Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Using Compact Camera at Low Light Situation...

A compact Digital Camera Can Take a Good Photo's at Low Light/Night? My Answer is Yes... To proved this See picture below...

I set Up this Compact Camera and put it into tripod then allow my wife to operate it... This photo was taken during the celebration of New Year 2007 here in Dubai...

Camera Used: Nikon CoolPix L4 4mega pixels

But Before you Begin

Read the manual or look through the menus and find out:
  • how your can turn the flash off
  • if there is a special long exposure setting
  • if your camera has a 'night' scene mode
  • how you can set the ISO speed of the camera

Using Flash

The flash built into simple compact cameras is designed to take pictures from around 3 foot to around 10 foot from your camera. Anything too close will almost certainly be far too bright in the picture, and anything further away is too dark.

When taking pictures, try to keep all important subject matter roughly the same distance from the camera. If you have some people much closer than others, they will look wrong, as they will be lighter than the others.

If your camera has a manual mode, you should be able to adjust the exposure.

This is often called 'exposure compensation'. If your pictures are too dark try adding a positive amount of compensation, if too bright, reduce the amount set.

Flash Outside

Outside at night, the flash will only light up anything close to the camera. If you can alter the ISO speed, you will find that increasing it gives more detail in the background. In brightly lit city streets, working at ISO 400 can produce results that give good flash exposure for people around 6 ft from the camera and also a reasonably bright background.

You don't want the background to be too bright, or it won't really look like a night picture. Take your picture at different ISO values and see which works best.

Working Without Flash

If your camera works at ISO 800 or greater, you can take pictures in brightly lit city streets or interiors without flash. Find the camera setting that switches the flash off. Make sure you keep the camera still (it helps to hold it against something solid if you can) and squeeze the button gently to avoid a jerk.

In low light, the anti-vibration systems built into some cameras help you to get sharp pictures, though any moving people or objects will still blur. Take pictures at the zoom setting that gives the widest angle of view. If you zoom out to get greater magnification it also magnifies any shaking.

Small Sensors

The small sensors that simple cameras when used at a wide zoom setting almost guarantee that - so long as you can hold the camera still - everything sharp from foreground to background should be sharp. The small sensor and low magnification make for a great 'depth of field' (the range between closest and furthest objects that are acceptably sharp.)

Street Lighting

Most street lighting has too much orange or too much green in it, and it tends to make people look rather ill. Using flash will often produce a healthier looking result.

Long Exposures

Away from the bright lights, you will need to use long exposures to work without flash. If possible, use the camera on a tripod. You can buy small table tripods such as the that fold and fit into a pocket or small bag if you don't want to carry a tripod, and it is often possible to find a wall, car roof or other piece of street furniture on which to stand one. There are also small camera clamps that will fit on lampposts etc.

If you don't have anything to hold the camera still, you can still get sharp images with exposures of several seconds by holding the camera firmly against a solid surface, such as a post or a wall, or in some places even on the ground, looking up. I've often used mine by turning my back on the subject and holding the camera above my head with its back pressed against a wall and of course the lens facing toward the subject.

Some cameras have a special 'long exposure mode' which may reduce noise in long exposures. A 'night' scene mode will probably also be worth trying if your camera has one. The important thing is to find out how to stop the flash firing.

You may need to experiment with the ISO settings and exposure compensation to find the best result. Usually when using a tripod there is no need for a high ISO setting, so work perhaps at ISO 100 or 200. Took some pictures during night needed to set the ISO to its highest level - ISO 400 - and also to set the maximum possible exposure compensation of +2 stops to get long exposures that worked in really low light.

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