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02-09-2010, 03:57 AM   #1
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Mode m exposure problem?

I am a newcomer to photography and I use a pentax k-x and a kit lens with no filter and no tripod.
I have been learning in manual mode and I can't seem to get the hamg of exposure. The only way I can get my exposure close to 0.0 is to have a shutter speed of about 1 second. Is there any way to directly change my exposure? By the way I was in a room with low light and had my flash on. I've read this camera is supposed to be great in low light situations.
Anyone have any ideas on how I can correct this situation?

02-09-2010, 04:55 AM   #2
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If you are in a low lit room with the kit lens and you use the standard ISO setting (100 ISO) the exposure time of 1s is probably fine. In such a dark environment you have two choices to get faster shutter speeds:
1. use a higher ISO setting, i.e. 1600ISO or 3200ISO
2. use a faster lens, aka a lens with a larger max. aperture, like a 50/1.4 or a 35/2.0

In most circumstances a combination of both remedies will be used, like 800ISO + a faster lens set to 2.8 or so (to have some depth of field)

The camera in M mode will not take the flash into account for setting the shutter speed! The flash exposure will be correct, as the camera will control the flash output via its P-TTL control, but it will use the shutter speed you selcted manually (after all, that's what M mode is all about).

You can manually choose another shutter speed, faster than 1s and fire the flash and will get the ambient light more underexposed, the faster that shutter speed is. In these situations the art of photography is, to balance the amount of wanted ambient light with the flash. And that must be done then with the matching mix of ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

Be aware (but you probably have noticed that in your images already), that longer shutter speeds will lead to visible camera shakle and you get a blurred base image, which is overlayed by a sharp flash image.

Ben
02-09-2010, 07:18 AM   #3
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I do not know where beginners get the idea that they need manual mode. Manual mode doesn’t teach you anything. You need to learn about the meter, why it’s telling you what it’s telling you, and how to control it. The best way to do that is with Program mode (P) and Exposure Compensation (EV Compensation on the K-x). THAT’S what you should really start with. That’s the +/- button right by the shutter. It’s a very important function. That’s why it’s right by the shutter.

The K-x is a bad camera for shooting in manual mode. The reason is that you don’t have graphic feedback. Most cameras have a horizontal meter in the viewfinder…exactly like the meter on the LCD screen (when in M mode.) That makes it much easier to adjust the settings of the camera because you have easily recognized feedback. The K-x viewfinder, however, only gives a + or – and a number. So you always have to read and understand the number to know if you need to move one or two clicks or if you need to move several stops. I find it way too distracting. Plus, all this trouble doesn’t teach you anything.

After understanding how to expose, you can then learn about how shutter and aperture affect the image. That’s best done with the A and S auto modes. Again, manual doesn’t help you one bit.

As a beginner, here are the two things you need to learn first…how to compensate exposure, and how to take a picture that is worth keeping.

To learn how to take a picture worth keeping, read Jodie Coston’s tutorial. Here are links to the main page and to lesson 1…
Classroom - MorgueFile
Jodie Coston: Lesson 1 - MorgueFile

To learn how to expose properly, read the following...

Here is the most primary premise you need to understand…the meter tries to make whatever it’s metering into middle gray. That’s it. From that, all other exposure knowledge can be deduced.

The meter does not give you correct exposure...it gives you a standard exposure. That standard is middle gray. It’s supposed to match what our eyes are doing, and that’s why it works. However, our eyes are a little smarter than a meter, and they do not get tricked by certain situations. For example, a meter will expose a black cat as middle gray. It will also expose white snow as middle gray. But our eyes don’t make those mistakes.

So this is where the understanding comes in. If you look at a scene and say to yourself, “there are many black items in this scene, but I know my meter is going to try to make them middle gray” then you’re on the right track to understanding exposure. The next thing for you to deduce is, “to make black into grey requires more exposure (more light brightens the black.) So the camera is going to overexpose black.” Finally, you put your understanding and deductions to work by saying, “therefore I will set my EV Compensation setting to -1 to reduce the exposure.”

The reverse is true for a snow scene. The meter tries to make the snow grey. To make white into grey requires less exposure (less light darkens the white.) The camera is going to underexpose white. Therefore, set EV Compensation to +1 to increase the exposure.

