Using a Camera properly

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by Johnny Thunder, Sep 16, 2007.

  1. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    Evening everyone. I am new to this section of the forums.
    I have just got back from holiday in Hong Kong, and have been going through my pics.(My camera is a Fuji Finepix S7000 Zoom.)

    Like a typical tourist, almost every shot is on auto. I have lots of pictures to remind me of my holiday, but looking through, and reading this section for the last couple of hours, they could have been so much better.
    The only thing I did that was not on auto, were night shots from Victoria peak.
    Here, I messed with shutter speeds. I had no idea what I was doing, so I took lots of pics on different settings, and thankfully, got about five that were OK.

    Firstly, I need to know if this camera is good enough to start to learn with, or if I would be best advised to upgrade.
    Also, could you point me to any guides etc, that you consider good for a beginner to start getting to grips with the basics.

    Thank you for any help.

    John.
     
  2. Tobers

    Tobers
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    Hi John,

    So you went to Hong Kong and didn't buy loads of cheap digital SLRs and lenses :eek:. Not many on here would have such restraint, certainly not me.

    You can learn with any camera. I haven't used the S7000 but it gets pretty good reports as a "bridge" camera halfway between the point & shoots and the full size SLRs. The key thing to get right is composition. Learning how to compose a picture so it looks right is a key skill that any camera will let you do.

    You've also got aperture priority and shutter priority on the camera. Probably most useful for you initially is aperture priority. Say you were taking a portrait pic of someone - if you want the background all blurry then use a wide aperture (with a low number like f2.8). If you want the background all sharp so you can identify the location for example, choose a small aperture (high number - I think you can go to f8 on yours).

    Easiest thing is to experiement. It's free so try using aperture priority to start with and take the same scene at each different aperture you have available and see what it looks like. Then choose a different scene and try again. You'll soon figure it out.

    Good luck - lots of folks on here will be happy to help you.
     
  3. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    I did look at lots of cameras over there, but had no idea what was any good.....
    Guess I will have to go back.
     
  4. SomeVorn

    SomeVorn
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    Very jealous of you visiting hong kong about now, best time to get some shots from the peak were about a half an hour before and after sunrise - I only did it once about 5 years ago, I had a disposable camera and it was hazy. Gutted. If only I'd had my d80.......sadly the d80 can't remove haze.........
     
  5. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    If I set the camera to aperture priority, do I have to do anything with the shutter speed, or does the camera do that?

    I also see people using the flash in broad daylight. What benefit does this have?
     
  6. SomeVorn

    SomeVorn
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    Aperture priority mode allows you to have full control over what part of your image you want to keep in focus. it also allows in more light, a wider aperture of 2.8 allows more light through than an aperture of 3.5 etc. The camera will take care of everything else.

    Using flash in broad daylight is normally referred to as fill-flash - it all comes down to that limitations of the camera - where our eyes can see a broad range of light and shadow, a camera sensor can only see a fraction of that range. In direct sunlight, there will be parts of a persons face or parts of the scene that aren't well lit or darker then everywhere else. DSLR's allow for a lot of control over these kind of aspects, which is why professionals use them and they cost a lot of money. So fill flash is used to try and compensate for the dark areas - for example if your subject has quite deep set eyes and the sun is at its highest, the camera will expose for 99% of the scene that is bright, leaving the subject with dark eyes - or perfectly exposed eyes and overexposed everything else. Using flash kind of fills in the gaps etc.

    Sorry if this is overblown and long, i'm sure other people on here can give you a much shorter (or if I've made any mistakes, correct) version.
     
  7. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    I can see the effects of aperture priority now, cheers everyone.

    What effect does the ISO number have on pictures?


    If I show some pics that I have taken, could you tell me how I would have been best to set up the camera?

    Cheers.

    John.
     
  8. SomeVorn

    SomeVorn
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    First time I've done this you know, tried to explain things I've learnt over the past few years.

    Ok long story short, ISO is the level of sensitivity of the sensor in your camera. Low ISO means you are either planning on long exposures or shooting in bright conditions. ISO 800 - more sensitive to light, better for low light conditions.

    (Long story - when film was used, there was a certain chemical containing silver which affected how much light the film needed to expose correctly, I THINK that the "S" in ISO stands for silver - now that digital sensors have arrived, they use ISO-equivilant or ISO-e. Now you don't have to change film, just change the ISO.

    The catch - Depending on your camera and sensor, pushing up the iso will create noise - speckles on your picture that make it look a ten year old print - not always a bad thing but most of the time noise means a lower quality image. The more money you spend on the body, the higher the iso range. Different brands also cope with different ISO's as well - canon's current generation tend to cope better with higher ISO, at least on the Nikon D80 or canon equivilant. Just don't mention the D3 to canon fans, that ISO can go up to 3200 without significant loss of quality (according to nikon).

