Old 12-01-2009, 03:04 PM   #1
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Default The Sacred f5.6

Not that I spend much of my time reading negative blather on other sites, I did notice this recent excerpt from an extended diatribe from an RP-hater:

"I'll tell you who shoots with an aperture of f5.6 24/7/365... Someone who doesn't know what they're doing. Someone who has no understanding of depth of field, much less basic photography."

....I think this came from the guy looking at the EXIF data (or whatever it's called.....I'm not too techno-inclined) of a particular photographer, who seems to be "stuck" on f5.6. And for this, he deemed him a total idiot. I don't think so....

Way back in prehistoric times, I learned from a professional photographer friend of mine (this goes back to the '60s) that f5.6 on a 35mm camera was always the optimum setting for resolution for a normal lens. Of course low light (or a special effect) might require a wider setting, and bright light (or a desire for greater depth of field) would require a higher setting. But----if you could capture the scene within an acceptable shutter speed----f5.6 should always be your first choice for an aperture setting.

In 1982, I took a course in photography at the local community college just to have something to do while my wife took classes there on the same evening. And----lo and behold, I learned quite a bit! I recall this same f5.6 lesson from the guy who taught the class----an excellent photographer in his own right.

Does this jive with everyone else's thinking?

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Old 12-01-2009, 03:17 PM   #2
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If it's sunny, my camera stays at F/5.6 and ISO 100 and I adjust shutter speed as the haze/clouds warrant. If I want shallow DoF I'll open it up as much as my glass will allow, or if there's too much light (usually for longer exposures) I'll stop it down quite a bit.

I don't think you could argue that someone's a poor photographer based on their tendency to shoot at F/5.6.
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:21 PM   #3
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Ron Flanary (newbie to this RP forum stuff.....)
But "oldbie" to rail photography - welcome to the forums!

Putting aside haters and their motivations and their thoughts and whether time should be wasted on contemplation of same, I think aperture is a fully selectable dimension just like everything else and there are no right settings.

At the same time, if you are a wedgie shooter and nothing else, then you want a decent DoF and you might not vary much from f/8. I personally find f/5.6 to be an in-betweener, a bit too shallow in DoF to be *sure* that a wedgie type shot comes out but too deep for interesting separation of foreground and background to occur, except at strong telephoto.

I now see that Nick has chimed in as a f/5.6 guy, I guess I am an f/8 guy.
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:30 PM   #4
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I now see that Nick has chimed in as a f/5.6 guy, I guess I am an f/8 guy.
It's okay, I'm sure once my eyeballs are old enough that I can't rely on them anymore, I'll have to bump up to f/8 too
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:49 PM   #5
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It's okay, I'm sure once my eyeballs are old enough that I can't rely on them anymore, I'll have to bump up to f/8 too
I somehow get by with the latest and greatest in modern eye correction, thank you very much!
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:57 PM   #6
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I've seen comments in a number of places that a lot of lenses have a "sweet spot" for sharpness around f/8, but that may be more a matter of what it does for depth of field than the actual optics of the lens. Ultimately, I suspect it matters more what kind of shooting you want to do . . . f/5.6 may suit one person's style of photography most of the time, f/8 another's. I can't imagine it makes either of them an idiot. Now, shooting with the lens cap on . . . .

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Old 12-01-2009, 04:21 PM   #7
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i usually shoot F5.6 on a sunny day wit 80 ISO... i represent that person with the lense cap on.. oh maybe i shouldnt have said that doh!
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:57 PM   #8
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Ron, when I shot K64, I always used F5.6 @ 1/500 in sunny conditions... that was a lesson from a friend who'd shot K25 & K64 for decades. DofF was sacrificed for the ability to freeze motion, a somewhat required trade-off when shooting low ISO film.

When I went digital, I initially shot ISO 100 and F5.6 was my default setting, though I'd venture to F8 if I could get away with it. This was not a smart mindset to be in, but not surprising given it was all I knew. Discussions with other DSLR photogs impressed upon the fact that DSLR does not equal SLR and that I needed to experiment with higher settings. So now I typically shoot ISO 200 @ F8 or F11 in the range of 1/320, 1/400 or 1/500, sometimes pushing the ISO to 320, though I prefer to keep it at 200 and vary the aperture or shutter. I get decent results with these settings.

FWIW, I shoot all manual... settings and lenses (no AF). I find the auto settings to cause problems with no real benefits.
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Old 12-01-2009, 05:11 PM   #9
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I have also read that f8 is the sweet spot in a lot of lens'. I would like someone to show a photo at f5.6 and f8 are that much different in dof for a rail related subject and under 80mm. I bet you see no difference. Now if your shooting very close to the subject (portrait, still life, etc.) or are shooting over 80mm you may.

