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Offline VTEC_Inside

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Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« on: March 18, 2009, 04:10:35 pm »
I meant to do this a while back but the goal of this thread is to provide a basic how-to guide regarding camera hardware. This info will apply no matter make/model/etc camera you use.

Unfortunately a lot of the information will not be directly relevant to those of you with P&S cameras that do not offer any level of manual control, but it still might help you understand whats going on.

I'll start by posting some basic stuff. I will try to answer any questions if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

Offline VTEC_Inside

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2009, 04:11:39 pm »
What do A(Av), S(Tv), M, P mean?

A - Aperture Priority (Av on a Canon)
In this mode, you select the aperature value that you want and the camera will adjust the shutter speed automatically based on light levels to get the correct exposure.

Be aware that the shutter speed that the camera selects may be far to slow to get anything but a blurry picture. Raising the ISO can compensate for this somewhat, but remember about the potential noise.

S - Shutter Priority (Tv on a Canon)
You select the shutter speed you want to use and the camera selects the aperture required for the correct exposure.

This is a fairly safe mode to use provided you remember that using shutter speeds slower than 1/60s while handheld is likely to result in a blurred picture from camera movement. Selecting a speed that is too fast will have the camera pegged at max aperture, but you will still get a dark picture if not a black one.

Once again, ISO can be raised to compensate within limits.

I say its a safe mode because whatever you've focused on you will get (assuming shutter speed not an issue ie black/blurry), but your depth of field may not be what you were after.

M - Manual
Camera be dumb dumb. You pick both the aperture and shutter speed value.

P - Programmed Auto
This is a round about good automatic mode IMO. The camera selects both shutter speed and aperature value based on available light. This mode is flexible on a lot of cameras in that you can dial it in to prefer higher shutter speeds or apertures.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2009, 04:15:22 pm by VTEC_Inside »

Offline VTEC_Inside

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2009, 04:36:04 pm »
Further to the modes above we come to Metering.

What is Metering?

Metering is what your camera has to do to calculate an exposure setting (Shutter and Aperture) that will expose the scene you are looking at correctly, ie not too bright, not too dark.

There are three basic metering modes: Matrix (Canon - Evaluative), Center Weighted, and Spot.

Matrix/Evaluative
In this mode, your camera will take the scene as a whole into account and try to expose the majority of it correctly. Most of the time this is just fine, but can lead to blown highlights and/or lost shadows anywhere within the image.

Center Weighted
Often this is an adjustable size area within the center(duh) of the frame. Here the camera will ignore anything outside this center area when deciding on its exposure

Spot
Just like it sounds. Often tied to the selected focus point, the camera will expose whatever is under the spot correctly everything else be damned.

I find spot handy when trying different things in manual exposure mode. You can aim your spot, set the correct exposure for that spot, and go from there.


Your final exposure settings are also dependent on the set sensitivity of your sensor (film), ISO. Ex. 1/30 F3.5 @ ISO400 will give the same overall exposure as 1/60 F3.5 @ ISO800. Note, double the ISO allowed for twice as fast of a shutter.

Offline VTEC_Inside

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2009, 04:37:47 pm »
Crop Factor? (More for DSLR owners)

All lens measurements are based on a 35mm frame size. So imagine yourself a rectangle that is X big as your 35mm frame.

The sensors in most D-SLRs are SMALLER than the historical 35mm frame, ie smaller rectangle.

Now put yourself into Photoshop mode and click on the magnifying glass. Highlight an area slightly smaller than the overall picture, lets say an overall zoom of 1.3x.

That's what happens when they say the camera has a crop factor of 1.3x or 1.5x or whatever. The image cast on the sensor is that much larger than the sensor so it appears to be zoomed in by the amount of the crop factor.

This is the reason you will see all these 18mm-> lenses for D-SLRs. On a 1.5x crop that 18mm is equivalent to 27mm on a full frame camera.

