question about using flash indoors ...

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Giovanni Azua, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. Hi all,

    Suppose you have the following eq: D200, SB-800,
    18-200mm VR

    you are in a Disco with the following conditions:

    - people dancing i.e. moving
    - place very dark with changing color lights
    - very high roof hence, minimal chance to bounce the light

    Only way it to point directly to the subject and shoot away ...
    under this scenario what would you do to avoid the
    common washed out over-exposed subject photo?

    Giovanni Azua, Mar 4, 2007
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  2. The 18-200mm VR is an extremely bad lens choice for this. You will need a
    much faster lens. If you're on a tight budget and want great performance
    you should consider the 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8. Though the bokeh on the 50
    isn't highly pleasing it will get you by for general snaps.
    Using flash in this scenario is a surefire way of getting you bounced out of
    the club. Get a fast lens for more creativity using ambient light; you'll
    be pleased with the results.
    You got it! The 18-200 is a lens that requires a lot of light to work.
    Again, get a fast lens. And if you must use flash, use it creatively in
    combination with a good lens.

    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Mar 4, 2007
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  3. This lens would be totally usuitable for this type of work in my opinion.
    You would be better off grabbing a cheap & cheerful 50/1.8 or even better a
    50/1.4. Also using a flash somewhere like a disco would pretty much kill
    the mood of the scene and give the typical "flash" type pic with washed out
    faces & black colourless background.

    cheers adrian
    Adrian Boliston, Mar 4, 2007
  4. Hi Rita!

    First of all many thanks for your very helpful response!

    What other option there would be outside the "tight budget"? the 17-35mm
    f2.8 ED? isn't it too wide for the disco job? On the other hand the 50mm
    will be somewhat unconfortable for hunting the right composition although
    the D200 I could just crop what I need later on ... I would be unsure which
    to get assuming money is no issue:

    - 50mm f/1.4D AF (cons: I will need to move a lot to get the right
    composition) or
    - 17-35mm f/2.8 ED-IF (cons too wide: 17-50mm range would be more handy) or
    - 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF (cons: not an optimal range for a disco probably ...)
    - 28-70mm f/2.8D ED-IF (this would be the king of the hill wouldn't it?)
    What about using diffusers? any experiences even with the 18-200mm?

    I already have the 18-200mm and would like two additional lenses:
    - wide angle indeed for indoors (not sure which one to get yet) and
    - large range zoom lenses I will go for the Nikkor 80-400 VR ED.

    Giovanni Azua, Mar 4, 2007
  5. The other replies are correct in that a fast lens would produce better
    results, and using flash in a private club would likely be frowned upon.
    OTOH, doing this week after week at wedding and other family receptions,
    flash is used for all shots, and the 18-200mm VR lens is good to use. My
    usual setting is ISO 400, standard TTL with flash compensation at -.3
    or -.7.
    EUGENE HURWITZ, Mar 4, 2007
  6. Giovanni Azua

    Paul Furman Guest

    The next most useful thing for almost any purpose will be a fast normal
    lens. Because it's a normal field of view, there really isn't the need
    to move around, what you see will look like what one expects to see.
    28mm f/2.8 or Sigma 30mm f/1.4 or an old MF 28mm f/2 (hard to focus though).
    Paul Furman, Mar 4, 2007
  7. Giovanni Azua

    Alan Browne Guest

    Don't use flash. Set a high ISO (800, 1200, 1600), use support or IS/VR
    lenses and shoot as wide open as you can.
    Alan Browne, Mar 4, 2007
  8. Not with the 18-200mm VR. This lens is a light attenuater.

    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Mar 4, 2007
  9. The 17-35/2.8 would be a better choice, but a faster prime is better suited
    for this task.
    The one that comes with the SB800 works extremely well. You can use an old
    translucent alcohol bottle for a better diffuser if you want. Experiment.
    I avoid the 18-200.
    My recommendation is to invest in the 70-200mm VR and a 17-35 or 17-55 lens
    for your zooms. Like I said earlier, you can pick up some inexpensive fast
    primes as well.

    Rita Ä Berkowitz, Mar 4, 2007
  10. Giovanni Azua

    Alan Browne Guest

    Alan Browne, Mar 4, 2007
  11. you are in a Disco with the following conditions:
    One technique you might want to try is this:

    - Get a good prime lens.
    - Set focus to manual.
    - Set shutter to bulb.
    - Hold the camera in one hand, the flash in the other.
    - Open the shutter, fire the flash twice, and close the shutter.