My normal settings - none, everyday is a different day and every subject is different. Ball park in the day may be iso 200, f8, 1/500th but that varies even depending on the direction I'm shooting.
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Old 12-01-2009, 05:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jnohallman View Post
Now, shooting with the lens cap on . . . .
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i represent that person with the lense cap on.. oh maybe i shouldnt have said that doh!
I automatically put my lens cap on after every shot, test shots included. I can't tell you how many times I've picked the camera up to my eye, looked in and wondered why everything was black.

As for my setting, I am an "f/8 and be there" guy. I like the better DoF f/8 gives and only go down to f/5.6 when necessary, like low light or shooting high speed trains in less than optimal light.

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Old 12-01-2009, 05:33 PM   #11
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I think the f5.6 rule might relate to the state of the art in optics back in the '60s and '70s. For sure, f8 is fine as well.

Mike---I followed the same rule you did for a sunny day (and K64)---f5.6 at 1/500. Normally, it worked like a charm. I became so familiar with how K64 would respond in certain lighting conditions, I usually "guessed" on the best combination of aperture and shutter speed. I then used the in-camera meter to confirm my estimate (that is, if I could find something approximating neutral gray to meter off of). Most of the time, I trusted my own instincts rather than the meter...

Now---the digital world (of which I've been a member for four years now) is another matter. I'm always screwing around with the ISO setting based on the circumstances, so the "guess" days are long gone. Besides, Photoshop can correct a multitude of sins.

Thanks, guys, for the excellent commentary.

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Old 12-01-2009, 08:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Flanary View Post
Not that I spend much of my time reading negative blather on other sites, I did notice this recent excerpt from an extended diatribe from an RP-hater:

"I'll tell you who shoots with an aperture of f5.6 24/7/365... Someone who doesn't know what they're doing. Someone who has no understanding of depth of field, much less basic photography."

....I think this came from the guy looking at the EXIF data (or whatever it's called.....I'm not too techno-inclined) of a particular photographer, who seems to be "stuck" on f5.6. And for this, he deemed him a total idiot. I don't think so....

Way back in prehistoric times, I learned from a professional photographer friend of mine (this goes back to the '60s) that f5.6 on a 35mm camera was always the optimum setting for resolution for a normal lens. Of course low light (or a special effect) might require a wider setting, and bright light (or a desire for greater depth of field) would require a higher setting. But----if you could capture the scene within an acceptable shutter speed----f5.6 should always be your first choice for an aperture setting.

In 1982, I took a course in photography at the local community college just to have something to do while my wife took classes there on the same evening. And----lo and behold, I learned quite a bit! I recall this same f5.6 lesson from the guy who taught the class----an excellent photographer in his own right.

Does this jive with everyone else's thinking?

Ron Flanary (newbie to this RP forum stuff.....)
Ron,

Welcome aboard the forums! Glad to see you posting here. A very neat thread to start off with. While I no very little when it comes to film, learning about the settings and the different methods of shooting are definitely educational for me.

I'm digital and have been ever since I got serious with photography. At first, I really liked F5.6 and F6.3, but I found that over a while, I began to like F7.1 a bit more. For the past six months, all of my shooting during day light hours usually consists of an F7.1 aperture, unless, as Chris stated, I am in an area with very low lght.

I've talked to many photographers who have spent many many years shooting film, but recently converted to digital. They love the fact it is easy to switch settings and pretty much predict the end result prior to even snapping the image.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnohallman View Post
I've seen comments in a number of places that a lot of lenses have a "sweet spot" for sharpness around f/8, but that may be more a matter of what it does for depth of field than the actual optics of the lens. Ultimately, I suspect it matters more what kind of shooting you want to do . . . f/5.6 may suit one person's style of photography most of the time, f/8 another's. I can't imagine it makes either of them an idiot. Now, shooting with the lens cap on . . . .

Jon
I've found that F8 is awful sharp during sunrise/sunet and during night hours on my EF-S 18-55mm. Perhaps the lens preforms best in low light areas, but I'm leaning towards the aperture. I've found if I increase it or lower the aperture, my results often require a lot of sharpening in post processing software.

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Old 12-01-2009, 08:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ron Flanary View Post

"I'll tell you who shoots with an aperture of f5.6 24/7/365... Someone who doesn't know what they're doing. Someone who has no understanding of depth of field, much less basic photography."
So who is this person who is supposedly stuck on f5.6?
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Old 12-01-2009, 08:45 PM   #14
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So who is this person who is supposedly stuck on f5.6?
Read rats rants to find out. I am a F 8 to 10 guy maybe more if I have a 300mm on and need it. Most lenses are best at F8 or two stops down from wide open. I have 3 lenses that are F4's.
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Old 12-01-2009, 11:01 PM   #15
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So who is this person who is supposedly stuck on f5.6?
Me.

That quote was from some whiny little crybaby named Eric Miller...

