New to photography - lots of questions to follow

Discussion in 'Art, Media & Photography' started by 7slinger, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. 7slinger

    7slinger wake up dead Contributor

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    I've been google searching for a while this morning and there is so much info out there, I'm just not finding the answers I want, or the answer is 5 years old and I don't trust it.

    anyways have always had point n shoot cameras, but this xmas decided to upgrade and got a canon t3i...now I need to learn to use it to it's potential (or somewhere in the ballpark)

    lame question #1: what megapixel size should I use for shooting images strictly for the web, specifically images for things like ebay auctions, forums, craigslist, things like that?

    I'll just use this thread for any further photography/camera questions I come up with, vs. starting a new thread every time.
     
  2. feilong29

    feilong29 SS.org Regular

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    Can you even adjust the pixels you shoot with? I'm not sure, haha, but in any case, 18mp is plenty and more than enough for the applications you've mentioned. Now, if you were shooting for a billboard, then, something like 36.5 like the Nikon D800 is the way to go! You should be able to just point and shoot in normal JPEG for the type of shots you want. Now, if you wanted to get into editing, you will want to shoot in RAW and get a good editing program like Lightroom.
     
  3. ThePhilosopher

    ThePhilosopher Reason User Contributor

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    I'd suggest shooting in RAW and manual mode - the fastest way to learn camera controls is to force yourself to do so. If you're really up for learning quickly I'd recommend turning off the image preview after every shot and limit yourself to 24 or 36 images of stuff you have easy access to before loading on to a computer for viewing (much like film), go back and see your mistakes (both technical and artistic).

    To truly push the limits of your camera you must first know correct technique behind getting decent exposure and composition before you can move on to pushing your camera.
     
  4. 7slinger

    7slinger wake up dead Contributor

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    oh I'm certain that 18mp is overkill for internet shots, what I'm really asking is how low can I go with the quality setting for things like ebay shots before I would see a difference? by lowering the quality setting, it seems you basically shoot with less megapixels, and thus smaller file sizes

    that's a cool idea...don't I need software in order to do anything with RAW files? If so, I don't have any
     
  5. Philligan

    Philligan The White-Knuckler Contributor

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    You could do that, but it's better to get in the habit of shooting RAW - you can just change the image size when you finish processing the RAW file on the computer. It's a bit more time consuming, but worth it for when you want to take more serious pictures.

    You need a program to process and edit the RAW files, but if you bought the T3i new, it should have come with a bunch of Canon software, including DPP (Digital Photo Processor I think). That would do it. If you don't have that, and don't want to buy anything, GIMP is free and should handle RAW files. If you're willing to drop a little more money, Lightroom is awesome, and if you're a student or faculty at a school you can get it for half price (around $80).

    Definitely get used to shooting in manual. If you're shooting in a faster environment and don't have time to check and adjust your settings, a trick I like is to use Manual Mode and set the ISO to auto - that way all you have to do is worry about aperture and shutter speed, and the camera takes care of the ISO. I especially like that if I'm somewhere where the light changes a lot. In December I went to a Christmas parade, and with the lit floats going by, I wouldn't have had the time to keep adjusting my ISO.

    Another thing, if you haven't already. Get the 50mm f/1.8II if you haven't already. It's an insanely good bang for your buck, and it's amazing what pictures you'll be able to take in low light.
     
  6. 7slinger

    7slinger wake up dead Contributor

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    I didn't even think about the included canon software, I'll check it out.

    I used GIMP a long time back, can't even remember what for, just resizing jpegs iirc

    the camera included the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, which is apparently nothing more than a decent kit lens (as far as the reviews on canon's web site are concerned). Looks like the lens you mentioned is only about 125$, so could definitely happen pretty easily...what do you think I'd be able to accomplish with that lens vs. the lens I already have?

    ...dang I figured lenses would/could be expensive, and that has been confirmed by canon's web site
     
  7. Philligan

    Philligan The White-Knuckler Contributor

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    Oh yeah, lenses are crazy expensive. I've got a ~$500 50mm f/1.4 and the ~$230 40 f/2.8, and those are both considered cheap lenses. :lol:

    The 18-55 is definitely a decent kit lens. If you want a longer telephoto zoom for stuff, definitely pick up the 55-250 STM. It's cheap (for a lens haha), and everyone says it has really good optics for the price.

    The 50/1.8II is limited to 50mm - so zoom in your kit lens to as far as it will go, and the 55mm will give you an idea of how the 50mm will look. It's a bit cramped, especially for indoors, but for the money it's still more than worth it.

