I am new to SLR photography. Need beginers help please.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Harpua, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. Harpua

    Harpua TPF Noob!

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    Hi Everyone. First time poster here. I am new to the world of SLR photography. I had been using a Nikon Coolpix 990 for years. I bought one within the first month that it came out in the US. I took a lot of great shots with it and was very please with that camera for years, but felt I was getting frustrated at the lack of control I had. I basically used it on full auto mode, but knew I could (eventually) do much better if I went the SLR fully manual route.

    I went out and bought myself the Nikon D70S kit. I know I could have probably done just as well with the D50 or another camera, but I have high hopes of learning and using every aspect of this camera eventually. Right now I am feeling a bit overwhelmed though so I am hoping you fine folks can give me some help and point me in the right direction. Here is what I am looking for...

    I would love to find information (to start with) on shutter speed, aperature, and fstop settings. I know the basics (very basic) such as the smaller the fstop, the larger the aperature is and the more light will pass through. What I think I am struggling with though is knowing what setting to use when. For instance, if I know I want a small fstop then how would I know exactly which one to use. Would I want to go right to f 1.4 or could I use f 2 or f 2.8 or even something higher? Same question goes for shutter speed. How would I know when to use 1/500th over 1/1000th?

    I have a million more questions, but this is the first one I wanted to tackle because I think it is what I need to understand first in order to start using this camera the right way.

    Thanks so much for any help you can give me!
     
  2. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    Hit the library get a book on it.

    Shoot a lot. It will come eventually.

    Search google on "exposure basics" "photography basics" "Beginner photography" "aperture explained"

    Search this forum too. Your question has been answered a few zillion times and I've seen some really good links illustrating the concepts you're asking about.
     
  3. Harpua

    Harpua TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the quick reply DocFrankenstein! I have googled and gotten books, but most of what I have found just goes right over my head. There is tons of math and graphs and equations that just mean nothing to me without someone walking me through it.

    I guess what I should have said I was looking for was someone to explain these things in plain English. I know that is a tall order, but I am hoping not out of the realm of possibility.

    I will certainly be searching on this site for answers though. You all seem to really know your stuff. I am sure I am going to learn a ton here. I just hope you can put up with a beginner :p
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum,

    So you have been bitten by the DSLR bug? A lot of us have :D

    I also suggest getting a good book on BASIC photography and/or doing a lot of internet searching. The basics of exposure (shutter speed, aperture and sensitivity (ISO)) have not changed with the advent of digital cameras. So even a 50 year old book could be a good read for you.

    The good thing about digital is that you can test and experiment at virtually no extra cost...and the feed back is instantaneous.

    Try some experiments...take a shot with the camera's suggested settings (in auto mode)...then try both aperture and shutter priority modes. The exposure should be the same but you can see how changing one variable changes the other to compensate...and how that effects the image.

    Then try manual mode...adjust the settings according to the meter...and then try adjusting one or both of the settings...to see what you get.

    The 3rd variable (ISO setting) is pretty straight forward. Try to use the lowest setting to reduce noise (or higher to gain noise)...if you need a faster shutter speed...then you can up the ISO.

    And of course, feel free to ask lots of questions here. Don't forget to try the search feature first to look up all the good stuff that has already been posted.
     
  5. Harpua

    Harpua TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the welcome and the info Big Mike! yeah the bug bit hard and left a big nasty welt.

    I like the idea of doing those experiments. I will have to try doing just that next chance I get.

    OK this part is confusing me and unfortunately I don't have my camera here with me to look at it. A few different sites I have been on today have mentioned checking the meter. I am guessing that is something I see when looking through the viewfinder, but I am really not sure. What does the meter show me and where do I find it (I am guessing that would be specific to the type of camera). How do I read it? Thanks again for all your help.
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I found Bryan Peterson's [ame="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0817441816/002-0816593-4181638?v=glance&n=283155"]Learning to See Creatively[/ame] to be a really good book for explaining how different camera settings affect your image. There are lots of great example pictures in the book, so you don't have to try and figure it all out just from the text.
     
  7. Harpua

    Harpua TPF Noob!

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    Oh Big Mike I just thought of another questions about doing those experiments. Can you give me a suggestion or two of subjects and locations to do these experiments. For instance if I do these with a bowl of fruit, will changing the shutter speed show enough of a difference? I think I just answered my own question actually as that is what this experiment will tell me :lol: Sorry to be thinking out loud here.
     
  8. Harpua

    Harpua TPF Noob!

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    Thanks markc. I am putting that on my library list for sure!
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Basically...evey modern camera has a built-in light meter. That's how it know what settings to use when in any of the manual modes.

    The camera will probably have a scale somewhere...on the LCD display and/or in the viewfinder. In any of the auto modes...the settings should be set so that the 'needle' is in the middle. You can set "exposure compensation" that will change the settings to keep the 'needle' at a different point on the scale. (+1.5 or -.5 for example).

    When in manual mode, you will see the same scale...all you have to do is adjust the settings until the 'needle' gets to the middle of the scale or zero.

    That's the easy part...concentrate on figuring that out at first. Then you should learn how to manipulate the camera because the meter really has no idea what it's shooting.

    Camera meters have to be set for a 'zero' value...that value is about %18 grey...or mid tone. The camera always want to expose for a mid tone....it wants to make everything grey (in terms of exposure, not color). So if you took a photo of white snow...at the meter suggested settings...it would look greyish...same with a really dark scene...the meter wants to make it grey.

    To really get a better exposure, you have to know when to adjust the settings off of zero reading...how far to adjust it...and which direction. I hope I'm not getting confusing here....it's kind of hard to explain/understand until you have the basics down...so just practice, practice, practice. Even shooting in auto mode can be helpfull....just watch what settings the camera is using...and you will get a feel for what to use.

    One basic rule of thumb to help you out....when shooting hand held, you want to keep the shutter speed fast enough to prevent blurriness from camera shake. The rule is this...shutter speed should be faster than 1/focal length. So with the lens at 50mm, try to keep the shutter speed at 1/60 or faster. If the settings are giving you a slower shutter speed...you will have to open up (lower number) the aperture to compenstate...or add light (use flash) or steady the camera (tripod etc.)
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Good question, different shutter speeds won't really affect a stationary subject like a bowl of fruit...except for camera shake...however, changing the shutter speed will mean changing the aperture. Aperture controls the DOF (Depth of Field)...that is the range of distance from the camera that will appear to be in focus.

    Try setting something up outside (or with a lot of room behind it) make sure to focus on the subject. Take a shot with a small aperture (large F number) and a large aperture (low F number)...you should be able to see the difference it how much of the background is in focus.

    If you have a moving subject (kids, pet, spouse etc.) try using different shutter speeds to see how fast it has to be to freeze the motion. Try a slow speed to get blur...try a fast one to really freeze the action.
     
  11. Harpua

    Harpua TPF Noob!

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    Thanks so much Mike. That is all very helpful info.

    The only thing I am still confused on (and probably will be until I look at my camera) is the meter. I remember seeing the needle on film cameras in the past, but I know that my D70S does not have a needle. Perhaps it is a bunch of leds or something similar. I will have to take a close look when I get home.
     
  12. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Courtesy of Google images
    [​IMG]

    The meter scale is at the bottom, just to the right of centre.

    also...[​IMG]
     

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