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Old Oct 27, 2010, 10:34 PM   #1
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Default Standard Settings ?

Reading through Keith's 'Better Photographer' thread I started to wonder what settings we all have as a starting point in our cameras, and maybe we could learn something from the better shooters ? I know of course that every shot will have some variance from that starting point but by preference and setup if I picked up your camera what would the settings be ?

Some of mine :

Jpg 4 stars - I don't have time to process all the jpgs I take, never mind RAW !
NR - used to be always off but after reading a recent thread it's now : High ISO NR - (above ISO 200).
Work (house interiors) - always set to the Green Auto mode, I take so many quick shots in varying light from virtually dark (lean against the door-jam) to bright window light that auto everything is a Godsend.
Play - Manual. I like to able to control the exposure and learning how different scenes & light affects the exposures.
AFS - can't be bothered with moving the focus point - if I have time to change focus points then I have time to select my subject, half depress and then re-compose. Rarely CF and sometimes MF.
Monopod - I have a lovely tripod & ball-head set-up that I rarely use whereas I can use the camera on a monopod and shoot quickly and easily.
F2.0 thru F4 to F5.6 (depending on lense of course): I like a narrow DoF for most shots and maybe Shanghai is a 'darker' city than some others as I always seem to be shooting in low light !
Exposure - Mostly Spot, Occasionally Selective, Never Auto.
ISO - 100 or 200 (max set to 1,600).
WB - Auto
Focus Confirmation Beep - On !

I know there are a million settings in various cameras' menus but these are the important ones for me !

Obviously if I'm shooting macro or HDR or something else 'non-standard' then the settings will vary enormously by necessity - but if you picked up my camera those are what you'd find as my starting point. I'm interested to hear what others have as their 'usual' settings and if you have a particular one or two settings that are particularly important to you ... and why.
Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Oct 29, 2010, 1:38 PM   #2
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Ok some of the ways that I play.

  • indoors (dance hall with mediocre to bad lighting)
    • go manual - 1/90s is the target.
    • Try to get below 3200iso.
    • With group dances the diafragma has to get high enough to have more than 1 person in focus so ... f4 - 5.6
    • when the camera is set don't touch it anymore the light normally doesn't changes.
  • macro (with remote flash(es))
    • go manual - 1/180s, f9.5
    • iso 280->iso400, depending on the ambient light.
    • when moving between different spots adjust the aperture f5.6 - f11 to get the desired exposure.
  • vacation - family outings
    • (lazy outdoor version)
      • aperture priority, around f8, and adjust the ev.
    • I always have a small tripod with me: 10cm high so that I can get longer exposures in churches, musea or other indoor shots.
    • manual when I'm know what I want.
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Old Oct 30, 2010, 1:05 AM   #3
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Hi Kevin,

Of course there are really no standard settings, but here's something of what I do. The lens/TC combinations that I commonly use aren't the most usual, so that needs to be considered.

ISO -- I use Auto ISO almost exclusively for birds, as they usually don't cooperate much, and one will land in bright sunlight, and the next will be in complete shadow, then I'll see one backlight by a bright sky, then the next will be in the middle of a bush with areas of bright sunlight among the shadows. When I walk out the door, the camera will be set to ISO 100-320 on my K-7, but I keep the Info screen with the Auto ISO Range selected so all it takes is a press of the Info button and a click or two of the rear e-dial to raise or lower the max ISO value, and using the "Speed" program line, the max ISO value will normally become the default in a low light situation.

For macro with an external wireless P-TTL flash, I use a preset ISO between 100 and 400 as the preset ISO gives more consistent exposures.

Metering -- I use Av priority with Center-Weighted metering almost exclusively, as I usually want to get the most out of my lens in resolution and DOF by using settings a stop or two smaller than max. I choose the lenses I want carefully, looking for those that are sharp wide open, so if I need to use them at that setting, they're able to deliver as well as can be expected. At short range, DOF is very thin with tele lenses + TCs -- sometimes under an inch. I need to control DOF, or I'll get more of the bird out of focus than in. That might be cool fro an artsy shot, but it's not good birding IMO.

With the large focus sensor of Pentax bodies, unless I'm close enough for just a head shot (about 8 feet away shooting a 714mm lens, and cropping to about 1/2 frame), it's just not possible to focus on a small bird's eye -- at least not using AF which I'm pretty much dependent on because of my eyesight. I need to focus on the breast feathers in straight on shots and a wing in shots where the bird is facing to the side. In order to get the majority of the body and head in focus, I usually need smaller than max aperture, and many times, this will still leave the feet OOF.

Using Av priority allows me to control DOF better, and changing the ISO allows me to keep shutter speeds high enough to counter camera shake and subject motion, while not letting the ISO get out of hand. Keep in mind that I lose between 1 and 2.4 stops to TCs before I even get started, and this light gathering disadvantage doesn't balance off against the advantage of increased DOF. . . I consider 1/125 about my lower limit for reasonable success shooting handheld with SR and 510mm lens combos, but I have done okay as slow as 1/60, so I count on 2 stops and will push it to 3, but have little confidence past that.

Aperture -- I'll usually shoot birds at f4/5-f5.3 at the lens with the FA* 300/4.5 + 1.7x AFA and from f2.8 to f4.5 with the FA*300/2.8 + 1.7x AFA and a 1.4x TC stacked. If I have enough light, I'll use smaller apertures.

Macros need smaller apertures for deeper DOF. I use f8 to f13 at the lens for an effective f13.6 to f22. With the F 1.7x AFA, I get a max magnification of @ 1.9:1, so if I need deeper DOF for a particular shot, I can back off to 1.5x the normal Minimum Focusing Distance of the lens alone and still get 1:1 magnification while increasing DOF -- increasing the shooting distance does this probably better than stopping down. and I don't get the problem of exceeding the power of the flash to light the subject well or at very small apertures degrading resolution much.

Ev Compensation -- With birds that have small white areas on them, or predominantly yellow, white, or blue birds, I use negative Ev compensation of -.5 to -2 stops to prevent blowouts if in bright sun. For backlit birds against a bright sky, +1 or a bit more -- against a cloudy sky, a bit less.

After a lot of experimentation, I've settled on the Natural mode with sharpness, contrast, and saturation at 0. I make any adjustments to these settings for any given image in PP.

I shoot jpeg *** after testing it against **** and finding that I can't see any visible compression artifacts on either when compared to converted RAW. Jpegs give me smaller files, process in the camera faster, give me a better image to chimp (and faster), allow more maximum speed burst shots if I need it (I've never filled the buffer in a string), and allow me to use 4GB memory cards for over 400 images per card, which covers most of my shooting sessions. The downside is that blown highlights are gone for good, and DR suffers a bit, but most bird shots don't require wide dynamic range, and quick chimping allows me to make any corrections I need to prevent the blowouts.

White Balance issues are not a problem with the Auto WB of the K-7, and in over 10K shots, I've only used custom WB maybe 3 times. Any color cast anomalies can be easily taken care of in PP.

It's always interesting to find out how others shoot -- it can give you ideas about different ways to work -- I'm not sure that the way I shoot will help anyone else. . . I'm pretty eccentric.

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Old Oct 30, 2010, 9:47 PM   #4
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I find hearing how you guys set up very interesting ..... and gives me something to think about and adapt to my shooting to see if it works for me too.

Like to hear from some more shooters ? How are you set up when you shoot your usual / favourite subjects ?
Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Oct 31, 2010, 9:43 PM   #5
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Thanks for sharing, I'm still learning with optimum setting to use
***People only failed when they give up***
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