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08-14-2010, 12:02 AM   #1
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newbie question with shutter speed.

hi... im just a beginner and i dont knw if this is a stupid question or what.... how would you know what shutter speed you should use if you're outdoor sunny, cloudy in shade indoor with bright lights or fair... lets say that the only aperture you are using with all the light condition is f2.8 and 100 ISO. do you really know what shutter speed you should use? or is it trial and error? how do the film users do it?

08-14-2010, 12:28 AM   #2
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I think that your question has not a simple answer.

The shutter speed is largely linked with what you want to shoot. For example, if you want to photograph some sport action, you will need a relatively large shutter speed (1/50s or faster) to catch the action. If you shoot some running water (cascade, fountains, water sports), you choose either a fast shutter speed (1/80s or faster) to freeze in time the water droplets and splashing, or use a slower shutter speed (1/10 s or slower) to have some streamlines in your photo. For landscape on a tripod, you usually prefer to use a slow shutter speed.

The selection of a fast shutter speed implies that you have enought light: either with a good sunlight, a flash, or a large aperture (small f), or use a high ISO. A slow shutter speed gives you more flexibility to use a smaller aperture or lwoer ISO for example.

Altogether, the selection of the shutter speed cannot be dissociated with the selection of aperture and ISO.

Hope that the comments will help.
08-14-2010, 12:31 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by poogeek Quote
hi... im just a beginner and i dont knw if this is a stupid question or what.... how would you know what shutter speed you should use if you're outdoor sunny, cloudy in shade indoor with bright lights or fair... lets say that the only aperture you are using with all the light condition is f2.8 and 100 ISO. do you really know what shutter speed you should use? or is it trial and error? how do the film users do it?
Since you are a beginner, I'll save the snarky comments.

I suggest you spend some time learning about Exposure and how film speed (ISO), Aperture (f stop), and Shutter speed relate to one another.

Google

There is no hard fast answer to your question. The one 'Rule' I always remembered was Sunny 16. That is, in good sunlight, at ASA (ISO) 100, set your aperture to f16 and, well,

Sunny 16 rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are lots of little tricks but the best thing you can really do for yourself early on is learn about what it takes to capture the light in a way You want to see it.

08-14-2010, 12:43 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
I think that your question has not a simple answer.
In fact it is quite simple once there is adequate understanding of the exposure triad.
QuoteQuote:
Altogether, the selection of the shutter speed cannot be dissociated with the selection of aperture and ISO.
Bottom line... so as Jeff has suggested, read up on the fundamentals of exposure and you'll find you'll have answered your own question.

There are a number of permutations of settings that will give you a certain result in any one situation, so there is no point in giving any more specific advice than to learn the basics.

08-14-2010, 12:47 AM   #5
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If anything just use green mode for now, it wont take you long to learn how exposure works but as it stands now you might end up missing or messing up shots due to improper settings

but honestly some quick googling can teach you the basics within a week
08-14-2010, 04:15 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by poogeek Quote
how do the film users do it?
That all depends, but first let us remember that the notion of in-camera metering and automated exposure did not originate with digital photography. They preceded it by several decades.

On cameras with built-in meters you merely adjust shutter speed and/or aperture until the meter indicates a proper exposure. Within the limits of the camera/lens and the light you could choose to go higher or lower on one or the other depending on what you were doing.

On cameras without built-in meters you had two choices. You could use an external meter and then make settings on your camera according to the results. Or you could use the Sunny 16 rule, which is something I believe every photographer still ought to know. It is a good thing to know if for no other reason than it helps to make you more aware of what is going on with your light.
08-14-2010, 06:09 AM   #7
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Google "Sunny 16 Rule"
08-14-2010, 08:03 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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Here is a great website that not only will help you understand, but enable you to teach your brain to be a lightmeter:

Ultimate Exposure Computer

08-14-2010, 10:21 AM - 1 Like   #9
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I'll answer from a different perspective - not so much much about how one might know in theory, but how most people actually know in practice:

The way most people for the last 50 years or so have known what shutter speed to use is to consult the meter built in to their camera. You set ISO and aperture where you like, and in Av mode, the camera simply selects an appropriate shutter speed for you, which can override via the exposure compensation control if you think necessary. If you prefer to set the shutter speed directly, you can use M mode rather than Av mode, but still, the meter in the camera tells you if your currently selected exposure is too bright (reads positive numbers) or too dark (reads negative numbers). So you just adjust the shutter speed until the meter reads zero. Older film cameras often lacked a numeric readout but had a needle that told you essentially the same thing. Bottom line being, you don't have to "know" a thing - you normally just do what the meter says you should do.

