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Thread: what mode to use for which situation?

  1. #1

    Default what mode to use for which situation?

    hi everyone,

    i am new to digital photography.

    i am using a d80 with 18-200mm lens, and have since only used the manual mode exclusively. not sure if that is the best way to learn photography or get the most out of it.

    for shutter priority - you can choose the shutter speed while the cam chooses the aperture for you. for aperture priority, you choose the aperture and the cam chooses the shutter speed. but isnt it more flexible to be able to choose both settings for yourself ?

    currently, for most shots, i would fix my aperture first to f/3.5 and iso to 400 (or less). i would then adjust my shutter speed based on the exposure meter. not sure if this is a right or wrong way to go about the 'generic' settings but i would sure welcome some feedback on how other people go about it. in fact, i believe there is probably no such thing as a generic setting, but since i am new to this, i am more comfortable with a basic set of settings and adjusting it from there depending on the environment or subject i am taking photos of.

    haven't really tried out the many settings of the camera which makes me feel like under-utilizing it, things like front/rear curtain syn for flash settings amongst others.

    esp for those who own the d70 or 80 series, what are some of the cooler or more interesting features of the cam that is worth experimenting on? and this cam is quite bulky with my 18-200mm lens, so i wonder what kind of camera bags you recommend to carry the cam and other accessories (eg. other lenses or a tripod) along with you when going for photo-session events, esp for outdoors and those involving moving around a lot.

    sorry for the number of questions asked, but thanks for listening. hope i can have some of your feedback, thanks a lot !

  2. #2
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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    Hi, I am also a D80 user. I think it is definitely ok if you are comfortable with using M mode all the time. For me, I use Aperture priority mostly as I love to play with DOF and let the cam decide on the shutter speed according to the exposure and do a exposure compensation accordingly. Faster this way then to do it manually for me. Same goes when I use shutter priority.

    I also use the auto ISO to let the cam increase the ISO accordingly with a minimum shutter speed set (based on the lens I attached). This way I have 1 item less to worry.

    Try the exposure bracketing to have fun with HDR.

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    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    Well, try to play with the master controller function that the onboard flash gives you to fire the SB-600 or SB-800 flash remotedly.

    As for modes, it all depends on your requirements and needs, for e.g. I use M mode only when I need to spot meter a certain area and the matrix metering method is likely to be fooled. Else most other times, I will rely on the camera's matrix metering and shoot with A mode (more depth of field or less, depending on which I choose).
    Michael Lim
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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    P mode for me, most of the time. In most situations, there's no need for me to control the shutter, or aperture, or both. I'll rather let the camera handle the technical aspects of photography, while I concentrate on the composition. Learning to meter is much easier and less cumbersome than carrying a light meter everywhere you go. In most situations, is there even a need for you to control aperture? (f.y.i, P mode allows you to adjust aperture manually as well)

    I use P mode even when handling events and wedding assignments. I'm faster at capturing moments, and my exposure is not compromised at the same time. I've encountered professionals who went at how accurate my exposure turned out in P mode. It's all a matter of learning your gear and controlling it. Different metering modes work for different situations.

  5. #5

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    But do u guys use auto ISO or set the ISO yourself? Is there a way to limit the max ISO the cam will go up to?

  6. #6

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    if you don't have time, using P mode will solve the problem. - fast

    if you have lots of time to compose and experiment - manual play with everything WB and ISO

    for sports. - use shutter mode.

    for macro. for me I use M mode.

    hope this helps.

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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    I use Auto ISO when the condition is dark. But manual when its bright. By the way, D80 can limit max ISO the cam can auto-up to.

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbes187 View Post
    But do u guys use auto ISO or set the ISO yourself? Is there a way to limit the max ISO the cam will go up to?

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    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    Quote Originally Posted by hobbes187 View Post
    But do u guys use auto ISO or set the ISO yourself? Is there a way to limit the max ISO the cam will go up to?
    Yes, Auto ISO has a maximum limit, normally set at 800...

