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Thread: Am I AP's Tyrannosaurus Kev ?

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Am I AP's Tyrannosaurus Kev ?

    Well I guess it's time to admit that in respect to the way I use my camera, I'm a dinosaur.

    I started my SLR journey in the early 1960's with a Ricoh Five-One-Nine Rangefinder and after about ten years moved to a Canon AV-1, mainly for the selection of lens available, and used it until the end of the last millennium.

    The AV-1 had a built-in Exposure/Camera Shake Warning Meter, very handy for getting you into the ballpark for your settings. You still had to have an understanding of the 'Sunny Sixteen Rule' if you didn't want to pay for thirty-six blurry/dark/washed out 6" x 4" prints.

    I had a hiatus from photography for about seven years until I purchased a 7.1 Megapixel Canon A550 Powershot P&S in 2007. What a great intro to the digital age with it's scene modes, and the ability to instantly review your shot, and if you'd got it wrong, take another one. No more waiting for a day or so to find out that you'd stuffed up a roll of film.

    This excellent little camera, I still use it, rekindled my interest in photography, but I missed the creativity that comes with the ability to set aperture and shutter speeds, so I did heaps of research and decided on a DSLR, the Pentax K20D.

    I sat down with the 300 odd page manual, got to the end of the section describing what all the buttons, knobs and wheels were for and wondered just what I was going to learn from the other 300 pages that would allow me to start taking photos.

    I made a decision to try to demystify the process of taking a photo by looking at just what the difference was between a SLR and a DSLR. They both offered variable aperture and shutter speed control, however the big difference was that the DSLR also offered in-camera ISO control instead of having to change the film in a SLR to a higher ASA rating when the light was less than ideal.

    So my new you-beaut DSLR was just the same as my old Canon AV-1, except that I could make an in-camera adjustment for deteriorating light. I always shoot in RAW and disable all in-camera processing, preferring CS6 instead, so if I miss the light by a stop it is usually recoverable in PP.

    OK, there are some great features that I also use, like back-button and live-view focusing, and focus tracking etc. Although I never use them I concur that there are times when Aperture and Shutter Priority are useful.

    This thread made me think about the way I use my camera. http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...n-ISO-question

    I made the following comment in the thread and I'll stick by it.
    Using Auto ISO is, to my way of thinking, surrendering a degree of control of the exposure equation to the whim of the camera's in-built processor.
    I guess my bottom line is that when you let the camera's processor start making fine adjustments for you, you really are handing control to a program that is trying to be all things to all people.
    Cheers
    Kev

    Nikon D810: D600 (Astro Modded): D7200 and 'stuff', lots of 'stuff'

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    Cage... This all sounds kind of familiar. I purchased my first camera in 1966, with my first pay. and it was in pounds and not that many of them either. A Kashica Lynx 1.4. Fixed Lens. I used it for more than 10 years until the light meter stopped working. I could not get it fixed. I had a big, big void. My son gave me my present camera, 2 - 3 years ago. He bought it from a work colleague. The Nikon D3100. And it really set my juices flowing ( a real camera ). I also sat down with the 202 page manual and only reach the end of the index. I think I could be dyxlesic....( any info written or spoken to me more than 2 lines, I loose the lot ) .....I also can not get my head around the back button, live view and most of the PP settings....So I take pictures, for the fun of it, and if it comes out good, then I'm happy.
    I have been taking photos for 50 years. I am now trying to get into Photography


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    Member formerly known as : Lplates Glenda's Avatar
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    I remember looking at a SLR in the late 60s but decided to go with something simpler. I stuck with P&S up until 2009 when our P&S became a point and hope during a trip to Egypt, when all I could see in the LCD screen was my reflection, so I decided to buy something with a viewfinder. I did feel like a dinosaur when entering one shop, being served by a young man who, when I said I wanted a camera with a viewfinder, asked 'what's a viewfinder'. Again DSLR sounded all very complicated and scary so I originally went with a Nikon Coolpix. It had full manual controls but a fixed superzoom lens. It's low light performance was abysmal though so I changed to a D3100, luckily we were both still working.
    I was hooked, did lots of research, joined a couple of forums and photography soon became my favourite hobby. I sometimes regret not getting into it earlier but I also think my learning curve would have been so much steeper and more frustrating during film days.

    I shot everything in manual mode - loved the idea of having full control and often wondered why anyone would bother with any other mode. It was only when I started photographing birds, and missed quite a lot of shots, as I couldn't change my settings fast enough to cope with changing light, that I embraced aperture priority or sometimes shutter priority for both birds and sport. I've recently returned to manual for birds and action shots but now with auto ISO as the third part of the exposure triangle. Love the fact I now have the ability to change aperture or shutter quickly but don't have to worry about the exposure as the auto ISO handles that perfectly. I still shoot in full manual for everything else but wouldn't go back to that for birds or action shots as I know I get so many more keepers with the auto ISO.
    Glenda



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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Nope!! I'm about to be the local AP tyrannosaur for a brief moment(and bite your head off here)!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    Well I guess it's time to admit that in respect to the way I use my camera, I'm a dinosaur.

