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1st Post/Beginner Questions

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by doobadee, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. doobadee

    doobadee New to TalkEmount

    5
    Aug 9, 2012
    Hi everyone! First post here. Let me start by saying I don't know anything about photography however it is something I enough. I've taken some pictures that I really like so it's a testament to the quality of the Sony Nex 5K camera I use. It came with the 18-55 lens and I have purchased the 55-210 as well. I had so many questions! I started out using the automatic setting but that wasn't working very well for me. I've found that the sports action preset works pretty good for me because I don't know enough about the manual settings to use them. I was hoping someone could give me tips that would improve my skills. It's probably worth mentioning that I, think so anyway, have a good "feel" for what pictures to take. My technical skills are lacking sometimes. Here are some questions:

    1-One thing i don't understand is I've seen some great shots of the moon on here. How can you get such great detail from the moon but I can't get shots like that of wildlife across my yard which is such a shorter distance?
    2-Does anyone have any suggestions for fireworks shots? I'm going to baseball game in a few weeks that will have fireworks. Would love some great shots of them.
    3-The last game I was at I didn't have the 55-210 lens and I used the 18-55 for excellent photos of the park. Am I being unrealistic of better shots/zoom with the 55-210 (I'll be the outfield)??? How close should I expect the zoom to be able to perform?
    4-Are there any specific tips I should practice before heading to the game for capturing either scenario?
    5-I don't use the lens hood to shoot with. Is this part of my problem getting great crisp shots every time?

    That's probably enough questions to start with. Thanks everybody!
     
  2. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Welcome to both the NEX and the forum. I'll try to answer your questions, but no guarantees ;)

    1) Could be they are using a tripod and you are not. The light may not be sufficient for you to hand hold the 55-210 in your back yard. The moon is deceptively bright, so fast shutter speeds are the norm.

    2) Fireworks- manual control, f/8, exposures anywhere from .5 to several seconds. Depends on how good your timing is and how many bursts are going at once. I'd start with 2 seconds and adjust from there. Turn off long exposure noise reduction. Not having a tripod could make this difficult.

    3) You can get decent shots of the outfielders, but forget shooting any infield action from the outfield with any detail.

    4) You can always practice at a little league game. Fireworks you just have to kinda do it and see what does and doesn't work for the next time.

    5). The lens hood will give your shots more contrast and may well block lens flare from the stadium lights. I'd use it if I were you.

    6) Good luck and have fun. Post pics up when you have them. ;)
     
  3. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    ^ What he said! :)

    Welcome to the forum doobadee!

    Feel free to share (post) your photos including the ones you're having trouble with. It's a real friendly environment here so I'm sure the comments will be helpful and constructive...
     
  4. doobadee

    doobadee New to TalkEmount

    5
    Aug 9, 2012
    Thanks for the comments! I'll definitely try out your suggested settings before the game and see how it works. A tripod would work best for me for sure. A steady hand is not something I was blessed with. Here are a few other thoughts I forgot to ask about yesterday.
    1-I bought a circular polarizer but honestly I can't tell what it does when it's attached. Am I missing something?
    2-Are those off brand accessories, on Ebay etc.., ok to use? Specifically the cheaper batteries.
    3-Are there any recommended settings that should be changed from the default? I changed the setting, sorry I forget the name, that gives a yellow glow to things that are in focus.

    I'm going to try and post one of my pictures. Hope this works. I liked this picture.

    DSC00596.
     
  5. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    1) A polarizer is useful for darkening the sky & that's probably the most frequent use. However, a CP is also useful for cutting down glare reflected from windows and water.

    2) I've never heard anything good about after market batteries for the NEX. Doesn't mean they aren't useable, I've just never heard of anyone having much good luck with them.

    3) Figure out which settings in the menu that you will use frequently and then remap them to the soft buttons. It will save you pulling out your hair. What shooting settings you change will depend on how often you use manual focus, whether you shoot jpeg or RAW, if you're right or left handed, etc. Ok I was pulling your leg on that last one. ;)

    4) Looks like you shot that wide open and the camera focused on the fence. Here's a time where using a smaller aperture and/or manual focus would have made a difference.

    Whatever you do, don't get discouraged. I've been doing this off-n-on for 35 years and I learn somehting nearly every time I go out to shoot. Mostly because I'm so old I forget stuff all the time. :)
     
  6. doobadee

    doobadee New to TalkEmount

    5
    Aug 9, 2012
    Thanks again for your help!!! Yes! That's exactly what I can't figure out how to avoid. The picture I posted is a perfect example. How can I get the focus on the objects in the background and not the foreground? I have a lot of trouble with that. Whether it be cage bars, screens, windows etc...the camera wants to focus on the object closest. It's like when it hits the first object it doesn't look any farther. Hope that makes sense. Any tips here would be extremely appreciated! :)

     
  7. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Here's an example of what Bimjo said... with regards to removing glare and unwanted reflections from glass windows.

    Polarizer.

    You can vary the amount of glare reduction by rotating the filter. The filter works even when not attached to the camera. Put it over one eye and twirl it around and see what happens. It won't do anything if what you're looking at doesn't have any glare.

