Operator Error, Camera Malfunction or just the Nature?

shadow3829

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I'm a newbie to the DSL world. I have had a couple of beginner classes and have a basic understanding of the exposure triangle. My camera is a Nikon D3200 with the kit lenses. I am really struggling with getting the right exposure in anything but bright outdoor lighting when in any of the non-automatic modes. The camera is set on Matrix Metering. Even in medium to light shade and adjusting the ISO up to 3200 with the aperture the widest it will go I'm barely able to get a 1/60 on the shutter. Is that normal?

I was playing around this evening and turned on all of the lights in the living room, including the overhead. I had to bump up the ISO again to 3200, with widest aperture I could get a 1/60 shutter. The thing I noticed the most was that in re-angling the camera into different positions by an inch or so the shutter would fluctuate alot. Again is that normal?

The camera is usually in the aperture priority mode. I have researched and researched and am really getting frustrated.
 

weepete

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Indoor lighting is rubbish quite frankly, so yeah, its normal to stuggle with exposure in those conditions. Sometimes you can get good results with good bodies and fast glass and even that is limited and the entry level kit you are using just isn't up to the same performance. Either you need to use really bright studio lights or invest and learn to use a flash and that will help a lot!
 

Derrel

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The part about the camera meter fluctuating dramatically in response to minor re-positioning of the camera---no, that's not 'typical' or 'normal' in Matrix metering mode, unless there happens to be an actual light source within the frame. An exposure variance of one, or two stops is fairly normal in response to minor camera re-positioning. However, bright light sources, like light bulbs, light fixtures, and window light shining in to dark rooms--those types of light sources CAN cause some fairly big fluctuations. Now, if a camera is in SPOT metering mode, minor repositioning of the camera can cause HUGE exposure shifts, very commonly.

Something like a Nikon SB600 of SB700 flash would be very handy for your indoor shooting.
 

radiorickm

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Well, first suggestion, while in Aperture Priority mode, is move the aperture fully in both directions while watching the shutter speed and see what happens.

BUT, Here's a quick thing to do to check your meter...(for your confidence that it is right)

Go back to the good old days, and use one of the things we all had to memorize.... the sunny 16 rule.

What this means is this: Set the ISO to 100 (that's the film speed equivalent)
Now, set your shutter speed to 1/125 of a second. (film speed equals nearest shutter speed)
Now, set the APERTURE to f16 ....hence the sunny 16 part of the rule.
And for the SUNNY part, go outside and take a picture in full sunlight.

Your meter should agree that this is a near correct exposure.

You can adapt this rule by adding stops to it as the ambient light level decreases.

I suspect, as someone mentioned, you are CLOSING your aperture instead of opening it. Remember, the F-number represent a fraction (or a ratio), so 2.8 is the LARGEST or wide end, and 16, 22, and 32 are SMALL openings, or closing down your aperture. 1/2.8 is a bigger piece of pie than 1/22. (Would you rather have a pie divided into 3 pieces, or 22 pieces? the 3 pieces will be much larger)

Good luck
 

bratkinson

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Welcome to the wonderful world of the exposure triangle 'battle', as I call it. Regardless of what you 'want' on one or two of the items, the third one will become a problem, and you'll end up making adjustments on one or both of the first two. One of the posters here, a couple weeks ago, called it an 'acceptable compromise'. And that's what it is. Trade off a little of this for a little of that, and so on.

Indoor photography with no flash is very difficult to get satisfactory results. Cranking up the ISO 'too far' will make pictures with too much noise. Slowing down the shutter speed too far will result in blurred images due to subject and/or camera movement. Opening the aperture too far will create a narrow (thin) depth of field that may result in group pictures having some people not in focus. It's a continuous tradeoff.

One of the easiest first steps in indoor photography is using a flash to increase the lighting. The popup flash on most cameras is 'workable', but that's a stretch. Frequent red eye is it's biggest fault. Its light is too harsh/bright for the first 10 feet or so (3m), and everything farther away is left in the dark. So an external flash that mounts to the flash shoe on the camera and allows head positioning for bounced lighting is a good choice. I'm not familiar enough with the Nikon brand to make any recommendations for a specific flash.

The next step, or perhaps the first, is to stabilize the camera better. When using shutter speeds slower than 1/125 second, subject movement (people, pets) commonly causes a slightly blurred result. Shutter speeds slower than 1/<focal length> (eg, 1/50th for a 50mm lens) will sometimes result in blurring due to camera shake. Learning to 'steady yourself' (breath control, sitting, kneeling, leaning against a wall/pillar, etc) is a good start. Beyond that, a monopod is quite useful and easily transported indoors. Bulkier and more expensive than a monopod is a tripod, for 'rock-solid' camera stability.

Don't waste your money on 'protection' filters or UV filters. They're unnecessary. And hold off on buying other filters as well, until you need them. Circular Polarizing (CPL) and Neutral Density (ND and GND) are about the only filters you will need at some point, but wait until you have a true need for them (you'll figure it out), and then, buy good quality (eg, not cheap!) filters.

If others haven't already said so, welcome to the world of DSLR photography. It's a bit step from point and shoot and/or cellphone photography, and will soon having you taking pictures that were not 'possible' with lesser products. But, watch out, it CAN become addictive, particularly "GAS" (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). That addiction to faster glass, better camera, better tripod, you name it, can max out a credit card in no time. Been there, done that!
 
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shadow3829

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I suspect, as someone mentioned, you are CLOSING your aperture instead of opening it. Remember, the F-number represent a fraction (or a ratio), so 2.8 is the LARGEST or wide end, and 16, 22, and 32 are SMALL openings, or closing down your aperture. 1/2.8 is a bigger piece of pie than 1/22. (Would you rather have a pie divided into 3 pieces, or 22 pieces? the 3 pieces will be much larger)

Good luck

Thank You for the test suggestions I am going to try that. I am opening the aperture by using the smallest number, I am already over that learning curve. :)
 
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shadow3829

shadow3829

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Actually I feel better knowing it is not the camera. I ordered a 35mm prime with a f\1.8 yesterday to help with the light and will be looking into a external flash also.

Thank Y'all for the replies!!
 

astroNikon

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Good choice. I learned so much about photography when I bought a 50mm/1.8 -- Depth of Field, apertures, indoor photography, etc all started making sense from what I was reading. I just needed a good learning tool, aka the f/1.8 lens to learn from.
 

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