    Personally, it depends on the effects I need and what I'm using the shots for.
    Michael Lim
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  9. #9

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    wah ... thank you very much for sharing your views and pointers - i am overwhelmed, don't know where to begin, haha ..

    seems that there is at least one who prefers the 'A', 'S' and 'P' modes. i think i should start trying out these modes to see what difference it gives me over the 'M' mode.

    just to highlight one experience - i was trying to take shots of some birds at the canal opp my home at hougang ave 7 around 7+am when the sun has came up. i set my aperture at f/3.5, and my iso at 400 because i needed a high shutter speed to capture them in flight, or when they are skimming the water surface looking for breakfast. as i tracked the bird's movement and taking shots along the way, the exposure meter kept fluctuating, and at times when the bird flies over a patch of water that has the sun's direct reflections, the exposure meter just zooms all the way to one end. with my left hand holding onto the lens and tracking the bird's movement and my right hand occasionally checking the exposure meter and compensating it by adjusting my shutter speed, it was quite a task.

    at times like this, i wonder if i use shutter priority, i would have no control over the depth of field had i wanted to do something about it. if i use sports mode, i would be leaving almost everything to the cam to decide. but using 'M' mode means that i have to be constantly adjusting the cam here and there almost constantly, haha.

    i am thinking of getting an external flash too, but before that, i think i am going to get myself the nikon capture nx software first. cos without that software, i dun think i would be trying out the raw shots and i was honestly quite impressed by the software's abilities and flexibilities, which is tailored for nikon.

    honestly, after hearing your views, i think i have barely touched the surface of this cam's capabilities. of all my fears, my primary one is having my shot blurred due to out of focus or insufficient shutter speed when it comes to taking photos of moving objects. underexposed shots come in second, because they can be alleviated to a certain degree with software.

    so many things to try but i don't know where to start. one thing at a time first, haha, and i really appreciate all the feedback so far, thanks !

  10. #10

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    the way you are shooting currently sounds like you should be using Aperture priority. Because you're just leaving for Aperture at f/3.5, you should just get out of manual and switch to A and let the camera choose the shutter speed for you. (especially since you're shooting fast moving subjects, you dont have much time to set everything yourself)

    A is the mode i shoot in about 80% of the time.

    i change to S when i start shooting fast moving objects (and only when increasing the ISO and decreasing the aperture doesnt stop the motion enough) or need to add motion blur to the background. and i also choose this mode when i'm in low light situations, i'd rather have an underexposed shot rather than a blurry shot (underexposed is easier to fix, or at least i have something to work with)

    M mode i'll only use when i have tons of time to compose the shot, or when the scene is too tricky for the camera to determine the exposure i want.

    i've not touched P mode, so i cant say anything about that mode.

    one other note, are you shooting at f/3.5 for the small DOF? because you might want to increase it to f/8-f/11 for the sharpest results (given that your shutterspeed is fast enough)

  11. #11

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    hi dw2chan,

    yep, i think i may be better of trying out Aperture priority since i fix my Aperture at f/3.5 at most times. haha ... no, i didnt intend to have a small DOF really ... i was trying to maximise the exposure of my shot while retaining a relatively high shutter speed without making much changes to the ISO.

    i want to use as low a ISO setting as possible in most cases, so i tend to sacrifice a little by increasing my aperture size if i need more exposure. you may be right that my pics are not that sharp at times... i am not sure if it is due to my large aperture setting. I thought only apertures of 3 or less would be significant, but i may be very wrong since i am new to this. i used a macro lens once and at an aperture setting of f/2.8, i could see clearly that the area outside the central is not sharp. the contrast wasnt that obvious at f/3.5.

    am currently learning how to use my internal flash without getting the subject overexposed or underexposed ... got a long way to go

  12. #12
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    Actually in your situation, you may need a better DOF to catch the flying birds, f5.6 to f8.