    An absolute must have if you want to cut through water surface glare to photograph fish in ponds or rivers.


    [HR][/HR]


    The yellow glow is called 'focus peaking' - that colour can be changed to white or orange btw, but yellow seems to be the best colour to use most of the time.

    Download these if you haven't already. You'll find some good stuff in there:
    http://www.docs.sony.com/release/NEX_series_Handbook.pdf
    http://www.docs.sony.com/release/NEX_series.pdf
     
  8. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Page 54 and 55 of the handbook might help.
    You can over-ride the auto-focus and manually focus tricky subjects, or
    Change your auto-focus area to - "Center" or "Flexible Spot."
     
  9. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Thanks Dioptrick, I've been scrambling around old hard drives looking for CP shots without success!

    Doobadee, in addition to Dioptrick's advice you might try using the touch screen to pick a focus point. The focus point is smaller that way and it can help quite a bit (assumes a 5N though).
     
  10. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Sometimes there is no time to fiddle around and change your auto-focus settings. One thing you can do is to get your lens to auto-focus on another object with a similar (or approximate) distance as your intended (but obscured) subject. You do this by pressing the shutter button halfway down until your lens acquires a focus lock on a surrogate object. Continue to hold the shutter button halfway down and bring your aim back to your intended composition, then press the shutter fully to take the shot.

    In the example you posted, your lens auto-focused on the wire mesh in front of the chimp which ended up out of focus. You could point your camera a little more to the right and allow your lens to auto-focus on a farther portion of wire mesh, then bring the composition back to where it is now, then take the shot.

    Just be mindful that a focus lock is also an exposure lock, so make sure the surrogate object isn't too far off in brightness.
     
  11. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    777
    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    Another option is to set the camera in DMF mode. AF is auto-focus, where you get what the camera focuses on. MF is pure manual. DMF does auto-focus first, but if you are unhappy with it, you can override the focus while the shutter is still half-pressed.

    I try to only use MF or DMF, never AF.
     
  12. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Good suggestion DB! DMF is really fantastic for critical scenes because the view goes on magnification factor automatically as soon as the focus barrel is rotated... :) but focus peaking is on all the time... :(

    My real irk with it however, is that it takes about 3 seconds (feels like eternity) for the close-up view to go back to full view to recompose, with the shutter still half-pressed. If that return time was shorter, and if focus peaking only appears when mag-factor is on (switched-off at full view)... I'd probably use it as my default setting too.

    As it stands, I still prefer my set-up on AF mode when I'm shooting general scenes with native lenses.

    It would be a fantastic shooting mode if there is a way to customize the DMF setting... (sigh)
     
  13. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    777
    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    There is a (limited) way to change it - Menu - Setup - MF Assist Time. Choices are 2 seconds; 5 seconds; No Limit

    I used Unlimited with legacy lenses (MF), and usually 2 seconds with AF lenses (MF or DMF). You can't use No Limit with DMF since you might need to reframe - And if you let up on the shutter to dismiss MF assist, the next press will re-focus.

    But yeah, sometimes those two seconds can last an eternity. Five seconds is, well, two and a half eternities. :)
     
  14. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    :D:D:eek:
     
  15. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    : O
     
  16. doobadee

    doobadee New to TalkEmount

    5
    Aug 9, 2012
    Thanks for all the great tips everyone! I've been playing around with various settings to see what works best for me. Naturally it will vary from situation to situation but the sports action preset with DMF works pretty well for me as a general setting. Again, thanks for wonderful suggestions. Any others would be greatly appreciated.
     
  17. doobadee

    doobadee New to TalkEmount

    5
    Aug 9, 2012
    I was looking through some other pictures and had a question about this one. The earlier one I posted the focus of the camera seemed to focus on the bars of the cage (foreground) and the animal was secondary. On this one, the animal appears to be the focus with the bars secondary (blurred). Did I do a better job with this one or are there better techniques to use in this situation?
    DSC00576.
     
  18. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    The AF system in the NEX uses contrast detection to focus. In the chimp shot there isn't much space between the fence and the chimp. Given the rather large size of the center focus spot it's quite possible that the camera only found contrast between the light fence and the dark chimp and focused on the higher contrast highlight of the edge of the fence wire.

    In this shot there is much less contrast between the fence and the tiger vs. the contrast of the tiger itself, there is more seperation between the fence and tiger, and you appear to be closer to the fence. All these things contibute to the tiger being in focus and the chimp not being in focus, as well as subject size in the frame vs. other items.

    DMF has already been discussed as a better technique to use in situations like this.
     
  19. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    One other thing you could try with caged subjects is to place the front of the lens as close as possible to the wire mesh. With careful lens placement, the mesh should disappear from the composition altogether, or form a barely noticeable vignette. You could try it out by setting your lens on telephoto at wide open aperture and pre-focus it on a distant object. Then place various thin objects right in front of the lens and observe what you can and what you can't get away with. I think thinner meshes like chicken wire becomes a non-issue, but thicker meshes might show up a bit.