Do I need a new lens to stop blurry non-tripod night-time photos?


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Elliot B.

I am using a Nikon D3100 with the stock 18-55 lens.

I took some photos last night, of a town fair at night.

I was using aperture-priority mode, 1600 ISO, 3.5 aperture (which is, as far as I know, the lowest for the camera?/lens? - and this number changed as I zoomed in, not sure why).

Almost every photos was light-to-medium blurred. Basically, every one was unusable.

I don't know much about photography - did I use the right settings?

I was keeping as still as possible but it clearly didn't help.

I do not want to use a flash.

How can I improve this situation? A new lens? If so, how much do they cost?

Five photo examples from the set are attached below.

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post-645-0-38105300-1353171311.jpg

post-645-0-19522900-1353171313.jpg

post-645-0-14964400-1353171315.jpg

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Detection

I don't own an expensive camera, so this might not be relevant for you, but I have a sports setting I can select on mine which takes near perfect photos of fast moving objects

I`m pretty sure you could manually set everything up the way sports mode does, I would imagine it would be a very fast shutter speed you'd need

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Elliot B.

I don't own an expensive camera, so this might not be relevant for you, but I have a sports setting I can select on mine which takes near perfect photos of fast moving objects

I`m pretty sure you could manually set everything up the way sports mode does, I would imagine it would be a very fast shutter speed you'd need

I tried Auto (No Flash) and Sport modes, all gave very blurred photos :(

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ahodgey

As you zoom in less light can enter directly onto the CCD sensor so the aperture has to become smaller on zoom lenses to compensate for this. A higher ISO will make the CCD sensor more sensitive so could help but can lead to a graining effect and sometimes spots. A prime lens may help in this situation (wider aperture) but then you lose the ability to zoom (you have to move your body instead).

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Kerm

The aperture changes on the different level of zoom, so at it's shortest focal length it will be able to open to 3.5, at it's longest length it can only manage 5.6 i imagine with that lens. That's a by product of how they are made.

2 things you can do to reduce the blur. You need to shoot at a higher shutter speed, 1/100 or something should do it unless somebody is running around.

So a lens with a wider aperture, such as 2.8, or even 1.8, or eeeeeven 1.2 (wider aperture = more glass = more expensive) that would allow loads more light onto the sensor so would balance needing a quicker shutter speed.

Second thing you can do is kick up the ISO even more (higher ISO = the sensor is more sensitive to light), so ISO 3200 or higher depending on your camera's abilities. The higher the ISO the lesser the photo quality.

So you can see why people love these wide aperture lenses and splash the cash.

Try manual settings with the highest ISO your camera can handle, get your shutter speed to 1/80th perhaps and keep the aperture as wide (lowest number) as it will go.

Any other questions just ask. Good luck.

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chconline

You're shooting at 1/10 shutter speed... usually if you want a good, stable pic at night, you'll need at least 1/30 with IS. Bump up the ISO and increase the shutter speed.

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TAZMINATOR

If you have S mode which is called Shutter... adjust that and it will allow you to use the fast shutter speed without any blur effect to your photos.

Ah they beat me to it.

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Elliot B.

The aperture changes on the different level of zoom, so at it's shortest focal length it will be able to open to 3.5, at it's longest length it can only manage 5.6 i imagine with that lens. That's a by product of how they are made.

2 things you can do to reduce the blur. You need to shoot at a higher shutter speed, 1/100 or something should do it unless somebody is running around.

So a lens with a wider aperture, such as 2.8, or even 1.8, or eeeeeven 1.2 (wider aperture = more glass = more expensive) that would allow loads more light onto the sensor so would balance needing a quicker shutter speed.

Second thing you can do is kick up the ISO even more (higher ISO = the sensor is more sensitive to light), so ISO 3200 or higher depending on your camera's abilities. The higher the ISO the lesser the photo quality.

So you can see why people love these wide aperture lenses and splash the cash.

Try manual settings with the highest ISO your camera can handle, get your shutter speed to 1/80th perhaps and keep the aperture as wide (lowest number) as it will go.

Any other questions just ask. Good luck.

