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Old Jun 26, 2008, 2:52 PM   #1
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Hello everyone, I have decided to purchase the oh-so-cheap Alpha A200. I consider myself a camera competent person, but one thing has escaped me.

How does someone go about effectively composing a picture through the viewfinder? If the viewfinder is TTL I would not assume that changing the white balance for instance, would make a change in the viewfinder, like it would show the changes on a P&S. I know live-view is available but this question is driving me nuts.

How does someone know if changing the WB, aperture, shutter speed, etc makes an impact if they cannot tell what exactly it does to the image, while looking through the viewfinder?

I know someone here could clear this up for once and for all.

Thank you!

Ninja edit: I apologize for the other thread moderators. My internet is on the fritz.
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Old Jun 26, 2008, 2:57 PM   #2
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You can't tell. That will come with experience (you'll have a better idea of what to expect in a given shooting condition with different camera settings).

Use the playback feature and you can get a better idea of what it's going to look like if you take some test shots. But, the LCD is not going to be totally accurate.

Look at it this way... If you were using film, you wouldn't know until you got it developed. With digital, you've got the ability to review an image you've taken and change settings if it's not what you're looking for.

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Old Jun 26, 2008, 3:01 PM   #3
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I apologize for the other thread moderators. My internet is on the fritz.
No problem. Just send me a PM for that kind of thing and I can fix it. The site's been a bit slow for while (it may not be your connection, and we're working on a plan to fix it). So, dupes happen if you press the Send button more than once while waiting. I removed the duplicate thread for you.

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Old Jun 27, 2008, 3:16 AM   #4
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A few cameras have 'live preview' on their LCD screens or Electronic Viewfinders (EVF). Remarkably one of the latter is the astonishingly cheap and compact Kodak Z712 superzoom 'hybrid' that I own. The feature is so useful I'm amazed it's not common in more expensive and upmarket machines.

I routinely adjust exposure, tonal balance, etc., before I take the shot. It's like being in the darkroom of yesteryear, but actually in the field, with the camera to your eye.

This and image stabilisation have been breakthroughs in my photography. In fact they, plus the advent of digital imaging, are the biggest ones in my 48 years of photography.
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Old Jun 27, 2008, 8:12 AM   #5
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As Jim said, you cannot see the effects of your camera settings *BEFORE* you shoot - but you can see them right afterwards. Since most often you will be shooting several shots in the same conditions (white balance, exposure, ...) it is worth shooting several test shots to get those the way you want them before you get serious about shooting.

If it is not possible to do that, shoot RAW or JPEG+RAW. That way you can easily adjust everything but exposure (and even that by a stop or so) afterwards.

The main advice for composition is to take your time and think about what you are doing. Look at the background. Foreground. Shadows. In addition overshoot a bit, i.e., plan to do a bit of cropping. This will allow trimming for other print formats (4x6", 5x7", 8x10"), leveling, perspective correction, ...
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Old Jun 27, 2008, 10:20 AM   #6
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Skyzoo wrote:
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How does someone know if changing the WB, aperture, shutter speed, etc makes an impact if they cannot tell what exactly it does to the image, while looking through the viewfinder?
Ah, you can't through the viewfinder butthat's when a feature called "live preview" (Olympus E510) or "Digital Preview" (Pentax K100/200) come to play. You take a snapshot of the scene, which isdisplayed on the LCD as if you had taken the picture but w/o recording it onthe memory card. So, youcan make adjustments until you are happy with the results and the take the real picture. Of course this is a cumbersome process, not nearly as simple as what you get with a P&S. But, to be fair, most P&S viewfinders are not thataccurate anyway. They present color casts, the contrast is usuallyoffand the same inconsistencies apply to all other settings. Aperture change will seldom give you DoF. So,you are actually better off with the live preview. Unfortunately, the A100/A200/A300 (I can't speak for the A350 and A700 because I haven't read the their manuals) do not offer such a feature. So, you'll have to, as Jim stated, take the shot, analyze the result and if you'renot happy with it, change settings and re-shoot. Or, use LV for the most challenging conditions.
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Old Jun 29, 2008, 4:24 PM   #7
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Not sure if you understand that when you shoot RAW you can modify nearly every setting except aperture and shutter speed in a post processing mod. In other words, you can change the settings after the photo was taken, and you can change it as often as you like, so your question is really moot.

I rarely shoot in JPG mode unless I require max frames per second requirement and/or I'll be shooting a lot of pics. JPG mode allows you to shoot over 3 frames per second continually until the card is full as long as your using an extreme III card where you only get 6-8 straight at 3 frames/second.

Then when shooting in RAW I go home and look at what I got (on the card without uploading to computer) and whatever I want to keep I either save to my computer as a JPG or TIFF.

The other thing this does is that it teaches you what setting work in what conditions when you do need to shoot JPG. Forget the idea that you can make field adjustments in the field based on what you see on a small screen. I've taken shots that I thought were good and got home and hated them, and vice versa with photos I didn't think were great while looking at them on the screen. If I could be that off about the overall quality of the pic how could you ever determine the right white balance?
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