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Thread: Is auto-mode not a good choice in Australia?

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Is auto-mode not a good choice in Australia?

    This is going to get a bit deep, so bear with me.

    When we look at camera manufacturers, they are all in the Northern hemisphere. When their programmers sit in the offices and use the algorithms to create the software to install in your camera, they use benchmarks. Most of these benchmarks relate to light and the quality of it, as photography is all about capturing light. So chances are that the algorithms used are taken from data obtained in the northern hemisphere.

    Is this data relevant to the southern hemisphere? If not, then should we not be using auto mode in Australia (and other countries south of the equator)?

    A study done in 2002 found that there was around a 5% discrepancy in the light quality between the hemispheres. Mostly this discrepancy related to the amount of pollution surrounding the more densely populated northern hemisphere.

    There is also a significant difference in IR (infra red) light between the hemispheres. In the northern hemisphere the boundary for IR light is between 88 and 89 kelvin, in the southern Hemisphere it is around 91 kelvin. The hole that appears in the ozone layer over Antarctica each year also impacts this, when it is estimated that a variation of up to 15% can occur in the amount of UV light hitting the surface of the Earth around the ozone hole impact area.

    Now if the camera manufacturers are programming our cameras using the same algorithms that they use for the northern hemisphere, based on data collected in the northern hemisphere. there is a good chance that Auto-Mode is not going to be as accurate in Australia as it would be say in the USA.

    Food for thought, should we not be using Auto-Mode, based on living in Australia?
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    hmmmm...interesting thoughts here Rick. I for one refuse to use auto mode only out of a thirst for improving my skills but I can see a need for it on ocassion. You would think there should be a firmware update ....as I`m assuming this is a widely known glitch....for us southerners.
    Last edited by old dog; 19-09-2012 at 8:28pm.
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    I recalled reading something about it many years ago during a discussion this evening that brought it back to the fore for me.

    A person I know here in Hobart has recently taken up photography, using a consumer model DSLR, but on auto, it is over-exposing ever so slightly. Dialed in a bit of exposure compensation and it is much better. This reminded me of seeing an article, I reckon about 10 years ago, on this issue and how the light is different in the southern hemisphere. So I did a bit of research tonight to get the info I included in my first post, to show that there is a difference, and that it could possibly affect auto-mode use in Aus, and other southern hemisphere countries.

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    Sorry if this is dumb question but I just need to clarify your position here.

    When you say auto mode, do you mean AWB or do you mean setting the camera on auto?

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    setting the camera on Auto, or one of the 'picture modes' that consumer level DSLR offer. Not white balance!
    Last edited by ricktas; 19-09-2012 at 8:42pm.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    (Auto mode! There, I said it! And I don't usually square on forums.)

    Having rinsed my mouth out with soap and water, I will now opine that this part of the argument (as cited):
    So chances are that the algorithms used are taken from data obtained in the northern hemisphere.
    is the wobbly bit. I would further hazard a guess that the developers would be aware of a southern hemisphere and its luminary effects.

    It has been known for NH denizens to venture southward in droves betimes, many with auto-moded cameras in tow, and it might be politic to
    afford them the means to capture the southern light like as to their own.

    To be fair, I have occasionally ventured north of the equator, and have not used auto mode in my wanderings there.

    As a wise owl said: "Auto mode! Whooo needs it?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    setting the camera on Auto, or one of the 'picture modes' that consumer level DSLR offer. Not white balance!
    ok. I do see the point and I suppose one might argue that there is an opportunity for camera producers to come to the party and provide a setting for 'southern hemisphere' and some guidlines as to when it may be applied. Is there a market force to make something like this happen? What is the market (current) in the southern hemisphere like? Europe and North America are well developed economies with lots of discretionary spend, I suspect China falls in there as well now. Numbers of clients = billions. The southern hemisphere has people but not discretionary buying power at the moment so why modify the algorithms?

    Having said that, how hard would it be to offset an algorithm to include the southern hemisphere. Dunno - I see economics at play more than a love for photographic accuracy.

    Does any of it matter with post processing? Agreed the consumer level user may not post process so maybe that is a mute point.

    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    (Auto mode! There, I said it! And I don't usually square on forums.)

    Having rinsed my mouth out with soap and water, I will now opine that this part of the argument (as cited):


    is the wobbly bit. I would further hazard a guess that the developers would be aware of a southern hemisphere and its luminary effects.

    It has been known for NH denizens to venture southward in droves betimes, many with auto-moded cameras in tow, and it might be politic to
    afford them the means to capture the southern light like as to their own.

    To be fair, I have occasionally ventured north of the equator, and have not used auto mode in my wanderings there.

