low light zoom recommendation
I often have to take pictures of plays from a distance with no flash. Often the ambient light is low. What would you recommend?.

Is it better to have an optical zoom or lots of pixels so you can digitally zoom later? I think the optical zoom would let in less light..

Oh, and I'm a teacher on a tight budget. So cost is a factor..


Comments (15)

First of all, forget digital zoom. This is something advertised by sellers and manufacturers, and it's nothing more but simple cropping. In other words, zoom (whether optical or digital) has nothing to do with light..

If freezing action is not a problem, use a tripod (or if that's not possible place the camera on a steady surface, such as the top of a seat), select the timer mode (to eliminate camera shake from your finger pressing the shutter button) and take a longer exposure. Motion will be blurred (the amount depending on the shutter speed and the subjects' motion) but at least the exposure will be sufficient..

I suspect you're using a point & shoot camera. If you could get a DSLR with a modestly fast lens (e.g. 50mm f/1.8), you'd be happily surprised. Not only will a DSLR offer you the fast lens (i.e. a lens that allows much more light - compared to a p&s camera) but it will also give you versatility with post production..

I have managed to capture indoor shots with very little noise, freezing action at the same time..


Comment #1

In your post, you didn't mention what camera you are using. If it is a Nikon mount, then.

Tamron 28-105 f2.8 for something around $100 used. There are also Canon mount 2.8 zooms 28mm-105mm. Another consideration is the camera and how good it is at low light high ISO performance. If you post your question in the forum of what camera you are using, NIKON DSLR or Nikon DSLR lens talk, it would be better.Will..

Comment #2

Are you asking for a recommendation on which camera to buy or which lens to buy? If it's a lens, what camera do you own? What is your budget?..

Comment #3

If you want a compact camera, the Fuji series like the 31D have a reputation for being particularly good in low light. If you already have a DSLR, then something like the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 could be appropriate..

If possible, use a DSLR as the bigger sensors give much cleaner (lower noise) images in low light, so you can get good shots at ISO1600. A compact at this sort of ISO value will give much noisier images..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #4

William Carson wrote:.

If it is a Nikon mount, then Tamron 28-105 f2.8 for something around $100 used..

The Tammy 28-105 f/2.8 goes for $100 used on the Nikon mount?!? I just saw one on Ebay for the Canon mount, and it sold for just short of $500. And it can't hold the jockstrap of the 28-75, either...

Comment #5

William Carson wrote:.

In your post, you didn't mention what camera you are using. If it isa Nikon mount, thenTamron 28-105 f2.8 for something around $100 used..

You're probably thinking of the older Tamron 35-105mm f/2.8. Because of it's starting focal length, it tends to be less popular with DSLR users and sells for less than the newer 28-105mm f/2.8.

I got one of these (Tamron SP 35-105mm f/2.8 AF Lens) in Minolta AF mount for $119 in bargain condition from a couple of years ago. But, you don't see them for that low too often..

I don't use mine a whole lot (mostly because my primes are brighter for low light use, not to mention sharper at equivalent apertures if light is good enough to get by with f/2.8)..

But, it's really not a bad lens (and by most accounts, it's sharper than the newer 28-105mm f/2.8, not to mention smaller and lighter)..


Comment #6

Hi. I just rechecked ebay on the Nikon Tamron 28-105mm 2.8 AF and it's current bid is $78. Here is the url:.


Comment #7

Hi. I just rechecked ebay on the Nikon Tamron 28-105mm 2.8 AF and itscurrent bid is $78. Here is the url:.


The auction is incomplete, and it has mold. I've seen auction prices double, triple or even more in the final 45 seconds. And the mold issue is going to scare away many potential buyers. A search of completed auctions for this lens pulled back a Tammy 28-105, Nikon mount finishing at $275. Hardly enough to be considered conclusive, but I would be very shocked if such a lens in good condition came back at $100. I'm a bit surprised it only returned a $275 price point...

Comment #8

Thank you for the advice, but I guess I should have been more specific..

I need to purchase a camera and was looking for a recommendation..

I have used a friend's Pentax K100D, but have not been impressed with the results. I have primarily been using the auto setting and I have used the lens it comes with, which may not be the best..

It is a little out of my price range, so when I bought my own I was hoping for something cheaper...

Comment #9

Shassel wrote:.

Thank you for the advice, but I guess I should have been more specific..

I need to purchase a camera and was looking for a recommendation..

I have used a friend's Pentax K100D, but have not been impressed withthe results. I have primarily been using the auto setting and I haveused the lens it comes with, which may not be the best..

Get a prime (fixed focal length versus zoom lens). You'll get much faster shutter speeds for something like a play for any given ISO speed..

The last couple of times I shot with stage lighting (dance recitals), I got around 1/160 second with a 100mm f/2 at ISO 1600. That's really borderline and you'll still get some motion blur with much hand/foot movement..

This is what you probably ought to buy for your Pentax if you're going new and on a real tight budget:(it's a Pentax 50mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens for $199 at B&H)..


That's 4 times as bright as an f/2.8 zoom (f/1.4 is 4 times as bright as f/2.8, which is the brightest zoom you'll find)..

You can probably use it at around f/2 at higher ISO speeds (where it will be sharper and have a bit more depth of field). Just find a closer vantage point that lets you get more in the frame..

Or, go with something longer (for example, a Pentax 77mm f/1.8 limited). It's a bit pricier at $699: That would probably make a nice focal length for a lot of low light subjects..


Or, go used and save even more if you want to use Manual Focus Lenses. Try (very reputable vendor of used camera gear)..


Comment #10

Any dslr (depending on the lens you use) will be better than a P&S. I just came home from shooting indoor shots at the museum in poor light with a Canon 350D and a 50mm f/1.8 at ISO 800 and even ISO 1600. I can't post a photo yet because I have not photoprocessed them and downloaded them to Zenfolio, but they came out pretty good. Shooting a play (or a concert, or a nightclub, or whatever) creates special problems, and there are persons on this forum (or possibly the XXXD forum) who may be able to share their experience with you. Those problems definitely can be overcome, but not with a P&S camera. I wish you the best..


Comment #11

Oops. I thought he had a Pentax K100D (which he mentioned not getting good results with)..

I missed the "my friend's" part. I figured that he just needed a brighter lens for the one he had. lol.

Yep. He needs a DSLR wearing a bright prime for good results.JimC

Comment #12

I don't know what your budget is but you might want to consider a used/refurbished Nikon D50 or Rebel xt with a 50mm 1.8 prime lens...

Comment #13

A refurb Nikon D50 or Canon XT would be ideal (and as cheap as you will get a DSLR). The NIkon D50 would be better for you than the newer D40 as it will autofocus with the older Nikon Prime lenses, like the 50 f/1.8 that has been recommended..

I suspect you were less than impressed with the results form the Pentax K100D simply because you were using it in P mode in low light. It has a relatively 'slow' standard lens (f/5.6 at the tele end) so there would have been a very slow shutter speed, hence camera shake and motion blur. This is not the camera's fault - if you set a high ISO value and use a wider-aperture lens the results should be transformed..

Also the auto metering can be easily fooled by stage lighting (on any camera) because there are bright and dark spots. For unevenly lit scenes you will need to be careful with exposure - possibly use the spot meter on an averagely lit part of the scene..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #14

Thank you all for the good advice. I think I know what I need now it's just a question of finding the right bargain..


Comment #15

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