How do I know what shutter speed/aperture/ISO to use?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by ujwalpoojary, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. ujwalpoojary

    ujwalpoojary Member

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    Hi everyone! I just got my first DSLR, the Nikon D3400. I've used it for about a week now and I'm really happy with the results. I know how shutter speed, aperture and ISO work and I can just about take a decent pic on manual mode, but how do I know what settings to use for different types of pictures and in different lighting situations to take great pictures? Is there like a general guide to these things?

    NOTE: I only have the 18-55mm VR kit lens at the moment but I'm looking to expand my lens collection as time goes by. Currently looking at a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens with an adjustable aperture wheel.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber
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    think of aperture and shutter speed as composition tools; then the answer to your question should become obvious.
     
  3. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member
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    I like f4 or f5.6 and 1/250 to 1/500 or more. ISO? Usually as low as possible. But I will shoot f1.4, 1/30 and ISO 3200. So it just depends on the subject and light.

    I take light as it comes, so have to balance light with getting a decent shot.
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

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    What Ralph is hinting at:

    -) both, aperture and shutter speed, control exposure.
    So basically it would not matter what to vary/to adjust based on the given ISO of a film (we are here in the analog section).

    However,

    -) the aperture has influence on the Depth of Focus

    -) the shutter speed has influence on how Movements are depicted (that may be movement of the subject or movement of the camera)
     
  5. Dali

    Dali Member
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    The web is your friend.... I am sure you can easily find multiple sites explaining how to creatively use a camera. No need to buy extra gear for that, just focus on how to use what you have.
     
  6. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Well, most people will not know it any more, but there still are textbooks...
     
  7. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member
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    In the beginning trust your meter. Set the metering mode to Matrix. Now you can set any combination of shutter speed, aperture and ISO and you will get a reasonably well exposed pictures when the light meter bar graph is at 0. There will be a lot of combination that would make the meter indicates 0 so which one?
    To decided on which one consider the trade off of the 3.
    1. With the aperture the larger aperture (the smaller number) will make the meter moves toward the + side and reducing the depth of field that is with a large aperture (small f number) the sharpness of the image in front and behind the plane of focus will be less.
    2. With the shutter speed the slower shutter speed (the smaller number) will also make the meter moves to the + side but if you have it too slow will result in camera shake or subject motion blur. As a rule of thumb the shutter speed should be higher than 1.5 times the zoom setting to prevent camera shake when hand holding the camera. For example if you set the zoom to 28mm you should use shutter speed of 50 or higher to prevent the camera shake. If the subject moves fast you may need higher shutter speed.
    3. With the ISO the higher the number would make the meter moves to the + side. Higher ISO number will result in noisier or grainier image so use the lowest you can but still keep the meter indicates 0.
    In certain lighting condition you may find there is no setting that will work satisfactorily.
     
  8. REAndy

    REAndy Subscriber
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    I agree no need to buy extra gear (yet). The 18mm - 55mm that came with the camera is a great lens to start with. Good overall, and good with landscapes.

    I'm sure there will be lots of opinions on which lens to get next. So, i will throw in my 2 cents... Personally, I think I would go with something in the 70mm range with the largest aperture you can get (smallest number). The purpose would be to get a lens in slightly telephoto with a tiny depth of field. Good for portraits. Note: with that camera you don't need to adjust the aperture on the lens itself (lens with an adjustable aperture wheel), you set the aperture value directly with the camera.
     
  9. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member
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    OP, it is all a balancing act. Do you want lots of depth of field? Do you want motion blur? Freeze action? If you do street forget all that, what does the situation allow? With street you are not a tripod shooter, you make due. And most important...you don't ask what F stop, what shutter speed, what ISO. Many times you just shoot and post processing comes to the rescue. And if not, then move on to the next shot. No one gets them all.

    For my limits ISO 3200 is the max and preferably ISO 2500, as 3200 is getting crappy. But my favorite area is ISO400 to 800. But it is not always possible.
     
  10. Alan Edward Klein

    Alan Edward Klein Member

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    Leave it on A or P mode and concentrate on content, composition, framing, and good ambient lighting. Manual mode will not make you a good photographer.
     
  11. Alan Edward Klein

    Alan Edward Klein Member

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    Just to clarify my last post, once you get content, composition, framing and good ambient lighting down pat, then you can use manual mode to fine tune the results. And by that time you'll know why and when you'll need manual mode and how you'll have to set it. Don;t put the cart before the horse. .
     