One more thing. When you see a "Digital only" lens, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can't mount it on a Film or Full Frame D-SLR. BUT, those lenses are designed for use with the smaller sensor D-SLRs and do not cast an image large enough to cover a 35mm frame so there will be light fall off hardcore near the corners.

Offline cawimmer430

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2009, 06:50:23 pm »
Good stuff.  :cheers:
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Offline Speed_Racer

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2009, 07:42:56 pm »
Great thread.
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Offline VTEC_Inside

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2009, 12:41:08 pm »
Another topic I struggled with a bit as a complete noob, Aperture.

Aperture is the diameter of the actual opening that light will travel through to hit the sensor (or film).

Its defined by an F number (or F stop, or aperture value) ie F2.8, F3.5, etc...

Contrary to what one might immediately think, the smaller the F number, the larger the aperture. ie F2.8 is larger than F3.5

The "chart" below illustrates FULL F-stops and the corresponding shutter value required to get the same exposure at each stop.

Code: [Select]
F1.8 F2.8 F4 F5.6 F8 F11 F16
1/2,000 1/1,000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30

In reverse you can see that having an F2.8 capable lens would let you take the same shot at twice the shutter speed as an F4.

However, lets throw ISO back into the mix. Say you are framing a shot that allows for 1/60s F4 ISO1600, you could take the same exposure at 1/60s F2.8 ISO800. Using a lower ISO is often desirable to reduce noise and exploit the most from your sensor.

Unfortunately this leads to the next topic as larger apertures don't just let more light in, they can reduce the depth of field within your image.


Depth of Field

Depth of field refers to the amount of depth within your frame that will appear in focus. Deep (or great, or whatever) depth of field will render pretty much everything in focus. Shallow depth of field can render very little of the frame in focus, providing for that nice out of focus blur.

Very loosely, larger apertures will decrease depth of field and smaller apertures will increase it (dependent on focal length to an extent).

If you are after that shallow depth of field blur, using a longer focal length with large aperture will decrease the depth the most.

If you wish to have your entire frame in focus, F8 will usually accomplish that on a crop body D-SLR, a little smaller say F10-F11 on a full frame digital or film.

Why smaller aperture on a full frame?
Well the same framed image on a full frame will be at a higher numerical focal length (ie DX 17mm = FX 25.5mm) which as I mentioned can increase the shallowness of the final result, so you need a slightly smaller aperture to offset.


Bokeh - That out of focus blur

Bokeh is the name given to the blurred focus appearance within shallow DOF images. Some lenses have a nicer bokeh appearance than others, but this is generally a subjective quality.


Note for P&S owners.
It can be very difficult if not impossible to achieve a shallow DOF image on a P&S because the actual focal lengths are extremely small and they generally don't offer particularly large apertures either. Using the Canon S5 as an example, its lens is a 6-72mm (equivalent to 36-432mm) with a max aperture of 3.5 on the long end.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2009, 12:52:08 pm by VTEC_Inside »

Offline Galaxy

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2009, 02:18:58 pm »
Somethings you should add.

When discussing Aperture, it is important to note that not only the aperture itself but also the focal length determines how much light gets through. If you double the focal length you roughly half the amount of light that hits the sensor/film. F5 is OK at lower focal length in most circumstances. F5 in a 500mm lens is almost unusable.


Some lenses have a circular aperture that gives a more pleasant (subjective) bokeh.

It should be noted that ISO settings effect not only the light sensitivity and noise but also dynamic range, the range in which the camera can correctly show light and dark areas without over or under exposing. Most cameras see their best results at ISO 200.

Offline VTEC_Inside

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2009, 05:07:22 pm »
Somethings you should add.

When discussing Aperture, it is important to note that not only the aperture itself but also the focal length determines how much light gets through. If you double the focal length you roughly half the amount of light that hits the sensor/film. F5 is OK at lower focal length in most circumstances. F5 in a 500mm lens is almost unusable.


Some lenses have a circular aperture that gives a more pleasant (subjective) bokeh.

