Problem with my Canon! ;(

Discussion in 'Photography' started by RyanAn, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. RyanAn

    RyanAn Screenwriter

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    Hi everyone!

    I am having a bit of a predicament. I have a Canon Powershot A520 and enjoy the heck out of it. It works just fine 80% of the time and I've only had it since Christmas. The only problem I have is when I take it to a concert. The images look really weird and for me, at a concert, these are the most important pictures I'll take because they are a once in a lifetime thing. The camera takes pics sometimes just fine regularly, infact it works fine at some concerts! But the majority of time it's bad.

    If there is a "quick fix, you're a bonehead" answer, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm seeing Godsmack Saturday night and really want to get some sweet pics! [​IMG]

    Here's some examples of the pics

    working just fine at an outdoor wrestling show.

    the lights looking super weird OUTSIDE of a concert.



    working just fine driving..


    these following pics are how the average concert looks:

    concert.

    chapter two.

    chapter two.

    Thank you!

    Your pal,

    Ryan
     
  2. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    That's the result of slow shutter speeds; some combined with slow synchro flash (like the first one with the zaggy light trails but captured faces). Lower light levels at night and at concerts requires slower shutter speeds and/or wider apertures.

    What mode are you shooting in? Concerts can be tricky, especially with a point-and-shoot. Predominantly dark with strong light on only a few spots challenges the metering system on the camera. Usually you are better off shooting in manual mode in such situations and may require you to trial-and-error the exposure along with setting your ISO to its max (in your case ISO 400). Generally the lower limit of hand-holdable shutter speed without blur is 1/30 second. But this won't prevent blurring if your subject is moving around a lot.

    And you may want to post the pics elsewhere besides MySpace, since viewing them requires an account and logging into it.
     
  3. RyanAn

    RyanAn Screenwriter

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    Thank you for your response Cameron. I really don't know everything about my camera, I've been trying to find out things about it here and there. I have three different modes, two different ones with flash, one represented by the down arrow and the other the same but with an A. The other option is not to have flash. I've had success with all three at times - but lately I just can't seem to get it right. I'm not sure how to slow or quicken shutter speeds - but I will look it up.
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    What you need to learn is not about your camera, but about photography in general. Then you will understand the camera and how to get the results you are looking for. Digital is not magic. the same principles which have applied to photography for 150 years still apply with digital. Pick up a copy of The Joy of Photography or some other book on general photography and do some reading. Unfortunately, with an ISO limit of 400, that camera will be a serious impediment for indoor concerts.

    BTW, I can't see the shots, but I expect what Cameron said is correct.
     
  5. Dave Ringkor

    Dave Ringkor Stunt Coordinator

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    I would set the camera to shutter priority mode (Tv on the dial), increase the sensitivity to 400 ISO, zoom in all the way, choose the fastest shutter speed possible while still getting the exposure correct, and try to brace the camera against something like a seat back or a pole to reduce camera shake.
     
  6. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    If you must use that camera, [​IMG] then get as close (physically) to the band as you possibly can and zoom out (toward wideangle) as much as you find acceptable -- you can always crop later -- so that the camera lens will be brighter (ie. larger max aperture available). As suggested, shoot at ISO400 -- and apply some noise reduction as needed later. Turn off the flash -- you're too far away for the flash to be useful, and whatever flash mode might just mess things up anyway. If you do that, maybe 1/30s or 1/40s (at max aperture near/around f/2.8) will yield the best results you can get from that camera. I would probably set it to M exposure mode and just dial in the largest aperture allowed and the desired shutter speeds -- and if the picture comes out too bright, then reduce the shutter speed as you see the need though I can't imagine it'll be brighter than 1/50s (at f/2.8, ISO400). Brace your camera against something for the shots if you find it necessary for those shutter speeds. If it's indeed too bright for the settings I suggested, *then* you might choose to either zoom in more (and thus reduce aperture) or dial down the ISO to 200 to cut down on the noise/grain.

    But yeah, what you *really* need is to learn the basics of photography -- and probably get a better camera also. This kind of photography is really too demanding for an inexpensive little point-and-shoot like the A520 and requires a decent understanding of the principles of photography as well. If good photos of these kinds of events are really that important to you, then you owe it to yourself to learn how to do it right and to do it w/ a better tool.

    _Man_
     
  7. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    BTW, here are some basic info for you:

    Smaller f number = larger aperture = brighter picture (and vice versa)

    The zoom lens on most digicams will have smaller max aperture as you zoom towards the tele end. That's why I suggested zooming out (toward wide end) as much as you find acceptable. In your case, the max range is f/2.6 for wide end to f/5.5 for tele end -- that's a pretty big diff in max aperture of ~2 stops of light capture.

    Smaller/faster shutter speed = dimmer picture (and vice versa)

    FYI, doubling of shutter speed = loss of 1 stop of light capture (and vice versa).

    Higher ISO = brighter (but also grainier) picture (and vice versa)

    ISO is inversely proportional to shutter speed in how it impacts the exposure (or light capture ability or brightness of the picture). So doubling of ISO = gain of 1 stop of light capture (and vice versa).

