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Old Aug 5, 2004, 10:32 PM   #1
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When shooting in light where a flash is required, with the optical zoom fully zoomed to 3x, the default setting (all modes expect manual) is 1/50 of a second at f5.2.



I have noticed that many of my pictures at this setting tend to be a bit blurry.

Questions:

1. If this default shutter speed and F stop typical for a digitial camera? How about an SLR film camera?

2. Should I use the manaul mode to obtain a faster shutter speed?

3. Any other comments?

Thanks
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Old Aug 6, 2004, 1:57 PM   #2
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Here's what I find works...

UseManual setting



Set ISO at 200. Set shutter at 1/80; 1/125 if at full zoom; your lcd will give you an idea of how much light you are getting. Set flash to + (Your flash range is not as great with telephoto because of the smaller aperature).

If lens is extended , best you can get is 5.6. I find better to use 2.8/5mp and crop later if i want to get close r.

Surprisingly little noise at 200. Hard to hold 3x telephoto steady at less than 1/125.



Good luck!
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Old Aug 6, 2004, 2:38 PM   #3
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Shutter speed is not as critical when using flash in most indoor conditions. This is because the flash itself freezes the action in darker surroundings.

I've seen people take tons of flash photos at wedding receptions, etc. using Night Portrait flash modes with shutter speeds of 1/8 second (at lower ISO speeds). When you do this, you typically see sharp subjects within the flash range, but blurred and still slightly underexposed subjects outside of the flash range. The benefit of using a slower shutter speed is that more ambient light enters the photo.

With faster shutter speeds, the subject may be well exposed, yet the backgrounds are very dark (which is why some people prefer to shoot with slower shutter speeds in some indoor environments).

Now, this only works well (slowershutter speeds) if the light is not too bright indoors (and most of the time it's not). Otherwise, the flash will throttle down too much to freeze the action, since there will be enough ambient light for the subject movement to show up in the image.

Here'smy take on it. When you said you were using 3x Optical Zoom, the very first thing that came to mind, was that your subjects were outside of the flash range. If you look at the specifications for most models, you see two ranges listed -- one at full wide angle, and the other at full zoom.

This is because most compact models have a lens that is rated at around f/2.8-4.9. The first number is the amount of light that reaches the sensor through the lens at full wide angle, and the second number is the amount of light that reaches the sensor through the lens at full zoom. When you are in between wide angle and zoom, the amount of light will usually be somewhere in between.

The aperture scale (in one stop increments) goes F/1.4, F/2.0, F/2.8, F/4.0, F/5.6, F/8.0, F/11, F/16, F/22... With each one stop move to a smaller aperture (larger F/Stop Number), you will need twice as much light for proper exposure (given the same shutter speeds and lighting).

Your Sony's lens is rated at f/2.8-5.2. So,more than twice as much light reaches the lens at full wide angle, versus full zoom.

Now, the first thing I did was check the flash range in the Sony reviews. To my surprise, it only gave one flash range (very odd, considering it's lens is not very bright when using zoom).

So, I then checked the sales "fluff" on the Sony web site. Same thing (12.5 feet, without any qualifiers about focal length, etc.).

I then looked at the user guide, and found the "true" specifications on page 120 of the .pdf user guide here: http://www.docs.sony.com/release/DSCW1.PDF

Using Auto ISO (which I think is varying to ISO speed up to 160), the flash on the DSC-W1 is rated at 3.5 meters (approximately 11.5 feet) at full wide angle, dropping off to 2.5 meters (approximately 8 feet) at full zoom.

My guess, is that some "marketing genious" at Sony figured out that using ISO 400, the flash was fine up to 12.5 feet at longer focal lengths. Of course, we all know that ISO 400 is terrible on a small sensor digital camera.

My advise would be to stick to as close as full wide angle as possible indoors with flash -- using your feet as the zoom whenever possible.

Edit: You may want to post a sample photo of what you are seeing, too. Chances are, the subject would be underexposed also if you're outside of the flash range.


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Old Aug 6, 2004, 2:42 PM   #4
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Very good topic. It is correct that the W1 only selects 1/40 or 1/50 sec. when the flash is used. I also use the Manual position and I select an shutter speed from 1/80 to 1/125, according to the motive, the place, and the position of the zoom. As the pictures they don't leave sub-exposed, they arise me two interesting questions:

1. Which is the speed of shot of the camera's flash? I don't believe that the light flash shotis of only 1/40 or 1/50 sec. The speed shot of a flash is usually of 1/500 or 1/1000 sec. or higher.

2. Does the shutter of the W1 have a fixed speed synchronization for the flash? Because if it is this way, 1/40 to 1/50 sec. it can be alone the flash speed synchronization of the shutter. But the real speed of flash shot is higher. As I said before, between 1/500 and 1/1000 sec. Will it be this way?

Interesting topic. Somebody has some comment that to make?

Greetings from Argentina, Ronorro.
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Old Aug 6, 2004, 2:56 PM   #5
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Modern Digital Camers usually vary flash duration to control their output. In other words, they aren't varying the "strength" of the flash in the way most people think. They are simply using a shorter duration flash at closer ranges, and a longer duration flash at further ranges to control flash exposure.