It should be noted that ISO settings effect not only the light sensitivity and noise but also dynamic range, the range in which the camera can correctly show light and dark areas without over or under exposing. Most cameras see their best results at ISO 200.

Don't hesitate to make your own additions. This isn't my personal classroom.

I will add that the number of aperture blades and the shape of those blades is what primarily affects the appearance of bokeh. ie Pentagons around light sources versus nice circles.

I haven't really touched on ISO specifically yet. The only area I will have to disagree with you is with regards to ISO and dynamic range. Most cameras will see their greatest dynamic range at their base (unboosted) ISO. For some thats ISO100, some ISO200, some even ISO50.

Offline Galaxy

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2009, 04:33:33 am »
The only area I will have to disagree with you is with regards to ISO and dynamic range. Most cameras will see their greatest dynamic range at their base (unboosted) ISO. For some thats ISO100, some ISO200, some even ISO50.

The manufacturers often cheat to get to the base though.

The ISO50 setting found on a lot of Canon cameras is a good example for this. ISO50 lets so little light get to the sensor that the camera is forced to overexpose the image by one f-stop and therefore loose some of the highlights. You can manually step down at the cost of shadows.

Where I was wrong on was that ISO200 was the standard where greatest dynamic range occurs. That appears to be true only for the Sony designed sensors, which besides Sony's own DSLRs is also used on almost the entire Nikon range. I believe that the Nikon D700 and D3 are the only cameras currently on the market which use a Nikon designed chip. The D3X uses a sensor based on the Sony Alpha 900.

Most other manufacturers seem to use ISO 100 as the standard. One thing I am not sure of is if Nikon tweaked the Sony sensors to make ISO 100 give the best range.

Offline VTEC_Inside

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2009, 10:42:05 am »
Thats why I mentioned "unboosted" ISO. IMO Nikon has always been clear of the boosted ISOs by changing from an ISO display to a L1.0 type display.

Sourced from dpreview:
Usable dynamic range of:
D3x: L1.0(ISO50) = 7.6EV, ISO100=8.4EV, ISO200=8.6EV
D300: L1.0(ISO100) = 8.5EV, ISO200=8.8EV, ISO400&ISO800=9.2EV
D200: ISO100&ISO200 = 8.2EV, ISO400=8.1EV

Of course as you said Nikon using Sony sensors, but its still not that simple as the above data shows. I was surprised myself to see the D300 having more dynamic range at ISO400 than ISO200.

Suffice it to say the greatest dynamic range will still be in the lower ISOs, but will vary based on your equipment.

Offline VTEC_Inside

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2009, 11:30:44 am »
Just so everyone else knows what we are talking about here:

ISO
Pretty simply its the sensitivity setting of your sensor (or film).
Example: 1/30s F3.5 ISO400 = 1/60s F3.5 ISO800.
By doubling the ISO setting from 400 to 800 you are able to use double the shutter speed as well to get the same exposure.

Unfortunately as Galaxy points out, higher ISOs can lead to increased noise, a reduction in detail, and a decrease in dynamic range.

Noise and reduction of detail kind of go hand in hand. As the sensor generates more noise, there is less room for actual detail. Compound that with the fact that noise reduction will often start to wash away detail with the noise it cleans up.


Dynamic Range
Dynamic Range is the range of light values from shadows to highlights that your camera can record detail in. More is always better here from a technically standpoint.

I find it more often a limitation in highlights than anything else. Where you see nothing but white instead of tree branches, etc...

Here is a good read on this subject with illustrations:
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/dynamic-range.htm



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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2010, 11:53:35 am »
Questions- how does zoom affect DOF?

How much do stock Nikon 18-55mm lenses go for used? (mine does not have functioning MF)

Also, for really nice shallow DOF portraits + faster night time shooting, would it be worth getting a f1.8 50mm lens?

Offline JWC

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2010, 12:14:31 pm »
Questions- how does zoom affect DOF?

