Playing With ISO

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/400 • ISO 3200

As promised, finally got around to test out various ISO settings. This isn’t as easy as turning a dial on the T6 to change shutter speed because the ISO button is on the back of the camera body. That said, it’s still very accessible and fast once you get used to the motions. Take photo, bring camera down, press ISO button, arrow key to desired ISO, press ok and ready to shoot again.

The lighting at Black Cat was pretty good for this show which somewhat skews this experiment. This is especially true for Katie since she was under a spotlight. I say this because usually in No Flash Mode which chooses ISO automatically, it defaults to 3200. Whereas ISO 3200 in this case is over exposed. All of which makes perfect sense. After all, 3200 is meant for low light conditions. The higher the ISO, the more noise (pixelation) is introduced into the photograph so the point is to choose the lowest ISO optimal for the lighting on hand. The T6 assists in this effort by displaying a horizontal meter at the bottom of the viewfinder when the camera is in focus. The mid point indicates optimal.

Even with plenty of light, ISO 100 is still best reserved for outdoor shots as demonstrated below. That said, thanks to the “disappearance” of the mic stand and cord in this case, the photo offers a rather artful if eerie atmosphere of sorts. It isn’t until ISO 1600 that objects in the background are getting picked up by the camera. On the other spectrum at ISO 6400, well, you can see for yourself.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 100

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 200

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 400

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 800

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 1600

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 3200

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 6400


Manual the Sequel

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/200 • ISO 3200

Decided to experiment further with manual mode while shooting Chastity Belt. As mentioned previously, the lighting at Songbyrd is really poor. Taking the photo above took multiple tries. The lens couldn’t focus so I had to keep dialing the shutter speed faster until 1/200. The result is a rather dark photo but it does capture the movement so I think that’s a net gain.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/160 • ISO 3200

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/200 • ISO 3200

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/250 • ISO 3200

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/320 • ISO 3200

Took four photos within a minute at varying shutter speeds. Love how the Rebel T6 makes it so easy to do this via a scroll wheel next to the shutter button. Even the slowest of the four still turned out dark and 1/160 isn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination so it just further confirms the atrocious lighting at this venue. By 1/320, the photo is noticeably much darker. That said, I must give credit to the ƒ/1.8 aperture. While dark, all images are sharp and the bokeh of the background lights is lovely. Another note to consider is that I am right next to the stage so that definitely helps.

Post processing could potentially counter the lighting issue but my aim is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of lenses and cameras.

Sport, Landscape, Manual, Oh My!


ƒ/2 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 3200

Now that I have shot several times in No Flash mode, I felt ready to explore the other options. For this outing, I tried Manual, Landscape and Sport. I chose these options because they do not fire flash by default. In hindsight, I should only have experimented with one new option since it was unclear which mode certain photos were taken in upon review. There were definitely good discoveries made though.

Sport mode is bleh. I tried this mode on two separate occasions and probably only took one photo combined. The camera is programmed to continously focus in this mode due to the expectation of action. It succeeds extraordinarily well at said task. It sensed changes in the subject’s distance constantly. This sounds great until I realized it spends too much time focusing, leaving scant time to shoot. It’s also rather noisy as it keeps focusing constantly which I found distracting.

Landscape mode performed slightly better. It focused fast enough for me to take photos at least! That said, they are not sharp at all. The slow shutter speed is highly prone to camera shake. It does succeed at leveling the depth of field. This mode definitely excels at its intended design of taking landscapes on a tripod. Concert photography, when one has to hand hold the camera, not so much. The first one turned out much better though.

ƒ/5.7 • 50.0 mm • 1/25 • ISO 3200

ƒ/5.7 • 50.0 mm • 1/13 • ISO 3200

Manual mode was a blast. I played with changing shutter speeds while holding ISO steady. This is really easy to do on the T6 via the main dial placed conveniently just before the shutter button. Click, scroll, focus, click and repeat. Vice versa is not as smooth because while there’s an ISO button, it’s placed next to the LCD screen. Next time.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/1000 • ISO 800

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/400 • ISO 800

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 800

You can see that the first two photos are quiet sharp if rather dark. At 1/100, brightness improved but camera shake is visible. When I increased ISO to 1600, it turned out much better but pretty sure that’s due to a steadier hold.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/100 • ISO 1600

I also played with focus. The T6 has nine focus points and they work fairly well. Experience helps here. As I get more comfortable with my camera, I will learn how to point for the focus I seek. For now, I was able to switch the bokeh between foreground and back.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/250 • ISO 1600

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/250 • ISO 1600

I accomplished the same regarding a soda can by mistake! I wonder if I would have been able to focus the drummer had I pointed higher.

