Can't afford fast lens, should I overexpose for now??

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by christina_santavicca, May 11, 2009.

  1. Hello photog friends, I have a D60 with a kit 17-55g 3.5-5.6. I want to get a faster lens, but cannot afford it at the moment, but have photo/portrait shoots coming up. Should I just overexpose slightly for brighter images in the meantime to get a closer result as to a fast lens?? I already have my saturation set to custom/vivid.
  2. Don't overexpose your images whatever lens you are using.
    If you are taking portraits of people, it is generally a bad idea to have particularly highly saturated colours. It will make the people's skin look weird.
    Whatever choices you make, try to take some test shots before the date of people with similar skin complexions. That way you can choose appropriate saturation and exposure.
    If you shoot in RAW then you can apply the saturation afterwards in software like Nikon Capture NX2. That way, you don't need to make choices that you get stuck with.
    Good luck.
  3. I would adjust saturation during post so as not to distort the colour and then have a harder time bringing it back to normal.
    If indoor shoot: how about more lights. It's easy to rent from a local camera store.
    If outdoor: If you can't afford to rent a portable strobe, then a bounce board and good reflector will help as well.
  4. Hmm - there are assumptions in your posting that are not correct Christina. Just because a lens is faster does not mean the final image is brighter - you can make the final image from a fast lens as black as coal without difficulty believe me. It seems to me you need to do some reading on some of the fundamentals of exposure, depth-of-field etc and get to know what your exisiting lens does before embarking on other acquisitions.
  5. I'm a bit confused with your goal, but here's some ideas:
    First, shoot raw, and don't worry about your in-camera saturation levels. IMHO Vivid is way too strong, especially for portraits. Shooting raw will enable you to have much more flexibility with your highlights and shadows after the fact if you're unhappy with the original exposures.
    Second, a faster lens simply gets you faster shutter times and the ability to put the background even more out of focus with larger apertures. Overexposing would take slower shutter speeds, increasing the chance of your subject moving (but probably not to big an issue with portraits). You can adjust the exposure compensation either up or down, just make sure that you are keeping you histogram from maxing out on either end, especially the highlights. Once blown, you cannot repair those, even shooting raw.
    Also, a problem with very fast lenses, is at the widest apertures (1.4-2.8) you can sometimes put a portion of your subject's head out of focus, especially when shooting close. Definitely a feature some use in certain situations, but I think often portrait photogs shoot around f4 to make sure their subject is fully in focus.
    One more idea, buy the 50mm/f1.8. Very inexpensive, beautiful and fast portrait lens. I've been shooting with the slightly nicer 50mm/f1.4 for years, and it never ceases to stun me with its quality.
  6. A Fast lens will give you the same exposure as a slow lens only you can make pics with less light and with less DOF.
    1/500 at 2.8 50mm 100 iso will be exactly the same as 1/1000 4 50mm 100iso or 1/500 4 50mm 200 iso only the the DOF will be different and probably the sharpness too, but not the exposure.
    BTW a Tamron 17-50 2.8 isn't that expensive and a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 is even cheaper than that.
  7. Two things a faster lenses will give you if quality is the same. The ability for proper exposure at lower light with the same shutter speed, the lense will allow more light if the aperture is faster, ie f2 instead of f2.8 or higher. Second the depth of field will be less if the lens is set to f2 verus f2.8 or higher. If you add light then the first is not an issue. If you want a narrow depth of field you have a problem that needs to be resolved.
  8. Ok. So, then it seems maybe I'm going down the wrong avenue for results. Maybe a new, better, faster lens really isn't what I need at this point. Maybe I need to focus and just better understand and improve on just exposure in itself.
  9. For a portrait you may be shooting around the 40-55 range where the max aperture will be f.4 to f/5.6 (for your lens). If you are worried that the images will be too dark, how about getting a flash? An SB 600 is around 220-230 bucks. The SB 400 is even cheaper but I've seen people strongly recommend the 600 over the 400.
    Another alternative is to shoot at higher ISOs (perhaps even 1600).
  10. yeah, I do have the SB600 but I'm just really ignorant with it yet, lol - Can't seem to figure it out!! guess I just need to practice ALOT more with it, and do more research on using it. Just don't like how sometimes it seems to "blow out" some of the details, even when I lower the strength.
  11. If you use it directly, it will blow out details. You should bounce it - though even that needs a lot of practice to get it done right. I am still working on my bounce techniques :)
  12. Right, I agree fully with the bounce flash, but how do you bounce when you're outdoors?? guess I need to get one of those handy dandy attachment bounce covers for the flash.
    Thanks so much for your help Nish .... and everyone else. GOD BLESS :)
  13. You might confuse bounce from diffuse of the flash. You can do both. You diffuse the flash by either attaching one as you said, or bounce it against a reflector like a white background to make it softer.
    You bounce your light source against a white board which you can grab at any art supply store or purchase a relatively inexpensive reflector (i.e. Photoflex) at a camera store. You will need extra help or a C-Stand/Light Stand that can clamp the board.
  14. Ok. Got it. But what's your two different takes on diffused vs. bounced?
  15. Christina, that's a subjective aspect which depends on the intent and artistry of the photographer. It just depends on the "quality" of light that you (as the photographer and which means how you see it) would want to achieve. How soft and indirect you want your light.
    Also diffusion of light can also be achieved by bouncing it. The objective of both is to filter the specular highlight down to a softer look.
    The best answer is to practice and try both on the same subject. Shoot with bare flash or any "direct" light source. Then try to cover with a diffusion material. Now try to turn the light source 90 degrees, then 180 degrees and let a white bounce board/particle board/etc be the source of reflection for that light source. You can then be more creative and try raising and lowering the angle and height of the light.
    But ultimately is that there is no one correct way to creating a photo. What you have to know and be confident is what your eye sees and how you go about achieving it.
  16. I know you said you don't have budget for another lens, but the 50mm f/1.8AF is only $125USD new and much cheaper used. It would give you a shallower depth of field which is usually desirable for portraits.
    Are you shooting full body, half body, or head shots?
  17. You might want to pick up an E series lens!saved the day on my daughters wedding,& you can pick them up on the cheap
  18. Brooks, that lens won't auto focus on her D60.
  19. i would not use vivid for people pics unless you want unnatural skin tones.
  20. that 50mm wont autofocus on any camera. but i second that motion. but it also may not meter, which might be a problem for the OP. but sounds like a great way to learn a camera.
  21. Christina,

