D7000 - How do YOU get best results in low light?

spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,072Moderator
edited June 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
OK, I am hearing claims of very good results when using D7000's at hi ISO's (even ISO 1600!). I have mine set to 'Auto Active D Lighting', 'normal Hi ISO NR' and 'Long exp NR on' and find that low light work makes me really want to keep it at ISO 100. I tried some ISO 1100 shots in London on Friday night and the detail on the buildings was broken up waaay too much, and the colours go dead too. Even ISO 400 is not great. I am also noticing colour banding when shooting bracketed sets against a sunset, but maybe I am greedy going for 2 stop increments maybe 5 shot bracketing is the minimum Nikon should supply - 3 is no good in high contrast scenes). Boosting the ISO in decent light for fast action is one thing - I am talking low light.

How do yous guys get best results? Please feel free to post pics with links to high-res versions so we can see. Remember this thread is D7000 nothing higher will help!
Always learning.
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Comments

  • DaveyJDaveyJ Posts: 885Member
    I bought a D7100 out of total frustration with the D7000 in low light. I know this is a D7000 and NOTHING higher but I think you all will find that a D7000 at night is a tough situation. I wish I had some sage advice to give here but I finally concluded that the D7000's forte is NOT low light. I have tried almost every setting on the camera and came to adjust to pretty much the settings spraynpray is using. I tried a D800 in NYC at night and was amazed at how much better that camera handles such situations. The D7100 addressed many of these shortcomings. But we still persevere to produce acceptable low light results from this camera.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Although I use preferably a D800 for my kind of low light stuff, I like to take a defender position for D7000. Don't get me wrong, there is noise in high ISO. But: In this class, a her time, it was hard to get something better.

    image

    ISO 9000 Large Version (all large versions are only 50% output)

    image
    ISO 6400. Noise? yes. Who cares? People were happy to have this picture.
    Large Version
    image
    ISO 2000 Large Version
    image
    ISO 1600 Noise? Maybe. Disturbing??? No. Large Version
    image
    ISO 3200. You see noise? I see a musician, very concentrated on her bandonéon. Large version
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,072Moderator
    @DaveyJ: Funny thing is, people all said the D7000 was great when it came out - obviously later generations of sensors will be better, but in comparison to the D90 era, the D7000 was supposed to be very good.

    I am just keen to see if using some 'secret sauce' settings can improve things as I need to get the best out of it.

    @JJ: With all due respect JJ, I do not think you are comparing eggs with eggs. I was shooting in London after sunset until 11pm and so I think there was a lot less light than in your pics. Add about one hour for the sunset in Germany BTW, so I was shooting until midnight German time. Plus I was shooting pics for potential use in a competition where they are critically judged amongst other images on the same level and so I came to the conclusion that I was wasting my time from about 1/4 hour after sunset onwards.

    Now your pics: The well lit areas in your first image show low noise but - for instance - the seating area seems to show the problem better (it is tough to see on the small images), and that looks to be better light than I was shooting in.

    I think that the ISO 3200 image is amazingly good - it is hard to judge the light level accurately, but I think there must have been a fair bit more light than in London at 11pm.

    Thanks for posting those JJ.

    I may try shooting the same shot tonight at various settings of Hi ISO Noise Reduction and Long Exposure NR.
    Always learning.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Aaah, now you're talking... it's not only high ISO but also late night street scenes :)

    All ISO 3200, all between 11 and 12 p.m Swiss time ;)

    image
    Large
    image
    Large and I admit, I like the noise because it supports the rain drops :)
    image
    Large

    Do you want us to tell you, "spraynpray you really neeeed a new camera!!"?

    No problem, just ask for it. But the D7000 is not that bad at all. And the shot in question with the musician was an ultra lousy lighting with one of those neon lights they use in UK to "lighten" the community halls. It was taken at Macclesfield.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,072Moderator
    I don't want to splash on a new camera thanks JJ (I bet you never thought you would read that on the forum eh?)!

