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  1. #1
    Rpoints Legend BangraMonkey
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    Guide to your Digital SLR Settings

    1. APERTURE

    Selecting the right aperture setting is very important when taking a photo as it governs the depth of field which will draw the viewer’s eye into the actual picture.

    A number of blades inside the lens controls the amount of light let in by opening or closing. As well as controlling the amount of light, the aperture also helps to aid how much of the image is in focus – the depth of field. A diameter of an aperture is measured in f-stops. A wide aperture (f/2.8 – f/4) will give a small area in focus whereas a small aperture (f/11 – f/22) will provide a greater area of focus.

    Depth of field will decrease the closer you are to the subject. When you get close to the subject, even a small aperture will give very little depth of field and this can be used to give a greater impact on your close up shots.

    Controlling Your Aperture Settings
    All Digital-SLR cameras, will have an aperture-priority mode which can be accessed using the mode dial. Using this mode you will be able to set the aperture and the camera will automatically choose the correct shutter speed.

    Choosing the Correct Aperture Setting
    Take a look at the photos below. The photo on the left has been taken with a small aperture of f/32 with the photo on the right using a wide aperture of f/4.0.



    As you can see, changing the aperture can greatly improve your pictures by removing the background from the photo and bringing your subject into greater focus. There are, of course, situations where you will want the greatest depth of field available and sharp detail throughout such as landscape photos.

    Every image has a focus point where the image is sharpest and clearest at one point. In the examples below, photos were shot using different focal points with one set of photos being shot with a wide aperture of f/5.0 and the other with a small aperture of f/22. You can see straight away how focal points and depth of field can completely change the way a photo turns out.




    The type of lens you use will also effect your aperture. A telephoto lens shrinks the image so that items that are close to each other in your image will appear to be further apart and the opposite is true for a wide angle lens.


    2. SHUTTER SPEED

    The shutter speed works along with the aperture to control the exposure of the shot. A short shutter speed requires more light to come through the lens so a wider aperture is required.

    Shutter speeds do not give much effect when shooting a stationary object but they can make a great difference to your photos when shooting a moving object. To stop camera shake effecting your photos when hand-holding the shot, you need to use a shutter speed that is roughly equivalent to 1/lens focal length (eg. for a 200mm lens you’ll need a shutter speed of 1/200 seconds or faster to get a sharp and clear image).

    By adjusting the shutter speed you can control the movement of the subject. By using a fast shutter speed you will be able to “freeze” the subject and by using a slower shutter speed you will be able to blur the image to show the movement.

    Controlling Shutter Speeds
    Most cameras use an S on the mode dial to indicate shutter-priority mode with Canon EOS models using Tv. In this mode the aperture will be automatically selected by the camera.

    The shutter speed can be set to obtain different degrees of motion in your photos. Numbers are used to indicate the shutter speed (30” = 30 seconds, 4” = 4 seconds, 1” = 1 second, 15 = 1/15 second, 100 = 1/100 second, etc.).

    A fast shutter speed enables a freeze shot of the subject. The faster the action, the higher the shutter speed needs to be. A slower shutter speed enables us to blur the subject so as to show the actual movement.



    “Panning” your shot enables you to keep the subject in focus while blurring the background. To use this effect, a slow shutter speed must be used and the shutter button pressed while panning the subject. If you do this correctly, the subject will appear clearly and in focus as it has stayed in the same position in the viewfinder while the background will appear blurred.



    In the example below, a long shutter speed has been used to record the trail of headlights.




    3. ISO SETTINGS

    The ISO setting on your camera alters how sensitive your camera is to light. A low ISO number (100 or 200) is useful in bright conditions. A high ISO setting can be used in dark conditions to help combat camera shake that would otherwise be needed with a long shutter speed.

    For high quality photos, it’s best to stick to a low ISO setting. As you increase the ISO setting, more “noise” is visible in the image.




    4. WHITE BALANCE

    Very simply put, white balance is just the adjustment to the colour levels so that your image looks good. When the human eye sees an object it adjusts the colour automatically but a digital camera is unable to do this. To combat this problem, the camera uses a white balance setting which adjusts the brightest part of the scene so that it appears white and then calculates the rest of the colours based on this.

    The automatic white balance works quite well but can cause problems when taking indoor photos due to the lighting emitting colour tones which your camera can pick up. With special white balance settings, the camera can calculate the correct colour and shift them all accordingly.

    AUTO / AWB
    In this mode the camera will choose it’s own white balance but as it does not know which colours should look neutral and which should be strongly coloured so you will get mixed results.