    And to improve the lighting, you'd need an external flash to fill-in.
    Michael Lim
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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    How far away are you from the bird?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yew Fai View Post
    just to highlight one experience - i was trying to take shots of some birds at the canal opp my home at hougang ave 7 around 7+am when the sun has came up. i set my aperture at f/3.5, and my iso at 400 because i needed a high shutter speed to capture them in flight, or when they are skimming the water surface looking for breakfast. as i tracked the bird's movement and taking shots along the way, the exposure meter kept fluctuating, and at times when the bird flies over a patch of water that has the sun's direct reflections, the exposure meter just zooms all the way to one end. with my left hand holding onto the lens and tracking the bird's movement and my right hand occasionally checking the exposure meter and compensating it by adjusting my shutter speed, it was quite a task.

  14. #14

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    you should test your camera to see where noise starts getting unacceptable. i know for my camera (400d) noise only starts being annoying at iso800. so i usually shoot action at that iso (unless it's too dark, then i bump it up)

    you should also do some tests on ur lens to see which aperture it's the sharpest at. then you'll sorta get an idea of what the best are for your cam.

    as for flash...(i dont use it much)...cant you just stick it in A or S mode and let the cam decide how to expose?

  15. #15

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    shooting birds?

    I would probably set ISO to 200 if sky is not bright.
    M mode, Shutter 30-80, Aperture f3.5-5.0, let the EV fluctuates, heck!
    If too dark, Aperture f3.5, Shutter 30, ISO 400 (if really no choice)

    Program Mode is for sure out of the qn
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  16. #16

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    hi everyone !

    zac08 : will try to reduce my aperture size a little next time as you mentioned, and will try to see if i can notice any differences, thanks !

    lastboltnut : errr ... approximately 3 - 8 m away? i cant get nearer than that or they will all fly off.

    dw2chan : yep, i read some experiments they performed on the d80 ... the noise at iso400 and below is not significant. actually significant is subjective here, haha. to those with keener eyes, they would use as low a ISO setting as possible. for me, 400 is the highest i would accept, so i normally stick it at 400, leaving me more room to play with my aperture and shutter speed. sometimes passing clouds would cause my shots to be underexposed and since i require a relatively high shutter speed, i tend to keep my ISO around 400 and my aperture at its largest - good exposure and high shutter speed was my focus then. maybe i need to try out other settings like DOF mentioned by zac08.

    sin77 : thanks for your input. some flickr members who are 'bird-shooters' told me something about how a -2 EV can bring out the highlights of the bird shots, but i didnt really understand that then, and prob now too, so i havent really tried to play with exposure compensation.

    you can take a look at some of my bird shots here :
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/yewfai/page4/

    thanks for your feedback, and i would welcome more, cause it really helps me see things from another's perspective. if i stick to the same old routine, i would probably never improve or learn new stuff about my cam

  17. #17
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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    3-8m, fill flash the birds with higher shutter speed should be ok.

  18. #18

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    To freeze the bird action, you need fast shutter speed. To get better DOF, you need to use smaller aperture like f5.6 or smaller.

    To have both settings, your exposure will be affected, underexposed. So to overcome the problem , use M mode, set to desire settings, use external flash to compensate the exposure.
    See my Photo Gallery at the Clubsnap

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    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    Yeah...

    Quote Originally Posted by megaweb View Post
    To freeze the bird action, you need fast shutter speed. To get better DOF, you need to use smaller aperture like f5.6 or smaller.

    To have both settings, your exposure will be affected, underexposed. So to overcome the problem , use M mode, set to desire settings, use external flash to compensate the exposure.

  20. #20

    Default Re: what mode to use for which situation?

    i took a look at your pics. very nice! but i did notice that some seemed soft? to me it seems that it's a focusing issue...but since the picture sizes are too small, i cant really tell.

    are you using AI servo for focusing? and are you focusing on the head/eye?

    i also noticed that you only had one overexposed shot. are you shooting in raw? if so, the underexposed shots can be brought to 'proper' exposure through post processing to a certain degree.

    i think in this situation, it'd be best to shoot with shutter priority. possibly around 500-800 to freeze the bird (you'll have to play around with that though). i think you might need to bump up to iso800 for that though. noise shouldnt be too much of an issue, software can do a pretty good job at removing noise during PP

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