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Old September 29th, 2009, 05:11 AM   #1
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Night shoot - help needed

Hi guys,
Took my Sony PMW EX3 to be fixed after it simply stopped working yesterday.
I have to shoot a crucial night scene tomorrow and will have to hire a 5D Mark 2.
I need to shoot the night flight of thousands of Fruit Bats – just after sunset with very little light.

Can anyone help me with some advice as to the right settings - I never tried the 5D Mark 2 and would not be able to really get to know it. This shoot must be successful otherwise I am in trouble....
I will be using the Canon 24-70 f2.8, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS and Canon 300 f2.8 IS.

What is the higher ISO I can set without getting noticeable noise?
Can I dial the shutter speed to 1/60 as I will shoot 1080 30p
Any other settings? WB?
Do I need to download the Magic Lantern?
Any other factor I need to consider?

Thanks in advance for any input,
Cheers,
Ofer
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Old September 29th, 2009, 09:17 AM   #2
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Sounds like a tough proposition, I'm not sure of the precise right answers but if it were me, and based on using both cameras for quite some time....
I suggest throwing out a call for help to any enthusiasts in the area of your shoot, a couple extra cameras and humans can't hurt.
IF you have to fly blind - no possibility of testing - set the ISO to "A", lock in your shutter and aperture. You can dial in a specific WB, setting up for 8K or 9K should carry you into the dusk.
If I were given a choice of shooting such an event on the EX 3 or the Canon I'd go with the Canon hands down, the low light performance is amazing. IF there is any chance of using a bit of backlight (like a small litepanel hidden from camera) it will be even better.
good luck!
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Old September 29th, 2009, 11:50 AM   #3
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Ofer,

Denis' suggestion of calling for help from local 5D2 shooters is excellent. That can help you get the shots with low stress.

Regarding settings...

1) Choose the Neutral picture style.
- a) Set contrast to minimum
- b) Set sharpness to minimum
- c) Set saturation on the low side - especially for a night shoot of bats. Maybe even set it to minimum. (Minimum is not black and white.)

2) Set ISO to 160, 320, 640, or 1250.

3) Set the shutter speed to 1/60 if possible. If there are 50 Hz lights present, set to 1/50. Set to 1/30 if required to maintain a reasonable ISO.

4) The Aperture setting depends on the desired DOF for the shot.

5) Magic Lantern provides zebras, but these aren't that helpful for dark shots. (They're great for managing highlights and skin tones.) Unless you need in-camera audio, I'd skip ML for this shoot.

6) Consider renting an 85/1.2 prime, and possibly a 135/2 or 50/1.2. In my experience f/2.8 is marginal in low light. Use the zooms as the sun falls. At some point, they'll be useless. Rather than pack up and go home, with the primes, you can keep shooting. The 85/1.2 isn't great for live focusing, but for bats, I'd expect that you'll set focus by zooming in before a shot, and then shoot without touching the focus ring - unless you are doing defocus effects.

7) There are two approaches to WB. If you will show an orange sunset, use "sunny" or "cloudy" as appropriate and stick with it. This will force you to edit close to the original order, and will give the feel of nightfall. If you want a more random order edit and don't care about the sunset look, do a custom WB often. Consider an ExpoDisc, rather than a white card for WB.

8) Set the exposure by taking a photo and reviewing. Hit the Info button multiple times during photo playback to see the various histograms. Use the RGB histogram to confirm that you set the WB correctly.

Best of luck!
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Old September 29th, 2009, 03:56 PM   #4
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Thanks guys!!! Your kind help is greatly appreciated!!

No 5D Mark 2 enthusisat that I know of in here and can come to this shoot so I will have to manage by myself.

WIll let you know how did it go tomorrow....

Cheers,
Ofer

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Old September 29th, 2009, 04:11 PM   #5
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I'd love to fly over and help you out but I don't think I'll be able to get away from work... :)

Do please show us how it went. I'd like to see the results.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 06:04 PM   #6
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Interesting ISO recommendations

Jon- could you expand on why you suggested those ISOs?

I have obviously missed something here, and I'm typically choosing 100, 200, 400, 800 and so on... for no logical reason.. I guess they're just nice and even!? =)

I'd like to know what findings I have missed!

Thanks,

Andrée
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Old September 29th, 2009, 07:16 PM   #7
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- Make sure firmware is updated to 1.1

- Make sure you have enough battery
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Old September 29th, 2009, 07:43 PM   #8
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There is an ISO noise chart out there that shows these ISOs to have the lowest noise. I believe that it has to do with analog levels switching for each stop with digital processing creating the 1/3 stop intermediates.

Anyway, 1250 and below has *really* low noise. Above 1250, the noise grows quickly.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 10:47 PM   #9
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Ofer.


Ron Coker who lives over there, owns and uses a 5D. I think he posts here sometimes but he posts regularly over on ExposureRoom - Providing Exposure & Opportunity for Talent.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 03:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
There is an ISO noise chart out there that shows these ISOs to have the lowest noise. I believe that it has to do with analog levels switching for each stop with digital processing creating the 1/3 stop intermediates.
I second Jon's post. For what it's worth, the reason why they have less noise is because they trade highlights for shadows. When you select "ISO 320", what the camera actually does behind the scenes is set the analog ISO to 400, then reduce brightness digitally with a -1/3 stop pull.

It's like the opposite of HTP (highlight tone priority). HTP sets the analog ISO to one stop below whatever you pick, giving 1 extra stop of highlights, then increases the brightness digitally with nonlinear EC (to preserve highlights), which increases the visibility of noise. So HTP trades shadows for highlights.

The other tweener ISO settings (125, 250, 500, 1000) should be avoided, because they do a 1/3-stop push, but don't bother to preserve the highlights, so they increase noise for no benefit.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 08:17 AM   #11
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Daniel and Jon:

Really good info there! I thought I had read most of the 5D mkII stuff, but this was new to me.

Thanks,

A
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Old September 30th, 2009, 08:55 AM   #12
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Thanks so much to all of you guys! Had the shoot and did what you told me which worked really well.

I was impressed with the low light performance of the 5D Mk2 compared with the EX3.

I did all the shoot at 1250 iso and it looks quite decent.

I really appreciate your input guys - it made a huge difference! Thank you!

Cheers,

Ofer
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Old September 30th, 2009, 09:41 AM   #13
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Glad to hear that the shoot went well.

What WB approach did you use? Did you balance from shot to shot, or did you hold the WB to preserve the sunset tones?
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Old September 30th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
Glad to hear that the shoot went well.

What WB approach did you use? Did you balance from shot to shot, or did you hold the WB to preserve the sunset tones?
Hi Jon,
Since light was really low I was quite limited as to what I could do. I used the Canon 80-200 f2.8, the aperture was wide open, shutter speed was fixed on 1/60 so I could only adjust the ASA - started at 320 then 640 then 1250. I feel that above 1250 it looks too noisy and grainy. I think the WB was set to Auto.
Will probably have another go this evening and hopefully be able to post some footage in here for you all to comment.
Thanks!!!

Ofer
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Old September 30th, 2009, 07:44 PM   #15
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I'd definitely set a fixed WB. That should help you avoid too much tweaking in post.

After you hit ISO 1250, try slower shutter speeds and keep shooting. It's not ideal, but you'll get another stop. Who knows? You might capture that magic moment.

Too bad you couldn't line up some fast primes...
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