Beginner's question on A vs. M :)

Started Feb 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
windsprite Senior Member • Posts: 2,497
Re: EV setting

Sorry I took so long to reply, I was trying to think if there was any real method to my exposure madness and also how to reply to your question regarding why I have so much gear!

wireless wrote:

Do you still use manual when you're in a situation with constantly changing light and movement?

I don't want you to think that because I shoot M I have all the answers and am nailing the exposure every time. Far from it! I just happen to enjoy shooting that way.

As far as settings in changing light, if it's from clouds or waning light near sunset, then currently I try to shoot in full manual and compensate as best I can. I mess up a lot, but I feel that if I keep practicing, I'll eventually get it right most of the time and get more consistent overall results than I have been with auto modes, which are often fooled by a bright or dark background. I'm not sure if I want to keep doing it this way, though, just because it makes it harder to concentrate on the action.

If the subject is moving rapidly between sun and shade, it's impossible to keep up with that, so I usually use an auto mode. For years aperture priority was my choice, but I didn't like the fact that the shutter speed dropped in the shady areas. You can jack up the ISO to prevent that, but then you are stuck with higher than necessary shutter speed and ISO in the sunny areas, which saps your DR. If you set a minimum shutter speed with auto ISO, you can mitigate that, but then when the action stops and you want to take a portrait, you can be stuck with an unnecessarily high shutter speed and ISO. Sometimes that's a problem and sometimes it's not. Anyway, I figure if I'm going to do it that way, I might as well use M with auto ISO and have the shutter speed control right under my thumb, rather than having to dive into a menu to change the minimum shutter speed.

I find in these conditions it's better to us AP because even with under- or over-exposure usually the raw file forgives enough to get beyond it in PP because the exposure will be in the ballpark.

That's reasonable.  I just don't want to bother too much with exposure in post, and I am often shooting in situations that fool the meter pretty drastically.  As I said above, I do mess up quite a bit shooting M now, but I'm hoping the effort will pay off in the future, to the point where I can eventually get things mostly right in camera in all but the fastest-changing situations.  It could be that I'm going through a phase, though, and I will end up going back to an auto mode at some point.

...except when ISO is high or when in auto ISO and it goes high, and that's often enough to be a problem. Cannot dig detail out of shadows well with ISO really about 1600 or 3200 in my experience (D600). Sure, somewhat, but people's faces do not translate well.

If I'm shooting human faces in shade with a bright background and can't use fill flash, I'm more inclined to let the background blow out than to lift shadows and get noise in the face, but it depends on the situation.

So you point is well taken, a mode in manual, to save time, that adjusts both shutter and aperture once exposure is set, if I understood you correctly.

That's what I would love to see.

Do you use Auto ISO at all in manual? I think to limit is a good option but, in AP, then shutter can't reach acceptable speeds in dynamic situations. I find myself using AP but always often going back to M because I think in terms of what DOF, what shutter speed is needed for a shot, do ISO need a boost to reach shutter speed.

That's pretty much why I like M with auto ISO as well.

There's also the option of shooting everything at base ISO and bringing up the brightness in post where necessary.  I haven't experimented much with that yet, except once or twice with subjects going rapidly from very bright light to shade.  I haven't developed the photos, though, because they weren't anything special, so I don't know how the image quality would compare to letting the ISO float.  I don't really like shooting that way, because you can't review the darker images in the camera, which kind of takes away the fun and usefulness of digital for me.

This is what I mean by direct camera linking to the controls in M vs. AP where, with the latter my thought process is what DOF, is the shutter speed enough, was the exposure enough, dial in EC, took too long.

Yup.  I can sympathize with that.

p.s. why do you have so much gear?

LOL.  Well ... I like cameras.

I didn't want to end up with quite so many of them, though.  I probably wouldn't have, but my husband and I started doing competetive distance dog frisbee around 2004, and I wanted some nice photos.  Our whippets are incredibly fast dogs, and all I had was a manual-focus film SLR and a digital bridge camera, which weren't cutting it.  I knew Canon or Nikon were best for action shooting, but my bridge cam was an Olympus, and I liked it a lot, so I convinced myself that a DSLR was a DSLR, and Olympus would be fine for shooting the dogs.  It wasn't.  It was a nice system in a lot of ways, but it was a huge mistake for me.  I kept upgrading to get better AF and noise performance, but after four bodies and a lot of lenses, I finally had to face the fact that I was wasting my time and money.

Funnily, the D2H had been my dream camera in 2004, but I rejected it as being too ridiculously expensive for an amateur; however, in the end I actually would have SAVED money if I had just bought the D2H in the first place.

I finally got my D2H in 2009.  It had become the cheapest way to test the Nikon autofocus, and I knew I could use the battery in a grip with the newer semi-pro DSLRs.  I loved the AF and bought a D700 six months later.  I've been very happy with it and haven't felt the need to buy any new DSLRs since, except last year I did add a D300 for when I need more reach.

I don't like the idea of selling on eBay, and my cameras get somewhat beat up shooting the dogs, so I'm sort of stuck with most of my old gear.  I've sold a few pieces locally and have loaned or given others to friends and family.  I still have most of my Olympus lenses, and they are quite good, so I figured I might as well buy a mirrorless body so I would have a more modern sensor behind them.  Here in Japan, second-hand ones can be found for less than $150.  I always wind up using the D700, though, so I really need to find a way to unload the Oly gear, much as I hate to.

A few years ago I bought a used NEX-3 for $120 or so, thinking it would be good to have a very compact backup to my D700 in case it failed while traveling.  The NEX works great with F-mount primes, and they have a nice fisheye attachment that goes on the pancake kit lens and takes , so I'm happy with that purchase.

The Panasonic FZ200 bridge cam is cheap these days, so I bought one a couple of months ago to shoot high-speed videos of our dogs in action.  It's a nice little camera for general still photography as well.

So ...... that's where all my gear came from!  I feel I'm pretty well set for cameras right now and don't plan any purchases this year.  I may get a lens or two, though.


 windsprite's gear list:windsprite's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Nikon D2H Nikon D300 +40 more
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