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Old Dec 26, 2011, 8:06 PM   #1
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Default Learning the EOS T3i

I am wishing for a simple answer, but I know I'm dreaming. I plan to take a class soon, because I just cannot seem to figure it out. I take many pictures and have for years, but have always used a good quality Point and Shoot. Now I'm trying to graduate from Intelligent Auto or P mode, but I just messed up my Christmas pictures. I took 105 pictures, and on the "playback" they looked good, but when I loaded them on the computer, I could see major problems. Fortunately, about 36 of them are really quite good, and mainly the "posed" family pictures by the tree (using a tripod) were good. Don't ask me why I used the setting I did, because I'll tell you the simple answer up front: A photographer friend told me the setting to use, based on the conditions I told him. I had all the interior lights on in the house, so it was not low light. I wanted the tree lights to not look washed out, so did not want to use a flash. But most of the pictures I took were candid shots of the family doing things like eating, visiting, singing around the piano, etc. I had it set on AV mode, 1600 ISO, and the F setting as low as it would go with the regular lens, which was about 4.0 or 4.5. Here's what happened in many of the pictures: part of the picture would be sharp and in focus, but if there was ANY slight movement, that part of the picture was blurred. What should I have done? If you want to attempt to answer this basic question, please make it as simple as you can. I am very frustrated and feel extremely ignorant at this point.
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Old Dec 26, 2011, 10:01 PM   #2
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Sounds like you are describing motion blur. So the camera is set to f4, and ISO 1600. The camera then has to set the shutter speed on it's own to get the correct exposure. if it has to, the camera will force a very slow shutter speed, to where any movement by the subject will be captured as blur.

Instead, a person could use auto mode. It's not a bad idea when using flash. It may put the iso to 3200, but if that's what is called for, so be it. But it will also keep the shutter speed to 1/60 or so to prevent blurring. Of course, it might have been too dark for your equipment and nothing you could have done would have fixed that.
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Old Dec 27, 2011, 6:55 AM   #3
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Could well be motion blur can you post an example. I would invest in an external flash it will help in situations like this. with an external flash you will be able to bounce the light of the ceiling or walls for softer effect.
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Old Dec 27, 2011, 8:23 AM   #4
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Thank you both for honoring my request for simplicity. These are good answers, and ones I can understand. This information may keep me from driving to the camera shop this morning, which is an hour one way. So I'm encouraged and very interested to have another question or two answered along this line.
(1) So, I should have considered the option of only using that setting for the "family beside the tree" photos. I could have used the Av setting, or even the P setting that is set at 800 ISO but does not fire the flash. When I asked my friend to suggest a setting, the main thing I told him was that in the pictures with the Christmas tree, I did not want to use flash because of washing out the tree lights. In the family picture groupings scenario, everyone is posed and not moving. That's why they turned out okay, I am thinking, based on what you folks are saying about motion blur (which is EXACTLY what was happening, I realize from your diagnosis). I possibly could have worked a bit on perfecting even those pictures, had I known more what I was doing--perhaps the setting I used wasn't even the best choice for that situation. But at least they were useable! Is my thinking correct here?
(2) I don't know why I didn't open up my thinking enough to realize that I could actually change the settings during the evening (duh). I could have used Auto for any candid family activity shots (until I learn more about manual settings), and used a different setting (such as described above) for the tripod family grouping shots. I had done several trial shots the evening before with the Av setting as described, and the pictures were great--HELLO, self, they were all photos of the Christmas tree. It doesn't move much.
(3) If you could know how upset I was when I saw the "bad" blurry pictures, you might understand this--I didn't save any of them for evaluation (dumb). I deleted them all and subsequently emptied the Recycle Bin. So I have none of the bad pictures. But I think you diagnosed spot on, from my description.
(4) Someday I will consider the external flash--I know that's what serious photographers do. Right now, I'm just trying to get my wonderful camera to turn out pictures that are better than the point and shoot I was using.
(5) Lastly, if you're still hanging with me, in the scenarios I have described, for the "families beside the tree" scenario, what would have been your first option for setting (with no external flash)? Was I way off-base with the Av setting I was using for that?

I can't thank you all enough for your help. My husband (of 46 years) thanks you, too. He doesn't like to see me cry.
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Old Dec 27, 2011, 9:54 AM   #5
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Err, the camera's built-in flash would NOT have hurt your family with tree shot at all. The built-in flash is simply not powerful enough to do that.

You said that in Av mode you shot at f/4, as that was as much as you could open the lens? To me this suggests you were shooting with a zoom lens at the telephoto end of it's range. For amateur purposes, shooting indoors, this is the kiss of death. Indoors, without some strong lights, always limit the zoom to wide angle and normal focal lengths. Consider the telephoto to be for daylight only. This is a very, very common mistake for beginners. And it can certainly result in massive disappointment.

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Old Dec 27, 2011, 4:58 PM   #6
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Hmmm...actually I thought I mentioned that I had performed trials with the flash and without. Perhaps the families by the tree shots would not have been HURT with the built-in flash. However, while I may not understand a lot, I do know when a picture of a Christmas tree looks washed out and not glowing, which was the case in the trials with the built-in flash. It looked natural and warm and glowing without the flash. So, in fact, the auto flash did "ruin" the shot of the Christmas tree in all my trials.

I need to ask what you mean, Kelly, in the second paragraph. I am sorry I'm not as familiar with the terminology as I should be. I do not know if you are asking if I used the separate telephoto lens (that I do own but did not use), or if you are talking about "zooming in" with the regular lens that came on the camera. Apparently, I need to understand this better, especially if you are saying that I should never zoom in on subjects (with the regular lens) when taking indoor evening pictures, because I do that a lot. If you are talking about a separate telephoto lens--I do have one, that I use for taking shots of my grandchildren in their concerts at school, but I did NOT attempt to use it in the house for any of the Christmas pictures. So, I really need to know if I should not be zooming in on subjects with my regular camera lens when taking indoor pictures in the evening.
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Old Dec 27, 2011, 5:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCook View Post
Indoors, without some strong lights, always limit the zoom to wide angle and normal focal lengths. Consider the telephoto to be for daylight only. This is a very, very common mistake for beginners. And it can certainly result in massive disappointment.

Kelly Cook
Also, what do you mean by "normal focal lengths?"
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Old Dec 27, 2011, 5:38 PM   #8
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Your idea of zooming in with the standard zoom lens is my idea of the telephoto setting for that lens. Normal focal length back in the old 35mm film SLR days was 40 to 60mm. But your T3i has a crop sensor, as do all of the popular Canons, so the zoom range for the normal zone for your lens would be 25 to 38mm.

Kelly
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Old Dec 27, 2011, 5:43 PM   #9
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There is one more thing. When using a flash with Aperture priority mode, the camera uses the flash for fill. So the camera meters for the background light and then flashes to fill in the shadows. This results in some rather long shutter speeds, and motion blur. I prefer shooting in auto for flash shots, or sometimes shutter priority.
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Old Dec 27, 2011, 5:48 PM   #10
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Is this correct? So, I should have used Intelligent Auto for everything except the tree lights, for sure, and I should never zoom in when indoors at night? Should I just walk up closer to the subject, or should I crop in software afterward, because I don't like the look of far, far away subjects when taking pictures of people. This is a really basic question (as if the others haven't been): is the focal length something that shows up in my lens when I am taking the picture? I can see that information in ZoomBrowser when I look at the pictures after the fact, but is that number visible somewhere while taking the picture?
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