How much do stock Nikon 18-55mm lenses go for used? (mine does not have functioning MF)

Also, for really nice shallow DOF portraits + faster night time shooting, would it be worth getting a f1.8 50mm lens?

Several things affect DoF.  A zoom lens only affects DoF the way any lens does, by the chosen focal length.  Aperture and distance to subject are the other things that affect DoF.  The photo I took with the HP (in the photo thread about P&S v DSLR) was taken zoomed in, longer focal length to allow a shallow DoF.   That was the reason I said that a P&S was capable of shallow DoF and demonstrated with the photo.

A 50mm 1.8 would help.

For used equipment, I ubuy from keh camera out of Georgia and I use their site to check prices.  

Found an online "tutorial" about DoF.

http://www.photoxels.com/tutorial_dof.html
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 12:27:06 pm by JWC »
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Offline NomisR

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010, 05:19:47 pm »
Is there a good site on photography for dummies?  I've decided to start playing with the manual settings of my camera but not sure where to start.  Thanks!

Offline VTEC_Inside

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2010, 06:24:21 am »
Is there a good site on photography for dummies?  I've decided to start playing with the manual settings of my camera but not sure where to start.  Thanks!

I would start by reading through the posts in this thread. Once you know what's going on and why, the rest is just experimentation and experience.

Offline cawimmer430

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2010, 06:30:38 am »
Is there a good site on photography for dummies?  I've decided to start playing with the manual settings of my camera but not sure where to start.  Thanks!

Simply playing around and experimenting is the best way of learning.  :ohyeah:

But it would be good to know what you're adjusting (such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, exposure etc.) actually does because once you figure out how they interact together and what their relationship is you'll be pretty much all set.
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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2012, 09:15:29 am »
I took a class a few months ago, but I've lost a lot of that knowledge that I gained from it because of lack of practice.  Let's keep this thread going.  I'm always looking for more input from the experts.
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Offline cawimmer430

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2012, 01:18:12 pm »
If one has a question, just ask.  :ohyeah:

Everyone uses the camera differently for their photos, though.


Where is JWC by the way?
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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2012, 02:49:05 pm »
If one has a question, just ask.  :ohyeah:

Everyone uses the camera differently for their photos, though.


Where is JWC by the way?

I think he left the forum.
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Offline 68_427

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2012, 03:13:51 pm »
Just switched to RAW any tips.
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Offline cawimmer430

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2012, 05:11:18 am »
I think he left the forum.

That's a shame. He was always very quiet but his posts were really informative and well-thought-out.
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Offline cawimmer430

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2012, 05:15:47 am »
Just switched to RAW any tips.

RAW is the only way to go (although at certain sporting events I'll shoot in JPEG simply because the client expects the photos right away and they're not paying me enough to go through all the shots and weed out the crappy ones).  :ohyeah:

Next, get a program in which you can exploit the benefits of RAW files. Adobe Lightroom is an excellent program, especially when they added the "lens correction" feature to it - now I run all my photos through this option to eliminate the lens distortions no matter how small or insignificant they might be.

For RAWs to work in Photoshop you need Adobe Camera RAW. It can be downloaded online and is free. Camera RAW is like a quick version of Lightroom but in my experience has less efficiency. I prefer Lightroom to Camera RAW anyday.

Experiment with these programs on how to best make use of your RAW shots to get a feel for RAW files and the software.


Camera RAW free download: http://adobe-camera-raw.en.softonic.com/
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Offline JWC

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Re: Camera Basics - How to/What the $# guide *sticky*
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2014, 05:15:57 pm »
Just read the posts above. I shoot RAW plus large Jpeg. Best of both worlds.

A friend of mine is going to NC State and taking art classes.  Students are only allowed to shoot Jpeg. I guess it is the modern version of the basics.  When I was in college photography class, we could only shoot B&W and only with a 50mm lens---or whatever the "normal" lens was for the format we were shooting.
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