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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560

    Cool Image for the heck of it

    One of the things that seems to keep coming up is that people want to get more out of their camera than it was natively designed to do … AUTO. One of the first things to understand is that your camera is capable of a heck of a lot more than AUTO allows it to do, so the first prudent move you could make it to just … EXPERIMENT. You are not going to hurt that camera, but realize that some equipment has implied limitations ... and you shoud take that into account.

    Sure, when you point the camera at little Suzy … and ask her to smile and such, in AUTO w/ the built-in “pop-up” flash extended, you press the shutter release and you capture that “Kodak moment.” The chances are you will get a picture that looks just fine to Ma and Pa and away you go. Good camera, great kid … ho-hum shot.

    Reconsider taking the shot with some other method of lighting … using the camera’s real qualities to capture the moment.

    When the flash is used, in AUTO, the camera goes into TTL (through-the-lens) management of the flash, speed, aperture and ISO. It tries to balance the lighting in the image as best it can, based on an algorithm that determines such images. Sometimes this works out … and oftentimes … it kind of doesn't.

    Now, AUTO is helpful in getting you mind wrapped around the lighting requirement the camera asks for to properly expose the image … BUT (big BUT here), it does not compose your shot for you. It does not take into account:
    1. Movement
    2. “Bokeh” or DOF(depth of field) requirements
    3. Distance (well, sometimes, sometimes not)
    4. Other lighting effects you may want to include


    In other words, AUTO is a plain "vanilla" photograph … that usually only has one subject in focus.

    This is where EXPERIMENTATION can teach you the rest of your craft. Once you have determined what the camera wants for lighting, you can turn to MANUAL and set these same proposed settings that AUTO came up with and modify them from there.

    You have to know the exposure relationships of the settings. That doubling the time of the shutter speed increases the source light by twice. Cutting the shutter speed in half, reduces the light by half or an entire f/stop.
    Aperture is usually divided in f/stops … and that multiplying your current f/stop setting by 1.4x with reduce you lighting by half or … yep, an entire f/stop.

    Are you starting to see the light?

    ISO is basically the sensor’s sensitivity to light, usually starting at ISO-100 … doubling it increases the sensitivity by double. So, ISO-200 is twice (or an entire f/stop) as sensitive as ISO-100. ISO-400 is twice as bright as ISO-200 … and so on. The only problem is that as you increase this sensitivity, you usually introduce digital noise … when the sensor starts to become a bit creative when it is “light-starved” and generates arbitrary noise (colored flecks and clumps) in your image.

    Okay, given a SONY A100 camera with the very common “kit lens” mounted on it.

    You plan on shooting an image at 70mm

    SO … for argument’s sake, let’s say that with a half-press of the shutter, AUTO's metering has generated the following settings from an indoor shot:

    Aperture: f/5.6
    Speed: 1 sec
    ISO: AUTO (yeah, it doesn’t say until you snap the shot and look at the specs) -> normally 400
    White Balance: AWB

    Believe it or not … without flash, the camera, in this case is really strained.

    Go ahead, count off one second. Say, “One Mississippi.” I’m afraid that is a “long time” for something to hold still, especially your own two hands. Just try and hold that camera steady. ‘SSS’ (Super SteadyShot) can go to around 1/15th sec –on a good day- but forget ONE full second. You need a tripod and, preferably, a release cable.

    So, what can you do with the camera … and the kit lens … to alleviate this? Actually, not much. You can figure, if you continue to use the “kit lens”, indoors, without flash, you are, quite literally, tripod bound.

    Even if you were to ramp up the ISO to 1600 … you could change the shutter speed to second. You still cannot “handhold” this slow a shutter-speed, consistently, even with ‘SSS’. Also, you have added sensor-noise to an already light starved image … and that’s going to be another challenge. You cannot widen the aperture because it is as wide as the “kit lens” allows at 70mm. So, in essence, you are still stuck with the tripod, only your shot looks worse!

    The “kit” is the bottom of the line when it comes to lenses. It offers no aperture lower than f/5.6 no matter how much you may want it. Sure, you could get a lot closer and zoom back to 18mm. That’s a pain, because now you are dealing with image distortion of a wide-angle lens. Suddenly, the shot offers nothing.

    Yeah, that is what I was thinking … lose the kit lens!

    So, you're back now and you have your brand new TAMRON SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) lens … let’s work on that original image a bit and see what happens.

    First off, at 70mm … the TAMRON allows for an f/2.8 aperture. That is two full f-stops faster than the “kit.” What can we do?

    Set Aperture to f/2.8
    Set shutter speed to 1/8 sec
    Set ISO to 800 (doable)

    With this simply lens change, you do have a truly handholdable “no flash” shot, with the SONY A100, but not only that, you know have a lens with the flexibility to provide a great deal more to your shot, like “bokeh” or a “fuzzy background”, which at f/5.6 ... was nonexistent. The resultant image will look very much like what you got with that 1 second exposure, only ... sharper.

    Consider this … with a kit lens … you are trapped indoors to either a tripod or a flash device. Your images look unnatural and usually are uncomfortable for the subject, who has to either “freeze” for 1 full second or be “blinded” by your annoying flash device, depending on the lighting. The camera is working as hard as it can to make a good image with such a lens. Is that really a fair use of your camera?

    Please, discuss this amongst yourselves …
    Last edited by DonSchap; 02-02-2009 at 10:27 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560
    This discussion requires some interaction by the person reading it.

