Beginning into photography

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
PhotoTeach2 Senior Member • Posts: 9,377
Re: Beginning into photography

Hight Fly wrote:

Thanks for the clarification

I'll have to read your messages again, but I now understand it a bit more

Yes, there are a lot of aspects (and abbreviations) of photography/cameras/lenses that take time to understand, it is all part of the "learning" process.

I assume you know OVF is "Optical ViewFinder" and EVF is "Electronic ViewFinder".

And ETTR is "Expose To The Right" is to "over" expose as far as possible toward the point just before it "saturates", (turns "white"). But sometimes you actually do want specific parts of an image to saturate (blow) if it improves and lowers the noise in other parts of the overall image.

You may, (or will), hear a term HDR, "High Dynamic Range". This is when you have an image which has some (a lot) of VERY BRIGHT objects/subjects/areas and also some very-very DARK components. The problem is that digital imaging sensors simply can't handle both extremes. Back in film days we simply had to make a decision to optimally expose for the bright or dark parts and forget/ignore the rest of it. That was also true in the early days of digital.

But people that were capable with PhotoShop (PS) realized they could shoot TWO (or more) separate exposures optimized for the different extremes. Then in PS they "combine" (overlap) the best exposed parts of the different images.

Now HDR is being done automatically in-camera -- (albeit many still like to do it in PS because they have more control over the outcome). The result can be very-excellent or they can be over-done, (an effect some people like anyway or even better).


You have also seen me make many references to "Focal Plane" vs "Leaf" shutters.

Focal Plane (shutters) are currently used in (virtually) all Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC) and is located inside the camera, (w/ no connection to the lenses). It is probably best to consult YouTube for video descriptions of how they work, but because of their specific design the shutter speed is limited when using FLASH to about 1/250s. (which will require f/11 in SUN-light and thus SUN-light fill-flash to only about 3' -- unless you have an expensive external strobe where you still may only reach about 10')

Leaf shutters are in all "fixed" lens cameras, (and PROFESSIONAL interchangeable lens cameras). They do allow flash syncing at ALL shutter speeds, (even up to 1/4000s which can allow f/2.8 in SUN-light).

The advantage of being able to shoot @ f/2.8 (in SUN-light) is to allow a very narrow/shallow DOF for "portraits" and/or to extend SUN-light fill-flash distance to about 20' w/ built-in flash, (and further w/ external strobes). Note that it also allows still shooting @ f/8-16 to "darken" backgrounds with closer subjects properly lit by the flash (for creative effects).


When you get your camera (D300), you will see a dial w/ "P""A""S""M" on it.

P & A & S are all "auto" (exposure) modes, and I suggest you start in one of them.

"P" is called PROGRAM and is where the "camera" (automatically) sets both the Aperture and Shutter-Speed.

"A" is Aperture PRIORITY. In this mode "you" set whatever Aperture you prefer for your specific situation. The "camera" then automatically sets an appropriate Shutter-Speed, (to provide correct exposure based on the ambient lighting.

"S" is Shutter-PRIORITY. Very similar to "A", but you instead set your choice (priority) of Shutter-Speed and the Aperture is then automatically set according to the ambient light.

Note that the actual "BRIGHTNESS" of the resulting exposure is the SAME for all three of the above (auto) exposure-modes, ("P""A""S").

It is VERY IMPORTANT to understand that the "camera" has be factory-calibrated to ALWAYS give you a "GRAY" image. (that applies to both brightness and COLOR)

Note that if you take an "AVERAGE" scene, (mixture of Red-Blue-Green-Yellow, etc.), colors and brightness (equal parts of bright and dark areas), the RESULT WILL BE "GRAY". This can be more specifically described as "18%" (reflectance) GRAY. Note that "GRAY-CARDS" are available and can be used to verify the accuracy of your camera "exposure/BRIGHTNESS" settings.

However ... (again very important) ... NOT ALL SCENES are "average". And for that you have a control called "EC" (Exposure-Compensation).

Thus "EC" (Exposure-Compensation) could be the most important control that you much learn to understand and use properly for correct BRIGHTNESS images.

Remember that the camera always ASSUMES that you are taking a photo of a "gray" scene, (both brightness and color), and the cameras (auto) functions are designed to output a "gray" image. This works fine IF you are indeed taking a photo of a "gray" wall/card, (or a "average" scene).

