Master Shooting at Night with Superzoom Lenses with These Helpful Tips

Superzoom lenses are some of the most versatile options around, but they can also present unique challenges when shooting at night.

Superzoom lenses are prized for their extra-long focal range coverage. Instead of having to swap lenses constantly, shooting with superzooms allows you to cover a lot of ground. Convenient as they may be, they come with some unique challenges, particularly when used at night or in other low light scenarios. Our latest original infographic covers some useful tips to keep in mind when shooting with superzooms at night.

High ISO

When you’ve got a superzoom lens mounted onto your camera, don’t be afraid to dial up your camera’s sensitivity to ISO 3200 or ISO 6400. Most modern cameras perform incredibly well in low light conditions. You’d be surprised at the quality of the images at these higher ISO settings. If the results happen to be noisier than you’d like, you can always address it during post-production (especially if you’re shooting raw). Also, consider switching your camera to Black and White mode. High ISO color noise is much less noticeable and tends to look like film grain when shooting in Black and White.

The Wider the Better

When shooting with superzooms, you can generally get away with slower shutter speeds wat the wider end of the lens’ focal range. This is helpful at night because slower shutter speeds equal more light hitting your sensor, which is necessary in order to create a well-exposed image under low light conditions. The Reciprocal Rule of Shutter Speeds basically dictates that wider focal lengths tend to be less susceptible to camera shake even when you’re shooting handheld at slower shutter speeds. Having a camera that has In-Body Image Stabilization would surely help keep things stable as well. However, note that the longer the focal length, the less a lens benefits from a camera body’s IBIS. You’ll want to reach for a superzoom lens that has optical image stabilization built-in if you shoot more toward the longer end of things.

Know The Limits

Our bodies tend to be the most stationary when at the top or bottom of our breaths. Timing your shot for when you’re at the top or bottom of your breath will help reduce any potential camera shake. This is especially helpful when hooting at slower shutter speeds in low light and is the same technique used by snipers in the military.

Get Close

While there are superzoom lenses with a constant maximum aperture, they tend to be rather massive. For this reason, most superzooms tend to have variable maximum apertures to keep their size manageable. The maximum aperture on these superzooms decreases as you move further out on the focal range. When shooting with superzoom lenses, get up close to your subject and shoot on the wider end of the focal range where the aperture is at its widest. This helps let the most amount of light through to your camera sensor.

Available Light

The ancient Greek roots from which the word “photography” was derived literally mean drawing with light. When shooting with superzooms at night, pay attention to your surrounding scenes and seek out pockets of illumination. Let these light sources inform your composition to create compelling images.

Tripods

To keep things truly steady when shooting at night with superzoom lenses, be sure to bring a tripod along. Attaching your camera and superzoom lens to a tripod will allow you to shoot at even slower shutter speeds without having to worry about camera shake. If where you’re photographing is particularly windy, opt for heavier tripods rather than the lighter, travel-friendly ones. The extra weight is obviously less than ideal, but heavier tripods support more weight and are less likely to wobble in the wind compared to lighter tripods.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.