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Thread: Shooting low light with deep DOF? (Concerts, etc.)

  1. #1

    Default Shooting low light with deep DOF? (Concerts, etc.)

    hey guys. I'm kinda new to DSLR filming really, but since I plan on shooting lots of concert footage and in general low light videos, I have a small question. Is there any way to achieve nice low light with deep Depth-of-Field? Of course, to have deep DOF it is necessary to increase the F-Stop, but that will take most of the light present in the shot and relatively ruin it. Increasing ISO obviously helps, but I wonder, what is the best way to work on this? Especially for concerts, where it is not easy at all, especially if you're not on stage with the band but in the crowd, to keep moving the focus ring. What do you suggest? Should I just see what I'm working with every time and decide what is the best option? Just try some stuff out before filming the real thing in every different situation?


  2. #2


    Edit: oops, would help if I read your post better! Yes, you will need to work with the ISO, shutter speed and a wide lens.


    Original post

    Having worked for years (as very much an amateur filming for fun) with a DSLR for video, and dabbled in event videography many years ago, I wouldn't use one for such live events. It will be a pain to keep things focused for one, and aesthetically I would prefer not to have an extreme shallow DOF for such shooting.

    With that caveat in mind, and also bearing in mind I do this for fun, in my experience and using my lenses, having the aperture wide open doesn't materially affect my perceived quality. Of course, people will tell you otherwise, but that's what I see. I also use an external monitor to frame and focus, and magic lantern to make it easier to follow focus. These things make it slighty easier.
    Last edited by Marc Peters; 01-22-2013 at 08:21 AM.

  3. #3


    Marc is right with his advice ( the edited version)

    A lot will depend on the lighting of the stage and your position too it. Get as close to the stage as you can so you don't have to zoom in. Test your cameras ISO levels before you do a shoot so you know how high you can go before it starts to get too grainy, With my camera I can go up to about ISO 3200 before it's too bad BUT keep the ISO as low as you can to keep the quality as good as it can be.

    Hopefully the stage will be lit well enough for you to keep the iris small. Don't on any account use auto setting stay in full manual mode to give you the best results. Don't go too low with the shutter speed or the footage will not look right. Ideal is double the frame rate BUT you can often get away with equal frame rate if you really have to.

    Hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    London, England


    samir0810, I'm not clear if this is a private-shoot, perhaps when yr children are performing - or is this an Official shoot where there is some connection between you/camera/management?

    Others have said it like it is. . . if you use a small aperture then you need a longer shutter speed, or push up the ISO.
    Shutter speed is probably determined by the camera settings, so all you have left is ISO.
    + However, I noticed when using a zoom lens recently (at night) that for a given f/stop a prime lens was brighter than the zoom. You will know that zooms have odd f/number specs which refer to the zoomed-out setting (being far darker) . . . so you may be able to improve things with some long fixed-focal length lenses. Naturally you can still stop-down but you may be more than a stop better-off, in terms of light reaching the sensor, due to the improved optical design.

    BUT - and I wonder no-one else has said - "why" do you want a great DoF?* The camera is selective and this helps follow the action - as the players do their stuff. Also, I read "in the crowd" and that gave me the impression this would be hand-held . . . please say you have permission, and a decent tripod.
    + I agree a decent Monitor should help maintain scene focus.

    Also, what concern do you have over the Audio? - e.g. if you are in the audience, their sound will be quite loud.

    * As the subject distance increases you get more DoF for free, stopping-down when focussed at a great distance only steals light, although some optical properties may improve, it's generally only for a couple of stops from full aperture. However, you've not specified the distance, nor apertures you plan . . . . .
    Last edited by vidmanners; 01-23-2013 at 12:13 AM.

  5. #5


    Personally I think the op is being sensible in their choice a deep depth of field.

  6. Default

    I've just been to see The Darkness with my Micro4/3s and kit lens. To resolve the issue of exposure I kept at the largest aperture and used manual focus to get Hawkins crisp. But, your DoF is probably personal preference. If you have a high enough pixel count, don't use the tele end of your lens and instead, crop the image to get closer to the action. If you are using a narrow DoF, use a burst so that you can select the least blurred / most in focus shot.

  7. #7


    unless I zoom in really close, when focus following is just how it is.
    With video cameras you do know you need to zoom in, then do your focus then zoom out to frame the shot ? With DSLR lens (still lens) they don't have a back focus (or what ever it's called) so every time you change focal length you have to re focus. This is one of the drawbacks of DSLR cameras used for video. That's why a video camera might be better for filming live events.

  8. #8


    The only BIG disadvantage of raising the ISO is the grain you get!
    If this is a sacrifice you are willing to take - go ahead. Some cameras can handle this better than others.

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