What camera settings do you recommend when taking pictures?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by ryansteup, Apr 3, 2017.

  1. I'm curious to see what everyone's favorite camera settings for shooting are.
  2. SCL


    It all depends on what one is shooting, the ISO, whether or not a tripod is needed, and the desired result. Your question can't really be answered, except by the old newspaper photographers, who used to say the way you got the shot for publication was "f/8 and be there".
    bethe_fisher likes this.
  3. Thank you!
  4. It depends a lot on the situation.

    In general, you want fast enough shutter speed to stop motion, of both the subject and the camera.

    Also, an f/stop to get enough depth of field, within the range available for the above
    shutter speed limits.

    A light meter helps a lot, but you don't mention that.
  5. Too many people are rushed into shooting fully manual control before they know what to do. Shooting "manual" will not make you into a "Pro" if you don't know what you're doing.

    I recommend starting shooting with "P" but closely monitoring what the results are (keep a log, that is). As you start to see the effects on steadiness, focus, camera motion, etc., you'll come to have a feeling for what to do when you do take control.
    Jochen likes this.
  6. Thank you!
  7. I'm not sure I agree with JDMvW on this one. I would recommend learning the rule of f/16 and spend some time practicing. You will waste a few frames but you will learn more quickly than by using any of the auto modes. There is no magic answer, you simply have to learn a few basics and practice. You need to decide what you are trying to do. Shooting sports? You need a fast shutter speed, around 500 or faster. Group shot? This requires depth of field to ensure everyone is in focus so f/8 or 11, 16 may be needed and that can slow down the shutter speed. The good news is that it is easy to learn and when you get it figured out it will be second nature.

    Rick H.
    gordonjames likes this.
  8. I certainly will grant that the "sunny-16" rule is very helpful. One catch is that the great latitude of modern C41 and some traditional films and certainly the sensor ranges of digital today means that almost "anything goes".
    This is great if you're struggling to get some kind of image, but to learn from the shooting, you need something "pickier" like the old Kodachrome or turning off or turning down the automatic image processing on digital cameras.

    Rick's points are not so far off from mine, I think. The main thing is to keep track of the relationship between settings (whether by you or "P") and the results.

    We usually learn more from failures than from accidental successes.
    By that measure, I've learned an awful lot in my 60 years of photography.
  9. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I remember back in the middle of the last century when I was getting my driver's license, if you showed up to take the driver test with an automatic transmission you would get a license that was marked only good for driving cars with auto transmissions. Even today some people will say if you don't have a standard transmission with clutch and gears you are not really driving you are just steering the car. The same people will say if you do not use full manual controls on the camera, you are not taking photos, the camera is taking the photos.

    When I first got a Minolta XG1 with aperture priority, I would set the aperture and the camera would select the correct corresponding shutter speed based on the meter. Other guys would say that I would never learn photography with an "automatic" camera like that. With their SRT 101 cameras they would set the aperture and then turn the shutter dial until the needles in the view finder matched up. My XG1 just eliminated that step so what were they learning that I wasn't- how to turn a dial? They were just blindly doing what the camera told them to do - match up the needle. Big deal.

    I think if one really wants to learn how to use a camera, one should get an old fashioned analog light meter and use that to determine settings. It is nice to see all the aperture choices and corresponding shutter speeds right there in front of you,
    Didier Lamy and Jochen like this.
  10. I also disagree with DJMvW. If you don't intend to use manual ever then it's OK but if you do you should start there. Manual is the easiest mode to use. It's slow and it requires some muscle power but really it's easy on your brain. I know you probably can but I can bet many wouldn't know which setting the camera will choose at a given subject brightness when in P mode. If you don't know you shouldn't use it.
  11. Since this was asked in the B&W forum; I'll come up with the best fitting but probably least usable answer. My auto ISO is set to skyrocket up to 10K and grant a minimum shutter speed of 1/125. - I wish I could dial in 1/250. Sometimes I dial in the mounted lens or a Leica lens of kind of close characteristic. DNG, quick histogram and blown highlights warning chimping enabled. - Lens set to infinity (when I am planning to focus with the rangefinder) & stopped down a bit, if Sunny 16 hints that could be dared. My shutter is on auto and trigger continous (which isn't very fast). That way I am likely to nail something if I am able to focus quick enough. When my shutterspeed reads out above 1/500sec, I stop down further.

    On a M8 or 9 based camera I don't recommend using the manual mode until you are in a defined environment where it is worth to take maximum control, or to shoot , chimp, readjust 3 times before you signal your model "read; let's roll!". I can feel my aperture, but can't subconciously count far enough to figure out if I made it from auto to 1/250.
    Average color camera: RAW+B&W JEPEG, AWB, Auto ISO limited to whichever noise I am willing to cope with, chimping with histogram & highlights warning, matrix metering, hyper program or shutter priority, Shake reduction on, shutter priority with probably 1/250sec or up to 1/ *half focal length* (with IBIS!) AF on single - mode & point select at thumb's reach. - There isn't much use in practising backbuttton focusing with Pentax / Samsung SLRs; they are just slow.... But go for it, if you have something decent!

    Manual mechanical film cameras: Unfolded, film wound, shutter at 1/250, Aperture set according incident handheld meter reading - Yes, all day long! - Shutter gets cocked when I am ready for a shot.
    Ditto but serious: On a tripod, tilted & shifted to taste, linen tester focused in multiple spots, f 22, compendium lens shade adjusted tightly, shutter speed as metered.

    Upon the "Auto or not?" discussion: A handheld meter is a great thing to own (& be forced to use!) - I see close to zero value in intimidating your friends and family with lenses pointing at them just to take a minute to figure out "Darn! too dim :(" by using a built in meter in manual. Meter before you fiddle with - or (around your home) better; before you even bring your camera. - I mean ISO 50 pulled to 25 is absolutely fine in a dark girl cave, if you show up with a van full of studio strobes lightstands & modifiers and even have a clue how to use them.
    Why shout "Rob me I own a Hasselblad!" in the middle of the night when that investment is as useless as a plan building brick in your backpack?

    Manual mode isn't bad. - But honestly: Usually setting aperture and shutter speed is such a no-brainer that even a dumb algorithm or even less can get it done. - Clarifying: There are rare moments when you really decide to shoot wide open to blurr the background and maybe even dig out some filters to achieve your goal. - But the rest? - Average tourist pictures benefit from DOF and suffer from camera shake, so where are the choices about them? If your 135mm shots look sharper at 1/500 than 1/125 I'd stick to 1/500 and maybe dare 1/250 once in a while.
  12. Ryan, what do you expect to learn from these answers? This is a sincere question, because I get the idea you're really looking for the basics on how to control a camera, rather than knowing how any of us switches the settings. Between different cameras, the ways I use them differ enough anyway to make the answer pretty useless. And even if I had one single favourite way of working, it might very well be that whatever works for me, feels completely backwards for you.

    Once you understand the basics of exposure - look at this tutorial for example - it's relatively easy for yourself to find what works for you. Depending on the kind of camera you use, you might prefer P,A(v) or S/Tv mode, or shoot full manual. You may need to spend time on the auto-focus to get grips with it, things like that. But getting the basic knowledge under your belt, will mean setting up your camera becomes a lot easier, because it all makes sense. There is little use in learning recipes by head, better to learn how to cook.

Share This Page