    I started my SLR journey in the early 1960's with a Ricoh Five-One-Nine Rangefinder .....
    Impossible! you can't have an SLR and a rangefinder in one device. It's one or the other.


    And for what it's worth, there's a very high chance that you're surrendering exposure to the camera under most situations anyhow.
    (not having a go at 'ya, just disagreeing with your assessments)

    Almost every single photographer I've ever seen and spoken to about it, that use manual mode, or whatever other mode all do the same thing, and think the same way.
    if you use your cameras meter in any way .. ie. you don't calculate the light level(Ev) with an external method or by pure brain power .. you're doing the exact same thing as surrendering exposure to the camera's whims anyhow!

    So as an (hopefully) easy to understand situation:

    1/. You set camera to full manual control, you changed ISO, shutter speed and aperture to your own preference ... when and as you want.
    BUT! did you look at the cameras meter indicator?
    If so, how did you adjust any of the exposure settings for what it said, to what it said post adjustment?(ie. what did you change, and why?)

    if you did any of those things above, then you've just surrendered exposure to the whims of the camera.

    if on the other hand:
    2/. the meter read -5Ev(ie off the scale!) and that's what you wanted for the exposure, then you exposed to your whims
    Stuff what the cameras whims told you to do(and you diligently did or didn't).

    if you did 1/. then Auto ISO will make no difference to your workflow. Whether you use Auto ISO or not, you have surrendered exposure to the camera by the simple fact that you used the cameras meter to calculate a selection of settings, BUT!! you did all those setting changes like a dinosaur!

    if you did 2/. then good on 'ya for holding your ground and ignoring what the camera is telling you, and sticking to your guns. You fully understand metering and got the exposure you were after!

    In fact, I generally do 2/. with the caveat that I use the Auto 'as much as possible' mode too. This is a new mode I just invented for the purpose of this thread. mode [AMAP]

    Many folks like to use [A] [Av]mode or [S] [Tv] mode if you shoot Canon. [M] mode should be reserved for specialised situations where you need to control a specific set of exposure levels irrespective if the exposure is good or bad. Simple examples of those coudl be a panorama stitch effort. variable exposures for a panorama end up looking crap, so stick with a steady full manual exposure with no thought as to what the meter reads. Same with much of the flash photography scene. Manual mode, forget the light meter reading, flash takes care of the exposure correctness.

    When I do landscapes, I leave ISO to manual. Shutter speed can be anything from 1/500s to 30s .. I'm on a tripod anyhow, ISO just stays put. My metering is the only important part here.
    When I do most other types of shooting(wedding a few weeks back), I always use Auto ISO, pretty much always [A] mode. about the only thing I like to change myself for a 'look' is aperture(and lens), do I want it 'dreamy'
    Do I want it sharp edge to edge(eg. wider angle group shot .. etc, etc).
    What the camera does change to get the exposure I want based on the meter I tell it to follow, is up to itself!
    For shadow metering, I generally tend to use about -1 to -1.3 Ev. I don't care if that means ISO12800! It's of no consequence to me if it's at ISO100 .. I don't really care. Al I care about is that the camera maintains that -1 to -1.3Ev.
    ie. I have control over exposure, not the camera.

    It's probably a hard concept to get a grip on, but that the reality.

    If your a slave to the camera meter indicator, then all you are doing is working doubly hard to do the same thing as I am.
    When speed is important, this is the best workflow. Many pros will probably tell you the same thing.

    You will already know what the uppermost limit of your cameras ISO will be.
    With the D800 I'm finding I can get away with ISO6400. With the D300, I find ISO3200 my max limit, but I will sometimes use ISO6400(max ISO!) if reproduction size isn't large.

    The thing is that soem cameras have woeful AutoISO implementations. Older usually = more terrible!

    something like:
    D70s(2006) pretty much as bad as it gets.
    D300(2008) pretty much as bad as it gets, and should have been better. .. actually it is, in that you can set a few more specifics but for a camera of this class, they should have done a lot better.
    D800E(2012). I can't fault it. Haven't tried many other variations from other manufacturers, but it allows you to set minimum shutter speed, (auto)1/focal length variation on that, with the ability to tweak to allow for stabilisation(hence the auto)!. Allows max ISO(as they all will), and the most important part of the equation an easy to access method to turn it on/off. hardware button and dial rotation.
    Long live the D800 for Auto ISO.
    Thank god for the death of the D300 for giving us crap!

    A quick note on auto Auto ISO. Yep! that's an auto shutter speed setting, for an already automated exposure feature. You can't get any more auto than that!
    This is where auto ISO truly hit maturity. If you regularly swap lenses, or if you have some lenses that have VC/OS/VR/IS or whatever this is the bees guts .. ie. both the bees knees and ducks guts.
    For shooting birds, I wouldn't use any other settings. Al I want is my exposure level, be that +1 for a brief moment, or -2 for the next. As long as it does that, at whatever minimum shutter speed I set it too, which I kinda didn't, all's well.
    So I zoom from 150mm to 600mm in a fleeting moment. Irrespective of OS on the lens, I stil prefer some shutter speed due to my usually incapable holding technique.
    I allow myself a very slight advantage of 1/focal length plus a bit less, so at 150mm, I'll generally get about 1/100s. At 600mm I'll generally see 1/400 or 1/500s. And so on. I allow myself only 1-ish stop of stabilisation. (ps,. I can't use monopods!)
    All the while the camera two tasks were:
    priority 1/. maintain that metered exposure I told it too. Vital and most important.
    secondary consideration 2/. keep ISO to a minimum! If it needs to be ISO6400, so be it. Why would I want to fumble for 1/3rd of a sec to change ISO from 200 to 6400 just so that I maintain the exposure I wanted. In that 1/3rd of a sec, the night parrot I'm chasing has scampered off in to a bush, and I don't get the shot.