    If you want a lens for portraits that has a larger maximum aperture (faster), then look into the Nikon 50 f/1.8D. They generally go for about $100. I think this is pretty affordable. It is a nice sharp lens, and will give you the control of DOF that you want.

    Also, for sharp portraits in lower light situations, you might also consider a tripod. You can get a decent aluminum tripod with a tilt/pan head for around $250 (or less).
  22. I great book is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. I highly recommend it for everyone to read. It teaches a lot of different techniques and helps you set up your camera for different shots.
    Ideally it's best to have the proper exposure but if you had to err on one way or the other, I would err on the side of underexposure (especially in RAW). With the exception of it sometimes adding noise to the shadows, it is easier to correct without losing highlights. Overexposure often loses highlights to the point of becoming white. Once the highlights are gone they are pretty much gone. Underexposing allows for a faster shutter speed which would simulate a faster lens. Overexposing generally would make the shutter speed slower.
  23. Ok. well, the Understanding Exposure is definately something I will add to my library right away. I no doubt have far more to go into fully grasping exposure. Thank you. The 50 1.8D is definately a bargain, but I wouldn't have a good time without the autofocus on it. and I think my D60 only works with a G, right? However, I'm not sure what the E series is. Sounds like it's the same as the D though. As for diffuse and bounce, I will positively take that advice on experimenting between those 2 along with direct flash. Also will reconsider the Vivid choice for my camera's saturation. ~ I certainly appreciate ALL of the great advice, comments & suggestions from everyone. Photographers Are Good People :) :)
  24. Can i suggest a book?
    john hedgecoe intro to digital photography.
  25. bmm


