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05-03-2010, 04:13 PM   #1
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How do you where to start with Aperture and SHutter speed??

is there a trick I am missing? I never know what shutter and aperture to start at.

For example, if i want shallow DOF, i know use f5.6, but I don't know which shutter! My backgrounds blown out and i keep rolling the dial and taking a sample shot until it looks right. sometimes 5 shots!

is there a trick I am missing to get close to what I need instead of winging it?? like can i put it on P mode, check its stats, then start from there????


do i make sense?

05-03-2010, 04:23 PM   #2
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When I startet using my first DSLR (K200D) about a year ago I used the AV-mode a lot. The camera chooses the shutterspeed after you've chosen the aperture. I still use it a lot and it gives you some insight in how both work together. But the best thing you can do is read up about the basics of photography. There is already a lot of information on the internet. I can't recommend any sites I used because they are in Dutch. Just Google "Aperture and Shutter" and I am sure you will get some very useful information.

Good luck!
05-03-2010, 04:27 PM   #3
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ive been using AV a lot too. but times my subject is real dark and the background is real bright!

drives me nuts, then i remember the settings, switch to manual and adjust from there. but if i am on a 1/60 shutter and to to 1/125 its still bad, one time i had to go all wa to 1/400! and i didnt know.

so i was hoping there was a way that i wouldnt have to guess so much on how FAR to switch too.
05-03-2010, 04:48 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by hockmasm Quote
ive been using AV a lot too. but times my subject is real dark and the background is real bright!

drives me nuts, then i remember the settings, switch to manual and adjust from there. but if i am on a 1/60 shutter and to to 1/125 its still bad, one time i had to go all wa to 1/400! and i didnt know.

so i was hoping there was a way that i wouldnt have to guess so much on how FAR to switch too.
You're camera is measuring the light of the subject you are focussing on and the surrounding light sources can be quite different, so the surroundings can be either blown out or to dark. In many situations you can't have it both; you have to find a setting that preserves the best possible lighting for your subject and the background. To do that you have to compromise and you do that by metering the light from another source. For instance your hand of some gray material. It's a bit trial and error and there is method to this madness. I've you search this forum for instance for the word "exposure" I expect you will find some useful information. But expect to put some time in learning to use a DSLR; it's worth it! "Understanding Exposure" from Bryan Peterson is mentioned here quit a lot as a very good book to guide you in the right direction.

So in short you have to tell you're camera where to meter the light from otherwise the camera 'makes the choice' with unpredictable results like a blown background or a subject that is to dark.

05-03-2010, 04:50 PM   #5
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Here's how I do it. Set aperture as the situation calls for, use the magical green button for a general idea of exposure, take a shot, if exposure's off take another. This assuming you're in M mode tho.
05-03-2010, 05:07 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by hockmasm Quote
ive been using AV a lot too. but times my subject is real dark and the background is real bright!
Well, if that is the case then there is nothing you can do about it. The camera has a limited dynamic range (all cameras and film do) so if you have both something dark (subject) and something bright (background) then the scene is beyond what the camera can capture.

If you think about it and had a brighter exposure then by the time your subject is midtone (not dark) then your background would be over-exposed (completely white). The exact oposite would happen with a darker exposure, that is if your background is not bright, you subject would be dark.

Note that the same is not true if you use flash because the flash burst does not give more light at slower shutter-speed, as with ambient light.

Any of this makes sense?

- Itai
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05-03-2010, 05:15 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Itai Quote
Well, if that is the case then there is nothing you can do about it. The camera has a limited dynamic range (all cameras and film do) so if you have both something dark (subject) and something bright (background) then the scene is beyond what the camera can capture.
May I dramatically disagree with this?

The point is, you can't get a perfect exposure of a piece of coal sitting a snowball. Either the snowball will be a bit overexposed, or the coal will be a bit underexposed.

But you can still get a great shot of it.

It's a matter of metering for what you WANT to be perfectly exposed. The camera has nothing to do with it.
05-03-2010, 05:52 PM   #8
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so am i doing what others do? focus on the subject, set my aperture take a test shot with green button, if subject to dark, start slowing shutter.

rinse and repeat?

is there no magic to it or hidden sense of...."im using f4 and i Know i need a 1/60 shutter speed!"

05-03-2010, 07:01 PM - 1 Like   #9
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On the right of your viewfinder you should be able to see a number that goes from 0 and changes into the positive or negative. This is your camera's exposure meter. In simple terms, you want that number to be at or near 0. If it's something like -2 then the picture will come out underexposed, +2 means it'll come out overexposed.

