Sony A6000 - Beginners Help Required

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
FingerPainter Veteran Member • Posts: 9,590
Sanity check

skyglider wrote:

Suz_Dellos wrote:

Hi,

I purchased the Sony A6000 a few months back so I could take pictures of stock for my website.

I am really struggling with using the camera indoors and I can't work out the settings in order to take a good picture. Does anyone have any experience with this camera or can recommend a decent guide to use?

I am really good at using it outdoors on a sunny day, it's only indoors I need help with.

Not sure if your indoor problems are:

  • Out of focus
  • Wrong colors
  • Pictures too dark

That said, try these for starters:

  1. Reset the camera to factory defaults using the reset function in the menu.
  2. Turn the mode dial to "P" mode.
  3. Go into the menu and set focus mode to AF-S (Auto Focus Single) and set the focus area to Center (single small rectangle).
  4. Enable the zebra overlay and set it to 100%.
  5. the a6000 also has the option (Settings tab, page 6, Dial/Wheel Ev Comp) to devote one of the dials to operate exposure compensation.

Auto Focus Single is for stationary subjects (while Auto Focus Continuous is for moving subjects). The Zebra overlay at 100% will show stripes on anything that is over exposed and will be clipped. You don't want any zebra stripes on anything you want detail to show.

Now to take a picture indoors (or outdoors):

  1. Insure that the mode dial is set to "P" mode.
  2. Frame the scene and adjust the white balance setting for best looking colors. There will be settings like auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent. Just cycle through the settings until the best looking colors are displayed. Check the user manual on how to do this. There should be a quick easy way using buttons without having to go into the menu.
  3. With the scene framed the way you want it, spin the exposure compensation dial (set in step-5 above) until zebra stripes appear and then spin the dial the other way until the zebra stripes just disappear. This will be the optimum exposure setting.
  4. Set the small rectangle in the viewfinder (or back LCD screen) on the subject.
  5. Half press the shutter and hold it until the in focus beep and maybe a green light happens to indicate that focus is locked.
  6. While still half pressing the shutter you can recompose the scene to your liking.
  7. Now SLOWLY press the shutter all the way down to snap the picture. Press so slowly that when the shutter trips it surprises you. That will eliminate camera shake caused by pressing the shutter button too fast.

You should end up with a picture with correct colors, sharp focus of the subject, and optimum exposure. Do this for outdoor and indoor pictures.

Note that setting the white balance in step-2 only has to be done once when entering an environment for the first time. Like going outdoors in sunlight. Or going indoors that has tungsten lighting. Once the while balance is set, you don't have to fool with it until you change lighting environment.

There are other considerations like taking pictures with back lighting stronger than the lighting of the subject but that's another discussion.

Sky

Let's do a sanity check of those recommendations.

Would you agree that a system reset puts the camera into manual ISO, probably at ISO 100, and set to take JPEGs, not RAW?

Would you agree that typical indoor lighting, when no special lights have been applied, is somewhere around EV6 for ISO 100? That's nine stops darker than full sun.

Let's assume that OP is using her kit 16-50mmm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. We have no idea how big her stock is. She could be using 16mm or she could be using 50mm. Let's assume she is using a focal length at which the max aperture is f/4.

We have no idea of the tonal values and range of her stock. Let's just assume it is middle grey for now.

In P mode with EV6 (for ISO 100) light, the camera will set the lens wide open to f/4. That's four stops lighter than the f/16 used in the sunny 16 rule. There are nine stops less scene luminance than sunny 16 and four stops more exposure from lens aperture, so the camera needs to set the shutter speed to five stops below 1/125. That's 1/4 sec shutter. At such a shutter speed she will get significant camera motion blur at the focal length she is using, even with OSS enabled. Using any +ve EC will just add to the motion blur.

So frankly, your suggestions just make no sense for indoor photography.

I've already suggested lighting. Without lighting, the way to go would be Auto-ISO, M mode, aperture set to widest available or stopped down if  wide open doesn't give enough DOF to cover the stock item, shutter set to no slower than 1 / (3/8  x focal length).

The shutter speed recommendation assumes she properly holds the camera, and that OSS is giving two stops of stabilization. The former may not be a good assumption. She may need a faster shutter. The latter is based both on testing by  IR and my own experience with the lens on the same camera.

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