    Digital cameras allow you to change the white balance manually allowing you to control the look of your photos.

    Daylight/Sunny (symbol of a sun)
    In this setting, the colours are basically captured as they are. It’ll give you good neutral tones under most sunlit conditions.

    Cloudy (symbol of a cloud)
    This setting is used to disguise the slight blue tone you get on an overcast day by adding warmth to the image.

    Shade (symbol of a house casting a shadow)
    This is a much warmer filter than cloudy providing an orange tint to the image to combat the blue cast by shadows. It is also useful for when you shoot in window light.




    Tungsten/Incandescent (symbol of a light bulb)
    Use when you shooting under standard light bulbs. This will compensate for the strong yellow of light bulbs by providing a gentle blue tone to the image.

    Fluorescent (symbol of a pluorescent tube)
    Use this setting to reduce the green cast under fluorescent lighting. This produces a purple tone under all other conditions.

    Flash (symbol of a lightning bolt)
    Very similar to cloudy but sometimes produces slightly redder results. This setting should be used in flash photography situations.

    Custom White Balance (symbol of a dot and two triangles)
    Digital SLR cameras allow you to choose your own white balance standard by pointing the camera at something you would like to be neutral. The camera will then use this standard when taking the actual shot.


    5. FILE FORMATS

    Digital SLR cameras deal with two file formats: JPEG and RAW.

    JPEG
    JPEG is the most common file type used as it is compatible with most software packages. The JPEG format compresses the image by removing data from the image that isn’t noticed too much such as changes to the colour. The advantage of the JPEG format is that the image size is greatly reduced so a lot more photos can be taken.

    RAW
    RAW files are untouched and have all the information available which means the quality of the image is very high. This type of file is best for making corrections to the exposure and colour balance as you are working with the “raw” data that the camera has captured and not compressed data like JPEG files use.

    The downside of using the RAW file format is that a compatible RAW converter must be used to convert the images to JPEG or TIFF images before they can be printed. The RAW converters however, do allow you to have greater control of the images allowing you to adjust the exposure, white balance, sharpness, contrast, and colour saturation with ease to produce great results.


    I hope this short guide was of some help to you

    T.


    References:
    Practical Photography Magazine – February 2006
    http://www.scrapjazz.com/topics/Photography/Lessons/ - Great website!
    http://www.ephotozine.com/techniques/
    http://web.canon.jp/Imaging/enjoydslr/
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/whitebalance.htm/
    A Monkey is for life, not just for Xmas!

  2. #2
    Rpoints Legend BangraMonkey
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    GUIDE TO YOUR SLR CAMERA LENSES

    1. FOCAL LENGTH


    All lenses have a different focal length which is shown in millimeters. A 50mm length will roughly give the same magnification as a human eye and these lens are the normal "standard" lenses similar to the one you may have received with your camera. If the lens has a focal length smaller than 50mm, then the objects will appear smaller and a it will give a wider angle-of-view... similarly, a lens with a focal length greater than 50mm will magnify an object and give a narrower angle-of-view.


    Angle-of-view: the affects of different focal length

    Digital Cropping
    Most affordable D-SLR cameras use an APS-C sized sensor that is 16x24mm in size rather than the 24x36mm a 35mm camera uses. So the sensor on a digital SLR will see a smaller portion of the frame of a 35mm camera using the same focal length lens which will give a narrower angle-of-view. The effective focal length multiplier for most APS-C sized sensor digital SLR cameras ranges from 1.3 to 1.7 depending on camera model. So the view in a digital SLR camera with a 1.6x multiplier is the same as what you would see with a 35mm SLR and lens with a focal length 1.6 times longer. In the example below you can see that a digital SLR with a 1.6x multiplier and a 24mm lens crops the lens covering area down to the same view you would see using a 38mm lens on a 35mm SLR camera (1.6 times 24 = 38.4).




    2. TYPES OF LENSES

    Prime Lenses
    Any lens that has a fixed focal length without the ability to zoom in or out is called a prime lens.

    Zoom Lenses
    A zoom lens allows you to change the focal length which will allow you to zoom in or out on your subject. Zoom lenses are a lot more versatile than prime lenses and the quality of them has improved vastly over the years.

    Standard Lens
    A standard, or normal, lens will produce an image similar to what the human eye sees. It is ideal for everyday shots such as portraitures or group photos and standard prime lenses typically range from a 50mm to 55mm focal length.