A typical modern flash will vary this between around 1/10000 second and 1/1000 second.

This is why shutter speed is not critical for flash photos in most lighting conditions -- because the subject is only properly exposed for such a short period of time. So, the flash itself "freezes the action".

Now, if you are in a brighter enviroment (for example, lots of sunshine coming in through open windows surrounding a room), then the flash duration will be much shorter. So, you can sometimes get a little bit of motion blur at slower shutter speeds in this type of shooting condition with flash (because the ambient light will be enough to partially expose the subjects movement).

However, in most indoor lighting, the exposure is so reliant on the flash, that shutter speeds are not very critical at all. See my first post in this thread for more.


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Old Aug 8, 2004, 9:21 PM   #6
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Thanks for the great feedback!

In reply to a question, I most often get a blurred picture when I am 3X zoom, the light is low but not darkand the subjects are well beyond the flash range.

Why does Sony have the shutter speed so slow for flash pictures on this camera?


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Old Aug 9, 2004, 9:47 AM   #7
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Thank you for posting this topic (although I'm still somewhat confused).

I recently purchased a Sony DSC W1 being my first ever experience of a digital camera. Although I've taken great pics in well lit surroundings, I was extremely disappointed with the results at a recent concert.

I was only about 3-4 feet away from the band and took several shoots on the automatic mode, they came out extremely dark and in some cases very blurry. Additionally, there was lighting behind the band and in some photos I had a streaking effect.

Any advice on achieving better quality photos would be appreciated.

The simpler the better would be appreciated, as I'm not too technical and still getting to grips with the camera.

Many thanks



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Old Aug 9, 2004, 10:45 AM   #8
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To me, that key question is whether the Sony W1 default flash shutter speed is slower than other digital cameras? If so, why?
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Old Aug 9, 2004, 11:14 AM   #9
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To be honest, my old Olympus usually defaulted to 1/30. For some reason, though, it was easier to hold steady at that speed than the Sony. Its still a mystery why that is...maybe because it was a little bigger and heavier.

If your band was backlit, you may need to use spot metering or change the EV value to get the right exposure. Tough for the camera to read that lighting in auto mode. I suspect you would have had similar results with any camera.
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Old Aug 9, 2004, 12:57 PM   #10
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jscamera wrote:
Quote:
In reply to a question, I most often get a blurred picture when I am 3X zoom, the light is low but not darkand the subjects are well beyond the flash range.

Why does Sony have the shutter speed so slow for flash pictures on this camera?
What you think is "low but not dark" is probably extremely low light to a camera -- especially one with a lens rating the same as the W1 (where the lens is more than twice as brightat wide angle, versus full zoom).

A typical indoor room (with lights on) has an EV (Exposure Value) of around 6. With a subcompact camera,you're going to need to use a flash, otherwise shutter speeds will be too slow to prevent blur in these conditions (unless you arestill as a rock, and it's unlikely you would be, and taking a photo of a non moving subject).

The lens on your Sony has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at wide angle (typical for any subcompact model). When using zoom with this model (and other compact models like it) far less light can reach the sensor, so it will only get worse.

You can increase ISO speed to help compensate (but this increases noise).

For example: if shootingat the wide angle setting with your lens, at ISO 100, with an Aperture of around F2.8 (the largest aperture the camera can select), you'd need a shutter speed of around 1/8 second at EV 6 (typical indoor lighting) without flash to insure proper exposure. This is too slow to prevent blur - even at full wide angle, unless youare very still, and shooting a stationary (not moving) subject.

At full zoom on your W1, the lens stops down to f/5.2, so you'd need shutter speeds of almost 1/2 second in the same lighting conditions and ISO speed settings without a flash. Again, you'd need a tripod at shutter speeds this slow, and you wouldn't be able to take photos of moving subjects anyway.

When using flash, shutter speeds are not critical, because the flash itself helps to freeze the action (since the subject is only properly exposed for a very short period of time at the shutter speeds typically selected). This is because of the extremely short duration of the flash (usually running between around 1/10000 second and 1/1000 second -- depending on the range to your subject, and the amount of light the camera needs for proper exposure).

Here is a useful chart. Again, what your eyes tell you is bright (indoors), is not to a camera. Note that this chart is based on ISO 100. So, each time you double the ISO speed (settable in camera), you can also double the shutter speed. However, increasing ISO speed will add noise to the photo. Chances are, even with Auto ISO, it's not going to increase to more than about ISO 160.

http://home.earthlink.net/~terryleedawson/dcnotes/tables.htm


Basically, you're probably lucky that the Sony did use a slower shutter speed at the focal length you were at, especially since you indicate that subject was well outside of the stated flash range. Otherwise, you'd have probably got an extremely underexposed image (I suspect that it's probably quite underexposed as it is). At least the shutter speed it selected allowed it to take in a little more ambient light.

The camera must keep the shutter open long enough to properly expose the image for the lighting and aperture of the lens.


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