View Full Version : Views on using presets?

25-10-2013, 9:59am
I'm just wondering what people's views are on using camera presets instead of manually adjusting everything. I just realised that some of my friends who I've always thought of as great photographers get all their awesome shots using presets or auto settings, and my initial reaction is that this is cheating! But .. if it helps you get the shot you want, is that really a problem? At least when you're starting out.. ?

I have just bought a Nikon 5100 and am forcing myself to use it in manual for the most part, but I went to the dog park yesterday and got some shots I'm happy with using the 'sport' setting. It was actually challenging enough for me to throw the ball, then crouch down and actually focus on my dog at the right time. It was my first time using my long lens (70-300) so the fact that I got some shots I'm happy with is good enough for me at the moment!

I just thought I'd see what the general consensus or feeling is among people who take photography seriously and are interested in the craft. Cheating? Ok? Doesn't matter, who cares?

25-10-2013, 10:33am
Personally I see no problem using the presets as they WILL produce better results than just a simple full-auto setting. If someone doesnt want to learn photography, they will do the job.
They will however limit control over the camera in terms of auto-focus settings or light measuring modes. They are, after all, still settings where the camera makes most of the decisions, not the photographer.
I guess, if you are truly "serious" about your photography you will learn the craft properly instead of relying on automatic settings, and with time and practice you will also get the results.
Also, remember that higher end Canons and probaly Nikons too, don't come with the "scene" presets. Those are only available in the cheaper models, so if you ever take your photography to the next level, you will have no choice but to learn properly...

25-10-2013, 12:28pm
not cheating at all. When we used film we push-processed, added sepia, unsharp mask, added vignettes, black and white, increased saturation, desaturated and more.

So I would ask, if you feel it is cheating, cheating compared to what? Photography, from the very first photo in 1826 has been about processing film, slides, transparencies, glass plates and digital photos. There has never been a 'pure' photographic art that was about not applying editing to the captured result.

25-10-2013, 12:50pm
Not cheating, but it might pay to work out what the preset is actually doing. For instance the sport mode probably ups the iso and sets a high shutter speed, which helps to get sharper fast action shots, but with larger aperture and shallower depth of field.

25-10-2013, 1:52pm
If the use of preset settings allows you the capture a moment you would have otherwise missed, that can only be a good thing.
I'd much rather use a preset to get a shot rather than miss out altogether.

25-10-2013, 2:16pm
not cheating at all. When we used film we push-processed, added sepia, unsharp mask, added vignettes, black and white, increased saturation, desaturated and more.

So I would ask, if you feel it is cheating, cheating compared to what? Photography, from the very first photo in 1826 has been about processing film, slides, transparencies, glass plates and digital photos. There has never been a 'pure' photographic art that was about not applying editing to the captured result.

I suppose my thinking is that it's using less skill than manually setting shots up - I'm more talking about the actual capture rather than post processing.

Thanks for your input everyone - it's just something I've been thinking about for a few days. I'm really interested in understanding and learning more about the way to capture and use light so I do want to understand more about how to get the results I want from that, rather than just the preset. But at this point, there's no way I can get shots I'm happy with without a bit of help!

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2877/10466680843_0a5fbd7062.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/allerix/10466680843/) http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2815/10466493875_0e4b0ac554.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/allerix/10466493875/)
Maggie (http://www.flickr.com/photos/allerix/10466493875/) by allkhe (http://www.flickr.com/people/allerix/), on Flickr
Mimi (http://www.flickr.com/photos/allerix/10466680843/) by allkhe (http://www.flickr.com/people/allerix/), on Flickr

25-10-2013, 2:54pm
We cannot give you CC here. Repost your photos to the New To Photography CC forum : http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/forumdisplay.php?177-New-to-Photography-CC-%28Beginners%29

26-10-2013, 12:40am
I don't understand the concept of 'presets'

presetting what in the camera?

The only modes I know of are the auto program modes(like landscape, portrait, or whatnot) or the semi auto modes(shutter priority/aperture priority/program mode) .. and finally manual.

The mode you choose is probably less important than understanding how the metering system works.
So for example, if you're setting the camera and using the camera's metering system indicator to change some variable to keep exposure 'correct' according to the camera's meter, then you aren't actually doing anything manual anyhow!(other than fumbling with settings to suit the camera's recommendations)

All you are doing is resetting the exposure variables far less efficiently than the camera can do on it's own accord if set to one of the semi auto modes([A] or [S]).

My experience is that [A] mode(on a Nikon) is possibly the most effective mode to use most of the time for many situations.
Of course [S] priority mode also has it's practical advantages as well, and then there are situations where [M] mode is the only way to get your shots consistently exposed.

BUT.. in all this, if you rely on matrix metering, this is about as 'auto' as auto gets, because the reality is that you're relying very heavily on the intelligence of the camera(and therefore the camera engineers) to get the exposure correct for 'ya.

