Auto or manual - digital camera

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PaliKona
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Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by PaliKona » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:52 am

I'm looking to step up the quality of my landscape shots while hiking and skiing. In the past I've always just used the auto feature on my cameras....I'm kinda lost when it comes to manual; does anyone have advice on how to learn? I just got a Canon S110. Also, do you typically shoot in RAW?
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by Tim A » Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:22 pm

I too just got an S110 for Christmas and am experimenting with manual settings for the first time. This blog gives some information on the extreme basics of using manual settings and what they mean. There are links at the top and bottom of this article which lead to other posts about various aspects of shooting in manual. This is where I started just a week ago and I already feel like I know significantly more about camera work than before. Obviously other more experienced photographers on this site can point to sources of more detailed information.

http://digital-photography-school.com/aperture" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by RyGuy » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:07 pm

The Ultimate Canon SLR Handbook by Digital Camera World is a great place to start, despite being written for DSLR owners. It's 220 pages of awesome if you are just getting into manual photography. There is a wealth of info on the key principles of photography, along with tons of great visual examples showing what a setting on the camera does to illustrate the point they are making. I actually picked up a copy the last time I was at London Heathrow and ended up reading the entire thing through on the 10 hour flight back to Denver. You can order it shipped from Europe to your house for under $25. Or just download it onto your tablet.

http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2013/ ... nd-iphone/

As for shooting in RAW, yes. I typically shoot RAW + large JPEG. That allows me the power of RAW for editing later, but have a JPEG to give to someone the second I get home if the image doesn't need editing. The downsize to this is space. You will find yourself needing large memory cards, and even bigger hard drives. Shooting raw typically means the resulting image will be 4-5 times bigger than a JPEG. So with a 12MP sensor on your camera, expect the RAW images to be as high as 18MB per image.

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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by pseudoghost » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:54 pm

PaliKona wrote:I'm looking to step up the quality of my landscape shots while hiking and skiing. In the past I've always just used the auto feature on my cameras....I'm kinda lost when it comes to manual; does anyone have advice on how to learn? I just got a Canon S110. Also, do you typically shoot in RAW?
First, I would start with the assisted modes like aperture priority or shutter priority. Those modes help you figure out what effect each setting has on the image while not overwhelming you with all the options. Also, you can get a pretty good feel for most settings in manual with the live preview that most Canon cameras have, so just go in there and start playing around with the settings. You should be able to pick up the basics pretty fast.

Don't bother shooting in RAW. You won't use the extra information, and it will only complicate your life, as you'll need to invest in some software to really take advantage of RAW images.
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by pw » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:01 pm

PaliKona wrote:I'm looking to step up the quality of my landscape shots while hiking and skiing. In the past I've always just used the auto feature on my cameras....I'm kinda lost when it comes to manual; does anyone have advice on how to learn? I just got a Canon S110. Also, do you typically shoot in RAW?
I usually use Aperture Priority and let the shutter speed take care of itself. That way you control depth of field, which usually seems to be the most critical part of landscape photography. If shutter speed does start to get too low at your selected aperture you can bump up the ISO speed. There are times when you want to do something creative that requires you to control the shutter speed, then of course you can select shutter priority or manual.

Most of the time I shoot raw, although probably in most cases jpeg would be fine. The thing raw will do for you is allow you to recover from mistakes better than jpeg. You can correct for missed exposures better, although that takes some experience and some time spent tweaking things with software, and you can fiddle around with white balance if it happens to be off. I suppose what you want to do depends on your tolerance for time spent post processing.
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by PaliKona » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:14 am

Thanks for the links and discussion. Very helpful.

When you say control the depth of field, are you referring to the way you can flatten or stretch a shot? For instance, shooting Pikes Peak from the north of Denver, but flattening the shot so it looks like it's right about the city?
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by yorksman » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:28 am

PaliKona wrote:Thanks for the links and discussion. Very helpful.

When you say control the depth of field, are you referring to the way you can flatten or stretch a shot? For instance, shooting Pikes Peak from the north of Denver, but flattening the shot so it looks like it's right about the city?
Depth of field is how much of the shot will be in focus. Such as 4ft to infinity or just the 2 feet in front of you. Depth of field varies on the f stop number such 2.8, 4, 5.6 plus the type of lens being used wide angle or zoom. If you used a telephoto lens and shot something 6ft away with a f stop of 2.8 the depth of the shot in focus could be just inches. Use the same lens and f-stop but focus at something on the horizon and the depth of the focus can be a long way. Higher number f-stop such as f11 of f16 will require a longer shutter speed. Hope this helps a little.
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by jchapell » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:24 am

I've found the improvephotography.com site to be immensely helpful, for beginner to intermediate how-to's.

