What Really Are The Right Settings?

ptvredwings

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So I definitely understand what each setting is and the matter of counterbalancing them with each other to create a good looking image. But I have learned a large part of my photography from doing lowlight with fairly limited gear. I had always gone straight for lowering my aperture to 2.8 or 1.8, and typically doing concerts also have to increase my shutter for the motion and then figure out an ISO that's not too high for it. Obviously anything can be done for artistic purposes but with doing more daylight shoots and able to have more light source what typically would a portrait be set at? I've been told that you shouldn't increase the shutter too high, your aperture shouldn't be as low to retain a sharper image so what would you guys suggest?
 

Derrel

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You are opening up your aperture to f/1.8 or to f/2.8. Opening up the aperture means using a large-sized hole (apoerture) to admit light; thise larger holes are the low numbers, like f/1.8 or f/2, or f/2.8, so the correct term is opening up the lens. The larger-sized apertures are low in numerical value, like f/1.2, a very LARGE aperture, or f/1.4 or f/1.8. Small apertures are the apertures like f/8, or f/11, or f/16, which are tiny little holes, but which have high numerical values. Setting a small aperture is called stopping down the lens.

There really are NO specific "ideal" setttings for any situation; settings depend on the desired pictorial or creative effect; for example, if you want to show a guitarist's hand movements as a blurred hand, slow shutter speeds like 1/20 second or slower might be used. Same with drummers and stick movement: slower speeds like 1/90 second or 1/80 or 1/60 second will show some movement of the drumskin ends of the drumsticks, but the hands holding them will be mostly sharply-rendered.

ISO level can be set to AUTO ISO, and in Manual camera mode, the photographer can establish the desired/needed f/stop value (let's say f/4) and the deisred/needed shutter speed (let's say 1/125 second) and the camera will automatically adjust the ISO lvele upwardly or downwardly, to get the "right exposure" for the settings of 1/125 and f/4. ISO level used depends on the camera to a high degree, but also personal preference.

In general, with longer lenses (80mm,90mm,100mm,135mm uop to 200mm) shutter speeds of 1/100 second or faster are best for motion-stopping and limited camera shake and minimal blurring due to long lens lengths magnifying the image. With SHORT lenses...like 50mm and under, shutter speeds can be dropped lower,like into the 1/60 to 1/20 second range, with minimal blurring of subject movement due to the short lens having LOW magnification of moving objects.

On an overall stage shot, say one done with an 18mm lens from the wings....it might be possible to go as slow as 1/8 second, and make a decent frame of mostly-still people. A tight close-upo shot, say an at-the-microphone shot of a gyrating singer shot with a 200mm lens, that tight of a shot might easily require 1/160 second to get a crisp, non-blurred shot.

Again, there really are no "magic" nor any "ideal" settings, just as there really are no "magic" lyrics and no magical, one-size-fits-all singing method.
 

480sparky

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SoulfulRecover

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Completely subjective.

With my DSLR, I shoot at f/2.8 almost all the time. Any lower, I typically miss my focus. Shutter speed depends on available light, focal length of the lens I am using or if Im shooting with a strobe. ISO; 50, 100 or 400. Maybe 800 but honestly I don't think I ever need to go that high.

Edit: I guess the correct answer would be: buy a light meter or learn how to use the meter built into your camera. From there learn how to compensate your exposure for changes amongst the ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed.
 

dennybeall

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You will get a feel for what settings to use after shooting a lot but even then your eyes will fool you and you will have to go to the light meter to get the best settings. One time you're outside and set 450 @f11 and that's correct. The next day, or an hour later, and your eyes say the light is the same and it will need 200 @ f8 to get a proper exposure.
 

Designer

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I've been told that you shouldn't increase the shutter too high, your aperture shouldn't be as low to retain a sharper image so what would you guys suggest?
Frankly, those are some very strange admonitions! Are you sure you heard that correctly?

My suggestion:

Select an aperture that will get your entire subject in focus (see DOF discussions), a shutter speed that will "freeze" normal human unsteadiness, including camera shake if you're holding it, and let the camera use whatever ISO it wants (auto ISO).

So let's say that you're going to photograph someone's portrait. The individual is standing about 8 feet away, so use an aperture that will let your lens and sensor keep the person in reasonable focus (guessing around f/5.6 for instance). Then assuming you're hand-holding the camera, set your shutter speed to say 160/second or faster.

These are not hard and fast settings, because obviously I don't know anything about the light, and I didn't mention which lens, but hopefully you can use your camera's light meter for the exact settings.
 

fmw

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The right settings are the ones the produce the result you want. Sometimes there are no settings that will produce that result. Sometimes we have to add light to the subject. Sometimes we have to fail to get what we want.

As a matter of observation, most images of dark subjects are overexposed because the metering system wants to produce a medium gray result. You may just need to dial down the exposure.
 

TCampbell

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I think that you've certainly gotten a feel from the responses here that your asking a highly subjective question... there's no "right" answer because the right answer depends on what you're shooting and what sort of result you want.

You can shoot with deliberately fast shutter speeds -- specifically to freeze motion -- as well as with deliberately slow shutter speeds -- specifically to blur motion.

You can shoot with deliberately wide aperture -- specifically to create a shallow depth of field and deliberately blur the background -- as well as a deliberately narrow aperture ... sometimes I do this to create a broad depth of field and get nearly everything in focus... but I've also done this to deliberately create diffraction spikes on points of light to create a star-like effect.

What is your subject?

What is the effect you want to achieve?

Even knowing these two answers it would only be possible to offer general guidance because some settings are based on the range of limits for the equipment. e.g. "I want a slow shutter speed but I don't have a tripod with me." or "I want a shallow aperture but my variable zoom lens won't let me go below f/5.6 at the long end."
 

Dave442

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It seems to me that you answered your own question at the start. In your low light situations you learned a base setting that would get you close and then you adjusted from there. The same for portrait work or any other photography, set up the camera for what should be close for the conditions and then fine-tune the settings as you have more information or as conditions change. If you start with settings that are not at the extreme then you leave some room to make those adjustments.
 

chuasam

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Look for this icon on your camera and use it.
639112452.jpg
 

Bebulamar

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It's up to you. I normally use f/8 or f/5.6. In bright sun I may use f/11. In low light I may use f/5.6.
 

KmH

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Why is it that most people don't seem to get fractions?

f/2 is a way bigger number, and a larger aperture, than f/8 is.
If the lens has a 100 mm focal length, at f/2 the lens aperture is 50 mm wide.
If the lens has a 100 mm focal length, at f/8 the lens aperture is 12.5 mm wide.

The same with shutter speed - 1/4000 of a second is way smaller number, and a way shorter period of time, than 1/250 of a second is.
 

480sparky

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Why is it that most people don't seem to get fractions?
.........

The same reason sum peeple cant spell correclty or use puncuation or dont know how to use apostrophe's they can't use proper sentence sturcture or even hit the enter key once in a while to create a new paragraph. Its just the way it i's.

What may be natural and intuitive to you doesn't automatically mean it's natural and intuitive to everybody. As an electrician, I can tell you right off the top of my head what color wire I should use for circuit #39 on a 480/277-volt 3-phase system. To me, any 2nd-year apprentice should be able to do this. But most either need to carry a 'cheat sheet', look at the prints or have to count it out manually.
 

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