3.5 seems to be 1/500 - does that make sense :s

So, I need a new lens ideally. What do I look for?

You're shooting at 1/10 shutter speed... usually if you want a good, stable pic at night, you'll need at least 1/30 with IS. Bump up the ISO and increase the shutter speed.

If you have S mode which is called Shutter... adjust that and it will allow you to use the fast shutter speed without any blur effect to your photos.

Ah they beat me to it.

HawkMan suggested I use "A mode" at night, but this clearly ended up with awful photos. So you guys think I should have used "S mode", instead?

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ahodgey

I wouldnt use aperture priority in low light situations as you are controlling the amount of light entering onto the CCD. The camera compensates by leaving the aperture open for longer leading to the blurring because of you not being able to hold the camera steady / objects moving in the shot.

I would try taking a photo in program mode (or p) to start with to get a feel for what the camera / lens can do. In program mode you can control the Shutter speed and aperture settings within the limit the processing engine thinks is acceptable for a good photo. Try to keep the lens zoomed out in low light as well so the aperture is larger letting more light in which should in turn allow for shorter shutter times leading to less blurring

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Detection

HawkMan suggested I use "A mode" at night, but this clearly ended up with awful photos. So you guys think I should have used "S mode", instead?

I've played around with the different modes on mine a few times to see what looks better at which time of day / type of photo

Its dark in the UK now, maybe grab your camera and shoot a couple shots in each mode outside, see how they turn out when you copy them to the PC :)

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Elliot B.

I've played around with the different modes on mine a few times to see what looks better at which time of day / type of photo

Its dark in the UK now, maybe grab your camera and shoot a couple shots in each mode outside, see how they turn out when you copy them to the PC :)

Unforatunely, the onyl way I can test it now is using cars. There are hardly any people around here at night, and certainly few light sources.

So basically, HawkMan suggested "A mode" in another topic, two guys here are suggesting "S mode" and now a guy is suggesting "P mode" :o

Talk about confusion! :p

It seems "A mode" is the one I shouldn't be using, though.

You're shooting at 1/10 shutter speed... usually if you want a good, stable pic at night, you'll need at least 1/30 with IS. Bump up the ISO and increase the shutter speed.

How high? The camera seems to go up to 4000.

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Glassed Silver

Not having all of the posts on here I'll chime in, too.

a) There ARE lenses that don't make your aperture smaller (increase the value) upon changing the focal length (zooming)

I know because I have one. I have a Canon model, but it's performing about the same on Nikon mounts, too I've heard.

It's a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 DCII VR (Vibrant reduction)

It's noisy and bulky, but the image quality for the price and the fact that it's got constant aperture and not variable is so sweet.

Much recommended! (Y)

b) Bump up the ISO if your camera allows it (quality-wise). The shots seem pretty good apart from the blurring, so there's still some room for cranking up the light sensitivity I guess.

Glassed Silver:mac

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ahodgey

One other thing I tried when I was learning (and still am learning) was to try and take the same photo on a number of different settings, so experiment with different aperture settings, shutter settings and ISO settings for the same or similar shots. Then when you get back to the PC review the images and see which look best and then look up the properties of image (right click the image, properties and select details) to see the settings you used. Write these down. I have a small notebook in my camera bag listing the various settings that make a good photo in different conditions I have learned through experimenting.

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Detection

Unforatunely, the onyl way I can test it now is using cars. There are hardly any people around here at night, and certainly few light sources.

So basically, HawkMan suggested "A mode" in another topic, two guys here are suggesting "S mode" and now a guy is suggesting "P mode" :o

Talk about confusion! :p

It seems "A mode" is the one I shouldn't be using, though.

haha yea I think I normally just use Auto for most shots for simplicity unless I`m trying for something specific such as LTE shot on the tail lights of cars or a Macro of some PC component

At night the camera is going to need a longer exposure to get enough light into the image, so if you're not using a tripod / subject is moving, its not going to be easy to get a decent night time shot without blur / very dark image

I`ll follow this thread, I love photography but in the same boat as you I think, just guess work and taking tips from people/google

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Glassed Silver

Unforatunely, the onyl way I can test it now is using cars. There are hardly any people around here at night, and certainly few light sources.

