Help with camera settings please.

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Member for

14 years 1 month

Posts: 4,996

I know this has probably been asked countless times before, but.....

I have just invested in a Nikon DSLR and a 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens.
Not exactly top of the range, but I was on a tight budget :)

Trying to eliminate too much trial and error, I would like a rough idea of what setting to start on, in taking
pictures of aircraft with a bright sky behind them ? ISO for example. Also what is the maximum speed to avoid static
props.

Thanks

Original post

Member for

10 years 8 months

Posts: 2,748

Use auto and open the exposure compensation up by at least one, maybe up to two stops.

If you have spot metering and can keep the aircraft in the sweet spot that might be a better bet - especially if you forget to change your exp.comp. when taking stuff not against the bright sky.

Max shutter speed might conflict with your lens length, but try 1/250th and go slower if you can still hand hold without losing sharpness.

But it is all just trial and error, and since it is digital you can take images until the battery runs out (no film to develop) - just delete the rotten ones.

Member for

10 years 8 months

Posts: 2,748

Just a thought, but try and get the Sun behind you - eliminates the bright sky behind your subject, especially if you cannot afford a big enough flash...;o)

Seriously, try to get the light behind you, since the aeroplane will not look its best if in too much shadow.

Member for

20 years 7 months

Posts: 7,029

If you can give us some idea of the situation you are likely to be in.
Basics really ,if possible try and pan with the aircraft, BUT if the plane is coming towards or away you need to follow the focussing [not sure on what you call it on a Nikon] ,tracking ,AI focussing? Failing that try and focus on something where you know the plane will be intersecting.
Props ,you may be ok up to about 320ths of a sec but not too much more.
The more you zoom in the more camera shake you may get,dont forget sometimes the sky and clouds make a photo.
You dont need to fill the frame,the photo may be cropped afterwards so go for the largest best setting you can get for the photo.
Exposure ,if the sky is bright and the subject is a silhouette then you will need to overexpose ,this will just come with experience and once again you maybe able to alter it slightly post processing.
Main thing---enjoy it :)

Member for

14 years 1 month

Posts: 4,996

Thanks for the advice. I have a fair bit of experience in photography, but not with a DSLR

I'll be taking pictures at various locations, but as sod's law dictates, most will be into the sun.
First trip in anger will be (hopefully) Duxford on Thursday.

The telephoto has stabilization and auto-focus, and being fairly short, shouldn't be a big problem to track aircraft
without blurring. The auto focus is very quick too.

As said, the main problem is avoiding the aircraft coming out in silhouette if the sky is very bright.
Although I know photoshop can be of use here.

I would imagine starting with an ISO of 200, then increasing if needs dictate ?

Up until recently I've been using a Canon SX40 Bridge camera, It's an excellent camera, but it does have limitations.

Member for

10 years 8 months

Posts: 2,748

The lower the ISO the less noise (use to be grain on film, looks a little like interference on digital) you get - unless your chip is full size (and you mentioned tight budget, so I imagine not) in which case you shouldn't have any problems in day light.

Do you have a wide angle lens - unless you can step further back 55mm isn't going to be much help for whole airframe images inside...

Member for

14 years 1 month

Posts: 4,996

The lower the ISO the less noise (use to be grain on film, looks a little like interference on digital) you get - unless your chip is full size (and you mentioned tight budget, so I imagine not) in which case you shouldn't have any problems in day light.

Do you have a wide angle lens - unless you can step further back 55mm isn't going to be much help for whole airframe images inside...

It did come with an 18-55mm lens, not that I will be taking too many pictures inside, as we visited a year or so back.
Sensor size is 23.2mmx15.4mm, not that it means much to me. Camera is a D3300.

Member for

10 years 8 months

Posts: 2,748

So essentially multiply the lens length by two thirds to get the equivalent length if you were used to using 35mm film.
Sorry, it might mean nothing to you (means little enough to me) but somebody will understand...