    A stop (or f stop, same thing) is a doubling or halving of the light a camera lets in. So, 1/50th shutter speed is twice as long as 1/100th - since it's twice as long, it lets in double the light, so it's a full stop brighter. The same goes for ISO (say, 1600 vs 3200 - 3200 is twice as sensitive, so it essentially lets in twice as much light, and is a full stop brighter), and aperture. Aperture is confusing, though, because the numbers aren't simply rounded like that - it has to do with the width of the aperture blades, so the numbers seem kind of random. It's even more confusing because modern lenses don't go in full stops like some older ones do, so it's hard to remember where the full stop settings are. But it doesn't really matter, so sorry for ranting about that haha.

    Anyway, the 50mm 1.8 goes about two stops wider than your 18-55 goes (3.5 vs 2.8). And that's exponential, not linear. So one stop more would let in twice as much light, and the second stop lets in twice as much light as that.

    Basically, the 50mm will let you take good, useable photos in significantly lower light situations. It's especially handy when you're out on the street in the evening, or hanging out with friends in a bar or something - you'll be getting awesome shots without needing a flash. 50mm on a crop sensor is a little bit tight/zoomed in, but it's excellent for portrait shots, and it's really not bad once you get used to it. I have the 50mm 1.4 on a regular T3, and it's still my go-to lens.

    Another benefit to the wider aperture is that it makes the depth of field more shallow. That means you can get crazier background blur, which makes your subject pop more, and the blur can look really nice, too (that's called bokeh).

    When I went to Ireland, I used the 50mm the entire time we were in Dublin. Here's one on the street - you can see how much more Dawn pops because the background's so blurred, and the lights start looking really cool.

    [​IMG]

    50mm on a crop sensor camera is tight when you're indoors (you'll be getting a decent amount of head shots), but it's useable. Outside, all you need to do is back up a bit. I took this with the 50mm, too.

    [​IMG]

    Edit: An example of the low light performance is this shot of the Cliffs of Moher. This is grainy, because it was dark and I had to boost the darks a bit in Lightroom, but the 50mm made a massive difference. It doesn't look like it in the picture, but it was dark - so dark that the cliffs just looked black, the water looked dark grey, and there was just a bit of light in the sky. The 1.4/1.8 lets in so much light that shots can look brighter than they do in person.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. 7slinger

    7slinger wake up dead Contributor

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  9. Philligan

    Philligan The White-Knuckler Contributor

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    Nice, that seems like a great place to start. :yesway: Sorry, it's a lot to take in and I'm terrible at explaining things. :lol: But it's one of those things where once you get it, it clicks and becomes second nature.

    For background blur, it's all about the depth of field (or the depth of what's in focus). Think of depth of field as running perpendicular to where you've got your camera pointed.

    [​IMG]

    Say you have your camera, and you're taking a picture of a tree. As the tree gets farther away from you, the depth of field increases (it's relative to distance - the distance of the subject from you, and the distance of the background from the subject). You're standing 100ft away from a fence. If the tree is 10ft away from you, the fence will look blurrier than if the tree is 50ft away from you.

    Set the lens to 55mm, set the aperture as wide as it will go (f/5.6), and get as close as you can to your subject, and try and find a background that's pretty far away. If you're stuck indoors, try taking a head shot of someone, and have them be as far away from the background as possible. That should do it. :yesway:
     
  10. Tang

    Tang Master of Chihuahuas

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    To expand on what Phil said, the bigger your aperture (the lower the number) the more of the background you'll throw out of focus. For example on the pic below I was about 1m from my dog and I had my aperture set at f/2.2. You can see the shape of the bokeh in the trees behind Sid.

    Forgot to mention that lens was a 43mm f/1.9 so the 50mm you're looking out will have a similar FOV.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. 7slinger

    7slinger wake up dead Contributor

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    I have the weekend off, plan on getting the camera out and trying some things, I'll let you guys know how it goes
     
  12. Philligan

    Philligan The White-Knuckler Contributor

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    Awesome, post some pictures after. :)

    Suggestion: Pick something that makes you uncomfortable (like taking pictures of strangers) and make yourself do it. It's really liberating.
     
  13. ThePhilosopher

    ThePhilosopher Reason User Contributor

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    This is actually a function of a number of things such as focal length, sensor size, lens construction, subject-to-fore/background distance, etc; however, aperture is probably the easiest contributing factor for a beginner to understand.
     
  14. Tang

    Tang Master of Chihuahuas

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    Indeed, I didn't want to launch into the full lecture because it tends to loose newbies pretty quickly.
     
  15. ThePhilosopher

    ThePhilosopher Reason User Contributor

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    I'd rather give them more information and point out what they'll most use so they're not wondering why that 15mm at f/4 focused at infinity doesn't bokeh like a 300mm f/4 at minimum focusing distance. :cheers:
     
  16. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    :lol:

    "lenses are crazy expensive" - errr yeah, don't even ask me how much I have invested in lenses right now, if you'd told me 5 years ago when I had significantly less money and a rampant obsession with buying guitars how much money I'd have tied up in these bits of glass I'd have slapped you and told you you're a bloody idiot. I don't even wanna think about it...