    What's more important?

    For a wedding event. I throw on the 50/1.2. Generally not the best lens to use, but that's what I wanted at the time.
    The light is variable in the reception hall from full sun coming in through the floor to ceiling windows, to dark at the other end of the room and the corridor leading into the room.
    I'm having enough of a time just trying to get focus on fidgety folks, let along worrying about what settings the camera needs for the +0.3 metering. I found that the D800 prefers +0.3Ev on human faces. D300 seemed to be more 0Ev. That's for spot and occasionally centre weighted.
    Any metering mode not spot mode, is crap!
    Except on old manual lenses. centre weighted seems to be more consistent, so I use it sometimes.
    The only things I need to worry about in this situation are focus and what's at the centre of the frame. is it white(+1Ev compensation), is it black?(-2.3Ev) .. etc.
    That's the nature of old manual lenses(unless I chip them).
    That's really the only thing I change is metering.
    That is, I'm not going to meter a white wedding dress at -2Ev, and a black suit at +1Ev .. that's really about the only thing that needs changing.
    Of course in [A] mode the aperture sometimes needs a bit of adjustment too .. but ISO and shutter speed can change as the camera determines them to be appropriate(as I've told it too).


    And so I think with this comment:

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    ... I guess my bottom line is that when you let the camera's processor start making fine adjustments for you, you really are handing control to a program that is trying to be all things to all people.
    I don't think you understand what Auto ISO actually is. Not to be confused with Auto Program modes.
    I think you have the D7200. It has a Landscape mode and Portrait mode. These are the Auto modes that give control of exposure to the camera!
    Auto ISO isn't giving control of exposure to the camera. Control of exposure is tied to the camera meter. As long as you control the cameras meter, you control the exposure.

    It should be understood that Auto ISO, just like Shutter priority or Aperture priority is just a flexible manner(at light speed too it must be noted!) with which to maintain that metered exposure level whilst concentrating on the subject and not the meter itself.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC

    {Yongnuo}; -> YN35/2N : YN50/1.8N


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    Still in the Circle of Confusion
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Nope!! I'm about to be the local AP tyrannosaur for a brief moment(and bite your head off here)!

    Impossible! you can't have an SLR and a rangefinder in one device. It's one or the other.

    And for what it's worth, there's a very high chance that you're surrendering exposure to the camera under most situations anyhow.
    (not having a go at 'ya, just disagreeing with your assessments)
    My bad re the SLR comment. I should have said "my 35mm journey".

    And Artie, feel free to disagree as I also disagree with a lot of your comments. That's what democracy is all about.

    Just to be clear, I use 'M' mode, all the time. I have a very good understanding of the good old 'Sunny Sixteen Rule' and don't use the camera for metering at all, and certainly not ETTR or Exposure Compensation. OK, I don't get it right all the time but I shoot in 14bit RAW and 90% of the time I can make adjustments in ACR to my satisfaction. And if I'm shooting say 1000 shots per month, I'm only paying $0.013 for my whoopsies.

    Now re ISO settings. Just what does the camera do to allow the sensor to be more sensitive? Does it open up your aperture, does it slow down your shutter speed. It may do a bit of both but I suspect that with the introduction of noise at high ISO settings there is much more to it than that.

    A quick note on auto Auto ISO. Yep! that's an auto shutter speed setting, for an already automated exposure feature. You can't get any more auto than that!
    What if I don't want the camera playing around with my shutter speed?

    IMHO, where auto settings come unstuck is in shots where you have bright whites and blacks. I'd much rather be trying to recover some detail from the blacks than from blown out whites. Is the software in my camera smart enough to only apply Exposure Compensation to dark pixels?

    Artie, did you have a D800? You extol the virtues of it's Auto ISO but my experiences, and Nikon Nellie's too, are quite the opposite. I found ISO640 the max I could use without introducing noise into darkish backgrounds. I find the D7200 much more forgiving and wonder if the OLPF in the D800 may have been the culprit.

    Anyway, thank you for taking the time to try to lead me toward the path of enlightenment but I'm pretty satisfied with my old tried and true methods and I always say 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

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    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    I have a D750 and use Auto ISO @ 2500 max for my birding. I chose 2500 as this is where I get the best pic with noise.
    Above 2500 and it's too noisey.
    Only for birding, as I can't change settings quick enough.
    Everything else is manual.
    Regards
    John
    Nikon D750, Sigma 105mm OS Macro, Tokina 16-28 F2.8, Sigma 24-105 Art, Sigma 150-600C,
    Benro Tripod and Monopod with Arca plates


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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    ....

