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Thread: Camera Settings Help for a Newbie: Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO

  1. #1

    Camera Settings Help for a Newbie: Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO


    I just stumbled upon this forum while trying to find info on taking pictures. I love to take pictures and have for some time, but I am trying to teach myself more about photography and how to control the manual settings and what they all mean, etc.
    I just got a new camera (Fujifilm Finepix S2000)....I had a Fujifilm E900 that the new camera replaced. I am trying to play around with the settings and stuff.....does anyone have a Finepix S2000 or anyone familiar with this camera? I have a couple of questions if you don't mind!

  2. #2

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    I'm afraid that I don't have the camera, but if I can help with any of the general principles (shutter speed / aperture / ISO etc), you only need to ask.

    Cheers,

    Colin - pbase.com/cjsouthern
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th January 2009 at 05:49 AM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Welcome TobeysMama,

    I have a quite similar, tho' older generation, Fuji Finepix S6500.

    Give me a try; I might know the answer, or could look it up on web for you and interpret any technical bits.

    That seems to be a UK/European model number, I'm wondering where you're located?
    I'm in Windsor, UK.

    Regards, Dave
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 2nd January 2009 at 02:02 PM.

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    I've got an even older than that; the 5600, and the new Z 20fd. I find them incredibly easy to use but the settings are very limited.

    Dave, I used to live in Windsor. I was security at King Edwards' Court below the train station. It's a small world.

    Mark

  5. #5

    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    I am in the U.S., Florida to be exact.

    These are toally newbie questions, so please bear with me!!


    My main thing is that I don't get the shutter speed/aperture setting and how to adjust it. It only allows me two aperture settings that I can find (I know I am missing something)....sometimes it lets me choose F3.5 or F7 and other times it is F4.4/F8 (this is on full manual mode).....I get how to change the shutter speed but still shaky on what shutter speed to match what aperture.

    I need help to understand ISO settings too....


    For example I was trying to take a picture of my sons feet (he's just a baby ) and I wanted to have his feet the focus of the picture and have the background blurred....I played with the settings several times and got one shot right, but not real sure how I got it if that makes sense...

    Any help is appreciated - thanks for your patience!
    Last edited by McQ; 21st February 2009 at 05:24 PM.

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Wild guess here ... I'll bet your son's name is Tobey?

    I can't help with the specifics of your camera, but in general it works like this ...

    The sensor in your camera needs a certain amount of light to take a good shot - and that amount is always pretty much the same. To get the right amount we only have a couple of controls to play with (ignoring ISO for now) - The shutter speed, and aperture (or "size of the hole that the light enters through").

    Shutter speed and aperture are linked ... the bigger the aperture (lower F-Stop number) the more light that gets let in - and so the faster the shutter has to open and close to get the right amount of light. If you use a small aperture (big F-Stop number) then the shutter must stay open longer to let more light in. (a bit like the time it takes to fill a bath - the more you open the tap (aperture) the less time you need to keep the water running (shutter speed) to fill the bath.

    So a good exposure is always a case of getting the right combination of aperture and shutter speed. Most cameras allow you to pick one - and the camera will choose the other to ensure things are nicely balanced (although you may be able to override the camera and choose both).

    Although - in terms of exposure - a fast shutter speed / wide aperture or a slow shutter speed / narrow aperture may give you the same exposure, varying the aperture also affects what's called the "Depth of Field" (DoF) or "how much background is in focus as well as the primary thing your photographing", In your case you're wanting feet in focus, but a blurry background - so you want a narrow depth of field, and a (comparitively) high shutter speed. (I say comparitively high because the actual shutter speed may still be quite low if you're shooting in a place that's not very brightly lit, but it'll still be a higher shutter speed than it would have been had you have taken the shot in the same light with a narrower aperture).

    ISO is a way to get higher shutter speeds for a given aperture, or in turn a narrower aperture for a given shutter speed (ie still get a good shot in poor light - it helps alleviate camera shake from too low a shutter speed) - but with there being no such thing as a free lunch, the trade-off in using a high ISO setting is that you'll start to see a lot of digital noise in your shots.

