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Thread: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

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    Senior Member dude163's Avatar
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    Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Hi all,

    Ive been to 3 birthday bashes this week and I was using my trusty M8 with cron 50/2 on it. I find that shooting above ISO 640 gets me too much grain /noise so i was sort of thinking about what would be my best bet for shots?

    here is what i came up with for fixes/solutions

    1: maybe invest in a faster lens? perhaps a CV 1.4 of some sort or a 'lux ( expensive) Noctilux ( impossible as my wife would kill me, then resurrect me to kill me again )

    2: Maybe get a body that has better high ISO performance ( a M9 ? sell the m8u and some junk off to generate enough for a used one? or is it only 1-2 stops better? )

    3: use a flash :P Mecablitz for the win, I could use it in manual mode and reduce the output to 1/64th or 1/128th as I dislike the look of flash on my kids , because they are half human half amoeba

    4: shoot higher ISO and convert to B+W ( free!)

    What I ended up doing was using my pentax KX DSLR with its FA 50/1.4 autofocus lens for the shots I needed ( cake stuff etc) and the M8 for the shots I wanted so i wasnt totally lost but is there something I am overlooking?

    thanks for any advice and/or tips

    Robert
    Last edited by dude163; 19th January 2012 at 13:53. Reason: spelling

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Flash. Bounce the light.

    It helps if you practice with the ceilings and the circumstances you would use it prior to the occasion.

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Lr3 is vastly improved in terms of noise reduction- makes iso1250 usable perhaps depends on your opinion. Bump up the color noise reduction and the result is a somewhat filmic rendition of grain. You can also add grain intentionally to smooth out the clumpiness if that is what bothers you.

    Also consider how the image will be viewed- certainly at 100% you see grain- if you export jpegs for email or make the kinds of prints most people would use, 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, the grain will not be an issue.

    lastly consider the M8 at high iso to be more like shooting hi iso slide film- very little in the shadows to see- you can process and clip more black too which helps to hide grain- I usually increase contrast or clip blacks at hi iso and just concentrate on a punch midtone and highlights. In the same manner, like slide film, the M8 is not great at neutralizing wb in heavy tungsten conditions- too much noise- so don't try to wb to neutral- leave the heavy warm balance and go for punchy files.

    the m9 is perhaps a stop better than the 8 according to lore, I don't have one. but 6000$ better? it is not.

    vis a vis bounce flash- perhaps also try the larry fink approach and use a cable to get the flash off the camera entirely- the nikon sc-17 I believe works even in ttl- but the leica flash is better used in auto mode, the ttl is not great.

    with flash if you are shooting color indoors gel the flash to match the indoor light and set a wb to match. otherwise the mismatch is a telltale flash ugly thing. Flash can be beautiful- it is just a single point source - like the sun!- and creates direction and reveals in its clarity. nobushu araki anyone?

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Get the F1.4 lens, or even a 50/1.1 Nokton.

    Lightroom 3 is much better at noise reduction, shooting Raw at ISO 1250 is usable under most circumstances.

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Quote Originally Posted by dude163 View Post
    3: use a flash :P Mecablitz for the win, I could use it in manual mode and reduce the output to 1/64th or 1/128th as I dislike the look of flash on my kids , because they are half human half amoeba
    If your kids look like you described - it is your fault, not flash fault.

    Forget about 1.4, especially with M8, unless it is maybe 24mm - assuming we talk about kids

    Buy flash and use it correctly. Also you can close down aperture and use almost zone focusing - if needed.
    Focusing on running kids using M8 with 50mm is not easiest one.

    Almost all shots in Reid Reviews about SF 58 are done at f/8 and bounced of course.
    You can also put on it LightSphere or even small StoFen. Then - make photos you need - and enjoy kids party instead of thinking of difficulties
    Best Regards!

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    One little addition.

    You could also consider a wireless trigger (on the M8) and receiver (on the Flash) combo instead of a wired off camera flash.

    These are fairly inexpensive (cheaper than the flash sync cables!) and incredibly versatile.

    For example, see: http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=33655

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    I use LR3, but I find my best hi-iso results are B&W... but this is true with many other cameras I've used as well.
    I don't go much over ISO 640 myself..
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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Get a faster lens or use a flash. A generic (perhaps Metz) flash on a Nikon cord will let you bounce as needed, or use wireless triggers. Hold the flash in your hand, use a bracket or stand in the corner somewhere if using triggers.

    Me, I prefer not to use flash if at all possible. Granted, sometimes being so stubborn is counterproductive...

    If you don't use a flash, never brighten your shots. If anything, you want the exposure to be right on or at worst, a little bright. Any time you brighten up the image, noise sprouts...

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Maybe it is heretical to suggest this on a Leica thread but why not sell everything and buy a Canikon DSLR or a Sony Nex 7 or a Fuji X100 or some other camera that has better low light performance than the M8?

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    Maybe it is heretical to suggest this on a Leica thread but why not sell everything and buy a Canikon DSLR or a Sony Nex 7 or a Fuji X100 or some other camera that has better low light performance than the M8?
    The overwhelming consensus is that you can not get the "Leica look" from the other brands, especially the lenses. Using the m/4rds or the NEX' is a compromise but still the lens is there to make the drawing, however far removed it might be from the original (film day reality).

    While it may be a fact that the new versions of Leica lenses are more optimized for digital cams (and hence differ very much in their rendition) and what kind of software you use to finalize the output also weighs in, they can be ignored.

