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Advice for shooting indoors

This is a discussion on Advice for shooting indoors within the Lighting forums, part of the Education & Technical category; Hi all, As a mum of a 2 yr old I often find myself shooting indoors in poor lighting conditions. ...

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    Nic
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    Default Advice for shooting indoors

    Hi all,
    As a mum of a 2 yr old I often find myself shooting indoors in poor lighting conditions. My problem is I need a fast shutter speed to freeze my daughters continual movement & I don't like the effect of the in built flash. I'm a novice, does anyone have any tips (other than go outside) to get better quality shots. I like grain, but hate noise. My previous experiences was with film processing, so I don't know a lot about digital post processing to reduce noise.

    Thanks for your help,
    Nic

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    Photography is an expensive hobby My recommendation is that you go out and by the Pentax SMC FA 50mm f/1.4 lens for your K-r. It retails for around $250 to $350 in Australia if I've done my research correctly. Taking the aperture down to f1.4 (or even f1.8 or f2.0) is going to give you a lot more light gathering ability. This should let you increase your shutter speed with only a minor increase ISO thus avoiding the grain. Note that this is not a recommendation for that specific lens... I looked it up because I know you are shooting with a Pentax K-r. There may be a Sigma or Tamron lens which works just as well for less.

    The other option, of course, is off camera flash. I picked up a Yongnuo YN-467 for $52 (currently being sent back because it died) and a YN-560 for around $75 off of eBay. The YN-560 is still going strong and I have my fingers crossed. I'm hoping they'll replace my 467 as soon as it finished taking the slow boat back to China. In any event this is the least expensive way to add light to the situation. Oh, that and the wireless remotes rf-603s for $40 solve many lighting problems but add complexity of understanding and using flash.
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    Nic
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    Default Using flash

    Thanks for the quick & detailed reply Iguanasan! I had thought about getting a prime lens previously as someone suggested it was a good way to improve your photography. Do you think that helps? It's tempting if it would give me a stop or so of extra light. My current lenses I'm afraid are kit lenses - Pentax 18-55mm & 50-200mm. The 18-55mm ranges from f3.5-f32. I recently saw a sigma 18-200mm & was wondering if that would b better than having the two lenses. I read zoom lenses aren't as good, but I've also read neither are kit lenses. I have so much to learn. I also don't want to over invest in equipment when I really need to invest in my skills.

    I also have a very basic flash that was part of my deal. I suspect it's not the best, but again I really want to improve before I spend too much. It's a Sigma EF-530 DG ST. I've been playing with it & reading the manual, but it's my first flash & I suspect there's some obvious basic knowledge I don't have. I can't get it to fire. It says to put it on ttl & set the camera to p. I don't understand what the numbers mean. It's lit up at 50. It doesn't seem to be warming up at the moment, maybe it needs new batteries?! It still lights up the numbers though. I've found even when I get it to fire it drives me crazy how long it takes to warm up. Is that just a problem with cheap flashes or is that just something you deal with flash photography? Sorry these are probably really silly questions. I really appreciate your help.

    Regards,
    Nic

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    Aside from a couple of strong lights ready to shine on her I can't really add to what Iggy has suggested.
    You simply lack light so you simply must find a way to get more light to the camera sensor, whether that be via adding physical lights/flashes or getting a faster lens is your call.

    Another thought is you might have to get more creative. You won't get as many candid moments but if you were find ways to get her to the brighter parts of the house ... such as the kitchen table if it's near a window for instance, you might get some very nice ambient light/shadow of her. These often convert very well to B&W also.

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    My first thought about your flash problems is that you need new batteries. With fresh batteries the flash should be ready within seconds of turning on or firing. If the batteries are weak they will power the readout only. Definitely try new batteries. Rechargeables work great for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nic View Post
    Thanks for the quick & detailed reply Iguanasan! I had thought about getting a prime lens previously as someone suggested it was a good way to improve your photography. Do you think that helps? It's tempting if it would give me a stop or so of extra light. My current lenses I'm afraid are kit lenses - Pentax 18-55mm & 50-200mm. The 18-55mm ranges from f3.5-f32. I recently saw a sigma 18-200mm & was wondering if that would b better than having the two lenses. I read zoom lenses aren't as good, but I've also read neither are kit lenses. I have so much to learn. I also don't want to over invest in equipment when I really need to invest in my skills.

