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Is a sharp&bright photo impossible? (1 Viewer)

kuzeycem

Medicinal Birding
Turkey
So, I was photographing some finches and tits at a local park this morning and tried to some experimenting with my Canon 7D + 400mm 5.6.
First I tried Tv mode as that is the mode I use when it's all sunny. However, as you can imagine, dim light doesn't go well with Tv (or anything in that matter).
As my lens in 400mm, I usually need a shutter speed of more than 1/400 or 1/640. However when I enter these values the ISO value it gives me is very inadequate for my current position. And when I increase the ISO, noise comes in.
Then I tried Av. I set the ISO to 400 and aperture to f/5.6. It was very well lit but for some reason the shutter speed kept changing, even though I usually kept the ISO and f-stop constant.
Shutter speed was also very slow, about 1/80, so it had massive motion blur. Of course it can become sharp with higher ISO, but... noise.
So what is the deal? Is there any way you can get a nice, sharp, well-lit shot? What is the technique?

Thanks in advance.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
So, I was photographing some finches and tits at a local park this morning and tried to some experimenting with my Canon 7D + 400mm 5.6.
First I tried Tv mode as that is the mode I use when it's all sunny. However, as you can imagine, dim light doesn't go well with Tv (or anything in that matter).
As my lens in 400mm, I usually need a shutter speed of more than 1/400 or 1/640. However when I enter these values the ISO value it gives me is very inadequate for my current position. And when I increase the ISO, noise comes in.
Then I tried Av. I set the ISO to 400 and aperture to f/5.6. It was very well lit but for some reason the shutter speed kept changing, even though I usually kept the ISO and f-stop constant.
Shutter speed was also very slow, about 1/80, so it had massive motion blur. Of course it can become sharp with higher ISO, but... noise.
So what is the deal? Is there any way you can get a nice, sharp, well-lit shot? What is the technique?

Thanks in advance.

The camera sensor needs some quantity of light for a shot at a given ISO number. This amount is determined by the size of the aperture (the f number) and the duration of the exposure, the shutter speed. Fixing both the ISO and the aperture leaves the shutter speed as the metering variable.
There is no way around this tradeoff, which is why persistence is considered the most valuable photographic aid available.
Your system is a pretty capable one. It just needs ongoing tweaking to squeeze as much image quality as possible out of each opportunity..
 

stevo

Well-known member
I would suggest that you look up exposing to the right of the histogram.doing this will allow you to some extent to shoot at higher iso's with reduced noise and higher shutter speeds.

Steve.
 

bartolli

Well-known member
You also briefly mentioned "dim light", not much you can do about that! I usually shoot in aperture priority, increasing ISO if needed to get a faster shutter speed. But in dim light this quite often isn't enough.
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
You work with the light you've got. Sunshine good, shade not so good, overcast bad.

If that means an increase in ISO (and noise) to accommodate the F5.6 aperture of the lens with a shutter speed of 1/800 or faster (don't forget the 7D has a 1.6 crop factor, so the old rule of thumb of 1/focal length doesn't apply), then that's life.

You won't get a crisp photo hand-held at 1/400 with a 7D and a 400mm lens.

400x1.6=640, so the minimum shutter speed you should be thinking of is 1/640 and unless you are well-braced and static, with a well-behaved subject you're still at risk of camera shake at that speed. Better to think of 1/800 or 1/1000 when hand-holding to avoid camera shake and live with the inevitable increase of ISO (and noise) that goes along with it. Even faster is needed if you're trying to track a flying bird. The subject is moving, the camera is moving and you're moving.

I don't like to go below 1/1250 for that.

I had to let the ISO get to 1250 to get this shot with the subject in deep shade under a bush in morning Mediterranean sun. If I'd kept the ISO down to reduce noise, I'd have had a shutter speed that would have meant no photo at all.

Taken at close range from a car, hand-held. F6.3, 1/800 sec, ISO 1250. Canon 7D + 400/5.6L lens.
 

