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Old Dec 1, 2006, 11:53 AM   #1
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I am a newbie in DSLR arena. I post this similar topic in "what camera to buy" but received noresponse. So I post this again inhere and hope some one might have answerformy questions.

I am going to buy the DSLR and it will be my first DSLR ever.

I am considering buying the Canon 400D. It has many new features that I like and one feature is Self Cleaning feature. For the DSLR newbie like me, I hope this function may be helpful to me to clean the lens without dismount it from the camera.

But Canon 400D has no spot metering. !!!!
I have a panasonic FZ30 and spot metering is very helpful to me in some situations.
So I have a newbie questions here.

1) Are there any disadvantage of the lack of spot metering in Canon 400D compared to other Nikon D50 and D70s?
2)Has Canon 400 D included any other methods similar to spot metering?
So I can ignore the spot metering and use other meterings for shootings with 400D...
3) Is Canon 400D worth buying for the newbie?



Thanks for any inputs.

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Old Dec 1, 2006, 12:27 PM   #2
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In most cases, unless the shooter is very experienced, Spot Metering does more harm that good, because it can be difficult to find a neutral portion of the frame to meter from.

So, if you meter on a portion of the scene that's too dark, you'll get overexposed photos (because the metering will try to brighten it too much). Or, if you meter on a portion of the scene that's too bright, you'll get underexposed photos (because the metering is going to try to make it more neutral).

Most people would benefit from Center Weighted metering more in many conditions, where the camera places more weight on what in the center portion of the frame, while still factoring in what it sees in the rest of the frame.

Even Evaluative Metering can work well in many conditions with most cameras, since most place more weight on your focus point. But, Center Weighted is usually more predictable.

Any camera's metering takes some getting used to, and if you've used one enough, you'll know roughly how much exposure compensation you may need for better results ( using a + EV setting for a brighter exposure, or a - EV setting for a darker exposure), and you can use the Histogram as a guide for even closer results when time permits.

It takes experience with any camera before you'll understand it's metering behavior, since no two cameras are going to meter in the same way.

The 400D/XTi does have several metering options available. In addition to it's default Evaluative Metering, you have Center Weighted and Partial (9% in Center). Partial is going to be closest to another Manufacturer's Spot metering.


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Old Dec 1, 2006, 11:00 PM   #3
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Jim, Thanks for the reply. Itis very helpful explanation of metering.

As I am a newbie and I have FZ30. I amtaking pictures with all the functions that the camera gives me but I am still a learner. I took the picture with spot metering when I cannot get sharp pictures with other meterings in FZ30. Sometime I got the clear sharp pictures but I do not know why.

I didn't know that Partial metering in Canon issimilar to spot metering ofanother manufacturer.

So I think it is no problem for me to buy the Canon400D even it has no spot metering.

Thanks again for you to make me clear of my understanding of metering behaviours.

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Old Dec 1, 2006, 11:23 PM   #4
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shooting star wrote:
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I took the picture with spot metering when I cannot get sharp pictures with other meterings in FZ30.
In most cases, metering won't have anything to do with image sharpness. Metering controls how the image is exposed (brighter or darker).

You may be confusing spot metering with a center focus point (some models allow you to use the center focus point only).

If you are referring to metering versus focus point, it could be because you metered on a brighter portion of the scene, which would have caused many cameras to use a faster shutter speed for a darker exposure. So, if your shutter speed was slower otherwise, it could have helped to reduce blur by exposing a bit darker if you metered on a brighter portion in the center. But, it's more likely you're thinking of using the Center Focus point instead Spot Metering if image sharpness was impacted.


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Old Dec 3, 2006, 3:44 AM   #5
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JimC wrote:

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In most cases, metering won't have anything to do with image sharpness. Metering controls how the image is exposed (brighter or darker).
Jim, thanks again for your input.

I am a newbie so I have no idea about the metering.

Quote:
If you are referring to metering versus focus point, it could be because you metered on a brighter portion of the scene, which would have caused many cameras to use a faster shutter speed for a darker exposure. So, if your shutter speed was slower otherwise, it could have helped to reduce blur by exposing a bit darker if you metered on a brighter portion in the center.

