Old 10-24-2006, 02:12 AM   #1
WisconsinCentral
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Default New to Manual settings

Im going to be getting a new camera come Christmas, and I have been reading up on many out there. Heres a few newbie questions to some terms.

What is the advantages and disadvantages of having fast and slow shutter speeds? Im guessing the faster the crisper it turns out.

ISO? What settings are the best? Low, as in 80, 100? This camera has had some noise issues above this limit, but im not worried about it. Please tell advantages and disadvantages.

Also, for night exposures, how long do you USUALLY have to set the exposure for? Thanks alot guys,

Alec
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Old 10-24-2006, 03:10 AM   #2
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Alec,

Having fast shutter speeds is very important for shooting trains at high speeds. It can also be used for lighting purposes. It all depends on the position of the sun. Sometimes, you'll have to use a fast shutter speed to let a certain amount of light in, or it can be the other way around. Depending on the type of camera, your light meter should give you an idea of when you're exposure is set properly. Once you practice, you'll get the hang of it.

Always have your ISO set at the lowest amount. That will give you the least amount of noise/grain.

For night pictures, it can vary. In my observations, night shooting involves a lot of luck. There is also some skill involved. Always use a tripod. A remote shutter release would also help out a lot, if you have one available. You'll want to experiment quite a bit.

I hope that this helps. There are probably many other forum members that can explain this better. Good luck!
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Old 10-24-2006, 04:33 AM   #3
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For night pictures, I use anywhere between 8-30 second exposures, if there is plenty of lighting I may even drop it down to 5 or less depending on the ambient lighting. I set my arpeture at f-5.6 up to 8 and not much higher, any higher than that the stars come out (which can cause some interesting effects).
since I do not have a remote shutter release for my camera, I set my timer and step away from the camera so it will be settled while the shutter is open. And of course I have the camera on a tripod for night shots.

And of course, if it's digital (which I'm assuming it is).. practice, very much practice, if the train is sitting and idle, work with your camera, change settings to see what comes out best. And try to remember what settings worked the best.
for example:
Image © WGrow
PhotoID: 152081
Photograph © WGrow

I have over 100 shots of this engine, trying different settings, I still have most of them on file for future reference. I played with the shutter speed, the arpeture settings and any other variable I could think of and this shot is what I came up with. Practice makes better.
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Old 10-24-2006, 12:03 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. I'll likely be asking plenty more questions when Christmas rolls around...

Alec
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Old 10-24-2006, 01:03 PM   #5
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Which camera will you be getting?
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Old 10-24-2006, 02:36 PM   #6
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Alec,

You can't beat Walt's advice. Go out and take a ton of test shots and look at them very carefully. Test your camera in a variety of lighting conditions too.

That said, most lenses are at their sharpest 1 or 2 stops down from their maximum aperature. Wide open may allow for the highest shutter speed, but the image won't be quite as sharp. Use a high enough shutter speed to freeze the motion, but don't over do it. 1/500 with a normal lens is generally adequate unless you are shooting very fast trains or are really close to the tracks.

Depth of field can be an issue, and the wider the lens is open, the shallower your depth of field and the more critical it is to be properly focused. This is especially noticeable in head on or 3/4 shots where the nose of the train may be sharp, but things get soft further back. Stopping your lens down will improve the depth of field, but also means either a lower shutter speed or a higher ISO.

Unless you are shooting for publication, I wouldn't worry about a bit of noise, so would suggest that you shoot at ISO 200 or maybe even 400 ISO. Much above that and even the best cameras start to produce noise. When you get older and can afford a high end camera and better lenses you will probably have improved your skills to the point where you will be paying attention to noise. Then shooting at lower ISO will matter. Until then, it's better to have your images sharp and properly exposed and not worry much about the rest.

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Old 10-24-2006, 09:11 PM   #7
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Ottergoose, Im most likely going to be getting the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7. If you just want to take a look at it, check here,

http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/pa...ew/index.shtml

Was very very helpful for me. While scrolling down, you can see the noise factors at high ISO settings. Now, I'm thinking that noise appears when light isnt on an object, therefore the camera cant see all the details so if may become noisy? Am I on the right track with this?

Alec
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WisconsinCentral
Im going to be getting a new camera come Christmas, and I have been reading up on many out there. Heres a few newbie questions to some terms.

What is the advantages and disadvantages of having fast and slow shutter speeds? Im guessing the faster the crisper it turns out.

ISO? What settings are the best? Low, as in 80, 100? This camera has had some noise issues above this limit, but im not worried about it. Please tell advantages and disadvantages.

Also, for night exposures, how long do you USUALLY have to set the exposure for? Thanks alot guys,

Alec
Slow shutter speeds can create blur, especially if you are shooting a [moving] subject from the side. A fast shutter speed can freeze action better, but you may need to compensate for it by shooting with a wider aperture, higher ISO, or both. My XT shows only slight increases in noise as the ISO is raised.
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:57 PM   #9
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I used to stick to (or as close to as I could) the "Sunny 16" rule http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_16. That doesn't always relate to railroad photography as someone pointed out, the 125th is too slow most times.

Depending on the haze or stregnth of the MN sun, I use between a f/5.6 and f/8.0 with a shutter speed of 1/400 to 1/1000.
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:36 PM   #10
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Alright, great link Aaron. So, what Im getting for the information, is set the F stop accordingly. But since it says set it to film speed, what do you usually do with digitals? But I always want my shutter speed higher correct?

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