Tips and tricks

Started Dec 11, 2012 | Discussions
Momotarou Regular Member • Posts: 321
Tips and tricks
1

With a few recent threads that I have seen lately, there have been people complaining about their DSLR (Specifically the Rebel line). A lot of these complaints could have been addressed with knowing a few tips about the camera.

What are your tips? Things like turning off auto light optimizer etc...

WilbaW
WilbaW Forum Pro • Posts: 11,562
Re: Tips and tricks
2

The unofficial Rebel Talk FAQ

Let me know if there's anything you think would be good to add to it.

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R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 17,827
Re: Tips and tricks
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The mechanics of photography are pretty simple once you leave Auto Mode...

* Set your aperture for the "look" you want (how much you want in focus).

* Set your ISO to eliminate blur (ie up it if you start to get too much blur).

* Then set your shutter speed for the exposure you want (watch your histogram).

* Use single point AF so the camera will focus on what You want.

Voila.

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R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 17,827
Light, Angle, and Timing.
1

You'll always be successful if you pay attention to the Big Threee...

Light, Angle, and Timing.

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Y0GI Veteran Member • Posts: 5,233
Re: Tips and tricks
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My #1 Tip is to always shoot RAW or at least RAW + JPG.  That way you have more capability within the image to correct for problems such as over/under exposure or incorrect White Balance.  Very handy!

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Ziad joseph
Ziad joseph Regular Member • Posts: 338
Re: Light, Angle, and Timing.

R2D2 wrote:

You'll always be successful if you pay attention to the Big Threee...

Light, Angle, and Timing.

very well said!

Ziad

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MAC Forum Pro • Posts: 13,802
Re: Tips and tricks
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Think shutter speed first - to stop any motion; 1/500 for bball; 1/200 for dancing; 1/125 for walking; 1/60 for standing; and for standing still - eg, 1/40.  If you have more light, these are considered minimums.  And use IS lens so you have stabilization - otherwise use pod In low light

Second think aperture to get enough dof to get the subject you want all in.

Lastly bump the iso up to what it takes to get the best histogram

some start with iso first, but starting with Ss first is the way to go to achieve the min iso for the lighting, the speed in the scene, to get the shot

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hesbehindyou Senior Member • Posts: 1,724
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R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 17,827
Re: Tips and tricks

Keep in mind that in live view with CDAF, the T4i will not AF on horizontal (only) lines.  Your AF target needs to have some contrasty texture or non-horizontal lines.  As was done with point and shoot cameras, you can get around this by tilting your camera 30 degrees to the left or right when you AF.

R2

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OP Momotarou Regular Member • Posts: 321
Re: Tips and tricks

R2D2 wrote:

Keep in mind that in live view with CDAF, the T4i will not AF on horizontal (only) lines. Your AF target needs to have some contrasty texture or non-horizontal lines. As was done with point and shoot cameras, you can get around this by tilting your camera 30 degrees to the left or right when you AF.

R2

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That is an interesting tidbit.

Oilman
Oilman Veteran Member • Posts: 3,375
After you finish WilbaW's excellent FAQ
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Buy David Busch's book on your camera and read it cover to cover. Learn what all of the options are. Learn how and when to use AV, TV M modes.

Then start learning photography. Learn how to properly compose pictures. Learn how to shoot RAW and post process. Learn about light.

Photography is a lifelong learning experience. I have taken classes  more or less continuously for four years and will continue to do so in the future

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R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 17,827
Re: Tips and tricks

Momotarou wrote:

R2D2 wrote:

Keep in mind that in live view with CDAF, the T4i will not AF on horizontal (only) lines. Your AF target needs to have some contrasty texture or non-horizontal lines. As was done with point and shoot cameras, you can get around this by tilting your camera 30 degrees to the left or right when you AF.

That is an interesting tidbit.

Yeah, I was a bit disappointed to discover this, and it behaves the same way with the hybrid PDAF/CDAF focusing in live view too.  This situation isn't encountered too often, but will help explain some incrongruencies if someone runs into this.  Earlier LV models probably behave this way too.  I think manuf do this in order to speed AF (algorythms).

R2

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brightcolours Forum Pro • Posts: 15,047
Super secret trick
1

Momotarou wrote:

With a few recent threads that I have seen lately, there have been people complaining about their DSLR (Specifically the Rebel line). A lot of these complaints could have been addressed with knowing a few tips about the camera.