    Oh yes. Understanding Exposure is an absolutely brilliant book. Actually in my first 2 months with a DSLR I deliberately just read one section every few days and went out and practised the concepts till I got them right. So Christina I strongly recommend it.
  26. These questions, though they are good to ask, are scary...I hope the upcomming shoots are "Pro Bono" and the clinets sre not expecting Pro results....I admire your eagerness for advice, but you have a lot of learning to do.
  27. great book is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.​
    I have this book. Although I'm not sure which edition because it is from back in the film days. Either way, all of the concepts are essentially the same. Yes, it is highly reccomended. I beleive I got my copy for $7 used...a very good investment.

    It is always worthwhile to check Amazon.
  28. Here are some thoughts, loosely joined....

    I share your wish to have a faster lens, but budget makes it tough. It would be easier to make suggestions if you provided a little more detail on the situation - there is a big difference between head and shoulders portraits and room-size dance floor wedding shots. The good news is that it you can do a lot with the gear you already have.
    To make the SB600 sing, try a Lumiquest softbox and or a bounce card. That will take the hard edge of your flash. Take some time to explore the site for details. Also, you might want to experiment with rear-curtain sync.
    It would also be advantageous when the SB600 flash is not mounted on the camera. This is easier to do than to explain how.
    These pages have details...
    Google Nikon CLS SB600 for still more.
    Next, on the camera itself, go into the Flash settings menu and switch it to commander mode. Now, when the popup flash fires, the SB600 will add light to the exposure. You can do some dramatic effects this way, esp if you have a helper to hold the flash.

    That covers more light. There are other options. Try boosting the ISO to 400 or 800 or better still, Auto-ISO - an f3.5 lens at ISO 800 is about as quick as an f1.8 lens at ISO 200. Faster ISOs will add noise, but that is less of a problem than bad exposure. And the Nikons bodies can perform very well there.

    As far as fast lenses go, the D60 is limited to lenses with built-in focus motors - that means an AF-S lens. Nikon has recently released a fast 35 mm 1.8 AF-S DX G lens for $199. There are also lens rentals, try or if you're in s. calif, samys camera. (A good choice would be the 17-55 f2.8 DX.)

    As far as techniques, the lens you have will be faster if you keep it wider, so as much as practical, in low light, look to avoid zooming in. Turn off vivid when shooting people - it kills skin tones. Adding flash will make them worse. If you shoot raw, don't worry as all those picture settings only apply when the camera is creating JPEGs (except for the exceptions, like CaptureNX).

    This is a bit more advanced, but try experimenting with spot metering, and use the focus sensor right on the subject's eye - that will meter just the face and you'll get some experience with that a good exposure numbers are for a face under a given light.

    Get Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure book, its great. One last bit of advice. While good books are out there (another is The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman) the best way is to read a little and experiment a lot. Learn how to read the image's EXIF data so you can see what the settings were used on a given image. Playful experimenting will teach far more than any book.

