Flash Bang Wallop
November 17, 2012 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Bookmarked! Thanks for this. As a guy who loves photography, but frequently is not able turn what's in his head into a great picture - this is fantastic. And my friends thank you too - they have endured more "hold it - let me take another" than anyone should.
posted by helmutdog at 8:53 AM on November 17, 2012

Great link, thanks!

Try not to go higher than 1,600, or you will introduce too much "noise" or grain to your images.

My two cents: noise is the least of your worries on DSLR-type cameras made after 2008 or so. Lightroom and other programs do an awesome job of removing noise, especially if you're only displaying your photos on a screen. The real downside of high ISOs is the limited dynamic range. It's very easy to blow highlights or crush blacks if you're shooting at ISO 6400 or above.

That said, while of course you should keep your ISO reasonably low, it's better to get the shot you want than to be stuck with a motion-blurred mess. I'd rather have some noise or some blown highlights than deal with motion blur. I used to shoot on a Canon Rebel XSi, and it was just fine at ISO 1600. I later upgraded to a Pentax K-5, and that one's just fine at ISO 6400, as long as you nail the exposure. Relative to the days of 35mm film being the standard, that's pretty incredible.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:17 AM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'll just add here that their guide to picking cameras doesn't emphasize "The best camera is the one you have with you". As a former photographer/photo-assistant who's owned a number of cameras, I'd say there's very little reason to go with an SLR right now. If you need one, you probably already know it. My Sony RX100 is the best camera I've ever owned simply because it shoots great images, and fits in a jacket pocket, and lets you bounce the integrated flash.

If you want to get more serious there are also a ton of mirrorless cameras that give you most of the advantages of an SLR for less cost, and fewer sensor cleaning headaches.

One other note, I really got comfortable shooting when I was in school, taking an SLR everywhere with me, shooting everything possible, every-way posible. I shoot less frequently now, but when I do, I shoot far more deliberately. Practice with the thing until you can think freely about your subject without having to switch gears to remember how your camera works.
posted by sp160n at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Damn you sp160n! It is now today's task to buy myself the RX100. I want......
posted by helmutdog at 10:29 AM on November 17, 2012

I just took a beginner photography class and the instructor recommended checking out the CameraSim site. It lets you play around with the settings and simulates the result. This page shows you step by step what is happening inside the camera. (Note: there's no reason to buy the app since it does exactly the same thing as the website and no more, much to my disappointment.)
posted by desjardins at 12:06 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

The RX100 seems like the pocket camera I've been waiting for. I used to have a GF1, and as nice as it was, even just with the 20mm 1.7, it was still too bulky to carry on my person. It was smaller than a DSLR, but not small enough to fit into anything other than the biggest winter coat pocket.

As for other photography guides, the Reddit Photography Class is a great place to start.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:12 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

When considering high quality portables, also take a look at the Sony NEX line. Advantages include a full DX-sized sensor and interchangeable lenses. Only with a pancake lens will you get the dimensions down to truly pocket-sized, but given the high resolution, you can crop down quite a bit without losing quality. Prices range from $500 on up, depending on the model.

I have I Nikon DSLR, but I find myself grabbing the NEX-5N more often than not because of its blend of compactness and image quality. The NEX-7K/B has an electronic viewfinder which makes it even more of a DSLR-killer, but it was too pricey for me as a second camera.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:26 PM on November 17, 2012

CheeseDigestsAll: Yep, the NEX line is great, and well priced as well. I do miss getting shallow depth of field images on my RX100, (though I can some reasonable approximations). The current crop of mirrorless cameras really is amazing.

One thing that took me a while to come to terms with is that I'd much rather look at an LCD screen than a viewfinder. I used to own a Fuji X100, which in many ways is all about it's gorgeous rangefinder style viewinder.... which I wound up almost never using.It took a while for me to overcome the snobbery there. It's kind of funny, a live LCD really is more similar to the kind of viewfinder you'd find on a Rolleiflex, just crammed in a smaller form-factor.
posted by sp160n at 2:01 PM on November 17, 2012

That said, while of course you should keep your ISO reasonably low, it's better to get the shot you want than to be stuck with a motion-blurred mess.
SO true. Up until 1/50 s, ISO is a concern. Slower than that (1/30...), screw ISO in favor of shutter speed.

This is only true if your target is still. Trying to stop a party in progress, or a dog moving, or a flower in the wind... well, 1/50 is just a best-case handheld limit.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:04 PM on November 17, 2012

What an excellent overview to the art of photography! You have provided me with an excellent entry point - needing only a ten-minute lecture overview - about photography and its influences - for my high school aesthetics class. The intro might include the century-old debate about whether or not photography is an art form. It sounds silly, but the debate leaked over into my lifetime, in the mid-20th century. The link between photography and art leads back into late 19th century painting, of course. Why paint when you can take pictures...and etc.

Anyway, thanks.
posted by kozad at 8:36 PM on November 17, 2012

One thing that took me a while to come to terms with is that I'd much rather look at an LCD screen than a viewfinder.

I've not yet adapted to that. To me, it feels like holding the camera farther away is distancing me from composition. Also, LCDs still suck in bright sunlight.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:31 PM on November 17, 2012

I'd much rather have an eye-level viewfinder than just the LCD viewfinder. I'm also still grumpily dissatisfied with today's electronic viewfinders...one day they'll be comparable to optical viewfinders, but not yet. It's a shame, because the concept behind using an EVF is thoroughly terrific, and certain cameras such as the OM-D would be perfect otherwise.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:17 AM on November 18, 2012

I dunno, I prefer EVFs because they show the dynamic range as it will be captured by the sensor. YMMV
posted by sp160n at 4:04 PM on November 18, 2012

I like the LCD screens because I find they are less immersive and I can keep an eye on what's happening around me easier. Shame they suck in bright light so bad.
posted by Mitheral at 6:40 PM on November 18, 2012

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