What are your tips? Things like turning off auto light optimizer etc...

I have a super secret tip that apparently is widely unknown. It does cover all Canon EOS cameras, not just the "rebel" series. Wilba will like thisone a lot too

There is something called "trap focus". What trap focus means, is that the camera will trigger shot when something comes into focus. Canon EOS cameras, except the 1 series (and now probably the 5D mk III too) do not allow this. The hacked firmware extension "Magic Lantern" offers trap focus functionality for cameras it supports.

You can use this for instance to try and capture flying insects at a flower you positioned your camera near, or birds near a feeding station or a bird bath. I am sure you can think of many more applications yourself.

This little trick will allow you to use trap focus with any EOS DSLR, without any hacked firmware:

Look at the back of your lens, with the contacts at 6 o'clock.

You see 5 or 8 square contacts on the left (depending on the lens), and one rectangular and 1 square contact on the right. If you put a tiny bit of cello-tape on the right most square contact, the lens will be unable to auto focus.

Put the lens on the camera, and put its MF/AF switch to the AF position. The camera will think the lens can AF, the lens will not be able to AF. Put the camera in the normal One-Shot mode. This will set the camera to make a shot when the lens has reached focus.

Now you are all set to trap focus... Select the AF point you want to use, and press the shutter button down as if you want to make a photo. You can now either move the camera from/towards a subject till it is in focus, or turn the focus ring of the lens till the subject is in focus. The moment the camera sees focus, a shot will be fired. Or you can of course wait till something passes in front of the lens through its focus plane.

This only will work for AF lenses, as the camera needs to think that the lens is AF-ing.

With MF lenses from other mounts (for instance M42 or F-mount) you can get an adapter with V5 chip which lets the camera think there is an AF lens mounted.

Or you can be silly like me, and build an adapter that allows trap focus yourself.

WilbaW
WilbaW Forum Pro • Posts: 11,562
Re: Super secret trick

brightcolours wrote:

I have a super secret tip that apparently is widely unknown. It does cover all Canon EOS cameras, not just the "rebel" series. Wilba will like thisone a lot too

I do! I do! How did you know?! 

I'll try your pin taping method when I have a chance.

There is also "almost trap-focus", which you can do with any unmolested Canon gear. The trick is to full-press the shutter button in AF mode when you know that the lens can't focus. The easiest way is to start with the subject inside the minimum focus distance (MFD). Then you back away with the AF point over the subject. When the subject comes into focus, focus will be confirmed and the shutter will fire immediately. The problem is that if the AF sensor decides it has seen something different while you're doing that, it might go through a cycle of focus search (racking through the focus range to see if it can find a focus). (Note to self: try that with an FTM lens and see if there's an advantage in setting the lens back to minimum focus after each focus search.)

With MF lenses from other mounts (for instance M42 or F-mount) you can get an adapter with V5 chip which lets the camera think there is an AF lens mounted.

That will enable focus confirmation, but AFAIK the system will behave the same as if a Canon lens in MF mode were attached, so it's no more useful for trap focus.

Or you can be silly like me, and build an adapter that allows trap focus yourself.

Oh, tell me more about your silliness, please. 

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brightcolours Forum Pro • Posts: 15,047
Re: Super secret trick

WilbaW wrote:

brightcolours wrote:

I have a super secret tip that apparently is widely unknown. It does cover all Canon EOS cameras, not just the "rebel" series. Wilba will like thisone a lot too

I do! I do! How did you know?!

I'll try your pin taping method when I have a chance.

There is also "almost trap-focus", which you can do with any unmolested Canon gear. The trick is to full-press the shutter button in AF mode when you know that the lens can't focus. The easiest way is to start with the subject inside the minimum focus distance (MFD). Then you back away with the AF point over the subject. When the subject comes into focus, focus will be confirmed and the shutter will fire immediately. The problem is that if the AF sensor decides it has seen something different while you're doing that, it might go through a cycle of focus search (racking through the focus range to see if it can find a focus). (Note to self: try that with an FTM lens and see if there's an advantage in setting the lens back to minimum focus after each focus search.)

This has never worked for me (I have tried it twice before, when you mentioned it)... My lenses (like my 35mm f2) will start focus search the moment the AF sensor detects something focussable. So, never got anything like trap focus this way!