So basically, HawkMan suggested "A mode" in another topic, two guys here are suggesting "S mode" and now a guy is suggesting "P mode" :o

Talk about confusion! :p

It seems "A mode" is the one I shouldn't be using, though.

How high? The camera seems to go up to 4000.

Go with "shutter priority" which is S mode here.

I own a Canon and with Canon it's called TV (time value). Maybe you've heard of that before, but it doesn't matter.

You want S mode, go with that.

It lets you pick a shutter speed and the rest is automatic apart from ISO, which I suggest you crank up, too.

Also: if the shot doesn't have to be full size in terms of resolution, so cropping is an option, don't zoom in and just crop the part you want in post production.

This will give you full aperture width on lenses that have variable max apertures. :) (that's what you have :p)

Glassed Silver:mac

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TAZMINATOR

3.5 seems to be 1/500 - does that make sense :s

So, I need a new lens ideally. What do I look for?

HawkMan suggested I use "A mode" at night, but this clearly ended up with awful photos. So you guys think I should have used "S mode", instead?

It works for me... you can pratice with those modes and see what is the best for your liking.

for the cars photos, if you want light flow lines as the cars go by, you will need slow shutter speed for that.

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Elliot B.

It works for me... you can pratice with those modes and see what is the best for your liking.

for the cars photos, if you want light flow lines as the cars go by, you will need slow shutter speed for that.

But to avoid blur, I need a high shutter speed, yep? (but at the cost of a dark photo?)

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Nashy

I've taken many, many night shots with this lens, so the lens is fine.

A high shutter speed doesn't always mean dark photos, but in essence, yes, that's correct. However, I recommend shooting in RAW. That way you can take these dark photos and use Lightroom to add the lighting. It's very simple to do with the presets.

It's pretty common practice from what I've seen.

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TAZMINATOR

But to avoid blur, I need a high shutter speed, yep? (but at the cost of a dark photo?)

If you are taking photos in the dark areas, you can use external strobes facing at the objects you are taking the photo of. You can put the strobe on your camera or on the ground as long as you have wireless command system or whatever it is called.. i haven't used wireless based system for strobes yet. So far I have used the strobe on my camera.

I have used 90% of daytime for photo shooting... 10% for night time and/or dark indoor such as christmas trees, something like that.

or you can take photos in the dark and add lighting presets in the photo editor such as lightroom...

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Detection

If you are taking photos in the dark areas, you can use external strobes facing at the objects you are taking the photo of. You can put the strobe on your camera or on the ground as long as you have wireless command system or whatever it is called.. i haven't used wireless based system for strobes yet. So far I have used the strobe on my camera.

I have used 90% of daytime for photo shooting... 10% for night time and/or dark indoor such as christmas trees, something like that.

or you can take photos in the dark and add lighting presets in the photo editor such as lightroom...

Lightroom is a pretty amazing piece of software

Just using the simple steps this guy explains in this video improved many photos I have, even non-RAW format images such as jpgs get a nice improvement

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Elliot B.

Lightroom is a pretty amazing piece of software

Just using the simple steps this guy explains in this video improved many photos I have, even non-RAW format images such as jpgs get a nice improvement

<video snipped>

Very nice, tar :)

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TAZMINATOR

Lightroom is a pretty amazing piece of software

Just using the simple steps this guy explains in this video improved many photos I have, even non-RAW format images such as jpgs get a nice improvement

Why are you telling me this? I already know about this stuff.

You might have quote the wrong guy... I am not the original poster.

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Glassed Silver

Why are you telling me this? I already know about this stuff.

You might have quote the wrong guy... I am not the original poster.

Obviously he's not telling you, just quoting you to make the reference clear and show that his post is based on the post you made that inspired him.

Why get so defensive?

Glassed Silver:mac

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123456789A

I would just tell all the people you're photographing to stand still.

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Glassed Silver

I would just tell all the people you're photographing to stand still.

That's not how street photography works, but nice trolling! :p ^^

I giggled.

Glassed Silver:mac

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