At this point you should have all the understanding you need. Everything else is simply technique and experience...like learning to drive. You may start knowing all the rules, but you need to practice so that you can apply the rules without really thinking about it. This is the same thing...so that when you see that black cat or white snow you automatically know you may need to under or over expose.

One last thing to do…use the instructions in your manual to set the metering mode to Center-Weighted. Now you’re ready to learn about exposure. Practice changing the EC on a scene and review the effects. What you want is to be able to recognize when a scene is going to fool the meter. That's when you compensate the exposure by an amount determined by your intelligence and experience.

Good luck!
02-09-2010, 08:40 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Graystar Quote
I do not know where beginners get the idea that they need manual mode. Manual mode doesn’t teach you anything. You need to learn about the meter, why it’s telling you what it’s telling you, and how to control it. The best way to do that is with Program mode (P) and Exposure Compensation (EV Compensation on the K-x). THAT’S what you should really start with. ..........................
Good luck!
I disagree with that completely. That's like trying to learn to fly by putting it on Auto Pilot and trying to figure out what it is doing and why.
You first need to learn what the aperture and shutter speed controls do and how they relate to each other and how they affect the outcome.


Last edited by Parallax; 02-09-2010 at 08:50 AM.
02-09-2010, 09:15 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
Learn what the aperture and shutter speed controls do and how they relate to each other and how they affect the outcome.
What does manual mode teach you? How to shift the aperture and shutter so that the meter is centered? Anyone who needs more than 30 seconds to learn that should probably give it up.

Ditto for anyone who needs more than two minutes to understand that slow shutters make everything blurry, and small aperture numbers make backgrounds blurry.

But after having invested two and a half quality minutes in learning what the aperture and shutter do...what have beginners learned? Their winter snow shots will still be underexposed. Their dark subjects will be overexposed. So what do you tell them? That they have to try different settings until they get it right and then remember that for the next time? That trial and error is the path to learning exposure?

Nonsense! That is not the modern way! The modern way is to use aperture and shutter for effect…not for exposure. That's what the auto modes do for you. That’s why so many love the Pentax TAv mode, and lament its exclusion on the K-x. Personally, I’ve never had a camera with TAv mode so I can’t comment on it. I’m a P mode man myself…I let the camera select the initial exposure because sometimes there simply isn’t time to do anything other than press the shutter. But if there is time, a simple turn of the dial lets me select any aperture or shutter that’s viable under the current lighting. But no matter what, the camera is always ready to take a capture at my compensated exposure setting.

Understanding the meter is far, far more important than understanding the shutter and aperture. You’ll get more well-exposed images using P-mode, EC, and an understanding of the meter, than you ever will by knowing every single little thing there is to know about aperture and shutter speed.
02-09-2010, 10:21 AM   #6
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I agree that it is important to understand and learn how the metering works (matrix, CW and spot) and the relationship between ISO, aperture and shutter speed . Once you understand the metering then learning any of the modes become a lot easier. I am not particular tied to one mode only. All the modes have their pro and cons. Depending on the situation, one may be more prefereable than the others. For manual K mount lens and/or manual/auto flash, you must use manual mode. For freezing fast sport action, Tv may be better. For shallow DOF shot, Av may be better. For on-the-go point and shoot style, P mode may be better. For very tricky lighting condition, manual mode may be better.
P mode with hyper-program can also works like Av or Tv.

Last edited by ma318; 02-09-2010 at 10:32 AM.
02-09-2010, 11:55 AM   #7
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I don't have ev mode. I do have
m - manual exposure
av - aperture priority w/ auto exposure
tv. - shutter priority w/ auto exposure
sv - sensitivity priority w/auto exposure
p - program w/auto exposure
night scene
portrait
landscape
Macro
Moving object
Night scene portrait
flash off

What is sensitivity priority by the way?
And what mode is best to start on that is like ev?
02-09-2010, 12:07 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by CrossStealth Quote
I don't have ev mode....
...
What is sensitivity priority by the way?
And what mode is best to start on that is like ev?
Av, Tv, Sv, and P modes put one aspect of exposure under your control, on the E-dial, and automatically adjust all the others for you. The Sv mode puts ISO control on the E-dial, and selects a shutter and aperture for you.

