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12-27-2011, 12:37 PM   #1
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Outdoor Settings

I'm going to a nature preserve and an outdoor mall near me a little later today to take some pictures and I was wondering if anyone had some suggestions for settings for a Pentax K-r. My kit is pretty small (just got it for Christmas!) and I only have the 55-300 and 18-55mm kit lenses, a lens hood for the 55-300 and a UV filter for both (haven't used it yet, any suggestions about it?). What kind of shutter speed, ISO and apertures should I use for an outdoor mid afternoon shoot on a sunny day?

12-27-2011, 01:16 PM   #2
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Both lenses perform best at around F8, so start with that. Target a shutter speed of about the same as the focal length you are using or higher. With experience you should be able to handheld the camera at speeds down to 1/4 or 1/3 of the focal length, but to get started use the full length and judge your results.

For your 18-55 lens set the mode to Av, set an F-stop of F8 or F11, set the ISO to 200 and let the camera choose the speed.

For your 55-300 lens (especially at the longer focal lengths 200mm-300mm) use the Tav mode, set aperture at F8, set the speed to approximately the focal length and let the ISO float. If you get an overexposure warning you can increase the speed. If you get an underexposure, you can set a wider F-stop, of if applicable use your build-in flash to add some light.

Leave the UV filters home (they do no add anything), and definetly use the hoods to improve contrast.
12-27-2011, 01:20 PM   #3
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What should I set the ISO range to? I'm assuming by letting it float you mean set it to a range of like 200-1000 correct? Rather than a fixed value
12-27-2011, 01:34 PM   #4
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Yes, you set the camera in ATv mode, set the Auto ISO range to whatever you are comfortable (e.g. 200-1600), fix the F-stop and shutter speed and the camera will pick the correct ISO. This way you keep the speed high enough to prevent motion blur, and the F-stop at the optimum for both image quality and a bit better DOF for more accurate focusing.

12-27-2011, 01:40 PM   #5
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Ok thanks! Should I be using the flash outdoors or no?
12-27-2011, 01:53 PM   #6
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It depends on the situation. It can get tricky, but you can use it very effectively to fill-in shadows in high contract scenes as in the case you take a portrait against the sun where the face will be very dark. Also for close subjects you can have a perfect exposure with flash while the background is somewhat under/over exposed for creative effects. You can use the compensation adjustments to give more or less light from the flash for better balance.

Give it a try and you may like it.

Good luck,

Demetri
12-27-2011, 03:18 PM   #7
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I have my camera almost always fixed on a certain aperture. Which partly depends which lens I use. But mostly it will be in the 5.6 to 7.1 range (just the range I like the best). Also my ISO is mostly fixed at ISO100. I do go up in ISO when needed. But when outdoors, I mostly hav a tripod anyway, so not much reason to go high up in the ISO values for me.
UV filter is not really necessary, it does give your lens some extra protection, but for that a lens hood is also good. But I do recommend a polarizer, and a gradual grey filter along the way (not necessary, but they do work wonders)
12-27-2011, 06:43 PM   #8
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For landscapes, I wouldn't let the camera choose ISO. All of Demp10's other advice is excellent. The native ISO for the Kr is 200, so I'd leave it set for that unless the light is low. That will give you the best exposure and color latitude.

Flash is a whole other subject. There are advantages to using flash, even on bright days, but that adds complications. I'd get used to the camera first before trying outdoor flash.

12-28-2011, 04:35 AM   #9
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Not sure but I don't think the K-r has TAv mode.

I would indeed use Av and keep an eye on the shutter speed that the camera chooses. With the 55-300, 1/300s or faster when at 300mm (as already stated). I don't like floating ISO that much, but it might be a good idea while getting used to the camera.
12-28-2011, 09:21 AM   #10
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Correct, the K-r doesn't have TAv. I have an Av, a Tv, and an Sv. When I went out yesterday I actually found myself in either Av or M most of the time, rarely with a floating ISO.
12-29-2011, 08:15 AM   #11
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Best Settings

After reading these posts I went back to my files and, at random, selected 20 images shot outdoors in average outdoor light. All of these photos were taken in "P" or "Moving Object" mode, because they were of unrestrained horses. The camera selected shutter speeds from a slow of 1/200 to a fast of 1/1500, ISO settings from a low of 200 to a high of 800, and f stops from 5.6 to 8.0. From looking at the list, but without any complicated math, the average seems to be 1/250 of a second, ISO 200 and f stop 6.7. If I had made manual settings I might have opted for f8.0, with an offsetting slower shutter, but all of these photos were certainly acceptable.

