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Old May 24, 2006, 11:48 PM   #1
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After almost a year of researching cameras and drooling over the latest gadgets, I finally purchased a Fuji E900. Let me preface this Newbie Help post by saying it is AWESOME. I am so happy with my camera, I could not have asked for more.

I have used it now for two weeks or so, taking fewer than 500 pictures within those two weeks so I'm not fully used to the camera yet. I've taken photos inside, outside, in dark light, in bright light, of people, of animals, and I'm starting to get the hang of it. I feel like I'm learning fast, and I know that I'm benefitting from the superb results at high ISO.

So now I have come down to a point where I am going to a venue where I only get one chance to take these shots and I don't want to be fooling around with my camera in the middle of a concert instead of taking photos. Here is a sample of pictures that a friend of mine has taken at the venue I'll be going to twice next week. (yes, it's really a friend, I'm not just making that up because the pictures are bad!). They were taken on her Fuji F5100 according to iPhoto. The info pages and an examination of these results tell me this:

The photos taken with a flash have a shutter speed of 1/60 and sometimes 1/30 and an aperture of F3.0. They come out okay, although not true to the ambience of the actual venue. The lighting is red in most of the shots as the non-flash photos show.

The photos taken without a flash have a shutter speed of 1/4 and an aperture of F3.0 again. They are noticeably blurry because of the slower shutter speeds. But the colors are much more accurate to what the place is like.

Both instances were using ISO 200.

My question now in the Newbie Help forum is concerning this example. I am trying to learn from the "mistakes" of someone else I suppose (I think she just kept the camera on auto and turned the flash on and off at different points, not sure), and want to know what alternative settings I could use to get better shots. What should I look to change to get better shots of what is going to be a very similar situation (in one case the same band)?

I've been reading in this forum quite a bit and feel like I know a little about these settings, but I am definitely still a newbie, so if you could spare some time I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you.
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Old May 25, 2006, 1:33 AM   #2
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DenverMax wrote:
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My question now in the Newbie Help forum is concerning this example. I am trying to learn from the "mistakes" of someone else I suppose (I think she just kept the camera on auto and turned the flash on and off at different points, not sure), and want to know what alternative settings I could use to get better shots. What should I look to change to get better shots of what is going to be a very similar situation (in one case the same band)?
If the lighting is going to be the same, then I wouldn't get my hopes up too much if you don't want to use a flash.

With larger apertures (represented by smaller f/stop numbers), more light gets through the lens to the sensor.

When in Autoexposure mode, most cameras will already be using their largest available aperture in low light. Your friend's camera has a lens that is much brighter than yours when you start zooming in. It only drops off to f/3.1 when zoomed in all the way. That's why most of the photos were probably at f/3.

If you wanted correctly exposed images, the only thing that could have been changed to get faster shutter speeds to help with the blur would be ISO speed. Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting and aperture.

By using ISO 400, that would have allowed shutter speeds of around 1/8 second. That's still not fast enough to eliminate motion blur, and you'd still have some blur from camera shake unless you had a very steady hand and trigger finger.

With your camera, it becomes more difficult, because your lens loses a lot of light as you zoom in more. Your lens is down to f/5.6 on it's long end (most apparent magnification). You'd require shutter speeds about 4 times as long at f/5.6 when zoomed in much, compared to the camera your friend is using for the same lighting and ISO speed.

Your camera does have higher available ISO speeds, but it really doesn't make up for the loss of light your lens will have if you are zooming in much with it.

If you zoom in to max magnification you'd need to shoot at ISO 800, just to get shutter speeds as fast as your friend's camera could get at ISO 200 in the same lighting. If your friend went to ISO 400 instead, her camera could use shutter speeds twice as fast as would be possible with yours.

So, your best bet is probably going to be getting as close to the stage as possible, and stay on the wide end of your lens (don't zoom in any more than absolutely necessary). This will help with more light reaching the sensor, since the f/2.8 you have available on the wide end of your lens is exactly 4 times as bright as f/5.6 (the largest available aperture if you zoomed in to the longest focal length).

Staying on the wide end of the lens (least apparent magnification) will also help out with blur from camera shake (since camera shake is magnified as your focal lengths get longer).


If you decide to use a flash, I'd also keep lens brightness in mind.

Your friend's camera has a more powerful flash combined with a brighter lens. It's rated at 14.8 feet on the wide end of the lens (least apparent magnification), only dropping off to 13.1 feet at maximum zoom (which is equivalent to 380mm).

In contrast, your camera's flash is rated at 13.5 feet on the wide end of it's lens, dropping off to only 6.6 feet at maxiimum zoom (which is equivalent to 128mm).

