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Old Jan 15, 2011, 6:40 AM   #11
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Hey Johnny. What metering mode were you using (I can't tell from the EXIF Picasa shows you)?

Most of those photos look overexposed (some more than others), which will also cause slower shutter speeds.

Matrix metering will tend to weight the focus point more. So, when focusing on a black suit, it may try to make it lighter than desired since it's going to try and make the brightness more like mid gray (causing overexposure).

Trying to use Spot Metering on a darker suit would make that kind of issue much worse (as you have to be very careful what you meter on with Spot metering if you don't want overexposed images metering on something darker, or underexposed images metering on something lighter).

Note that metering behavior does differ between some of the Sony models (for example, based on my experience using some of them, matrix metering with the A850 and A900 will tend to underexpose in complex lighting that you'll see overexposure with using the other Sony models, like the stage shots with the Piano player). So, keep that in mind when switching between models like your A900 and the A560.

Did you shoot RAW as suggested? That will give you more leeway to help prevent the burnt looking skin tones I'm seeing in the mildly overexposed images, and the more severe problems I'm seeing in the very overexposed images). I'd use something like Adobe CS5, LR3 or the latest 3.2 version of Sony's free Image Data Converter SR and you should be able to pull back the exposure fine (you'll probably have around 2 stops of headroom in the raw files).

If you can't get the metering to behave as desired using a -EV exposure compensation shooting with Aperture Priority for something like the piano player on stage, given the amount of dark areas the camera will see (and I'd probably go center weighted metering for more consistency in that type of lighting), then go manual exposure and tweak the exposure so that playback looks OK. I'd probably start at f/2.8 at ISO 1600 (or 3200 if you're still seeing much blur) and then use faster shutter speeds until the photos appear to be properly exposed, shooting in RAW for more flexibility in post processing.

But, chances are, for that type of subject, you'd be fine using Aperture Priority at f/2.8 with Center Weighted Metering shooting at ISO 1600 if you use a -EV setting with Exposure Compensation when seeing overexposure (and if you do, I'd probably start at -1 EV and go up to -2EV or more if you're still seeing overexposure during playback with some test shots). The amount you'll need will depend on the complexity of the lighting. You'll also have faster shutter speeds (to help reduce blur) with proper exposure for a given ISO speed and aperture, compared to some of the overexposed images in that album.

It's quite common to see overexposed images when shooting subjects on a stage in complex lighting. But, I've found that the full frame models tend to handle that type of lighting differently (sometimes underexposing to protect the highlights), so metering behavior will vary with camera model. So, again, keep that in mind when switching between your A900 and models like the A560.
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Old Jan 15, 2011, 11:30 AM   #12
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What Jim says above is the best advice I can see from a mechanical/technical approach.

From another approach. Try getting tighter shots of your subject (zoom in more closely). That will eliminate some of the contrasting light or darkness from the background which will help with the metering on the subject.

You maybe looking at a longer fast lens in the future to get the shots you are looking for.
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Old Jan 16, 2011, 10:05 PM   #13
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JimC,

Thank you for you advice as always.

this is the first time i used the A560, it was a last minute event so i borrowed it. I was using Center Weighted Metering Mode. I always tend to shoot in Aperture Priority Mode with ISO800 and the EV and +1,+2 depending on the lighting.

For this event, the lighting in the room was very poor. Was very difficult trying to get the perfect shot. I was not able to use flash as the event was going on. That makes it more difficult.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 11:20 PM   #14
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Is this correct for the two different metering mode:
Center-Weighted Averaging is the least accurate metering method
Matrix Metering Method should be used in most situations
in a wedding situation, i've been using Spot Metering, is this a good choice?
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Old Jan 18, 2011, 8:41 AM   #15
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Center Weighted metering is usually the most consistent and predictable metering (placing more emphasis on the center of the frame). In difficult lighting, that's what I'd use. Then, tweak exposure as needed using Exposure Compensation if using Aperture Priority, or go Manual Exposure Instead if the lighting is relatively consistent.

Matrix (a.k.a., Multi-Segment) metering is usually less consistent and less predictable, even though it's looking at the entire frame. It relies on the camera manufacturer's ability to correctly recognize the scene and expose for the elements you're most interested in. Sometimes it gets it right, sometimes it doesn't, and each camera behaves a bit differently, depending on the complexity of the scene.

With most modern cameras, your focus point is weighted more with Matrix Metering. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your subject. For example, if focusing on a darker subject, you may get some overexposed images, or if focusing on a lighter subject, you may get some underexposed images. A small difference in focus point can often make for large changes in exposure, depending on a camera's behavior. But, each camera manufacturer approaches Matrix Metering differently (and you may see differences between cameras within the same brand), so you have to become accustomed to your camera's metering behavior and adjust accordingly.

