Getting to grips with my first SLR

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by mad_malteaser, May 30, 2006.

  1. mad_malteaser

    mad_malteaser TPF Noob!

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    I mentioned a while back the opportunity to buy a Minolta 7000 SLR. Well, I took the plunge and got it along with a 50mm, a 28-70mm and a 70-210mm lens.

    I've started playing around with it... I'm in the process of working my way through a film right now. But this is all very new to me, having only used compacts previously.

    I've think I've sussed out what each of the lenses is capable of and I've worked out how each of the functions works on the camera but words like "exposure" scare me. I know what it means, I know what "shutter speed" and "aperture" and "depth of field" all mean, but it seems to me that you need to know what a hell of a lot of different numbers do and my eyes start to glaze over when I try to understand it all.

    When I'm taking a photograph, should I be looking at each of these things, or does it work on a case by case basis, using only one or some of them depending on the shot you're trying to take? And have I just confused each and every one of you because I'm started to get a little bit confused myself?!

    Any advice for this fish out of water?
     
  2. 2framesbelowzero

    2framesbelowzero TPF Noob!

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    what kind of things do you want to take pictures of ?

    a lot of 'through-the-lens metering systems are aperture-driven.

    They will suggest the best shutterspeed to you based on selected aperture.
    '2.8' or '3.5' is wide aperture (remove the lens and hold it before you, so you are looking at the end which affixes to the camera body). Look through the lens and move the aperture ring form side to side and see the blades fan-out or contract...'aperture'. A wide open aperture will allow faster shutter speeds but will give a softer 'out of focus' look to your subjects background details. A smaller aperture will require slower shutter-speeds ('longer exposure') but give detail in both foreground and background.

    Using the fastest permissible shutter-speed will reduce camera-shake to a minimum but may capture subjects stock-still. If you want some blur to give a suggestion of movement then use a slower shutter-speed (by using a higher aperture stop (number e.g F16, F22) or try using 'slower' film (eg ISO 100 instead of 400). The slower-film option will give you greater choice of aperture..therefore greater choice of how you wantthe image to look (foreground/background).

    You may need a support (e.g. a monopod) if using some
    slower films.

    I'm talking availbale light photography here. Flash-photography has other limitations.
     
  3. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    First, have fun with the camera most of all. Do not let it become a chore, or you will loose favor in photography quickly and get burned out.

    Keep in mind that the following IS NOT a be all-end all. Some lenses react a bit differently than others, as do cameras.
    Fast shutter-stop motion.( 1/125 and faster) Slow shutter-blurred motion.(1/60 and slower).
    Small aperture (f-11 or smaller) will result in objects being sharp nearly to infinity.
    Large aperture (larger than f-11) will result in objects being sharp only in the immediate field of view.

    With that said, it really depends on the subject. The shutter speed, and aperture all have an effect on the final image. So thinking in those terms, consider this:

    If you want to stop action, go with a fast shutter speed.
    A fast shutter with a small aperture will result in a dark photo unless you are in direct sunlight or using a very bright flash. Contrast is good to OK, but watch the direction of the light. A fast shutter with a large aperture will result in a bright photo, but you loose contrast and you can blow out the image. So the image can look flat and/or washed out.

    If you want to show smooth water, blurring, or some other effect like that, a small aperture wont work as well, unless you want to show a lot of background. In this case a slower shutter speed and larger aperture will result in a bright image and soft motion or blurred objects that are moving. A slow shutter with a small aperture will result in blurred motion, but a bit darker and more contrast (but to a point). This is good for city-scapes with a time laps image. This way you keep the buildings in the background in focus.

    Not all lenses react the same way. Larger front elements will allow more light in, and brighter images than small elements lenses. This where the large APO’s come into play.

    Yes I know what APO stands for, but for this discussion it is these lenses that bird watchers and other critter lovers like to use. (Generally 300mm and larger.)
    These lenses allow more light, but also have apertures that allow stop motion without being too dark. The APO aspect of the lens helps eliminate (nearly) all of the aberrations found in such a lens. (Think Nat. Geographic.) Smaller front element lenses don’t have this luxury. That is why most high quality APO’s run over $1000 USD.

    Portraits are best taken with slower speeds, and wider apertures. This helps in color and/or tonality saturation. (B&W). The same is true for still life and product photography.

    Med. range such as f-5.6-f11 along with a shutter of 1/60-1/250 is ok to good for many weddings and events (along with the right ISO setting, usually 200-800). But again there is no hard and fast rules to this.

    The best thing for you to do is do a lot of practice, but keep a log to see what works. Like a police officer target practicing a good photographer shoots a lot, and misses a lot.
    Here is where Mel Gibson’s ‘The patriot’ gives solid advice:

    “…aim small, miss small…”
     
  4. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    But remember that just to confuse things further, a smaller aperture is represented by a higher f-number, and vice versa, so a small aperture is f/32 while a wide aperture would be f/1.7. I believe the 50mm lens on your Minolta is an f/1.7 (I think that's the standard Minolta AF 50mm) and it's a good lens; you may find it helps to just use that at first.


    Ah, so that movie was good for something. :p
     
  5. JamesD

    JamesD Between darkrooms

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    The technique I used with the old cameras I have, like the 1940's vintage argoflex, with no meter, was to set the shutter speed to approximately the film speed, and set the aperture to f/16, for outdoor shooting. This meshed nicely with using Plus-X ISO 125 film with a 1/125 maximum shutter speed of the camera.

    It's called the "sunny-16 rule." In sunlight, f/16 produces good exposure if you set the shutter speed to the inverse of the film speed. If some light clouds moved in over the sun, or someone stood with their back to the sun (so they weren't properly illuminated) I'd open up to f/11. If more clouds moved in, or I was shooting something in, say, the shadow of a building, I'd use f/8. If it was overcast, I'd use f/5.6.

    Indoors was tricky. Typically, f/4 would do it, but sometimes I'd have to resort to slowing the shutter down. I'd usually bracket and get close.

    I still use this, even with my fancy new SLR. I meter off the palm of my hand, and open one stop (because my palm is about one stop brighter than 18% gray--try it with a gray card; it works). Then, I shoot everything at that same exposure. If I'm shooting something that's shaded, open up a stop. If it's really shaded, open up two stops.

    It's not precise, but it works, and negative film is typically quite forgiving. Even slide film (which I practically never use, granted) is reasonably forgiving with these imprecise methods if you bracket. Try it; it works.
     
  6. mad_malteaser

    mad_malteaser TPF Noob!

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    Specific subjects haven't come up yet. I have quite varied interests as far as this is concerned but I suppose mostly cityscapes and urban photography are what interest me the most.

    Probably the best advice I've read so far. I suppose, ultimately, that's the most important thing. If I get myself swamped under numbers then I'm sure photography would quickly lose it's appeal. So far, I've just been having a little bit of fun running a film through the camera. Once I get it developed I'm hoping that the results will show me what areas I need to concentrate on.

    Thanks for that! As much as it confuses me further, at the same time I think I get it too. I've heard good things about this lens too so I'm hoping that by running a film through the camera I'll see what it's capable of.

    Now this is my kind of measuring. Would you say this is a good way to start though, or should I be learning things with more precise measuring before taking this route?
     
  7. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    The sunny f/16 rule is pretty good for giving you a general idea of how to expose in different light conditions, but your camera has TTL metering which should tell you the best shutter speed based on the aperture you choose, and this is normally fairly accurate. For more accurate metering you might want to get a handheld light meter (no need for an expensive one - try Jessops) which will also let you use incident metering.
     

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