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Discussion Starter #1
Justin and photog experts...

I am a longtime SLR user. I know how to operate my SLR pretty well, and my typical photography includes a heavy dose of aperture and shutter priority modes and manual focus. I recently purchased a Canon SD400 -- a tiny, ultra-compact digital point and shoot which I absolutely LOVE. It's great for taking to the bars with me, and really just taking everywhere I go. And it takes great pictures.

But my question is this: do you have any tips on how to emulate some of the techniques I'm used to doing with the manual functions on my SLR -- but with my point and shoot? In particular I'm interested in depth of field manipulation and how to take control of auto-facus to get it focusing on what I want.

Any tips for taking more advanced pictures with a point and shoot? :)
 

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Just because!
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Good questions Jeff.

I'll start with the Depth of field question first. Your Canon has an aperture range of f2.8-f4.9, and focal length range of 5.8-17.4mm (35mm film equivalent: 35-105mm) This combination of variable aperture and relatively wide focal length won't produce the limited depth of field you are seeking.

Why does the aperture have a range of f2.8-f4.9? When you change the focal length of the lens by zooming in, the amount of light decreases, hence the f4.9 sized aperture. Therefore, even though you zoom in, your f-stop size becomes smaller, which in turn creates more depth of field. In other words, things become sharper the bigger your f-stop number becomes.

Let's break this down:

f1.8--> Small depth of field. A persons eyes can be sharp, but their ears will be out of focus.

f22--> Big depth of field. A persons eyes, ears, and background will be in sharp focus.

Something you might try would be to use compression. Zoom all the way in (When I say in, zoom in closer to your subject.) This will "compress" the image so the background will seem to be closer. (See pics for examples. Camera: Nikon Coolpix 995.) I adjusted my shooting distance to try to keep the subject the same size. See how the background moves closer? That is compression.


As for your desire to manually focus, I can't find any reviews or online manuals that say you can manually focus. Have you tried using the "Portrait" mode? If so, how did that work for you?


Sorry if you already knew some of this stuff. I'm sure some others will learn a bit.
 

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DIESL PWR
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I've got to say, that's one of the reasons I didn't go with one of the sleek little digital cameras. I've got a Fujifilm FinePix E550, and it lets me manually adjust everything, just like my old SLR did.

On another note, know any good online photograpy resources? The last time I had a photography class was like five years ago, and I'm getting really rusty. Perhaps we could compile some and make a sticky in the future?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the tips, Justin! I'll definitely try using the compression technique!

And yes, I know I can't manually focus with my camera -- I guess what I was wondering is if there are any good tricks for how to better take control of the auto-focus. My camera has to the 9-point auto focus, it has spot focusing, and some other focusing tools that should let me gain some degree of control, even though it's auto-focus. I'm just no expert on using them yet (I'm used to the manual focus ring!). :)
 

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ASurroca said:
I've got to say, that's one of the reasons I didn't go with one of the sleek little digital cameras. I've got a Fujifilm FinePix E550, and it lets me manually adjust everything, just like my old SLR did.

On another note, know any good online photograpy resources? The last time I had a photography class was like five years ago, and I'm getting really rusty. Perhaps we could compile some and make a sticky in the future?
Well, I just bought both. :) I have both a tiny point and shoot for taking out with me to the bars and such, plus as SLR for when I feel like being artsy. I just want to know how to operate the tiny one as well as I can, too. :)
 

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I have an older Canon G2. Not fancy by today's standards, but very serviceable. It has a button on the side that allows me to somewhat auto focus. I can focus on something in the foreground and still have the background be out of focus. It takes some getting used to, but I'm getting better at making some nice shots. I like to practice on flowers or rocks. I recently took this picture up in a meadow around Red River, NM.



Justin -

What does all of this information mean to me?
Camera Model Name
Canon PowerShot G2
Shooting Date/Time
8/5/2005 10:28:13 AM
Shooting Mode
Auto
Tv (Shutter Speed)
1/320
Av (Aperture Value)
4.0
Light Metering
Evaluative
Exposure Compensation
0
ISO Speed
Auto
Lens
7.0 - 21.0mm
Focal Length
21.0mm
Digital Zoom
x 2.7
Image Size
2272x1704
Image Quality
Fine
Flash
Off
White Balance
Auto
AF Mode
Single AF
Active AF Points
[ Center ]
AF Range Mode
Macro
Parameters
Contrast Normal
Sharpness Normal
Saturation Normal
Color Space
sRGB
File Size
534KB
Drive Mode
Single-frame shooting
 

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Just because!
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jcroft said:
In particular I'm interested in depth of field manipulation and how to take control of auto-facus to get it focusing on what I want.

If you want to focus on something in particular, switch over to your 1-point AF (fixed to center) mode, rather than the 9 point focus mode.