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poor light

Hi, unfortunately you can't do much about this.
you only have two options,
1. using flash which is not always practical or desirable
2.acquiring a faster lens with an aperture of f2.8 or f4, certainly not a a cheap option but worth looking into if you can afford it.

I normally shoot in AV mode and manually set my iso to between 400-800.
Im shooting with a Sigma 300-800 which I normally use at max aperture f5.6 however don't have the same light issues here in Australia too often.
I have used this lens a lot In England so know how bad the light can be at times.

I am sure you 7D Should be more than capable at iso 800+ so a bit of noise is far preferable to blurr caused by too slow a shutter speed.
 

HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I'd forget AV/TV entirely and use Manual mode, with your lens I'd set it at f5.6 and 1/800 sec as 'default', SS and aperture can easily be changed in M mode without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. ISO will depend on the lighting, up to 800 is fine to use on the 7D, I found most of my shots over 800 with that body got binned.

If you're getting massively underexposed shots at f5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO800 then you should call it a day or you need a tripod to use slower shutter speeds (I'm assuming you are handholding). But then you have to hope the birds don't move around too much.
 

GYRob

Well-known member
I'd forget AV/TV entirely and use Manual mode, with your lens I'd set it at f5.6 and 1/800 sec as 'default', SS and aperture can easily be changed in M mode without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. ISO will depend on the lighting, up to 800 is fine to use on the 7D, I found most of my shots over 800 with that body got binned.

If you're getting massively underexposed shots at f5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO800 then you should call it a day or you need a tripod to use slower shutter speeds (I'm assuming you are handholding). But then you have to hope the birds don't move around too much.

This is the way to go.

Rob.
 

tdodd

Just call me Tim
Using the Sunny 16 rule for bright sunshine you could shoot at, for example, 1/1600, f/5.6, 200 ISO for a well exposed front lit subject,or even 1/800, f/5.6, 100 ISO.

As light levels drop, especially compounded with low, winter sun, you will inevitably have to make compromises on those settings. An overcast day could lose you 3-4 stops of light and additional shade (such as in woodland) will only make things worse. Underexposure is bad, and blur/shake is worse, so pick the slowest shutter speed you can get away with and fire in short bursts in the hope that you can find a sharp shot within the burst. If you have to bump the ISO then bump the ISO. It is better to let the camera do the work in the analogue domain than software later on in the digital domain. For the 7D and most Canon cameras only select full stop ISO values (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600) or 1/3 stop below (160, 320, 640, 1250) and avoid values of 125, 250, 500, 1000. Try to limit the ISO to 3200 max, but go there if you have to.

Finally, get close and fill the frame. IQ will improve by leaps and bounds if you don't have to crop. Sharpness will improve and noise will diminish, relative to the size of the details in the subject.

FWIW I shot this a few minutes ago with my 7D MK 1 and 100-400 MK 1, hand held with IS disabled in open shade at 1/320, f/8, 3200 ISO. The subject was chosen due to its finch like size and fine detail. No edits except resizing to 1600x1067 on conversion from raw.

CLICK FOR IMAGE

Obviously "bright" is not a realistic ambition when shooting in shade - I've never heard of bright shade - but the exposure is good, the details sharp and the noise (in the subject) insignificant. IMHO

The reason I shot at f/8 is because the zoom lens is not as sharp a your prime, so I'm sure you could find another stop of light if required. I disabled IS to more fairly match your challenge with the prime lens, but I also obtained sharp shots at lower shutter speeds and lower ISO values with IS off, when shooting bursts.
 

HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
How can you create "shortcuts" from pre-existing buttons? Like a button will handle ISO, the other f/stop etc.?

The dial on the top changes S/S and the back wheel changes aperture.

You can assign functions to various other buttons, as others say just check the section in the manual under 'custom functions'.
 

