Topic Wiki

Quick tips on random subjects that come up in between classes (will add as we go along):

Food photography tips
Newborn photography tips

Table of Contents (I'll change each line to a link as we go along.)

Introduction

1) Choosing a camera: Point and Shoot vs. Mirrorless vs. DSLR
2) Camera specs: What do they mean, and which ones matter to me?
3) Exposure Basics Part 1 - the shutter speed/aperture/ISO triangle
4) Exposure Basics Part 2 - getting to know your mode dial, and other exposure controls
5) All about memory cards
6) Using ultra-wide lenses





Lenses 101 - technology, terminology, and specs, zooms vs. primes, basic/advanced/unique lenses

Lighting 101 - focusing specifically on easy to afford and easy to use setups
Small flash - on camera, off camera, modifiers and accessories
Studio strobes
Continuous lighting - fluorescent, LED, and halogen
Basic light modifiers - umbrellas, softboxes, gels, reflectors
Basic supports - lightstands, umbrella brackets, backgrounds, etc.

All about accessories - memory cards, tripods, bags, filters, remotes, adapters, grips, geotaggers, and more)


So I bought all my stuff - now what?

What makes a compelling photograph?
Depth of field
Composition basics - rule of thirds, perspective, framing
Advanced composition - negative space, inclusion and exclusion, compression
Light - natural, golden hour, basic flash usage.

Let's start shooting...

Kids:
In the park
Playing sports
At home

Landscapes and wildlife:
"Grand" landscapes
"Intimate" landscapes
Seascapes
Waterfalls
Cityscapes
Wildlife
Birds in flight
Shooting in bad weather

Portraits:
Babies and newborns
Single person - indoors
Single person - outdoors
Families/siblings/groups
Natural light
Artificial light - simple
Artificial light - complex
Mixed light

Others:
Close up and macro
Product photography

How do I...? (Some specific scenarios/techniques - Basic)
Shoot out of a plane window?
Shoot underwater?
Shoot compelling black-and-white?

How do I...? (Some specific scenarios/techniques - Advanced)
HDR
Long exposures
Light painting
Twilight landscapes
Milky Way
Star trails

Basic editing concepts:
Exposure
Contrast
Clarity/sharpening
Color
Layers and masking

Poll

What type of camera do shoot with?

Point & Shoot - basic (Canon Elph style) or Smartphone
115 (38.5%)
Point & Shoot - advanced (Canon S100 or G Style)
42 (14%)
Mirrorless
23 (7.7%)
DSLR - consumer (Up to a Nikon D5200 or Canon Rebel)
67 (22.4%)
DSLR - prosumer or pro (Nikon D7000 or Canon 60D and up)
26 (8.7%)
P&S, but I plan on getting an SLR or Mirrorless in the near future
26 (8.7%)

Total Members Voted: 245

Author Topic: Learn Photography Master Thread  (Read 157420 times)

Online Little Bob

  • Dansdeals Bronze Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2012
  • Posts: 45
  • Total likes: 0
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #405 on: January 09, 2014, 08:13:10 PM »
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 08:21:32 PM by Little Bob »

Offline Mordy

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 640
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #406 on: January 09, 2014, 09:22:06 PM »
If you have kids buy an SLR.
why

...beats me, I can think of plenty of reasons NOT to buy an SLR if you have kids! I'd say maybe he's implying that you wouldn't have that problem with an SLR, but that simply isn't true. ::scratches head::
Mobile Enthusiast Extraordinaire

Visit one of the Tech Blogs I write: http://www.techcitement.com

Offline Fan of Dan

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: May 2011
  • Posts: 3043
  • Total likes: 3
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #407 on: January 09, 2014, 11:16:45 PM »
...beats me, I can think of plenty of reasons NOT to buy an SLR if you have kids! I'd say maybe he's implying that you wouldn't have that problem with an SLR, but that simply isn't true. ::scratches head::
Think he meant that you will get good pics of your kids. Nothing to do with the kid moving. We all agree a DSLR can take a better pic than a P and S.