So, for instance, if you're framing a picture of a person's face in 'M' mode and your exposure meter is showing -1.5 in your viewfinder, you could simply lower your shutter speed until that number is 0. That shot SHOULD come out looking like you'd want it. If you're in Av mode and the meter is showing the same number, you could open the aperture a bit more to let in more light and the shutter speed should automatically set to the proper setting.

You will notice that as you point at different things while your viewfinder is active, the numbers will start to change according to what's in front of it. That's the meter at work, basically.

I would definitely get a book called 'understanding exposure'. It helped me out quite a bit in the beginning. And it's not expensive at all.

Last edited by fazer; 05-03-2010 at 07:48 PM.
05-03-2010, 08:39 PM   #10
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IMO, the first thing you need to do is read up about the basics of photography.
Especially the aperture and shutter speed.
Google on the subject "aperture" and "shutter speed" and you have tons of information at your finger tips.

I do agree with fazer assessments.

Cheers.
05-03-2010, 09:06 PM   #11
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Actually...

I take shots like this all the time in Av Mode. The trick, it seems, is to change the camera's metering mode. Unfortunately I'm not familiar with the K-X so I don't know where it is in the menu or if this is even possible, but my K100D and the K200D allows you to go into the menu and change what portion of the frame the camera meters off. Default settings seems to be set to the entire frame; I always change it to spot metering so that it takes only a small circle into account. I also changed the custom settings so that auto-exposure is always linked to the autofocus point (because these cameras allow you to choose different points to focus, which I believe the K-X does not allow).

Here's an example of a picture I took in Av Mode that would have been ruined had I chose to allow the camera to use the entire frame for its metering:



And if all else fails, I take a shot, press "INFO" to see what camera settings the camera chose, and then if I want it brighter, I decrease the shutter speed and if I want it darker, I increase the shutter speed while keeping everything else the same (I'm a big believer in shooting wide-open so far as the aperture goes, and I never have auto-ISO enabled, instead choosing to always use the lower ISO I can handhold).
05-04-2010, 08:02 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
May I dramatically disagree with this?

The point is, you can't get a perfect exposure of a piece of coal sitting a snowball. Either the snowball will be a bit overexposed, or the coal will be a bit underexposed.

But you can still get a great shot of it.

It's a matter of metering for what you WANT to be perfectly exposed. The camera has nothing to do with it.
Well, yes, you can be wrong No, seriously, I was trying to adress the OP's issue. You can absolutely have images where parts of it are under-exposed or over-exposed on purpose. I have no issue with that.

Now if you want everything exposed then you need to do something in order to get within the dynamic range of the camera. Coming back later or earlier, changing the angle of view, fill-flash, etc.

- Itai
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05-04-2010, 08:03 AM   #13
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Also, if you frequently are in backlit situations (background is bright but subject is in shadow), you can use flash fill to improve things.

Read the manual, read more resources about photography and exposure in general, then consider reading Lighting 101 at strobist.com for lots of info about flash exposure and balancing flash with ambient.
05-04-2010, 08:19 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by K McCall Quote

Here's an example of a picture I took in Av Mode that would have been ruined had I chose to allow the camera to use the entire frame for its metering:


Very nice photo! was there much post processing involved?
05-04-2010, 08:20 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by hockmasm Quote
is there a trick I am missing? I never know what shutter and aperture to start at.

For example, if i want shallow DOF, i know use f5.6, but I don't know which shutter! My backgrounds blown out and i keep rolling the dial and taking a sample shot until it looks right. sometimes 5 shots!

is there a trick I am missing to get close to what I need instead of winging it?? like can i put it on P mode, check its stats, then start from there????


do i make sense?
QuoteOriginally posted by hockmasm Quote
so am i doing what others do? focus on the subject, set my aperture take a test shot with green button, if subject to dark, start slowing shutter.

rinse and repeat?

is there no magic to it or hidden sense of...."im using f4 and i Know i need a 1/60 shutter speed!"
Do a little reading on the Zone system. Digital or film, it doesn't matter. What you want to get out of it is a basic understanding of what your camera is going to do, with a particular scene with respect to metering. Then set your camera to Spot metering, and black and white, no compensation (at first), no corrections (at first), Turn off Auto ISO and set it to 100 or 200 (at first), record RAW files as well (Always), and then go out and practice.

Whether you set to P mode, Av mode, Tv mode, it doesn't matter. You're always going to get basically the same exposure with respect to the lighting and clipping. You are telling the camera to give priority to one of the 3 parameters and letting it choose the others based on the metering (Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO). Once you get a grasp on what the meter is telling you (and the camera), your photos will benefit greatly from it.

You may have to (translated, WILL have to) learn to do at least some minimal post processing to get the most out of your photos.

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