I love the nightlife and often take my camera out to shoot videos and photos while I’m out. I’m going to share some of my top tips and gear setup to improve your nightlife footage. Part of the equation involves a combination of the right gear and technique.
Why Nightlife Video and Photography
(disclaimer there are some affiliate links to products I’ve used and recommend. No additional cost to you, but it helps me a bit)
Nightlife video and photography is a niche area in both worlds. It is rare to see people with a camera in the evening or if they do they may run into gear or technical challenges to get great shots in nightlife settings.
You need the right gear to help you with your nightlife videos or photos. A camera with a large sensor will allow you to get great nightlife footage with a cinematic look. Camera’s Like The Canon DSLR’s (Canon 6d, 5d Mark 2,3 & 4) and Sony A7S2 are known to perform well in low light. I use the Canon 6d https://amzn.to/2GxbS6L
The next part of the equations is your lens. You can a lens that will allow a lot of light through into the sensor. That means we need a lens with a low aperture like a F1.8,F 1.4, or F1.2. Personally I use the Canon 50mm f1.4 https://amzn.to/2IlVFlu.
Nightlife Gear for Improving the Panasonic GH5
As many people know the Panasonic GH5 is a great Video camera, but it doesn’t excel for nightlife low light footage. How do you improve this? You can purchase a Metabones Speed Booster to give you an additional 1.3 stops of light with your Canon lenses. https://amzn.to/2GDWV27. Check out the sample footage I shot with my friend David’s setup. This is a great option if you have invested in Canon lenses with low apertures.
I decided instead to invest in a prime lens with a low aperture. Check out the videos with some prime lenses with low aperture values for test footage. I purchase the Sigma 30MM F1.4. This lens is well reviewed and was cheaper than the Panasonic 25MM Lumix option. With the crop factor on the G5 if you’re getting the equivalent of 60MM. Whichever prime you decide on the results are very good because of the body stabilized and low aperture.
If you’re taking photos you may need your own light source. If you’re taking photos then a super flash like a Canon Speedlight 580 EXII can help you. This is what I use for photos.
For Video I prefer to carry an LED speedlight. It allows me to control the light temperature and intensity. You can also use this for photos.
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For video I recommend to use the lowest aperture that you can. Set your shutterspeed to double the frame rate you are using for your video settings. You want to use a higher ISO, but you don’t want it so high that you get a picture with a lot of noise. It also depends on the camera and lens setup you use. Generally I won’t go higher than iso 1600.
For photos you can use a higher iso, low aperture, and faster shutter speed. For this rooftop photo we actually use the auto setting and set the lens on manual. It uses iso 4000, shutterspeed 1/40 and aperture of 1.6.
Watch the video for more tips and sample footage