    If you are really interested, Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are actually all linked. If you were to double your ISO from 100 to 200, you could close your aperture and maintain the same shutter speed. Or leave the aperture open and increase shutter speed.

    Try and think about what is stopping the light getting recorded and appearing on your camera's LCD.
    APERTURE - SHUTTER - SENSOR. If you increase ones ability to gather light - say lowering the shutter speed (meaning light will be hitting the sensor for fractionally longer) you can compensate by either lowering the ISO or closing the aperture. By using these three together, thats probably the real secret to correct exposures and allows you much more creativity. Slow shutter speeds will blur moving subjects, high speeds will freeze them in their tracks. Wide aperture - 2.8 etc - on a zoom lens will throw the background out of focus, allowing you to isolate your subject. Apertures of 8-11 will appear very sharp from foreground to background (as long as you focus about a third into your scene for a landscape) - its only a trick, our eyes simply can't see that some areas aren't in focus but we think they are.

    Point and shoot cameras will certainly have a few of these options, Brige cameras will have more but again, DSLR's give you complete control over all this stuff.

    I can try and help with any images you put up but wait for some of the more distinguished board regulars if I were you, some of these guys really know what they are talking about and have been working in/enjoying photography for more than my 3 years.

    Hope some of this helps, I remember not understanding a lot of these terms but once you start to see the effect they have on the photo's you take, everything just falls into place.
     
  9. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    Thank you for the reply, I think I am starting to understand a little.............
    I guess, as someone else has said previously, I will have to take lots of experimental shots.

    I will also put up some shots for your comments after work tonight.

    John.
     
  10. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    Here are a couple of pics from my holiday.
    Could you please tell me what sort of settings you would have chosen, and the reasoning behind them.

    Please bear in mind that this first shot is through my hotel window.

    [​IMG]


    This second shot is not brilliant due to the fact that I was not using a tripod, but what I am basically after, is what sort of settings you would have again used.

    [​IMG]


    Could you also explain what RAW format is. I have seen this referred to lots on the forum, and I have found it in my camera settings. Is this a format that I should be using.

    Once again, thank you for any help.

    John.
     
  11. baldrick

    baldrick
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    RAW is basically a digital negative and is effectively the raw data from the camera's sensor and each brand has it's own format eg. .PEF from Pentax. Adobe now use their own .DNG (Digital Negative) format.

    The downside is that RAW files are considerably larger than JPEGs so you fill your cards much quicker and neeed more PC storage to keep them alongwith more processing power to work with them. You will need to convert to JPEG for sharing online etc...

    The plus side is that you have much more control over the image on your computer and with software like Adobe Lightroom all of your changes are stored as additional information so the underlying picture isn't changed.
     
  12. Muzzaroo

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    Photos look good to me John!

    I tend to use Tv mode (Shutter speed mode) for action or slow mo stuff.

    Things like fast moving objects (Dogs, planes, racecars etc)

    Or for slow mo stuff like fountains or waterfalls to get the sikly water effect.

    You jsut need to watch your ISO so you get enough or not to much light to cause problems with over or under exposure.

    If you are looking for a magazine I like Digital Camera magazine.

    http://www.dcmag.co.uk/

    :thumbsup:

    Murray
     
  13. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    first, those shots look good to me. you don't really need the creative modes that much for landscapes - composition is more important. you aren't freezing motion in these shots (or blurring to emphasise motion), nor are you trying to isolate a person by blurring out the background.

    So you want a closed aperture = high f number. The camera will usually compensate by slowing the shutter down. So using a tripod or resting the camera on something solid will help prevent blur.

    you can use a higher ISO to keep the shutter speed up (ISO just makes it more sensitive) but then you risk getting noisy pictures. So better to use a tripod/firm surface and keep the ISO low.

    if you're using a compact then just use the landscape mode (usually a silhouette of some mountains). That'll usually set a small aperture for you.
     
  14. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    Thanks for all the replies and advice so far everyone.
    I have spent the last few days searching the net for all kinds of info. and I think I'm starting to get the bug.
    I'm now looking at cameras......................:suicide:

    After advice given here, I have been messing around in the garden with aperture settings, but I cannot remember what setting I used for each pic. How do I view the exif information?

    Thank you.

    John.
     
  15. Zone

    Zone
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    What photo editing software do you use.

    Exif is embedded in the night time shot I just looked at?

    If you're using an XP machine then simply right click the file then properties/summary/advanced

    I used Irfanview to lift the details below.

