low light question

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by yacoub_isaac, May 7, 2010.

  1. Hello,
    Lately I have found myself in more low light situations in the past. I currently own a D70s and typically use my 18-200. In good lighting conditions I am happy with the images this combination produces, but in low light, the 18-200 is too slow and if I raise the ISO on the D70s above 400 there is just too much noise for my liking. So I am wondering if it is better to get a camera that has a better high ISO capability and keep the 18-200 for the versatility or spend more on lens like a used 70-200 VR I and keep the D70s? Getting both isn't an option. I am leaning toward the more expensive option of getting the better glass because it is the better long term solution. I am also open to other options.
    Thanks
    Jake
     
  2. A used Nikkor 80-200 2.8 and a D90. Probably cheaper as an 70-200 and may money left for a Tamron 17-50 2.8 or Nikkor 50/1.4 or 1.8.
     
  3. for lenses i would start with the inexpensive but sharp 50/1.8 (or the 35/1.8) and see where that takes you.
    you dont say whether you have other lenses, but if the 18-200 is your only lens, i'm not sure i wouldnt want to have the wide end of the spectrum covered first before the long end. if you sold the 18-200, you could probably pay for most of the cost of a tamron 17-50 VC. getting a fast zoom lens can be expensive; a used 70-200 VR I wouldnt be the most cost-effective option and would still leave you with a big gap as far as coverage. i personally use the sigma 50-150 with a d300 for to cover that range in those situations, so i can recommend that as an excellent bang for the buck lens.
    as far as a new body, the d70s was a great camera in its time but even a d5000 has better IQ and low-light ability. even the difference between a d80 and d300 is significant in terms of high-ISO/low-light performance. for a lot of low-light stuff, even 2.8 isnt fast enough, especially if your noise threshold is ISO 400. so i would definitely upgrade the body. ideally you'd want to upgrade to at least a d90 for the ability to AF with more lenses. with all that in mind, i'm not sure a 70-200 makes sense, at least not right away. yes, it's a long-term solution but should be no higher than third on your priority list, below fast prime (possibly fast wide-mid zoom) and new body.
     
  4. Are you just looking for a telezoom?
    Anyway, if I were staying with DX format, I`d probably get the latest DX sensor camera that fit your budget together with a cheap fast prime.
    If I were tempted about switching to FX, I`d probably go straight for a 70-200VRII... and wait for the next D700 update (a very expensive solution, thought).
     
  5. The best low noise, low light cameras are in this order:
    D3S,
    D3,
    D700,
    D3X,
    D300S
    D90
    Get one of those cameras, or use a noise removal software with your D70S.
    Optionally use a tripod instead of getting the 2.8 lens.
    With 2.8 lens you will have possibly the same amount of noise on D70, but with chances to shoot at a bit lower ISO or faster shutter. Getting e.g. D700 will give you much better noise free pictures, even with your current slow/cropped lens.
    Rather than getting 70-200/2.8, get 50/1.8 inexpeisive lens, and see how much less noise your D70 produces, in environment and style you shoot, then decide what will be better for you,
     
  6. ps hans, the problem with the 80-200 is, besides not having any coverage on the wide to mid end, its big and heavy and not especially suited for low-light work without a monopod or tripod. there was another recent thread where an 80-200 owner was complaining about blurrier pics than a 70-300 VR. this was due to too slow of a shutter speed with that metal bhemoth. if you need to shoot at 1/200 and higher in dim conditions, your pictures are going to be very dark. plus that lens is gonna have sluggish focus on a d90.
    the 17-50 VC on the other hand has both 2.8 and VC which naturally lends itself to low-light handheld pics. so, i would get that first. the sigma 50-150 (27.5 oz) i mentioned above weighs a lot less than the 80-200 (46 oz)--more than a pound lighter, in fact. and it will be much faster to focus on a d90. you still need a reasonably fast shutter in dark conditions to prevent blur, but its closer to 1/100 than the 1/200 you'd likely need in the same situation with the 80-200.
     
  7. Update your software. Programs like DXO and Bibble allow you to get low ISO looking results from higher ISO shots [provided you shoot RAW]. Processed ISO 1600 images often look like they were shot at ISO 400 or below after processing.
     
  8. I opt for the D90. An expensive fast zoom lens may not be sharp enough for your liking wide open, and does not have DOF. You can try the 1.8 50mm to see, if it fits your needs. A 2.8 will give you only one and a half stops, which is about the gain from the D70 to the D90 in terms of noise.
     