    Once you get used to the technique, you'll end up with some dynamite
    pictures that really give a sense of dancing.

    I have some examples at the bottom of:

    (These are from a trip to the Ukraine I took ten years ago.)

    Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, Mar 4, 2007
  12. I have some examples at the bottom of:
    Sorry to follow up on my own post. Some people may want to know that
    these pictures are scanned from film prints; they're not from a dSLR.
    But the concept is the same.

    Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, Mar 4, 2007
  13. Giovanni Azua

    Matt Clara Guest

    It is, but (one of ) the nicest thing about digital is the ability to turn
    the flash off and crank the iso, as in some of these pictures:
    Matt Clara, Mar 5, 2007

  14. 1. As others said: Get a fast non-zoom lens. Fast means f/2
    or f/1.4. (even fast f/2.8 zooms just are too slow, and VR
    only helps against camera shake, not with moving people,
    and probably will not even autofocus if it's too dark).

    If you were using Canon, I'd say the 50mm f/1.8 is well
    worth the price (though you might wnat the faster and
    much nicer built f/1.4, if you have the money to spend).
    I understand that there's a Nikkor of that kind available
    ( US$115) even for
    small budgets.

    Alternatively, something in the 25-35mm range will be
    closer to a 50mm view on full frame.

    2. If you use flash at all, make sure that it's just a fill flash
    (i.e. try tuning it 2 or 3 or even more stops down) ---
    else you will drown out all the pretty colour lights.

    Make sure that using flash is not VERBOTEN or frowned
    upon at the place.

    3. Try off-camera flash. The D200's inbuild
    flash can act as a commander for the SB-800, so
    you can position the flash somewhere else. (see
    for settings)

    4. Depending on the circumstances, you can put a LEE filter
    in front of the flash. LEE sells sample books cheap, the
    size of the samples is big enough to put them in front of
    the flash tube. This can disguise the flash as a coloured
    light or at least tone it down from 'sunlight' to

    You can also try and rent more flash units for better

    5. Brute force. If you use a big enough flash, even a dark,
    high ceiling will reflect some light. Some (one-time) flash
    bulbs do have a tremendous amount of power (and cost quite a
    bit a pop). Have a lawyer ready to deal with all the cases
    of sudden blindness if someone looks directly into such a flash.

    6. Couple your flash to the lighting of the place: whenever
    the flash is to go off, have the coloured lights go to
    "full power" for a moment. (requires cooperation with the
    light people at the place, obviously.)

    7. If they use stage fog --- common if they want coloured
    light beams to show, you can flash straight up (or even a
    little bit backwards) and use the backscatter of the fog
    as indirect lighting. Be 100% sure that the flash light
    cannot reach the subject in a direct line from the flash
    front cover/lense, or you'll not get the desired effect.
    (Yes, I have done that before.)

    8. If you cannot use flash: Use the highest ISO setting that does
    still amplify the analog signal --- with the 20D this would be
    ISO 1600 (as ISO 3200 aka 'H' (boost) only doubles the numbers
    of an ISO 1600 setting). Feel free to underexpose by 1 or
    even 2 stops. Shoot in RAW, and increase the exposure later.
    Having a good noise supressor in the workflow helps.

    9. Do not be afraid of longer exposures. You try to capture moods,
    not 100% sharpness. 1/30s or 1/25s for a 50mm (effectively
    80mm on a 1.5 crop camera) is workable, especially if you shoot
    multiple frames --- one of them should be sharp. Do stand
    steady, or lean against something. (VR can help you there, so
    can a monopod.) Sometimes you want subject movement visible.
    Fill flash can give you additional sharpness, while the long
    exposure captures the light mood.

    10. Choose your shots so that 100% sharpness is not needed.

    Wolfgang Weisselberg, Mar 7, 2007
  15. Giovanni Azua

    C J Campbell Guest

    I guess it depends on what you want. If you absolutely must freeze the action
    (a bad idea IMHO -- these people should look like they are dancing) then go
    with a fast lens, etc.

    Or do the Nat Geo trick of flash, but slow exposure, say 1/8 sec., rear sync.
    I have seen this kind of picture there frequently. It shows the interior
    well, minimizes the flash, shows enough blur to imply movement, but freezes
    the subject at the end of the blur. I like this effect, myself, but it is an
    individual taste.
    C J Campbell, Mar 8, 2007
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