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The DSLR Camera Thread

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  • The DSLR Camera Thread

    Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO

    What is exposure? Exposure is a combination of 3 factors which determine the amount of light which enters your camera. These factors are aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Photography is all about light, and without an ample amount of light entering your camera, you have nothing but a dark worthless picture. Learning how to determine the right combination of these three settings can be a tedious task, but understanding what they do will make it much easier.

    Shutter Speed

    Shutter speed is simply how long your camera's shutter stays open when you take a picture. These speeds can range from thousandths of a second to 30 or more seconds. The longer your shutter stays open, the more light your camera lets in. The shutter speed can also determine the clarity of a picture. A longer shutter speed will blur the shot, and create trails from even the slightest bit of movement in your picture, whereas a shorter shutter speed will 'freeze' any action and create a sharp picture in which time appears to be stopped. For an example, take a picture of a constant drip of water using both a fast and a slow shutter speed. The shot taken with the slow shutter speed will create a soft blur of water, whereas the shot taken with the faster shutter speed will catch every individual drop in mid-air.
    A fast shutter speed can also help eliminate blur due to camera shake when not using a tripod.

    Aperture (f/stop)

    Aperture (also known as f/stop) is how large the iris (or eye) of your lens opens up. A larger aperture means a larger opening in your lens for light to pass through. When referring to aperture, a smaller number is always a larger opening. For example, an aperture of f/5.6 is a larger opening, and therefore lets more light in, than an aperture of f/11. Each unit of measurement in aperture is called a 'stop' one stop up would be making the lens opening larger, and one stop down would be making it smaller. A single stop down of aperture lets half the light in that the previous stop did.

    Adjusting aperture also changes your Depth of Field. Depth of field is how much of the area, measuring away from your camera, is in focus. If you are tightly focused on an object which is relatively flat, you have short depth of field. If you are focused on a group of people standing at varying distances, you would need a long (or large) depth of field. A short depth of field (which would be caused by a large aperture) will be clearly focused on a relatively shallow area. The item you focus on may be sharp and clear, but any objects in the foreground or background may be blurred. A smaller aperture would create a larger depth of field, and bring all objects into perfect focus.


    ISO is a measurement of how sensitive your camera's sensor is to light. The larger the ISO (higher number), the more sensitive it is to light. The smaller the ISO (smaller number), the less sensitive it is to light. Each step up in ISO doubles the amount of light sensitivity (ISO 400 is 2x as sensitive to light as ISO 200). Using a higher ISO, you can sometimes get shots in low light that would have required a longer shutter speed or a larger aperture if you were using a lower ISO. However, this does not come without its setbacks. The higher the ISO is set, the grainier your picture will appear. At higher ISOs, you will notice some extremely substantial grain. ISO noise is much less noticable in DSLR and other large sensor cameras than it is in point and shoot cameras.

    Below are some general ISO guidelines that you can follow.

    100 ISO - Less grainy, good for shots with plenty of light.
    200 ISO - Still not very grainy, don't need as much light as ISO 100. Grain will be more noticable when printed in larger formats.
    400 ISO - Mainly used for shooting lower-light outdoors or indoors without a flash, but with an ample amount of light. Slightly more grainy than ISO 200, but not by much.
    800 ISO - Very grainy, but will give 8x the light sensitivity of ISO 100.

    Text and Images Courtesy of
    Last edited by Wolfgang; 15-05-2012, 09:22 PM. Reason: Format Changes
    "Perfection is lots of little things done well." Fernand Point

  • #2
    That's great wolfgang. Thanks for kicking this off. The text about iso explains why some of the night carpark shots I took came out grainy. I was experimenting with that setting and while it looked good on the small camera display, once downloaded they looked average

    Will keep playing

    Specialising in high-end detailing for enthusiasts

    M: 0417 587 004


    • #3
      Good info right here!!!

      I think we might need a guide on how to take the best shots of cars.


      • #4
        No probs guys.

        Originally posted by Caffeine_Fiend View Post
        That's great wolfgang. Thanks for kicking this off. The text about iso explains why some of the night carpark shots I took came out grainy. I was experimenting with that setting and while it looked good on the small camera display, once downloaded they looked average

        Will keep playing
        The general rule of thumb is to keep your ISO as low as possible. For night or low light photography a longer exposure at a low ISO is best, the only catch is a tripod (or improvisation) to keep the camera steady is necessary for sharp photos.

        A good way to see the affect of different settings is take a photo of something (an ornament, a brick, etc.) under the same light conditions with different camera settings. Go through just the aperture range first on ISO 100, then set the aperture to say 5 and move the ISO up through the range. You will of course need to alter the exposrure.

        Originally posted by Matty View Post
        Good info right here!!!

        I think we might need a guide on how to take the best shots of cars.
        It's on the "to do" list.