If you want a practical and efficient 'manual' mode .. use aperture priority, single point AF mode, preferably AF-C mode for that, and spot metering(AutoISO is also a handy tool to access every now and again too).
Learn what metering means(using the above method) experiment with it to understand it all.
Chances are that you'll end up with quite a lot more control over the 'quality of light' radiating out of your images.

Also a note here tho. If you start a complicated journey on having a large selection of lenses, both native and/or 'eclectic' types .. you'll soon discover that they don't all conform to a particular standard, so the above method may require tweaking with every lens change.

It can't be stressed enough ... understanding the metering of the LENS(and therefore the camera as a camera and lens), is far more important than using a specific mode.

26-10-2013, 7:50am
If you get the shot you want definitely not cheating. I bought my first dslr just before an overseas trip and if I'd used manual I'm sure I would have come back with hardly any usable shots. As Boo53 said, use the preset and if the shot is good check what shutter/aperture and iso the camera chose. There are many different variables of the exposure triangle which give you correct exposure and you have to know which one to choose to give you the results you want, ie narrow depth of field or fast shutter to freeze motion etc.

26-10-2013, 8:24am
I don't know who said it (Nachtwey?), but there's a lot of truth in the phrase "any photographer is as good as his/hers last image".

Photography is all about the image, the Result is what counts. How you get to that result really isn't that important. Whether you use a modern fully automatic P&S, a phone camera or a super-duper digital large image camera - we don't care. Use all the automatic features you can find - if that makes things easy and you get the results, nobody cares (or should care).

Of course, the way to getting a good photograph can be just as much fun as the result in itself.

Personally, I love to tinker with old stuff. For example: I own a 1974 MGB which is great fun to drive and work on. When you drive it, you know what is going on under the hood. It has a 4-speed gearbox and an overdrive that you have to control yourself. There's a manual choke that needs to be set pretty precisely or it will stall in the winter. When I just have to get from A to B though, I'll choose my modern car that is more comfortable, economical, reliable and fast. You turn the key and drive it, the machine handles everything else.

Same with photography. To me, there's something magical about having to choose light settings, having to adjust for the strangest things that a modern camera system all solves automagically. That's fun. But the end result of my Mamiya C220 is not as "smooth" as the output from my Canon 5DII. The process takes longer and is more expensive (if you don't count the price of the equipment itself ;)). However, when everything is said and done, most people will choose the analog print from the Mamiya. Why? Because that slow process forces you to think very carefully. Every step in that process is optimized towards getting the result that I want. A good machine (and modern machines are *very* good!) doesn't know what the essence of the image is and just makes a generic, middle-of-the-road choice. The endresult usually is great, but not always exactly what I want.

Do automatic settings make you any less as a photographer? No, not at all! It allows you to focus on the image, and that's a good thing. But it helps to know what these presets do, what their limits are and what you can do to change the results. In the end, "it's the guy that makes the photo, not the equipment". And once you master the parameters that define the technical side of photography, using semi-automatic or full manual modes provides the control to make the image exactly how you want it.

(Steps of soapbox now...)

26-10-2013, 12:34pm
I think it's important to use whatever setting/s you're comfortable with..and as you become more familiar with your camera, experiment with manual mode to achieve the results you're after.. :)

Mark L
26-10-2013, 8:53pm
You need someone to throw the ball for you.:D
Anyway Allie, it takes time to learn the equations that you need for full manual. And practice doing it. Many steps along the way.
So starting by letting the camera figure it out on full auto is fine. Then go semi auto with aperture or shutter priority once you understand what an image needs. I'll generally only go to full manual when I'm after something specific with the light.
If you haven't found it yet, have a look through some of this to get on your way with some basic concepts ....... http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showlibrary.php?title=Indexes:New_To_Photography_Book
And to see that we all use different modes, check the poll result here ........ http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?13627-What-mode-do-you-use-most
Enjoy the journey.:th3:

01-11-2013, 2:12pm
'Presets' can make life easy. We do it all the time really, when we customize our cameras to the way we like to shoot. I guess the difference is who's presenting it (you or manufacturer), what gets pre set and our understanding of why we configure things a certain way.
The presets can also help you learn by taking note of what changes when various presets are chosen.
Similarly presets when post processing can make life easier but it's immensely more satisfying when you know what's been done why you're doing it.
I often find the journey more satisfying than the end product so for me understanding the process is as important as the results.

