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Quick Camera Notes

ISO - Determines amount of grain or "digital noise." The higher the ISO, the more grain you'll see, especially in shadows. In bright light, ISO 100 works fine. In low light, higher ISO gets you reasonable shutter speeds and DOF. For sports, high ISO "freezes" action. As a general rule, use the lowest setting possible to reduce noise.

Aperture - Size of opening that allows light in. Smaller apertures (higher #s) let in less light and have greater DOF. Larger apertures let in more light and have less DOF.

Full Auto - Good general-purpose thing
Portrait - Blurs background and enables continuous drive for many shots
Landscape - small aperture for good depth of field for focus throughout shot
Closeup - Flash and a wide lens aperture so the subject stands out. Use Av or M if you have more time to fuss with settings.
Sports - AF Servo, continuous drive, outdoor lighting assumed.
Night Portrait - Slow shutter speed + a flash. Use a tripod and have people sit still.
Flash Off - Turns the flash off but extends shutter times.

Program AE (P) - Fully automatic, but you can change shutter speed/aperture with the dial.
Shutter-Priority (Tv) - Lets you control shutter speed with auto aperture.
Aperture-Priority (Av) - Lets you set aperture size with auto shutter speed.
Manual (M) - Manual everything to override built-in camera modes and auto-stuff.
Auto DOF (A-DEP) - Also called AE, automatically lets many things remain in focus.

In any of the advanced modes, hold +/- and move the dial to adjust exposure compensation. Or bracket your pictures.

4 Responses to "Quick Camera Notes"

  1. ISO is actually the sensitivity to light. In a good camera, higher ISO's will still not have any grain. Ideally, the camera doesn't have any digital noise at any resolution, but that's not quite possible. A *side-effect* of using higher ISO's is that the camera, in an effort to pick up more light, picks up more digital noise. So, like everything in life, there's a trade-off. My experience is that with most cameras, switching to a higher ISO is better than using the flash, because a little bit more noise is better than completely screwed up light balancing (white-washed foreground, black background, etc).

  2. Cool - so yours assumes continuous drive when you put it into sports mode? I have a Canon PowerShot A60 that I tried to use for some sports photography last night, but the camera just isn't fast enough. The camera takes longer to focus on its subject (which is moving, I might add) than it takes my wife and her opponent to hit the ball up-and-back the court once. So, the only good photographs I have are of her serving.

    I'd be curious to know what you think of yours (a Rebel XL right?) after you try it in continuous drive and "sports" mode, tracking moving targets.

    Oh, and to do this right I really should get a unipod too.

  3. There's servo focusing (which continually auto-focuses on moving things) and then there's continuous shooting (which fires off pictures as fast as possible.

    Sports mode on the Rebel does both.

    I like it very much. It's an SLR, so it's taking some getting used to, but the end results are better.

  4. ISO is the speed of the film, or in this case, speed of picture. The higher the number, the faster the exposure. Since there is less light hitting the CCD/Film, there is going to be grain. It's really not an issue of quality of CCD/Film/Camera vs the way things work. Sure better quality Film will reduce the grain, but the grain is actually a result of less light. Find the best quality 1600 ISO Film, and you'll still get grain.

    On the other hand, I'm a big fan of Night photography. I use ISO 100 wherever possible. Which means that I generally like to take shots that last a couple minutes, and you get smooth, silky photos.