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Using full manual control

gsxr400 14 14
9 Feb 2007 7:11PM
My first day of using full manual control has made me realise i didnt know what settings to use, it was taking me at least 3 attempts to get the correct exposure. but the results were better than using the cameras fully automatic mode.
Does anybody have any guidelines for exposuse values to use ie bright sunny day indoor use just to get me started.
I know about depth of field just couldnt get the speed right to match the appature.
keith selmes 18 7.4k 1 United Kingdom
9 Feb 2007 7:40PM
Sunny 16. A simple method to get you started.

Short description

In depth approach
timbo 19 596 United Kingdom
9 Feb 2007 8:13PM
Are you using some kind of meter? Guessing the exposure is the hard way.
Use the cameras built in meter to give you a starting point and then play with the aperture and shutter settings to see what difference the changes make.
User_Removed 17 17.9k 8 Norway
9 Feb 2007 8:15PM

Quote:Guessing the exposure is the hard way.

Andrew said:

Quote:but the results were better than using the cameras fully automatic mode.

He's on the right track Tim...

spaceman 17 5.3k 3 Wales
9 Feb 2007 8:50PM
Rather than using manual perhaps you'd be better off using auto exposure and tweaking it with exposure compensation. Manual exposure is best used in conjunction with a handheld meter (in my experience).
keith selmes 18 7.4k 1 United Kingdom
10 Feb 2007 10:00AM
I would agree with Spaceman. I have used Sunny 16 and also an exposure chart successfully, but would not normally do this.
For vintage cameras, old handheld meters are quite cheap and usable.
Normally though I rely on the in camera meter. I do tend to work manually, but only adjust exposure away from what the meter recommends if past experience suggests that a tweak either way is required.
Sunny 16 is a good thing to know about though, and its good to have it as a fundamental back up if everything else goes wrong.
gsxr400 14 14
10 Feb 2007 11:17AM
Thanks for your comments,
I think with some practice i should be able to find a quick way of finding the right exposure.
P.S. if you want to check out my first attempt at full manual control go onto my page and it is the one of the little boy looking out.
gsxr400 14 14
10 Feb 2007 6:58PM
Just one more question.
Is it worth learning full manual control.
With new expensive cameras with all these automatic features wouldnt they work just as well as if i did it manually?
andytvcams 19 10.4k 1 United Kingdom
10 Feb 2007 7:08PM

Quote:Just one more question.
Is it worth learning full manual control.


Quote:With new expensive cameras with all these automatic features wouldnt they work just as well as if i did it manually?

takui neko 18 849 11 Spain
10 Feb 2007 7:09PM
It is worth it, no doubt.

No camera can guess what you want and a "good" exposure doesnt always mean a good image.

Also in certain circumstances you might want a series of images with a fixed exposure, say to make a stitch for instance, the auto setting will always have a variation you might not want.

You can think of it as a DOF with light, if that makes any sense. :o)
keithh 17 25.8k 33 Wallis And Futuna
10 Feb 2007 7:15PM
Horses and courses - a great many photographers, in sport for instance, use Shutter/Aperture priority settings with the necessary compensation, in part due to many sports taking place in changing light/shadow and partly because they want an easier life - it can be a long day.
miptog 16 3.6k 65 United Kingdom
10 Feb 2007 9:31PM

Quote:Horses and courses
This is just so true. In situtaions where you cannont control the light, almost about anything outside the studio, the camera will try and get an accurate exposure, but invariably be fooled. Manual settings, if done correctly can get it nearly right, but in most cases there will have to be some post processing. Additionally in changing light situations it can often be easier to use an auto settting with exposure compensation for something that is nearly right. As I recall "Andy Rouse" suggests you keep the camera in aperture priority about f4, I think, with -1/3 exposure compensation.

ZenTog 19 7.9k 1 England
10 Feb 2007 9:36PM
i shoot 99% of my work outdoors, i use aperture priority and change metering patterns dpending on the angles of light etc, if shooting back lit subjects sometimes use the matrix metering , but always dial in or out 1/3 to 1/2 of a stop til lI like what I see on the lcd or the histogram.
it can be a long day , but you dont want to make very long editing session drag on longer because of poor exposure
nikon5700ite 17 1.8k
11 Feb 2007 10:05AM
That automatic didn't give you the 'correct' exposure probably means that you don't know enough to recognise the situations where ANY meter will lead you astray, in the camera or in your hand. A meter has never been more than a guide, it is amazing that Auto modes are as good as they are for so many situations, but you have struck a situation where it needs your help.