Offline Mordy

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 640
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #408 on: January 10, 2014, 02:26:13 AM »
Think he meant that you will get good pics of your kids. Nothing to do with the kid moving. We all agree a DSLR can take a better pic than a P and S.

Sure, its capable of taking better pictures when used properly, but there is a misconception that buying a DSLR automatically takes better pictures. And I believe that simply isn't true, in fact sometimes the opposite. There are some really excellent point-and-shoot cameras out there these days, many of which are capable of an excellent picture without the user needing to know as much as a DSLR shooter, and lenses that are condensed to be sharper and let in more light. In fact, I'd argue that for the average Joe who wants pictures of their kids, a DSLR isn't always an advantage at all and often a liability.

The S110 is a pretty decent option for what Bob is asking. Its no Sony RX10, but I think its one of the better ones as far as point and shoot cameras go. It offers a built in F/2.0 lens, which means your sensor is seeing more light than the kit lens on an SLR would out of the box. The sensor is significantly smaller so you don't get the shallow focus and high ISO will have more apparent noise, but wider F/stop means more light means you can in theory get away with a faster shutter speed than your average DSLR with a the kit lens (most kits starting at f/3.5). Combine that with a much more pocketable body that's ready whenever your kid is doing something cute, and I'd say Little Bob has a pretty great camera for the job. The recommendation that he buy a new camera just seems like an unhelpful response to someone who asked a technical question.

That being said, I'll do my best to help answer the question Bob.
If your pictures are coming out blurry because of motion blur (your kid is moving around too fast), the solution would be to turn up the shutter speed. That will naturally make the exposure lower because the shutter is open for less time and therefore not collecting as much light in the shot. So you'll have to compensate for that in any of the following three ways:

1) Open up the aperture more. If your lens is already wide open at F/2.0, you've already maxed out that option. The wider the aperture (lower the F-stop), the more light you're allowing in to brighten that picture up.

2) Raise the ISO. In the digital world, this is just raising the gain on the sensor. The problem with this, as you've noticed, is high ISO brings visible noise patterns with it. On a small chip camera, the noise is visible sooner than a large sensor, so don't go crazy with that.

3) Add more light to your scene! This should go without saying, but sometimes the obvious answers are the ones overlooked most. If you're shooting outside, this shouldn't be a problem. Shooting indoors, use a flash.

Also, don't set the shutter higher than you need it to be, that way you can save yourself from high ISO and wide-open-lens softness. I usually shoot around 1/60-100 for kids.  Good luck!
Mobile Enthusiast Extraordinaire

Visit one of the Tech Blogs I write: http://www.techcitement.com

Offline ChAiM'l

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2010
  • Posts: 1819
  • Total likes: 30
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 4
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #409 on: January 10, 2014, 03:56:50 AM »
Sure, its capable of taking better pictures when used properly, but there is a misconception that buying a DSLR automatically takes better pictures. And I believe that simply isn't true, in fact sometimes the opposite.

I disagree. When I bought my first DSLR, I was shooting mainly on Auto. My pictures were way better than anything I shot on P&S. You obviously won't get perfect and beautiful shots every time, but those easy shots (think outdoor cloudy) come out much nicer than P&S.

Paying for a really expensive P&S nowadays is simply not worth it given current DSLR prices (unless of course compactness is a major factor).

Offline Mordy

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 640
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #410 on: January 10, 2014, 10:58:16 AM »
I disagree. When I bought my first DSLR, I was shooting mainly on Auto. My pictures were way better than anything I shot on P&S. You obviously won't get perfect and beautiful shots every time, but those easy shots (think outdoor cloudy) come out much nicer than P&S.

I'm sure it did. But the word you are missing here is YOUR. Those easy shots came out better than YOUR P&S. I won't argue that most P&S cameras take less pleasing looking pictures than a DSLR, but also understand that not all P&S are created equal. A cheap point and shoot will have a slow lens (f/3.5 or worse) and a teeny tiny sensor, and in the case of some of my older ones, combined with a subpar image processor that lags when you hit the shutter and makes poor decisions on exposure and focus.