My point? Your camera in auto, P or an outdoor mode is probably programmed to look for the lens sweet spot between 5.6 and 8.0. If you manually set your camera for an f stop within that range what do gain or loose? Probably nothing, because you will end up with more or less the same settings the camera would have selected anyway. The potential downside is forgetting that you have set the f stop priority in your camera should you move indoors, or not checking the settings the next time you use your camera under different conditions.

I have been taking photos before cameras had built in meters, so I understand the relationship between shutter speed, ISO and f stops. But, I am not too proud to let modern automation work if the results are more or less consistent with what I would select manually. I always check the settings recommended by the camera, and if they seem reasonable, then concentrate on composition, light and shadows, and what the darn horse is doing. (I've been run over a time or two when I was distracted). Different Strokes, as they used to say.
12-29-2011, 09:31 AM   #12
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Sometimes it takes a beginner to really understand a beginner, so I will take a stab at offering some general advice.

If you are super-new you might want to shoot everything at f-8 with a lower ISO (200 is apparently native to your camera and won't have exposure times that are too long, especially in daylight) so that you can focus your attention solely on your composition. Framing your picture, getting some depth, choosing your subject, etc.

ISO 200 is nice because its easy to photoshop in some grainy-ness after, but harder to remove it. Advantages of digital.

If you are getting comfortable with your compositions, then I would use an f-stop range of 2.8 - 8.0. Now you can start playing with depth of field and bokeh (the blurry portion of a picture). F-2.8 with a close up of a branch or something, will be fun to try. f-8 when you are further away from your subject and desire the whole frame to be fairly crisp.

Perhaps more experienced people here would like to qualify my statements, I am also a beginner...

As a final tip, I would give yourself some lattitude (at times) to experiment. Personally, I treasure the act of pursuing photos more than showing off the results, so have fun and don't get too concerned when you struggle to get the technical decisions correct on your "well considered attempts."

Dave
12-29-2011, 05:22 PM   #13
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Thanks, Dave. I've actually been experimenting a lot with DOF. Take a look at some of my other posts in the Post your Photos and Photo Critique sections and I'm sure you'll see! After learning that ISO makes photos grainier, I have been more conscious about keeping it on the lower end. Generally 800 or lower is where I try to stay. Recently I've been working on my compositions and after New Years (Probably Monday or so?), I'm going on a little day trip with a friend and will be trying to set a "theme" for the day. A little typology of my own, if you will. Just for the sake of practice and experience with my camera.

Wsteffey, I've been trying to understand the relationship between f stops, ISO and shutter speeds just so I don't always have to rely on the built in camera metering. I've always been a "do-it-yourself" kind of a guy, and if at all possible, if there's a way for me to do it manually, I will. I've been shooting in manual around my house at random things just as a way to get used to what each f stop, ISO and shutter speed will do, and how changing one will react with the other 2. I tend to check my settings before each shot anyways, so I'm not too particularly worried about forgetting what f stop I have it set at and what not (I say that now... I'm sure I'll forget sooner or later). Particularly because recently I have been working on DOF and different compositions relating to that. I didn't want to rely on the camera to autofocus and choose the aperture/shutter speed for me. Instead I wanted to make sure it was set for what I wanted for that particular object. I guess I could set it to AF-S, press the shutter halfway and then recompose the frame that way, but oh well.
12-30-2011, 05:35 AM   #14
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I hate to see people with really nice digital cameras give up on photography because it is "too complicated". Digital photography is only as complicated as the individual makes it. Not everyone wants, or needs to be a pro-level photographer, and not everyone with an expensive outfit needs to leave the automated modes if they are happy with the result. I believe advice needs to be tailored to the current skill level of the "student", and my sole objective, when I do offer advice, is to make sure the "student" takes the next picture successfully. I feel I have failed if I found out later that the camera has been put away because photography is "too complicated".

In your case, I am happy that I you have already advanced beyond my simple advice, and I believe you are going to be an excellent photographer. In fact, I may turn to you for advice when I next hit a wall.
12-30-2011, 10:18 AM   #15
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Thanks! I've always someone to try the complicated way on purpose haha. The only reason I've been able to pick up on things so fast is because everyone here has been so helpful in answer all of my questions!
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