I'm not concerned about background blur at night, mostly just trying get the people sharp.

    Thanks!
    Barry



    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
  13. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Hasse
    Barry you might want to read a couple of old posts by David A on night time shooting. (Someone should compile all the gem posts that David have done over the years - would be equal to a photography course textbook :biggrin:)

    https://www.mu-43.com/showthread.php?t=35431&p=347114#post347114
    and on the next page - edit - actually the whole thread is good :thumbup:

    Maybe it'll help, maybe not :smile:
     
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  14. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I looked at some focal calculators, at f1.8, 17mm, and 10' focus setting, there's about a 6' DoF. I'll probably give it a try as AF is troublesome if I don't center the subjects.

    I need to do some PP on the pics I've taken before I determine if the noise is acceptable... So far some images look ok and some look quite grainy (sooc).

    Barry


    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
     
  15. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Possibly, but at a certain point the noise is going to more than erase any advantages to the higher shutter speed. ISO 5k is already pushing pretty far for m4/3 sensors.
     
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  16. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    For night or available light shooting you need to ask yourself what you want your photos to look like. If you simply use the standard ESP metering and possibly even centre weighted, the recommended exposure is going to brighten up all the shadows and you will lose the "night time" feel, it may even look like daylight, and to stop motion in that sort of light and get that sort of result you are going to have to increase the ISO setting and probably start running into noise problems.

    On the other hand, if you're interested in having the photo look like it's night time you're going to want to retain the dark shadow areas out of the light. You're going to want to expose so that what you can see clearly in the lit areas is clear and the result in your photo looks like what you're looking at. For that you need to spot meter the subject in the lit areas and because you're now only measuring things that are lit and not large areas of dark shadow, you'll get an exposure recommendation that doesn't require you to boost ISO anywhere near as much and noise won't be as much of an issue. There still may be some noise in the shadows but it may not look objectionable, there'll be less noise in the bright areas you're interested in so you basically just deal with that.

    The problem with spot metering is that you need to consider whether the spot you're measuring is an area you want to have as mid grey which is what the meter reading is trying to achieve, or whether you want it a bit lighter or darker than that in which case you will need to give some exposure compensation. If you're measuring caucasian skin tones you want to give an extra stop (+1) exposure compensation in order to have them look natural.

    That's why I knew I could get away with 1/25 sec at F/1.4 and ISO 200 in the shot RnR linked to above. I used the spot meter on the girl standing facing the camera in the middle of the frame and exposed for her. The light there was quite bright and she was well lit. Elsewhere around the plaza there's pools of very deep shadow and I wanted them to stay in shadow. If I'd used the standard ESP meter mode I'd have had to boost ISO to at least 800 0r 1600 for the same exposure because the meter would be trying to ensure I got good detail in the shadows and then the image wouldn't have looked like a night time scene.

    Try playing around with a spot meter at home in your living room at night. Use only a single lamp so you've got a well lit area with the rest of the room in shadow to dark. Put something in the well lit area and play around with different exposures using spot metering until you learn the trick of getting the subject in the lit area looking natural in your photos while the rest of the frame outside the lit area looks dim. Then try working the same way when you go out for some night shooting. You won't be able to use ISO 200 in every scene but you will be able to use lower ISO settings than you think, and you can probably use some lower shutter speeds than you think if you're standing still and your moving subjects are only people who are walking.
     
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  17. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    To the OP:

    First, generally when discussing a subject like this, it helps others help you better by posting an example image. Might not be possible in the current situation you are in - sounds like you are currently traveling.

    Second, night shooting is a whole other can of worms. I tend to go into manual exposure mode when shooting at night. I find a scene that has a good mix of bright lights in it and darker areas and nail down the exposure components.
    Then, for the rest of the night, i'm shooting like that.
    If I don't want to do that, then I am shooting aperture priority and riding the exposure comp dial to tweak what the camera is showing me.
     
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  18. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Thanks guys...

    1. I realize noise may be severe at ISO 5000, hoping B&W conversion will help significantly.

    2. I'd like to have EC readily available in Manual mode (auto ISO), is there a good way?

    From what I've previewed, only heavily backlit scenes seem to be having major exposure issues; I can see that center-weighting might help although I think I'm ok with the way there coming out as those tend to be shops and restaurants which I don't want blown out.

    It rained last night and the 17mm isn't resistant so I didn't get to shoot as much last night, heading back home today... Definitely will post some pics when I have time.

    BTW, my wife doesn't like me taking pictures of people without permission, thinks
    A. They might get mad
    B. it's stealing

    I'm hoping to drag her to a street photo workshop in downtown LA soon, maybe that will help, but some of the people in LA are quite scary.
    Last summer I was there for work and a guy with a shopping cart full of chairs was randomly throwing the chairs at passers by.

    Thanks!


    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
     
  19. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    1- Conversion to B&W may help/mask colour noise but it won't touch luminance noise. You'll still have to deal with that.

    2- No exposure compensation in manual mode because it isn't needed. In manual mode you set the exposure, not the camera. You set it to what you want. Exposure compensation is when the camera is setting the exposure and you want to override that by a certain amount. You can't set exposure compensation in manual mode, you can only change the exposure which you set. When you set the camera to manual mode you turn all exposure automation control off and tell the camera that you will be setting the exposure all on your own. With my E-M5 the exposure scale in the viewfinder still displays and it shows how much under or overexposure your settings entail. When you adjust aperture or shutter speed the indication changes so you can see how much more or less under or over exposed your new settings are but the only controls you have are those for aperture, shutter speed and ISO. The camera will use whatever you set them to, but it will show you on the exposure scale just how much under or over exposed your image will be based on the metering mode you choose.

    As for your wife's concerns:

    A: Some people may get mad, but then people can get mad over a lot of things for a lot of reasons, and even for no reason at all. If you aren't going to do something because someone may object or get mad, there's not much in life that you can do. You do a lot of things each day over which someone might get mad but someone actually getting mad is pretty rare in life. Is there any reason to treat photography any differently to anything else you do which requires consideration of other people to some degree when you do it?

    B: Stealing what? It may be illegal in some jurisdictions but it isn't illegal because taking a photograph is stealing something. If it isn't illegal, then you're free to take photos.

    B:
     
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  20. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi,

    With manual mode and auto ISO, I'm setting the shutter speed and aperture but the camera is still setting the exposure.

    So, there's 3 variables: shutter, aperture, and ISO, but only two can be controlled instantly.
    EC control could substitute for an ISO control.

    I wonder if there's a way to map the arrow buttons to ISO UP/DOWN as an alternative to EC.

    During the day today, indoors, I started using Shutter priority mode instead. I can't trust it to keep the aperture where I want it, but it does give me easy access to EC.

    Someone in this thread mentioned Nikon has a minimum shutter speed setting. That would be very useful to me, especially if easily accessible or settable per mode (e.g. P or A).

    Barry