        I'm still learning myself how to best photograph cars. Landscapes I can do, cars are still a work in progress. I'll see what I can do.
        Last edited by Wolfgang; 14-05-2012, 07:36 PM.
        "Perfection is lots of little things done well." Fernand Point


        • #5
          Photographic Composition

          The primary things to think about when composing a photograph are your subject, your surroundings, and your positioning. Before taking a picture, ask yourself, 'What do I want to accomplish with this photograph?'. Create a goal or objective, plan it out, then make that plan work. There are two basic ways to do this; position your subjects, or position yourself.


          All good pictures start with a subject. Before taking a picture, decide what you want the primary subject or point of interest to be. Generally, the picture should be taken in a way that makes the subject the first thing which is seen in the photograph. Your subject should be the primary point of focus and should be crisp and clear. Ideally, there should be nothing in the photograph that draws more attention than the subject itself. If, for example, you were to photograph a beach scene with a lighthouse as your subject, and a viewer is more drawn to a sandcastle on the beach, you've done a poor job of making your subject clear. Obviously, there can be, and many times are, multiple subjects in one photograph. In this case, the objective is to obtain harmony and balance between all subjects. Do you want them both to be equally attractive, do you want one to pop while the others are slightly more subtle? These are all questions which you must address, and plan accordingly. When choosing a subject, don't look at the photograph as the photographer, look at it as another photographer critiquing your work.

          Rule of Thirds

          The Rule of Thirds is a photographic composition technique that most if not all advanced photographers employ quite a bit. The basis of this rule is that a photograph is divided into 9 equal sized sections, with 2 lines vertically and 2 lines horizontally. The four intersections of these lines are a good guidepoint for where your subject should be centered. These points (and lines also) also work as guides for other aspects of the photograph, for example, a horizon may look better when lined up with one of the lines. Also, when photographing people, a good use of the rule of thirds in many circumstances would be to line a person's body up with a vertical line, and line their eyes up with a horizontal line. This is likely one of the most important compositional techniques, as many photographers feel that a centered subject is not as interesting (in most situations). It is, however, recommended that you treat this 'rule' as more of a guideline though, as there are many circumstances where a more appealing photograph can be produced without the use of this rule. The rule of thirds goes all the way back to 1845, where it originated as a rule for composing scenic artwork.

          A good example of employing the use of the Rule of Thirds in a landscape photo.

          Colour & Contrast

          A subject which is light will have much more impact when placed against a dark background, but a dark subject against a light background may be distracting. The only way to get a feel for colors and contrast is to experience it first-hand, as there are so many different situations which have different applications of this.


          A photo may be able to improved by just taking a few steps forward or backward, or to one side, or by moving up or down. If you have good accessibility to the location, you may want to consider getting the shot from a completely different angle. In still life shots, positioning the subject also can work wonders. In pictures in which a subject is moving, it is generally more pleasing to have a subject appear to be moving into the scene instead of moving out of it.

          Text and images courtesy of
          Last edited by Wolfgang; 15-05-2012, 09:21 PM.
          "Perfection is lots of little things done well." Fernand Point


          • #6
            Tips for Photographing a Car

            Batteries and Memory Cards

            Make sure your batteries are well charged. This might seem obvious, but we've all encountered this, halfway into the shoot the batteries for the flash run low only to die completely a few shots later. Remember to charge the batteries for your camera the day before, also note that when the weather gets colder the batteries don't last long. Always take some extra batteries fully charged in your bag, just in case. Format your memory cards inside the camera beforehand so they are empty when you arrive at the shoot ... after you've copied the files to your local hard disk that is, this way you won't run out of space 'on the job'. It is a better idea to have two or three cards of 4Gb instead of one big card of 8Gb or 16Gb, besides the price difference, the chance of either loosing or damaging more than one card is very slim.


            Select a location depending on the background you would like to add to your shot, make sure it is as clean as possible, electricity poles and bins are not ideal in a shot, try to avoid them at all costs. If you are shooting on a parking lot try to avoid the white or yellow lines on the floor, they can be every useful to 'draw' attention towards the car, but in this case you'll have to position the car exactly right, in all other cases you'll have to get rid of them in post-editing, which could be very difficult as they will probably reflect onto the bodywork too. When you are looking for a nice location remember that bright colors in the background will draw attention away from the car, try to shoot slightly different angle to avoid them. A car shouldn't be shot on a grass field but rather on concrete or gravel, a modern car can be put in front of a modern building while a classic car feels more at home around older mansions. Industrial zones on Sunday, when all the business are closed, are also a good place to shoot modern cars.