    Those images are comparable and look better than I would expect to get at 3200 - what settings are you using? They may look better because they are only small, but I don't think that explains it entirely - I will do some tests later tonight.
    Always learning.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    How large do you want to have them? After all, it is a small sensor.
    Settings - difficult to know at the time, when I walked around proud of a new 24/1.4, 50/1.4 and 85/1.4. Today I use NR low and Adobe RGB and the other settings don't influence RAW, I suppose. If you have the possibility to inspect the RAW, I can put you some of those files to a dropbox folder. I just don't think I use some magic things - it's only RAW and Apple aperture - no high-end stuff.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,072Moderator
    I print 16" x 12" and 20" x 16" usually and get really sharp pics at that size.

    Sure, I use only RAW (LR4) so no problem. You can send the dropbox to apandechayes'at'hotmail.com.

    Thanks JJ.
    Always learning.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    They are on their way. If you see banding in them - don't tell me =; Don't wanna know.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    FWIW, Long Exposure Noise Reduction only kicks in on exposures over 8 seconds, and High ISO Noise Reduction is applied to any photo over ISO 1600 even when set to "off". Page 205 in the D7000 manual.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,072Moderator
    @Ironheart: Erm, I read the manual following your post and Long Exposure Noise Reduction starts at 1 second and high ISO NR is performed at low, medium or high settings on 'high' ISO unless it is off, then it is carried out on higher than 1600 ISO images and at a rate lower than 'low' (!).

    I checked because your post didn't agree with what I saw earlier when testing those settings.

    Always learning.
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    @Ironheart @spraynpray:

    You are both right. :)

    The D7000 (when it was first released) performed Long Exposure NR for exposures slower than 8 seconds. However, starting with Firmware 1.02, the Long Exposure NR threshold was changed to 1 second. Newer revisions of the D7000 manual will reflect this new 1-second threshold.

    When testing for noise, be sure to turn off Active D-Lighting. Active D-Lighting works in part by lowering the exposure (up to 1-full stop) then artificially boosting "shadow" areas of the image. Both of these actions may introduce visible noise into the image.

    Personally I always shoot RAW when dealing with high-ISO situations.





  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    A problem in low light I run into is the extreme contrast when a source is included. I try to expose for the mid range getting the tones correct on my primary subject. If other items in the image do not work out, I evaluate their importance and usually let them go. Or change angle so as to exclude problems where possible. The image is two items....subject & background, not to be separated. With people, I find HDR not possible. And I want my shots to look like anyone could have taken them.....of course this may be obvious....LOL
    Msmoto, mod
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    @Ade since I shoot nearly everything in RAW and was not aware about the influence of Active D-Lighting, NR and HDR in the beginning (and I'm still not certain): Do you know a list telling what has influence to RAW and what only to other formats? I know, it's only JPG on D7000 but also TIF on D800.

    I was kind of used in other apps that options you could not benefit of (because the cam is set up in RAW) were not selectable in the menu. In the Nikon menu, a lot of topics or setups can be changed and a Newbie like me wondered where all that HDR and ADL would show up finally :-S
  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 410Member
    I found that the key to reducing noise is turning off any high NR and DEFINATELY turning off "Auto Active D Lighting". Kudos to ADE for pointing it out. My experience is that Active D lighting is a noise curse and with the odd bayer filter it tints blue at ISO4000. Shooting Raw and ISO3200 will be great. I am comfortable at a f/1.4-f/4 in typical night light handheld with my D7000. As a bonus avoid vivid or monochrome when force into the jpeg box and shoot Adobe RGB for max color. Iv'e printed a D90 shot at 20"x30" with the image shot @ ISO1600
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    @kyoshinikon Yeah, I find the D7000 is similar in noise performance to my D700, but since I'm a RAW shooter, I've never used Active D-Lighting so it's good to hear your experiences.

