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06-06-2011, 01:06 PM   #1
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Automation for beginners

I took my first photography class in 1960, at the age of 16. Yes, that is 50 years ago, and I still take a class every year or two. One of the best lessons I have learned is to always put something good, or at least usable, "in the can" as we used to say, or now "on the card" before getting too artsy/craftsy, or "cute" as my wife says. My cameras are always set to "P", which I call automatic with benefits. When I see a shot I like I always make sure I have one or two usable images before I try to outwit my Pentax and make manual adjustments. Sometimes the manual shots are better, sometimes not, but in case I totally miss the setup, or the moment, I always have a backup, or fallback, plan.

It would not hurt for beginners to trust their Pentax cameras to give them a decent, and perhaps good, photo using automatic or "P" before they go off and try a manual setup. Once they have some insurance against disappointing friends or family they can begin to experiment. Nothing about a photo if going to scream "I used automatic to take this shot", and most people are not going to care.

06-06-2011, 01:51 PM   #2
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Yes I agree with this. I used to shoot a Canon AE-1 for a few years but when I got my K-x I went through a sequence (days or weeks per step) along the lines of:
  1. Green Auto mode
  2. Scene modes (for a short while)
  3. Av priority mostly and sometimes manual
  4. Manual only
  5. P mode by default then adjustments and change to manual when necessary
Maybe its a bit embarrassing but my biggest improvement in results came when I went to P mode as starting point (leave the dial there before use). One of the reasons, for me, is that a lot of opportunity shots (like of the kids) occur for a very short time and being able to initially point and click means you can often get something more spontaneous and usable. Then after initial photos I might go to manual and try and be a bit more creative. The other thing is that the P mode allows me to concentrate more on the initial composition of the scene (I was sometimes being distracted with exposure etc).
Yes probably my habits will change with time but the P mode is pretty useful.
06-06-2011, 02:02 PM   #3
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I fully agree with kiwi_jono about the P mode. I use the P mode almost all the time. There is nothing wrong with the P mode and even the Green mode. When in rush, the Green mode is the safest mode in my opinion to get a good shot. Next is the P mode as long as you do not forget to push the Green button before.

When I need to any manual adjustement, I do so in terms of shutter speed typically because I shoot dynamic motion using the dial.

I must say that I missed a few times some shots because I was not ready or I was fiddling with the camera settings. I am most upset of these silly, stupid moments.
06-06-2011, 02:20 PM   #4
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Those moments when getting the shot is important and there isn't the time to fiddle around with settings, P mode is invaluable. I quickly find myself wanting to change parameters though if I get a chance, and end up defaulting to Av most of the time.

The beauty of Pentax's hyper-P mode is that you can use it and still control aperture or shutter speed, and even the ISO as you want, just as you would in Av or Tv mode. All in P mode.

06-06-2011, 02:29 PM   #5
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There are no 'shooting mode' police and I believe it's really about results. If you feel that you get the best results one way or another, what the heck, go for it!

Personally, the first year I owned by K10d (2008), I almost always shot in P mode and shot all jpegs. I was very happy and got some great results. Then I took a class in RAW and, for me, everything changed. As I've learned more, oddly P mode (besides B and X) is the least used mode. I start out in Av mode mostly and work it from there based on the scenes Tv for action and flash. Sv for night and low light, TaV when I need to work with both A & T managing my ISO. Manual mode also for lots of different situations. It works for me and I enjoy it.

One thing about the P mode that if you don't know you should know, you can set the camera to different program preferences in the custom menu. Generally the choices are normal, speed, depth, and MTF. Your pick on those will give you some preference as how the camera handles it's P mode choices. Check it out. I went close to a year not understanding that P mode or program line was programmable by user preference.
Anyway, if you use P mode and are happy, so am I.
06-07-2011, 03:54 PM   #6
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Interesting Question & Responses!

The responses here really intrigue me! Like the original poster, I learned photography when everything was manual. When I finally bought a fully automatic camera (Pentax SF!), I thought "Life is really good".
I laid out of photography for several years and decided it was time to get back to what I enjoy and bought a Pentax K10. I quickly found out that all the "AutoCrapola" had become a crutch.
I've now gone back to my roots and use a Gossen Luna Pro exposure meter and shoot almost exclusively manual. I still use the auto focus cuz' my old eyes "ain't what they used to be".
I use P, AV, or shutter priority only occasionally now and really like "thinking about the shot" before I press the shutter release.
Just my 2 cents.
06-07-2011, 05:56 PM   #7
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QuoteQuote:
I use P, AV, or shutter priority only occasionally now and really like "thinking about the shot" before I press the shutter release.
Thinking about the shot does not change because of the mode you use.
06-08-2011, 01:44 PM   #8
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Thinking about the shot

QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Thinking about the shot does not change because of the mode you use.
Your statement is, no doubt true. I would submit however, that if you're working in a totally manual mode, you've got to start thinking about it ealier in the process.

06-08-2011, 02:26 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by hillerby Quote
QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK:
Thinking about the shot does not change because of the mode you use.
Your statement is, no doubt true. I would submit however, that if you're working in a totally manual mode, you've got to start thinking about it ealier in the process.
I'll go even further. Various auto modes REQUIRE different thinking. Green mode may not need (or allow!) much technical thought. P can be just as brainless, er I mean creative; or we can think about adjusting exposure or ISO or JPG settings. Av and X should make us think about the aperture being used, and to what effect; Tv is similar for shutter speed. Sv and TAv should make us think about ISO effects. M and B should make us think about EVERYTHING. Anyone who doesn't want to think about the effects of different modes IMHO should stay in Green.
06-08-2011, 04:19 PM   #10
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All of this does not change my initial recommendation. An insurance image, taken by whatever means that will result in something usable, is still a good policy, especially for beginners. It is up to the user to decide if an insurance image is necessary. If the manual shot is absolutely useless, comparing the manual settings to the automatic will also help determine where the manual shot went wrong.
06-08-2011, 04:53 PM   #11
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I was scared off the "Green" button after my first visit to this forum. I shoot P sometimes, but have mostly been using Av and setting the ISO to 100 or 200. Always watching the exposure.
Maybe I should try the Green button again for fun??????
06-08-2011, 07:46 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GoldenRGuy Quote
Maybe I should try the Green button again for fun??????
Green mode is good for shooting in decent light. The Green button in Manual mode is good for total control, for CONTROL FREAKS! Oh yeah...
06-09-2011, 06:18 AM   #13
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Agreed

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I'll go even further. Various auto modes REQUIRE different thinking. Green mode may not need (or allow!) much technical thought. P can be just as brainless, er I mean creative; or we can think about adjusting exposure or ISO or JPG settings. Av and X should make us think about the aperture being used, and to what effect; Tv is similar for shutter speed. Sv and TAv should make us think about ISO effects. M and B should make us think about EVERYTHING. Anyone who doesn't want to think about the effects of different modes IMHO should stay in Green.
Yeah, I think that pretty well states what I was trying to say in the first place. Different modes does require you to think about different aspects of the shot.
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