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Best practices - Night shots with a D2


carlosecpf

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Dear friends,

 

Yesterday night a took the D2 for a walk. Work has been pretty stressful lately so I needed to relax a little bit. Even though I was kind of impressed with the D2 performance, the vast majority of the shots came out blurry (all shots were taken handheld). The ones that did come out sharp, I found to bee a little noisy, even at ISO 100, so I applied noise reduction to some picture areas through Dfine 2.0. However, by the end of the day, I believe I prefer the JPEG straight from the camera, with it's grainy look! :)

 

So I would like to hear form you experience in getting handheld sharp night shot with a D2. I know ideally this should be done with a tripod, but I rarely carry one with me.

I found to be very difficult to maintain my body and hands steady. Is there a recommended best practice to avoid/reduce that?

 

Here are the 2 shots I have mentioned above:

 

Straight from the camera:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2475/3928415451_c119f4e156_b.jpg

 

Noise reduction applied:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3464/3928423961_d8f9eca2eb_b.jpg

 

Thanks in advance!

Carlos

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Dear Carlos,

 

I use the D2 for night shots again and again. Some time ago, I put some images into the following threads:

 

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/landschaft-reise/36289-abend-berlin.html

 

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/landschaft-reise/36201-abend-london.html

 

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/digital-forum/20265-do-digilux-2-photos-have-distinctive-17.html

 

What can be said in general about night shots with the Digilux 2?

 

In most cases, I use "daylight", i.e. "sunshine", for the white balance, in some cases also the "bulb", if the light comes from too yellowish lamps. Then ISO 100 and automatic exposure, however, often with -1 to -2 steps down, because dark areas of the image should appear also dark in the image. As a side effect of the down-step of exposure time, it is sometimes possible to take the photo even without a tripod.

In most other cases, you NEED a stabilisation of the camera, be it a wall, a ledge, a balustrade, a handrail, etc. Sometimes, when I know I want to take night images, I take a small pocket tripod with me, not very big, not very heavy, but extremely useful. ;)

Regarding noise, yes, it is there (of course), in particular in the darker areas of the image. If it becomes too annoying, it can be removed by a tool, e.g. Neat Image (which does its job well and can be used also for some sharpening).

Finally, I shoot in JPG in most cases.

 

Best regards, Peter,

 

By the way, nice image! :)

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I'll also be interested to see what suggestions are posted.

My guess would be that in that situation a tripod is going to help achieve the best result. It would be interesting to know the settings you used - I'd have been pushing up the iso a bit.

As it stands of course you could still play with the image in Lightroom - perhaps adjust the White Balance and add some fill light? - plus of course the N/R. There's good chance you can bring things close to what you saw on the night in question.

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... The other one has an artificial touch. ...

Yes, of course, care should be taken not to "overact" with noise reduction, because then the whole scenery indeed looks artificial. If people are on the picture, their skin becomes a kind of "plastic". There are brands of cameras that deliver high ISO numbers, however, the images look really strange due to an aggressive noise reduction.

Regarding the image of Carlos, I think it still looks alright.

 

Best, Peter.

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i don't shoot much at night, but i do use a support even on dark days or in the woods, etc.

 

i simply mounted a ball head on top of a 1.5" diameter 5' tall wooden rod..... it serves as a light walking & hiking stick and a monopod when i need it.

 

if i don't have it with me i certainly shoot using the EVF and the camera pressed against my head ..... much steadier than arms length using the LCD.

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Dear all,

 

Thank you very much for all your replies! I've learned a lot from you experiences.

 

I will try to carry my gorillapod with me all the time at night. I liked the bean bag idea a lot, but because I travel abroad often, the beans might get stuck in customs because they are seeds... Who knows!

 

For handheld shots I will try to brace something on the streets and/or press the EVF against my head.

 

All feedback was really helpful!

