I have a Nikon D90 with an 18-105mm lens (though I am unsure of the aperture range).

I get excellent results in good light levels (despite the body being somewhat outdated), but struggle in low light conditions without a flash.

Using a flash I am able to get some low light photos of close up subjects, but not of a wider subject matter (in particular bands on a stage at local gigs) without dramatically lowering the shutter speed, naturally resulting in slightly blurred pictures that are still dark.

Any tips for improving on this, or would I be better off investing in new kit?


2 Answers 2


I get excellent results in good light levels (despite the body being somewhat outdated), but struggle in low light conditions without a flash.

"Somewhat outdated" is quite the understatement — this camera is over ten years old. In that last decade, sensor technology has made big advances, and largely in the ability to capture images in very low light.

I'd say that if this is important to you, it's really wasting your time saying anything else. It's time for a new camera.

You're just not going to match that with your camera. That's not to say that it's bad, just... you have to have reasonable expectations for your gear.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very true, but the lens would probably have to be replaced too, it is pretty much as bad as it gets for low light. I would start with the lens, that's much cheaper, lasts longer and makes a bigger difference (especially if one does not have budget to buy the latest top of the line camera). \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Jan 7, 2019 at 19:36

A fast prime, like the 50mm f/1.4 lets in about 8x to 16x the amount of light that your current lens does (f/3.5-5.6). It is not very expensive and what most people use for low light situations. The f/1.8 version does almost the same, and is extremely cheap.

The disadvantages are that it has no zoom, so you may need to crop a bit, and with 50mm you need to be quite close (first line for close ups).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Usually at these events u have access to the space in between the stage and the barriers so I can literally rest the camera on the stage should I wish to. Presumably this sort of lens would be suitable at this range? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2019 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can set your lens to 50 mm and put some tape on the zoom ring so that it can't move, then you'll see what you will get. Also, here are some examples: flickr.com/search/?text=50mm%20concert If your a bit further an 85mm f/1.8 is good. \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Jan 7, 2019 at 0:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Xiota also gave a very good suggestion if you are not on a budget. A 70-200 f/2.8 with VR. It also give you zoom, you can be much further away and it is usually quite weather (or beer) resistant. Downsides are: Big and heavy, attracts a lot of attention(also an upside for some), still needs 4 times more light than an f/1.4 and costs almost 3000 dollar (latest Nikon). \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Jan 7, 2019 at 0:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are don't need that much speed and don't mind using lenses that require biologic, externally driven stabilization and focusing motors (manual focus), manufacturers used to make variable aperture zooms starting at F2.8. For example, Vivitar Series-1 28-90/2.8-3.5 VMC. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Jan 7, 2019 at 1:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Manual focus is not that easy with modern camera's that are made for AF, without a split viewfinder. I wouldn't try it on a moving object in dim light. I suppose there have to be some alternatives below 3000 bucks though. Maybe the 80-200 f/2.8 without VR, and with a monopod for support. \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Jan 7, 2019 at 1:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.