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Dave Collerton

Low Light Filming

Low Light Filming

According to the DXOMARK database, my Lumix GX-80 is 4th top in the list of Panasonic cameras. no doubt due to it's excellent 4K photo and video capability, yet only 139th in the list of all cameras. Worse still, for low light shooting, it's only 186th. Of course, it's a very big list so perhaps i shouldn't be too dispondant. Nonetheless, this means that there are 138 DSLR's, compacts and possibly smartphones, ranked above it. To be fair, I haven't needed to shoot in very low light and therefore it wasn't why I chose the GX-80 in the first place. I chose it because it did 4K well and that's an area I am particulalry interested in. However, things change and as I have become more and more interested in street photography and in particular, low light, I have started to think more and more about this area of functionality and which camera's are best suited to this style of photography.

Shooting photos at night is without doubt more difficult than during the day, it's certainly harder to use your equipment, change lenses, find filters etc. It's also very difficult to use a manual lens, as I was here for many of these photos, as you are relying on the LCD screen to help discern the focus in quite tricky circumstances. However, I thought I'd try going down to Torquay Harbour to see just how the Lumix performs against all of the distraction and the very high contrast between pitch black and bright lights. One of the things I was particularly interested in was movement. People, cars, buses etc. Here, long exposures are needed to capture movement and of course, this differs for people and for cars. The photo above is a good example of this. In this photo, the long exposure captures the car lights really well but it's a little too long to be able to capture the people who are overly blurred. This is pretty much a function of car speed because the faster the cars are going, the less exposure time required for the same effect and capturing people becomes a little easier. Two other things that I hadn't considered was the swaying of the lights in the wind, given the long exposure times, resulted in a colour wash effect nor that at high aperture values, e.g. f11, f16 and f22 that these points of light would look like stars due to the small aperture size. The photo below perhaps illustrates this more clearly.

To some these effects migh not be too displeasing - my wife loved it. However, the lesson learnt is to keep apperture size up to around f8 (for max clarity), reduce exposure time to just enough to capure the event your after e.g. car lights etc and keep ISO as low as possible (to avoid noise). It's quite a juggling act. Having said all this, here's perhaps my favourite shot taken on the night - hand held, noisy as hell but for me, enigmatic.

I'll update this post over time and as I play more with low light photography.



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