    @JJ_SO

    Active D-Ligthing can affect RAW performance because it lowers the actual (physical) exposure, by up to 1-stop -- unless shooting in Manual exposure mode.

    E.g., suppose you're shooting Aperture priority at f/2.8 and the proper exposure is 1/80s at ISO1600. With Active D-Lighting at max setting, the camera will shoot at 1/160s instead of 1/80s. So you effectively just underexposed by a full-stop of light, which is a bad thing in high ISO situations.

    Long Exposure NR will also affect the RAW image. With this setting on, a second "dark frame" is subtracted from the image data before the RAW file is written to the card. As previously discussed it is only applied to exposures slower than 1 second.

    Generally speaking, Long Exposure NR is a good thing to have on.

    High ISO NR has no effect the RAW image (JPEG and TIFF only).

    HDR has no effect on RAW either (HDR is disabled when RAW is selected).
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Thanks, Ade. So far, ADL was set on all cameras to minimum and now to OFF. Long Exposure NR appears to be something I would try to do in post, so if the camera already has such an option, I agree with "good thing to have on".
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    edited June 2013
    You can't do LENR in post. There is no dark frame to subtract. There are very few instances where turning LENR off is the right thing. Unless you like hot pixels.

    Oh you mean you want to take dark frame shots yourself and subtract them in post. Astrophotography anyone?
    Post edited by Ironheart on
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,072Moderator
    Wooooow - good info chaps, thanks. Auto DL off, ignore Hi ISO NR and Long Exposure NR on. I'll try it tonight!

    @Ade: Where/how did you find that info out?
    Always learning.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    You can't do LENR in post. There is no dark frame to subtract. There are very few instances where turning LENR off is the right thing. Unless you like hot pixels.

    Oh you mean you want to take dark frame shots yourself and subtract them in post. Astrophotography anyone?
    I think I used the wrong words for that: Wanted to say, I would try something similar to LENR in post, if there was no possibilty to do it in cam already. And if I knew how to subtract a dark frame properly. I guess it's not only "dark" frame because that could be done by filling a PS picture with black. Anyway, I check if I didn't turn it off by error and then I leave that setting. Thanks for that additional info, Ironheart.

  • kyoshinikonkyoshinikon Posts: 410Member
    LENR is hard to post esp if your photo is a 30min exposure...
    “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” - Bresson
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    LENR is created directly from the sensor's output? It's not just a dark or black filling? Is it recorded with closed shutter? Because then I understand it as a source for hot pixels and using it to get rid of them. I'm not familiar with those advanced functions and how they really work.

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Yes, the camera keeps the shutter closed and "exposes" the sensor for the same amount of time as the real exposure and then subtracts the difference.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark-frame_subtraction
  • BlckcatBlckcat Posts: 12Member
    Noise can seem very negative, but all those good pictures from the film age had much lower ISO. I think you can use noise artistically or you can also get fast lens to compensate the noise.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,072Moderator
    I think that we are so far past the old days in terms of technology that there isn't a lot to be gained by comparing now to then. For sure noise has its place artistically, but in landscape and cityscape sunset and night shots, it is a pita most of the time. I am very keen to be to be sure that I am able to minimise it when I want none in my images.

    Welcome to the forum Blckcat.
    Always learning.
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    Wow, I always had terrible luck with my D7000 above ISO1600. The amount of detail lost was too painful for me and I only shot in RAW (and still do.) I haven't done enough printing, however, to know how that noise translates onto a large print. In general, I found that the more simple the subject, the better off I was at anything above ISO1200 on my D7000. In fact, there were times that I would pull my CPL because dealing with a blown out sky at ISO800 was better than dealing with noise at ISO1600.

    I didn't think that *any* of the noise reduction settings had any impact on RAW. Am I reading correctly LENR does impact RAW? Is this actually true? It kind of defeats the purpose of RAW...

    On my D4 I shoot at 3200 and don't even think about noise being a factor but that is a whole different topic.
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
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