You don't neccessarilly need manual outdoors to get good results but to understand how the meter is taking it's reading and to appreciate that it tried to render everything in it's field of view to a medium grey .. it is reading an average of the area it is reading ... you can with some cameras vary the particular area it is reading.

True as you found you can get the 'correct' exposure by trial and effort or you can learn to appreciate how the camera works and get 'correct' exposure first time by helping the meter to give the correct answer. It is often much simpler and quicker than working in manual [though that comment has been a red rag to a bull/some here in the past unfortunately]. My favourite way, for a most common situation, is to take half-trigger while including more of the highlight area likely to be blown, and holding HT as I re-frame for the shot I want. I then adjust in editing.

The 'correct' exposure is one that gives you the material to produce the result you want out of editing rather than looking great straight out of the camera, nothing wrong with that if the situation permits. But the camera is just the first stage of the process.

So in your indoor situation you need to look for areas in the picture which are leading the meter astray. A bright highlight, window in background, may be causing under-exposure if your subject is not so brightly lit by the ambient light. Alternatively if the subject is in a shaft of sunlight but a moderately small area of the picture with dark unlit background then the camera will over-expose. You haven't given us any clues to why the auto was put wrong by your subject material so I'm guessing a couple of alternative problems. But in each case you can help Auto by taking a reading with the camera concentrating on the subject when the background is misleading Auto. In the second case by reading just the subject in the shaft of light.

Using my Canon DSLR I have a needle at the bottom of the frame and in either of those situations I would cut out the window/cut out the dark background and centre the needle, then reframe or step back for the shot.
With my pro-sumer in manual once I take half trigger I also have a similar indicator showing two stops either side of 'correct' and would do the same as with the DSLR.

So it is not just using manual but using your meter correctly and appreciating what is going to lead it astray.

I've got large windows in my 'studio-cum-workroom' and love using ambient light and the only other thing I frequently use is a reflector, white card/polystyrene/silver foil, to lighten shadows,the side away from the window.

Quote:No camera [meter] can guess what you want and a "good" exposure doesnt always mean a good image.

You have got to tell it/help it. Smile
ericfaragh Plus
18 149 5 United Kingdom
11 Feb 2007 11:46AM
In approaching manual exposure for the first time, it can be useful as an initial step to examine and appraise the situation and the subject before beginning to think about setting aperture and shutter speed.

What is going to be most important in the image you wish to produce? Is there action which needs to be frozen? Or is there a background setting for a foreground subject that you want to emphasize? And how good is the light for your purposes and where is that light coming from?

If your priority is to freeze fast action, then shutter speed will be your main concern and aperture must follow the fast shutter you need to stop the action. Where you want the background to be as sharp as possible and the background is at infinity, then aperture must take priority and shutter speed must be adjusted to suit it.

Individual situations give rise to individual problems that can only be addressed on-site, at the capture of the image. For example, if it is snowing and you have a foreground still figure set against a snowy background, the falling flakes will complicate matters, as will the reflective qualities of the snow on the ground. Falling snow flakes might be “frozen” with a fast shutter speed, but it may turn out that the shutter speed demanded by this element of the image also demands a large aperture to let in enough light for a good exposure and thus the background will suffer as the dof becomes more limited. Photographers in such situations must ask themselves what is most important in the image. Is one of the main points of the image to be the falling snow? If so, a higher ISO might help the situation by adding a higher range of shutter speeds for correct exposure. If the falling snow is very light and amounts to no more than a few flakes, then these could be removed in post-processing, the fast shutter speed is no longer so important and the aperture needed for a good dof can take priority, giving a sharp foreground figure set against an acceptably sharp snowy landscape in the background. Of course the dof is partly influenced by the lens on the camera; with a wide angle lens there is more dof to play with.

In my experience, the “correct exposure” indicated on light meters is not to my taste and gives weak, muted colours. Manual exposure allows you to capture an image closer to your own vision. I nearly always underexposure my images (according to the light meter) because to my eyes the results appear closer to reality.

The use of full manual becomes easier the more it is used. One of the strengths of using digital is the way you can experiment without financial penalties and see the results almost immediately. This ability to review the capture right after taking the shot gives the full manual setting more appeal than it had during the days of traditional film and the more you use it, the more you’ll see the benefits.

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