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Old Jul 29, 2005, 1:01 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2005
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I have had a Nikon Coolpix 5400 for a little over 18 months now, and up until a couple weeks ago our whole family only shot on the AUTO mode. I have always wanted to get more into photography, but didn't really ever take the time to learn anything until recently.

I think I have some of this down, but I am still in need of some help. Today I was taking picture of a bunch of furniture we are selling, and in order for entire pieces of furniture to be fully lit, I was not using the flash, and instead increasing the ISO, decreasing the shutter speed, turning on natural lights, and setting my own white balance (not in that order of course )

Here is an example shot of what I have done today:

If I remember right it was 200 ISO, 1/30, with auto aperture because I was using the shutter speed priority mode.

Well, overall I am happy with the shot just because it is one of my first decent shots using these manual modes. However, It is a little noisy, and the light is very blown out. I want to know what I am doing wrong that these two things are happening. What would you use in a situation like this? Shorter shutter speed and more ISO, or maybe lower ISO and longer shutter speed? Different aperture?

I would appreciate any imput, not necessarily because I need this picture to be perfect, but more because I want to be using my camera to its full potential, and I would hope that this isn't the best that it can put out.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old Jul 29, 2005, 2:46 PM   #2
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That is a difficult shot handheld. Your shutter speed is 1/30 second and lowering the ISO would probably start giving you some motion blur.

The obvious answer is to use a tripod. Another would be to get more light on the subject. Home Depot or Lowes have inexpensive halogen work lamps that might work well if you get the right angle. Reflecting a halogen light from a white card or even filtering it through a white sheet of paper would make the light less harsh.

An image editor can help a little, but any image you bring from the shadows is going to be noisy. I think your best bet is to get some proper lighting on the subject.

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Old Jul 29, 2005, 11:12 PM   #3
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Yeah, better lighting is your best bet. Noise tends to increase with the ISO setting.
I think it's a pretty good picture -- especially if it was hand-held.
Does the 5400 have a noise reduction mode? I have a 5700 and it has two noise reduction modes; one general purpose, one for shooting at SXGA or smaller sizes.
Any time you take a shot with a wide dynamic range there are going to be sacrifices made in either highlight detail or shadow detail. There are ways to get around this, but they are rather cumbersome. One involves mounting the camera on a tripod and taking two shots of the same scene, one exposing for the highlights, one for the shadows and then sandwiching them together in an editor post production. You can see the problems here: The exposure has to be reset without moving the camera at all, and the subject can't move either. A simpler way might be to set up the camera to bracket the exposure over a certain range at the start and hope that the bracket range is wide enough to give acceptable highlights and shadows.
If you can get an adapter for your camera that allows the attachment of filters, you can get a graduated neutral density filter that will help lower the dynamic range of the scene. These are especially useful outdoors to allow you to capture the foreground without blowing out the sky.
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