Low Light Lense

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by stephen_gardner, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. Hi,
    I have been asked to shoot an event where there is going to be just dinner lighting and I need to be inconspicuous when taking pictures so will probably need a zoom lenses but wanted to ask the following advice;
    1) What would be the best lenses for a D80 or D700?
    2) Because I am going to taking shots some distance away is it worth taking a flash?
    3) Could I get away with my D80 kit lenses (3.5, 18-70 and ramp up the ISO further than 1600 because they are only going to appear on the Internet and very unlikely get printed?
    4) Price advice would be great as well.
    Many Thanks
  2. you're in the danger zone with the d80 above 1250 ISO. so the answer to #3 is no, the d80 doesnt "ramp up" ISO as well as newer cameras, i'm afraid.
  3. 50mm/1.4, 50mm/1.8.
    then 35/1.4, 35/2, 85mm/1.4
    That would work for D80. For D700, due to good high ISO performance, you could possibly use any Nikkor lens that you have. For semi-static subjects consider a lens with VR.
    For inconspicuos photos perhaps longer lens like 85/1.8 would work.
  4. "...worth taking a flash?" It would be hard to be inconspicuous and use a flash.
    "...get away with my D80 kit lens"... Perhaps IF you use a tripod.
    "...above 1250 ISO... the d80 doesnt "ramp up" For out of the camera JPGs, I agree. If you shoot RAW and do a good job of post processing, the D80 will give you very nice ISO 1600 (and even ISO 3200 images) that will certainly look great on the internet. I did these high ISO comparison shots while I had my D80s:
    For shooting from a distance without flash, I suggest a 50mm f1.8 ($125 new) or if you have the budget an 85mm f1.8 ($425 new). A tripod will help tremendously to get great shots and allow you to shoot at lower shutter speeds and lower ISO, especially if you are using your kit lits. Regardless of which lens you end up shooting with, a tripod will significantly improve your images unless you have/get a lens with VR.
    Although this may be hard to believe, the D80 is only about 1/2 stop 'worse' in the noise department compared to the D7000. The D80 is a very capable camera but you have to coax high image quality out of it when shooting in low light.
  5. >> Although this may be hard to believe, the D80 is only about 1/2 stop 'worse' in the noise department compared to the D7000
    Wow! I've never heard anyone say that before. Shun recently said that the D7000 is 1/2 a stop better than the D300s in high ISO shots, so what you are saying is that the D80 is comparable to the D300s for high ISO? I must say that does not seem right to me.
  6. There is a huge difference between a D80 and a D700 for low light photography. It is surprising that you are selecting between these two. If you have been asked to shoot in a low light situation, use the best equipment you have available.
    Consider renting. If you rent on the web, you can often get a three-day rental for what you would pay for a one-day from a local shop. This would give you a little time to get to know the equipment before you have to use it.
  7. Assuming that you have a D700, or are renting one, then an 85/1.8 or 85/1.4. I worry that with VR you will select a shutter speed that is too low and that you will not be pleased with blur in arm/leg and even head movement. At least with the lenses above you are locked into using 1/60 to 1/125, which will freeze subject movement. The bokeh of the above lenses at wide open apertures will also deliver wonderful results. Your shooting distances should overcome the risk of incorrect focusing associated with these lenses, for close portraits, due to their slim depth of field.
  8. Although this may be hard to believe, the D80 is only about 1/2 stop 'worse' in the noise department compared to the D7000. The D80 is a very capable camera but you have to coax high image quality out of it when shooting in low light.​
    Normally I love to simply follow these threads and learn along, but this is simply wrong. I have both the D300S and the D700. I just bought a D7000 and the D300s does not compare in noise at all to the D7000. In fact think 2 maybe three stops. To be honest, the D7000 is maybe a 1/2 stop behind the D700. I am far from an expert, but feel I know my equipment very very well. I am also a jpeg shooter with very min PP skills so what I get out of the camera is important to me.
  9. Javier, as a JPG shooter, your comments are accurate. But, when shooting RAW, all of Nikon's more recent cameras do a good job at ISO 1600 if you get the exposure right and use good post processing software/techniques, especially for the OP's purposes. There is no question that out-of-the-camera JPGs are far superior with Nikon's latest over older DX bodies.
