Look, SONY products are on the upswing. Where else can you see this dramatically happening for any manufacturer. It is an exciting time to be part of a growing and evolving device.
Admittedly, things are not progressing at the rate we all would appreciate, but still, it is still in its infancy ... since the resurrection. A lot of people are banging the drums and beating on the doors ... trying to get things out there, but SONY (by it enormous nature) is a monolith and, unfortunately, the camera department has to stand in line with everyone else.
I hate to ask, but have you seen Nikon or Canon producing any full length feature films or releasing any music albums? Yeah, me neither. It is a big line over there at SONY. If you hang with the crowd, who knows what may evolve? Many may not remember this Adobe entry (<- click here and scroll down the page, to start the video), but if SONY got a hold of this technology and ran with it ... wow! Computational Photography (circa 2007). If you haven't seen this video or something like it ... it is the future of photography .. and it makes the current range of DSLRs look like a clay tablet and a stylus.
Don, that lens, the biggest load of hogwash I ever saw. Doesn't exist, never will.
If it did, there'd be no 3D and no changing viewpoint either.
The beauty of the modern camera means you don't really have to think about it all that much any more. Back in the days of manual only cameras, and yes I remember them before you ask, it was a real hassle. Camera in one hand, light meter in the other, DOF scale between your teeth, cigarette behind your ear, put one in your pocket, adjust camera, light changes, put something down, get light meter from pocket... well, you get the idea.
Originally Posted by seanhoxx
I thought I'd list my "workflow" (to borrow a term) in case it's of any interest
I usually start with the camera at ISO 200 (base ISO for A700) and in Aperture mode so's I can control the DOF.
I've decided by now what the shot is and how to frame it, fitted a lens appropriate to the the task in hand and checked for the proverbial lampost growing out of someone's ear and shifted position appropriately.
#1. Choose an Aperture that gives the required DOF and set the WB.
#2. Have a good look through the viewfinder to see what's what (make sure to look around and behind the subject again). By now I've a good idea what exposure compensation is needed and made the adjustment.
#Note. Best to do it now cos it affects the shutter speed; this comes with practice, you just have to learn to read the scene; lots of bright sky probably needs +1EV (or more) positive compensation or a graduated filter. A snowy scene +1½/2 stops positive compensation. Bride in a white dress +1EV or more depending on how much dress is in the frame, and so on. If there's time you can always fire off a test shot and look at the histogram; if everything is clumped up to the left you need positive compensation, negative if it's clumped to the right. If you're still not sure "Bracket" the shot. If there's no time for chimping (I learned a new word thanks to someone here) bracket it anyway.
#3. Check the shutter speed set by the camera and decide if it's appropriate for the shot. If Ok goto (6)
#4. If the shutter speeds' too fast (rare but you may be trying to smooth running water or somesuch) ISO 100 gives you 1 stop, CPL filter another 1½ stops, ND filter up to 4 stops. That should be more than enough.
#5. Shutter too slow, it's Monopod/Tripod time. If none available I'll open the aperture by 1 stop and gain another 2 by bumping ISO to 400/800 if needed.
#6. Good to go.
Of course, this is no help to Sean at the Basketball court trying for an ambient light action shot, a much more problematic situation.
In this case I'd start with the camera at ISO 800 and in Shutter Priority mode so's I can Freeze the action and fit a long lens. My preference would be the 28-135mm because of it's ultrafast focus and its' sharpness wide open. It's perhaps a bit short but the Beercan softens over 160mm when wide open and I sold the Minolta 100-300 in anticipation of the Sony 70-300mm f4.5/5.6 G (ordered 26th Jan still waiting).
There'll be no checking for the proverbial lampost here (no time) but I'll try and find a position somewhere near a baseline which might minimise background intrusions.
