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Old Aug 3, 2011, 10:39 PM   #1
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OK. So after reading for 10 minutes, it seems there are some basic rules to photography.

1. If you can spend $3000 on a camera, all subsequent rules do not apply, because your sensor is big enough that setting one doesn't have to sacrifice the other. Okay, just kidding.
2. Aperture, and Shutter speed are both ways of controlling how much light the sensor is exposed to.
3. Aperture controls depth of field. The higher the F-stop number, the less light is allowed onto the sensor, but the more of your picture will be in focus. Unless you're shooting something you specifically want a blurry background for, you should choose the largest F-stop number you can that provides adequate light. This way, the greatest portion of your photo will be the sharpest.
4. Shutter speed controls how long the sensor is exposed to light. A higher shutter speed should be used for moving objects. A slower shutter speed for situations with less light. You should use the slowest shutter speed you can that keeps your picture in focus and doesn't overexpose it.
5. ISO is how sensitive a sensor is to the light it is exposed to. Always use the lowest ISO you can, as you'll always get more noise as you increase the ISO.

Obviously, I'm missing something, because other people can take much better pictures with the same camera I'm using.

Specifically, I'm wanting sharp and vivid pictures.

Help?
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Old Aug 3, 2011, 11:25 PM   #2
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You may want to reverse the priorities in #3 and #4. Use the smallest f/number that will give you adequate depth of field, and the highest shutter speed that will provide adequate exposure. This will help in reducing even the small motion blur which sometimes makes your pictures less than sharp, and getting farther away from overexposing should also provide better color, being less toward the 'washed out' end of the exposure spectrum. If you still don't get the colors you like, try increasing saturation setting in the camera, and possibly contrast also.

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Old Aug 3, 2011, 11:34 PM   #3
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1. Not true at all - an outstanding photographer who knows how to get the most out of their toy camera will take outstanding pictures. A photographer who doesn't know how to get the best out of their $10,000 camera will take lousy pictures.
2. True, but that's only the start of the story.
3. Many (most?) lenses aren't at their sharpest when completely stopped down to their smallest opening, there will be distortion. Every lens is different as far as at what aperture they are at their sharpest. Best thing to do is take your lens out and shoot a subject from one spot, varying the aperture - that way you will learn at which apertures your lens is sharpest at, when you see distortion setting in and will have a better "seat-of-the-pants" feel for what your lens will give you for depth of field at various apertures.
3a. Depth of field is not totally dependent on aperture - focal length of the lens and distances make a huge difference, too. Look up some of the depth of field calculators that are on the internet and see which focal lengths give you the greatest dof at which aperture, and at which distance. These are very useful but don't replace actual experimentation to get better acquainted with your particular equipment.
4. I disagree that using the slowest shutter speed you can improves your picture - that can potentially lead to camera shake and other problems. Fast shutter speeds are not just for moving objects. In fact, slow shutter speeds can often be very appropriate for moving objects, depending on what you are trying to convey with the picture. My feeling on this is to choose the appropriate aperture and then see if the shutter speed is fast enough to avoid camera shake and unwanted motion blur. There's nothing wrong with a shutter speed that's faster than the minimum required to avoid camera shake and motion blur. What's wrong with using a shutter speed of 1/500 or 1/1000 for a stationary object? A faster shutter speed won't make it blurrier (unless you run into too small of a depth of field, which is unlikely if you are using a wide angle lens).
5. I agree with that - using the lowest ISO appropriate to the conditions is a good idea.

There is much more to photography than getting a picture exposed correctly. You have some of the basics here, but there's a lot more to it (focal length, specific equipment etc.). Since you've gotten this far (and it's further than some people ever get), you'd probably get a lot out of Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure book - I highly recommend it because he talks about how to use the various factors to create the picture you envision.
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Old Aug 4, 2011, 6:45 AM   #4
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I'd like to add that the smaller the aperture (the larger the f-number) you use the closer you'll get to the Diffraction Limit of the camera. That is, in general, lenses get sharper as you stop them down (use a smaller aperture) until you reach the diffraction limit (generally f/16) when it starts getting softer again.

This is just to let you know that, as soon as you think you understand something, something else will jump up and bite you. Have a nice day.
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Old Aug 4, 2011, 7:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdb86 View Post
OK. So after reading for 10 minutes, it seems there are some basic rules to photography.
Welcome to the forum.

Quote:
1. If you can spend $3000 on a camera, all subsequent rules do not apply, because your sensor is big enough that setting one doesn't have to sacrifice the other. Okay, just kidding.
You will often hear that the skill of the photographer is far more
important than the quality of the camera. However, all other things
being equal (including the skill of the photographer), the best camera
will always take the best pictures. You shouldn't confuse quality with
price. $50-100 will get you a used 35mm film camera or a medium
format camera with a good lens. This will take pictures good enough
for the front cover of a glossy magazine.