Determine your subject and put it in the very center (this is where your focus sensor is), then press the shutter release button half way down. This will allow the camera to focus on your subject. Once it focuses, keep holding the shutter button and recompose your photo. Then click away! :)
 

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ASurroca said:
On another note, know any good online photograpy resources? The last time I had a photography class was like five years ago, and I'm getting really rusty. Perhaps we could compile some and make a sticky in the future?

One of my favorite sites is Photo.net

New York Institute of Photography has some good articles in their reference section.

In time, I hope to be able to put together some basic "what is...?/ how-to" threads with the help of the other knowledgable folks here.
 

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hestersu said:
Justin -

What does all of this information mean to me?

Camera Model Name
Canon PowerShot G2 This is the name of your camera :)


Shooting Date/Time
8/5/2005 10:28:13 AM Self explanatory.

Shooting Mode
Auto Auto mode is where the camera makes the decisions on what of Shutter Speed and Aperture to use to properly expose the image.


Tv (Shutter Speed)
1/320 The length the camera exposes the film of silicon chip.


Av (Aperture Value)
4.0 This is the size of the adjustable "hole" that lets light through the lens.


Light Metering
Evaluative This is the metering mode where the cameras exposure computer will analyse the light in the frame before you trip the shutter.


Exposure Compensation
0 Exposure Compensation is used to change the exposure in small increments. You can slightly under or over expose your pic depending on the desired effect.


ISO Speed
Auto Auto will choose the best ISO speed. ISO speed is how sensitive the film or digital chip is to the light. The higher number, like 400 or 800, the more sensitive the film or chip will be. This is beneficial in lower light situations where a faster shutter speed is needed to prevent camera shake.


Lens
7.0 - 21.0mm This is the focal range. The smaller the number, the wider view you will get.


Focal Length
21.0mm This is what your camera was set at for your image.


Digital Zoom
x 2.7 This is how much digital zoom you were using. Digital zoom is where the camera will crop (enlarge) a section of your silicon chip to get you closer to your subject. This isn't preferable because once you get into the digital zoom range, your image will start to pixelate (Where you can see the individual boxes of color that make up the image) and you lose sharpenss as well.


Image Size
2272x1704 How big your image is. It's 2272 pixels wide by 1704 pixels high.


Image Quality
Fine What quality level you took the photo at. You'll have to read your owners manual, or find out online, what this means. To me, with my Nikon D100, it means it is the highest quality jpeg. Yours may vary.


Flash
Off Should be self explanatory.


White Balance
Auto Auto White Balance is where the camera chooses the best setting for the color temperature of the scene.


AF Mode
Single AF This means your camera will focus on one point and stay focused on that subject as long it doesn't move. Some cameras have continuous focusing ability where it attempts to follow the subject.


Active AF Points
[ Center ] The focus sensor is at the center of the frame.


AF Range Mode
Macro In Macro mode, the camera focuses closer to the camera. Best suited for shooting flowers or other small objects.


Parameters These are where you can choose the levels of Contrast, Sharpness and Saturation.
Contrast Normal
Sharpness Normal
Saturation Normal


Color Space
sRGB The Standard Default Color Space for the Internet. This basically tells your programs and displays what color profile is needed to see the image colors as it was taken.


File Size
534KB Should also be self explanatory.


Drive Mode
Single-frame shooting This is how fast the camera takes photos. Each manufacturer has different names for the modes.



Did I explain everything so you can understand it? If not, feel free to ask for clarification! I can't bite from here! :lol:


:)
 

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Justin -

Thanks for the info. Actually, I knew most of it (at least the obvious ones ;) ). I thought this might give us all a starting point for some kinds of discussion. I probably have more questions, but I need my camera back before I go there.

I am curious what your opinion is of the Nikon CoolPix 8800. I believe that is the newest CoolPix model. I'm looking to replace my Canon G2 with something else. I've waffled between the Nikon D70, Canon Rebel something another, the CoolPix and the latest encarnation of the Canon G series. I'm looking for kind of a Prosumer type camera, but flexible enough for hubby to use. I like to point and shoot but also get artsy. I know I don't want anything that has a side mounted flash like my G2. I would really like to stick with Compact Flash if that helps. If you would like me to start another thread, let me know.
 

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Maybe this question warrants a whole new thread... but I thought it kinda of followed Jeff's original thought...

What's the best digital camera currently out with regards to shutter release time? I have an older Sony Cybershot... and it's driving me absolutely batty with the amount of time it takes between pressing the shutter button and the time it actually takes the pic. I'm losing a lot of great shots, simply because by the time the CCD actually fires, subjects have moved out of frame.

I've already trimmed down the camera's features as much as I can... turned the red-eye strobe off, went to fixed aperture and even tried going without autofocus... and the delay is still quite frustrating.

