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Old May 2, 2008, 9:38 AM   #21
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Yes, I am a novice, and what's worse, a novice with high expectations. I feel like I am blind all of a sudden and worried to make a costly mistake. I am afraid that getting a Nikon will land me in exactly the same dilemma and I just don't know how to properly use a dslr. Anyway, attached are my attempts.
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Old May 2, 2008, 9:39 AM   #22
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Here is another example
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Old May 2, 2008, 9:41 AM   #23
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And one more, although you probably got the picture
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Old May 2, 2008, 9:58 AM   #24
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OK....

Let's talk about them one at a time.

The first photo was taken in Aperture Priority Mode with the Aperture set to f/9 with the flash forced on.

Your shutter speed was only 1/25 second for that one. Considering how slow that was with a lot of ambient light contributing, it's really not too bad. You can get some blur from camera shake using shutter speeds that slow if you're not careful.

The "rule of thumb" is that shutter speeds need to be 1/focal length (using the 35mm equivalent with digital). For example, if you're shooting at a 35mm equivalent focal length of 50mm, it's a good idea to use shutter speeds of 1/50 second or faster to help reduce blur from camera shake.

When you change the Aperture, you impact how much light the camera is seeing. A smaller aperture iris opening is represented by a higher f/stop number (since it's a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the size of the aperture opening).

When you close down your aperture, that's going to require a longer exposure. So, you have to be careful that your shutter speeds are not too slow when you do that (when you used f/9, the camera required a slower shutter speed for proper exposure).

If shutter speeds are too slow and you're not using a tripod, you'll need to increase your ISO speed (which is how sensitive a sensor or film is to light). Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can expose the subject twice as fast for the same aperture and lighting.

The next image was shot using manual exposure. It's too dark because you used a shutter speed that was too fast for the lighting, aperture and ISO speed. You can't just use any settings you want to (if you want a properly exposed image). ;-)

The third image was shot using Aperture Priority at f/8 with flash. It really doesn't look too bad for exposure at close range with a built in flash. Your aperture is controlling Depth of Field (how much of the image is in focus as you get further away from you focus point).

Another thing to consider is that when you use a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) without increasing ISO speed and/or light levels or slowing down your shutter speed, the flash will tend to be the primary light source.

If you want more ambient light contributing to a flash photo like that, increase your ISO speed some (or open up your aperture more, depending on the desired depth of field) for a given lighting and shutter speed.

You can also do the opposite... use a lower ISO speeds and smaller apertures (represented by an even higher f/stop numbers) so that ambient light (sources other than the flash) are contributing even less. That can help with techniques like making your background darker, so that the portion exposed by the flash stands out more.

From what I'm seeing, the problem isn't the camera. It's the settings you're trying to use.

It's really not that difficult to learn some of the basics (and the same basic photography principles apply to both film and digital). Most of it is a matter of understanding the relationship between ISO speed, aperture and lighting; and how they impact the shutter speed needed for proper exposure. Depth of Field is also something you'll want to become familiar with, and how your aperture settings impact it.

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Old May 2, 2008, 10:11 AM   #25
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P.S.

Basically, correct Exposure comes down to the amount of light, the ISO speed, the shutter speed, and the aperture. A variety of combinations will produce identical exposure.

These exposure calculators and simulators may help you understand it better. Note that film speed in the first calculator is the same thing as ISO speed.

http://www.robert-barrett.com/photo/...alculator.html

http://www.photonhead.com/simcam/shutteraperture.php

Here's a page that may help you understand how aperture, focus distance and focal length work together to determine depth of field:

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

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Old May 2, 2008, 10:23 AM   #26
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One more P.S.

You didn't think the Av position on the mode dial was Auto by any chance? It's not. The Av stands for Aperture Value (a.k.a, Aperture Priority mode). If you're going to use non-Auto modes, you'll need a better understanding of basic photography concepts for best results.

Most of these entry level models also have some scene modes built in that you may find helpful while learning (for closeups, landscapes, etc.). Then, you can look at the settings the camera used for different subject types and get a better idea of how they impact an image. You may also want to try shooting the same subjects more than one way if you want to learn more about photography. That way, you can see what impact your settings changes had.

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Old May 2, 2008, 10:28 AM   #27
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These links are great, thanks. I have been guessing what settings to use. In those shots, I set the aperture, the speed was set by the camera. The first was totally automatic, but I had the ISO set at 100 and not "auto". I know that speed, aperture and ISO are related and from what I have read, lower ISO settings work better for daylight shots, so I went from there. So you think I should hold on to the camera and work on "my" problems. I still have the package here. One more question, if the camera wants to use flash, but I don't want flash, what is a starting combination for outside (trees and flowers) shots, like the rhododendron. It does not have enough depth and if I enlarge one o f the blossoms, detail gets lost. Thanks for all your help. I need a lot more, I am afraid.
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Old May 2, 2008, 10:32 AM   #28
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No, I did't think Av was auto. My problem is that even in auto, the stuff is blurry.
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Old May 2, 2008, 10:38 AM   #29
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pabaker wrote:
Quote:
These links are great, thanks. I have been guessing what settings to use. In those shots, I set the aperture, the speed was set by the camera. The first was totally automatic, but I had the ISO set at 100 and not "auto".
That's why your shutter speed was so slow. You used a smaller aperture opening (represented by a higher f/stop number) that lets in less light. That requires a slower shutter speed in order to expose the image. If you don't increase ISO speed, which is how sensitive the sensor is to light (you set it to a low value versus using Auto), then you'll start getting blur from camera shake if you use smaller aperture openings, depending on the lighting. ;-)

Quote:
I know that speed, aperture and ISO are related and from what I have read, lower ISO settings work better for daylight shots, so I went from there. So you think I should hold on to the camera and work on "my" problems.
That's up to you. But, I don't see a problem with the camera. If you want to shoot with a dSLR using other than Auto modes, you're going to need to learn a bit more about basic photography concepts for better results, regardless of the camera you choose (you're going to have the same issues with a different dSLR).

Again, this article makes a good read:

http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/Pontification/ba_Don't_Be_A_Bozo/a_Don't_Be_A_Bozo.html


Quote:
One more question, if the camera wants to use flash, but I don't want flash, what is a starting combination for outside (trees and flowers) shots, like the rhododendron. It does not have enough depth and if I enlarge one o f the blossoms, detail gets lost. Thanks for all your help. I need a lot more, I am afraid.
See my previous post discussing depth of field and shutter speeds needed to prevent blur from camera shake. That's what the camera is looking at (how slow your shutter speed is getting before engaging the flash). But, you can force it off if desired.

Just use a tripod when shutter speeds get too slow to prevent blur from camera shake (or increase your ISO speed to compensate).

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Old May 2, 2008, 2:10 PM   #30
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Yup, I agree with Jim.

At this stage it doesn't look like anything is obviously wrong with the equipment.

But the good news is that you have a digital camera, so you can take lots of pictures for free and you get the exif data baked-in so you can see what you did wrong.

Lots to learn, but you've got good kit, so give yourself some time and a few thousand thoughtful exposures and you'll be well on your way.

Think of it like learning to drive, it takes a while to get it right in practice even if you think you understand the theory.

Read the articles again and again until they make sense. Go out and try to shoot with something specific in mind. Check your results, check the exif data. Read the articles again.

Post some pics in the forums here and ask for help if you don't understand something.

There are also a lot of useful articles over at http://www.luminous-landscape.com but you might want to leave those until you've mastered tha basics.
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