Beginner Guide to best settings for subject

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John
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#1
Hi all,

I was wondering if there is a rough guide to recommended settings to go towards getting a better photo. A friend of mine says to always set the camera to auto, take a shot at the subject and then use the data from that to alter the AP settings etc as trial and error. I have also noticed with Exif data on Flickr with certain cameras and lenses are very similar for certain subjects, so am wondering if there are any guides that I can refer to before hand, for taking photos in AP mode, or is it truly a case of trial and error ?

Many thanks.
 

KIPAX

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KIPAX
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#2
None of the above.... Its all about light.. it really doesnt matter what the subject is.. child, plant pot, lorry ... its all about how much light you ahve.. this will determine your settings... You need to learn about your camera settings..

yes shoot it in auto then go to Manual and set the same.. then change.. trial and error is good if your learning how and why things are changing.... ISO, Aperture (fstops) and shutter speed are all you ahve to worry about.. just those three and how they interact wiht each other..

others will post links to resources I am sure :)

This is a populor resource for testing what happens when you change things.. the exposure sim cam
http://www.photonhead.com/simcam/shutteraperture.php

But you can never beat going out and tkaing them yourself.. as much as you possibly can and then more :)
 
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Dan
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#3
When it comes to learning, there's no substitute for sticking the camera in manual mode and playing with one setting at a time to see what differences you see.
 
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Jwar1976
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John
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#4
None of the above.... Its all about light.. it really doesnt matter what the subject is.. child, plant pot, lorry ... its all about how much light you ahve.. this will determine your settings... You need to learn about your camera settings..

yes shoot it in auto then go to Manual and set the same.. then change.. trial and error is good if your learning how and why things are changing.... ISO, Aperture (fstops) and shutter speed are all you ahve to worry about.. just those three and how they interact wiht each other..

others will post links to resources I am sure :)

This is a populor resource for testing what happens when you change things.. the exposure sim cam
http://www.photonhead.com/simcam/shutteraperture.php

But you can never beat going out and tkaing them yourself.. as much as you possibly can and then more :)
Thank you very much for the link, it is really useful, as going from a point and shoot to a DSLR takes some getting used to, but is well worth it when you get a decent shot. :)

When it comes to learning, there's no substitute for sticking the camera in manual mode and playing with one setting at a time to see what differences you see.
I had a hunch that would be the case but thought there would be no harm in asking, since having the camera I have taken about 500 photos, but the majority of them have been in auto mode as have been nervous with the other modes, tho I did indulge with the second curtain setting, which worked for a couple of shots but not with others, so was probably running before I could walk in that case.
 
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Dan
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#5
Mags occasionally have cheat sheets for macro portraits action etc- Digital Photo in particular. Try googling portrait photography cheat sheet or similar.
 
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Phil
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#6
There's nothing wrong with automation.
Rinse and repeat

The biggest obstacle you'll face is getting over that. Most photographers shoot in the semi auto modes, but it doesn't matter anyway, because the only idiots are the ones who shoot in Manual feeling superior who are just chasing the meter.

The most important lesson is to learn when your meter will give you the wrong picture, or when the picture you want isn't the one your meter wants you to take.

For now, stick it in P mode, learn to frame and focus. Watch your results for when your meter gets fooled, learn to use exp lock or exp comp to rectify it. Then you'll know when it's just quicker and easier to shoot full manual.

You'll learn by necessity which is much better than forcing yourself to shoot Manual then not understanding what you're doing wrong.
 
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Brian Halbach
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#7
Ditto to what Phil said. I would only add that you need to watch your histogram. That will be one of your best indicators how well your light is traveling into your camera.
 

Llamaman

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#8
Even before I bought my first DSLR, I'd read up about the "exposure triangle" so I understood the concepts and how changing each of the three setting would affect the photo. This meant when I got the camera I felt confident enough to go straight into the semi-auto modes (aperture priority and shutter priority).
Don't worry about learning advanced techniques to start with - just understand the basics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Once you're got those, other things you read will make more sense, and you'll also have more of an idea how to get the shot you "see" in your head. Also, don't feel you need to use manual to be a "real" photographer. I only use manual for <0.5% of my photos (not that I'm any good...).