Spot Metering for Weddings, huh? Not me. I'd rarely use Spot Metering for anything other than static subjects (making sure I know what I'm metering on), because your Exposure will likely be "all over the board", with a mixture of underexposed and overexposed images, unless you're carefully metering on a face that's relatively neutral in brightness.

Spot Metering is only looking at a small spot. If you meter on a black suit, it's gong to overexpose (try to turn it gray). If you meter on a white wedding gown, it's going to underexpose (try to turn it gray).

You need to be very careful what you meter on using Spot metering if you don't want serious exposure problems.
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Old Jan 18, 2011, 4:08 PM   #16
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Have you considered a Minolta Maxxum 50mm f1.7 lens? I would not open it up further than f2.0, but that would get you more light for around $100.00. I have one and really like the results that I get with my a200. I know, it's a fixed focal length lens but that's easily fixed by either cropping or walking.
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 11:02 AM   #17
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I think these look pretty good.
Try something like indoor volleyball in a poorly lite gym and no flash allowed.

I shot 51 pics yesterday with the A700/Tam.28-75f2.8 @ 1600 to 2500 ISO, and deleted every one of them. Had motion blur in every shot as the best shutter speed I got was 1/30 at f/2.8.
I am sure that if I tried shutter priority the camera would not have even taken a picture.

I was hoping that the new A580 would give better results but it doesn't look like it will.

Not willing to invest major bucks in a f/2.0 lens that probably won't work either.
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 11:12 AM   #18
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Flying Fossil,

did you try to increase your EV? I cases like that, i usually go up to +2 or +3 on the EV.
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 12:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phamj57 View Post
Flying Fossil,

did you try to increase your EV? I cases like that, i usually go up to +2 or +3 on the EV.
Bad idea. Using a + EV setting with Exposure Compensation would have resulted in even slower shutter speeds for the same ISO speed and aperture, meaning even more motion blur (and the photos would have probably been even more overexposed, too). ;-)

If your aperture is already wide open, using a +EV setting with exposure compensation is going to slow down your shutter speed with either Aperture Priority or Programmed Auto type modes in order to give you an even brighter exposure (and using that much exposure compensation is virtually guaranteed to result in very overexposed images with that camera in virtually any lighting). That's a real bad idea if you need faster shutter speeds. Exposure Compensation is not magic. It's just varying either shutter speed or aperture (depending on the mode you're using) to brighten or darken the image. ;-)

Shutter Priority is also a bad idea shooting sports in low light (as you will "run out of" aperture, since it can only open it up so far, resulting in underexposed images).

Flying Fossil...

Were the photos overexposed (judging by the shutter speeds you're reporting, my guess is that was the case, even if it's not obvious looking at the images)?

Here's how to approach indoor sports in a gym...

Set a Custom White Balance before the activity starts, placing your target (white or gray card, etc.) in between some of the lights on the floor so that you get a better average reading. Keep ISO speed set lower so that shutter speeds will be slower for the calibration (as if they're too fast, it can skew the results due to cycling lighting).

Then (after you set a custom white balance), use Manual Exposure for better exposure consistency (forget other modes for that type of shooting, as different colored uniforms, lights in the frame etc. will throw off the metering).

f/2.8 lens, huh?

For a starting point, use f/2.8, ISO 3200 and 1/400 second.

That's typical to get correct exposure for most dimmer gym lighting with fast enough shutter speeds to reduce the amount of motion blur you get (and you will still see some blur from rapid hand/feet/ball movement at 1/400, but it shouldn't be too bad). Even faster shutter speeds would be nice (but, then you'd need to increase ISO speed above ISO 3200 using an f/2.8 lens).

With an f/2 prime, use ISO 1600, f/2 and 1/400 as a starting point instead (or go higher ISO speeds with one if you want faster shutter speeds than 1/400, which is "borderline" for indoor sports.

IOW, you'll need ISO 3200+ with an f/2.8 lens in typical gym lighting to keep your shutter speed target at around 1/400 or faster.

If the photos are underexposed, use slower shutter speeds until they look correctly exposed (using the "blinking" shadows and highlights feature and histogram as a guide). If they look overexposed, use faster shutter speeds for the same ISO speed and aperture until exposure looks correct.

Make sure DRO is turned off (as you'll get a lot more noise trying to use it, as it will "push" the shadows, which is not what you will want).
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Old Jan 24, 2011, 1:22 PM   #20
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Thanks for the tips everyone.
I have printed this out for future reference and will give it a shot at the next opportunity.

I will take both the 28-75mm f/2.8 and the 50mm f/1.7 and use RAW again.

I have not played with custom WB although I did get a expodisc for that purpose. Just need to learn how to use it.

Thanks again.
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