But what if you are up in the mountains in "WHITE" snow. The camera will try to produce a "gray" snow, (not pretty). So you MUST then use "EC" (Exposure-Compensation) because that is your BRIGHTNESS control to correct the exposure to produce a (beautiful) "white" snow. So in SNOW, you may need to set +1/+2 or +3. (many cameras can go to +/- 5 but you don't normally need that extreme)

I am sorry to say that using either +1 or +2 or +3 will require practice and experience because on a SLR/dSLR you have no further indication of which is correct. (Indeed one of the biggest advantages of Mirror-Less cameras is that you DO have a VISUAL DISPLAY than that will show "corrections" so you know if the resulting image will be white/black.)

And the same is true if you are shooting a "black" subject. The result will normally be a "gray" subject, (instead of correct "black"). So in that situation, you again correct "BRIGHTNESS" by setting EC to a -1 or -2, (less likely to need -3)

The final "exposure" mode is "M"anual where you set both "A"perture and "S"hutter-Speed ("M"anually). (But you do have the "metering" bar/indicator to help set it correctly.)

That should be enough for you to get started ....


But ... because there is now so much discussion about dSLR vs ML (Mirror-Less), I will briefly discuss the (operational) differences.

With SLR/dSLR you obviously know you have a OVF (Optical ViewFinder). So you MUCH put/hold the camera to your "eye". Thus "most" dSLR images are taken at "eye" height, (while standing). Newer dSLR's have "Live-View" where you indeed can use the rear-LCD to view the scene. But the AF is VERY VERY VERY slow and very-few dSLR users use Live-View, especially in SUN because it is virtually unusable. Thus for all practical purposes, all shots will be taken at "eye" level.

Many people prefer "OVF" because it does look more "natural", because you are looking directly through the "lens".

But as mentioned above, the exposure is basically a "guess" since you can't actually "see" the exposure settings or how it will impact the final image. (no light even hits the sensor until after the shutter is released and the MIRROR pops up -- (making NOISE and VIBRATION and BLACK-OUT through the OVF).

With Mirror-Less (ML), there is no-mirror so the light goes directly onto the imaging-sensor. This is processed and displayed on BOTH the "Eye"-level ViewFinder, (EVF) and the rear-LCD, so you have a CHOICE of using either the "eye" EVF or rear-LCD.

Some cameras have a "tilting" LCD that allows some flexibility of shooting positions.

But some have a FULLY-articulating LCD, (FA-LCD) that allows virtually unlimited shooting positions. The FA-LCD allows shooting off to the "side" (arms-length) or even REVERSED for "selfies" if you are into that. You can shoot from "ground" level, (shooting "up") or held HIGH-OVERHEAD, (shooting-"down").

In my opinion ALL digital cameras should have a FA-LCD because it multiplies the shooting-position opportunities, (but alas they don't).


You probably have also heard the term "LIVE-VIEW", (on dSLR's).

This is a half-hearted attempt by dSLR's to mimic/challenge the superiority of Mirror-Less.

In this mode the "mirror" indeed is flipped-up and thus allows light to hit the sensor. But for MANY reasons, it does not work very well at all, and FEW people use it.

One of its major problems is that the AF can indeed take SEVERAL "SECONDS" to actually fire a shot, (so subjects can literally get-up and go HOME before the exposure is actually taken).

It is often said the ML has "native" Live-View so there is NO EXPOSURE DELAY using the rear-LCD, (it is exactly the same-speed as using the EVF).

Note that the difference in AF speed is related to PD (Phase-Detection) or CD (Contrast-Detection) AF. PD sensors used to (have to) be SEPARATE sensors used by dSLR's, and the focus "accuracy" was very dependent on their proper calibration, (which could be different for each individual lens used). CD was used by earlier Mirror-Less and was indeed "slower", (but more ACCURATE because it was directly off the actual imaging sensor and thus not subject to "calibration" errors of dSLR's. It is not necessary to go further at this time except to say that their are now "HYBRID" image-sensors that have BOTH PD & CD embedded into the imaging sensor -- allowing newer ML to have faster AF than previously possible. (But note that Panasonic has a "patented" AF system called "DFD" and is actually faster than dSLR PD-AF on still subjects -- is one of the unique features of the FZ-1000)


I could go further with "C"ontinuous vs "S"ingle/Selective Auto FOCUSING systems and different METERING MODES (average, center-weighed, matrix, spot), because you will need to understand those also ...

But that is probably enough for now.

HOPE this may help you ....

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