I shoot in 5.6 because I like the shallow depth of field, and I think its the ''sweet spot'' for sunny day's. But what do I know right?
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Old 12-01-2009, 11:48 PM   #16
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I remember the f5.6 advice from years back. I feel as I read in photography magazines and/or railroad hobby magazines back in the 1970s. I know I used to go by it, but have since tended to stick more to f8 or even f9 with my digital SLR. I like the depth of field it gives.

Truth of the matter is that I will always try get the smallest appeture I can (unless I am intentionally blurring something). I like things as sharp as possible.
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Old 12-02-2009, 12:04 AM   #17
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I am stuck on f/8-f/11. I only stray from there if I can't keep a good ISO and shutter speed combination. but then, I own a 21MP camera and crop a lot, so quality has to be good!
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Old 12-02-2009, 12:24 AM   #18
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All of you guys who seem to know what you're doing are making me think twice about my 5.6'ing ways... dare I venture into the scary, noisy world of ISO 200?

Mercy... I might actually have to try something different next time I go out. If the results don't work out, I blame all of you
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Old 12-02-2009, 12:24 AM   #19
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but then, I own a 21MP camera and crop a lot, so quality has to be good!
Unless you meant 2.1MP this makes no sense, as even if you crop a LOT you still end up with more MP than my Canon 20D.
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Old 12-02-2009, 12:45 AM   #20
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I shoot f/7.95, because my camera is weird like that..

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Old 12-02-2009, 07:31 AM   #21
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Read rats rants to find out. I am a F 8 to 10 guy maybe more if I have a 300mm on and need it.
No thank you, I stopped reading "its" garbage six months ago. I can only handle so much delusional thinking and bad spelling/grammar.
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Old 12-02-2009, 08:25 AM   #22
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No thank you, I stopped reading "its" garbage six months ago. I can only handle so much delusional thinking and bad spelling/grammar.
Yeah it is pretty mind numbing, but it's amusing when you've been the the numero uno of all their rants for the past 2 weeks.
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Old 12-02-2009, 09:17 AM   #23
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I can only handle so much delusional thinking .
I am a fan of his, fallowing his exploits like a bad soap LOL.
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Old 12-02-2009, 11:14 AM   #24
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I read it at times just to see how outrageous his comments might be (I've never met him or had any communication with him though.). As soon as I sense some modicum of sanity in his posts, he launches into another bizarre rage over some innocuous issue. It's actually pretty strange. Apparently he thinks people actually pay RP to post their images here (why??). I got the "RP Elite" thing to block the pop-ups. It's cheap, plus there are a few more benefits that make it worth it. But, do I "pay" RP to post my photos? Why would I, or anyone else do that? What purpose would that serve? How would that make my life better? I've had countless images and articles in the mainstream railfan press over the past 45 years---and the model is this: they pay ME! This RP site is just a public "slide show" that reflects how technology has evolved in the hobby. It's merely for fun----so why take all the fun out of it by getting one's panties in a wad? I don't understand. Aren't there enough real world problems and issues that should merit more attention than bashing Rail Pictures or any other hobby-related venue?

Posting an image to RP is nothing more than a means of sharing. It's an adult version of "show and tell." As I've noted elsewhere (on Observation Car), an accepted photo merely meets a base level of adequacy--in the eyes of the site's screeners at least. That means there will be many thousands of more CSX AC and Gevo units in the future---three quarter wedgie shots in full sun. They're accepted not because they're supposed to be groundbreaking examples of photography----they just meet the base level of adequacy. It's not a really high bar either. But---they SHOULD be accepted if they meet those tests of adequacy. If that means five dozen photos taken by five dozen photographers look somewhat similar----well, that's life. On what grounds would a screener reject an otherwise competently photographed three quarter, sun-at-your-back wedgie? There are no grounds---it should be posted.

That said---the process also yields some great new material that pushes the envelope a bit. And---that's why I enjoy strolling through the new additions each day----to see (hopefully) something that really turns the crank of creativity.
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Old 12-02-2009, 04:20 PM   #25
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Posting an image to RP is nothing more than a means of sharing. It's an adult version of "show and tell." As I've noted elsewhere (on Observation Car), an accepted photo merely meets a base level of adequacy--in the eyes of the site's screeners at least. That means there will be many thousands of more CSX AC and Gevo units in the future---three quarter wedgie shots in full sun. They're accepted not because they're supposed to be groundbreaking examples of photography----they just meet the base level of adequacy. It's not a really high bar either. But---they SHOULD be accepted if they meet those tests of adequacy. If that means five dozen photos taken by five dozen photographers look somewhat similar----well, that's life. On what grounds would a screener reject an otherwise competently photographed three quarter, sun-at-your-back wedgie? There are no grounds---it should be posted.

That said---the process also yields some great new material that pushes the envelope a bit. And---that's why I enjoy strolling through the new additions each day----to see (hopefully) something that really turns the crank of creativity.
Well said, Ron. We have all had photos rejected which we felt met the merits of acceptance. Learning from the rejection and striving to avoid the issue(s) in the future have only made me (and countless others) a better photographer as a result.

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