    Based on my own experience with the D80, I never had issues with the D80 at ISO 1600. I don't have a D7000 to compare to and no longer have the D80's so I am relying on on-line info currently available at sites like Imaging Resources, DXO mark, etc.. My comments refer only to noise as the D7000 (and D700) have superior dynamic and color range over the D80, plus have much better features. But, for the task at hand as outlined by the OP, the D80 (which I assume he has) will do the job with the right lens and good technique. So, if I interpret the OP's question correctly, he wants to know if his D80 is up to the job for internet postings of photos without flash. And my answer is yes, with the right lens and a tripod, and shooting RAW. Will the D700 do a better job. Absolutely. My lens choices would be the same as previously mentioned.
  10. Elliot, Like I said, I am a straight jpeg shooter and what the D7000 does at IS06400 IS REALLY AMAZING straight out of the box :cool:. Same as the D700 which I would be more than happy to pull out samples of real world shooting if need be. Keep in mind also that the newer bodies focus with little to light and the case of the D700 in the dark. I would agree that ISO1600 is nothing for most any DSLR produced from 2006 to present. Atleast it should not be so long as your exposing to the right of the histogram.
  11. Thanks for your help guys. I have also had a comment that a Nikon 70-200 F2.8 on a D700 would very much help me because I will not have time to use a tripod?
    Does this seem reasonable?
  12. Stephen, 70-200VR with D700 should do, ISO1600 or 3200 on the D700 should even allow largish prints.
    I've had a D80, and agree with Elliot that ISO1600 on it is much more useful than a lot of people claim... but it's certainly behind on a D700, so I'd see no reason at all to take a D80 if you have a D700 available.
  13. Javier,
    Do you have some D7000 / ISO 6400 samples that you don't mind sharing at full resolution?
  14. Many thanks for your help guys. I think I am going to have to spend a bit of money to get this low light photography where I want it to be
  15. Sure, IF you get the exposure right ISO 1600 is usable on a D80. OTOH I get lots of noise in the shadows on my D200 even at ISO 400. Yes, I shoot (compressed) RAW. It's simply not a forgiving camera. By the time I need to make use of high ISO settings, I'll be in such a dim area that I'm using relatively slow shutter speeds anyhow. Slowing it down even more to gain a proper exposure is often not an option with moving subjects. A D90 or D700 will give you much more room to work.
    As far as needing zoom lenses, unless you're going to be moving around a lot (and even then perhaps not) you won't need one. Carry some telephoto primes. Maybe a 105/2 and an 85/1.8?
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Javier, Do you have some D7000 / ISO 6400 samples that you don't mind sharing at full resolution?​
    Part of the problem is that a lot of people are simply referring to ISO xzy without taking the scene and underexposure into consideration.
    If you use the D80 @ ISO 1600 in a well lit scene, I am sure it will be ok. The problem is that when there are a lot of shadow, underexposed areas. I have used the D200 and D3000 indoors @ ISO 1600, both of which use a similar Sony 10MP CCD sensor as the D80. I don't find the result acceptable.
    Attached is a pixel-level crop of an image from the D7000 @ ISO 6400. On purpose I am including some bright areas and some dim areas of a street corner. The birght areas look great, but the problem lies elsewhere.
  17. Javier,
    Do you have some D7000 / ISO 6400 samples that you don't mind sharing at full resolution​
    This image of my Grandson with his first black eye was shot inside the hospital with dim lighting. (My daughter gave birth to Mia, so I now have a grand daughter as well ) I used the 35F/1.8 wide open at ISO 6400 @ 1/250, +1EV. This image has been resized to 700pix for the forum. I used auto tone in CS5. No other mods where done to it.....
    To see a 100% straight out of the camera Jpeg of this very same shot, click the link. Keep in mind that with this 16mp image, there is plenty of resolution to crop, do some pp and still have a clean poster size 26 x 38'' image.
    Download the image and the EXIF should still be attached to it.
  18. Out of interest, why are we talking about the D7000 when the OP asked about the D80 and D700? That said, Shun - informative picture (and, er, ouch).

    Stephen: Can I suggest you consider a monopod? The price of a cheap one would be dwarfed by your lens hire.