Jim you are right. I am referring to the metering but I might be lucky to get a correct exposer at that time without knowing how the metering system is is working.

My FZ 30 camera default metering is Multiple (.) and when I wasat the performancea couple of days a go,at night time. I took the picture with Multiple metering settingthe pictures came out blurry or too brighten. Inever think about using the Center Focus function from the menu. I selected the spot metering from the menu and focused on the face of the person who wasat a distance about 50m (At the performance not on the stage, I was behind the otherpeople and only I could take a picture of the target between the heads of the persons sitting infront of me so i thought I should use spot metering). When I used this spot metering the picture came out better than previous pictures taken with Multiple metering. That's why I think I can get the sharp images with spot metering. Now I know it is wrong. Thank you for your explanation, it is very helpful to me.

My FZ30 has Center Focus point but I never tried to use it before. I will try this CF next time when I go out for shooting and compare with the spot metering pictures..

Anyway, now I know lack of spot metering is not an issue in the Canon 400D.


Thanks.




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Old Dec 3, 2006, 7:14 AM   #6
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That's probably a good place to use spot metering (performance on a stage), if you can target a neutral area)

Stage lighting is all over the place at some performances, with a huge variation in brightness between areas. This kind of lighting can easily fool metering systems. Overexposure is common, since a large portion of the stage is often darker in shadows, depending on the camera's metering behavior.

You may need to use a healthy dose of Exposure Compensation (-EV Setting to make your exposure darker) if you observe that behavior with many cameras. A full two stops may be needed with some cameras, using a more predictable center weighted metering. Each camera's metering system tends to be a bit different (some cameras lean more towards protecting the highlights compared to others).

When you have overexposure, this can result in blurry photos if you're not careful (because the camera is leaving the shutter open longer to get the brighter exposure). That's probably what you were observing based on your description (blurry photos that were also too bright unless you used spot metering on someone's face).

Personally, if lighting is that difficult, I'll often switch to manual exposure to avoid the metering headaches, using the captured images and histogram as a guide to how my settings are working. But, if you have rapidly changing lighting (spotlights, etc.), manual exposure can be just as tough to use. I've been known to bracket my exposures to help out sometimes, too.

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Old Dec 3, 2006, 10:24 PM   #7
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I have to say that I don't understand why Canon have changed the metering method on these new digital models. My old "analogue" Eos 600 had evaluative metering combined with partial metering, perfect for me and most other photographers I would think. Now you have to change a setting and of course forget to set it back. It would cost Canon nothing to have a custom function to do this with the exposure lock button.
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Old Dec 3, 2006, 11:31 PM   #8
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I have to say that I don't understand why Canon have changed the metering method on these new digital models. My old "analogue" Eos 600 had evaluative metering combined with partial metering, perfect for me and most other photographers I would think.
I'm afraid I don't follow you at all.

From what I can tell, the EOS 600 had two metering modes that you could select from. One was a 6 zone Evaluative metering system. The EOS-400D has a 35 zone Evaluative metering system. The other available metering mode on the EOS 600 was Partial (approx. 6.5%). The EOS-400D also allows you to select Partial (approximately 9%). My guess is that it's a probably larger area because the meter is covering a smaller format sensor and it may have been originally designed for film. That's just a guess.

In addition, the EOS-400D also gives you a Center Weighted Metering option (missing on the EOS 600).

What about the EOS 600 is better in that respect? I have read some comments that if you use Exposure Lock, it always activates partial metering with some of the Digital Rebels. Is that the difference you're referring to? I don'' understand what you mean by "evaluative metering combined with partial metering". You either have one or the other.

Most "evaluative" (a.k.a., matrix, a.k.a., multi-segment) metering systems (film or digital) do place more emphasis on your focus point for metering according to most accounts (but, exactly how each manufacturer "evaluates" a scene is going to vary quite a bit).

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Old Dec 4, 2006, 10:09 AM   #9
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JimC wrote:

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Personally, if lighting is that difficult, I'll often switch to manual exposure to avoid the metering headaches, using the captured images and histogram as a guide to how my settings are working.
Jim, thanks alot for your useful info.