    Just to be clear, I use 'M' mode, all the time. I have a very good understanding of the good old 'Sunny Sixteen Rule' and don't use the camera for metering at all, and certainly not ETTR or Exposure Compensation. OK, I don't get it right all the time but I shoot in 14bit RAW and 90% of the time I can make adjustments in ACR to my satisfaction. And if I'm shooting say 1000 shots per month, I'm only paying $0.013 for my whoopsies...
    My two problems with that:
    1/. always get exposure as best as you can in camera(even on the raw file). best results are then available from that point onwards.
    2/. badly exposed images arent' the issue itself, but what if you miss that once in a lifetime shot due to badly exposed image. I understand that it's possible to recover 5 or 6 stops of detail from a raw file nowadays, but what if that badly exposed image was 7 stops under?
    Usual ceiling for highlights is more like a true 1-1.5Ev of latitude. You could get some detail back if you were +2Ev over exposed, but it's not real detail. As with reason 1/. always better to get correct exposure and not have to deal with badly exposed images in PP.

    Been there, done that. Too slow and Jurrasic for my likes now. (with the caveat that I'm still one of those DSLR loving dinosaurs too tho! )
    I've found that Sunny16 doesn't really work properly for digital.
    Only reason is that each model cameras sensor is differently weighted for exposure vs noise or something to that effect.
    That is, while exposures are pretty close, they're not the same when using the same lens on my 3 different model cameras back to back in controlled lighting.
    You only notice this with back to back comparison .. so like I said, exposure looks the same, but usually different in terms of exactness.
    For each camera I'm compensating be slightly different amounts to get the dynamic range I'm trying to extract.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    .... Now re ISO settings. Just what does the camera do to allow the sensor to be more sensitive? Does it open up your aperture, does it slow down your shutter speed. It may do a bit of both but I suspect that with the introduction of noise at high ISO settings there is much more to it than that....
    ISO is amplification of the signal output. Auto ISO doesn't affect shutter or aperture. Using it only changes ISO value to maintain pre determined aperture and or shutter values you want to work with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    .... What if I don't want the camera playing around with my shutter speed? ...
    That's what happens if you use Aperture priority mode only!
    if you use manual or shutter priority, camera changes nothing other than ISO(if you use Auto ISO in manual mode).
    Camera only changes aperture if you use shutter priority mode. If you use Auto ISO and shutter priority, camera changes aperture to wider values as light falls, once aperture hits max, the camera then ups ISO. Really simple logic, better and faster than hitting max values and then getting badly exposed images.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    .... IMHO, where auto settings come unstuck is in shots where you have bright whites and blacks. I'd much rather be trying to recover some detail from the blacks than from blown out whites. Is the software in my camera smart enough to only apply Exposure Compensation to dark pixels? ...
    It should be remembered here that auto exposure control is not 'auto settings'
    Landscape mode and Portrait mode are Auto settings. Auto exposure control is semi auto, in that you still control the exposure(ie. via metering) it's just that the camera maintains the hard set 'mechanical' value you want need.
    In your shutter speed scenario above, if you set camera to maintain 1/1000s then it will auto change aperture and ISO to help you do this.
    This is where 'understanding your meter reading' is vital. The above question has nothing to do with 'exposure' so much as it has to do with the operator understanding the cameras meter!
    Exposure compensation is a simple and easy way to learn how the cameras metering works.
    Auto auto settings try their best to capture the dynamic range you set the camera to capture.
    Metering affects the dynamic range you tried to capture. Using matrix metering(or evaluative) metering mode is an auto mode in itself. What you have set the camera to do is calculate the best exposure settings to capture the best dynamic range the engineers think the sensor is capable of.
    Spot metering and to a lesser degree, centre weighted are more controlled. On a Nikon the focus point(in use) becomes your Spot meter. And in centre weighted, the centre of the vf is the area of most importance for metering.
    Spot is the most controlled, or manual metering mode, centre weighted is less manual, and matrix is (by comparison) best described as an auto metering.
    I use spot 99.99% of the time, centre weighted once or twice in a blue moon, and matrix .. never!
    The way I use spot is to find the exposure needs for a give area, then locate the exposure needs for another given area and work out what will get me best results with the least amount of PP.
    So in a landscape: I spot the sky, in my head calculate a +1Ev over value. then move the spot to the shadow and calculate about a -3Ev value.
    I'll then re focus, set exposure compensation for the best dynamic range depending on how much I'll lose in the shadows, and if they're important. Add a filter to help the sky(or not) and so on.
    That's a manual matrix method, but I'm calculating what I think I can make of the dynamic range(ie. not the camera doing so).
    It sounds slow, but in practice it's about a 5-10s workflow.
    Once I know what exposure I want(taking into account what I can recover in PP) then I focus, and adjust composition as I think is needed.
    It sounds contrary to the 'get it right at the time of exposure' but it's not. it's still the same practise, and I'm still trying to determine best exposure based on what I can recover if the dynamic range is excessive.

