Right, I'm a Fine Art student, and one of my main modules is photography. I currently use a Nikon D3100 with the 18-55mm kit lens, but have a 55-200mm VR and a 35mm 1.8 prime (my preferred lens). My favourite and most used style of photography is low-light/night photography, however that's not really a strength of the D3100, as I've found I often have noise, slight colour altercations and sometimes some banding, which is annoying as it affects my photos.. I shoot only in RAW, using either M or A settings.
I don't have a flash, but I will consider buying one, but what I'd like to know is whether it would give any benefits? Or whether there are any lenses that would suit my purposes any better? The other option I'm considering is between a D90, D5x00 and the D7000, but I'm not sure about weather the ISO is considerably better.. I can't afford a d7100 or to go FX. Can anyone help me in any way? Thanks in advance,
In the lens department, the lower the F stop = a faster lens (usually cost quite a bit more as well), this accepts light quicker and will help but might not cure the problem. Using a lower F-stop also will start to blur the background depending on focal lenght, the longer the lens the more blur. Some pictures look best with blur and makes the subject really stand out but in other cases might look like you didn't take the time to focus. Practice makes perfect.
I will say adding a flash to your "kit" wouldn't be a bad thing, it can be quite creative in adding a touch to some photos but it takes plenty of practice to master how much flash you need and not blow out part of the picture or know when you need more light (to include more flashes).
These are just generalizations, there is much more to this but hope I helped some.
If you really want to upgrade, there are a lot of D7000 fans on NRF and we see some beautiful images. The current advantages include a probable good price at present with the advent of the D7100, one stop on ISO, built-in bracketing...excellent for tripod night shots, heavier construction, and three times the focus points.
And, the D7000 would last for many years.
In night scenes the bright lights may confuse the meter, and in particular if a car's headlights are in your face, this will cause an underexposed image. To find out how all this works, do multiple test exposures, bracketing manually about three f/stops over and under, then look at the overall image from that point of view. One can also use center point exposure, lock on, and then reframe. This can avoid the headlights fooling the meter.
Anyway, when you get some shots you like, let's see them on Photo-A-Day.
ETTR (exposing to the right) means when you view the hysterogram you will see the hump of the exposure is more to the right (over exposed) that the left (underexposed). Doing that means that you get better results when you darken the image slightly when you post-process than if you try brightening it. Google is your friend.
@JJ_SO: Rachel is interested in night time shooting.
I was aware Rachel's nightshooting. But unless she's not photographing the night itself as absolute darkness, then there are lights...
This is with a D200, handheld, but 12-24mm Nikkor at 1/15th sec.
and this with a D90 at ISO 6400.
You should be able to do these with the D3100 if exposing properly. Click on the photos and see them larger on Flickr where the Exif data is available.
The D3100 probably has better ISO performance than my D5000 and I can take low light/night shots with it...
Here are numerous examples. Shot with anything from handheld to a monopod or tripod and never a flash. It can be done with your camera and your lenses...so what are you looking for? For the color that might be off I would think that is your white balance. The camera probably isn't giving you the best white balance in a night/low light setting with the extremes in darkness and lights.
I will say that for more 'artistic' shots, a 50mm 1.4, or the new 85mm 1.8 will give you some amazing options with shallower depth of field.
About the d7000/5100. The sensor is indeed considerably better. The overall noise advantage in low light as msmoto said is about 1 stop. That sensor is MUCH better in bright sunlight too, massive DR advantage over the d3100 sensor. The D7000 at iso 6400 is quite usable at times & the current LR can fix the banding, or to be precise make the banding noise look more like film grain. Still you probably need to accept, that you will need to use a tripod if u want good image quality. I tried my d7000 at street/night shooting & while it works, I had to accept that sometimes even iso6400 & f1.8 is not good enough. Olympus mirrorless cameras are possibly better for this kind of photography, because you can have a fast lens & (in body) image stabilizer at the same time.
Sometimes an "hysterogram" looks kinda like a "histogram" if turned upside down.....
The problems of night exposure are most often corrected by simply practicing... using manual mode, fixed ISO, and manually adjusting the camera so as to get a decent image. I would suggest setting the D3100 at ISO 3200. Auto ISO "off". Then shoot at wide open and try 1/125 sec 1/30 sec, 1/8 sec, 1/2 sec, and two sec. No need for a tripod, just shoot the images and see what the exposure is. Then if needed try some others. But, only multiple trials will get the requisite experience to do this consistently and get results.
@racheldistad : Can you post some images (with exif) to show what you are seeing?
When I take nightscapes I mostly use base iso ie 100 or 200. Mainly because you need the tripod anyway so you might as well lower the shutter speed. The advantage of that is at the base ISO you usually have the highest Dynamic Range(DR) for a given sensor so that with Post processing of the Raw files you can recover more details in both the dark and light areas.
Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.
these are a few examples - hopefully will help
Did you follow the instructions given in this thread?