    Gunna chuck in my recommendations:
    - The technical stuff seems tricky but LEARN IT. It's your bread and butter. What makes great photographers great photographers isn't gear (ahem), and isn't this magic subject matter only they have access to, some of my favourite shots in existence are opportunistic street shots that anybody would have been able to get but only that particularly photographer was able to capture in exactly the way they did. I LOVE Zack Arias's street work.

    LEARN THE TECHNICAL STUFF. It's what turns your vision into reality, and your vision is what's going to take the time to develop and grow over the next 5, 10, 20 years. It won't take you long, you can't be out shooting all hours of the day and it gives you something to nerd out on and then try when you do go out, it's purposeful.

    I like Cambridge in Colour's style very much:
    Cambridge in Colour - Photography Tutorials & Learning Community

    ...however it's very much more on the technology side than the technique side and quite scientific. You don't need to be able to calculate DoF for example, but knowing what it means and how it's controlled is absolutely beneficial.

    - Learn the basics of composition. Things like the rule of thirds helps (not my favourite 'rule') when you just want to get a shot of something and it not look like you've just banged off a shot on a point and shoot haha. Other than that, once you know how to expose 'correctly', learn how to expose creatively for a shot, and things like preserving your highlights. The thing that I managed to ignore for ages was where my point of sharp focus was, I was letting the camera make too many decisions. Pointing it at a scene and just half pressing the shutter - nope nope nope. Take control of your focus and learn where the best place to put it is so that the subject your viewer should be (and hopefully will be) drawn to in the image is what's sharpest.

    - Look at other people's work. Constantly. And learn how to look at someone's work. When you see someone's work and you think 'i like this image', figure out why. Is it the composition? Is it the light? Look at where the focus is and how it's exposed. Forget settings in a way, your eyes are so adaptable you can't really tell when it's getting lighter or darker, but look how the photographers used depth of field - rather than falling into the trap of always making it as small as possible hahahaha, been there - and how the photographer has drawn you to the subject and made you look at what they want you to look at. DO NOT just look at their gear! Fair enough, you might see some weird trippy effect that might be down to the lens being ultra wide, or a very compressed city landscape (I love compressed landscapes) and it's good to know what's doing what but you should already be able to recognise this from that reading you were doing earlier ;)


    I could go on and on and on but yeah. Learn as much about what you're doing when you're not out doing it, no amount of knowledge will ever hurt you, but once you do know the bread and butter stuff use it to help you realise your vision. It's your vision that needs to adapt over time and what will make you a great photographer, not technique, but technique bridges the gap. Gear won't make you great, whacky techniques won't make you great, lots of post processing... The list goes on.

    Look, learn.

    /minirant.

    You can always ask us any technical questions by the way, we're all obsessed. I agree with TP by the way by the way, learn too much and take what you need with you when you need it rather than 'building up' to the hard stuff, I'm very much a throw-yourself-in-the-deep-end guy.
     
  17. 7slinger

    7slinger wake up dead Contributor

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    so I've been really strapped for time...

    There is a portrait setting on the camera that I tried out, description of the setting says that it is designed to make the face pop a bit and blur the background some, so I'm guessing it does some similar things as described above (with regards to aperture settings, etc.)? I took some shots of my kids and it seemed to do what it said.

    Next weekend off is next weekend, Ima try again to dive into this then.
     
  18. Philligan

    Philligan The White-Knuckler Contributor

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    Next time you have a half hour after dinner or something, grab your camera and take some pictures of them. Don't worry about making them look super amazing, just do it to get a feel for the camera. Keep it handy as often as possible - the more you use it, the quicker you'll get a feel for it. And picking it up every day or so will keep things fresh in your mind. :)

    If you wanna try a portrait again, instead of using the portrait setting, put it in Aperture Priority (Av). It's basically automatic - the only thing you control is how wide open the lens is. You control it with the thumb wheel to the right of the viewfinder. Put it in Av, crank the wheel so the aperture number is as low as it will go (remember lower number = wider aperture). Then take some shots of your kids again and see how it compares to the portrait setting one.

    In the same idea, if you want to take shots of your kids and they're running around playing or something, put it in Shutter Priority (Tv). It's the same as Av, only the wheel controls the shutter speed and the aperture is automatic. Set the shutter speed to 1/500 of a second and you'll be able to freeze your kids even though they're moving around.

    There are a couple good ways to start getting a feel for the settings. One is put the camera in whatever mode (auto, portrait, anything) and take a picture. Look at the picture and see what the settings were, then put the camera in Manual and try recreating those settings yourself. Then try changing them and see what differences the changes make.

    Another thing is kinda like that - put the camera in Aperture Priority, and take a bunch of pictures of the same thing, and change the aperture each time. Then go back and see how they look different, and you'll start to get a feel for how different settings affect the look.
     

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