    I once wrote up a metering tute, as someone asked me some questions about it ages ago. Couldn't find it, but I'll keep trying too and update this reply if I do. But, for white using spot, set exposure compensation to +1Ev or so.
    So if the white detail(eg. in a wedding dress) is critical for the shot, then spot on the dress dial up to +1Ev(for most cameras +2Ev should be fine with some PP tweaks) and shoot. For such a shot, because the detail in the dress is the critical aspect, whatever happens to the shadows is whatever happens. It's all about why are you taking this shot. For the next shot, the detail in the grooms black suit may be critical tho. So if the wedding dress details blow out, then does it matter? If they can be recovered great, but if not, the critical detail is all that's important.
    For black, set exposure compensation to about -2.7 to -3Ev. You could possibly get away with a bit more and recover in PP, but as the meter is trying to capture the subject behind the spot at grey, you're forcing the camera to exposure for black(at -2.7Ev) and white(at +1Ev).

    In those situations Sunny16 is either unworkable, or will be annoying to the subjects to wait for the operator to finally take the shot(s)

    Now those examples are just randomly thought out hypotheticals, which a wedding tog wouldn't use and would just use matrix mode and get an exposure, and judicious use of PP will do the rest.
    But that matrix using wedding tog workflow doesn't describe what's happening in terms of metering, and how to understand how to 'control it'.
    The same principles apply to almost any situation, and vary depending on cameras sensor ability.
    That's how I do my metering for landscapes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    .... Artie, did you have a D800? You extol the virtues of it's Auto ISO but my experiences, and Nikon Nellie's too, are quite the opposite. I found ISO640 the max I could use without introducing noise into darkish backgrounds. I find the D7200 much more forgiving and wonder if the OLPF in the D800 may have been the culprit. ...
    I've got 'clean' shots at ISO3200 with +1Ev compensation using ViewNX2 and CNX2. I think(IIRC) in some ways Capture NX-D is even better with a touch of NR, as it's ability to pull back shadow details is slightly more modern than the older Nikon software.
    (it's just garbage software that needs some modern tools to make it usable! )

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    .... Anyway, thank you for taking the time to try to lead me toward the path of enlightenment but I'm pretty satisfied with my old tried and true methods and I always say 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.
    FWIW: I went out a few days back trying to get some birds with my Sigma 150-600, which I've barely had time to get to know!
    So went to a nice spot, sat there patiently and even tho I had more than enough time, still set camera to aperture priority Auto ISO and spot metering with +0.5Ev compensation.
    Exposure was pretty much spot on, Auto ISO was set to 1/focal length - 1 click(it has that tunable feature for stabilisation).
    Exposure on the little yellow (Eastern Robin I think) bird was spot on .. but old shaky hands here can't shoot for shi ... ships!. Lost some IQ detail, but image is ok-ish if viewed as a whole. ISO ended up landing at ISO 450 .. so it's not some kind of devil that simply wants to use ISOHi-2 at all cost or something

    So even tho the description says Auto, it's still not an auto auto mode like those incomprehensible Landscape/Portrait/P mode type autos.
    [P] program Auto .. what on earth that is, I don't think anyone can describe. it's all over the place all the time, with no rhyme nor reason. Could never get my head around that, and stopped trying.
    But the semi Auto aperture and shutter priority modes are better described as semi manual modes, as that's really what they are. You control one set of values, as long as you're in control of metering(and hence by definition final exposure).

    Hopefully I can find the link to my old metering thread too. Boring and long reading, but pretty pics of white and black boxes

    --- Update --- LINK here
    Last edited by arthurking83; 18-05-2017 at 11:10pm.

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    Thanks for the heads up on signal amplification. I recall being aware of it somewhere along the line and it was possibly one of the factors that led me to the decision to set my ISO manually, to avoid my camera wandering, automatically, into the zone where it bumped the ISO to a level where noise was introduced.

    You mention landscapes and I've tried the ND grads but have basically gone to blending shots with different settings for sky and foreground.

    I remember my frustration at trying to get my exposure right for black and white birds, almost an impossibility in bright sunlight, 'coz if you expose to get some detail in the black plumage, you get blown out whites.

    FWIW: I went out a few days back trying to get some birds with my Sigma 150-600, which I've barely had time to get to know!
    So went to a nice spot, sat there patiently and even tho I had more than enough time, still set camera to aperture priority Auto ISO and spot metering with +0.5Ev compensation.
    Exposure was pretty much spot on, Auto ISO was set to 1/focal length - 1 click(it has that tunable feature for stabilisation).
    Exposure on the little yellow (Eastern Robin I think) bird was spot on .. but old shaky hands here can't shoot for shi ... ships!. Lost some IQ detail, but image is ok-ish if viewed as a whole. ISO ended up landing at ISO 450 .. so it's not some kind of devil that simply wants to use ISOHi-2 at all cost or something
    Now speaking about birding, I will share with you my approach to getting sharp shots with less than steady hands, and no shake reduction in your lens. It should also work with your new, you beaut docked Sigma.

    My 'go to' birding lens is my Nikon 300mm f4, the original without stabilisation, and the Nikon TC-14E II, so my opportunities to use it handheld are limited to the odd occasion when I can bump my shutter speed up into the 000's. My observations of birds have shown me that they have a timetable. They generally feed in the morning, have a midday siesta, and feed and bathe in the afternoon. If it's a stinking hot day, they will look for a bath at any time.