EV Compensation is not a mode. EV Compensation is a function that adjusts the meter to read brighter or darker than usual. It is controlled by the +/- button that is next to the shutter. In M mode, you push that button to adjust the aperture. But in any other mode you push that button to adjust the EV Compensation.

EV Compensation appears on the LCD under the ISO.

I think the best mode to start in is P, and use EV Compensation to make the scene darker or lighter, depending on your evaluation of the scene.

The camera thinks that everything in front of it is middle gray. So bright things, like snow, come out too dark. The reverse is true for dark things. So you change the EV Compensation to account for subjects that are unusually dark or light.

02-09-2010, 12:14 PM   #9
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sensitivity priority lets you select the ISO and the camera will automatically select the aperture and shutter speed. EV is refering to exposure compensation (see you camera menu). You can use the exposure compensation dial with P, Av, Tv, Sv.
In M, you dial up/down either the shutter speed or aperture yourself to get exposure compensation.

http://blog.corporatefineart.com/2009/04/which-exposure-mode-to-use-av-tv.html

If you are a DSLR beginner and just want to get some nice pictures as soon as possible, you should use "P" or any of the appropriate scene mode (see your camera menu) for now. Once you got some pictures under your belt, you can start exploring exposure compensation and the other modes.

Last edited by ma318; 02-09-2010 at 12:28 PM.
02-09-2010, 12:35 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Graystar Quote
What does manual mode teach you? .............
It teaches you about photography, as opposed to Program mode which teaches you how to look through the viewfinder and ignore everything else.
If I understand your premise correctly, nobody knew anything about photography until the first camera with program mode was introduced.
02-09-2010, 12:42 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
If I understand your premise correctly, nobody knew anything about photography until the first camera with program mode was introduced.
You did not understand my premise correctly.
02-09-2010, 01:17 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by CrossStealth Quote
I am a newcomer to photography and I use a pentax k-x and a kit lens with no filter and no tripod.
I have been learning in manual mode and I can't seem to get the hamg of exposure. The only way I can get my exposure close to 0.0 is to have a shutter speed of about 1 second. Is there any way to directly change my exposure? By the way I was in a room with low light and had my flash on. I've read this camera is supposed to be great in low light situations.
Anyone have any ideas on how I can correct this situation?

Pick up and read Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure"

It covers some of the very basic concepts of photography.
02-09-2010, 01:18 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by CrossStealth Quote
I am a newcomer to photography and I use a pentax k-x and a kit lens with no filter and no tripod.
I have been learning in manual mode and I can't seem to get the hamg of exposure. The only way I can get my exposure close to 0.0 is to have a shutter speed of about 1 second. Is there any way to directly change my exposure? By the way I was in a room with low light and had my flash on. I've read this camera is supposed to be great in low light situations. Anyone have any ideas on how I can correct this situation?

The camera can not alter the laws of physics. In your particular lighting situation (and at the same ISO and f-stop), a Nikon D3 would also require a one second exposure.
02-09-2010, 01:28 PM   #14
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The OP really needs to read the above book to understand exposure. Otherwise using manual mode without understanding exposure will only cause more confusion and frustration.

You can get a faster shutter speed by using a higher ISO. With manual mode, you have to increase the ISO manually. With P, Av, Tv modes, the camera will increase the ISO automatically for you (unless you specifically customized the camera to not do this).
02-09-2010, 01:41 PM   #15
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I agree with much of what has been posted, even though some of it seems contradictory at first. I'd sort it by saying this:

I don't care what mode you start off in. I don't care what mode you end up in. All I care about is that you fully understand what shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are - what they do, how they affect the image, and how the relate to each other to affect exposure.

If you understand this, then using *any( mode of the camera will be equally simple.

If you don't understand this, then all modes will remain a mystery.

For instance, the OP mentioned needing 1 second shutter speed. Well, OK - but that has *nothing* to do with what mode you are in. That has everything to do with what aperture and ISO is being used. *Any* mode on *any* camera would require that same 1 second shutter speed given the same aperture and ISO. Understanding that allows you to figure out how to get the shutter speed faster: you need to either make the aperture larger (smaller f-number) or ISO higher. *How* you go about doing that will vary between modes and between cameras, but the basic principles are absolutely constant. So that's where you need to start - understanding those principles.
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