If you have been used to using a bridge camera the ability to change lenses might come as a little shock to the system - BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU CHANGE YOUR LENSES! Dust gets in to the mirror box, gets stirred up when the mirror flaps about, and settles quite happily on your chip. A nightmare to clean - unless they've developed a sturdier chip, so don't use an air blower!

Member for

15 years

Posts: 894

I have no idea how this translates into the digital age, but, in the prehistoric days of film, we had a rule of thumb, in bright daylight, to use the ASA (I believe ISO is the same) rating as the shutter speed at f/16, preferably bracketing each shot by a stop either side. This meant that Ilford FP3 film, ASA125, was comfortable at 1/125 at f/16.

Member for

11 years 7 months

Posts: 702

Just to add to the good advice already here.
As has been stated, the best way to avoid silhouettes is to get the sun behind you but I appreciate that this isn't always possible.
If you over expose this will blow out the sky and you won't be able to recover it. My Nikon D7000 has a tendency to overexpose anyway so under-exposing by 0.3 to 0.7 stops is normally dialled in. Normally I use the matrix evaluative metering it seems to work out fine. I do constantly check the images though, especially if the lighting is tricky.

The shutter speed needed to blur propellers is actually quite high. 1/250 should be slow enough. Helicopters need a 1/125 or 1/60 but the risk of camera shake is high. Even with VR. If a propeller is rotating at say 1000rpm, that's roughly 17 per second so in 1/250 of a second it will rotate about 4° of arc. Enough to show a bit of blur. Obviously the lower you go the blurrier the prop gets. But you risk camera shake. Personally I would rather have a stopped prop than a completely blurry image.

ISO 200 is good enough for almost everything. In low light I might use ISO400 but very rarely.

On a Nikon the "crop factor" is 1.5. Your 18-55mm becomes the 35mm equivalent of a 28-80mm near enough and the 55-300 becomes a 80 - 450mm equivalent. It is because the sensor on your camera is smaller than a 35mm film frame.

If your D3300 has a dust removal function it should activate when you turn the camera on or off (or both?) so dust shouldn't be a real problem. To check for dust on the sensor take a photo of something uniform (ceiling or wall or blue sky) at smallest aperture F22 or F32. Dust spots will show up nicely if you zoom into the image on the display on the back. I've cleaned my D80's sensor with a Rocket blower or if that doesn't work, a system of pads and alcohol based cleaning fluid.

Member for

18 years 11 months

Posts: 1,084

~Alan~

Most photo-editting programs (even the simple/freebie ones that come rolled into Windows O/S etc ) have a means of selectively "lightening" shadows without burning out the highlights in the same image. You may be surpised how much info the camera records in what intiially seems to be a very underexposed "shadow". This tool can help overcome the dreaded "silhouette" effect of shooting against a bright background without any adjustment or spot metering. The tool has to be be used with care, and an eye on the overall image, but it can often turn a "useless" looking shot into a "passable" shot if all else fails!

So long as you use "spot metering" and the "spot" is fairly full of the aircraft then the camera will probably cope anyway. If you forget to set to "spot metering", or forget to set exposure compensation (as per earlier posts) the post-production option is always a last resort.....

I note you lens has image stabilisation - my Canon 75 - 300mm lens has IS too, and it means you can often shoot at lower shutter speeds than the old rules of thumb suggest. I can use ISO200, at max zoom, and still get sharp images as low as 1/125 hand-held on a good day. At that sort of shutter speed the props blur nicely.

As SNAFU says, one advantage of digital is that you can fire away until battery dies or memory cards are full, so you can practice, pratice, practice without it bankrupting you!

Heaven knows how we ever coped in the days of 35mm film caneras when you took the photo and then usually had to wait for a few hours/days to see the end result !

Member for

11 years 7 months

Posts: 702

A couple of things from Paul F's post.

Never rely on being able to post-process errors. It is much easier to get it right in the camera.
Never rely on spot metering either unless you understand the consequences. Leave it on evaluative and let the camera sort it out.