    I generally shoot in the lateish afternoon at a watering spot I've previously scouted and plonk myself on my folding camp-stool about 3-4 meters from where they are drinking. This method is more rewarding than wandering through the bush hoping to spot something to shoot. And of course your shooting distance is going to vary with the length of your lens and the size of the bird you are hoping to capture.

    I'll usually wear a ghillie suit but on the odd occasion I've forgotten it I've found that if I sit still, they will still come in. I'll often push a stick in the ground near the water and they will invariably land on it to suss the environment before going to the water. This gets them off the ground and hopefully gives you a better, more bokeh friendly background.

    I try to pick a spot with the sun behind me and on the subject, so the closer you are to the 'golden hour' the softer the light. I use a tripod with a ballhead, a Wimberley Sidekick and a remote release. If you're not familiar with the sidekick, I did a quick review here .... http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...light=Sidekick

    It is probably the best bit of kit I own.

    OK, you're all set up so time to set the camera. I set the Release mode to Ch and my next setting is always the aperture to give me the DOF I want, and here your second best friend, DOFMaster's Depth of Field Calculator comes into play. You know the size of the birds you are hoping to capture, in this instance probably smallish ones, so you set your aperture to give you a DOF to get it all in sharp focus, even if it's head on. My next thought is shutter speed as the smaller the bird, the twitchier they are, so the higher the shutter speed. I recall a comment LanceB made that all the shake reduction in the world won't help with a bird that moves it's head about four times per second, Wrens probably being one of the worst culprits.

    At this point I'll decide on an ISO setting and take some test shots of the landing zone. If the light is good I can keep my ISO low, otherwise I will have to push it up and contend with some NR in PP.

    The big moment arrives, a bird lands on the stick ! As I've already pre-focused on the stick I can get focus on the eye almost instantaneously, so I then leave the camera alone, it will take up to ten seconds to stop vibrating, pick up the remote, watch the bird in the viewfinder and when I see a catch-light I hit the remote shutter release and take three or four shots and repeat several times so hopefully I manage at least one or two shots with a catch-light and a stable head.

    This method and set-up should also work for BIF although I haven't really tried much as the 420mm I have to work is a tad on the short side. It should be ideal for the Siggy with a 1.4 T/C on it.

    Lately I've been concentrating on getting my astro set-up ready to use but one of the 150-600's or the Nikon 200-500 is on my wish-list. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on why you decided on the Sigma over the Nikon, other than the obvious extra reach and your love affair with the Sigma Dock. Oh, and your waning fondness for Nikon in general.

  9. #9
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    First up, thanks for the heads up on bird behaviour and how to deal with it. All of which I had zero experience with, or knowledge on .. so should come in handy if I get the time to do it again.
    My MO is stop at any bushy place with plenty of flora and sit and wait for birds to come/go/annoy/avoid ... usually avoid!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    Thanks for the heads up on signal amplification. I recall being aware of it somewhere along the line and it was possibly one of the factors that led me to the decision to set my ISO manually, to avoid my camera wandering, automatically, into the zone where it bumped the ISO to a level where noise was introduced.
    With this(and the next) quote, I still have a feeling that you don't fully understand what AutoISO is and does.
    The one thing it doesn't do, is 'wander all over the place'. It's not random, and you still control it's behaviour over a given range. Although you control over this given range is a bit limited in one sense, that limitation is completely unimportant!
    (maybe some folks need total and full control over the range selection, but they'd be carefully walked towards the the 'basket case department' of behavioural psychology ward in some institutions)
    The control over ISO you seek is right there with AutoISO tho.

    AutoISO(at least on Nikon cameras) is: any range from base(ie. not below base, such as the Lo settings) to a maximum YOU set in the settings area.

    .....

    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    ... At this point I'll decide on an ISO setting and take some test shots of the landing zone. If the light is good I can keep my ISO low, otherwise I will have to push it up and contend with some NR in PP.....
    So instead of setting ISO as low as you reckon you need, use that same concept, but set that value in the max ISO value in the AutoISO settings.

    as a quick example: lets hypothesise that you think ISO400 is what I need for this shoot. Instead of setting ISO400 manually(which could be wasteful!) use AutoISO, and set the max value to ISO400.
    The worst case effect is you have done exactly the same thing as setting it manually, but more efficiently using it because:

    .. previously, you set it manually to ISO400 .. so if the exposure required only ISO100, you've just bumped ISO manually by 2 stops above what may only be needed .. ie. a waste!
    lets assume that somehow more light comes into play and ISO100 will expose fine for your chosen meter setting (and remember any exposure variable(Sh, Ap or ISO) you choose manually is basically the same thing as a meter setting!), having it set to ISO400 and hard setting shutter speed and aperture, you either have to fumble with changing at least one setting, or risk blowing out the exposure by 2 stops!
    it's the fumbling that loses you opportunities when they fleetingly come and go .. or blow exposure and have to fix it in PP.

