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Old Jun 26, 2005, 7:10 PM   #1
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I'm using a film EOS300 at the moment, but hope to upgrade to a digital camera soon. Seeing as this question is equally appliable to digitals and film cameras I'll ask it here.

I am unsure about aperture and shutter speed settings. I can get the general area right but am often out by a bit. So I have started working off the automatic settings and using my own judgement to move away from them and force them to different settings. Is it reasonable to do this?
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Old Jun 26, 2005, 8:17 PM   #2
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In Real Estate, it's "location, location, location". In digital photography, it's "experiment, experiment, experiment". You're free to twist the dials or select any value on a menu without wasting film. This is one of the best parts about digital photography (the other is instant feed-back).

Taking a chance is free in digital photography.

Enjoy your camera and don't consider buying a new one till you know everything about the one you own, unless you're depending on it to put food on your table. There have been some great photos taken with camera phones!
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Old Jun 27, 2005, 9:04 PM   #3
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Buceph,

You could use automatic settings to get a reasonable shutter speed and aperture setting.

Another approach would be to use "aperture priority" or "shutter priority".

Aperture priority allows you to set the aperture, then let the camera set the shutter speed. This is a cool way to experiment with the aperture wide open (blur the background) or use a really small aperture (everything is in focus).

You can also try shutter priority, where you select a specific shutter speed and let the camera select the aperture. There are lots of cool effects to be had by using either a really fast or a really slow shutter speed.

I would say that most serious photographers use shutter or aperture priority for much of their shooting. I personally don't use the total manual settings very often.

-- Terry




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Old Jun 28, 2005, 8:36 AM   #4
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Your EOS300 has both aperture and shutter priority modes already so that should give you a good chance to discover what they do before you have to invest in a digital. The principle is the same.

In Full Auto mode, the camera makes all the decisions on exposure (Shutter speed and aperture) based on computed averages for the amount of light recorded in the scene. It pretty well guarantees a exposure that is technically 'correct' (in the majority of cases).

But the camera has not idea of what you are really photographing. It doesn't know if you are shooting a automobile race (which is moving very quickly) or a mountain landscape (which is not moving at all)! Sometimes you need to say, I am taking a picture of a subject that is moving and, if I am going to 'stop the motion' in this photograph I am going to have to have a faster shutter speed.

But if the camera is making all the decisions, then your concernsare 'left out of the loop'. If you set the camera to 'Shutter Priority' mode then you are telling the camera, "You take care of the aperture while I handle the shutter speed." So, when you set a fast shutter speed (in order to capture the speeding car as it goes by) the camera adjusts the aperture (by opening it wider) to maintain correct exposure.

The same thing happens when you want to control "Depth of Field". You set the camera to "Aperture Priority" and the camera then handles the shutter speed.

All of these things have been well documented in any of the many books on photography written over the years. There is no need to 'Experiment, experiment experiment'...you would just be re-inventing the wheel and waste a lot of time making mistakes that other people have already made and noted years before.
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Old Jun 28, 2005, 9:11 AM   #5
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Meryl,

I agree with your statement that you can find all this information in books.

However, to become a great photographer, one must go out on the street and try it out.

There's nothing wrong with using a digital camera to run a few experiments, so that when the time is right, the technique is "in hand".

Terry


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Old Jun 28, 2005, 10:16 AM   #6
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Sure, you have to try out your gear to become familiar with it. The principles, however, can be understood in theory.

Right now, he has everything he needs to test out how Aperture priority (for example) works. Then he will be able to start right in taking more controlled shots as soon as he gets his new gear.
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Old Jun 28, 2005, 12:02 PM   #7
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Most good digital and film cameras these days have "shifted program mode". It may go by different names but what it means is that once you get your exposure reading in auto, but before pressing for the shot, you can adjust the settings without altering the exposure reading. For example, if you rotate the dial one way it will increase the f-stop number while reducing the shutter speed to compensate and maintain the exposure value already recorded. Rotating the dial the other direction does the opposite, again maintaining the exposure value. This is handy if you want to adjust depth of field or you need a faster shutter speed for the shot.

Some cameras cancel the shifted mode after the shot is taken while others do not. The Nikon D100 has to be reset manually.

Good luck.

Cal Rasmussen
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Old Jul 4, 2005, 7:46 PM   #8
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I am unsure about the specific problem. If proper exposure is the problem, you need to learn what a middle tone looks like, and use spot metering off something middle toned. Your camera doesn't know if you are photographing bears that are brown,black, or white. Another less common approach is to find the brightest part of a scene where you insist on having detail, and use a spot meter on that. This latter approach is useful if the dynamic range of the scene is too much for film or digital. In other words, there is no "proper" exposure for the whole scene.
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Old Jul 7, 2005, 5:36 AM   #9
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Also, what is nice about the digital cameras, once you get a certain setting, you can usually save a "custom" setting in the newer cameras. So that if you need to change modes , you can go back to your "custom' settings if you need them again. If you are an "average" camera user, auto mode will usually be best. If you are "proficient", you are going to be playing around with the settings anyway. :-)
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