    Wide-Angle Lens
    A wide-angle lens produces a wide angle of view giving it a greater depth of field than a standard lens. They are ideal for taking landscape photos, buildings or large group photos. Wide-angle lenses have a 18mm to 35mm focal length.

    Telephoto Lens
    Like a telescope, a telephoto lens is used to zoom in to a subject you are unable to get close to such as wildlife photos or at a sporting event. They are also great to pick up on distant landscape features to produce an atmospheric effect. Telephoto lenses have a 80mm to 500mm focal length.

    Macro Lens
    These lenses are used for close-up photography. They allow you to focus on an exact point but because of this it can be difficult to produce a good result.


    3. DEPTH OF FIELD

    When taking a shot, the distance in front of and behind the subject that is in focus is known as the depth of field. This is controlled by three factors - subject distance, aperture, and focal length.

    Subject Distance
    The closer you are to a subject, the smaller the depth of field. This is very noticeable when taking close-up shots.

    Aperture
    The smaller the aperture you use the greater the depth of field will be and vice versa... a larger aperture will reduce the depth of field.

    Focal Length
    If the aperture and subject distance stay the same, a larger focal lens will produce less depth of field and a shorter one more.

    How to get limited depth of field:
    - Use a wider aperture
    - Use a telephoto lens
    - Get closer to your subject
    How to get a larger depth of field:
    - Use a smaller aperture
    - Use a wide-angle lens
    - Get further away from your subject
    Handholding
    Choosing an aperture value will have an effect on the shutter speed. A small aperture needs a slower shutter speed so holding your camera steady can become a problem unless you are using a tripod. As a rule of thumb, use 1/focal length as the slowest safe shutter speed for handholding a camera... eg. if you're shooting with a 200mm lens then you'll need a shutter speed of at least 1/200 second. With D-SLR cameras you may need to round up a stop to compensate for the focal length conversion (ie 1/400 second).

    If you still want to use a small aperture, increase the ISO setting until you have an easy to handle shutter speed however, quality of the shot will be reduced slightly.


    4. LENSES FOR LANDSCAPES

    Wide-Angle
    The ideal lens for shooting landscapes. A wide-angle lens will allow you to capture as much of the scene as possible giving a much broader view of the whole area. Because the wide-angle lens makes objects look a lot smaller it's a good idea to include some foreground interest to add a sense of scale to your image.



    Telephoto
    The magnification of a telephoto lens allows you to capture interesting detail in a scene. The telephoto lens brings the distance nearer and because of this, the atmospheric perspective is far more obvious than in a wide-angle photograph making it very good in rendering the atmosphere of a certain time of the day.



    Macro
    Look out for small plants or rocks to use as the main point of interest and focus in closely to fill the frame with this detail. Use a wide aperture to give a limited depth of field and produce an out-of-focus background or try a small aperture for a greater depth of field giving more detail to the background.




    5. LENSES FOR PORTRAITS

    Standard Zoom
    A standard zoom lens covers a range of focal lengths making them very flexible and allowing you to create the desired crop on a subject be it a close headshot or a full-length shot.

    Choosing the correct focal length is very important on portrait shots as shooting close to your subject with a wide-angle focal length will produce a large and stretched nose which you don't really want (unless you are looking for that effect). Step back and use a longer focal length to zoom in and produce a "flatter" image. The closer you want to crop in on your subject, the longer focal length and the more zoomed in you should be.



    Ideal Focal Lengths

    Full-Frame (Film)
    Close headshot: 90-200mm
    Head and shoulders: 70-135mm
    Half-length: 50-70mm
    Full-length: 35-50mm

    1.6x Cropping Factor (D-SLR)
    Close headshot: 60-135mm
    Head and shoulders: 50-90mm
    Half-length: 35-50mm
    Full-length: 24-35mm

    2x Cropping Factor (D-SLR)
    Close headshot: 50-105mm
    Head and shoulders: 35-70mm
    Half-length: 24-35mm
    Full-length: 17-24mm

    Macro
    A macro lens is great for close portrait shots as you are able to be very creative with the depth-of-field giving focus to your subject. The focus is very good so you are able to produce sharp images making them stand out even more.



    Wide-Angle
    As you have seen, wide-angle focal lengths can produce unflattering results but shot at the right angle can produce some very interesting photos. If you shoot with a high viewpoint features such as the forehead and nose can appear exaggerated with the hands and feet appearing much smaller in relation to these features. The opposite effect can be achieved by shooting downwards.




