We Live in Wondrous Times

ISO 3200. If you were a photographer in the film era, you understand my daily joyous astonishment.

I’ve been trying to talk myself out of buying the new Nikon D600, but my D7000 is making the best argument against an “upgrade”. I went out last night to grab a few publicity shots for Senga Classic Stage Company’s upcoming production of  Halloween Tales from the Women’s (and Men’s) Locker Room. I carried the big bag of camera gear, and a car-trunk-full of lighting gear, but I only used one camera and one lens for 90% of the shots, and none of the lighting gear. I got a powerful reminder that these modern cameras make damn good images at ISO 3200, particularly if the images (or, at least, the subjects) are well exposed. Sure, there’s some compression of dynamic range and a little bit of noise in the shadows. But it absolutely won’t matter in the newspaper. Interestingly, pretty much all recent DSLRs, from the cheapest to the most expensive, produce excellent quality images in situations that would have challenged a film shooter’s limits. Maybe someday I’ll get a D600, but for now I keep falling back in love with my D7000.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch? Or a very good bad witch?

Note to self: Bring some light colored fedoras along for future theater shoots. An off-white Homburg would have helped this image a lot.

Papa’s ashes take a spill. ISO 3200 offered me a fast enough shutter speed to catch the action.

“The showers are broken.” Part of making ISO 3200 work is “letting the shadows fall where they may.” If I tried to lighten any of these images, they would reveal a lot of grain/noise. Even then, it would hardly matter in a newspaper.

Nikon still doesn’t understand red very well. It overexposes at the drop of a hat. That’s okay in a generally dark shot like this, but it gave me fits in shots of the drag queen (see top of post, or below).

A woman playing a man playing a woman, wondering about the son she has never met. The robe actually features a subtle, detailed pattern, but the red was just too much for the Nikon sensor. I had to desaturate reds in all photos of this actress. But still, ISO 3200!!!!

Some of you probably avoid the higher ISO ranges on your digital cameras, but you really should experiment.

I shot all of these with the D7000, and all except the first image with the 17-55 f/2.8. I used the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 for the first image. Had I lit them myself, I would have worked for better hat and hair lighting, but that would have taken a long time and likely introduced other unintended consequences as well. It’s reassuring to know that I can show up with a smaller bag of tricks in the future.


Filed under Camera Gear, Dance and Theater, Low Light

2 responses to “We Live in Wondrous Times

  1. Conroy Judith

    Your excellence w/lighting is dizzying to me, seriously excellent even though you criticize same as we tend to do.

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