Member for

20 years 7 months

Posts: 7,029

As Derek says ,get it right in camera first,post processing is there as a back up to save something if you get it wrong.Getting it wrong at an airshow will happen because the light changes almost constantly.
Sounds like your Nikon is the same as Canon for the crop factor of 1.6 ,it basically means that your lenses will be slightly more telephoto and you will lose the wide angle field of view .
The other system you get is Full Frame which gives you the whole spectrum of view.
I personally use Canon,just always have and i have the lenses to fit but they have a users forum ,this may be the Nikon version
http://www.nikonians.org/

http://nikonites.com/#axzz32MmQaXHd
http://www.fredmiranda.com/

Most of all have fun and stop worrying :)

http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/forums/

Member for

14 years 1 month

Posts: 4,996

Thanks again everyone for the help and the links

I've also found a couple of very useful videos on Youtube,

Thanks also to Moggy for moving the posts to this thread. I didn't even know it existed :)

Member for

24 years 3 months

Posts: 16,832

You are welcome.

Although this forum isn't overactive there's some good stuff here. If you can only see the one thread it's because the default setting hide everything before a set date.

You can change this below.

Moggy

Member for

18 years 11 months

Posts: 1,084

A couple of things from Paul F's post.

Never rely on being able to post-process errors. It is much easier to get it right in the camera.

Derekf - Indeed, hence my comment that "post production option is always a last resort"..... but, should Alan end up with a few "silhouettes" because he had chosen incorrect settings, or because the camera's algorithm hasn't got things quite right, then post-production might help recover a tolerable image from what at first glance looks to be a "failure".

For those that get settings spot on every time then post-production may never be necessary, personally I am not that fortunate/able.

Paulf

Member for

14 years 1 month

Posts: 4,996

We went to Duxford today. The weather wasn't too bad, and at least it stayed dry up until we left, at just after 2pm.
Overall I was a little disappointed with the quality of my pictures, those of aircraft in the air anyway.
None seemed particularly sharp. Maybe I should have just opted for a faster speed and accepted static props ?
I'll put a few of the best ones on the Duxford Diary thread, a little later.

I have now uploaded a few, and would appreciated any comments, good or bad. :)

Member for

11 years 7 months

Posts: 702

They're not too shabby at all Alan. Looks like you've nailed the exposure. A tiny bit of post processing is all that's required; levelling the picture, boosting the contrast on that last Spitfire shot and a wee bit of cropping here and there and they would be as good as any others on here.
Doesn't do any harm to be self critical though.

Member for

14 years 1 month

Posts: 4,996

Thanks for the comment Derek. One of the mistakes I made, and which I was aware of (but forgot).
Was that with the camera set to take multiple exposures, it doesn't focus between shots. Not that it's too
important when something is flying past left to right.
As said before, there is so much to consider. Do you want prop blur, some contrast in the clouds etc ?

I've played around with this picture. Cropped it a bit more, sharpened it a touch, and lightened the shadows.

Original picture
http://i478.photobucket.com/albums/rr141/Deetektor/Aviation%20pics%20with%20Nikon/Duxford6_zps0a80996d.jpg

Modified picture
http://i478.photobucket.com/albums/rr141/Deetektor/Aviation%20pics%20with%20Nikon/Mk18_zps8f81524a.jpg

I took around 300 pictures during the time we were there, and will probably scrap 75% of them.
I suppose that's the beauty of digital photography.

Member for

18 years 11 months

Posts: 1,084

I suppose that's the beauty of digital photography.

Yep, mistakes cost you nothing, and with the ability to delete poorer images 'on the fly' if necessary you are less likely to run out of "film" too ;).

The photo of SM845 looks pretty good to me, well done Alan.

Paul F

Member for

14 years 1 month

Posts: 4,996

Thanks Paul.

I'm not trying to compete with those who are using thousands of pound worth of camera equipment,
but as long as I am happy with the results, that's all that matters really.

I've now given my SX40 to my wife to use.