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Old Feb 24, 2006, 7:41 AM   #1
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Hi, all you experts!
I have had my FZ15 for about a year and got it to replace my Oly 2100. I use it to take pics of birds mostly for ID purposes. I have never gotten into photography and usually just use the automatic settings.

I have tried to learn more about exposure, etc. but when I look at the photography books (even the ones for dummies) it's like a foreign language to me.

Well anyway, I was looking at my manual and came across this autobracket and couldn't make anything out of it. When I look online, the discussion throws around "ISO" and "exposure" and all these numbers that make my non-mathematical brain shut down.

Can anyone explain it to me in terms that even a child could understand? And in a broader vein, can anyone recommend a basic book on digital photography that would help me understand all these settings?

Thanks so much!
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Old Feb 24, 2006, 8:46 AM   #2
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No expert here but if you go here and read the part on exposure and shutter speed you may get an understanding.

http://www.silverlight.co.uk/tutorials/toc.html



Use google to hunt for free tutorials online there are plenty.



Autobracket is just a feature that lets you take 3 photos at a time ..one underexposed by the amount you choose and one over exposed by the same amount, and one exposed at what should be the correct exposure.

If none of the photos are correct there are ways to blend the photos in PS to achieve a perfect exposure but that a whole different story.

But to oversimplify to get a good photo generally you want a quick shutterspeed, to avoid blur...and sightly smaller aperture (larger number) to get a broad DOF and learn to meter the scene to get the correct exposure....if you understand that those things are well within your control....you are on the way to decent photos.

But most cameras made today are very smart...if you just set the camera on program mode and adjust a couple settings to the way you like to take photos, you will get a great percentage of good photos......really great photos are more difficult at least for me.

Understand photos are all about light, the better the light the better the photo.....its the really good photographer that can get a great picture with bad light.....and what they have figured out is how to make the most of the light they have available...and that is what we all should be trying to understand......But I think its a lost cause for me.
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Old Feb 24, 2006, 4:35 PM   #3
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To repeat some ifo posted recently, If you can get to a decent sized public library, most have a wide selection of photography books which you can borrow at no cost. .

Check out sites like http://www.vividlight.com.
The intro to DP by Frank Phillips is very good. http://www.vividlight.com/articles/3016.htm

See http://www.shortcourses.com for some great stuff, especially number 3 'Fine Tuning Exposure"

I am no expert (just opinionated!) , IMHO you have to get your head around fundamental concepts if you want to improve your shots beyond the simply 'good' pics that Auto settings can produce.

Taking more control over the camera can lift results to another level, but aside from the purely technical I also believe that really good photographers develop an eye for what would make an outstanding shot.
These guys can visualise a potentially great shot in a scene which most of us would bypass without a second look. Such perception is more easily learned by some than by others. But we can all improve.

cheers,

Max



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Old Feb 24, 2006, 7:02 PM   #4
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Thanks so much. I found the websites very helpful and your comments also!
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Old Feb 24, 2006, 11:36 PM   #5
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autobracket is a term for a function the camera uses to shoot multiple frames of the same subject at different exposures, so you can pick the one you want. basically, the camera will shoot 3 pictures -one shot at -1 EV (1 stop underexposed), one at the "correct" setting as determined by the camera's metering, and one shot at +1 EV (1 stop overexposed).

