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11-02-2010, 07:57 AM   #1
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Basic Help Needed Please?

I have always had a P&S and had fun with it but recently was given a k-x and am just starting to play with it but have much to learn.

Here is my issue, this coming weekend I have a friend who wants me to get some shots of her competing in a horse show jumping competition. It is in an indoor arena with lighting that is not the best to put it mildly. I went to watch practice this morning and set the camera on auto and it gave me horrible shots... very "noisy" I believe it is called? I tried sports mode, once again, awful. I couldn't tell how bad they were until I could see them on the computer...

I realize that I need to set it on manual or program mode? and adjust stuff to suit the exact situation but I don't even know where to start.

I know I am going to be told to read the manual...... but I don't have a lot of time between now and Friday night and was hoping someone could give me some really basic advice given the above information???


edited to add: I have 18-55 and 55-300 and will mostly be shooting 30' - 100' distance

11-02-2010, 08:08 AM   #2
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Welcome aboard. Yes, you're going to be told to read the manual. But read it to learn how to set your settings in either Av or Tv or M modes. Put your 55-300 on the camera and practice in a darker room or at dusk or at sunrise, etc, to try and simulate the lighting conditions.

With the Kx you should easily be able to go to ISO1600 and get some relatively clean shots. Leave it there. Set your aperture to about f8, and leave it there. This of course would be Av mode where you can let the camera choose the shutter speed. If those settings don't work for you try setting the camera for Tv mode, same ISO (1600), and set your shutter speed to about 1/200 (or faster).

What I'm really suggesting here is that you give yourself a crash course on exposure. 3 factors affect it, Shutter speed, Aperture, and ISO (or film speed). Fix one (in M mode) or 2 (in Av or Tv) and learn what happens to the others in various conditions.

If you show us some of the terrible pictures, with EXIF (exposure information) in tact, we may be able to help you further.

One thing that is useful to remember, the exposure for 30 feet will not be the same as the exposure for 100 feet. Each f stop (f8 to f5.6 for example) change, lets in twice as much light. Light can be thought of by an Inverse Square rule which basically tells us that if we have X amount of light at a given distance, without changing the light source, we will have 1/4 as much light at twice the distance. So if at 30 feet you get a good exposure with ISO 1600, f8, 1/250 for instance, to get the same exposure at 60 feet, you'll have to go to 1/60 sec to keep the f8 and ISO 1600. (1/250 / 2 = 1/125 and half'd again is 1/60 sec). Or, you will need to bump your ISO to 6400 to keep the same shutter speed and aperture. Get the picture?

Applying this to the idea you are shooting a moving subject, you probably want to keep your shutter speeds a little higher.

Last edited by JeffJS; 11-02-2010 at 08:16 AM.
11-02-2010, 08:23 AM   #3
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Thanks, that is helpful. Certainly a starting point for me to work from.

I have already deleted the pictures unfortunately.... and I won't get a chance to try again before Friday night! However, I will post the ones I take Friday Evening and try to get some feedback as to what I can do better next time.
11-02-2010, 08:29 AM   #4
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You seem to be in a hurry to get the shot...
I'll aggree With JeffJS... iso 1600(800might work...)... but I'd start in 'shutter priority' (keep it fast) and turn on the 'auto-bracketing' function ... everytime you go for a shot, hold the shutter button down til its taken 3... And either set the k-x to auto white balance or set to the approprate light source...
Ive recently been shooting a lot of music and theatre gigs... Now shooting in manual on the k-x, but switching between 'priority' modes and taking a note of settings in situation has deffo helped get a feel for the light... Now just have to work out this flash thing! (Although I reckon this would be as frown'd upon in the show-jumping world as it is in theatre!)

11-02-2010, 08:31 AM   #5

Why f/8 Jeff? Shouldn't she simply keep it in Av mode, set lowest aperture possible and if the shutter speed isn't high enough just keep bumping up the ISO? Or were you just suggesting that for her to learn things for.

