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Old 05-18-2008, 01:27 AM   #1
twitch77
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Default exposure question for those with lots of experience.

hey,
i'm just wondering if any of you guys are good at guessing, or knowing how to get the exposure you need just by looking at what you'll be shooting?

i'm new, and it takes me around 10 'test' shots (changing the appature and shutter speed) to get my exposure where i want it (sometimes if it's really dark or light it can take quite a few more then 10 tests ).

does practice make perfect here? it's a bit annoying to have to spend so much time to set my exposure. . .and was wondering if experienced photographers develope a better feel for the settings without so much guess work.
i'd love to get to a point someday, where i can look at something and know 1/200 sec and f/12 would probably be pretty close to the exposure i'm looking for.

thnx.
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Old 05-18-2008, 12:21 PM   #2
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I only shoot manual when I'm using flashes, shooting IR or if I have a lot of time to play around with everything. Otherwise, I use aperture priority and trim the meter as the situation dictates.

With the flashes and IR, I'm working on constants that I have a rough idea of. Flash work, I start with the sharp aperture of my lens and max flash sync speed. I can trim my flashes really quick if they are on camera and decently quick if they are off. For IR if it is high noon sun, I'm almost always going to be at f8, iso200 and 30 seconds.
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Old 05-18-2008, 10:35 PM   #3
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the gauge in the viewfinder and/or LCD information screen lets you know if you are properly exposed or not...then you can dial in from there

you can then combo your shutter speed and aperture to what f-stop you want to be at and compensate with shutter and vice versa...the camera gives you lots of information, u just have to know what it all means and how to use it
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Old 05-18-2008, 11:21 PM   #4
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Right on y'all.


My penny, just because - Depends on what I'm shooting. More often then not I know whether shutter speed or depth of field is the priority when I shoot something.

If it's shutter speed I'll get a feel for the lighting and take it from there. Have had to shoot wide open at my highest ISO just to get close to an acceptable shutter speed, not fun. But it's better then going back and bumping up the exposure in processing.

If it's depth of field then I'll figure out what I need, shallow or deep, and run from there. If it's really deep, like close up shots, flash can be fun. I love to bounce my 580ex for this. I even keep two portrait umbrellas with my gear just for it, I love them for flower shots. A ring light would probably be better but this is working well enough so far.


Anywho, back to the "getting a feel for the lighting" part. Indoor lighting generally sucks. Expect to crank up the ISO and the faster the lens is the better. VR, IS, OS, whatever you want to term it, anti shake technology won't help you with dimly lit indoor pics of a moving object unless you're wanting motion blurs. Outdoor lighting can be great but mid day gets pretty harsh, so that's always something to consider.


In so far as trying to know before you try to shoot I suggest getting to know the various ISO's under various lighting conditions. Start off with ISO 100 outside at a specific time (say late afternoon). Set you lens's aperture to f/5.6 (so you can be consistent) and check out what kind of shutter speeds you'll need to zero the meter in on various things around your home. Go ahead and take the pictures (if you take them in RAW this can be a great introduction) but make 100% sure you're using the same metering mode and the putting the needle in the exact same place every time. This will do two1 things for you- it can help you better learn how your camera meters(something that's very important to learn), like what to expect grass to come out as if you shoot it "dead on" per your meter; and it can help you to better understand what shutter speeds you'll be looking at with that ISO under that lighting condition (don't forget, exposure is just balancing ISO, shutter speed and aperture to get the sensor to see how you want it to see). Tedious? Oh yeah. But it's a learning tool that can help a lot in the future. Once you are comfortable with what an ISO can and cannot do (ISO 100, no flash, inside- doesn't usually work) you have some place to start when you take the lens cap off. If I'm going outside and it's not super overcast first thing I do is set my ISO to 200 (the noise difference from 100 to 200 is negligible, more then worth the shutter speed or DOF flexibility). Then get my aperture were I want it and then see if I can get an "acceptable" shutter speed. If it's not acceptable I either crank the ISO up (down if it's high enough) or open the aperture up a bit. Depends on the tune and what I need.

Ok I'll stop now. I could prattle forever on this one. If you haven't checked it out yet you may want to consider getting a copy of Brian Peterson's Understanding Exposure. Hella good book, helped me a lot.
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Old 05-18-2008, 11:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynikal.Mindset View Post
the gauge in the viewfinder and/or LCD information screen lets you know if you are properly exposed or not...then you can dial in from there

you can then combo your shutter speed and aperture to what f-stop you want to be at and compensate with shutter and vice versa...the camera gives you lots of information, u just have to know what it all means and how to use it
lmao, you kick serious azz
i've been wondering what the heck that dial did i couldn't figure out why i couldn't change it, and i didn't find anything in the manual on it (other then it being called expossure indicator level. . .haha i feel dumb now!).
just played with it, and sure enough it moves around as i play with the shutter speed and apperture (left=dark, right=light).
anyhow, thanks. . .this will come in extremely handy. . .and now i finaly know what everything on my lcd means and does
too much to learn! (but i love it! heh)
thnx.

---edit---
to freddy-
thanks for the awesome reply.
i still don't have a clue how to use the 4 metering types yet. . .i've played around with them a tiny bit, but can't seem to get it (do they work in full manual mode, saved as raw files?).
i need to played with them some more.
i've had alot of fun in the last week sitting in my room at night and toying with different settings.
my room is florecent(spelling?) lit, and my camera has a very hard time seeing anything. . .anything over 1/15 at f/5.6 100 iso turns out pitch black . . .so i've been playing with the shutterspeed and iso until i can get objects lit up.
it's fun comparing photo at something like 1/5 sec 400 iso f/5.6 no flash with my mom's point and shoot using the flash (i can't change any of the settings on that camera). . .it's amazing how well my camera can pick up light.
i'm shooting in nothing but manual right now. . .i'm trying to force myself to learn.
thnx again.
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Last edited by twitch77; 05-18-2008 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 05-19-2008, 08:13 PM   #6
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With metering you have spot, partial, center weighted and evaluative yes? Each one sees the light coming through the lens in it's one way.