    I also have a very basic flash that was part of my deal. I suspect it's not the best, but again I really want to improve before I spend too much. It's a Sigma EF-530 DG ST. I've been playing with it & reading the manual, but it's my first flash & I suspect there's some obvious basic knowledge I don't have. I can't get it to fire. It says to put it on ttl & set the camera to p. I don't understand what the numbers mean. It's lit up at 50. It doesn't seem to be warming up at the moment, maybe it needs new batteries?! It still lights up the numbers though. I've found even when I get it to fire it drives me crazy how long it takes to warm up. Is that just a problem with cheap flashes or is that just something you deal with flash photography? Sorry these are probably really silly questions. I really appreciate your help.

    Regards,
    Nic
    Without doubt in my mind, the Sigma 18-200 would be a better choice than the two kit lens overall. However, there's no reason why the kit lenses can't take a great photo in the right situation either ... i.e enough light.
    However, how fast is the Sigma? In case you don't know ... this means how low will your fstop go on that lens? Your 18-55 goes down to f3.5 which is still considered part of the normal range by most I think. f2.8 or lower is starting to get fast. f1.8 and f1.4 are fast.
    No point buying the Sigma for the indoor shooting if it's not going to be quicker.
    Better quality lenses do have other advantages such as quicker, more precise focusing, and better glass with reduction in chromatic aberration (fringing).

    You can get some very cheap f1.8 primes Nic ... they might be a low cost alternative to start with. They are plastic-ee but produce surprising results.

    The ttl is a reference to the way the camera talks to the flash. There should be a setting on the flash for that. I don't get why you'd have to set the camera to p (program) though but what the hell ... try it.
    I'd definitely try the batteries if warm up is taking too long. Although many flashes do take a few seconds (but not 10 or more) to warm up with good batteries.
    Again, better flashes have advantages of more control over flash power, stronger, adjustable heads and more.
    Your camera may have a section in the menu to control flash output to some degree. You may find that will reduce the over flashing and shadows you hate.

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    Thank you for the advice everyone! I've put some batteries on the charge. Definitely sounds like the issue, it's taking a lot longer than 10 secs to warm up. I'm going to learn how to use the flash first & then I might look into a faster lens. Mad Aussie the sigma 18-200mm is f3.5, so no better than the two lenses I already have. It would be easier to have one lens instead of two. I don't think I'll worry about it though. I'm more interested in the faster prime lens. Where can you pick up cheap prime lenses Mad Aussie? The faster prime lense would also help with my other issue of background. Not always the best back drops in my house. Not that I limit myself to indoors, it's just where I have the most difficulty getting a nice shot.

    I don't understand why I would have to set the flash to p either. I never shoot in p. I've probably misunderstood the manual. Will be doing more research about flash operation, I haven't got a clue.

    Thanks again everyone!

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    I got my 50mm f1.8 prime for about $120 from Cameras Direct I think. I have no idea if there's a version to suit your camera though.

    I do think that learning to use the kit lenses before spending big bucks on the Sigma is probably a wiser way to go. You can have all the great gear and no idea and still end up with crap shots. But with cheap gear, you can still get great shots if you know what you are doing.

    Another thing is learn post processing! And learn to shoot in RAW. With those two elements, you'd be surprised what you can do with what looked like a crap shot due to exposure.

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    Just did a very quick search and found in the pentax forums these options for the K-r ...
    SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 $221.44
    SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.7 $120

    Dunno whether those prices are US or AU ... but maybe search around a bit

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    Nic,
    As a beginner, I too am learning how to get good ambient light indoors without a flash. I don't care for flash because of harsh light (and I haven't really learned to use my flash correctly yet). So, from a beginner to a beginner, here are some tips that helped me(other than buying a 50mm f/1.8 lens)

    Set a custom white balance before shooting or make sure your white balance is set to the correct type of lighting you are using. This is not really helping the lighting, but your image maybe lit well enough, just your white balance is off, making your whites too dark. Setting a custom white balance is pretty simple, you just need a white sheet of paper.

    Another VERY simple way is to take shades off of lamps in the room you are shooting (just make sure they are not in the frame :-) )

    A third method I use is that if your camera has a small pop up flash like my Canon has, take a ping pong ball, cut it open to were it fits completely over the flash. This will soften the light of the flash. Be warned, when you use this, the flash also shoots back towards you, near blinding.

    ***any experts on the board, please let me know if any advice I just gave is bad***

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