"exposure" is merely a term to describe the amount of light a lens allows to enter the camera. shutter speed and aperture (how wide the shutter opens when you press the button) are directly related to exposure, because the longer the shutter stays open, or the wider the lens opens up, the more light reaches the sensor. for a given lighting situation, the camera will select a combination of the two that will allow it to make a properly exposed image. with most good cameras these days, you can control those settings manually, once you understand the relationship between them.

first, a little information about what the numbers mean. you'll see things like f4.0, or 1/500, on your screen. these refer to the aperture and shutter speed. the aperture numbers, for some obscure reason, work backwards... the larger the number, the smaller the lens opening when the shutter is pressed. your FZ15 has a range from f2.8 (the widest opening the lens is capable of) to f8 (the smallest). the numbers that look like fractions are just that... fractions of a second. 1/500 is 1/500th of a second, 1/250 is 1/250th, and so on. the larger the second number, the faster the shutter "speed", and vice versa (1/500th of a second is a smaller number - shorter time - than 1/250th...). the wider the aperture, or the slower ths shutter (the longer it's open), the more light reaches the sensor, and the more "exposed" the image is said to be (a carryover from film days when the file was "exposed" to light by the opening of the camera lens.conversely, the faster the shutter speed, or the smaller the aperture, the less light is allowed to strike the sensor, and theless "exposed" the image will be.

exposure works like this. the camera "sees" a subject and determines that there's enough light to take a picture at a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second, with an apertureof f4.0. this is the "correct" combination of shutter speed and aperture to allow the proper amount of light into the camera, as caculated by the camera. modern cameras contain very sophisticated metering systems that accurately measure the amount of light, compare it to preprogrammed formulas that tell it what will look "right" to most people, and select the shutter speed and aperture accordingly.

let's say your camera selects the combination above - 1/500 at f4.0 - based on the lighting conditions. if yougo to manual mode andreduce the aperture by one stop, to f4.6, butkeep the shutter set at 1/500, your picture will be slightly underexposed... you've restricted the aperture size so the lens won't open as wide as the camera thinksit should, and the camera can't compensate by using a longer shutter, because you've manually set that at 1/500. as a result, the image will come out slightly darker than optimum - underexposed meaning there wasn't enough light for the camera to take the picture a the proper settings. speeding up the shutter, to 1/640, while leaving the aperture at f4.0 will have the same effect.

conversely, if you open up the aperture one stop, to f3.7, and force the shutter to remain at 1/500, you overexpose the image, because you let in more light through the larger lens opening than the camera thinks is correct. too much light will make the picture appear too bright, and highlights will look washed out. the same thing happens in the example above if you leave the aperture at f4.0 but slow the shutter down to 1/400.

as Genece mentioned, there's a thing called "depth of field", or DOF, that is also affected by aperture. at wider apertures - with the FZ10/15/20, this means below about f3.7 - the part of your image from front to back that is in focus, will be less. as you decrease the aperture (larger "f" numbers), this "depth of field" gets greater, and more of your background will be clear and sharp. if you look at a photo with a very sharp, clear background, it was likely taken at a small aperture. a picture with a very blurry background, as a rule, was probably taken at a large aperture. you can therefor use the combination of expsure settings to adjust, to some degree, how much of your picture in front of and behind your subject, is in focus, especially at shorter distances. for your level of experience, don't worry about trying to do that just yet.. just know that you can. for now, concentrate on learning the basics, understanding how aperture and shutter speed relate to the amount of light the sensor sees, and how that translates into a good, properly exposed image. once you've mastered the basics, you can experiment with DOF and some of the other things that make photography such an interesting and creative hobby. above all, practice, practice, practice! digital photos are free, so blast away. try different settings and see what they do, and make note of how they affect the images you get. experiment! you can't hurt anything, and you can always delete the shots that don't turn out, no one but you will ever see them!and after a while, you'll have it down pat, and you'll be the one explaining this stuff to another novice... :G



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Old Feb 25, 2006, 11:09 AM   #6
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Very good explanation
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Old Feb 25, 2006, 10:32 PM   #7
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Thanks, Squirl--
I'm printing it out and will resolve to get out and experiment!

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Old Feb 26, 2006, 12:28 AM   #8
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Very nice explanation squirl, concise, to the point, yet easy to understand :idea:
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Old Feb 26, 2006, 11:03 AM   #9
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Thank you squirl033, for the very nice explanation.

I'm also printing it out and on my way to experiment !!



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