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by Ron Davis

Introduction

This guide demonstrates how to adjust camera settings.

Knowing your camera and its settings is key to capturing the essence of your image and/or documentation. Your goal should be to capture images that can be taken directly from the camera and put into a guide, without any post-processing involved.

Even though that is extremely difficult, sometimes impossible, a simple overview of the most basic camera functions often makes all the difference.

  1. Shutter speed, f-stop, and ISO all affect how well the final image is exposed.
    • Shutter speed, f-stop, and ISO all affect how well the final image is exposed.

    • They are also interrelated: decreasing the f-stop value or increasing ISO allows for a faster shutter speed. You want to adjust these settings — depending on the light you have available — in order to obtain the best possible image.

    • Beware of the Blurries! Generally speaking, one should not shoot a hand-held image with a shutter speed slower than 1/40 of a second. A grainy (high-ISO) image is much more usable than one that is blurry.

    • Now, let's explore each of these camera functions individually.

  2. Adjusting the shutter speed allows more or less light to expose the image. In these example images, ISO and f-stop settings remained constant, but shutter speed was adjusted as follows: Image 1: 1/200 second shutter speed Image 2: 1/60 second shutter speed
    • Adjusting the shutter speed allows more or less light to expose the image. In these example images, ISO and f-stop settings remained constant, but shutter speed was adjusted as follows:

    • Image 1: 1/200 second shutter speed

    • Image 2: 1/60 second shutter speed

    • Image 3: 1/10 second shutter speed

    • The slower the shutter speed, the more light is allowed into the camera.

    • However, the slower the shutter speed, the higher the chance that the image will be blurry.

    • All of these photos were taken with a tripod and remote-fire software, so blurriness was minimized during slower exposures.

  3. Every camera lens has a multi-bladed diaphragm called the aperture. The aperture opens to different diameters to permit more or less light into the camera. A measure of that diameter is called the "f-stop." Here is a quick rundown on what the f-stop setting on your camera will do to your photos. Image 1: f-stop of 3.2. Notice how the Canon camera in the background is out of focus. Image 2: f-stop of 8. The Canon camera is now more in focus, as are parts of the ruler.
    • Every camera lens has a multi-bladed diaphragm called the aperture. The aperture opens to different diameters to permit more or less light into the camera. A measure of that diameter is called the "f-stop." Here is a quick rundown on what the f-stop setting on your camera will do to your photos.

    • Image 1: f-stop of 3.2. Notice how the Canon camera in the background is out of focus.

    • Image 2: f-stop of 8. The Canon camera is now more in focus, as are parts of the ruler.

    • Image 3: f-stop of 16. The Canon camera is now mostly in focus.

    • So why not shoot at f/16 all the time?

    • Two costs: image quality (higher f-stop settings result in less-sharp images overall) and shutter speed. Higher f-stop settings require a longer exposure to capture the same amount of light, increasing the chances for a blurry photo.

  4. ISO is a measure of a camera's sensitivity to light, and should be kept at the lowest possible value. High ISO values lead to very grainy pictures, but they allow you to increase shutter speed. Image 1: ISO 100 setting
    • ISO is a measure of a camera's sensitivity to light, and should be kept at the lowest possible value. High ISO values lead to very grainy pictures, but they allow you to increase shutter speed.

    • Image 1: ISO 100 setting

    • Image 2: ISO 6400 setting

  5. White balance affects the color of the image. Leaving it on "Automatic" generally works well, but sometimes you need to change it if the camera is unable to discern the appropriate balance. Image 1: Automatic white balance setting Image 2: Incandescent white balance setting
    • White balance affects the color of the image. Leaving it on "Automatic" generally works well, but sometimes you need to change it if the camera is unable to discern the appropriate balance.

    • Image 1: Automatic white balance setting

    • Image 2: Incandescent white balance setting

    • Image 3: Fluorescent white balance setting

  6. Most "pro" cameras have an Aperture Priority shooting mode, denoted by an A or Av on the mode dial. It is quite easy to take photos in this mode, since all you have to worry about is the ISO and f-stop settings; the camera will figure out exposure for you.
    • Most "pro" cameras have an Aperture Priority shooting mode, denoted by an A or Av on the mode dial. It is quite easy to take photos in this mode, since all you have to worry about is the ISO and f-stop settings; the camera will figure out exposure for you.

    • How it works: the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed to keep the exposure constant, while the f-stop and ISO settings can be modified based on the amount of light available in the environment.

    • One small caveat: if the ISO and f-stop settings are not adjusted properly, the shutter speed may fall below 1/40 of a second. This may inhibit taking crisp, hand-held shots with the camera.

  7. Exposure compensation is an easy way to adjust the camera's shutter speed while using Aperture Priority mode to achieve a brighter or darker image. For a given aperture, a negative EV sets a shorter shutter speed and makes the picture darker. A positive EV keeps the shutter open a little longer, allowing in more light and making the picture brighter.
    • Exposure compensation is an easy way to adjust the camera's shutter speed while using Aperture Priority mode to achieve a brighter or darker image.

    • For a given aperture, a negative EV sets a shorter shutter speed and makes the picture darker. A positive EV keeps the shutter open a little longer, allowing in more light and making the picture brighter.

    • In the example images, the EV setting was changed from 0 to +1, which will make all subsequent shots a bit brighter than before. This comes at the expense of a slower shutter speed.

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Dozuki System

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