    6. LENSES FOR CLOSE-UPS

    Macro
    A macro lens is ideal for close up shots as you are able to focus on your subject at life-size size... 1:1 magnification. Some macro lenses can give you an even better magnification which will allow you to focus in on minute detail like the eye of an insect. The lenses typically range from 50mm-180mm with a decent focal length being about 100mm.

    Macro photography is probably the most difficult to master as it is very difficult to focus on a subject due to the limited depth of field.



    Telephoto
    Using a telephoto lens you can isolate your subject from it's background and therefore being highly selective of your depth of field to produce some amazing results.




    7. LENSES FOR WILDLIFE

    Telephoto
    The ideal lens for shooting wildlife as you can shoot from a distance without scaring your subject away. The long lens will allow you to magnify into a subject, pulling it away from the background to produce stunning images.



    Macro
    A great lens to use for close-up images of domestic pets. The close focus of the lens will allow you to pick up great detail like a cats eye for example.



    Wide-Angle
    An ideal lens if you wish to shoot a subject in it's natural environment.


    8. LENS CLEANING TIPS

    It's very important to keep your lenses dust and grime free... follow these simple guidelines to keep them in good condition:
    1. Remove dust and grit using a soft brush or air blower before you wipe the front of your lens to stop scratching of the lens.
    2. Use a quality microfibre lens cloth to clean your lenses and make sure you keep it clean and away from your pockets. NEVER use a t-shirt to wipe your lenses.
    3. Replace the front and rear lens caps immediately when you remove the lens from your camera to prevent dust getting in.
    4. Clean the whole of the lens regularly and make sure dust does not get into the external moving parts of the lens.
    5. Use a lens hood if you have one... it will stop glare and also accidental impact damage.
    Make sure you invest in a quality cleaning kit. A soft brush, microfibre cloth and a cleaning spray are very important in keeping your lenses in great condition. It might also be worthwhile investing in a skylight filter for each of your lenses as they will be a lot cheaper to replace if you should accidentally scratch it.






    References:
    Practical Photography Magazine "Using your Lenses" Field Guide
    http://photonotes.org/articles/beginner-faq/lenses.html - Great site!
    http://www.shortcourses.com/choosing/lenses/10.htm
    http://pages.ebay.com/buy/guides/cam...-buying-guide/
    http://www.digital-slr-guide.com/bes...-slr-lens.html
    http://www.sphoto.com/techinfo/dslrvsfilm.htm
    http://photoinf.com/General/Wim_van_...hotography.htm
    http://cp.c-ij.com/english/photoshoo...unction02.html
    http://www.ephotozine.com/techniques....cfm?recid=206
    Macro lens portrait from: http://laraferroni.typepad.com/ferroninet/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macro_photography
    Telephoto lens close-up from: http://lakelandcc.edu/biophoto/teleflower.htm
    A Monkey is for life, not just for Xmas!

  3. #3
    Rpoints Legend BangraMonkey
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    thread updated... thanks for all your comments so far

    Quote Originally Posted by hoiwei
    Thanks BM! Fantastic stuff
    Quote Originally Posted by BruceyBonus
    Brilliant! I don't have an SLR but it's explained everything that people talk about on the Photo forum.
    Quote Originally Posted by adeemnisar89
    Same here but my camera has some of those features, so very helpful!
    Quote Originally Posted by globbits
    Yes, excellent information and - I hope - will spur people to trying out all those twiddly knobs. It really can make a difference!
    A Monkey is for life, not just for Xmas!

  4. #4
    Junior Member shy_ted
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    What an excellent guide, thanks Bangra.

    Ted

  5. #5
    Contributor tubbs
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    I enjoyed reading your guide, thanks Mr Monkey
    .....I may be arguing in my spare time....

  6. #6
    Contributor Minardi
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    I'm still dreaming of a DSLR (for when I leave uni, I think) but I enjoyed the guide, despite the criminal Jelousy it gave me....

  7. #7
    Rpoints Legend BangraMonkey
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    i'll be adding to this guide very soon (sometime this year :P)... any specific areas you'd like me to write about?
    A Monkey is for life, not just for Xmas!

  8. #8
    Contributor stuartatkinson
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    id like to know more about the various flash settings and how to get best results using flashes and flash guns.

  9. #9
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by stuartatkinson
    id like to know more about the various flash settings and how to get best results using flashes and flash guns.
    He's gone all quiet now.

  10. #10
    Rpoints Legend BangraMonkey
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    yep... flash settings is cool. i use a canon speedlite 430ex myself
    A Monkey is for life, not just for Xmas!


 

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