With MF lenses from other mounts (for instance M42 or F-mount) you can get an adapter with V5 chip which lets the camera think there is an AF lens mounted.

That will enable focus confirmation, but AFAIK the system will behave the same as if a Canon lens in MF mode were attached, so it's no more useful for trap focus.

No, not really. There are the normal focus confirmation chips, that pretend to be a 50mm f1.4 lens on MF mode. Then there are the EMF chips, which allow you to change the focal length and aperture the chip will communicate to the camera. This then will show up more sensible data in the EXIF, and presumably have flash advantages too. And then there are the more expensive V5 chip adapters, that tell the camera there is an AF lens with AF enabled. The camera will have no idea there is no AF lens, and will fire the moment it focus detects.

I have not tried it myself (I have a simple focus confirmation F-mount to EF adapter), but that is what the manufacturers/sellers on ebay tell us, anyway.

Or you can be silly like me, and build an adapter that allows trap focus yourself.

Oh, tell me more about your silliness, please.

Are you sure???? Oh well, you asked for it!

Before I ever heard of any adapter to enable trap focus, I made one myself for this strange oddity of a lens I have, my Ultra-Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2, an 1960's industrial lens with very high quality optics. It is an M39 thread lens mount lens, with an unusual 43mm flange distance which will give it a fixed focus plane at 1:4 magnification.



But I digress...

I wanted to make an adapter for this lens to try it out on my 450D. I stuck a camera cap which I drilled a big hole in to a surplus M39 mount from an enlarger together, making a rather thick (about 11.5mm) adapter. The lens turned out to be quite lovely (giving about 1:2.5 magnification in this setup):



Problem is focussing. I am a handheld kind of photographer, so live view is kinda out with such thin depths of field at close up distances. Also, closing down the aperture makes judging focus even harder.

I had this worthless Sigma 70-300 laying around from the film days, with broken AF (thanks, sis!) and the lens error problem. I dismantled it, and took out its little electronics board. It got me thinking about how the AF works, and how, when you disable the AF of a lens with the pin trick, you can get to trap focus... So what if the camera thinks it has an AF lens with AF on, but in reality it is just an MF lens?

I glued the Sigma-donored-contacts into the adapter, and soldered the board to it. I bridged the MF/AF switch contacts to AF.



And it works! The lens does not show as MF anymore on the display. The camera assumes the lens is doing its AF thing, and is just not getting any feedback. The moment the camera focus locks, a shot gets fired. It works from f2 upto f5.6.



Center AF point, the screen shows the trap focus-focus to be pretty accurate with this lens!

ALso works with the outer AF points...

Test shot, showing its accuracy

A really nice result, two images stitched and the upper-left AF point active at f5.6

The lens is pretty aberration free, that is why (I think) that the focus confirmation/trap focus is so accurate with this lens.

I assume that the V5 chips do exactly what my contraption does, which is: telling the camera it is an AF lens in AF mode.

js41121 New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Super secret trick

Super! It's really fantastic. It seems I've arrived a right place to study photoghraphy!

R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 17,827
Re: Tips and tricks

If you're using CDAF (T4i) and you have a lens with FTM (full-time manual focus), if you spin the lens to infinity focus before you take a picture (I actually do it before taking the next picture), it'll speed up CDAF in many cases since it won't have to rack the focus back to minimum focus during the AF process. It'll most times zip right to the subject (given your AF target has sufficient contrast).

R2

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OP Momotarou Regular Member • Posts: 321
Re: Tips and tricks

Great tips everyone, keep them coming. This is what I was hoping to see. Perhaps a few of these tips can be put into the guide mentioned in this thread?

WilbaW
WilbaW Forum Pro • Posts: 11,562
Re: Super secret trick

brightcolours wrote:

WilbaW wrote:

There is also "almost trap-focus"...

This has never worked for me (I have tried it twice before, when you mentioned it)... My lenses (like my 35mm f2) will start focus search the moment the AF sensor detects something focussable. So, never got anything like trap focus this way!

Yeah, I have used it with long lenses, which should cause less of a reaction than short lenses. Even then it's pretty annoying and not something you want to be doing very much. I mentioned it for completeness, not as a recommendation. 