The important thing to remember is that it's the settings that matter, NOT WHICH MODE YOU USE TO GET THERE! ISO 200, f/2.8 and 1/60s takes the same photo regardless of whether you set it all manually, use A or S, or even the camera picked it all for you.
That said, I have a basic rule of thumb for picking the mode to use. I think about what is the most important effect I'm going for;
1. Want to control depth of field accurately? (especially if you want shallow DOF for eg a portrait). Use aperture priority, set the aperture for the DOF you want, let camera handle the shutter speed. Up to you if you want to manually set the ISO or use auto-ISO (depends on how your camera behaves compared to what you want it to do - some try to keep ISO down and increase shutter speed, some are more trigger-happy with the ISO). Exposure a bit off? Use exposure compensation and take again.
2. Want to control/eliminate motion-blur? Go for shutter priority. Set the shutter speed to get the right amount of "freezing the action" as you want, let the camera handle the rest. Exposure a bit off? Use exposure compensation and take again.
3. Camera making a pig's ear of it? E.g. you want to control two inputs and camera isn't reading your mind? Time to go for Program mode or manual.
4. Everything else - up to you. Full Auto isn't to be sniffed at (cameras are surprisingly clever), but most of the time I just set it to aperture priority and a middle-of-the-road aperture to grab a spur-of-the-moment shot. That's because I use A-priority for maybe >90% of my shots so it's just easier to be in that mode as a starting point.

Final point in a rambling post - digital photography has cheap running costs once you've got over the initial outlay on kit. Don't be afraid of taking the same photo with various different settings and seeing what works for you. Take your time, and expect to take many, many duff shots. Hit delete, tweak your settings and try again.
 
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#10
I'd recommend Henry Carrol's new book which is called something like Read This Book If You Want To Take Great Pictures.

Rather than being a technical manual like the Exposure book, it's written by the guy who started Frui, the London photography school/holiday firm. It's really intuitively written for novice DSLR users and is based on examining the works of well known photographers.

Then you can move on to technical books.
 
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Jwar1976
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John
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#11
Thanks to all that have replied, the informative responses from a basic question have all been superb & is much appreciated. I will take a look at the books suggested :)
 
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Shayne
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#12
Take the training wheels off and go to manual to get a good understanding on how to expose properly. This has nothing to do with egos it is just that each adjustment you make effects the other settings and you need to be able to recognize what that effect will be. I use priority modes a lot and they work well in most cases but imo they are not a good tool to teach you how to properly expose a shot. It is not like earning how to expose is really that hard, it just takes a little practice.
Here is a good site for learning photography.

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/

I hope that helps.

:canon:
 
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James
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#13
All I would add is, don't waste any time or money on technical books which are often incorrect anyway.

Spend 10 seconds reading the basic principles of what aperture, shutter speed, ISO and focal length mean/do. You can find that information in a million places for free (I'm sure it's in several 'stickies' on this forum for a start). Then go take some photos whilst paying attention to the settings you're using.
 
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Terry
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#14
I have taken about 500 photos, but the majority of them have been in auto mode as have been nervous with the other modes, tho I did indulge with the second curtain setting, which worked for a couple of shots but not with others, so was probably running before I could walk in that case.
One wonderful thing about digital photography is that you don't waste film! So you you can practice all you want and just delete what turns out wrong! (remembering to understand why it turned out wrong). Of course, while you are learning, if the shots you are taking are important, then I'd recommend 'P' mode for those.

But there's a lot of good advice in these replies. Just keep taking photographs to develop your eye while you learn how you camera works and what the different settings give you.

Don't worry - enjoy it.
 
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Darren
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#15
I'd recommend Henry Carrol's new book which is called something like Read This Book If You Want To Take Great Pictures.

Rather than being a technical manual like the Exposure book, it's written by the guy who started Frui, the London photography school/holiday firm. It's really intuitively written for novice DSLR users and is based on examining the works of well known photographers.

Then you can move on to technical books.
Sorry I bought the above mentioned book at the recommendation of another member on here , with regard to learning about setting and the like and the book is more arty than real information, Its more about the expression involved in selected images and flow .
It was not what I certainly had in mind .. that my opinion anyways ..
 
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