I recently decided to make a self assignment, something that would force me to go out and shoot pictures different from what I've been shooting for the last few years. I've settled in to feeling pretty comfortable shooting sports of late. So upon talking to a former student, I decided to venture back into the dark 'bar scene'. It happens that this former student is a friend of my son and daughter and plays in a local band (with other former students). They were playing at a local bar (Rubbles in Mt Pleasant) and I had a brand new camera (that I had ordered 4 months earlier!). I had just received my new Nikon D3 body and it was dying to show off it's highly touted low light capabilities! So when Carey (see picture above) told me that they were playing Thursday night and I didn't have to work on Friday - it was a done deal!
Now Rubbles is a small bar, with half the bar relegated to bands (with a small - very small dance floor). The Burning Bushes played at midnight. I showed up at about 11:45 to set up. Walking into the half of the bar that they were to play in I found it to be a cave (in the sense that there was little if any light). There were several 'cans' in front of the stage that mostly lit to the center of the stage and about 4 colored cans behind the band. Below, this shot of Chris and Dan show the fight I was having with the lighting.
After conversing with several of my 'old' students, I 'pushed' my way up toward the stage to claim a spot. I initially set up close to stage off to one side, besides one of the big speakers (big mistake). I had decided from the start to shoot without aid of strobes (both for my experiment and I didn't think it would go over to well with the patrons - destroying their atmosphere and all!). I started shooting with my 17-55 mm, 2.8 Nikkor AF-S, DX lens. Unfortunately, I don't yet own a non-DX lens in the smaller lens size. This would mean that while I was shooting with this lens I would only be using part of the D3's new full frame sensor. I took some initial shots while the band was setting up and they looked fine in the new hi def lcd viewer on the back of the body. After a 150 shots or so, I changed lens to AF-S VR-NIKKOR 70-200 2.8. This lens is a non-DX lens and would use the all of the D3's new sensor. I moved back into the crowd and took another 100 shots or so with this lens. The next day, after sleeping in, I downloaded and looked over my shots. There definitely was a difference between the two lenses when I looked at their sharpness and amount of noise. Now the sharpness was probably due to the VR capabilities of the 70-200. But I'm not sure about the noise factor. First of all, I was shooting at 6400 ISO! Even my noisiest shots were cleaner than when I shoot at 1600 with my D2X body. So I was definitely happy with the results. But I wonder if the additional noise was due to using less of the sensor or using spot metering for relatively wide shots? I might have to return to Rubbles and try some different metering modes!
Both of the shots on this page were taken with the 70-200 VR lens. You can see more of the pictures I took and look at the EXIF data on my Flickr page.