But there are some really good point and shoots these days- many of them sharing the same image processor as modern DSLRs (in fact, the Canon's new DIGIC 6 was released first in point and shoots only). The really super good ones may cost more than an entry level DSLR, and they are VERY MUCH worth the money if the complication of a DSLR isn't your thing.

The S110 is not the highest end point and shoot, but it was considered a pretty advanced model when it came out. The S120 is even better and opens up to F/1.8, but even at the S110's F/2.0, it means you can shoot in darker environments than your kit lens on a DSLR before you need a flash or other supplemental light, and runs the same Digic 5 chip you'll find in Canon's latest crop of DSLRs.

Quote
Paying for a really expensive P&S nowadays is simply not worth it given current DSLR prices (unless of course compactness is a major factor).

I disagree extremely strongly with that statement. What is it, exactly, about the single lens reflex moniker that makes it able to take better pictures?
Do you understand the science behind it?

Because I do. And this is something I've actually wanted an excuse to explain for a long time, so thank you for the introduction! (my apologies to Fishy, I hope I'm not stepping on any toes by jumping in here).

WHAT MAKES A DSLR PICTURE "BETTER"?

Is it the mirror? The actual mirror (which is what the term SLR is referring to) is there for ergonomics, it doesn't improve image quality in any way. It is what allows you to look through the optical viewfinder and snap pictures when it flips. If you take away the mirror, but keep the rest of the camera identical, your pictures will be identical. You'll just have to look at an LCD screen since the optical viewfinder won't exist to judge your frame anymore, and that's what a mirrorless camera is (also
known as EVIL, or Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens). Granted, most mirrorless cameras also have slightly smaller sensors to make the whole thing cheaper
and more compact (micro 4/3, EOS-M, etc), but not all of them are. Sony, for example, has done amazing things to get the same APS-C sized sensor as most DSLRs on their mirrorless cameras while keeping the NEX bodies pretty darned close to the size of a point and shoot.

Is it the lenses? Having a choice in lenses is a huge pro to the DSLR system. If you want something sharper and faster, you can spend money on a Zeiss lens that opens up nice and wide. But most amateurs and soccer moms are likely going to stick with the kit zoom for most of what they do, and to be honest they are pretty boring. I see them like the sample cartridge that comes with a printer- its there so you can get started out of the box, but they don't actually expect you to use it for long.  In contrast, a point and shoot camera has a fixed lens that you can't remove. That means that they have to make it one heck of a lens though, because you are stuck with it. The cheap ones have lenses that are just as boring if not more so than a DSLR's kit, but the more expensive ones actually have some really decent glass that are sharper and faster than what you get with a DSLR's kit!
The Sony RX10, for example, has a constant aperture f/2.8 lens from Zeiss built into the body. Granted, this camera is not cheap, but equivalent coverage for a DSLR would cost over $2,000 in glass, likely spread between 2 lenses (since they don't make any single one with that kind of coverage). So far, all we've done is take away the mirror of an SLR and added an excellent lens. So far, if anything, we've actually IMPROVED upon the picture quality coming out of a cheap DSLR.

Is it the sensor? Ok, so here's a massive nugget of truth. DSLRs traditionally have larger sensors than your average point and shoot. This makes a difference because the larger the sensor, the more control you have over your depth of field. Also, the larger your photosites are, the more photons hit each one, making it brighter in low light and offering less noise in high ISO. But here's the tradeoff- when sensors are smaller, it is easier to have a wider aperture lens designed to hit it (this is the theory behind speedboosters for mirrorless cameras). A F/1.8 lens is going to project brighter light on that P&S sensor than a f/3.5 kit lens will on a DSLR, which in some small way tips the scales back the other direction. But here's the real kicker: not all P&S cameras have smaller sensors. In fact, the Sony RX1 has a fixed lens and no mirror, and fits in a jacket pocket, but it has a FULL FRAME SENSOR. That means your cheap APS-C DSLR has a 1.6x crop smaller than this particular point and shoot.

