I did the night tour about a month ago which lasted for three hours and cost £80 but walked away from it with only two decent shots and not much by the way of new insight or knowledge which is really what I was looking for. We started on the South Bank and there was only one other person on the tour which I thought would lead to a useful opportunity for some more personalised tuition.
Without having done any beginner courses before, a lot of the rapid fire information about ISO, aperture, shutter speed and exposure was a lot to take in. I don't think it was very well communicated that a beginner workshop class is recommended before taking the night time tour.
My main gripe with the evening was that when setting up the camera to take a picture, it often refused to take a shot. Our tour guide kept fiddling with the settings by putting it on manual to override the camera but in the end couldn't come out with any suitable solutions as to why the camera would refuse to release the shutter resulting in a frustrating evening with out many images to show for it. My tour guide suggested that the camera's exposure metre was calibrated incorrectly and that I should get in touch with Nikon about this. When I got home and did some straightforward research, it transpired that I needed to switch the focus to manual in order to release the shutter because with the lack of light, in auto-focus, the camera kept getting confused. I feel that this is a pretty simple solution that should have been suggested by the tour guide at the beginning of the night which would have resulted in a much better experience. I've had the camera checked since and the exposure metre calibration is fine.
I had watched some YouTube clips before doing the course about long exposure shots to catch light trials and on the night, one of the good shots I got was setting the camera up in front of Big Ben catching the light from a bus going past. I felt that having watched the clips I could have done this successfully on my own without the cost of the tour. The only other good shot I got was in Trafalgar Square where the tour guide recommended a shot with a reflection from the water as the fountains were turned off. This wouldn't have occurred to me unless it was pointed out to me and I feel like this was the only real productive lesson I took from the night meaning that £80 was extremely steep for one recommendation leading to one good shot.
Following the course, I've come out to do some night time photography on my own and found that the shots I took on my own were better than the ones I took on the course. For example, I have experimented with long exposure shots and taken some really impressive shots of the London Eye using shutter speeds of 30 seconds or more. This wasn't suggested during the tour and when I look at the shots I took that night of the London Eye, they are terrible compared to the ones I took on my own.
The tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable which is why I feel bad about writing this review and why I have been putting it off for some time, but I can't disguise the fact that I felt the night was unproductive, frustrating and very expensive for what it was and I booked with this tour company purely based on the glowing reviews left by others. I wish I could say that I shared their positive experiences but I didn't.
Another thing I found quite annoying was that when a Spanish family asked for a quick snap to be taken in front of the Houses of Parliament, our tour guide kept trying to take pictures of them but wasn't happy with the results and ending up spending 20 minutes explaining some very technical things to them about settings and equipment they could invest in and it seemed clear to me that they just wanted to move on. It was particularly annoying because at the time I was trying to get my camera to take a picture, which it wouldn't and could have done with some assistance.
Honestly, I don't like giving negative reviews but at the same time I feel that I have to be honest.
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