And then there are the more expensive V5 chip adapters, that tell the camera there is an AF lens with AF enabled. The camera will have no idea there is no AF lens, and will fire the moment it focus detects.

Ah, I don't recall coming across the V5+ before. Sounds good, thanks for that.

(BTW, in the user guide I came across this - "Due to the AutoFocus calculation method of Canon EOS camera there is a difference between the indicated correct focus point by AF-Assist function when you rotate the focussing ring clockwise or anti-clockwise." (Note: when they say "AF-Assist function" they don't mean AF-assist with the flash, they mean focus confirmation.) So they're talking about the asymmetrical focus we see with the 50/1.8. I'm sure they're guessing when they say that it's due to the "AutoFocus calculation method", as if the optics don't play a part.)

I am a handheld kind of photographer, so live view is kinda out with such thin depths of field at close up distances.

I like doing it that way. Exp.SIM and a swivel screen helps a lot. 

I had this worthless Sigma 70-300 laying around from the film days...

Very cool, thanks for sharing.

I assume that the V5 chips do exactly what my contraption does, which is: telling the camera it is an AF lens in AF mode.

That makes sense to me.

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graphikal Senior Member • Posts: 2,783
Some random ones of mine

Shoot RAW.

Every once in a while, include something white in the frame to allow easier white balance adjustment later.  Even better, use a neutral gray object (card etc.).

Sharpen selectively, and on a luminance/brightness channel.

Autofocus on the nearest eye, when shooting a person's face.  Remember that the focus spot is generally larger than it appears through the viewfinder.

Be aware of parallax error caused by focus-and-recompose with short focal lengths and wide apertures.

AI autofocus sucks.

Use a circular polarizer to deepen skies and colors.

Shoot a bit loose when appropriate, especially with moving targets such as people.  It will let you crop and adjust tilt to best effect later.  Shoot a subject from many different vantage points and perspectives; loosen up.

Chimp every so often to make sure your captures are good.

Set your JPEG settings to low contrast, to come closest to matching the full dynamic range available with RAW (you still won't match it due to differences in bit depth).  This will help in more accurately assessing whether a pic has blown-out regions (they blink on most Canon cameras and also show up in the histogram), when looking at the JPEG preview during chimping.

Don't be afraid to play with curves in post.  Crush those blacks for dramatic effect.  Use 16-bit color spaces when processing, and convert for output as one of the last steps.

Outside, use Av or Manual.  Inside without a flash, use Av or Manual; inside with a flash, always use Manual.

Dragging the shutter pretty much sucks.

Be efficient with use of settings indoors, even (or especially) with a flash.  Practice using higher ISOs to broaden your horizons; use as slow a shutter speed as possible, while still being safe; and use as wide an aperture as possible.

For objects moving toward or away from the camera, you don't need as fast a shutter speed as you do for one moving across the frame.

Don't waste money on expensive high-end cards.  Moderately fast ones, such as Class 10 today, will generally do for most uses.  It's better to have many smaller memory cards than one big one, unless you're writing to two cards simultaneously (and maybe even then).  Prefer to format in camera.

Choose an archival strategy and be consistent.  I save all my source images that I care about as .DNGs, so at least I'm free from any hassle of multiple file formats later.  People have differing opinions on file formats, of course.

Cull your images aggressively.  There's no point in keeping every last version of a child's smile recorded during a sequence of frames, since one or two will be the standouts.   Your hard drives  will thank you, and you'll have less to revisit later if you ever do.

Don't delete your on-camera pictures for anyone.  Avoid confrontation if you like, but stick up for yourself too.

If you shoot moving subjects such as people, practice until you have a rough idea of the DOF for a given subject distance and aperture.

Don't stop way down to get maximum sharpness, at least as a beginner.  Almost all DSLR photos are plenty sharp when taken properly, plenty sharp enough to wow most viewers and output at most needed sizes with acceptable results.  Instead, use an aperture that reasonably covers your intended subject.  Having the far eye out of focus in an intimate wide-aperture candid is often quite acceptable.

For shooting children, try to get down at their level a lot of the time.

Don't spray-and-pray.  Cultivate a sense of timing.  You'll get more good shots that way, attract less attention, and use less shutter, electricity and memory resources.

Embrace subject isolation.  It is a major reason to own a DSLR.  Especially if you own a crop camera, consider buying one or more prime lenses.

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