KyleM

Well-known member
I'd forget AV/TV entirely and use Manual mode, with your lens I'd set it at f5.6 and 1/800 sec as 'default', SS and aperture can easily be changed in M mode without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. ISO will depend on the lighting, up to 800 is fine to use on the 7D, I found most of my shots over 800 with that body got binned.

If you're getting massively underexposed shots at f5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO800 then you should call it a day or you need a tripod to use slower shutter speeds (I'm assuming you are handholding). But then you have to hope the birds don't move around too much.


I agree with most of the above, manual is the way to go. I do most of my shooting with that lens at ~1/250, and ISO 100 (with a 7d also), and have no issues getting sharp photos. I don't hesitate to handhold 1/200, but don't like to go below that. 1/125 is pretty much the limit for handholding for me (maybe IS would help, but that can't do anything for subject motion) but at that point you are getting far too many factors in the mix.

If I feel the need to go below 1/200 it is goose up the ISO (I generally try to keep it no higher than 400, but can work with 800), and/or take my tripod off my back and get to work (particularly for 'very still' targets, like waiting waders), while recovering at least 1/250. I don't really agree with the 'minimum shutter of focal length' in my experience, but I have a history power lifting.
 

2slo

Well-known member
One of many I've taken with the 7D + 400mm f/5.6 lens. Nothing wrong with the equipt, it just needs time and effort to learn how to use it and then more time and effort to learn how to process the resultant RAW images.

IMG_4586a.jpg

Basic EXIF data:

Canon EOS 7D
EF400mm f/5.6L USM
ƒ/5.6
400.0 mm
1/400
ISO 2500
 

KyleM

Well-known member
One of many I've taken with the 7D + 400mm f/5.6 lens. Nothing wrong with the equipt, it just needs time and effort to learn how to use it and then more time and effort to learn how to process the resultant RAW images.

View attachment 525961

Basic EXIF data:

Canon EOS 7D
EF400mm f/5.6L USM
ƒ/5.6
400.0 mm
1/400
ISO 2500

What did you use to tame the noise on that one?
 

2slo

Well-known member
What did you use to tame the noise on that one?

mainly by ETTR then reducing exposure to the correct level in LR. Output NR in CS6 viewed at 100% to balance NR with detail loss.
Depending on the light at the time, if you can over expose by a stop and reduce accordingly, most of the noise will be sorted anyway.
 

KyleM

Well-known member
mainly by ETTR then reducing exposure to the correct level in LR. Output NR in CS6 viewed at 100% to balance NR with detail loss.
Depending on the light at the time, if you can over expose by a stop and reduce accordingly, most of the noise will be sorted anyway.

I've just never had that much luck with the 7D sorting noise that well, even when overexposed. Life goes on, I'm assuming the bird was pretty large in the frame.
 

2slo

Well-known member
I've just never had that much luck with the 7D sorting noise that well, even when overexposed. Life goes on, I'm assuming the bird was pretty large in the frame.

Seriously, it's not luck, it's just practice coupled with a willingness to try different techniques and variations until you're happy with your results. I'm very critical of my own work hence I'm learning all the time.
This was a 50% crop of the original image.
 

KyleM

Well-known member
Seriously, it's not luck, it's just practice coupled with a willingness to try different techniques and variations until you're happy with your results. I'm very critical of my own work hence I'm learning all the time.
This was a 50% crop of the original image.

But it is, just not in the way you are thinking. Having the bird, exposed, light evenly enough to overexpose it 1 stop without blowing the background tends to be a lot of luck. While I do employ ETTR, I've never liked the results of BETTR (bird exposed to the right), although I suppose I do that by default slightly using center metering ('big spot').

I have to convince myself not to look much at 100% crops of higher ISO images, if I captured close enough, mostly due to OCD tendencies, despite a 100% crop not being entirely representative of the final product, in most cases. Critical is good, but I tend to be critical beyond reason.
 
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