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They are in focus, but very dark. I tried increasing ISO to 400 but they came out too noisy. I only seem to get good pictures using the speedlight flash. Are there any adjustments one can do to correct this problem?
Are you aware of the Exposure Compensation button? It is on top of the camera, right behind the word "OFF". Hold down that button, turn the control knob and add exposure until the histogram sits nicely in the middle of the graph. The histogram is the most accurate and meaningful light meter ever invented, and vital for an auto-exposure camera that is so easily fooled.
Be very aware of what is in the image. If there are actual light sources - table l&s and that sort of thing - the camera will try to preserve detail in the highlights, pushing the rest of the exposure down. The opposite is also true. Photograph a performer at a club in front of a black background and the performer will be washed out. While these situations are routinely handled with manual exposure cameras, they become highly critical when auto-exposure is relied upon. It is vital to match the subject with the background in terms of exposure levels.
Since auto-exposure seeks an average middle tone, it is up to the photographer to see what is in the picture and apply the intelligence that the camera lacks. Auto-exposure is really great, as long as the shooter's intelligence is functioning. However, it is very easy to come to rely upon it without using one's own eyes and brain, and that invariably leads to disasterous exposures. Whenever in doubt, always shoot test shots, check your histogram and adjust accordingly. The test shots can be deleted - they are the equivalent of taking a meter reading. By relying upon your histogram, superb exposures will be assured all the time.
Shooting with a digital camera is almost exactly like shooting Kodachrome in a 35mm camera. There is no latitude for over-exposure and very little latitude for under-exposure. If you are accustomed to shooting negatives, you will find that a much higher level of skill is required, along with constant vigilance and making of test shots to achieve the potential of your camera.
Thanks for replying Larry. I tried using Exposure Compensation, the photos became clearer, but blurier because the camera had to compensate by lowering shutter speed to 1/8 or 1/15. I don't get it, I used to work with a Sony Cybershot DSC-P32 (amateur photo) and in the same environments I had no such problems.
What ISO setting are you using? Try using ISO400 or ISO800. Make sure you have no light sources in the image area. If there is any source of brightness, the camera will adjust the exposure for that, leaving the rest of the image dark. Make sure that your aperture is always set as close as the lens will allow to f-2.8.
You can also get sharper slow shutter-speed images by using Best Shot Selector (BSS on the menu).
I always shoot with ambient light and often in very dark environments. Even with ISO800 I often have to deal with very slow shutters. If I don't have a monopod or tripod, I rest the camera on my lap, on the arm of a chair, on a table or if I am standing, I lean against things.
Daniel, Larry is quite right about the ISO800 settings..as well as the tripod advice..and shouldnt be overlooked. As for the extra noise found at those levels, you might want to add a tool to your arsenal called "Neat Image" if you follow the online directions, it does an awesome job of removing the noise
The above URL will at least get you started in using it. Exposure Compensation will allow you to remain in an auto-exposure mode and still have complete control of your exposure. I recommend using Aperture Priority, since you can set the aperture to f-2.8 and the camera will select the appropriate shutter speed. Be aware however, that to hand hold at that focal length, you should be shooting at 1/30th of a second or faster. See below.
Realize that auto-exposure has little or no idea of what you want. For the most part, it simply tries to adjust the scene to an average mid-tone. Therefore, if there are actual light sources in the image, they will depress the overall level of exposure greatly while the camera tries to cope with them. All auto-exposure systems are biased to try to retain highlight detail, which is what you want. Shooting digital is much like shooting Kodachrome. Both are very critical and unforgiving of exposure. With either, a loss of highlight detail is disaster. Skillful processing can often recover some shadow detail, but once base density or a value of 255, 255, 255 is reached, there is nothing more to recover.
Though I cut it pretty close, my images all need a bit of highlight boost in processing. I consciously under-expose a bit, so I have control of where I place my pure whites. Chances are that you too can make fine prints of your dark exposures with adjustments of the highlights using Levels in your image processing program. It is a very useful technique. By underexposing by 1.0EV when set to ISO800, you are in fact exposing at ISO1600. Adjusting the highlights is the digital equivalent of "pushing" film in development.
Since the auto-exposure system lacks intelligence, it must be supplied by the photographer. If there is a predominance of dark values in the image area, the opposite will happen as well. Shoot pictures of a performer in a nightclub, playing against a black backdrop, and the camera will try to boost the backdrop to a middle grey, wiping out the performer.
With the intelligence the photographer brings to the situation, a test shot will be done, the image and histogram are check and Exposure Compensation will be applied. This will be repeated until the exposure is perfect. If the shot requires more than Â±2.0EV, switch to Manual exposure mode and you can cope with even the most extreme conditions.
Using the WC-E80, you have astounding depth of field, so can shoot wide open at f-2.8. Since you need a minimum shutter speed in the range of 1/30th of a second, you will have to adjust the ISO value to get this speed. Frame the image area and begin advancing the ISO setting. When the monitor reads at least 1/30th at f-2.8, you have the necessary setting. Understand that increasing the ISO setting also increases the grain, but it is far better to have a nice clear image with grain and noise than a useless image ruined by camera or subject movement. At lower speeds, a tripod, monopod or table-top tripod becomes more and more vital for sharpness.
Another problem with interior photography by ambient light, is a contrast ratio well beyond what photographic materials can record, resulting in great loss of shadow or highlight detail. The CP5700 has a powerful feature - auto-bracketing - that will allow you to shoot a series of shots at intervals from 0.3EV to full 1.0EV. These shots can be easily combined in an image processing program that supports levels, producing outstanding quality. S&les and tutorial at
These cameras will let you shoot under the most extreme conditions and come back with superb quality images. Shooting under extreme conditions does take some learning and loads of practice, but it pays off handsomely. For more ex&les and descriptions of how they were done, please check
Ah, you've hit me in my weak spot. I have never had any experience with the Nikon flashes. I have a case of Vivitar 283 units with enough trigger voltage to cook any contemporary digital camera. I carried them for many so years that I felt more like a beast of burden than a photographer.
I have always been in love with the realism of ambient light, but so often having to shoot low speed chrome films for publication, multi-flash was required. Now I am shooting for my own gratification for the first time since I was a kid, and if you looked at my site, you will see that most of my stuff is done without flash.
I do on occasion use the built-in flash for contrast control or for effect, but never for the prime light source. I tested a multi-flash setup, using the built-in flash as a trigger for slave units, but beyond the single test, It did work fine and delivered exactly what I had visualized. I have done nothing with them on an actual shoot, and probably won't.
I have no plans for adding a dedicated Nikon flash any time in the future. I love my ambient light shots. Hopefully someone else will jump in with your solution.
You may be able to find some information on Thom Hogan's site. He is very knowledgeable about Nikon flash and his site is a treasury of information.