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Author Topic: Advice needed using D7100 in wedding photography  (Read 4605 times)
Mike_tn
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« on: July 02, 2013, 02:24:22 PM »
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My friend asked me to shoot photos at her wedding next month on Aug 10th. I may be the only one recording the main event with any capable gear. I want to do my best but have only short experience with this new camera.

Two weeks ago I picked up a D7100, 24-85mm FX lens bundle. I've had the  SB-700 speed light a short while and have yet to learn it. My past experience is amateur photography with a D40 with dual kit lens 18-55mm, 55-200mm(autofucus just died on the tele) and a 35mm f1.8. With the D40 at two weddings I was an extra unpaid friend-of-the-bride shooter, someone else with more experience was the primary photographer.

On the forum I read this post from David Watson
Too many megapixels? thread
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I shot my first wedding with the D800E last Saturday.  All hand held, no flash using auto iso set at max 1600 min shutter speed 1/250 and one lens inside and out (85mm 1.4).  No problems and a very high hit rate.  Thanks for your advice.

I'd like to try that same "ISO max 1600 - Shutter Speed minimum 1/250" control also found in the D7100 as a simple solution for the church portion of the wedding events, the low light part. I am thinking of ordering the 85mm f1.8 today which will have the camera shake of a 130mm lens on DX so I was also considering using a manfrotto monopod with ball head.

QUESTONS

Would it be safe to drop the ISO lower and shutter speed slower a notch from the D800E user's settings (1600 ISO max, 1/250 sec min) for the light of most churches?
What shooting mode would work? (like Aperture Priority or Programmed modes)
What AF settings would be good? (like Focus-Lock-Recompose or 51 point Dynamic Area AF for love birds)
« Last Edit: July 02, 2013, 05:37:04 PM by Mike_tn » Logged
allegretto
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 06:23:36 PM »
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1600 with a shutter of 1/250?

You're gonna be up against the max f-stop all the time in most churches. I'd go to 3200 and shoot RAW, clean up the noise in post.

Is that a VR lens? If not I'd rent one. the 24-120 on a DX works great and has great VR. The 800 and 7100 have a very dense pixel package and motion blur will really show up.

The 85 and 7100 combo is beautiful. The huge aperture allows faster shutters, but in the church getting up to 1/250 is still an issue at lower ISO's. But the 85 f/1.4 is a beauty. Not sure you want to be that far from your subjects however...
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Mike_tn
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2013, 11:21:59 AM »
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My how things have changed, 3200 ISO on a 24MP sensor. I want to test that setting now that you suggest it.

Indeed, I will use RAW.

I think I could shoot slower too, at least 1/160sec.

No VR on my fast primes, not the 35mm nor the 85mm, which is why I wanted to use the monopod. A flash is not out of the question yet but I need to inquire more for permission and need to study speedlighting. My flash skills are non-existent. I have the gear. One month until the wedding date yet.

I have VRII on a new 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 FX lens. I like the lens. But it doesn't open up or have background blur, contrast etc like the 1.8 primes. The zoom range would be good to not have to move around in the church as much but have trouble seeing it as plausible without a flash.

Stretching my mind here. At a wedding in the past, 800 ISO on my 6MP D40 was my limit before, with the shutter speed necessarily too high because of the subject motion and in post process had to lighten shadows and then deal with the odd colors created on men's black jackets.

How would bringing both bodies benefit?
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Mike_tn
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2013, 08:46:34 AM »
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1600 with a shutter of 1/250?
You're gonna be up against the max f-stop all the time in most churches. I'd go to 3200 and shoot RAW, clean up the noise in post.
I tried 3200 ISO in low light, and the darks seen on the camera's display would take great heroics to repair.  The time needed to repair only the ceremony shots would tolerable but I'd hope to do better. The church ceremony time is the peak and it should look good.

One of the two weddings I assisted at so far had the entire event, ceremony, cake, group shots, dance, all in one place, and it was like a cave lit with candles. There was a huge arched window behind the ceremony platform mixing cloudy natural light off of trees from behind with minimal incandescent light from above. I got the skin tones OK but the darks shot away from the window were blistered with odd tones and the full window archway was in the most important shots, surrounding them in blue trees. I never want to have to do major repair on so many shots again.

I think I can drop from 1/250 sec down to 1/160 sec or 1/125 sec in order to use 1600 in low light. Otherwise I pull out that flash I still need to learn how to use. There is no other way unless flash use is banned.

As far as other settings:
For shooting mode, I did a test and I think Aperture priority is best because with my other settings, Programmed mode sometimes seems to force wide open apertures when it isn't needed.
For Auto-Focus & Exposure (AF-C,S,A and focus point use etc) it seems photographers say "this is what I do" or "do it the way you like". So I assigned U1 and U2 with an AF-S setup and an AF-C setup.

thanks for the suggestion allegretto, it kept me digging.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2013, 09:02:44 AM by Mike_tn » Logged
allegretto
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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2013, 07:37:12 PM »
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You are welcome. As you I'm an amateur, but been in many low-light circumstances. Weddings are darn tough without a flash for the church. The lighting tends to be inconsistent and WB next to impossible due to variance. Receptions seem easier to me. Just set your comp back .7 or so and keep the highlights from clipping. I know, easier said than done.

