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Old Aug 5, 2004, 10:42 AM   #1
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I've had my Ixus 500 for a couple of weeks now and am genearlly happy with it. However, one thing that is making my head ache is the shutter speeds.

I wanted to take some pictures of a waterfall, so that the water appear stationary and sharp. The Ixus 500 has, according to many sites and the manual, a shutter speed of 'up to 1/2000 sec', which is more then enough to capture the subject I want, how I want it.

I upped the ISO to the maximum 400 and the result was fairly grainy, and still quite blurred. I attained focus on the water, via the green box. Looking at the photo details in the ZoomBrowser software, it said the shutter speed of the shot was 1/400 sec. I tried the shot again and again, using different, and the same ISO's andoften, the shutter speed varied. Sometimes it was 1/60 sometimes 1/250, 1/420, 1/600 etc. Never, however, did it go above 1/600.

Is there any way of controlling the fast shutter, or is it down to the camera's judgement. If it is, thats a bit gash. Fast moving water isn't the most taxing subject, and if the camera can't do that, then i'm annoyed.

You have a fair bit of control over the long shutter, but to have no control over the fast one is bad.

Does any one know how to control the fast shutter, or has any tips for coaxing faster shutter speeds out of the Ixus? :?

Thanks in advance,

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Old Aug 5, 2004, 11:09 AM   #2
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The shutter speed the camera can use is dependent on how much light is available. If it tried to use a 1/2000 second shutter speed in almost all conditions, your photos would turn out underexposed.

It must keep the shutter open long enough to properly expose the image for the available light.

Now, with models having an Aperture Priority Mode, you can select a larger Aperture (smaller f/stop number). Then, the camera can will use the fastest shutter speed it can for the aperture selected.

However, I don't see this listed as a feature of the S500.

Some models have a sports scene mode to accomplish the same thing. Again, I don't see this listed in the S500 review (but you may check your manual, as I only quickly skimmed the review).

To be frank, most users shooting waterfalls want the opposite effect. Use of a very slow shutter speed to give the water a smooth, flowing appearance. In some cases, users prefer shutter speeds of under 1/2 second, often requiring the use of a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor through the lens. Otherwise, shutter speeds would be too fast. A tripod is needed for this type of effect.

Also, the shutter speeds may not be slow enough from your S500 anyway. Just as the camera must use slow enough shutter speeds to keep from underexposing an image, it must also use fast enough shutter speeds to keep from overexposing an image.Your camera can't use a Neutral Density Filter to reduce the amount of light hitting it's sensor anyway.

Anyway, since you want faster shutter speeds,yourbest bet isto increase ISO speed (which will add noise to your image, which is the grain you are seeing).

Even then, the camera may decide to select a smaller aperture for the shot (versus the largest available aperture).

One other thing you can do, is stay as close to full wide angle as possible (don't use any zoom). Your camera's lens lets in more than twice as much light at full wide angle, versus full zoom. As a result, the camera can use faster shutter speeds at wide angle.

As for the grain you see at ISO 400, it's noise (caused by amplification of the signal from the CCD). You can get tools to reducenoise if very large print sizes are needed. Here are some good ones:

Neat Image: http://www.neatimage.com

Noise Ninja: http://www.picturecode.com

Noiseware: http://www.imagenomic.com/

Note that Noiseware is a free product. It does have some limitations (for example, it strips out the EXIF information, which contains information about the camera settings used). However, it seems to do a pretty good job with noise.

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Old Aug 7, 2004, 5:12 AM   #3
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You could also try the spot meter setting and focus on the white areas of the water fall. This "might" freeze the motion? A spot meter with a large aperature can give some interesting photo effects. I have also had some good results bygetting back a ways and zooming in on the subject.Moving water is lots of fun to photograph. I like to use different camera settings for waves and streams just to compare the results.
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Old Aug 7, 2004, 6:53 AM   #4
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normc wrote:
You could also try the spot meter setting and focus on the white areas of the water fall. This "might" freeze the motion?
Yes... by metering on the brighter areas of the image, the camera will increase the shutter speeds so that it won't overexpose them (it will properly expose the areas you are spot metering on).

The downside is that the other portions of the image could be underexposed, if there is a lot of difference between the brightness of the areas(which is better than overexposed, since overexposure can blow highlights). You could then brighten the photo later using software if needed.

You may also want to try - EV compensation (which will also deliberately underexpose the image as a whole, if using matrix versus spot metering). Again, you'd end up with faster shutter speeds than the camera's metering thinks is needed for the entire scene (which it will average if not using spot metering).

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