So if it isn't the mirror, and it isn't the interchangeable lenses, and it isn't the sensor, what makes a DSLR magically better than a P&S?
The simple answer is, it doesn't. Because they there is no magic involved here, only science.

The quality of your picture is most directly affected by a combination of the last 2 things mentioned above. Sensor size and lens quality, both of which you can find really nice equivalents to on a P&S these days. Granted, you are going to pay through the nose for a high end P&S, but in some cases it still ends up being cheaper than an equivalently equipped DSLR.

There. I can't believe I actually wrote all that out- whew!

Don't get me wrong, I love my DSLR and mirrorless cameras, they are way more fun to tinker with and when used professionally take excellent quality pics. But if someone isn't going to move past the kit lens, there are some very compelling P&S models to consider. But as is to be expected, if you are comparing your entry level DSLR to an entry level P&S, there is nothing to talk about.
Mobile Enthusiast Extraordinaire

Visit one of the Tech Blogs I write: http://www.techcitement.com

Offline Fan of Dan

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: May 2011
  • Posts: 3043
  • Total likes: 3
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #411 on: January 11, 2014, 11:05:11 PM »
Mordy, you are raising an interesting point. Kind of like saying an entry level Mercedes is like a fully loaded camry plus the camry is already fully loaded. I get that. That being said an entry level DSLR on auto mode, is pretty hard to mess up. Plus you have the option of going further if you want to. So yes if a person will never add lenses or learn how to use it properly than a P and S with good quality could make sense, but I wouldn't consider it ideal.

Offline Mordy

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 640
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #412 on: January 11, 2014, 11:46:30 PM »
Mordy, you are raising an interesting point. Kind of like saying an entry level Mercedes is like a fully loaded camry plus the camry is already fully loaded. I get that.

Exactly- I had this conversation once with someone who switched to Mac and couldn't understand why I use both Macs AND PCs:
them: "But aren't Macs much faster? Why even bother with a PC at all!"
me: "Because you get a lot more processing power for your money, and they do the same thing these days"
them: "That's not true! My mac is like night and day from my PC! Ever since I got it a few months ago, everything is just so fast and wonderful, I can't believe I used Windows for so long!"
me: "Like what? What goes faster?"
them: "Opening Photoshop, for example"
me: "Hold on, how old is the PC you are comparing it to?"
them: "I dunno- 3, 4 years maybe"
me: "So, you are telling me that your brand new Mac is faster than your 4 year old PC, and therefore Macs must be faster and better than Windows?"

...this is unfortunately a perfectly rational and logical argument to the average consumer. I try something new, it works better. My $50 budget Vivitar took lousy pictures, but my DSLR takes beautiful ones.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Quote
That being said an entry level DSLR on auto mode, is pretty hard to mess up. Plus you have the option of going further if you want to. So yes if a person will never add lenses or learn how to use it properly than a P and S with good quality could make sense, but I wouldn't consider it ideal.

Its a matter of personal preference. A full blown DSLR isn't good for everything- Plenty of my photographer friends have a high end P&S that they walk around with for daily use. You can't beat the pocketability and reach of the built-in glass without having to swap lenses on the good ones. It doesn't have to even necessarily mean you are sacrificing image quality. I leave my DSLRs at home when going out with the family (except for major things), because it simply isn't worth the hassle. I either bring a high end p&s or at least a minimalist mirrorless with a pancake prime. There are value in all of these.
Not that any of this is relevant, I was merely saying that when someone is asking for help getting good results out of their decent P&S shooter, saying "get a DSLR" is a less than helpful response. In fact, the same question would ring true of a DSLR- he wanted to know how to balance shutter speed with exposure, which is universal across all types of cameras.
I apologize for going off topic, I just felt some of that needed to be said to set the record straight.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 11:58:31 PM by Mordy »
Mobile Enthusiast Extraordinaire

Visit one of the Tech Blogs I write: http://www.techcitement.com

Offline Fan of Dan

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: May 2011
  • Posts: 3043
  • Total likes: 3
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #413 on: January 12, 2014, 12:00:58 AM »
No need to apologize for going off topic. I, and many here on the forums, are always eager to learn whatever we can about cameras so it's always good to hear what you have to say. All I can say is I certainly don't mind if you continue to go off topic.