If you have an extremely old camera that has no built-in meter, then you use a separate handheld meter to accomplish the same thing. But if you lack one of those, only *then* do you need worry bout things lik the Sunny 16 rule referenced above. Although it's nice to be aware of that even though all modern cameras have meters.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 08-17-2010 at 02:26 PM.
08-14-2010, 02:31 PM   #10
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"Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. Great book, even for experienced photographers. He explains the three factors that affect exposure, aperture, shutter speed and sensor (film) sensitivity. He also talks about the tradeoffs in using different combinations, such as preventing motion blur with higher shutter speeds, or controlling depth of field by your choice of aperture.

If you live near a good public library, they may have a copy. In not, a good bookstore might have it. There's always Amazon, which definitely has it.
08-17-2010, 10:47 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by poogeek Quote
hi... im just a beginner and i dont knw if this is a stupid question or what.... how would you know what shutter speed you should use if you're outdoor sunny, cloudy in shade indoor with bright lights or fair... lets say that the only aperture you are using with all the light condition is f2.8 and 100 ISO. do you really know what shutter speed you should use? or is it trial and error? how do the film users do it?

Light meter!

Your camera has a nice built-in reflective light meter that works fairly well. They also make external meters that measure incident light.
08-17-2010, 12:27 PM   #12
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You have had some good answers here, especially from Matt with the link to the ultimate exposure computer.

Once you understand that for general outside daylight (-ish) shooting, there are only about seven stops of light between "very bright midday sun" and "dusk", you will have learned a lot.

Spend a day shooting in manual. Use the sunny16 rule as a starting point and adjust from there. The great thing about digital is you can use the histogram to check your progress.
08-17-2010, 06:28 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
You have had some good answers here, especially from Matt with the link to the ultimate exposure computer.

Once you understand that for general outside daylight (-ish) shooting, there are only about seven stops of light between "very bright midday sun" and "dusk", you will have learned a lot.

Spend a day shooting in manual. Use the sunny16 rule as a starting point and adjust from there. The great thing about digital is you can use the histogram to check your progress.
Agreed. One of the beauties of the digital era is you can play with the exposures and it'll only cost you the time to do it. All the rules in the books are great and set a wonderful baseline. From there it's know your equipment and subject and (at least for me) that has taken simply messing around with the settings (best guess) then evaluating which worked best in that particular situation.
08-20-2010, 10:25 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by poogeek Quote
hi... im just a beginner and i dont knw if this is a stupid question or what.... how would you know what shutter speed you should use if you're outdoor sunny, cloudy in shade indoor with bright lights or fair... lets say that the only aperture you are using with all the light condition is f2.8 and 100 ISO. do you really know what shutter speed you should use? or is it trial and error? how do the film users do it?
Hey, I'm a few days late, but some of us film users followed the chart on the inside of the Kodak film boxes. And some of us have used Kodak cameras that included a set of film cards that followed Sunny 16 or it's variations for the films that were available back in the day.

Check out the tech specs on this Kodak page:

Kodak 35mm Print Film

Sure, you may not shoot film but the exposure relationships are relevant.

As for those of an older generation, if you can learn to take decent photos with a zone-focused Kodak following the Sunny 16 card for your Kodachrome there's a good chance you can take decent photos with any camera.
08-23-2010, 08:40 PM   #15
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Argh, I get so confused reading about iso, aperture and shutter speeds I just can't seem to get a handle on it at all and it all makes me feel rather stupid. I've done insane amounts of googling and reading on the subject but it just doesn't seem to want to sink in. I fear I shall be on auto for the rest of my life
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