 

Peter,

thank you SO much for showing your night shots! I loved them! Very inspiring! Congrats

 

Best,

Carlos

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I use my left eye so I can handhold the camera to 1/4 and 1/8 (which I do a lot as I mostly only shoot 100 ISO). The trick I guess, is that I use my nose and face as support ;-)

 

In any case, I hardly ever use monopod or other for support of the D2. I hold it firm but relaxed with the rubber viewfinder against my glasses, the camera probably leaning onto my face, resting it on my right hand which holds the camera tight and ready to press the shutter, and mostly left hand supporting the bottom and lens hood of the camera (so the camera is lying on my open hand).

 

My body is either resting in the middle of a floor, or I'm leaned towards a wall, or door. I often sit down on tables and other to relax the body while shooting (all this also makes me fall into the scenery so nobody notices me).

 

And then as John Thawley says, shoot series of three. Some might know from golf or riffle shooting that you shouldn't move right after you shot, and the same goes for cameras. You can tell on the third frame if you moved right after or waited a bit (I guess the idea of being finished and preparing to move starts muscle movements which will influence the rifle/camera/golf club). As I often shoot series of thee several times (using the first ones to check the light and cropping), there's plenty of time to fall into position and relax, and wait for the right moment. Shooting three in a row will give you plenty of shots to choose from, some of them with surprising compositions and movements (I'm talking general shooting here, not just night shots without people).

 

Don't shoot night shots as 200 or 400 ISO. It's not worth it. Shoot them 100 ISO so the only worry is if the camera moved. With 200 and 400 the camera will produce noise; all cameras' noise level goes up when the amount of light in the first place goes down.

 

In case you use tripod, note that there's also an electronic remote trigger available from Panasonic. I forgot the parts number but a link to their spare part page can be found at http://www.overgaard.dk/leica_digilux2.html

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Dear all,

 

Thank you very much for all your replies! I've learned a lot from you experiences.

 

I will try to carry my gorillapod with me all the time at night. I liked the bean bag idea a lot, but because I travel abroad often, the beans might get stuck in customs because they are seeds... Who knows!

 

For handheld shots I will try to brace something on the streets and/or press the EVF against my head.

 

All feedback was really helpful!

 

Peter,

thank you SO much for showing your night shots! I loved them! Very inspiring! Congrats

 

Best,

Carlos

 

Carlos, I suspect the gorillapod may "spring" too much, and possibly worsen the shake.

 

I think you might be better off with the famous, "string tripod", just do a google search for it.

.

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Carlos, given your circumstances I think you did amazingly well. But your method is a last resort for me. Thorsten's advice mirrors my experience with the D2. By bracing my hands and body against an immovable object really helps.

 

I think the Gorillapod should work quite well provided you arrange a stable setup. With railings you can wrap the legs around quite tightly. I have recently tried attaching my Leica B&S head to my G. and that makes it even more flexible.

 

I never go over ISO100 with night scenes. The delayed action setting helps whatever tripod method you use. You can still travel light and experiment further. Good Luck!

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In case you use tripod, note that there's also an electronic remote trigger available from Panasonic. I forgot the parts number but a link to their spare part page can be found at leica.overgaard.dk - Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Sites - Leica Digilux 2 sample photos and tests (as well as Panasonic DMC-LC1) - Page 1 of 3

 

Or you can use the timer. ;)

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Carlos,

 

Great Idea! I pick

1. D4

2. D2

3. D3

 

BTW: I just got a 2nd D2 so I'm selling my first one now.:D Have put it on the "bay" if you know anyone interested. In fact, if anyone on the "Forum" is interested in a lovely D2, please let me know; look on the bay for it. Have it listed for $900 OBO, but hey, make me an offer; 'ya never know... :eek:

 

Thanks for the pics Carlos,

 

Bob

leica@fuse.net

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Carlos, I suspect the gorillapod may "spring" too much, and possibly worsen the shake.

 

I think you might be better off with the famous, "string tripod", just do a google search for it.

.

 

Dugby,

 

First of all, THANK you for all your suggestions on how to configure the D3 to obtaining better results! I could not remember your name last week when other user here asked for suggestions, although I have shared with him your tips! Are you still using your D3? If so, did you find any better settings?

 

Thank you for suggesting the string tripod! I went to the hardware store today and have already assembled 1 one those! I am just waiting to get darker so I can test it out!

 

Best,

Carlos

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