Thread: How to shoot dark scenes with a low ISO

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  1. #1 How to shoot dark scenes with a low ISO 
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    My Angenieux 16-42mm 2.8 is my main narrative lens. I sometimes find images a little muddy and noisy when shooting dark scenes wide open. I like the explanation that lowering the ISO adds more gradation at the dark end and reduces noise. This makes sense, but the image is too dark.

    Is this option only when you can add more light to the scene? If you don't have the option to add more light, then I don't see how this would work.
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  2. #2  
    You must add more light. As they say in the theater work " you have no idea how much light it takes to make a stage look dark".
    Michael Tiemann, Chapel Hill NC

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    Senior Member Aaron Lochert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
    Is this option only when you can add more light to the scene? If you don't have the option to add more light, then I don't see how this would work.
    Correct. And that's why dual native ISO is a game changer. It effectively gives you a two-stop boost to the entire image.

    But yeah when people suggest to shoot night scenes at low ISO or bright daylight scenes at high ISO, they're assuming that you're also changing the exposure at the sensor level to compensate.
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  4. #4  
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    You must add more light.
    No, you really don't. You just have to have contrast, and not have the entire image 3 stops under. You can have a hot lightbulb, a little sliver of window, a hot edge, but there has to be a bright reference for there to be black. Dark should be black, not noisy neither here nor there exposed flat no light anywhere. No major motion picture or TV show I have ever worked on Dumped light on scenes and then printed them down, they are just lit well. no lighting does not a low light scene make.

    Nick
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  5. #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gardner View Post
    No, you really don't. You just have to have contrast, and not have the entire image 3 stops under. You can have a hot lightbulb, a little sliver of window, a hot edge, but there has to be a bright reference for there to be black. Dark should be black, not noisy neither here nor there exposed flat no light anywhere. No major motion picture or TV show I have ever worked on Dumped light on scenes and then printed them down, they are just lit well. no lighting does not a low light scene make.

    Nick
    Well said, and a better explanation than what I said. But also, if the entire image is three stops down, more light is needed. Not everywhere, as might be inferred from what I said (though not what I did say) but where appropriate. If you cannot add that light, you will suffer noise.
    Last edited by Michael Tiemann; 02-13-2020 at 06:21 AM. Reason: typo
    Michael Tiemann, Chapel Hill NC

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  6. #6  
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    Yes, I think we are saying the same thing ;-)

    Nick
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  7. #7  
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    Also try calibration at your low light settings. I saw that in some scenes changing the gamma curve helps, depending on how much DR you really need.
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