  12. Sirius Glass

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    From medium format film came the guideline to use a shutter speed of one over the lens focal length as the minimum. Therefore if one was using a 100mm lens, the minimum hand held shutter speed would be 1/100 second, 250mm would be 1/250 second. That is an old general guideline.
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Well, that guideline only applies to us old farts at Apug, not to guys as the OP with his modern equipment...
     
  14. wiltw

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    Photography is a whole bunch of trade offs, a giant balancing, which COMBINE
    1. aperture: big aperture/small aperture, yielding more light/less light = less DOF/more DOF
    2. shutter speed: slow speed/fast speed, yielding more light/less light = less action stopping/more action stopping
    3. ISO: fast speed/low speed, yielding more sensitivity to light/less sensitivity to light = lower image quality/better image quality.
    ...and then try to juggle all three for the amount of light (bright/dark) falling upon the scene, to achieve the combination of motion stopping and Depth of Field that you need to use, in order to capture the photo in your mind's eye.
     
  15. RalphLambrecht

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  16. Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member
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    Your question actually touches both technical and aesthetic factors. Different people emphasize different things; you see it on this site. Confidence in exposure frees you to express aesthetics. When to use more or less apparent sharpness, how to manage motion, when to us a particular ISO? That is a lifetime of experience which presumes you know what you see and what you want to show. This is not a matter of "tips and tricks."

    If you can get centered around exposure it leaves you clear to think about and execute aesthetics. Bad exposure confounds hue and tone. Poor use of sharpness (focus, apparent sharpness, depth of field) confounds the eye. Put these together and no one can see what you mean. The better you get at this, the quicker it happens, the more incidental and less obscuring it is of the creative process.

    Exposure is determined by the amount of light managed by ISO, SS, & f. Commit to the one setting (ISO, SS, f) that is most important to making the shot. For good exposure you must make a basic assumption. The easiest is to build habit around ISO. This means that you have to make some preliminary decisions about what ISO works with what sort of light. Here is a link to a pretty good basic article on ISO:

    https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/tutorials/cheat-sheet-how-to-understand-iso-settings

    They have a cheat-sheet. I have attached another.

    Next, you need to understand that your light meter will give you an accurate exposure value only if you can meter a Neutral Tone. Gray cards are great for this. Here is a link to a short video to get you started:



    At this point you must commit to a second setting; that is both a technical and aesthetic choice.

    Next you can decide on your aperture. Do you want more or less depth of field? You don't have to measure light for this, just technically decide what you want to express your vision.
    If you want sharpness, it's 5.6 on that lens. That set, you just twiddle the SS wheel until the meter says what you want.
    If you want more or less apparent Depth you change the aperture and then it is the same action with the SS wheel.

    or

    If you need a certain SS for motion/blur management, set that after the ISO. You don't have to meter light for this, just technically decide what you want to express your vision, then dial-in the aperture the meter likes.

    If the resulting SS is too slow and aperture open as far as it will go, you will have to adjust ISO. Amplify to the next highest ISO. Then go about the SS & f priorities and meter to taste.

    It's pretty simple but can be topsey-turvey. And it is that experience that can confound any aesthetic sense. Just remember, you have to set at least one aspect to get going: your choice. The next can also be a technical/aesthetic decision; what do you want to show? For the last, use your meter on a neutral tone.
     

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    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  17. jtk

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    No need for a neutral tone. You can standardize with the back of your hand, no matter your race. Adjust accordingly.
     
  18. Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member
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    I used my palm as it's tone doesn't change with the seasons.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2018
  19. REAndy

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    One summer I worked for a professional photographer. He always used his palm to meter. That summer I was at more weddings than a preacher!! :smile:
     
  20. Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member
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    I think that this a pretty advanced suggestion.
     
  21. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber
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    In the tutor's last sentence when he refers to all kinds of things that have a neutral tone his last few words are "like a nice ? " It sounds like the word " won" but with an elongated sound. What is this?

    Occasionally his voice would rise and almost tremble slightly but I won't pursue that aspect :D

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  22. Berkeley Mike

    Berkeley Mike Member
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    I hear you. The audience for this is a classroom, deer-in-headlights, making their first use of a meter and manual exposure. Throughout this course we, as a class, talk about the stresses of our effort that can confound us into not remembering something I told them 3 times just before we went out to shoot. As such things are often framed in ease, familiarity and promise. I meant "a nice lawn."
    As to voice, I take an exceedingly personal approach with people and it can take some getting used; it is the story of my life; is this guy for real? At the end of a semester students will say, yes. I end up being a hard act to follow. As you are an outsider I understand your comment.
     
  23. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber
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    Thanks for the reply. Yes, a nice lawn. I should have repeated it several times and made the connection with zone V objects such as a lawn which I use myself to check metering .

    pentaxuser
     
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