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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EOS Digital Cameras 
Thread started 20 Apr 2009 (Monday) 08:06
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I'm sure my answer is posted somewhere

 
tawcat
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Apr 20, 2009 08:06 |  #1

Many years ago, in excess of 30, I was big into 35mm SLR photography. At some point down the line I got tired of "bulk." So I shed all my 35mm stuff for more compact point and shoot cameras.

Here I am that many years later going through a revival of thought and want to once again experience the fun I had in photography.

So I ran out and bought, on friend's recommendation, a Canon Rebel XS. I guess an okay camera and thus far have enjoyed it. My lens selection includes a Canon 18-55; Quantaray 70-300, which I don't care for; and just purchased a Tamron 18-270.

In the full auto mode I am taking okay shots. However, I have forgotten all I new about f stops and aperture settings. Tried messing around with manual settings this weekend and got a lot of white-out and black-out pics!

Can someone provide a quick down and dirty about these settings?

Also when in the manual mode should I click the lens auto focus feature to off?

Thanks so much.


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haydskies
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Apr 20, 2009 08:20 |  #2

Also when in the manual mode should I click the lens auto focus feature to off?

Only unless you want to manually focus. The manual mode on your camera body relates to exposure (ie light level), not focus. You can still auto focus in manual mode.

Basically, the reason your images are under or overexposed is because there is an incorrect level of light hitting the sensor: either too much or not enough. The level of light is controlled by three things:

1. Aperture (f/stop) - the amount of light coming through the lens
2. Shutter Speed - the period (generally a fraction of second) the shutter is exposing the sensor for, and
3. ISO, or sensor sensitivity (aka ASA, "film speed")

Aperture is expressed as a fraction in the form of f/*. The lower the f/ value, the wider the aperture is, ie the more light coming in.
Aperture values look something like this:
f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, etc.
Each f/stop lets in half the amount of light as the one before it. Eg, f/5.6 lets in half the amount of light of f/4, and so on.

Shutter speed is self explanatory.

ISO controls the sensor sensitivity, also in halves/doubles. ISO 100 lets in half the amount of light of ISO 200, and so on.


To expose an image correctly, you generally want to meter at 0. In your viewfinder and on your display, there will be a bar that looks something like this:
<------|------>
This is a light meter.
A correctly exposed image generally sits in the middle. The more to the left you sit, the darker; the more to the right, the lighter.


SO

1. Set an ISO: the smaller the value, the less noise, but the less light sensitive. ISO 400 might be a good happy medium to begin with.
2. Set an aperture value: to begin with, you might shoot "wide open": probably f/3.5 - f/5.6 on your lenses. This means as much light as possible is coming through the lens.
If you are shooting in AV (aperture priority) mode, that's all you need to do. The camera will set the shutter speed.
If you're shooting in manual, step 3 is to set the shutter speed based on your light meter. ie, if the light meter is pointing left, your image is underexposed, so you will want to increase the amount of light, and hence decrease the shutter speed. So, you might want to go from 1/250 of a second to 1/125, or 1/60, or 1/30, and so on.


And you should be good from there. There's plenty to read on the net.


trusty 20d, loud-mouth tammy 17-50mm 2.8, beautiful 70-200mm 4 L, humble 50mm 1.4
and doing it old-school with a 60's nikkor 105mm 2.5 MF.

  
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guntoter
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Apr 20, 2009 08:24 |  #3

The book "Understanding Exposure" is probably the most recommended one on this forum, and it really helped me.

But a quicker review of some of the basics is in this STICKY over in the Canon EF & EF-S Lens forum:
https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=249006


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HoosierJoe
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Apr 20, 2009 08:27 |  #4

What they said above. It will come back to you. Read your manual and use the basic zones for a while until you figure things out.

Keep shooting!



Ain't nothin but a thing.

  
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Al ­ Mac
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Apr 20, 2009 08:45 as a reply to  @ haydskies's post |  #5

My advice is to stop shooting in Manual mode for now. Go back to it when you know why you need it and how to do it correctly. Until then, it's going to get you poorly exposed or poorly focused shots.

Personally, I'm going to work in RAW, but I'm willing to use software to edit my shots. (Canon's Digital Photo Professional came with your camera and can do this at a basic level.) If you're not willing to edit, or in certain other cases even when you will edit, you may prefer to work in JPG, because you can work faster in burst mode, for example.

Learn to shoot in Av (aperture priority) or Tv mode (shutter priority) for now. How do you decide which to use? Think about your priority for the shot.

Is the subject moving? Is the light very low or very high? Am I using a big zoom lens, without IS (Image Stabilization) and handholding? I'd generally pick Tv first. My shutter speed is my top priority. I will set the shutter speed and the camera picks the aperture to give a balanced exposure on neutral-toned subjects (grass, but not snow, nor something very dark).