    So - putting it all together, you'll get the best background blur if ...

    - you use the narrowest aperture (lowest F-Stop number),

    - get the subject as far away from the background as possible (ie feet dangling in the air with a wall several feet behind (no pun intended!) will have more background blur (called "bokah") than one where the feet are only a few inches above a carpet.

    - Zooming in helps (it increases the focal length of the lens) - but only to the point where you don't start backing up to get the same field of view (because camera to subject distance decreases background blur with an increase in distance) (or conversly, the closer you can get the camera to your subject, the more blurrier the background will be) (although there will be a minimum distance that the camera will focus to - although Macro mode may allow you to focus a bit closer to the feet).

    So - those are the basics - wether or not you can get sufficient blur with your camera I have no idea - it's the kind of teritory that SLR cameras and fast lenses (apertures of 2.8 or wider) excel at.

    Hope this helps,

    Cheers,

    Colin - pbase.com/cjsouthern
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th January 2009 at 05:49 AM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Hi TobeysMama, (do you have a name too?)

    No problem, we're all glad to help here.

    I was way off with your location!
    I have at least been to Florida (well Hollywood, north of Miami) once.

    With my thanks to Colin for the background info above, all well explained except for one 'gotcha', that's where (I know) he knows what he means, but his fingers typed the opposite! This is so easily done, it happens to all of us sometime!

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    So - putting it all together, you'll get the best background blur if ...

    - you use the narrowest aperture (lowest F-Stop number),
    it should say 'widest' aperture, (lowest f-stop is correct); so f3.5 rather than f7.

    Now to be a little more specific for your camera, I have been unable to get at the proper owner's manual online, so this is somewhat guesswork, but based on my Fuji camera, which has a very similar lens.

    I have looked at the specs for the S2000HD camera and unfortunately, it doesn't have an 'aperture priority' mode that would be best for this kind of shot. It also has a rather limited f-stop range between f3.5 and f7 at the wide angle end or between f5.4 and f7 when zoomed in fully. Therefore, you could use shutter priority AE and choose a highish shutter speed that avoids camera shake and let the auto ISO and auto aperture get the exposure right, OR go to manual and take some trial and error shots, using different ISOs, now knowing that you need to aim for the low numbers for aperture.

    I might suggest that unless the Tobey is sleeping soundly, you practice taking shots of something else about the same size and color as Tobey's feet, in the same lighting, or you may run out of time.

    In respect of zooming to narrow depth of focus, I know these lenses; I think I'd suggest using the lens' Macro mode, which will allow you to focus over a limited range; 4 inches to 3 feet at W/A, but further away if you zoom in.

    Try it like this; go to Macro mode (not SuperMacro), alter your camera to "tiny toes" distance AND zoom angle while repeatedly trying to focus (half depress the shutter button). It'll be hit and miss at first, but keep trying until you have the framing of the feet correct and achieve focus.

    I hope that helps, please do post the result so we can see (don't be shy).

    Good luck, Dave

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chelseablue View Post
    Dave, I used to live in Windsor. I was security at King Edwards' Court below the train station. It's a small world.
    Mark
    Indeed it is, did you leave when they efffectively closed it for rebuilding?
    It's all quite different now; shall I take some pics?
    (or would 'security' be after me )

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    "it should say 'widest' aperture, (lowest f-stop is correct); so f3.5 rather than f7."

    Oops - thanks Dave - well caught!

    Cheers,

    Colin - pbase.com/cjsouthern
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th January 2009 at 05:49 AM.

  10. #10

    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    My sons name is Tobey - how did you guess??

    I do have a name also (the mind reels, right?)...my name is Christina. =0)



    Ok, so I messed around with the camera and got a feel (sorta, lol) for what I was doing....I ended up not being able to get my baby feet picture...he just moves too quick, even when he's asleep and I try to position his foot. SO, instead I got a picture of his hand and *I* was pleased with the results (your comments are welcome!)...I wanna share, but the file is too big....I am gonna try to add links to Flickr.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/34063949@N02/3172887730/


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/34063949@N02/3172057151/


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/34063949@N02/3172057867/
    Last edited by TobeysMama; 6th January 2009 at 02:16 AM.