    So an AutoISO methodology alternative to your above workflow could be:

    (the *alt* mark is where you'd change the workflow to your chosen one)
    1/.
    a. use Manual mode, set shutter and aperture to what you like.
    b.*alt* set AutoISO to the same value that you deem appropriate .. eg. you like ISO800, set max ISO to 800)
    With that, you get to use your intended aperture and shutter speeds, but ISO will never exceed ISO800, as you set it too. The efficient part in this equation is: if a differently toned subject enters the view(ie, exposure will need to increase/decrease) when this part of the exposure triangle needs to change, you don't fumble around setting ISO to (say) 400, or 200, or 100 .. Auto ISO changes this for you.(and only ever downwards!! .. remember that you set it to max out at 800, so it cant' go over this value)
    **Important note to be mindful of** normally exposure compensation does nothing in manual mode, but! if you also use AutoISO, exposure compensation will affect the ISO value!
    an example to explain this: if you set -1Ev comp in Manual mode, ISO will always be set -1Ev than it otherwise would for a neutral exposure, so your images will be darker. Good for dark birds, bad for lighter birds .. so just keep that in mind if you try it.

    (this next one would be my preferred option .. and actually what I do when using AutoISO the majority of the time.
    2/.
    a. Set camera to [A]perture mode: (stay with me here, I'll try to explain it clearly how it works!!)
    You said you want a clearly defined DOF .. agreed(that's my method too). set aperture to f/something and it stays there, just like in Manual mode.
    b. Shutter speed now changes .. but for the greater good!
    c. set max ISO value as before. again it will never change up past this value, and only ever downwards to cleaner values(hence the comment about efficiency)
    d. now you set a minimum shutter speed in the settings area. use 1/1000s as a hypothetical here
    What now happens is, you set minimum shutter speed to 1/1000s, as you indicated earlier you want a shutter speed fast so that the 4Hz head swinging little wren can be captured sharply. Fair nuff too.
    Auto ISO now won't let the camera dip below 1/1000s, but if need be(for exposure) will let it bump up to faster speeds .. but! ..
    What happens is, AutoISO holds that 1/1000s and will decrease ISO first(efficiency remember!), and then once ISO has bottomed out to base value, and it can be done, shutter speed will increase to a faster speed again.

    All in the name of maintaining your exposure, so that you don't have to change a thing .. ever!(obviously for this session! )

    **another note, but less important** what happens if light turns real bad when you're using AutoISO?
    Nothing different to the above description, and the only change will be that your images will be similarly underexposed as they will be when you set ISO manually to value XXX. So it's best to work out what you need for that situation(as you explained) and bump it up by one more stop for the leeway factor if the light goes bad.
    Quickly; how this philosophy works is that you know that at 1/1000s and f/6.3, you need to set ISO to ISO800. Great!, so set ISO to ISO1600 instead. Remember that ISo wil always stay as low as possible, so if you thought it needed ISO800, then AutoISO will use ISO800, and lower if it think is better. If the sun suddenly goes out tho, you have one more stop of leeway, and only then(when the sun goes out) will it bump 'er up to ISO1600.


    So AutoISO is not an auto mode as you may think it is, or thought it was. Yes it's an automated system, but at all times you have control over it's range.
    The difference with your chosen MO of setting ISO manually to say ISO640 and my MO of using ISO640 .. is that when the light changes for the better, you may have to change some setting, whilst I'm still shooting that family of night parrots coming out from under their bushes. And just as you've set ISO to <whatever> I'm now emailing those images, then onto internet banking to use the received billions to purchase more lenses and other hardware.

    AutoISO is an efficient way to keep ISO as low as possible for a set situation.

    I have, and always have, used 1/3 ISO increments for my cameras. once again, more efficient. There was an earlier comment re the pros and cons of this, in that non integer multiples of base ISO(ie. ISO320, or ISO250, as opposed to ISO200, ISO400 .. etc) are processed to those exposure values by the camera, rather than pure hardware gain values .. and that the fear is that you may lose something.
    In my experience this isn't the case. Never seen any ill effects of using ISO320 instead of the 'less processed' ISO400 instead.
    What I have seen(via testing) is to not use lower than base ISO. base ISO on a Nikon is where ISO value is a number, and not one of those Lo values.
    Reason is, that the exposure wil be heavily processed to get that Lo value.
    What happens here(with the Lo values) is that the camera exposes at base ISO, eg. D7200 base is ISO100 ... and to get the exposure correct and not 1Ev over exposed is to apply an internal -1Ev process to give you your image exposed as you wished.
    Normally not a problem, but you do lose close to 1Ev of highlight recovery ability .. and it makes sense why:
    The camera has already exposed the image by more than 1Ev over at Lo1. That's just the way it works. Lo1 is -1Ev below Base, and you need S and A to be set specifically for Base and 1Ev lower for Lo1.
    s the actual exposure(at the sensor) is actually at base ISO, the S and A speeds are set for the Lo ISO value .. ie. 1stop darker. The resultant Base ISO woudl be 1Ev over exposued with the Lo1 hardware settings, so the camera then applies -1Ev compensation to the image and your image looks correctly exposed.
    The exposure compensation applied, then makes it harder to apply compensation to highlight in PP(as it's already been applied!). result is less pull back in PP later on. OR, you just make sure you don't over expose the Lo1 image(and it's fine).
    But you gain nothing at all in terms of pushing the shadows when using Lo1. Lo ISOs are not the same thing as better than base. it is base, with a lot of processing applied.
    This is why the theory that non integer ISO increases are processed, and they are. And the really really geeky gear headed types amongst us may cry over 0.001% of extra chroma noise in the image, but I've never seen it in the hundred thousand images I've shot using this method.
    Why is 1/3 Ev increments important?(did you really ask that!! )

