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Photography Question 
Carla Jenkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/22/2009

How to Shoot in a Dark Club

I have a Nikon D90. I took it with me to an event at a Jazz Club. I was using an 18-105mm 1:3.5-5.6G ED lens and the camera’s built-in flash. I was able to get several shots of the band because of the lighting on the stage. However, when it came to the crowd, the lighting was VERY low and the camera wouldn’t fire at all.
I am headed there again this weekend and will be taking more photos. I have a 50mm 1:1.8D lens and a SB600 Speedlight; should I use this lens instead? If so, what settings would you suggest? Should I put it in Manual, Shutter or Aperture Priority mode? I know I should set the ISO to 2500 or 3200. Correct? What about the flash? Can I continue to use the built-in flash? Even though I have permission to use flash and take photos, I would prefer not to use the flash if that’s at all possible.
Your help is TRULY appreciated. Thank you!

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6/22/2010 4:48:59 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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f/2.8. 1/60s, ISO1600, 38mm
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Canon EOS 40D Digi...
Hello Carla,
I do quite a bit of low light club/concert photography and I use my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens with no flash, ISO up to 3200 (my Canon 5D Mark II has low noise at high ISO's) or I use my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS which is sharp at f/2.8 and the IS (VR) allows me to shoot at 1/20s hand holding to keep my ISO lower.
I always shoot manually as I like to adjust everything as I go for my preferred DOF & shutter speeds.
Some clubs are just terrible and I have a real dislike of stage lights with red gels as they are rarely flattering. Blues, yellows, pinks, purples all seem to work better. I will occasionally set my custom white balance before I start shooting but usually just set my WB to auto and make corrections in PS/ACR afterwards since setting a custom WB is not always a good option when the lighting is constantly changing during the show.
I rarely take crowd shots when a show is ongoing since it is usually too dark and if I did attempt this, I would most likely use a speedlight, though I never use one for shooting musicians on stage.
Hope this helps.

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6/23/2010 6:32:03 PM

Carla Jenkins
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/22/2009
  Yes, Carlton, your answer helped a LOT. Thank you!! If I'm successful, I will upload an image from this coming Saturday's event.

The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VR II AF-S NIKKOR lens is on my wish list (smile).

Again, thank you!!
- Carla

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6/24/2010 7:56:03 AM

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