Europe holiday – Rome IV – a fast lens can be used without a tripod at night

Written by Gary on November 6th, 2010

Using a tripod whilst traveling is a big pain, especially when you have to carry it all day in high security risk areas and then set it up in crowded locations.

A potential alternative is using a high quality wide aperture lens, and for this trip, I had the superb Panasonic Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens which gives great image quality even wide open, all I could wish for was that Panasonic would incorporate image stabilisation into their camera bodies as Olympus have done, but I don’t think that will be happening any time soon.

Selling paintings at night in Piazza Navona (ISO 800, 1/100th sec, f/1.4):

Selling paintings at night in Piazza Navona

Inside the church opposite the Trevi Fountain at night (ISO 800, 1/30th sec, f/1.4):

Inside the church opposite the Trevi Fountain at night

Note that I have used the native 16:9 aspect ratio of the Panasonic GH-1 to squeeze a bit more height into the images as an effective focal length of 50mm in 35mm terms with this lens can make things a bit tight.

Instead of the Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens, one could use the much lighter, compact, less expensive, Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 which would give a wider angle of view but require a longer exposure time at f/1.7 instead of f/1.4.

On camera flash would not have been helpful inside this church, so for those using slower lenses, the main alternative would have been to raise the ISO – ISO 1600 at f/2.0, ISO 3200 at f/2.8, ISO 6400 at f/4.0 and ISO 12,800 if you happen to have only a f/5.6 kit lens, although if it had IS, then perhaps a lower ISO may be possible by using an even slower shutter speed and being very careful with camera shake.

Image quality with a point and shoot digital camera or even a kit lens on a dSLR would be poor inside this church – this is part of the reason Micro Four Thirds makes a great travel photography compromise – optimising size vs image quality.

If one wished to capture images at greater than 16 megapixel resolution such as with the newer Canon dSLRs, then a tripod becomes indispensable for nearly every shot at lower shutter speeds – if you don’t use a tripod in these situation, you may as well be using a 10 megapixel camera as you will not be gaining any more resolution, and your file storage is impacted for no real benefit.

 

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