But yes most certainly read the manual to learn the different modes to get familiar with all they do. Like Jeff said you are going to want a pretty fast shutter speed.
11-02-2010, 08:39 AM   #6
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Hi NC Girl and welcome

I'm going to give basically the same advice as Jeff above, but I'd also experiment with TAV mode also. In TAV mode you set the shutter speed (should be above at least 125) and aperture (try to keep that at f5.6 or larger) and the camera will set the ISO for you. Fortunately you have a good high ISO camera but in any case try to keep it to 1600 or below if you can. Like Jeff, I'd suggest the using the 55-300. Good luck!
Using a DSLR with competence is sorta like playing a musical instrument. It givesgood results but you need to practice a bit to get better.

NaCl(and come back and show us how you made out...even if they're terrible we'll be able to help you get better)H2O
11-02-2010, 08:51 AM   #7
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The best you'll be able to do for the venue and display on a monitor is likely to set the ISO at 3200. For small prints use 1600.

Getting exposure right can be difficult during daylight hours in most horse show arenas I've seen because bright light through the wall openings fools the camera into thinking your subject is bright too.

A similar thing happens at night too; as you track the subject across the arena, the light on the subject doesn't change much but the light in the background can change a lot - unfortunately the camera in automatic modes can over-adjust for the background thus messing up the subject.

One scheme to avoid this is to use M mode & manual settings with the aperture set at 5.6; take a few test shots of the jump barrier varying exposure time until you like the results. Then stop fooling with the settings. (in M mode each time you press the little +/- button beside the shutter button, the effect of the e-wheel changes - the thing the e-wheel is now controlling is underlined in the viewfinder.)

I suggested setting the aperture at 5.6 so no adjustments would be needed as you zoom or change lenses. Later you can learn more complexity.

Or set the aperture at f4 and live with full zoom shots that are a little too dark.


Last edited by newarts; 11-02-2010 at 09:00 AM.
11-02-2010, 09:07 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Raylon Quote
Why f/8 Jeff? Shouldn't she simply keep it in Av mode, set lowest aperture possible and if the shutter speed isn't high enough just keep bumping up the ISO? Or were you just suggesting that for her to learn things for.

But yes most certainly read the manual to learn the different modes to get familiar with all they do. Like Jeff said you are going to want a pretty fast shutter speed.
Exactly. I'm trying to encourage her to learn how different settings in different modes affect things. f8 is a good starting point because the aperture requirement won't change at that point when she goes from 55mm to 300mm (could set to f5.6 and accomplish the same thing but here is no room to Open the aperture at that point throughout the zoom range). If it were a constant aperture lens, I would have suggested wide open but as we all know, that presents it's own problems. If she (you NCGIRL) can get even a basic handle on how the three factors affect exposure, there won't be any shooting situation that is beyond capability.

It all sounds a lot more difficult than it is, and I may even be making it more difficult than it needs to be. However, if you get a handle on exposure, there won't be a camera or lens made you cannot master in minutes.

11-02-2010, 05:59 PM   #9

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If there are a number of events before the pictures you want to take, you can practice more. Just take a laptop to view the pictures on. It's much easier to tell what's happening from a computer display than from the camera display. You need to look at them at 100% to check for sharpness. You can't expect noiseless results at 1600+, but as others have said you will probably want to use approximately f5.6 and whatever speed that will give you. As you look at your pictures, try to judge if any lack of sharpness is due to focus or movement. Basically movement would produce a directional blur, as opposed to just an overall soft effect.

If the facility is really dark, it's possible that nobody with your equipment could get good results.

For the 30'+ distances you'll probably only need the 55-300, but then later if you get closer up you might want the other lens, so you should bring it along.

11-04-2010, 01:02 PM   #10
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Set the default review zoom/magnification to 4x so you can quickly check for focus issues without having to spin the thumbwheel so much.

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