  29. Christina - I want second that motion for the purchase of the 50mm f/1.8AF. I'm pratically in the same boat you are. I too have a D60, and like you, I'm new to the DSLR/SLR world of photography (picked mine up in late November). I also wanted a fast prime on the cheap. I was fully aware that the 50mm would not auto focus w/ the D60, but I said "what the hell" and picked it up anyway. I'm not sure if you are aware, but when manual focusing, the camera will let you know when the subject on your focus point is in focus (a little green dot appears in the bottom left-hand corner of your view finder). If you want to see this in action, just set your camera to "manual focus" via the camera menu, and move the switch on your kit 17-55g 3.5-5.6 lense from "A" to "M". This will give you an idea. Its not as hard as it sounds, especially when the camera cues you in when its in focus (check your manual for more details). Sure, this method isn't going to get you much with fast moving subjects, but as you stated you need it for some portrait shoots, you should be ok (I'm assuming your subjects will have minimal movement). Hell - I use it all the time on my kids (ages 2.5 yrs & 11 months). They never stop moving, but I still am able to get some great (in my humble opinion) shots. I've posted an example. I love to use it wide open.
    I really recommend the lense. Can't beat the price, and the manual focus really helps you "become one" with the camera - it will teach you a lot!
  30. Christina you should just use the camera and flash you have I would not even put a diffuse on it. If you tip the top 45% to straitght up with the white plastic card out some light will be thrown forward even out side. If you shoot you portraits at your smallest appeture ? 5.6 at 55mm then you just need to move in close enough to fill the frame with your subject as you would like to see it. You get defuse light outside when the sun is shining and you stand you subject under a big tree in the shade. You will still get a blurred background if there is a field of nothing behind him. Or dandylions or poppies ect. The background is important but it can be many things. Out of focus fields or a dark area behind the tree of very deep shadows. You have two light sources. 1 the sun it does not have to be shinning on your subject but it throws the main light. 2 your flash as fill. You can for example set your camera to to AV 5.6 look what time it gives you. then choose the ISO that brings the time to approx 1/125 sec. Now with your flash you can even point it straight as you subject but you can set it on the flash to say -1 or -2 ect just look at you pics and see if you want more or less fill light from the flash. You can straighten you flash straight up and point the end in a hand held reflector that bounces indirect light on your subject. I would just use what you have got and experiment. Best is if you have a friend that also fotographs and practice together. You will get super results with a lens that does 5.6 when you have a flash you will find F8 and F11 also very good. A fast lens is great but its not the only solution.
  31. If you do not have one already, get a white balance card. It works wonders, especially for subtle colors like skin tones in questionable lighting.
  32. Using your flash or getting the 50mm 1.8 are great alternative. The 50mm is a sharp, fast lens and a great full length portrait lens. I still refer back to that book I mentioned earlier. It's about the closest thing to getting to walk around with a big time pro and have them explain how they set up every shot and why.
  33. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    According to Christina, the OP:
    The 50 1.8D is definately a bargain, but I wouldn't have a good time without the autofocus on it. and I think my D60 only works with a G, right? However, I'm not sure what the E series is. Sounds like it's the same as the D though.​
    She has already made it clear that she does not want a 50mm/f1.8 AF-D since it cannot AF on her D60.
    BTW, the D60 is not limited to G lenses (no aperture ring). It is fully compatible with all AF-S (and AF-I) lenses; a lot of the older AF-S lenses have the aperture ring.
    However, since the D60 has no AF motor inside, you will have no AF if the lens doesn't have an AF motor built in; i.e. not AF-S.
    Series E lenses are Nikon's economy AI-S lenses from the 1980's. Those are all manual focus without CPU. On the D60, the are naturally all manual focus and with no metering.
  34. The reason I recommended the 50 E series over the 50 D series is the D is built as an auto focus lens and is sloppy & not as well damped,as the 50 E series which was made for only manual,which alows for much better control.I.M.H.O
  35. 'Ok. So, then it seems maybe I'm going down the wrong avenue for results. Maybe a new, better, faster lens really isn't what I need at this point. Maybe I need to focus and just better understand and improve on just exposure in itself.'
    You have already learned what it takes some many years to learn.
    Knowledge of your equipment is much more important to get what you want.
    Many spend decades buying more expensive camera's and lenses, only to find they get no better results with them. They still must learn to use the camera settings to improve their work. The brain is the most important tool a photographer has.
  36. Robert, I absolutely agree. Thank you for the encouragement :))) I had recently purchased the book "Mastering Digital Flash Photograpy - the complete reference guide" by Chris George, and hadn't read it yet. Soo.. my heads into that now.
  37. you can also check out to learn the basics.. before you delve into flash.
  38. Add light or rent a faster lens or both.
    I would not buy a 'just ok' lens for a shoot. Your lens buying should focus on deciding which lens you eventually want and then start saving for them. Camera bodies will change, but lens are 'for life'... almost....

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