#1. Set lens wide open to limit DOF as much as possible and concentrate the action in court. I'm going to get level with one of the baselines and take nothing much the other side of the Centre Circle (too small with 135mm). So, the action shots will be at a distance of 40 to 90 feet which means the DOF is between 4' and 25'. The closer shots will need accurate focus but have good isolation and the ultrafast focus on the 28-135mm will be a big help.
#2 Select "Spot" AF mode to track the action with the centre sensors.
#3. Check the shutter speed set by the Camera; oh terrific, 1/80th, just what you don't need for an action shot. So I need two more stops to get to 1/320th which is just about do-able (1/500 would be nice), there may be a bit of blur in the limbs but if the faces are sharp it'll suffice. I could go to ISO3200 but I don't want too much detail blurring noise, so I'll leave it at ISO800, set the exposure compensation to -2EV and "push" it in Camera Raw (see earlier in the thread for explanation). It will also be worth a try at ISO1600 -2EV to get the shutter up to 1/640th.
#4 We're good to go.
A few things to remember.
It's been a long time since I did all this (back in the film days) so I'm a bit rusty.
I'm not as steady as I once was so bring out the trusty old Monopod. Well not so old since I replaced the old, heavy one with a Carbon Fibre lightweight.
To fill the frame with action use the camera Vertically, which is a bit awkward without the vertical grip, but necessary. Now this is OK with the "crossed sensor" of the A700 which should be able to track the players just as well as when horizontal. I'm not sure that the A100/350 will do as well. At the 40 foot distance a player is going to pretty well fill the frame of the 135mm lens and this is going to equate with the opposite side of the D around the basket which is good. I say that because you can forget anything from this side of the D because all you're going to get is the back of the player's head and that's worse than useless. Ignore any shots unless you get a clear view of the face, you're only going to throw it away if you do take the shot. You will probably be chucking away most of the shots as it is; don't expect ot retain more than one in fifteen, or worse.
Anticipate the moment! There is a tangible delay beween the image registering on the Retina, interpretation by the Brain, instruction issued to press the button, mirror flip up and shutter open. So you have to squeeze that button nice and early, and that's before the "moment" actually happens. Scary Eh! Maybe that burst mode will come in handy after all. You usually need to get the ball in shot; if the ball has gone sailing out of view by the time the shutter opens, so has the story.
Another word about shutter speed. Conventional wisdom says that a handheld action shot requires a shutter speed at least the reciprocal of the focal length with an extra 2 to 3 stops on top to freeze the action. The longer the lens the more margin you need. That means that the 135mm lens requires 1/135 +2stops = 1/500th but the SSS will lend a hand so 1/250th will probably cut it. Move to a 300mm lens and the math says 1/300 +2 to 3 stops = 1/1250 or 1/2500 so you can see that the 300mm lens is out of the question for the available light, even the SSS can't save the situation.
Sheesh, did I start off by saying this was easy. It sounds a lot harder than it is when you write it down than it does in practice. Anyway, this is getting much too wordy so I'll give it a rest for now. Hope it helps someone.
Very good work flow list. As for WB I never touch it unless I am inside with artificial lights.
Well, auto WB is fine when you shoot in RAW because it's easily fixed.
To the OP:
If you like Sony gear, and it's within your means, pick up a new or warrantied refurbished A700 and install the v.4 firmware, and pick up a 50/1.4 while you're at it. I haven't shot an A700, but over at DPReview, it seems that this firmware update really brings the A700 to parity with the D300 in sensor quality. DPReview even re-did their A700 review to reflect the quality with v.3 firmware.
If you want to leave Sony for another brand, I can say that my cousin uses a Nikon D90 and 50mm f1.4 Nikon AF-D lens indoors at ISO 3200 and f1.4, and that combination finds more light than the human eye sees. Seems to focus pretty accurately as well.
If you like a prime heavy lens lineup and in body stabilization, Pentax might be worth a look - especially a K20D.
Nice detailed work flow Peek, another print out for the 'big book of photo knowledge' Thanks much.