    As a wise owl said: "Auto mode! Whooo needs it?"
    Am.
    understood a couple of bits

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    I've heard certain films were developed for the northern hemisphere, namely Japan and US and doesn't suit Australian conditions well.
    I'm no film expert and have not shot in quantities adequate to make a call. But definitely a possibility.
    But does UV significantly affect digital sensors? I seem to recall the D2h and/or M8 may have had a problem with it. Or wassit to IR?
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    Also, would those whom use auto settings only, be the majority of buyers? I hazard a guess and say yes and likely by a country mile. 99.9% od those i see at at any sporting event, for example, use auto modes.

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    It's all about the Light!
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    To me movies made in Australia always have better blue skies than Hollywood and the UK, but that maybe just pollution levels and weather
    Last edited by Kym; 19-09-2012 at 9:47pm.
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    Is it only full Auto mode that could be affected? After all, Av and Tv modes (Nikon) also use, or partly use, the same algorithms to calculate the remaining settings. Maybe semi-auto modes are also "at risk", and the only reliable mode is full Manual? Even so, it is my understanding (limited though that may be) that some of the same algorithms also play a part in even Manual mode output, as manufacturer's strive to show their output is clearer, sharper, brighter, or whatever. Just a thought.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoDo View Post
    Is it only full Auto mode that could be affected? After all, Av and Tv modes (Nikon) also use, or partly use, the same algorithms to calculate the remaining settings. Maybe semi-auto modes are also "at risk", and the only reliable mode is full Manual? Even so, it is my understanding (limited though that may be) that some of the same algorithms also play a part in even Manual mode output, as manufacturer's strive to show their output is clearer, sharper, brighter, or whatever. Just a thought.
    Though, wouldn't most of those using Av, Tv or manual be likely to vary EC according to conditions and individual shot requirements?

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    It's all about the Light!
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    I guess it gets down to these questions:
    1. Is there a quantitative difference in SH vs NH light ? (it appears so)
    2. Is this difference significant?
    3. Is the calibration and software algorithms used by manufactures sensitive to the difference?
      I.e. do they set it (the camera software etc.) up in a lab or is it more subjective due to field tests?
    Last edited by Kym; 19-09-2012 at 9:53pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by norwest View Post
    Though, wouldn't most of those using Av, Tv or manual be likely to vary EC according to conditions and individual shot requirements?
    Perhaps so, John, although most people migrating from full Auto wouldn't go straight to Manual but would rather start in Av (like me), and the niceties of EC are another step further on. Most of the time I'll let the camera make the choices beyond aperture, unless I get an obviously crook result. I'm only now starting to watch my histogram to judge exposure, too. I occasionally use EC, when I think I know what I'm doing , but still learning the mechanics while I concentrate on composition and focus. I know, I know ... a slow learner ... but I don't get as much practice as I'd like, so that's my excuse.

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    But even when they write these algorythmins for the NH, they are averaging a lot of data for that hemisphere.

    Surely somehwere like Iceland has vastly different light amounts than say Thailand or perhaps Alaska and China even thought they are all in the NH. Same would go for Australia and Brazil (the SH part) They would be made for SH but would be exposing for different light conditions. It's all a bit of a moot point if you ask me.

    Most people who religiously use Auto probably won't tell the slight difference. Those who might, might learn to use P mode and dial in EC. Those who really care would be shooting manual, Av or Tv etc....

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Not 100% sure how the metering works for other camera manufacturers.
    But in matrix metering on a Nikon, the metered scene is compared to a large internal database of images, as well as further info like distance, skin tones if it exists etc. So if that database contains a selection of scenes from the southern hemisphere then perhaps the cameras are smart enough to adjust?

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    I recall on a trip to Tassie a few years ago, in winter, how the sun often seemed to have that late afternoon glow for most of the day. Much less harsh than being at the northen end of the country in the same time frame. I'm sure this is not taken into account either.
    Perhaps the soultion will be firmware which is GPS based to provide the best settings for the location.

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Now, realistically, with so many new models of cameras coming thick and fast the inclusion of an inbuilt GPS module integrated with the processor should solve any such ( real or imaginary ) problems cos the camera would know exactly where in the world it was and instruct the processor to set WB and EC automagically.
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    Am I missing something? Why should auto mode have anything to do with "quality of light"? Sometimes the dynamic range is too great with oz light, but auto can do nothing about that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Food for thought, should we not be using Auto-Mode, based on living in Australia?
    My view is that we should not be using auto-mode, based not on living in Australia, but based on a desire to be a better photographer by taking creative control over what the camera does.

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