    Try changing from ISO1600(which is very clean!) down to ISO100 as quickly as you can .. no matter how Quick Draw Mcgraw you may be, you thumb can't do it in the 1/1000th of a second that the camera can!
    ie. no fumbles, no missed shots, billions in the bank from captured shots .. and more lenses in the bag!

    ps. your bird workflow is close to my landscape workflow: I set aperture ... and that's it!
    ISO at base tho(I tried the Lo setting to see, and used it for a bit, but quickly set back to base. ISO200 on the D300 and D70s, and 'happily' ISO100 on the D800E. Got very close to getting a D810 as it's base is ISO64(so more possibilities existed in terms of shutter speed), and the EFS would have been handy .. but I reckon if the update is appropriate, I'll be thinking short and easily about my update path.
    for most other stuff(except macro) I use Aperture priority and usually AutoISO.
    ps. If I did chasing bees around the garden type macro, I'd also use AutoISO.
    Only exposures I (used too) miss were with the old manual Ais lenses coz I keep forgetting that spot metering is only in the centre focus point(so, I need a lot of lens CPU chips to help with my dementia).

    firstly: sorry for the long reply, even I feel tired of it and I've hardly proofed it at all!
    lastly: hope it makes sense, and I recommend you give it a try the way I described in 2/. . but using your preferred [S] and [A] values. With the D7200 I recommend to try using ISO6400 as your max value, and from what I've seen of the sample images I've downloaded, even ISO12800 is fine too!

  10. #10
    Still in the Circle of Confusion
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    @ Uncle Arthur

    Thank you for your most enlightening post and for taking the time to try to nudge this old fart out of the darkness and toward the glow of modern camera technology.

    I won't say that I've walked through the tunnel and into the light, rather that I'll concede that, at least for me, there is a possibility that there is a tunnel that, if investigated, may, or may not, add some illumination to my photographic journey.

    And I'll re-post this.....

    Lately I've been concentrating on getting my astro set-up ready to use but one of the 150-600's or the Nikon 200-500 is on my wish-list. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on why you decided on the Sigma over the Nikon, other than the obvious extra reach and your love affair with the Sigma Dock. Oh, and your waning fondness for Nikon in general.
    Cheers

    Kev

  11. #11
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    ......

    Lately I've been concentrating on getting my astro set-up ready to use but one of the 150-600's or the Nikon 200-500 is on my wish-list. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on why you decided on the Sigma over the Nikon, other than the obvious extra reach and your love affair with the Sigma Dock. Oh, and your waning fondness for Nikon in general.
    I think(so it's only a personal opinion):

    Sigma, I liked the look of the images rendered on TDP's review, compared to those of the Nikon. Primarily the corner fringing on the Nikon(purple fringing). I get a lot of that from the 105VR too, and it bugs me.
    Nikon on LenScore's review tho, claims lower CA(score) than the Sigma .. so those two review sites are claiming opposing findings

    But what swayed me was the tripod foot on the Sigma is more solid looking, and pretty solid from what I've found in use too.
    Tho I've never used the Nikon to know for sure, but that angled tripod foot they use on the 200-500 is a common tripod foot for many of their lenses, and it not well liked by many. While it works, it's known to not work as well as a more solid design can be!
    (I reckon Kirk and other thirdparty manufacturers probably already have a replacement tripod foot in their product lineup too(haven't checked, don't know .. just a guess)

    Extra reach is a bonus, but not a point to sway you one way or another .. but, at 500mm, not being at the extremity of the focal range with the Sigma, usually(in theory) gives slightly better IQ.
    But like you said, the dock came into the equation.
    .. and Sigma's recent leaps and bounds in producing great lenses vs Nikon's recent reputation for producing products that should have never passed QC processes .. I think Mongo had an issue with his 200-500 .. plus the VR issue with the new 300/4 VR PF lens .. etc.

    Why reward a manufacturer that produces carp and gives their loyal customers grief, when the manufacturer that's producing good products with great features goes unrewarded .. so it was partly a gesture of good will in that sense too.

    I've read that the 1.7xTCII works really well on the 300/4(that you have) .. why don't you give that a go first to get to 500-ish mm.
    I remember you use a tracking contraption, so do you stop down(which I'd assume you do), or are you not using it (the long FL lens) on a tacking device?
    If yes to the tacking device, just be mindful of Nikon's reputation re tripod foot(s)

    I think, (thinking about it logically) even if I had no problem with my D800E falling apart(internally), I'd probably still have gone with the Sigma(S) mainly for the possibility that the tripod foot(on the 200-500) may have bugged me too.

    In the end tho, whichever way you go, I reckon you'll be pleased with either.
    Note tho, if you're looking into the Sigma, my comments relate to the S model ... that's what I got too.


    ps. One day I'll have to come back up again, and not sit for 6 hrs at an auto repairer.

    .. and maybe even take me out on a date, or something weird like that!

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