The reason your flash range drops off so much more (especially since your max zoom is only about 1/3 of the range of your friend's lens), is because your lens is losing a lot of light as you zoom in more.

So, you'd want to try and stay relatively close to the stage if you're using flash, too (not zooming in any more than necessary).

These are most likely "Auto ISO" ratings for flash range. So, in reality, the flash on your friends camera is probably a lot more powerful than how it compares to yours based on specs alone, since your friend's camera isn't likely to be increasing ISO speed as much (it's Auto ISO is probably only going through ISO 200).

Each time you double the ISO speed, flash range increases by 1.4x.

If you can get close to the stage and stay on the wide end of the lens (least apparent magnification), then you'd have an advantage over your friends camera.

Yours can shoot at higher ISO speeds, and your lens is just as bright on it's wide end (it only loses a lot of brightness when you start zooming in).

If you don't zoom in any (stay on the wide end of the lens), and use ISO 800 (which will be noisy), you could probably get shutter speeds up to somewhere between about 1/15 and 1/20 second in the same lighting your friend was shooting in without a flash.

That's still not fast enough to stop motion blur from subject movement (or even from camera shake if you're not careful). But, it would give you a higher percentage of keepers if you take lots of photos. Using continuous drive mode and taking photos in bursts can help, too (sometimes one will be less blurry compared to another).

I'd keep an eye on shutter speeds, and consider taking some flash photos, too.

If you're not using the flash, you may have better luck with color setting White Balance to Incandescent. But, make sure you don't leave it set that way if you do use flash, because it could cause a strong color cast.

Hopefully, lighting will be better compared to the lighting where your friend took photos. But, I wouldn't count on it. Some of the clubs and restaurants in my area with live music have much lower light than that, with virtually no light on the performers.



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Old May 25, 2006, 10:53 AM   #3
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Thank you for all of the help Jim. It sounds like I'll be best off using ISO 800, and maybe use aperture priority to keep it open, letting the camera decide the best shutter speed? I will definitely start practicing with my last-4 continuous mode so that I can get the hang of it.

And I guess I may try a couple shots with the flash too. That sounds like it will be more reasonable for image quality, with the only problem being the colors of the place won't be as visible. That's okay though.

thanks again!
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Old May 25, 2006, 11:10 AM   #4
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Using Aperture Priority and setting the camera to the widest aperture (smallest f/stop number) is one way to shoot. That's my preferred mode, even in good light.

In poor light with most models, using Av (Aperture Priority) Mode and setting the camera to the largest available aperture (smallest f/stop number) doesn't really buy you anything over Auto mode (since most models are going to open up the aperture all the way when shutter speeds get too slow anyway). I doubt that your Fuji is an exception, but it wouldn't hurt to test it to make sure or just shoot in Av mode.

Every camera is going to have limitations. In some of the restaurants and clubs around here with live music, my shutter speeds run around 1/8 second shooting at f/2 (twice as bright as f/2.8 ) with a bright prime at ISO 3200 (4 times as sensitive as ISO 800) using a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D. Even with it's built in anti-shake to help out with blur from camera shake, I get motion blur from subject movement at shutter speeds that slow.

With a model like your Fuji, you'd need shutter speeds 8 times as long (one second to expose the images), even at f/2.8 (wide open aperture on the wide end of the lens) at ISO 800 in that lighting. I keep forgetting to ask them if they'd mind placing some candles closer to the performers. LOL

So, sometimes flash is the only option to increase your number of keepers, no matter what camera you use (even though it can ruin the mood of the lighting).

Perhaps you'll have better stage lighting than the venue your friend was taking photos at. But, I'd be prepared to use the flash to make sure you get some keepers, taking lots of photos if you're not using the flash, while keeping an eye on shutter speeds and keeping camera shake in mind when squeezing the shutter button. Taking photos in bursts can help with the camera shake part (since the initial press of the shutter button can cause unwanted shake that may not be present in some followup iimages).



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Old Jun 6, 2006, 12:35 PM   #5
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Thanks so much for your help Jim. My results (i got 13 good shots out of probably 67 or so shots total, which isn't bad) are posted on my website in the last tab called lovedrug:

Here!

I am very happy with what I got. Like you suggested, I did a lot of continuous shooting mode stuff and also mixed some Auto with ISO 200 + flash, Natural light mode w/o flash which is ISO 800, and Aperture priority with F2.8 and ISO 400-800. I got some good results but also a lot of really bad pictures. It's okay though.

Is there anything I can improve on now since I have some good practice under my belt?
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