    Go ahead and grab your camera, as you are sitting there reading this ... no, go ahead ... I'll wait.

    (jeopardy theme plays) (<- click here)

    Good, you're back.

    Now:
    • Turn the camera on and leave the built-in flash in the down position
    • Place it in "M" (Manual) mode ... go ahead, indulge me
    • Set the Shutter-speed to 1/30 sec.
    • Set your aperture to as wide as it will go (for argument sake -> f/4)
    • Set your ISO to 800
    • Set WB to AWB
    • Using the existing light in the room, take an image about three feet away from the light source.


    What you more than likely have is a dark-looking image, where you can barely make out definite shapes, based on the reflective surfaces. Obviously, this is NOT a "keeper."

    Now, simply turn the mode dial to AUTO. Hold still and quickly take the identical shot.

    -GASP- ... look at that shake! My God, that's terrible. Check out the shutter speed on that puppy ... probably around half a second, eh? This is precisely what I am talking about. Are we getting the picture?
    Last edited by DonSchap; 02-02-2009 at 10:44 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,562
    Not if we use AUTO.LOL
    Frank
    Sony A77
    Sony A580
    Sony A 100
    Maxxum 400si.
    Sony 18-70 Kit Lens
    Minolta AF 35-70
    Minolta AF 50 f/1.7
    Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 Di LD
    Tamron 60mm Macro
    Tamron 17-50 f/2.8
    Tamron 2x Converter
    Sony HVL-F42AM
    Quantaray 70-300 4.5-5.6 Macro
    Slingshot 200 Bag



    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22083244@N06/

    http://s305.photobucket.com/albums/nn219/sparkie1263/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    80
    When I win the lottery (or get a really good job) I will buy new glass. Until then I am stuck making "ho-hum" pictures with my a-100. I wish I could buy that $350 lens, but my budget (wife) probably doesn't think it's worth it. Not that she doesn't like the camera and love the shots we get with it, specifically when using the external flash indoors, but it's hard to justify for a hobbiest. I'm not sure if I am making that word up...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560

    Cool Some glass is worth the cost ...

    Quote Originally Posted by jcray19 View Post
    When I win the lottery (or get a really good job) I will buy new glass. Until then I am stuck making "ho-hum" pictures with my a-100. I wish I could buy that $350 lens, but my budget (wife) probably doesn't think it's worth it. Not that she doesn't like the camera and love the shots we get with it, specifically when using the external flash indoors, but it's hard to justify for a hobbiest. I'm not sure if I am making that word up...
    I've got some bad news for you ... most of us are not making money with our equipment and are usually hobbyists. Some a bit more serious about it than others. It is that kind of sport.

    Like anything, please explain to your "SO" (Significant Other) that photography is very much an investment. If you want BETTER pictures, it helps to have better equipment. If you want average images ... you know, and so forth.

    Whether you know it or not, at this point in your "hobby", you would be getting a hell of a bargain by buying and using the TAMRON SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) lens. For that amount of money, it is, without question, the best bang for the buck when it comes to zooms ... except for its near-brother, the TAMRON SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF).

    Nothing SONY has around that price can match it. In fact, nothing they have under $600 can! So, that's a pipe-smoker.

    Anyway, despite the budget ... this is the best bang for the tight budget and definitely worth a few days in the dog-house to have. It should return excellent results ... based on your ability, of course. If anything, it won't be the lens' fault.

    Just wait until you move up to the 70-200mm f/2.8 and have the very same argument. That'll be fun.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 02-03-2009 at 09:54 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Monmouthshire, UK
    Posts
    2,152
    Quote Originally Posted by jcray19 View Post
    ............ but it's hard to justify for a hobbiest. I'm not sure if I am making that word up...
    No, "hobbyist" is good.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Guelph, Ontario
    Posts
    1,903
    if i had my own way, i would be buying lenses left and right, but with a baby on the way and all the accessories that go with that, i have to watch my spending :-(
    Canon EOS 7D

    flickr
    FLUIDR

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560
    No disagreement with that ... children cost money beyond belief. Gaming systems are not cheap to support. Enjoy the next 18-years ... there is a lot to it.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Guelph, Ontario
    Posts
    1,903
    the 28-135mm is on it's way and the boss doesn't know i got it or that i sold the Sigma 70-300mm.
    so this way it looks like i didn't really get an additional lens let alone buying or selling :-)
    i was gonna pick up an a700 last week when Henry's had an open box for $799 CDN but it was gone the next day.

    btw Don, a900 costs about $2,799 CDN at Simon Camera in Montreal. apparently lots of Americans bought from there when the price was a few hundred cheaper for the body but now it has gone up to $2,799 CDN. better than $2,999 CDN that i have seen around where i live.
    Canon EOS 7D

    flickr
    FLUIDR

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Des Plaines, IL
    Posts
    9,560
    I have actually seen it for $2300, U.S., on the web. Personally, I can wait it out. The A700 is a great camera ... and that leap in price is just not justified. In fact, I would say, there are such distinct advantages to having BOTH ... yes, BOTH cameras ... that I would not sell the A700, if I got the A900. So, the realized cost goes up accordingly. LOL

    It's always something.

    Thanks for the advisory on the CDN cost.

    "One day my Price will come ..." or something like that! Millz has got me thinking "Disney" thoughts.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

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