  11. #11

    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    I have another question that is kinda off topic of digital, but I can't find a whole lot of help with it on the net....I have a 35mm SLR also, it is a Minolta XTSi Maxxum with a 28-80 f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens...would this be better to do this type of shot on?

    This camera has issues and I haven't touched it in awhile, but I ran a roll of film off on it last night and need to take it for processing still (last time I used it the entire roll was underexposed).

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Hi Christina,

    Glad you're getting the hang of the S2000.

    Judging by the fact you have monochromed the pictures, I'm guessing I don't really need to say that possibly the biggest problem is the distracting stuff in the background, even out of focus (which you've managed well for the camera), it is still an issue. It's difficult to avoid, I know, I'm suspect you found it was less noticeable in black and white than color.

    #1 and #3 are rather lacking in contrast (lots of grey tones, no black or white) and a little less bright than they could be. I wonder what software you use for post processing (PP)? This should have some adjustments that can help with this.
    #2 looks like it focussed on the cushion thingy rather than Tobey's hand, something to watch out for, if you can't achieve focus on the hand itself, once it has focussed on the cushion, just move the camera away a little (say 1/2 inch) before fully depressing the shutter button.

    However, the main thing is that you're pleased with them; that's what really matters. Just keep taking lots of pictures; 'practice makes perfect' as they say. Well done with what you have achieved so far and the way you've linked to the pictures is fine.

    The 35mm SLR will provide a much shallower depth of field if you keep to the low f-numbers. I am not at all familiar with that camera, but if the exposure is wrong, it could just be the metering battery is flat; if you can see a Battery Check feature, try it. If it is flat, I would guess it has a little coin cell under a cover, possibly somewhere in the base plate, be careful to note which way it comes out so the replacement goes in same way.
    Of course, the downside to film is you don't get the instant feedback to correct any problems that may arise.

    I hope something useable comes out on the film.
    Keep in touch.

    Best wishes, Dave
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 6th January 2009 at 08:22 AM.

  13. #13

    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Just to extend Colin's bath metaphor... Upping the ISO setting is like making the pipes that connect to the taps much fatter, so they let more water pass through them. Now if your tap was fully open (widest aperture) the bath can fill much more quickly, so to fill the bath takes less time (faster shutter speed). Lowering the ISO setting makes the pipes narrower, so less water can pass through them. Now it'll take more time to fill you bath, so shutter speed is slower.

    Alternatively, if fat and thin pipes don't make much sense to you, think of the ISO setting as changing the depth of the bath, making it hold more or less water. As the ISO speed increases, the depth of the bath decreases, so it fills up more rapidly.

    Enjoy,
    Graham

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    I think the bath analogy is quite a hard one to extend in terms of relating it to ISO since it's esentially an "electronic signal amplification factor" - kinda like "for every litre of water that flows through the taps a big & buff adonas with the body of a wrestler - the looks of Brad Pitt - and the intellect of (well, you get the point) - adds another 1, 3, 7 etc litres for free!"

    Best I can do on a Wednesday anyway!

    Cheers,

    Colin - pbase.com/cjsouthern
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th January 2009 at 05:49 AM.

  15. #15

    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    I am starting to get the hang of it....I know there was a lot of stuff in the background of the pics, it was a very informal photo session with a model who fell asleep on the floor,
    I did not use any post processing except to crop the pictures (Corel Paint Shop Pro)....I used the B&W setting on my digital. I have standard color, chrome color (I don't understand what this is?), and B&W settings. I can try to darken the pictures in PSP...myabe that would help.


    I took my Minolta 35mm SLR to the camera shop and my pictures turned out fine....I haven't used the thing in almost 6 years because I thought it didn't work
    I suspect the underexposed pictures came from bad developing at a chain store whose name shall remain secret, lol. I have discovered that my digital is A LOT cheaper to use though....I forgot how much film, CR2 batteries, and film developing cost....holy cow.


