Canon Community Canon Community

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎04-05-2014

Settings Suggestions (Low Light Performance)

[ Edited ]

For about a month once I year I do some photography work, primarily portrait type photos, (at a local amusement park for their halloween event) so everything is done typically at dusk and after dark under a lot of special effects lighting. For the last couple years I used my Canon Rebel T3 with a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, recently I aquired the 1.4 version. After getting the 1.4 I'm considering using my Canon 50D as well for this years run. I'm just seeking advice on how to achieve less noise perhaps? For both bodies? Rebel seems noisy in low light sometimes, I've managed some nice results last year with the help of a external flash on it but I don't like blinding my coworkers working the event... so there's a bit of work going into my photos post production sort to speak before sharing the images. I never been to sure as to what settings to use, I primarily just shoot in either TV or AV mode. It would be an all new experience for my 50D as I usually take it to my local zoos to take pics because I use my 28-300mm lens on it, so any advice is appreciated!


I am considering buying a 6D, or a Nikon in the future but for now I'm just settling with what I got.

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 790
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Settings Suggestions (Low Light Performance)

Unless there are some bright ambient lights you can work with, I'd suggest planning to use flash. No camera or lens, even 6d or 50/1.4, is going to make possible shooting after dark very effectively. You will probably want to stop the lens down a bit, anyway, to have enough depth of field for portrait style shots. If you use it wide open, you will see some general softness, and DOF will be quite shallow. Try around f2.8, for example.


Shooting outdoors, if you feel direct flast is too strong you might want to get some sort of diffuser for your flash. However, direct flash might be fine, too... for Halloween shots.


Alan Myers

San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories

Reputable Contributor
Posts: 948
Registered: ‎12-24-2013

Re: Settings Suggestions (Low Light Performance)

One tip I have for night photography is to either shoot in Manual mode or else dial in -1 or -2 Exposure Compensation in Tv or Av mode. 


I find generally that at night there are always lots of dark areas in the scene. The camera will usually try to expose the dark areas so that the resulting photo will look like it was shot in broad daylight.  This is not what you want and it often leads to long exposures or high ISO. Both can degrade your images.  



Mike Sowsun
80D, 5D Mk III
Posts: 13,809
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Settings Suggestions (Low Light Performance)

[ Edited ]

If money were no object, a 1Dx and a Canon EF 50mm f1.  But seriously buying a 6D, or a brand-N, is not going to help.

At least not much more than what you already have.  BTW, the 50mm f1.4 you did aquire is only 1/2 stop faster than the 50mm f1.8 you already had.  Not a deal maker!

I love shooting at night and at dusk.  You can get some truely interesting photographs.  My best advice is shoot.  Yes, shoot a lot.  Because experience is the best teacher.  No body here can tell you what settings to use.  They have not seen the venue!


Sometimes Tv will work and sometimes Av will.  Even P will at times.  I would avise you to stay away from the 'fully automatic' choices, however.  The best advise is learn your equipment.  Go to the Mall and shoot. Go to a park. Try the Zoo after dark. Any place to get the experience.  But shoot!



EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
powered by Lithium

LIKE US on Facebook FOLLOW US on Twitter WATCH US on YouTube CONNECT WITH US on Linkedin WATCH US on Vimeo FOLLOW US on Instagram SHOP CANON at the Canon Online Store
© Canon U.S.A., Inc.   |    Terms of Use   |    Privacy Statement