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Old 11-04-2012, 08:50 AM   #1
luv2boys
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nikon d40x for christmas at WDW

What are the best settings for taking pics of lights?
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:18 AM   #2
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Can you elaborate a little more by what you mean by "lights"?
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:31 AM   #3
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Christmas lights at night mostly
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:34 AM   #4
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I don't think I could give you an all-around good setting because each situation around the world is different. I reviewed my images from last Christmas and found that I used a multitude of settings depending on what I was shooting and effect I was trying to achieve. I shot Osborne lights handheld and with a tripod on different nights. Anytime you are shooting at night the struggle is to keep up the shutter speed to avoid blur and keep the ISO and subsequent noise at an acceptable level. At night I'm not as concerned with aperture than I am with shutter speed and ISO. I'm not a Nikon shooter but I did look at the specs of your camera. Its specs are similar to my Pentax K10D with 10mp CCD sensor, 3 fps, ISO 1600. I don't know what ISO you are comfortable shooting with. On my K10 I don't like shooting above 800 whereas with my K5 it is 6400-12800.

Here is an example of Osborne lights handheld and tripod. You can check my EXIF information:

Handheld

Osborne 12 by Terry McGraw Photography, on Flickr

Tripod

Osborne 13 by Terry McGraw Photography, on Flickr

In the first I was trying for freeze action and the second motion. The type of lenses you have will also play into what you are able to do.

Then again here is a shot taken by the DW using her K10D handheld. How she showed motion and and not blurring everything else is beyond my comprehension. If I tried this shot, everything would be blurred.


Osborne Handheld Janet by Terry McGraw Photography, on Flickr

All my EXIF information is available on my Flickr page so feel free to look at that for some ideas.
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:55 AM   #5
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FWIW, I had a D40 prior to the D90 I have now and found that I was generally unhappy with anything above ISO 800, although on my current camera I've been satisfied with much higher ISO settings.
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luv2boys View Post
What are the best settings for taking pics of lights?
Like already stated, no one can give you exact settings. It's a matter of understanding what you need in each situation and that's where understanding the basics of photography comes in. There's a lot of factors, like the lights and what lens you're using. Even the weather can be a factor because it affects how steady you hold the camera, as does the weight of the camera. Then there's the minimum shutter speed we can each get away with... some of us are really steady and can do a really slow shutter speed with no blur, some of us are a little shaky and can't do that. So there's a LOT that comes into play.

My approach is to put the camera in shutter priority mode. (S on the Nikon). Use the minimum shutter speed I can get away with using that particular lens and then bump up the ISO as needed to get the exposure.

I'd get a fast lens, like a 35mm or 50mm if you're not using a tripod. It will make your life a little easier.
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