I sometimes use the manual exposure in the low light conditions but my FZ is not good to handle in this situation. When I set up the f-stop to f 2.8 (the max in non zooming), my shutter speed cannot go faster than 1/2 sec. In this manual exposer setting, I need to hold the camera for very long time(if no tripod available) so the images came out blurry, In tele mode the max f stop is 3.5 so Ineed to hold the camera more longer than in normal wide mode, and got Blurry images too.

That's why I am thinking to move to DSLR. With DSLRs, even using the Tele zoom lens which has f3.5/4, I can use the faster shutter speed because of the higher ISO (1600,3200) the images will be come out clearly I think.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

I heard that Canon DSLRs are very good in low light conditions (dim light etc.). My friend told me that Canon is better than Nikon in the low light conditions but Nikon can take a picture in dark (no light) condition.

Any comments?

SS

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Old Dec 4, 2006, 2:40 PM   #10
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Well.... You'll see a lot of Canon versus Nikon debates in the forums. Ditto for more scientific noise tests.

Exposure can play a big role in noise levels, and metering differences between cameras come into the equation (some models have a tendency to protect the highlights more than others, so they tend to have a bit more noise because of it).

It's going to depend on the models being compared, too. For example, the Canon EOS-20D is probably a slightly better performer compared to the new Canon XTi from a noise perspective, and the EOS-5D is probably going to beat both of them, if you exposed and processed them the same way shooting raw.

But, if you're shooting in light so low that you need a 1/2 second exposure at f/2.8 with an FZ30 shooting at ISO 200 (I'm guessing that's probably what you find to be the limit of acceptable noise), you'd only be up to a shutter speed of around 1/15 second shooting at ISO 1600 and f/2.8 in the same conditions. You'll get a lot of blurry photos shooting at 1/15 second if your subjects are not still, even using a tripod, and you really don't want to use ISO 3200 in light that low unless you really have to.

In bettter and more even lighting, it won't be as bad to use it with models that have it (some of the entry level DSLR models are limited to ISO 1600). But, you tend to lose both detail and dynamic range at any camera's highest available ISO speeds, limiting the print sizes you can get away with.

Of course, you can get brighter lenses than that if you give up zoom. Most manufacturers make a variety of brighter primes (fixed focal length lenses) for when light is too low for an f/2.8 zoom. You can get wider primes (28mm, 30mm, 35mm) with f/1.4 to f/2 available (and sometimes both at a given focal length). Of course, the f/1.4 lenses cost you more. Ditto for 50mm, 85mm and even longer.

But, you'll still have limitations, and depth of field can get pretty shallow at wider apertures.

Heck, in one of the restaurants in my area that has a guitar player from time to time, I have to shoot at ISO 3200 and f/2, just to get my shutter speeds up to 1/10 second, even underexposing a tad using my KM Maxxum 5D.

That makes for a lot of blurry photos, even with anti-shake, since you have to catch subjects when they're pretty darn still to get any keepers, even keeping print sizes small to hide some of the blur.

Any camera has limitations if you can't use a flash.

As for shooting in the dark, you can shoot in the dark with just about any of them. You may get blurry photos from slow shutter speeds, and you may need to use manual focus since AF may not be able to "see" well enough. But, that doesn't do you a lot of good if they're too blurry to use from camera shake and/or subject movement. :-)

Most Nikon models do have an AF assist lamp built in. But, it's range is going to be limited. You can use the built in flash as AF assist on most DSLR models that don't have an AF assist lamp.

But, if you're shooting in light *that* low (1/2 second exposures at f/2.8 with an FZ30), you may need more than f/2.8 to have a chance at good photos without a tripod or flash (and a tripod won't help for moving subjects).

What kind of photos are you looking to take? If you are not taking photos of moving subjects, your best bet with any camera is to keep ISO speeds set low and use a tripod. Just because a DSLR has lower noise and higher available ISO speeds, doesn't mean that one is noise free, and you'll get better photos at lower ISO speeds. There are limits to what you can get away with shooting with any camera if you can't add some light.

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