Here's a great "cheat sheet" for some settings - use these as baselines to start with, but they aren't written in stone. Use the link for the full size version.
http://improvephotography.com//wp-conte ... tSheet.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Image



Check out these links - the first one in particular is absolutely worth the half hour to go through:

Just starting out ("I'll get you shooting in manual mode in 20 minutes or less in this tutorial"):
http://improvephotography.com/photography-basics" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

About shooting modes (like aperture priority mentioned earlier)
http://improvephotography.com/photograp ... ing-modes/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Here are some additional mountain-y informational lessons-

Landscape composition:
http://improvephotography.com/9187/land ... mposition/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

General Depth of Field (DOF)
http://improvephotography.com/445/advan ... -aperture/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Depth of Field for Landscape:
http://improvephotography.com/769/hyper ... -of-field/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Photographing night sky (actually about shooting northern lights and Milky way, but should work for stars):
http://improvephotography.com/10497/how ... made-easy/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://improvephotography.com/5955/how- ... milky-way/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Photography Website: http://www.jordanchapell.com
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by colokeith » Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:38 pm

I also generally shoot in aperature priority or shutter priority mode. I got the following books from Douglas county library and found them quite useful.

Landscape Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Digital Landscape Photography
Photographing the Landscape: The Art of Seeing


I always shoot in the raw!
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by dehrlich101 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:19 pm

The book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is a great way to learn about working your camera in the manuel mode.

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exp ... 0817439390
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by PaliKona » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:06 pm

Very interesting reading.

So do most of you use Aperture Priority most of the time when out in the wild (hiking, skiing)? It seems unless I want to focus on a subject in the foreground and blur the background (which is rare for me), I should be shooting with large depth of field (highest aperture on my camera is F8). But b/c of this, the shutter speed is slower than say F2.8? Therefore, use a tripod? Am I sort of getting this?
Thanks
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Re: Auto or manual - digital camera

Post by Mark Curtis » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:45 pm

PaliKona wrote:Very interesting reading.

So do most of you use Aperture Priority most of the time when out in the wild (hiking, skiing)? It seems unless I want to focus on a subject in the foreground and blur the background (which is rare for me), I should be shooting with large depth of field (highest aperture on my camera is F8). But b/c of this, the shutter speed is slower than say F2.8? Therefore, use a tripod? Am I sort of getting this?
Thanks
Yes, if you want more of the scene to be in focus you would use f8......but that is the "minimum" aperture, not the highest. It's a little confusing until you try your manual settings a few times. A good tip is to think of those settings as wide and narrow instead of high/low or min/max since the numbers themselves are the inverse of what they represent (if not thinking of them in terms of fractions). The f8 would be the narrowest setting. The corresponding shutter speed (to make a proper exposure) would be slower at that point (which by the way is not referred to in f stops, but rather fractions or whole seconds).....so, yes.....you might need a tripod if the light is lower. Some of that depends on how low (the light is), and how effective your image stabilization is on this camera. The other thing that works well is to use a monopod combined with your IS......less cumbersome to carry and will keep your photos fairly sharp (for all practical purposes) for all but the lowest light shots and/or intentional long exposures.

Another factor is the "speed" of the lens itself.......the s110 seems to have a very nice "widest" (max) aperture of f2. Keep in mind that widest aperture is only at the widest angle. As soon as you zoom the aperture range changes and you would need to change your in camera settings accordingly (if using full manual). At the longest focal length your widest aperture is f5.9. Big difference, but that is normal on most relatively inexpensive point and shoots.

Finally, don't forget about ISO. The images are exposed by a combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. You can get away with faster shutter speeds if you crank up the ISO. The problem is....esp. with the relatively small sensors on point and shoots vs DSLR's........there is proportionately more noise as you increase (the ISO).

Hang in there. You seem to understand the basic concept of aperture vs shutter speed and how that relates to needing some form of stabilization. The main thing is you're trying to learn and now you have a camera that features manual settings......which will help you grasp the remaining info more readily. I think reading books helps, but that only provides a basis for the understanding. You have to get out there and use your camera......and don't be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. That is how you learn.
Last edited by Mark Curtis on Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:58 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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