01-11-2013, 4:06pm
Presets are good, as is full manual. But both have a place in this game.
A preset like aperture is perfect for something like birding, were exposure settings can change dramatically. If you are photographing an indoor event were exposure is a constant, aperture is useless. I find that many images come out over, or under exposed under that setting.
Shutter speed setting is good for sport, were you can adjust the speed for when you want either add a bit of motion blur in say motor sport, or that freeze frame image like a ball sports.
The presets are useful using "exposure compensation" I find that some lenses need either a + or - adjustment for exposure, and that depends on a light or dark background were you are shooting.
Manual were you have a constant exposure is the key to creating dramatic effects. From that dark moody feel. To that high key effect that many use in todays photography.

It will come to you on which setting to use at any given event. And half the time you wont even have to think about it. Your brain will automatically change the settings for any given situation....

Hope this helps.

01-11-2013, 11:15pm
I just thought I'd see what the general consensus or feeling is among people who take photography seriously and are interested in the craft. Cheating? Ok? Doesn't matter, who cares?

I've just got my first SLR and taken it to Singapore, so I'm in the Who Cares? camp. The camera is a tool, not a competition to see who can get the best result without any help.

If you know your way around using it in manual, then you'll probbly stop the camera from making the wrong assumptions about what you want, like mine does, cos I'm too newbish right now. While I've many photos that were disappointing when I uploaded them, there are others that I think are pretty good. I just bought the 700D a few days before leaving, so no time to 'learn' anything except get to grips with the auto modes while out and about.

12-11-2013, 8:37pm
I've always used fully manual settings, I just find the camera making decisions for me gets in the way and is frustrating. If i set it then I know what it is doing and I can control it.

14-11-2013, 7:46am
I always use manual on the camera, or Aperture priority sometimes. I hardly use the presets because I always edit my RAW files, never any other format. Doesn't matter what presets you have loaded, the RAWs will always turn out the same since it exactly what the sensor sees.

14-11-2013, 8:13am
@ Abeniston.
As we haven't seen any of your images as yet, we not sure on what genre your main focus is on. To create the perfect RAW file, sometimes a preset is actually needed. Outdoor sports is a prime example, as the exposure from one side of a field can be completely different to the other. Motor racing is another. And hand held birding another. If exposure is a constant, then Manual is the go. IMO only.

Dylan & Marianne
14-11-2013, 12:34pm
what helps you get the result you are after?
Automated modes (or presets) allow you to capture fantastic images but they can limit your creativity unless you understand how the mode is getting the result you desire.
There's no cheating involved , but my best advice is to try shooting in 'preset' modes and also to experiment with full manual modes.
If you find that the images you achieve are better with one or the other in a given situation, than that's the way to shoot for you.
If you never try to master manual, then you're only going to be as good as the camera settings will allow.
Good luck!
ps. for landscapes I always shoot in full manual but for weddings, if I carry a second body for a different perspective I wanted to capture in a hurry, I leave that one on some kind of automated mode (custom usually)

27-11-2013, 2:21pm
I've wondered the same thing now & again, so thanks for asking the question. I only got my camera in August, then headed away overseas a month later, not wanting to miss a moment of my trip, I did shoot a lot of photos in auto, especially at my daughters wedding & was really happy with most of them, then when hubby & I took off on our own to explore I did a mix of all the settings, I think the only thing I didn't try was going completely manual, I figure that I'm only shooting for myself, so if I like the outcome, then it's the right setting, hopefully over time I'll go fully manual, but until then, I don't think I'm enjoying my semi auto or auto pics any less

01-12-2013, 7:46pm
I never use presets such as a, s or p mode.

Just manual...I like being in control of everything I do for my images.

02-12-2013, 9:18pm
I think that photography is one instance where the ends really do justify the means.

If you can produce arresting images using Auto settings, more power to you. If you can do it with a point and shoot, or a phone, again - well done! If you plan a shot to the nth degree and pull it off, great stuff.

In my opinion, great images are 90% inspiration and 10% technical. The technical aspects are learnable. The artistic aspects like composition, colour, etc are not easily learned.

That said, if you can combine natural artistic ability with a mastery of the camera you will create memorable images on a reliable basis.

Please note that I have mastered neither the technical aspects nor the artistic.

24-12-2013, 9:12am
I have a D700 but so if you mean presets = sports/landscape/portrait, then I don't use them because my camera body doesn't have them. I do use presets for my photos which are largely related to how it focuses, what the user customisable buttons do etc.

For example, if I am shooting portraits, I make one of the buttons used for switching off the flash so I don't have to manually switch off the external flash every time I want to take a photo without flash.

If I am shooting landscape, I generally don't need that often so I am happy to switch it off or use the button for something else.

If I am shooting sports, the method of focussing is entirely different to portraits, or even kids.

I agree with the sentiments about about shooting raw, but sometimes I will want to switch to JPG without post processing so the ability to use the right presets does help.

So yes, everyone (including pros although I am not one myself) use presets of some sort, even if it is just for camera function. Some of the most experienced professionals use presets and even share their presets for other newer users to benefit (Thom for example).