  19. Do you have a D80 and a D700? For me this would be obvious, forget the D80 (bring it as a backup but it most likely stays in your bag) and rent a fast lens for the D700.
  20. Thanks Javier. That is fairly impressive for ISO 6400. BTW that image was not 16 mp (maybe you are not using the large jpeg setting). But I looked at it at 100% size and it was really really good! That is a camera worth buying I'd say!
  21. Thanks Shun, yes I am aware of what you say. But given the same lighting scenario and all things being equal (same lens, same exposure), it does seem that the D7000's high ISO performance is pretty good.
  22. Thanks Nish. Actually, I am not using the highest jpeg settings, but the std ones. The mp is mega pixals, not mega bites.
    Thanks for looking.
  23. I would go with the 70-200 F2.8 VR if no VR try a monopod. It's is faster to use than a tripod and will gretly help stabalize long 70-200 lens. Too many people forget the importance of a tri or monpod which in my opinion makes th difference between the pros and the joes.
  24. this may be hard to believe, the D80 is only about 1/2 stop 'worse' in the noise department compared to the D7000.​
    that is hard to believe, by about a full stop. i dont doubt that with careful post-processing it's possible to eke decent ISO1600 out of the d80, but shun is right about the shadow areas. plus saying, "it's great if you shoot in RAW AND apply a NR program in post-" isnt the same as saying "it's 1/2 stop worse in noise dept." out of the camera.
    D80 is simply not a great low-light camera. d700 will be much better, but d7000 will also be a huge improvement, whether you shoot RAW or not. in any event, you do need faster lenses. 70-200 is not very unobtrusive; more like the opposite. i'd go with maybe a fast 1.4 or 1.8 prime and a fast 2.8 zoom.
  25. Eric, I specifically mentioned that " JPGs are far superior with Nikon's latest over older DX bodies." I know it is hard to believe that some of Nikon's 'recent' older bodies can produce good results at ISO 1600, but they can with some care as I outlined above. At least that is my experience with them (D70, D50, D40, D80, D200, d300) I guess it might also surprise some that RAW ISO 6400 images from the D3 have plenty of noise in them as well if NR is not on and do not look all that different than the D7000 sample Shun posted. It is only through PP that they clean up really well (unless you have NR on). Noise processing software has come a long way in the past few years. Today's noise reduction software does a lot more than just remove noise. Unlike old NR programs that blurred the images in their processing, the latest versions maintain incredible detail making high ISO images from bodies like the D80 look great. The sample images I linked to above were processed 3 years ago and looked great then. NR software has improved dramatically since then and would probably look even better now.
    The OP has not made it clear if he owns both bodies. If he does, the choice of which body to take is obvious.
  26. Hey Javier,
    Yeah I was talking about mp too. Your image came to 10.59 million mega pixels. The D7000's max res is 16.06 million mega pixels.
    The reason I mention this is that you said the 16 mp gives you extra room for cropping so I wanted to point out to you (in case it was inadvertently done) that you were only using about 10 mp (same as a D80).
    Thanks again.
  27. Nish,
    Thank you for the correction. You are right and I have adjusted my camera accordingly. :) It is interesting really. Mostly I shoot Pentax and with the Pentax gear, the J pegs have nearly 1/3 more res. I will have to pay more attention to this and do some experimenting. I was confusing res with image size. Thanks again :)
  28. You are welcome.
  29. Hi Guys,
    I probably should of made myself a bit clearer but I actually own a D80 but will be renting the D700 with a view to buying one in the New Year. I think it is clear that the D700 would be the choice because of the sensor and ISO ability but wouldn't a fast 2.8 of some sort also help the objective as well, I can understand people saying the 85 or 50 prime 1.4 or 1.8 but I will be standing at on the edge of a hall/dining area?
    Many Thanks
  30. @Elliot, ok, but that's a big "IF"...
    i upgraded from d80 to d300 and again to D3s just because i wanted better high-ISO performance without having to spend hours tinkering with software. maybe for others its worth the time/effort.
    i have to say, the D3s is fairly amazing at high ISOs, there's basically no noise until 12,800. i'm sure i could shoot at 25,600 with NR processing...
  31. Eric,
    I am with you. I would rather be shooting than playing with software on a computer.

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