            Time of Day

            You want make sure the sun is on your back, do not shoot the car into the sun unless you know perfectly well what you are doing and would like to have that special effect. A car is best shot with diffused light, try to shoot early morning or late afternoon, this will avoid harsh shadows on the car, at noon when the sun is directly above you at full power you will probably overexpose the top of the car while the details on the lower side of the car will completely disappear in the shadows, the purpose of shooting a car is to have the entire car exposed just right, with enough light to bring out the shadows.


            For best results shoot a car from as many angles possible, you should at least shoot the front 3/4 view, rear 3/4 view, full side view, full front view, full rear view, engine shot, dashboard and interior shot. After you've got these you can get creative and try different angles and altitudes, don't hesitate to get low to the ground or use a stepladder to get a higher point of view on the car.
            "Perfection is lots of little things done well." Fernand Point


            • #7
              Photographing Paint Defects

              A quick and simple way to help your camera focus on a defect you're trying to capture is to either place your index finger or a small piece of clay close to the defect. The reason you need to give the camera something to focus on is because when taking shots of a large, uniform, flat surface your camera has nothing to sense and focus on. With auto focus on, hold the shutter button down halfway until the camera focuses, move your finger or the piece of clay out of frame then fully depress the button. If you want to take multiple shots of the same defect at the same focus, switch the auto focus off after the camera has focused, this will only work using a tripod. This will work for swirls, scratches, etchings, water spots, oxidation, etc. basically anything on the surface.

              Photographing Reflections

              To capture reflections you want indirect light on the subject being photographed, if you are indoors aim your work lights at the ceiling or the wall opposite the panel being photographed, if outdoors you want to avoid having the sun shining directly on the panel. To get nice clear reflections you want to focus on an object in the reflection, not the panel itself.
              Last edited by Wolfgang; 30-05-2012, 07:06 PM.
              "Perfection is lots of little things done well." Fernand Point


              • #8
                Some great tips here

                Thanks Wolfgang.


                • #9
                  Some great tips here people. Thanks Wolfgang.
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                  • #10
                    Thanks for the tips, i might get better shots on the DSLR now instead of the point and shoot. lol!

                    Can anyone suggest some lenses for a Canon 600D, at the moment i only have the Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS II lens which came with it.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Scott View Post
                      Can anyone suggest some lenses for a Canon 600D, at the moment i only have the Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS II lens which came with it.
                      Depends on your budget and what you plan on using the lens for.

                      I've got the EFS 17-55mm to replace the 18-55mm. It's a great lens becuase internally it is effectively an L series lens, but the downside is it can only be used on a crop sensor camera (ie. 500D, 550D, 600D, 7D).
                      "Perfection is lots of little things done well." Fernand Point


                      • #12
                        JPEG v RAW

                        All digital cameras shoot images as a standard JPEG with all DSLR cameras (and some top-end compacts) offering RAW capture as an alternative. So which is best and what are the differences?

                        JPEG is a universal 'industry standard' image file format recognised by all camera and computer manufacturers. This makes the transferring, copying and archiving of JPEG image files convenient and easy with no fancy software required.
                        When shooting in JPEG mode however be aware that the image data (created by your camera) is compressed to allow more images to be saved to the memory card as well as increase the camera processing speed. When shooting high resolution JPEG's the compression is not overly noticeable nor is it anything to worry about for most enthusiasts.

                        RAW files (often referred to as a digital negative) are however a different beast altogether. RAW images created in-camera are 100% uncompressed files with no loss of image data and no image processing applied. RAW files therefore are significantly larger than JPEG files which although means significantly less images per memory card, the large files gives you much more control in the post processing of the image via software such as Adobe Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom etc (for example changing white balance settings, levels, curves, noise reduction, saturation, contrast etc.)You also have to consider the storage issues of shooting in RAW as archiving on a computer will quickly eat in the space on your hardrive.

                        If you are still undecided about shooting in JPEG or RAW then consider the following. If you don't like spending much time at the computer and are generally happy with the images created with your camera then JPEG is more than suitable.

                        If you are interested in getting the absolute best from your images then RAW will give you much better resolution and more options when it comes to tweaking, cropping and manipulating your images.

                        Text courtesy of
                        "Perfection is lots of little things done well." Fernand Point


                        • #13
                          I've been shooting in RAW lately, its taking me twice as long to process the images which is annoying but i can definitely see more detail when i shot the same object, one in JPEG and the next in RAW.


                          • #14
                            Don't you then just turn it into a jpeg for computer screens which defeats the purpose of RAW?

                            Unless your printing the photo's or doing a proper shoot, JPEG ftw.
                            Elite Finish
                            Adelaide Detailer

                            0433 700 139


                            • #15
                              I had my camera set to both RAW and Jpeg, so it did both when it took a photo.

                              I was finding though I really didn't have time to do much in the way of photo editing, so now i just use Jpeg

                              Specialising in high-end detailing for enthusiasts

                              M: 0417 587 004