  9. I am wondering if it is better to get a camera that has a better high ISO capability and keep the 18-200 for the versatility​
    for low light, an 18-200 is not that versatile. it's not that bad (f/3.5) at 18mm, but at 60mm, it's f/4.8. this means you have to bump the ISO very high and/or have to use low shutter speeds--raising the risk of possible motion blur with moving subjects--and also that your viewfinder will be much dimmer than with a 2.8 or faster lens.
    ideally, for this type of work, you want a high-ISO camera and a fast lens (or three).
     
  10. I didn't read this whole thread so apologies for may have been covered..... the D70 uses a CCD sensor which are not very good at higher ISOs. The first Nikon using a CMOS sensor (better at higher ISOs) is currently is the D5000. The current version of your camera would be the D90 which also uses a CMOS sensor. Between the 70 and the 90 was the D80, but that used a CCD so I wouldn't recommend it.
    In terms of lenses, your lens is very slow for low light work. A f/2.8 lens gives you one f/stop at the wide end and 2-f/stops at the long end. My wife loves the Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 lens. Light and relatively fast. Or, fast primes are hard to beat. A 50mm f/1.8 is a good lens or the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is a great lens.
     
  11. There is some good advice, and a D90 or D5000 with a cheaper fast lens would certainly cover the most bases; just some remarks.
    The point Eric raises that the 80-200 is heavy and for some more difficult to handhold is valid, but also a personal point. I have far more issue with light-weight long lenses because they balance bad. A 1 kilo lens when held properly, to me is easier to hold still. Try before you buy.
    Another thing, low light sometimes is just too low too. Maybe if you describe the situations a bit more, or show example photos, it's possible to give more targetted advice. As stated above, f/2.8 is not that fast and won't fit the bill for every situation; ISO1600 or 3200 sometimes also does not cut it; and some light is just not good enough and only flash will really work. Even with a 1.4 lens on a D3s, if the light is bad, it will still look murky. Just to set the right expectation, a sample picture would probably help.
    The point about software is also a good one, though it has its limits - be sure to try Capture NX2 too (assuming you should RAW), it has pretty good noise reduction.
     
  12. The biggest problem with the D70 is that it starts to produce patterned noise pretty easily and loses all resemblance of dynamic range when pumping up the ISO. No amount of post-processing or lenses will fix this, so better start considering a newer camera at some point.
    The problem with the 18-200 is that it's just darn slow :)
    I have a day to try out a D700, did some indoor pics with it using a 35/1.4 and 50/1.2, worked very nicely, really recommended if hand-held pictures at non-optimal conditions are needed.
    You didn't state budget nor what focal lengths you need, but a D90 would be a reasonably economical way to upgrade the body. If you need the 70-200 mm range, try to get a good deal on the 70-200/2.8 VR mark I; it's perfectly usable on DX and should be a lot cheaper than the new mark II.
     
  13. My suggestion is to buy a refurb D90, and then look for a used Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. That will give you about four more stops for just a bit over $1,000. Keep the 18-200mm as your main lens.
    Kent in SD
     
  14. I've compared my D50 (very similar to the D70) and my pretty new D90 carefully and I can honestly say that a properly exposed photo at ISO 400 on the D50 is about the same quality printed (up to 8 x 10) as one at 1600 on the D90, and ISO 800 on the D90 is maybe about the same as 3200 on the D90. So... you get two more stops, basically. ISO 1600 on the D50 and 6400 on the D90 are only really any good at 4 x 6 or 5 x 7. But there are other reasons that the D90 is just plain better than that generation of camera... lots of 'em.
    Glass is a good investment, but imho, you should get a new camera. The 18-200, btw, gives me GREAT results up to 8 x 10 on the D90, and perfectly good stuff at 11 x 14 if viewed from a "reasonable distance". I'd get a D90 and a 35mm f1.8 DX and/or 50mm f1.8. There are some refurb deals out there, that's what I got. The D5000 is an awesome alternative, too, but the difference in the screen and viewfinder between them is, imho, substantial.
     
