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Low Light Photography

Jr Junior , Oct 09, 2011; 11:06 a.m.


I am planning to do some low light and regular photography with my canon 60D. Can this be achieved my with my 18-135mm lens or do I need special lens for the low light conditions. Low light photographs will be done in a concert setting. Please help.


Philip Wilson , Oct 09, 2011; 11:49 a.m.

You should post this on the EOS forum. In answer to your question you may well find that the 18-135 is too slow. On the 60D you should be able to use ISO 1600 (and ISO 3200 with care) - in either case shoot RAW. The 18-135 is F3.5-f5.6 and mainly F5.6. A lens like the 85 f1.8 will give you 3.5 stops improvement (i.e. shooting at 1/1000 vs 1/90)

Duane Loya , Oct 10, 2011; 08:40 a.m.

This is the Canon EOS forum Philip, where we talk just about Canon EOS cameras and lenses right? How much low light to you think you are going to be photographing in? With a tripod you can shoot 6400 and 12800 using the timer or remote trigger for it. You should be able to get near night shots with it including doing a photograph of the nights sky and stars over time. My 60D does great in the dark even with the 28 - 200mm lens.

Mark Anthony Kathurima , Oct 10, 2011; 04:12 p.m.

Low light photographs will be done in a concert setting.

How far will you be from the stage? 2 feet? 200 feet? What sort of concert? Very often concert lighting will focus on the main performer(s) and that can often mean they are spot lit. You may therefore need to meter accordingly. I have successfully used an f/4 lens at a concert with typical low light. I was about 30 feet away from the stage: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=978564
Check image details for EXIF information.

Philip Wilson , Oct 10, 2011; 09:09 p.m.

Duane - when I replied to this it was in the FD forum - it has obviously been moved since. While you can shot stars etc.. with slow lenses the OP asked about concerts. Usually you cannot take a tripod in and you are trying to shoot a moving subject under low lighting so IS does not help and you need to go to high ISO. I am not sure what the 60D is like for low light but my 7D, 1DIIN and even my 5DII are very bad at ISO 12800 and I find even the 5DII is at it's limit at ISO 3200.

Jeff Spirer , Oct 10, 2011; 09:13 p.m.

the OP asked about concerts

Exactly. Shots of stars and night skies are irrelevant to the question. Using a tripod at a concert is almost always impossible.

The problem with the question is that "low light" can mean almost anything, distance is important, and rules about what you can do matter. Without more information, it will be hard to answer the question in a really useful way.

Emma Swann , Oct 16, 2011; 10:59 a.m.

It'll depend on the venues you're intending to shoot at.
For small venues - often back rooms of pubs or basements, for example - I've found my Sigma 30mm 1.4 to be priceless, as they don't usually have any 'proper' lighting of sorts. The 50mm 1.8 is also pretty damn good at this level - and being small and light is always in my bag, just in case I need the extra light!
For medium and large venues with proper stages, lighting and a photopit, any 24-70 2.8 or similar (my Tamron is slightly different) will be your best bet. For most gigs I photograph in London, this is the lens I know I'll be using - and I use a 50D yet notice it's also what the full-frame shooters are using at the same time.
Then, if it's arena shows, massive outdoor events or festivals, a 70-200 2.8 is a must - it didn't come off my camera all weekend during Reading Festival, for example.
I hope that is of some help - if in doubt, try the 50mm 1.8 because it's a great focal length on a crop body for most live gig settings unless it's a very big venue!

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