2

More specifically.... I am using a Sony a77ii and the 16-80mm Zeiss lens. I have been entertaining the idea of a Sigma 10-20mm 3.5 but am not sure if I need it.

What I want is to be able to use the camera at night in the city and get as much natural/environmental light without use of higher ISO settings (digital noise). I will post some photos when at my PC later today of examples for critiques and guidance.

  • Sorry, voting to close as "opinion based". "Good enough" is entirely relative. – Philip Kendall Jan 13 '16 at 9:07
  • 1
    What max aperture is the Zeiss. Link? – Russell McMahon Jan 13 '16 at 10:49
  • A77i is goodish at ISO 800 , bearable at 1600 and usable at 2400 or 3200 if you value a usable image over noise. ie 800 would be daytime max if you cared somewhat. More at night may be OK. f/1.8 is reasonably useful in a city with shop lights, good street lighting etc if you take great care. f/2.8 about as good (1.8/2.8)^2 =~ 1/3 the light. f/3.5 = 4x less light than f/1.8 = 2 stops is getting reasonably marginal.Camera can be braced and you can Ninja breathe but aany subject movement may reduce photos to more art-statements than records. Above that anything can work sometimes. – Russell McMahon Jan 13 '16 at 10:49
  • As for focal length. For street photography on APSC the 16-80mm is liable to work well in more situations than a 10-20mm. The latter of course has it's place but the wideness limits the range of things it is excellent at. – Russell McMahon Jan 13 '16 at 10:51
  • A fast prime is usually much more suited for low light street photography than any zoom with a max aperture of f/2.8 or narrower. Especially if you want to avoid high ISO. – Michael C Jan 13 '16 at 17:55
1

What max aperture is the Zeiss.
Do you have a link to a specification?

I have a Sony A77 mk1 which is somewhat worse in low light than a mk2 so gives a guide.

In general terms the A77i is goodish at ISO 800, bearable at 1600 and usable at 2400 or 3200 if you value a usable image over noise. ie 800 would be daytime max if you cared somewhat. More at night may be OK.

If you use a tripod or solidly brace the camera then there is no sensible smallest aperture except for subject movement issues.

For night time street photography or static building shots etc f/1.8 is reasonably useful in a city with shop lights, good street lighting etc if you take great care.

f/2.8 about as good (1.8/2.8)^2 =~ 40% as much light

f/3.5 = 4x less light than f/1.8 = 2 stops and is getting reasonably marginal. Camera can be braced and you can Ninja breathe but any subject movement may reduce photos to more art-statements than records. You will sometimes get 'lucky' with moving subjects, but with the A77 you need as much light as you can manage.

Above that anything can work sometimes.


As for focal length. For street photography on APSC the 16-80mm is liable to work well in more situations than a 10-20mm. The latter of course has it's place but the wideness limits the range of things it is excellent at. – Russell McMahon 8 mins ago

I have put just a few night-time photos in this album as examples of either Sony A77 or the slightly noisier A700. All relevant settings shown where known.

These were selected by randomly jumping through a "RandomMaybes" folder and stopping at relevant night shots. No merit claimed for any except that I like them for some reason (in most cases :-) ).

http://bit.ly/TWOIFBYNIGHT

  • Thank you Russell. Sorry for the vague title but I explained my situation within my post. I guess being worried about not having the option of the wider aperture is worrisome. But I know I've gotten what "I" consider a "good" photo. The Zeiss is 3.5-4.5 which I wouldn't consider a huge step but the sigma is constant. I'll def get on the PC to post some of my shots. Maybe ones I wasn't so happy with to see if any improvements or suggestions could be made to help me prepare for next time. – Danny Jan 13 '16 at 11:48
  • And I'll take a gander at the shots you've linked. Good to know other people keep random shots just for enjoyment to themselves. My gf doesn't get it. :/ haha – Danny Jan 13 '16 at 11:58
  • Here is an album of a trip @StephenG These are some randoms to kind of sum up the shots I took. I did not edit any of these photos at all, not even cropped. You'll notice some photos have a circular ring in the corners, I left the polarizing filter on (laziness). Notice as well some shots are extremely out of focus, the camera nor I knew what to do in this situation. I was using the built-in flash to completely illuminate the subject and it worked in some not in others. – Danny Jan 13 '16 at 13:37
  • in case you didnt see my post @russell – Danny Jan 15 '16 at 19:33
  • Those shots all look reasonably good and/or within the range of normal given the various parameters. I do't know if a tripod was used but as around 0.1s in most cases you need either a tripod OR extremely good bracing or good luck. Hand held you cannot guarantee results at that shutter speed. If using a tripod or similar in body antishake should be turned OFF - when there is essentially no motion the antishake will 'hunt' on noise in the error amplifier. | ISO is typically 3200 so you will haqve some degradation from that with the A77 MkII. Manual focus override with peaking will help ... – Russell McMahon Jan 17 '16 at 6:11
0

What I want to do is be able to use the camera at night in the city and get as much natural/environmental light without use of higher ISO (digital noise)

Well you need to forget that idea. High ISO is a must regardless of lens choice for night shooting without a long exposure or flash.

If noise is a major issue for then get good noise reduction software and learn to use it to get the results you want. It's not perfect, but it's quite effective.

With night shooting of this sort you need to balance noise from high ISO, depth of field and slow shutter speed causing motion blur. The reality is that there is no magic bullet for this.

Ideally I'd prefer to shoot with a wide aperture fast lens at night in this way, just to have the option of a wide aperture. However having the option does not mean you can avail of it in all shots. Wide aperture gets narrow depth of field and this is not always acceptable.

If the goal is to capture moving people, then a decent shutter speed is required to avoid motion blur. But this will drive up ISO as it's a trade off.

If you're shooting static scenes or interested in scenes where motion blur is fine, then using a tripod and/or a longer exposure is the way to go to avoid high ISO.

Also note the often neglected technique of using flash to illuminate ( and freeze subject motion ) while capturing ambient background with a longer shutter speed. This called dragging the shutter and is a very useful general flash technique. It can be used at night for portraits.

  • Thanks for your reply Stephen. I guess I'll need to venture into LR more so to see if I have an option to do that. I'll have to better educate myself on lightroom. I've never heard of dragging the shutter before and I'll look into it some more. I have seen techniques of long exposures to eliminate subjects not wants from a scene. – Danny Jan 13 '16 at 11:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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