    Slower shutter speed will also mean more chances of either camera shake blur or subject motion blur. Generally, the rule of thumb for most folks under normal shooting situations is that 1 / focal length (at 35mm equiv) would be the minimum shutter speed for handholding the camera w/out camera shake blur. YMMV on this, and bracing the camera against something steady can help. Subject motion blur can easily occur if you shoot at slower than 1/60s unless the subject is staying very still. And if the subject is actively moving, you will often need to go upto 1/250s or faster to avoid motion blur, eg. for sports action.

    One thing. Flash can typically act as an extremely fast shutter to "freeze" the subject (possibly independently of the subject's environment). However, flash has a limited range depending on its power output (along w/ aperture and ISO settings, but usually not depending on shutter speed). The built-in flash on most any camera will have very little range, eg. typically no more than ~10ft unless you bump up the ISO big time. That's why you see serious photogs often using a big external flash (or much more) when flash is needed -- well, that and because on-camera flash tends to yield red eye, nasty shadows, and generally unnatural look. Because using flash means introducing a 2nd light source other than what's already in the scene (ie. the ambient/available light), you might often get interesting or possibly unwanted effects from the mixed light exposure, eg. flash lit subject w/ possibly motion (or camera movement) blurred backgrounds that have different color cast.

    Finally, the EV number in your camera's exposure compensation is equivalent to the "stops" of light capture I mentioned above. For instance, 1/3 EV = 1/3 stop, 1 EV = 1 stop, etc. You generally would use exposure comp to adjust the exposure settings determined by your camera's meter as you see the need since the camera's meter is not intelligent enough to know exactly what's needed for every shot. The meter is typically just using a simple algorithm that assumes some sort of average reading of the scene and can easily be tricked by more than usual amount of bright or dark areas or areas of one particular color, etc. An exception would be if you use spot metering, but these inexpensive little digicams do not have true spot metering.

    When you shoot in M (manual) mode, you bypass the camera's meter to select your own aperture, shutter speed and ISO. When you use Av mode, you set the aperture (and ISO) and allow the camera to choose the shutter speed it thinks will yield an average exposure -- and adjusting exposure comp would result in adjusting the shutter speed. When you use Tv mode, you set the shutter speed (and ISO) and allow the camera to choose the aperture -- and adjusting exposure comp would result in adjusting the aperture setting. When you use P (program) or Auto mode, you let the camera choose both aperture and shutter speed though P mode still lets you adjust exposure comp and set ISO. Regardless of the method and settings you use, you should note that there's no guarantee the camera can actually capture the scene adequately since the camera (like *all* cameras) has its limitations. Sometimes, you just can't capture what you want no matter what you do (even if you spend $$$ to get the very best gear).

    Well, hope this little crash course on some basics will help you...

    _Man_
     
  8. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Great post, Man. You've covered most of the basics in a single post!

    One thing I'll add regarding shutter speed: a camera or lens with image stabilization will allow you to gain up to 3 stops of hand-holding capabilities related to the 1/focal length rule for camera shake blur. However, image stabilization does not help at all with motion blur (freezing a moving object). For that, only a faster shutter speed and/or decent flash technique will help.

    For example, if you are taking a photo at 250mm focal length (35mm equivalent), you would normally need 1/250s shutter speed to eliminate camera shake blur (assuming you have a pretty steady hand). With image stabilization, you could use a 1/30s shutter speed to accomplish the same thing related to camera shake. However, if your subject is in motion, a 1/30s shutter speed will not be fast enough to freeze its motion.
     
  9. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Can't add much more than just to say that the best thing about digital is that you can take many shots and instantly see the results. That means you will need to experiment when shooting in low light conditions, and as you learn to vary all the different settings, you'll get more confident in the photos you take in low light condition (i.e. concerts).

    I've only taken photos inside a concert once (and got off about 25 shots before security told me to put away the camera). Though I was close to the stage, the lighting was still a nightmare, and I had to take some test shots and vary the settings (like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc) until something decent showed up in the photos being taken.

    This is the set of concert photos. When you click on any of the photos, take a look at the "More Properties" under the Additional Information section on the right side of the page. You'll see some EXIF info for each shot. It looks like I was able to play around with the settings (even shooting at 1/100 second to minimize motion blur, while getting enough light on the people being photographed to produce decent/average shots under less-than-ideal conditions).
     
  10. RyanAn

    RyanAn Screenwriter

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    Wow! Thank you all so much for your wonderful tips!!!

    My Canon is all I can afford at the moment, but I plan on getting something better when the money is right.

    I'll try to incorporate all the tips you've given me. I really appreciate it!

    Ryan
     
  11. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I would be very frustrated shooting a concert with anything less than an SLR. I'm always impressed when folks are able to make P&S concert shots come out great.
     
  12. Shadow

    Shadow Agent

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  13. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    P & S cameras are very good cameras for outdoor shooting, where adequate lighting is not an issue. The only way you can even have a chance for photos at a concert is to use a tripod.
     
  14. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Seems Shadow/Ruben likes to plug Pentax even when the subject is not about camera brand. [​IMG]

    _Man_
     
  15. Shadow

    Shadow Agent

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    Yes, I like to point people to Pentax because a lot of people overlook them. But, I don't do it at the expense of being off topic. I thought the thread was appropriate on many levels. You don't agree?
     

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