Offline ChAiM'l

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2010
  • Posts: 1819
  • Total likes: 30
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 4
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #414 on: January 12, 2014, 04:26:54 AM »
But as is to be expected, if you are comparing your entry level DSLR to an entry level P&S, there is nothing to talk about.

That kinda sums up my point. Most people won't shell out a couple of hundred bucks for a high end P&S like the Sony RX. They walk around with a Canon Elph, or at best an S110. So, for someone that won't go off auto, is not looking to spend big bucks and doesn't mind the larger body, the entry-level DSLR is the better choice. Of course you could get that large sensor in a P&S, but you'll pay a nice premium for it.

Offline Mordy

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 640
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #415 on: January 12, 2014, 08:19:20 AM »
That kinda sums up my point. Most people won't shell out a couple of hundred bucks for a high end P&S like the Sony RX. They walk around with a Canon Elph, or at best an S110. So, for someone that won't go off auto, is not looking to spend big bucks and doesn't mind the larger body, the entry-level DSLR is the better choice. Of course you could get that large sensor in a P&S, but you'll pay a nice premium for it.

The S110, as I explained above, is one of the better point and shoots from Canon. Better aperture and same image processor as their DSLRs.
Mobile Enthusiast Extraordinaire

Visit one of the Tech Blogs I write: http://www.techcitement.com

Offline Ergel

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jun 2010
  • Posts: 11423
  • Total likes: 77
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 2
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #416 on: January 12, 2014, 09:06:56 AM »
I went from an elph to Panasonic lumix gx1 (only paid $100, long story) and the difference is remarkable
Life isn't about checking the boxes. Nobody cares.

Offline Mordy

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 640
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #417 on: January 12, 2014, 11:33:40 AM »
I went from an elph to Panasonic lumix gx1 (only paid $100, long story) and the difference is remarkable
Nice- I'm a big fan of the lumix line (I have 2 of them right now, and I'm looking at a third one), but they technically aren't DSLRs. Slightly smaller sensor and no mirror. But man are they small and take great pictures... which is my point in all this. You don't have to have something branded with the SLR moniker to take great pictures.

As for it being $100... great deal! I usually recommend the Olympus E-PL1 for cheap mirrorless beginners because you can get a body refurbished around that price (and Olympus' color science is quite good), but that's the lowest I've seen a GX1. Throw some fast FD glass on that with an adapter, and you'll be taking far more interesting pictures than a DSLR with a kit lens. And spending less money than one, too!
Mobile Enthusiast Extraordinaire

Visit one of the Tech Blogs I write: http://www.techcitement.com

Offline Ergel

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jun 2010
  • Posts: 11423
  • Total likes: 77
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 2
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #418 on: January 12, 2014, 11:58:38 AM »
The camera was technically free. I paid $99 for the kit lens. Haven't bought any more lenses yet. Truth is through moving and construction I haven't used a proper camera in like three months. Should be done in the next couple of w weeks and hopefully I'll be able to find it
Life isn't about checking the boxes. Nobody cares.

Offline sky121

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2011
  • Posts: 11387
  • Total likes: 123
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 12
    • View Profile
Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #419 on: January 19, 2014, 09:14:08 AM »
Since many of us booked some nice cheapo tickets to Hawaii is it possible we can get some tips for shooting there
?

Specifically sunrise/sunsets, the water, and mountains.


"Not all who wander are lost"