Like you know the circle in the middle of your viewfinder, around the center AF point? That's all that your camera is metering when it's set to spot.

Spot's the easy one to explain. Partial is kinda like spot except it uses a bigger area. Evaluative has the camera looking at the entire scene and giving you it's two cents on what it thinks is best. Center weighted puts more importance on a specific area in the center yet doesn't ignore the rest of the scene.

If you flip through your manual there should be better explanations of the metering modes, along with pictures of what they're actually covering. It's sweet
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Old 05-20-2008, 03:45 AM   #7
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i didn't play around with the 4 metering types very much. . .and i gave up playing around with them since i just wasn't getting it.
my manual does have descriptions of the 4 types with images of the area the metering takes place.
what i didn't understand is what exactly metering did and what it was used for.
all my manual says is this:
"The metering mode is the method of measuring the brightness of the subject."
makes sense, but does it actualy do anything other then measure the light? (like darken areas that are too bright, or lighten places too dark?)
i fiddled around with them a little more, tonight. . .and that's what i'm assuming metering does. it lightens areas too dark, and darkens areas too bright.
is this correct?
thnx.
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Old 05-20-2008, 04:27 AM   #8
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I personally set the aparature I want to get the DOF i want for the image, then use shutter speed and iso to get the correct exposure, some times depending on what im shooting ill eather under or over expose it a stop.

this is where EV comp comes in. but thats a whole new lesson lol

for the first while id stick with AP Mode, adjust your shutter accordingly. will give you the best results




Quote:
and that's what i'm assuming metering does. it lightens areas too dark, and darkens areas too bright
Essentially yea... it reads the area and suggests the "Perfect" exposure.. you have different modes for different situations. Like shooting a band under hot lights you'll use Spot(on Nikon at least) and meter off a hot spot or something close to get the exposure.. if you used something gathering the WHOLE scene you would not have a properly exposed subject it would cause you to under expose because of the bright lights.

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Old 05-20-2008, 05:23 AM   #9
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ah-ha!
i think i figured out why metering isn't working for me.
i have it in manual (don't really want to change to av or tv cause even though it's taking me awhile to set my shots up, i'm really enjoying the learning process, and trying to figure out how all the settings effect my shots).
metering does not seem to work in manual mode lol i'm such a noob (wish my manual would've mentioned this).
i played with metering in tv mode (shutter priority mode) and metering has a huge impact. when i set it for focused on a bright area and shoot a dark area, the shot comes out darker, and vice versa).
i still think it'd be nice to have this option in manual though (guess that's why they call it full manual huh? lol).
thnx.
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Old 05-20-2008, 06:30 PM   #10
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yea thats the whole point of manual mode. the light meter should still show according to the metering mode even in manual mode though.. or maybe i should look through my viewfinder again lol
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Old 05-20-2008, 09:49 PM   #11
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If you want to cheat a bit, set to Program mode, focus, and see what the camera thinks is a good exposure. Then you'll know a good area to adjust.
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Old 05-26-2008, 04:42 PM   #12
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Default f-16 exposure rule of thumb (for film cameras) should work on digital..but not always

Kodak had a guide called the f-16 exposure rule of thumb which said: If you are shooting outdoors in bright daylight, and set you aperture to f-16, then your shutter speed should be set to the same (or as close as) value as your ISO. In other words, if you are using ISO 200 outdoors in bright sunlight, than your shutter speed should be 1/200th at f-16. I have found this to be close on my Olympus DSLRs but not always the case with my Nikon DSLRs. I think it is due to the way the meter reads the scene. After you have been shooting for a while with the same camera & lens, you will be able to determine closer what your exposure should be. I have been shooting many years with film, but once I changed to Digital, my exposures were off. I have to re-learn all over again, as digital reacts differently than film did, which was a rude awaking for me.
Many times (for what I shoot) I set my camera in Aperture Priority at f-8 or 11, and the Nikon D-200 exposure is very close.
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:20 PM   #13
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thanks again guys for all the great advice.

mammoth,
i now set it to program mode very frequently to check it's settings, then i head back to manual and adjust from there.
at first it felt like i was cheating
but then i decided that's part of why i spent so much on a camera. . .so i can have all these great features.
the settings in program mode are usualy pretty dead on. . .and it's making my life ALOT easier. . .i'm having alot more fun as well, as i'm spending more time shooting, then trying to figure my exposure.
thnx.
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:20 PM   #14
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Program mode is what I shoot almost all my shots on. I honestly can't be bothered yet to learn exposure and I rarely have enough time to go in to Manual and adjust it myself. If it's not exposed right I'll just use bracketing.
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Old 06-01-2008, 11:31 PM   #15
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I check this forum and the nikon (nearly wrote nokia) forum for settings for specific settings like taking shots at a major junior hockey rink. There i am going full manual as i can just adapt the settings to the lighting there.

I have to admit im having a super hard time doing the inside the house shots for parties and stuff that i am still firmly convinced that P&S cameras are far better setup to deal with everything. Last time i just set everything to auto and let friends shoot away. As one might guess, even shooting in RAW - the pictures relatively suck (espeically with using builtin flash.)

Otherwise my normal street shooting is on Aperture priority and i fiddle with WB and anything else as needed.

(Plus the cool thing about the D80 (vs the D70) is that i can shoot in black and white too!)
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