    File: - C:\Documents and Settings\simon\Desktop\074_74.jpg

    Make - Eastman Kodak Company
    Model - Picture Maker G3
    Orientation - Top left
    XResolution - 72
    YResolution - 72
    ResolutionUnit - Inch
    Software - Picture Maker G3 PM v4.1
    DateTime - 2007:09:04 12:09:25
    YCbCrPositioning - Centered
    Copyright -
    ExifOffset - 254
    ExposureTime - 1/1.3 seconds
    FNumber - 2.80
    ExposureProgram - Shutter priority
    ISOSpeedRatings - 200
    ExifVersion - 0220
    DateTimeOriginal - 2007:09:04 12:09:25
    DateTimeDigitized - 2007:09:04 12:09:25
    ComponentsConfiguration - YCbCr
    CompressedBitsPerPixel - 2 (bits/pixel)
    ShutterSpeedValue - 1/1 seconds
    ApertureValue - F 2.83
    BrightnessValue - 0
    ExposureBiasValue - 0
    MaxApertureValue - F 2.83
    MeteringMode - Multi-segment
    LightSource - Auto
    Flash - Not fired, compulsory flash mode
    FocalLength - 7.80 mm
    FlashPixVersion - 0100
    ColorSpace - sRGB
    ExifImageWidth - 2848
    ExifImageHeight - 2136
    InteroperabilityOffset - 808
    FocalPlaneXResolution - 3742
    FocalPlaneYResolution - 3742
    FocalPlaneResolutionUnit - Centimeter
    SensingMethod - One-chip color area sensor
    FileSource - Other
    SceneType - Other
    CustomRendered - Normal process
    ExposureMode - Auto
    WhiteBalance - Manual
    SceneCaptureType - Standard
    Sharpness - Normal
    SubjectDistanceRange - Unknown
     
  16. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    Thanks Zone, I can access the exif information.
    I don't have any photo editing software, and I have no idea how to use it.
    No doubt that will be more questions.
     
  17. Zone

    Zone
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    Then if you have no software whatsoever you could do worse than downloading Irfanview and/or Picasa which are both free :)
     
  18. senu

    senu
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    As advised above, if you open the image in most Image editors, using the "properties " menu item will tell you what settings you used
    However there are many free , almost free utilities which you can do that with within windows , IE or firefox
    I use THIS.. you can give it a go:smashin:
    Note though that after editing, some ways of saving may strip the image of its metadata ( EXIF)
     
  19. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    I've downloaded irfanview. I guess it's time to start playing/experimenting.

    Cheers zone.
     
  20. senu

    senu
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    I was posting the above while you carried on !:cool:
    Photo editors help you get that last bit of quality out ogf the images from the camera. You can often enhance them to look better than they were straight off the camera , colour contrast , brightness, sharpness ect can all be altered and the image can be cropped to adjust aspect
    Certainly you can also do more creative things when you get better at it
    Most images can use a little help
    Many cameras come with software.. Does yours not?
    If you get more curious about what is out there, just post a query about software..
    and
    don't worry.. there is more than enough help out there in getting to grips with them .. even the free/ almost free ones still have a little learning curve
     
  21. Zone

    Zone
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    Enjoy, if you need any help just shout.

    To make it even more usable there a plenty of photoshop plugins available for it, optikvervelabs for one springs to mind immediately.
     
  22. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    Thanks senu. What are the most popular softwares used on this forum, and how much do they cost?
     
  23. Zone

    Zone
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    Photoshop Elements is a favourite and can be picked up relatively cheaply, been a while since I've looked at prices but around £60.
     
  24. senu

    senu
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    It would be fair to say that a lot of people use an Adobe product.. Mostly Photshop elements because of affordability and because it is learnable and has a lot of user forums and Help out there.
    The full Adobe Photshop versions are that much costlier and may be OTT for a beginner
    Paint Shop Pro ( Corel), Serif Photplus , Photosuite( Roxio) , Photoimpact ( ulead) and others by Magix and Microsoft.. are all very capable

    However there is a strong element of personal preference so to say any was "best" would be more than my lifes worth!:eek:!
    Do a search and have a feel for opinions .. when you need to:D
     
  25. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    I've just spoken to my brother, and he has Jasc Paintshop Pro 8.
    He said I can have a play with it if I wish. Is this one any good?

    Thank you.
     
  26. senu

    senu
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    They are all good. The differences are less in what you can do with them ..but how you do it.
    Also sometimes the very first one you use may influence what you end up using .. I used PSP in the past but it can be hard to "master" the various titles as they tend to feel different in use. If you own PSP at home and Photoshop at work you may find yourself using both or leaning towards one
    Some do sport similar GUI though:cool:
    PSP is now on ver XI though having had a "makeover"!
    I see no harm in trying out various one if you have the time :)
     
  27. Johnny Thunder

    Johnny Thunder
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    Cheers senu.
     

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