I love my D7100 for many things, but high ISO is not it's ballpark. D600-800 are notably better and nothing can run with a D4. It's spooky in that regard.
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Mike_tn
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2013, 01:32:10 PM »
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Receptions seem easier to me. Just set your comp back .7 or so and keep the highlights from clipping.
Thanks for the tip. I will be watching the histogram too. I chimp my cam constantly as I ought. Did you mean dial back 0.7 on flash comp or exposure comp?...probably either one. Hopefully 14-bit post processing will help that way too.
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I love my D7100 for many things, but high ISO is not it's ballpark. D600-800 are notably better and nothing can run with a D4. It's spooky in that regard.
Agreed. At first I thought you said 600 to 800 ISO is more ideal for the D7100. I wish I could run it that low in ISO but cannot. I visited the church twice with my camera already.  The lab reviews on the D7100 say it does very well on low light noise shots considering the 24MP density.

What ISO is the cut off for a 20x30 print though, not sure yet. With my D40 I am happy to have a great 20x30 print with perfect shooting conditions. I bet the D7100 can do a more detailed 20x30 and at elevated ISO.

D4 dreams........except it weighs TWO D7100 bodies and we'd buy the heaviest lenses so I'd use it fixed on a tripod in a studio. Too heavy to lug to a wedding where you really need it. Minimal use of flash is probably the best answer.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 01:52:58 PM by Mike_tn » Logged
allegretto
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2013, 03:25:53 PM »
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Hah, more like 3 X D7100's. It's a refrigerator, but boy can it take high ISO pics

A trick I learned from Reid is to use the flash in your off hand on a simple extender with a diffuser. That way you can exert some control over highlights. It works pretty well actually

Secondly, I often use flash in manual mode as more of a fill than an independent light source. Set it to 1/8 or so and take some test shots and dial in your speed and aperture. That way colors are more natural and you don't get as many blown highlights. As always use the screen and histo to make sure your in the range for post processing.

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NicoChina
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« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2013, 10:38:39 PM »
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Which 24-85 are you using? Is it the older AF-D that is a bit faster or the slower AF-S?
I'll get that 35 f/1.8 if you do still have it, as well as a cheap 50 f/1.8D.. and any 18-XXmm kit lens to have something a bit wider if needed.
ISO 1600 is ok in any circumstances, but you can probably go higher provided that you don't under-expose too much (I don't have a D7100, but I used a D7000 as second body a few times)

I prefer to use Aperture mode and the quick-ISO function that allows to change iso with the rear wheel.
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Mike_tn
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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2013, 03:31:08 PM »
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A trick I learned from Reid is to use the flash in your off hand on a simple extender with a diffuser.

Secondly, I often use flash in manual mode as more of a fill than an independent light source. Set it to 1/8 or so and take some test shots and dial in your speed and aperture. That way colors are more natural and you don't get as many blown highlights. As always use the screen and histo to make sure your in the range for post processing.
I'm going try manual flash now that you suggest it. I wanted to order a sync cord this week to avoid the popup commander or Auto FP requirement. Was debating hand holding the flash v a bracket but I found there is less consensus among shooters on a good bracket so I am not sure yet on that. Hand holding the flash at a wedding my be insane, afraid I would need three hands for that. I have manfrotto equipment so I was eying one of theirs. Was wondering if an extender would be best reaching to the side or straight up high...wait, I watched a youtube video on the Manfrotto 233B telescoping bracket and it goes every direction. Might need a piece between that and the Nikon sync cord yet.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2013, 04:05:23 PM by Mike_tn » Logged
Mike_tn
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2013, 03:40:48 PM »
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Which 24-85 are you using? Is it the older AF-D that is a bit faster or the slower AF-S?
I'll get that 35 f/1.8 if you do still have it, as well as a cheap 50 f/1.8D.. and any 18-XXmm kit lens to have something a bit wider if needed.
AF-S 24-85mm. I have the fast primes and that kit from my D40.
Quote
ISO 1600 is ok in any circumstances, but you can probably go higher provided that you don't under-expose too much. I prefer to use Aperture mode and the quick-ISO function that allows to change iso with the rear wheel.
I don't like 1600 ISO but will not have a choice shooting the altar area in ambient light, I probably get more softness from hand holding or monopod use anyway.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2013, 03:42:27 PM by Mike_tn » Logged
Mike_tn
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2013, 12:46:37 PM »
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The wedding is done. For the most part it was a success. Thanks for the tips here. I only missed a couple shots in the ceremony due to limits of the gear. The 85mm prime f1.8 performed great on the D7100 for the most part. I opened with the 35mm f1.8 prime and after capturing the flower girl and ring bearer coming in I switched lenses to the 85mm to get the groom at the altar when the bride first arrives, a shot the bride specifically requested. After that I turned to get the bride and her escort but was too close to get them both in the frame. That is when the expensive f2.8 zoom on an expensive D800 full frame would have been useful though it was a less critical shot.  I got the ring exchange and was happy about that, it made the bride happy too. The only other miss was the exact moment of the kiss at the end because I was moving around alone, isle > side > isle. I did get them the moment after the kiss when they were still looking at each other.  An assistant would have been useful at this point. The semi-automated settings I chose were a minimum shutter of 1/200 sec and maximum ISO of 2000. Those worked well. Most of the shots ended up at f1.8. Occasionally I turned off the auto-shutter/ISO feature.

The only drawback in post processing was that when slightly lifting shadows I see light noise banding in the men's jackets and pants which are all black or navy. It is most visible when pixel peeping. I used Define2 with the measure noise feature but not the banding noise removal feature. The Define2 measure feature finds banding too. In some cases after noise reduction the bands look more random but still present at times. The worst was one shot where I exposed badly using a center weighted meter when the maid of honor had a lot of backlighting. On prints it may not even be visible but no prints yet. I am not too happy to discover this lifting-the-shadows banding issue with the sensor after purchase. I had not come across any reading on the D7100 banding or that it was a Toshiba sensor before buying the D7100. I thought Nikon had made the sensor in their own facility.

Processed image attached.

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