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 400

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 320

Finally for comparison, a photo under No Flash mode which is essentially auto mode. I think I did well with my experiment!

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 1250

Please Let There Be Light

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/15 • ISO 3200

So it finally happened. There was not enough light to take a good photo of Tei Shi with my f/1.8 lens. I took over 70 photos but none of them really came out well. Most were too fuzzy. This was one of the better ones and the shutter speed here is 1/15. In fact, one of the worst photos was taken at 1/5! That has to be a record right? It was definitely frustrating and disappointing but such is the hazard of shooting live music. I wonder if it would have turned out better with a larger aperture like a f/1.2 lens.

50mm Pros and Cons

ƒ/2.0 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 1000

I have shot with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens for several shows now which gives me a good idea of its pros and cons. The biggest pro is certainly the value. At about $110, it delivers far, far more than the price tag suggests. It shoots amazing portraits with beautiful bokeh. And it does so with little effort. Just pay attention to where the focus point is. Photos are sharp and vivid even in suboptimal light conditions. It’s also very light making it easy to hold which in turn makes it easy to point and shoot.

However, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. It excels at shooting portraits but not much else. And often you want a photograph that captures the entire band so I definitely need to procure a wide angle lens at some point.

It also does not do well with movement. This is a problem because musicians rarely stay still when performing. The photos I took involving action beyond simply strumming or drumming have almost always turned out too blurry. Sometimes I can’t even shoot because it can’t focus. That said, I like how this photo turned out even though Kelli is clearly in motion. It helps that I am roughly an arm’s length away.

Bokeh For The Win

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/25 • ISO 3200

I was doing a half sit up on the floor here. That was a really bad idea because it introduced more movement than it would have otherwise which the slow shutter speed confirms but I really wanted to play with the angle and depth. I like how it turned out. The bokeh here in particular gives a stunning sharpness to Kelly’s eyes. It actually speaks great volume about the f/1.8 lens as a portrait lens given how incredibly slow 1/25 is.

Focus On Focusing

ƒ/2.0 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 400

I took this from the pit so I was pretty close. You can see the focus is a bit off which is my fault. I am surprised how much difference such a tiny distance makes. Her face is obviously mere inches from her hand and yet the contrast in focus is a world apart. This tells me that the Rebel T6 is really powerful. Had I pointed it just a tad to the right, this could easily have been an amazing photo where Simi’s singing is the center of attention while her hand is slightly out of focus. Similar to what I did here with the guitar and Molly. That said, it’s really cool to see the light reflect off Simi’s ring and the bokeh is breathtaking as usual.

50mm Is For Portraits

ƒ/1.8 • 50.0 mm • 1/40 • ISO 3200

This was the furthest away I have ever taken a photo thus far with my 50mm f/1.8. I would guess roughly fifteen feet away and it really highlights the fact that I need a fisheye or wide angle lens in order to capture the entire band in the photograph. To put it another way, it demonstrates that the 50mm on a cropped sensor like the T6 is really only good for portrait shots.

Bokeh with LCD Display

ƒ/2.0 • 50.0 mm • 1/60 • ISO 1000

This was the first time I took a photo via the LCD display instead of the viewfinder on my Rebel T6. The bokeh of the keys and background lights is simply gorgeous. I had my arms extended to about six inches from Sallie Ford’s keyboard. Surprisingly it was really painless to operate. It helps that the T6 is fairly lightweight and offers a crisp display. I foresee myself doing this when I can’t get to a certain angle. Another benefit of using the display is that it’s easier for my poor eyesight to grasp the photo’s boundaries so I know exactly what’s in the shot and what’s not. I have noticed that I sometimes leave too much space above or beside the subject of a photo because my eyes don’t notice the gap between the subject and the frame when I use the viewfinder.

First Shoot!

ƒ/2.0, 50.0 mm, 1/60, ISO 1000

This was my first time shooting with my new Canon Rebel T6. The photos came out really amazing so I am inclined to conclude that a good choice in the body can make anyone look great. It probably helped that I am using a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens and was able to get next to the stage. I understand the T6 offers 9 points of focus which demonstrated its capability here. By pointing the lens in the appropriate direction, it was able to focus on Molly instead of the headstock in the foreground. The bokeh is also beautiful. The dawn of light just above her head likely helped take the shot given the relatively low ISO.