  15. The point Eric raises that the 80-200 is heavy and for some more difficult to handhold is valid, but also a personal point. I have far more issue with light-weight long lenses because they balance bad. A 1 kilo lens when held properly, to me is easier to hold still. Try before you buy.​
    wouter, the 80-200 is not a 1 kg lens; it's closer to 1 1/3 kg. since a kilo = 2.2 lbs, this is not an insignificant difference when it comes to handholding such a beast. and lighter lenses balance better on lighter bodies.i realize that good handheld technique can make a difference with longer lenses, but an 80-200 will be more unbalanced on a d90 than a 50-150.
    besides personal preference, there's just no getting around the physics involved. a heavier lens requires a faster shutter when used handheld. in low-light situations, this is not ideal. so for that reason, i wouldnt recommend the 80-200 for that application.
    also, if the OP has to sell the 18-200 to finance another lens and/or another body, the obvious implication is that he's working with a modest budget. a used 70-200 I is about $1500 at KEH. IMO, that money would be much better spent on a d90 ($800 new) and either a 17-50 VC ($650) or a 50-150 ($750). in any event, i would still get a 50/1.8 first as the simplest, least wallet-draining solution to low-light issues. the cheapest "low-light kit" with AF would be a d5000 ($550) + 35/1.8 ($200).
     
  16. My low light situations vary, sorry I don't have any one particular shot to post. I think the D90 upgrade is the best option. I have 35mm 1.8 & 60mm macro, I was really looking for a lens at the longer end. I'll start with the camera and see where that takes me, I'll double my MP too. If that doesn't do the trick, sell the 60mm Macro and the 18-200 and get some better lenes.
    Thanks for all the responses.
     
  17. i really am happy with my 18-200 on my d90 the d90 is a huge upgrade over the 70 so go with it.. then you will have time to decide.. the 50 f1.4 is a great combo for the d90
     
  18. i really am happy with my 18-200 on my d90 the d90 is a huge upgrade over the 70 so go with it.. then you will have time to decide.. the 50 f1.4 is a great combo for the d90
     
  19. I would strongly urge the use of a tripod!
     
  20. Low light indoors or outdoors most of the time ? If indoors, 70-200 f2.8 VR may not be a good option. Perhaps Nikkor 17-55 f2.8, 35 f1.8, or 50 f1.4, or the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 VC.
     
  21. and yes, use flash.
     
  22. I would invest in a D700, I just got one and it works great with slow lenses in low light. It is suppose to be one of the top performers in low light conditons and I can see that it is.
     
  23. Lately I have found myself in more low light situations in the past​
    This is so true. There was a time that ISO 100 is considered high and F5.6 is fast lens. But lately ISO 50K seems not enough
     
  24. Eric, I have the 80-200 (also used on a D80, which is same weight and size as a D90), so what I stated before is my personal preference. Little point in disputing that. I know the physics, and I know handholding my 80-200 properly (meaning holding the lens, keep arm rested on chest, control breathing) is for me way easier than a long feather-weight lens like the 70-300G on the same body. For the 80-200, I can do 1/fl, for the 70-300, I will need way more (closer to 1 / 3*fl typically).
    So try before you buy is a simple but effective advice here, since not all people are alike, and op may like a heavier lens over a lighter one maybe.
     
  25. If you want a longer lens for low-light, look for a 70-200/2.8 VR. After using it, you wont use the 18-200 in the longer range anymore ;-)
     
  26. It depends on what kind of low light situations do you mean: dynamic or static. VR can help you for static objects. For shooting dynamic objects in low light situations you need fast lenses and high ISO capability.
    Static: D90 + VR lenses
    Dynamic: D700 + f/2.8 lenses or faster
    You should upgrade your D70s in any case.
     
  27. D90 + 35mm 1.8 + 85mm 1.8 + 180mm 2.8(used) or ultra wide = 70-200VR(approx)
    With the 18-200 and a D70 for a backup. A great kit.
     
  28. Eric, I have the 80-200 (also used on a D80, which is same weight and size as a D90), so what I stated before is my personal preference. Little point in disputing that. I know the physics, and I know handholding my 80-200 properly (meaning holding the lens, keep arm rested on chest, control breathing) is for me way easier than a long feather-weight lens like the 70-300G on the same body. For the 80-200, I can do 1/fl, for the 70-300, I will need way more (closer to 1 / 3*fl typically).
    So try before you buy is a simple but effective advice here, since not all people are alike, and op may like a heavier lens over a lighter one maybe.​
    wouter, i see your point. i have the 70-300 ED and camera shake at 200mm and beyond is noticeable, to the point where i have to do 1/ 1/2 FL to avoid blur. but i typically only use that lens handheld in daylight.
    the OP was specifically referring to low-light situations, however. even with good handholding technique, a non-stabilized 46 oz. hunk o' metal will be challenging under those conditions. there are other issues with the 80-200 as well, such as AF speed. at 27.5 oz, the 50-150 is a hefty lens, but not overwhelmingly so, and the HSM motor is very fast to acquire focus, even in dim lighting conditions. the differences in weight can mean the difference between a too-dark shot or a too-blurry shot vs. an acceptable capture. that's all i'm saying.
     

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