A post as an aide-mémoire

If I was back two years what would I need to know so that learning the camera wasn’t such a chore.  You see most if not all information about cameras isn’t complete. And in some cases outright wrong.
First. The camera doesn’t record what you see. It only records a range within the scene much like a slider covering 6 or so notches on a ruler. So if you pull the slider down it will lose the same number off the top and visa versa. Simply put, if you are inside you can shoot the outside garden perfectly but the room will go black, or you can shoot the room and anything beyond the window will blow to white.
Second. If the intention is to print the photos to whatever size. No part of the shot can be blown to white. And the reason is very simple. THERE IS NO WHITE INK IN A PRINTER. So if the shot, like my window in [1] is blown, all you have on the printed photo for that area is the paper, and whatever colour that is.
Third. ALWAYS shoot RAW. This is a file format that doesn’t do anything in-camera which allows for at least the possibility to recover something in the photograph.
Forth. All cameras have a native ISO. This is the sweet spot. And the best place to find this is in the AUTO or ‘A’ settings. For regardless of what the manufacturer says about 50/100 ISO these numbers tend to below the ideal which swings around 200-260 ISO for cropped sensor cameras. And why it matters is that you are forcing the software to the edge of its ability which tends to generate distortion. The same is true at the upper range. And really at the stupid numbers what are you going to photograph.
Fifth. Put the meter on Spot Mode. Put the Autofocus on S, so when you have focus, you have it on what you want. And you’ve metered it to the spot also.


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9 Responses to A post as an aide-mémoire

  1. Kelly says:

    It all boils down to your first point. What a shame we can’t just say “click” and record exactly what our eyes see. Who knows….someday maybe there will be the technology….

    • V.H says:

      I think it’s more a question of saying click and recording what our heart feels.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Isn’t that top point the truth. There are so many times that I’ve been disappointed with a shot because it didn’t come out the way I SAW it. But you are on to something with your reply to Kelly – it probably has more to do with that entire picture in our head which may include many other factors or senses, not just our eyes.
    I shot in RAW this week in DC and am working on understanding the ISO better. But I will have to look more into your 5th point…I’m not sure what you mean by spot mode on the meter.

    • V.H says:

      In general there are three types of metering. What you are doing with all is measuring the light to the sensor. And averaging it.
      If the light is sameysamey across the frame, like in daylight with you re back to the sun. Then the sensor will get it. But the key is it uses the full sensitivity over a large area. Next, uses 25% of the sensor area and 100% of the capacities. Spot Metering uses 5%.
      Say that you wanted to photo the moon. The first two will blow the Moon so you’ll have no details. Or the reverse. A face with the sun over the back.

    • V.H says:

      On the ISO.
      You will almost certainly have a better range than I’ve got and therefore can use it pretty effectively. But in general, unless you are in a nightclub you won’t need more than 1600. And even then the 400 to 800 will do for most inside shots.
      But my point is you are better to set it and leave it be, unless, you change drastically where you are or the day changes equally drastically. Don’t get into the habit of moving the ISO in lieu of the Shutter speed or the Aperture. The Shutter and the Aperture are instantly available on the wheels.
      Anyhoos. What you’re doing generally is fixing in you head a very precise mathematical relationship. It’s easier by a good country mile to hold a two fold yin-yang than three. That’s why to take out the ISO, or park it once you find it’s native setting.
      I’ll bet your’s is about 200 ISO. But as I said if you take a few in broad daylight in Auto, you can read off what the camera itself likes. Then it’s up or down from there given the conditions.

      • Kimberly says:

        Ah, right, so far auto has given me a nice starting point and a lot of the time has captured the scene nicely. There haven’t been any low light opportunities to practice with since I’ve had the camera. Since here the light is relatively good, if not ideal, for outside shots I may have to head north to the beach where it tends to be more overcast this time of year. The cloudy white sky I’ve encountered on the last two trips is what frustrates me most (as I’ve mentioned 🙂 ), but there is such little opportunity to practice with it here.
        I think the spot metering is beyond where I am right now…the reasons you give make sense – especially facing the sun.

        • V.H says:

          I’d say spot is the easier. But I am not sure if your one will use it in auto.

  3. Ed says:

    I switched my camera over to RAW when I first got it but then discovered I don’t have any software on my computer that can process the photo or even view them. I ended up using some cheesy online site to convert them so that I could view them and switched back to the default JPG format. Do you have any recommendations on good software that works with RAW format?

    • V.H says:

      The camera usually comes with a disc, a separate disc, with the software. Or you might have to put in the Serial No. of the camera. Failing that Lightroom from Adobe. You get a month to trial it.

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