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10-22-2012, 10:06 AM   #1
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Indoor Shooting

I just recently purchased my first dslr, a Pentax k2000. The lens on it says Pentax 18-55. I was wondering what the best settings would be for shooting indoors? I'm just trying to take better pictures of my sweet little 3 month old baby girl! Thanks so much and any advice is greatly appreciated.

10-22-2012, 10:37 AM   #2
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The 18-55 is the range of focal lengths which that lens covers. 18 is the widest, meaning you will see more in the picture (perhaps more appropriate for outdoor shots where you want to see the landscape), and 55 is the longest, meaning the most "zoomed in" you can get. The higher numerical value focal lengths are better for portrait kind of photos. I used a 50 mm lens for the first 1.5 years of my daughter's life.

As for camera settings, it depends on what you want to do with the camera. You can probably put it on Auto and get decent results, but if you want to get better results than a glorified point-and-shoot, I suggest Aperture priority mode, or Av on the mode dial. This lets you select the aperture value you want while the camera selects ISO and shutter speed for proper exposure. Smaller aperture values mean less of depth of field, which mean more of the background is de-focused (generally speaking); this means more isolation of your photo subject against the background. Larger aperture values mean a greater range of objects are in focus.
10-22-2012, 11:59 AM   #3
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As noted, you will likely get reasonable results by sticking it on auto.

On the other hand if you want to really learn photography and get beyond the auto mode then you are going to have to do some work. ChooseAName has a good suggestion, the Av mode is a good place for beginners to start getting away from auto. But you need to know what it does and what aperture and shutter speed and ISO all mean and do. My wife uses a k-x and for almost a year she refused to use anything except auto. She said she only wanted to take pictures, not learn photography. After a year she is finally learning and has moved to Av mode almost all the time. But that with a lot of coaching and gentle teaching.

If you want to make a start get a copy of "Understanding Exposure" by Brian Peterson, either at the library or buy one, it's not very expensive. Read it a couple of times and you will have a firm basis for learning.

Or leave it in Auto, that works too.
10-22-2012, 12:07 PM   #4
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Its all about the light. Indoor shots often come out poor because of the poor light.

What seems adequate to your eye is usually not so for the camera...Indoor lights also cause a lot of problems due to the different color casts they have, usually too yellow or blue tinge to everything.

-If possible shoot where there is plenty of daylight lighting the room - but not direct sun.

-zoom in so that you are using between 35-55 mm length of the lens.
-Shoot in P mode.
-White balance on daylight or auto
-Place ISO to auto ISO 100-400
-Half press the shutter button and see if your shutter speed reads at least 1/80 or faster. If you dont have steady hands at least 1/100
-If you are getting slow shutter speeds like 1/30 etc the pictures are not going to be sharp so you will need to change location to where there is more light.
-Dont keep moving the baby to do this. Place a doll or some object in the locations you want to shoot at until you find a location that gives you the shutter speed.

-In an 'emergency', [baby is doing something really cute but not enought light] you can pop up the onboard flash, but use something to soften the light like a white Kleenex tissue by folding it over itself once, and lay it over the open flash and then shoot.

10-23-2012, 06:28 AM   #5
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A general rule for shutter speed as a beginner is 1/ (2 times the focal length). So at 35mm, you'd want to shoot 1/70th or faster. If you have really steady hands, you could probably do 1/ (1.5 times the focal length) to begin. With experience and proper holding of the camera, you'll eventually get down to 1/focal length or maybe even faster.

The kit lens (18-55mm) isn't the best lens for indoor shooting without any kind of off camera flash. I'm in the same boat with it. The lens is best at an aperture of F8, but indoor with no flashes you won't want to go any higher than the minimum possible. Like what the others have said, set your camera to Av mode with a fixed aperture of 5.6 or so, ISO floating between 100-800 and go from there. If you're finding the pictures are still too dark, you could always try a bit higher aperture, or always go to M mode and try your own shutter speeds.
10-24-2012, 04:38 PM - 1 Like   #6
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To expand on the best bits that I've read:
1. Experiment
2. Get down to eye level with your subject. Avoid shooting down onto your subject.
3. Get "Understanding Exposures" and read it with your camera at your side. Experiment after reading each section before moving on to the next chapter. Otherwise you'll get information overload and your studying will be a waste of time.
4. Light coming through a window can be very beautiful, however, it can also be very dim. I recently shot with window light on an overcast day and my exposure was 1/30 @ f/3.5 ISO 1600. Since my subject was not moving, I didn't need a fast shutter speed to stop movement other than camera shake (which is the movement caused by the user hand-holding the camera). Light coming from a window facing North will generally produce the highest quality of light - your mileage may vary.
5. When you review the photos, pay attention to the shutter speeds and apeture setting used. This will help you learn things such as: How slow of a shutter speed can I hand-hold the camera; How fast of a shutter speed do I need to stop action, or how slow do I need for a creative blur.
So with your ISO cranked up, camera set to AUTO, and baby looking cute, the rest is up to you. This is the hard part. Buying stuff is easy, setting the camera to AUTO is even easier. Knowing how to compose and when to click is difficult at first, but here's some tips:

1. Focus of baby's eyes.
2. Avoid busy and/or overly bright backgrounds. The viewer's eyes will go the brightest area in the picture, and that should be baby and not the light shining on the wall in the background.
3. Compose by using the Rule of Thirds - which is explained everywhere on the web
4. After a while, you may want to consider getting a 50mm prime lens. They start off at $100 or so. Reason for this lens is that it can allow 2-4 times more light through to the camera than your kit lens. Also, because of it's large lens opening, you can further experiment with shallow areas of focus, which is called depth of field (DOF). This will isolate your subject in a way that's impossible with a zoom lens on your camera.

Post your pictures so we can see how you're doing, plus it'll help us help you.

Good luck,

Last edited by FrankC; 10-24-2012 at 05:02 PM.
10-27-2012, 06:58 PM   #7
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What I always say:

Stop thnking in terms of "settings". Most settngs *no not matter*, except for the three that *always* matter: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. These are the basics of exposure. The trick in low light is to get a fast enough shutter speed, and that is done by using a lagre and apertur ena as high an ISO as you need. None of these are simple "settings" you'd make in a menu then leave alone (well, ISO, maybe) - they are thingns you control shot by shot. Or set up to allow the camera to control shot by shot. Again, your starting point is to learn everything about these three parameters,a nd forget that any other camera settngs even exist.

10-31-2012, 05:24 PM   #8
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at 3 months she's probably rolling overand sticking her head up or will be soon. Like others have said, get down at her level, always shoot kids at eye level or lower. And dont go out wasting money on lenses until you learn the basics, thats if you want to. At first i just wanted to take pictures but after a year now with my K20 i have learned a lot, most from this site and a hole lot of youtube videos, and i can see it in my photos. I used to think i took great photos, now i look back at them and they SUCK, i mean like give a 3 year old an iphone sucked.

If you start to realize that taking pictures of moving babies indoors in low light can be super frustrating looking at noisy or blurry pictures then perhaps look into a flash. You can get a yn560 cheap and its good once you learn how to use it, or if you like auto then go for a ttl flash but make sure it can tilt back so you can bounce it off the ceiling or wall.
10-31-2012, 08:21 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the help, I have lots of messing around to do!

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