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Sell my Leica! heresy!

    Im really enjoying the Rangefinder experience, yes as double negative mentioned, my stubbornness can be counter productive at times, but when it works, oh my gawd, SO much better than my canon and pentax shots .

    I mentioned on a forum ( perhaps this one) that with a DSLR I have a 90% chance of getting a good photo, but with my M8 I have a 30% chance of getting a GREAT photo

    I actually have a vintage Metx mz-40 flash and it can reduce up to 1/256th power so Ill pursue that avenue for a while and mess around with bounces etc, plus I have the added bonus of the WB always being correct as I am supplying my own

    Now I need to find some of those remote triggers ...........


    thanks for all the advice and tips by the way, I surprised everyone didnt say buy a M9 and a Noctilux :P

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Actually, I was going to say that an M9 and a Noctilux is the best choice. However, it sounds like they'd have to put "He died for his Noctilux" on your tombstone so guess that's not the best choice for you. If flash works for you, then you can ignore the following.

    For openers, I'd look at a CV 50/1.1 and/or a CV 35/1.2. A Canon LTM 50/1.2 is also a good choice. Next, I wouldn't be afraid to use ISO 1250. If you don't underexpose, the noise is much easier to work with in Lightroom. If you have Photoshop but not Lightroom, Imagenomic Noiseware Professional is the best of the noise reduction plugins.

    If you're sure you want to shoot available light, I'd suggest that you either use your camera meter or a standalone meter and try to determine what exposure settings would give you reasonable shutter speeds and ISO. Then you can use those to determine what you need to be able to shoot in the light levels you're faced with. If you have an iPhone or iPad, there's an app called Expositor that's very good for being able to vary each of the variables for a given EV so you can get a better idea of your options.

    Finally, it takes practice to focus under low light and shoot at slow shutter speeds. Practice under low lighting conditions at home, in restaurants and bars. It helps a lot when it counts.

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    How often do you run into the need for ISOs above 640?

    If not really often, just get a NEX 5N and M lens adapter for low light work. The 5N appears to be the best NEX for higher ISO performance, and Jono here on the forum swears by the Sony Focus Peaking in low light with the NEX cameras.

    It is also the least expensive route, so your wifey will give you a good boy star on your forehead instead of a baseball bat.

    -Marc

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    I was looking at some shots I tried with ISO 1250 and 2500, and if they are too bright I can bring them back quite readily to be usable ( especially in B+W) if I underexpose and try to bring them back , then they look terrible

    The shots I took with my KX at ISO 3200 and f1.4 ( takumar 50/1.4) came out well, but the sharpness isnt there , time to practice with the flash unit for a bit!

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    I don't really do it often (usually only to test a lens indoor at low ISO), and I don't really have any examples, but I sometimes mount my Nikon SB-900 onto my M8 and bounce it off the ceiling. I generally get clean results!

    I also just bought a Voigtlander 40/1.4 Nokton and found that I often get away with well exposed shots at 320 or 640 ISO, depending on the lighting of the building.

    In all honesty, I don't see why people complain so much about the M8's high ISO. a lot of my shots are taken at 640 or 1250 ISO and they are more than bearable, especially with prints. If it gets too much (usually at 1250), then I run it through Lightroom 3's noise reduction. I've seen some pushed film shots that are much noisier than the M8's! Note that I've shot with a Nikon D200 at 1600 ISO, and considered it bearable... and I also own/have owned a Fuji X100 and Nikon D7000. Maybe it's all in taste!

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Im actually re-evaluating my workflow/preferences, and I am thinking that having perfectly clear and sharp images isnt always the best, I managed to achieve some nice results with my f2 lens and 1/15th of a second at ISO 640, Ill post one once I get home

    my new years reolution is/was supposed to be more shooting less collecting , which explains why Im on ebay and the classifieds most of the days , lol

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Oh my, 1/15th hand held? nice.

    Well, I think it's mostly an issue of preferences. Some don't mind the noise, some do. If I were to ever drop lower than 1/30th I'd push my ISO up :P I find that it's not all that bad once you play around with it in the post processing stage

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    In context of this thread - we all should remember - that we discuss kids.
    Parties, games, running, throwing, singing

    So I would forget long focals with fast lenses or long exposure times.
    Best Regards!

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    how about this for f11 and ISO 2500 ? I was just goofing around as I was getting a bit annoyed at not capturing stuff


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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Leica M8, ISO 2500, 1/20s, Jupiter-3 5cm f1.5 wide-open.



    Raw DNG processed with LR3.

    The M9 is better, but I have no problem using the M8 at ISO 2500. The image is cleaner than Kodacolor 800.

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    My suggestion would be to look at your technique as well as making the most of a difficult situation. When I shoot medium format film for documentary work, I had ISO 400 film and a maximum aperture of f/3.5. I did a lot of good work in appalling light with that. Freezing action does not always result in the most interesting images.

    Of course, you could buy something...

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    Re: Shooting in low light with M8 advice requested........

    Buying something isnt an option atthe moment, unless I sell some stuff, but here are 2 shots I took at ISO 2500 to see how they turned out, and this is also using a slower lens, the Leitz Canada 135/2.8

    One is B+W to eliminate the background colours, the other is colour, but desaturated about 20% for the nice retro tone






    what do you think?

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