Quote:
2. Aperture, and Shutter speed are both ways of controlling how much light the sensor is exposed to.
Correct.

Quote:
3. Aperture controls depth of field. The higher the F-stop number, the less light is allowed onto the sensor, but the more of your picture will be in focus. Unless you're shooting something you specifically want a blurry background for, you should choose the largest F-stop number you can that provides adequate light. This way, the greatest portion of your photo will be the sharpest.
This is generally true, but there are other important factors to
consider. Using a very small aperture will require long shutter times.
This is likely to lead to motion blur due to movement of the subject
or camera. Any lens/camera combination will have a practical limit
where the image sharpness is reduced by diffraction. A typical
lens (if there is such a thing) will produce the sharpest image
somewhere around f/5.6 to f/8. Sharpness is usually diffraction-limited
for apertures smaller than f/11.

Quote:
4. Shutter speed controls how long the sensor is exposed to light. A higher shutter speed should be used for moving objects. A slower shutter speed for situations with less light. You should use the slowest shutter speed you can that keeps your picture in focus and doesn't overexpose it.
Again this is generally true, but you must consider DOF, motion blur etc....

Quote:
5. ISO is how sensitive a sensor is to the light it is exposed to. Always use the lowest ISO you can, as you'll always get more noise as you increase the ISO.
Your definition of ISO is correct. You will find that you can use a low
value like ISO-100 outdoors in good light. It will often be necessary to
use a higher ISO setting in darker conditions, even if this leads to an
increase in noise.

Quote:
Obviously, I'm missing something, because other people can take much better pictures with the same camera I'm using.
Life is just not fair sometimes. Keep trying.

Quote:
Specifically, I'm wanting sharp and vivid pictures.
Just like the rest of us
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Old Aug 4, 2011, 9:59 AM   #6
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The replies so far have pretty well hit the mark!

Can't resist to add in a couple of non-serious digs though

There are always some thing to confuse you even more like Hasselblads h4d-200s. medium format body.
A very expensive (44,000$) medium format camera the produces 200 megapixel images but only has a 50 megapixel sensor.
At 200mp the camera takes images on the slow side even though the shutter may be set fast because the camera is repositioning the sensor internally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdb86 View Post
1. If you can spend $3000 on a camera, all subsequent rules do not apply, because your sensor is big enough that setting one doesn't have to sacrifice the other. Okay, just kidding.

Yes, that's one of the dirty little secrets schools like Brooks institute (3 year BFA course) and RIT don't what you to know.
After 10 minutes you are mostly done, and can spend the next 2.9 years in a coffee shop waiting to get your Bachelors or Masters in Photography diploma !

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdb86 View Post
OK. So after reading for 10 minutes, it seems there are some basic rules to photography.
In Imaging it is easy t figure out the basics, but difficult to truly master, if ever.

Don't give up, keep shooting!
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Old Aug 4, 2011, 11:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdb86 View Post
OK. So after reading for 10 minutes, it seems there are some basic rules to photography.

<snip>

Obviously, I'm missing something, because other people can take much better pictures with the same camera I'm using.

Specifically, I'm wanting sharp and vivid pictures.
Nope. That's it. If you are following those rules and aren't getting sharp and vivid pictures, you must have a defective camera.
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Old Aug 4, 2011, 11:41 AM   #8
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I'd like to add that you should use a tripod, whenever possible. I know that I probably shake more than the average person (not Parkinson's or anything, but more than average). My camera does a FANTASTIC job of compensating for this, but I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS get better results when I use a tripod! Always!

Also, I wear glasses. What looks clear to me, does not look clear to my camera. If I'm using it in Manual mode, I have to either wear my glasses or use the diopter adjustment on the viewfinder.

It takes time to learn your camera and how to make it take the photos that you want it to take. Play with all the settings, one shot at a time and see what each does for you.

Book learning is great, but it means nothing, until you see it in action!
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Old Aug 4, 2011, 1:01 PM   #9
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And then there's the artistic side of things . . .

There's probably an infinite number of ways to capture a scene. Different perspectives, deciding what will end up in the picture and what won't, what combination of aperture and shutter speed and what focal length (and focal length side effects) / lens will re-enforce the message you want to communicate, and different techniques, etc. . .

So, where in that sea of decisions do you want to be in order to tell the story or communicate the idea that you see or want to create?

Knowing how to get a baseline expose gets you to the starting line.

But the next step after that can be really fun!

Last edited by tacticdesigns; Aug 4, 2011 at 1:47 PM.
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