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View Poll Results: Do you shoot TRAINS in M, Tv, Av, or P
Manual 37 62.71%
Shutter Priority 10 16.95%
Apeture Priority 7 11.86%
Program 5 8.47%
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:06 AM   #1
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Default How do you shoot? M, Tv, Av, or P

For those with SLR camera's (not point and shoots), I was wondering what settings you use most often when shooting trains.

I've always shot at Tv (Shutter Priority) thinking that the most important thing was to stop the action to avoid any blur. If needed, I would simply set my exposure adjustment a stop or two in either direction, for instance, when shooting a black steam engine, I might open up a stop or so, or if shooting a bright subject, or the sun, I could darken it a stop or more.

Some people like Av (Apeture Priority) - they can set the Depth of Field that way but risk shooting to slow to freeze the action.

Others like Program - keep it simple. I know lots of people who have very good luck just letting the camera make all the calculations.

And then there's M Manual. Remember the back of the Kodak film boxes where Kodak gave you recomendations for what speed and appeture to shoot under 4 or so specific conditions? Manual is nice as you can set the scene and not worry about it changing last minute (a passing cloud, a headlight, a dark subject comes into frame). The problem here is that using Manual means that you might be exposed improperly if those surprise -er, when those surprises come. Setting a scene without a black steam engine and then shooting with the engine seemingly would yield a shot with a very black engine, or blob.

So, you gather I typically shoot in Shutter Priority, but while on a learning curve with a new camera which automatically overexposes, I am debating on switching to Manual or learning just how much to stop up to accomadate my camera's idea of a perfect exposure.

How do you shoot and why?


Last edited by Mgoldman; 09-23-2007 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:17 AM   #2
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Good morning, Mitch!

I shoot Av because I take an interest in depth of field, so I want to set aperture first, and I don't mind keeping the ISO bumped (400) so shutter speed is rarely an issue. In a significant minority of instances, I do test shots and review histograms before the train comes (or for static compositions) and put my preferred settings in M manual.
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:22 AM   #3
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I primarily use Aperture Priority and Manual but also use Shutter Priority when the time calls for it.
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Old 09-23-2007, 01:06 PM   #4
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Shutter Priority during the day, Manual at night

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Old 09-23-2007, 01:54 PM   #5
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Back in the old days when film was king it was manual all the way and that includes focusing! back then it was the only way to get a half decent result.

Now days with all this hi tech stuff that's available its Av most of the time with a little bit of exposure compensation thrown in as required. And to beat the shutter speed into submission the ISO will get a tickle if needed in low light conditions.

Why Av?
1, To extract the best image quality out of the lens.
2, Depth of field, With these new fan dangled cropped cameras and designed for digital lenses the depth of field seems to be far shallower then the old full frame film jobs.
3, I've forgotten how to use the manual setting though I still drive a manual car much to the disappointment of the gear box.

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Old 09-23-2007, 02:07 PM   #6
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Gosh, I'm not even sure how to answer. I use all of them about equally, it just depends on what I'm trying to do with the photo.
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Old 09-23-2007, 02:49 PM   #7
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The late Dave McKay, a well known railroad photographer in Northern Ohio with two published books to his credit said that for shooting trains he believed the rule of thumb was "F8 and be there".

I shoot strictly RAW in manual mode, adjusting shutter speed and ISO if needed to stay as close to F8 as possible most of the time. So I guess you could say that I shoot in an aperture biased manual mode.
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Old 09-23-2007, 02:57 PM   #8
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Manual 100% of the time. I trust my abilities more than the camera.
If I have time I check the exposure and histogram also. As long as there is adequate time, a photo should never be improperly exposed with a dSLR.

Last edited by Mike B.; 09-23-2007 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 09-23-2007, 03:10 PM   #9
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As I am still fairly new to DSLRs, I mainly use program and let the camera set things for me. However if i am shooting at night I will use manual and I use TV when I am trying for certain effects. I do plan to use these more as I learn more about the camera and what i am doing.
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Old 09-23-2007, 03:38 PM   #10
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It depends on the situation.

If I'm chasing a train, the camera will always be left on Av, with aperture opened about a stop more than I'd like it just in case. If I have time while chasing it, I'll bump it down to get that extra depth of field.