I hear some of the DSLRs are a lot faster because of the way the CCD works (it's apparently always powered when the camera is on... instead of just when you hit the shutter release in a point-and-shoot)... but don't feel like spending a grand just to "test out" that theory. Is there a P&S that's speedy? Or do I have to move up to an SLR? And if the latter, what's the fastest DSLR out there?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The DLRSs are definitely much more speedy than the P&Ss, but there are some newer point and shoots that are much better than the older models. My Canon Powershot SD400 is quite quick. I suggest www.dcresource.com for camera reviews. They always include shutter lag in their review process. :D
 

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jcroft said:
I suggest www.dcresource.com for camera reviews. They always include shutter lag in their review process. :D
Uh... hmmm... I've browsed around dcresource before, and just did again after your recommendation... and I'm having trouble finding any reviews there that even mention shutter lag.

Maybe I'm missing something.

But I'm not sure how useful the site would be anyway. I'm looking to find the camera with the least amount of shutter lag. A site like dcresource is really only useful if I already know the specific cameras I want to compare... but if I go there not knowing which camera I might be interested in but simply trying to find the one with the fastest shutter, it's nearly impossible to do that kind of search/comparison.

But man... some of those cameras sure are nice ;)



edit: strike that... I just found a review that mentioned shutter lag... it's the review of my current camera... and it says "shutter lag is barely noticable". So what's a guy to do?? :(
 

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The best way to reduce shutter lag is to press half way down on the shutter release to allow the camera to focus.

Here is a page on dpreview.com/ that explains what I am talking about: Lag Time.

Most, if not all, DSLR's have virtually no perceptable Shutter lag. There are also a few P&S cameras out there that have very short lag times as well.
 

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Steinola said:
But I'm not sure how useful the site would be anyway. I'm looking to find the camera with the least amount of shutter lag. A site like dcresource is really only useful if I already know the specific cameras I want to compare... but if I go there not knowing which camera I might be interested in but simply trying to find the one with the fastest shutter, it's nearly impossible to do that kind of search/comparison.
It's hard for me to imagine you are just going to go buy the camera with the lowest shutter lag. I mean, the top three cameras in shutter lag might be a $200 P&S, a $600 pro-sumer model, and a $1500 SLR. Then what?

That can't be your only criteria, can it?
 

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My Canon G2 is old and slow (kind of like my computer and me, but that's another thread). Recently, I purchased a 512mb Ultra II CF card. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my lag time was somewhat reduced. Not exactly sure why but I think the faster card allowed for the CCD to write faster. This kind like that butt dyno test. I set up my camera on a tripod so I could shoot the same thing more than once. I put in my original CF card and I could have taken a nap waiting for the picture to take. I put in my Sandisk Ultra card and took the same picture. Seemed faster - only a couple of good yawns. Put in the Ultra II CF card and I only thought about the yawn. There has to be something to the speed of the card.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
hestersu said:
My Canon G2 is old and slow (kind of like my computer and me, but that's another thread). Recently, I purchased a 512mb Ultra II CF card. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my lag time was somewhat reduced. Not exactly sure why but I think the faster card allowed for the CCD to write faster. This kind like that butt dyno test. I set up my camera on a tripod so I could shoot the same thing more than once. I put in my original CF card and I could have taken a nap waiting for the picture to take. I put in my Sandisk Ultra card and took the same picture. Seemed faster - only a couple of good yawns. Put in the Ultra II CF card and I only thought about the yawn. There has to be something to the speed of the card.
I wouldn't think a faster memory card would help with shutter lag, but it will definitely help with write time between pictures. I could be wrong -- it might help with shutter lag too, but I think it would be most noticeable for picture-to-picture wait time (which is also a big deal). Faster memory cards are definitely worth the price, IMHO.
 

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You are probably right Jeff. The fastest camera I have seen is the Canon Rebel digital. It was really quick. It also took a really nice picture. But that camera is pretty much designed for action shots. The body itself and options are great. I just don't like the lens that comes with any Canon. They just aren't the quality of say a Nikon. The edges are always fuzzy to me - like a feather. Now you can buy a better lens for the Canon, but after investing in a camera to the tune of say $1500, I don't really want to spend another $600 to get the better lens.

Now if you move up the food chain to the more pro models, you can get better speed, better optics, better everything - at a price. I'm not ready to plunk down that kind of cash for something that I fool around with. I just want to have fun - not be worried about dropping a camera that cost a fortune.
 

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Ok this is mildly off topic but it appears that the topic has wandered in this direction.

I recently aquired a new Digi Cam and did most of my research by picking my price point and then finding the best camera for the money. I made a long list of things that I wanted my camera to be able to do (manual focus, aperture priority etc) I then did a ton of googling to get reviews and comparisons of different models that I liked. I would go to the stores and play around with different cameras. Find ones that I liked the feel of and then researched them to death.

I finally settled on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20. It has an excellant all glass Lieca Lens a highly rated CCD and an incredibly long zoom lens (36-432 35mm equivalent). So far I am absolutly thrilled with it. :bigthumb:

Here is a recent Photo I took of Retrorich and his Partner Joan.
 
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