Maybe I want to freeze motion. In Tv, I want a fast shutter speed, maybe 1/250 (the viewfinder will say "250") for a slow moving subject (a flower in a 5-10mph breeze) I want to freeze. I might want a very fast shutter speed like 1/2000 for a fast moving subject like a racing motorbike. I have to have enough light to get this, and I may need to set ISO higher to do so. (If the aperture number is low, like 2.8, or 5.6, and is blinking in the viewfinder, I don't have enough light to achieve my set shutter speed.) One of the best parts of digital is you can change ISO to fix this issue without replacing the film "halfway through the roll". Set ISO higher and try again. (On the other hand, if the aperture number is high and blinking, I have too much light and need a lower ISO or an ND filter on the lens.) Am I on my shutter speed without the aperture blinking, and my subject is focused? I take the shot. I look at the display to see if the shot came out. I want the histogram showing on the display, and a balanced graph for neutral subjects. That tells me I'm close enough on the exposure to edit it and have it come out right.

Or, I may want a slow shutter speed, for a particular effect like having water in a waterfall appear silky. I'm still going to use Tv mode. I probably need my camera on a tripod for this, depending on my lens' focal length, but I might set a shutter speed of 1/15. A lens without IS and handheld is likely to give a blurry shot with such a low shutter speed.

I'll use Av when shutter speed isn't critical (stationary subject, average light level) but the depth-of-field-- how much of the image will appear in focus is important. Then my aperture is my priority; I set that, and the camera picks a shutter speed to give a good exposure on a neutral toned subject for that aperture. I might want a low aperture, like 2.8 or so, though each lens can only open up so wide (small aperture number) at a certain focal length. You can't set a wider aperture than the lens allows, no matter how you set anything else. With f/2.8 or larger (smaller f-number) aperture, if your lens allows it, the depth-of-field is very narrow, which does a great job of softening distracting background detail. Some lenses don't give their sharpest images though at extreme aperture settings, so if I'm going to enlarge a lot, I may want f/8 or f/11 if the depth-of-field isn't critical and shutter speed isn't critical. Or I may want the greatest depth-of-field I can get. Then I may need a tiny aperture (large f/ number) and again, a tripod, an Image Stabilized lens, or a high ISO so I can handhold my camera and still freeze the subject, because with the tiny aperture, I'll have to have a slow shutter speed.

Learn the triangle of correct exposure: the three factors which interact: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and how they affect other aspects of a good shot such as focus and DOF. Later you can work on compensating exposure for subjects that are much brighter or darker than neutral, like snow or something nearly black. For those subjects, the meter often does not give a reading that will get you a good exposure even after editing, so you have to compensate. That's another long post or some time reading Understanding Exposure.




  
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tstowe
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Apr 20, 2009 09:07 |  #6

I teach photography at the high school level and I always tell my students that shooting manual is like a riding on a three way teeter-totter.

If your pictures are white either the shutter is open for too long that lets too much light in; the f-stop is too low (large aperture) and lets too much light in; or the ISO is set too high, making the sensor too sensitive.

If the pictures are black it’s the opposite, not enough light or not sensitive enough.

Try changing one at a time. Dial the f-stop up and take a second shot. If it’s tool dark, knock the shutter speed down.

That’s what’s great about digital; you can adjust on the fly. After a while you will, for the most part, know what the settings should be for the given light (or be pretty close).


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tawcat
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Apr 20, 2009 09:12 as a reply to  @ Al Mac's post |  #7

Thank you thank you thank you. I will surely be trying all these tips. One of the big things I want to get back to is more focusing of the subject and les of the background!

Thank you all again for such a quick replies.


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jxg
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Apr 20, 2009 09:18 |  #8

+1 on the recommendation of reading Understanding Exposure. I took many years off from my 35MM days, and I spent 3 weeks reading that book right after I got my 50D. I think it was the best move i made. I think i am going to get it back out from the library again.


John

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Westx
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Apr 20, 2009 09:25 as a reply to  @ tawcat's post |  #9

tawcat

Use the meter in you viewfinder when shooting in manual to get close to the right exposure. Adjust shutter speed, aperture or ISO until you get the neddle at zero. Like the others have said though shot in Av or Tv and make note of what the camera is telling you it thinks is a correct exposure that way you can get close when you go to manul.

Good luck and great learning. I was like you back in January. I quit shooting film about 9 years ago when my last film camera gave up the ghost. Has taken a while to get into DSLR but I am having a blast learning it all over again.




  
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tstowe
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Apr 20, 2009 09:31 |  #10

tawcat wrote in post #7766862 (external link)
Thank you thank you thank you. I will surely be trying all these tips. One of the big things I want to get back to is more focusing of the subject and les of the background!

Thank you all again for such a quick replies.

I don't know about the Rebel series but the xxD series cameras (20D, 30D, 40D, etc) will let you select certain focus points when you are in manual mode. For example, you can turn all of them off except the center point.


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www.TheTalon.SmugMug.c​om (external link)

  
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tawcat
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Apr 20, 2009 12:16 as a reply to  @ tstowe's post |  #11

Again thanks to all. Yes, a learning curve is ahead for sure! This weekend I attempted to try different settings shooting the same subject matter. Figure this would be the best way to tell which setting was correct, or close to correct.

I'll get a few of those posted within the next few days for criticism!!


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