However, if I'm sitting waiting for a train, I'll shoot manual and take the time to figure out the proper exposure and stuff. However, when I do shoot manual, I make sure to leave my Av setting a stop open or so, in case something should happen as the train comes (i.e. clouds come over).
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Old 09-23-2007, 03:51 PM   #11
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I agree with Mike B., though I may shot on M 97% of the time. A few exceptions are when I'm in a hurry and just need to pick up the camera and shoot. I think a few of my aerial shots may have been on Shutter Priority. But I think I'm smarter thn my camera and Lord forbid something does go wrong with a shot, I'd rather be able to blame myself -- and learn from it -- than let a concoction of plastic, metal and moving parts decide for me.

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Old 09-23-2007, 08:59 PM   #12
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I mainly find myself shooting in Shutter priority mode, but dabble in Program when I have to deal with those surprises Mitch mentioned, and Manual when I'm dealing with strange lighting conditions or night shots.
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Old 09-23-2007, 09:32 PM   #13
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I usually shot in P with program shift engaged. But having recently had a good photo in a unique setting ruined by a slight train blur I'm thinking of using Tv more.
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Old 09-24-2007, 01:10 AM   #14
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I shoot manual 90-95% of the time. I learned 35mm photography on an Argus C-3, which I'm sure many of the younger people may have never heard of. Let's just say..think of a brick with adjustable aperature and shutter speeds. I also once owned a Leica M2 & M4-2. Why I got rid of them I'll never know. The only time I use any form of auto is if the lighting is changing rapidly, I'll switch to shutter priority.
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Old 09-24-2007, 01:18 AM   #15
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I tend to use Tv and Av equally, depending on the conditions.
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Old 09-24-2007, 07:07 PM   #16
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I tend to keep the camera in P mode on my travels so, if I leap off a train and rush off to grab a shot, I have a reasonable chance of the camera getting it right without missing a shot by fiddling around with the settings too much. I NEVER use full auto mode though.

Apart from that, I usually use Tv mode for moving stuff (or taking pics from a moving train), though I have messed around with full manual when taking night shots at times.
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:07 PM   #17
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:12 PM   #18
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I have $1000's worth of equipment to shoot on manual!
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:13 PM   #19
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I shoot in Manual almost 100% of the time as I like to be able to control all of the aspects of my image. It gives me the freedom to a photo interesting and different than the norm. In certain occasions, I will have the camera is Auto mode. This will only be when there is at train coming and I have absolutely no time to setup for a shot.

Personally, shooting in manual lets me know my camera and it's limitations a bit better than in Av or Tv. I can understand my camera on how it will respond to certain situations.
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Old 09-25-2007, 04:21 AM   #20
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For Trains: M 100% of the time. I tried shooting some personal stuff with Av one time and they were horribly, horribly overexposed. I don't trust the camera to do the job after that experience, so if the photo is messed up, I want to be the one to blame.

For Outdoor/Nature: P. It's quick and easy and gets it 'close' (post-processing can fix the exposure issues afterwards).

One other thing: each lens is different. The Kit Lens, the 70-200 f/4L, and the 50 f/1.8 (all Canon, BTW) expose similiarly on the XT's meter deal. My Sigma though will show that it's exposed correctly, but I've found that the resulting images are in fact underexposed. Not sure if it's an off-market thing going on or if each lens is just different...
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Old 09-25-2007, 03:06 PM   #21
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I shoot Manual. I discovered the hard way that the headlights can throw off exposure when using Shutter or Aperture mode.
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Old 09-25-2007, 09:27 PM   #22
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AV because I've had shutter priority cause some errors if you're not careful.
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Old 09-25-2007, 09:33 PM   #23
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I use manual 99% of the time, It's making me a better photographer also.
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Old 09-26-2007, 01:05 PM   #24
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I really don't understand how one can shoot succesfully with anything BUT manual. I mean, you have a big moving subject with a very bright light coming towards you (most of the time) that can easily throw off the metering. And, shooting in manual is so incredibly easy, it makes little sense to me to let the camera tell me what IT thinks the proper exposure should be. On a sunny day, 100 ISO is the default, f5.6 or f8 is the default (depending upon how much DOF I want), and the ONLY thing I need to adjust is the shutter speed, which is maybe just a click in one direction or the other. 500, 640, 800 or 1000 is usually going to be the perfect ss setting on a sunny day. Just point the camera at the ballast or the blue sky, make sure the meter is in the middle and you're good to go. Simple as that. I can shoot for hours at a time on manual and NEVER change the settings.
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:17 PM   #25
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Manual all the way. A long, long time ago I used aperture priority, but that all changed after a trip to Canada. I did a long tele shot of an Ontario Northland train and when it came around the corner the ditchlights made my camera underexpose by about two stops. I wasn't accustomed to ditchlights because US railroads weren't using them at the time. Ever since I got those slides processed I've been a big fan of shooting on manual!
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