Super-noobie questions; 56kers will hate me.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Tyorik, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. Tyorik

    Tyorik TPF Noob!

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    First off, hello. I'm hoping you guys can help me understand this "photography thing" a little bit better, since I know very little about it.

    My camera is certainly not a professional one (SLR or DSLR, though I'm DEFINITELY thinking about getting one), but a Canon SD900. I got it about a year and a half ago. It's a great point and shoot camera, in my opinion anyway - I've somehow managed to take some pretty interesting pictures with it that I thought were beyond its scope. But I've also taken some really, really horrible ones - which is why I'm here. I took several night shots that turned out SUPER grainy... Just... Horrible.

    [​IMG]


    How horrible is that? Bleh

    Maybe it's a camera limitation, but I was wondering is there's particular adjustments one can make for night shots.

    It takes great day/high light pictures:
    [​IMG]

    It took me a long time to figure out even how to accomplish halfway decent pictures like that. I'm a computer technician - I'm not stranger to technology, I just can't seem to comprehend how to make the pictures sharp though, consistently. The LCD on the images fool you into thinking the overall quality is great, yet when transferred to a computer you can really look at them under a microscope and there's alot of flaws.

    This is one of the only low-light shots that managed to come out even remotely well:
    [​IMG]


    I know it's kind of stupid to try to ask for model-specific advice when there's a myriad of P&S cameras, but some of its settings, photographically speaking, confuse me. For instance: "Foliage Mode", in the scene modes, somehow increases the shutter speed (or something... I may be getting ahead of myself in vernacular) and actually allows me to capture some action shots where I couldn't figure out how to get decent action shot in manual mode (plus, who can risk missing an action shot and getting a crummy image, instead of going with a scene mode that you know will atleast work somewhat-well?). This was taken at about 75mph on the highway:

    [​IMG]



    Again, foliage mode. Because I couldn't figure out how to more accurately get the picture without blurring and such in manual mode and I didn't want to risk missing it. :( or maybe I'm just expecting way too much out of a P&S camera - or another possibility: I'm supposed to go through a little photo editting to make my pictures look the way I want them to. That's a whole different can of worms that I don't want to tinker with quite yet.

    My last question is this: my camera gives me several resolution sizes to choose from when taking the picture; L (3648x2736), M1 (2816x2112), M2 (2272x1704), M3 (1600x1200), then there's small, postcard and widescreen. Then on top of that there's options for "Superfine", "Fine" and "Normal". My default choices for these is M3 on "Fine". But I can really only assume that this is resolution and sharpness. I didn't want to set either too high in case it added a delay or even blurring for action shots. Any suggestions on this or should I leave it alone?

    Or maybe some has some simple photo editing tips/procedures I should run through with all of my photos?

    Anyway, sorry for my lengthy post and noobish questions, lack of proper vocabulary and otherwise noobish camera. Hopefully someone can take a stab at a few of these.

    Thanks!
    Jordan
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  2. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    First the easy stuff...

    The fine/superfine/etc. stuff is the quality of the JPEG it records. The higher the quality the better the overall fidelity of the image. (you'll get less noise, stepping, etc. in your pictures.)

    If you're not taking the highest quality, that will have at least something to do with some of your noise issues and stuff.

    Some of your other noise issues are probably underexposure, or possibly the camera picking high ISO settings... however, the information your camera stores about the image it took is... weird. So it doesn't really even tell me what ISO you were at on these.

    To some degree, I think you're expecting a bit much of your P&S. That is not to say you cannot get the pictures you want... you may well be able to, but generally I find that a P&S makes you jump through some pretty serious hoops to get what you want, and then frequently only to miss the shot by a split second because they aren't fast enough on the "shutter" response.

    Certainly, keep trying, but if you're going to shoot night or low light shots you are pretty much going to have to kick the thing into manual mode and shoot using a tripod for 15-30seconds or so, variable dependent upon your aperature.
     
  3. W-7

    W-7 TPF Noob!

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    I agree with manaheim. You may be asking a lot of a P&S, but on the other hand, I've seen some excellent photos taken by P&S cameras.

    By the way, you may want to downsize your photos prior to posting, so that users can see the entire thing without having to scroll horizontally. That would require some quick tinkering in software, but might get you more feedback.

    Your first photo appears to be very noisy. That's probably due to the camera automatically choosing a high ISO to compenstate for the low light. P&S cameras are especially prone to lots of noise at mid and high ISO, due to their small sensors. Try manually setting a low ISO. That will correspond to a slow shutter speed, and will probably require a tripod.

    The second photo looks a lot better, as you said. There's much less noise, but the sky still looks a little overexposed. In this case, the sky was probably lot brighter than the foreground when you took the photo. The camera sensor has a limited "dynamic range", meaning that it cannot correctly capture both very bright and very dark areas in the same image. The camera, set to an automatic mode, makes a compromise.

    With a DSLR, you would have more options to work around this. However, with your P&S, you could try various manual settings and see if that gets you a better image.

    You've probably heard people say that photography is all about light. Sounds like a cliche, but it's true. You might improve the second image simply by waiting around until the lighting is more "even" (i.e. the sky and the foreground are similar in brightness). Again, though, taking photos in low light usually necessitates a tripod.

    I understand the fear of missing a photo because you haven't completely figured out the various modes on your camera. However, you'll need to experiment with these settings eventually. Maybe start by developing a good understanding of the basics, such as how aperature, shutter speed, and ISO are related. Do a search, there's plenty of info on that here.

    P&S cameras are definately limiting, but yours shouldn't prevent you from learning more about photography. Keep experimenting, ask questions, read books, and search the web!
     
  4. Weaving Wax

    Weaving Wax TPF Noob!

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    I've actually done some excellent work with a P&S. The limitations of a P&S force you to be more creative to get the shots you want....
     

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