    Anyway, thank you for all the advice...I am going to try to get some more shots of Tobey this week and I will post them....maybe I can actually get the foot shot I want.



    Christina

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Perhaps your partner could help position the little one once asleep (the little one, not your partner)? - If you can get distance between the feet and what's behind them then that'll help a lot with getting the background blur that you're after.

    Cheers,

    Colin - pbase.com/cjsouthern
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 12th January 2009 at 05:50 AM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Quote Originally Posted by TobeysMama View Post
    I did not use any post processing except to crop the pictures (Corel Paint Shop Pro)....I used the B&W setting on my digital. I have standard color, chrome color (I don't understand what this is?), and B&W settings. I can try to darken the pictures in PSP...myabe that would help.
    Hi Christina,

    Glad you're getting used to things.
    'Standard' is supposedly natural color, 'Chrome' is a setting which basically just makes any colors more saturated, meaning more vivid, and well, B&W is I guess what you have been using.
    Personally, I do actually use the Chrome setting all the time on my Fuji.

    I'm not at all familiar with Corel PSP, but I would say you will usually always want to adjust brightness/levels and contrast (these maybe be called something else in PSP) and also apply some sharpening, after cropping and, when necessary, straightening a shot.
    However, this does all depend on the subject matter; certain things, like baby pics, might be better looking a bit softer and brighter. Shooting B&W does help enormously reduce the visual effect of any background distractions.

    If you have the energy and time, have a look at some web portfolios of other peoples pics of babies to get some ideas to try and copy.

    An assistant, as Colin suggests, is always a good idea, especially if they understand what you're trying to achieve, you could even ask them to tidy the background of those impromtu sessions!

    Good luck,

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    You don't know how usefull this posting has been, very many thanks to Tobeysmuma for starting it although a month old it has answered my question, although I have the manual for my Fuji It still did not work for me, now I have read this forum...........
    Last edited by McQ; 21st February 2009 at 05:22 PM. Reason: sent chat via PM

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Sorry to dig up an old thread, but this is a really good post. I've been learning a bit about aperture the past few weeks and it seems that most professional photographers either shoot in aperture priority mode or manual mode (I noticed this in some exif data on most of the pictures from my brother's wedding). Would I be wrong in making this conclusion?

    Do most people that take good photos use Av, Tv or M mode? I've tried my hand at M mode for what it's worth but I don't know enough yet to be able to configure all the settings and have a good exposure, so I've kinda stuck with aperture and shutter priority modes until I learn more.
    Last edited by McQ; 12th April 2009 at 04:30 AM.

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    Re: Help for a Newbie?

    Quote Originally Posted by dan88 View Post
    Do most people that take good photos use Av, Tv or M mode? I've tried my hand at M mode for what it's worth but I don't know enough yet to be able to configure all the settings and have a good exposure, so I've kinda stuck with aperture and shutter priority modes until I learn more.
    It all depends on what we're after ...

    Av mode means that we've elected to use a certain aperture (usually for depth-of-field reasons), thus Av mode lets the camera select what it thinks is the most appropriate shutterspeed. Unfortunately, what it thinks is the most appropriate shutterspeed and what actually is CAN be quite different - so the trade off is convenience -v- exposure accuracy.

    Manual mode gives the photographer who knows what they're doing complete control - and the result is more consistent exposures (and hopefully better exposures).

    Case in point - take a photo of a car with shiny chrome bumpers on a sunny day - chances are it'll be under-exposed because the camera will try to compensate for the bright light reflecting off the chrome. A photographer shooting manual will have worked out the correct exposure for the majority of the car and will most likely just let the small area of chrome reflection blow out.

    So to answer the question, all modes are really just tools to be used or abused as required, but personally, yes - I usually shoot Av or Manual / bulb (manual limits me to 30 seconds whereas with bulb I can expose for as long as I like).

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