Tag Archives: nikon

Image Stabilisation do I need it?

What is it?

Image Stabilisation is probably one of the least understood photographic advances there is. The image stabilisation systems across camera models differ in how they work (some move parts in the lens, others move parts in the camera body), but their common aim is to move parts of the camera in the same way you do when holding your camera (unsteadily) so that you get less blurry photos. This feature is also known as, Vibration Reduction (VR), Optical Stabilsation (OS), Vibration Correction (VC) , Optical Steady Shot (OSS) and many more.

How do I use it on my camera?

Usually there is a switch on the lens to turn it on. Some camera-based systems may have a menu to turn it on.  

What does it do to my pictures?

By moving the parts in your equipment as you move, image stabilisation allows you to take a picture at a speed slower than you might otherwise be able to.

The general rule for being able to hand hold a camera and get  sharp picture, is using a shutter speed of 1/ length of lens. So for example, using a 100mm lens would mean you would need to shoot at 1/100th of a second to stop the whole image from blurring. Assuming that the entire picture is stationary then all the picture should be sharp. As it is a general rule, some people with shaky hands may not be able to get these results, and some people with very steady hands may be able to shoot slower than that and still get sharp pictures.

So if a lens which has image stabilisation suggests that it will be able to gain 2 stops, what that actually means is that with your 100mm lens, instead of being able to hold 1/100th (as the above rule), with image stabilisation active you would be able to hold 1/25th of a second.

This is all well and good if your subject is stationary, but if you are photographing a person, or people, this would be too slow unless you asked them to stay VERY still.

Examples

image stabilisationYou can see in this picture that everything is blurry. This is a result of using too slow a shutter speed and the camera moving while you take the picture. This is where an image stabilised lens could have helped keep the camera still enough to avoid the shake that is in this picture.

image stabilisationIn this image, even with a fast enough shutter speed to hold the camera still, the subject was moving and has been blurred. In this case an image stabilised lens would not have helped at all.

image stabilisationPanning involves moving the lens with your subject while taking the picture, as you can see in the picture above, the rider was moving right to left, and I was moving the lens at the same speed as him right to left. Because of this movement and the slow shutter speed (1/60th) the background has blurred.  An example of this style of IS is on the Canon 70-200 F4LIS. This lens stops the jarring in the direction of the panning and will help with slower shutter speed panning. This lens claims to have a 4 stop assistance.

image stabilisationThe above shot was taken on the Canon 100mm F2.8LIS Macro which has a hybrid image stabilisation. This works in both movements that are left / right and up / down, but also movements that are forward / backward. In the case of macro photography, when photographing very small things very close to them, the depth of field is very shallow, the smallest movement forward / backward can make the subject of your photo out of focus. As you can see in the following example.

image stabilisationYou can see that the frogs eye is not sharp in this photo, its slightly closer than the frogs eye. This would have been due to me moving slightly back as I was taking the picture. This was taken at F6.7  the depth of field at this distance and aperture is about 5mm.

Our Tip

If you are in the market for a new lens and you have the choice to buy with or without Image Stabilisation, make sure if you are buying it that you are buying it for the right reasons. If you have shaky hands and are having trouble with images where the whole image is blurry, then image stabilisation is most likely going to be best for you.  




Aperture

What is it?

Aperture is a way of controlling how much light comes into your camera. It’s based on the size of the hole in your lens. By changing lenses you can improve the maximum aperture.Aperture Priority

How do I use it on my camera?

Depending on the camera make and model you have, by using the A or Av (Aperture Priority) mode on your camera dial or menu, you can select the F number that you want the photo to be taken at, the camera will set the shutter speed to maintain the correct exposure. You would use the main scroll or menu to change the F number.

Aperture Priority

What does it do to my pictures?

Simply, the smaller the F number you use the less will be in focus in  your pictures. This will make the object in focus stand out more.  However, there are times that you want lots of the picture in focus, like a landscape or a group of people. To get all of the picture in focus use a larger number.

Aperture PrioritySmall F number: the flower is only thing in focus

Aperture PriorityLarge F number: the flower in the foreground and the flowers in the background are not separated. The flowers in the background are distracting.

Examples

Aperture PriorityF number 11: gives a lot of depth in this picture

Aperture PrioritySmall F number: the water closest is in focus.

Aperture PrioritySmall F number: the back ground is separated from the subject

Aperture PriorityLarger F number: more in focus, the foreground and background are both parts of the picture

Aperture PriorityUsing a larger F number: the subject and his surroundings are both part of the picture

Aperture PriorityF number 22: all of the above image is in focus

Try This

Get your camera, set it to Aperture Priority mode, start at the smallest number you can and then take a series of pictures of the same thing changing the  F number. Note how your pictures are changing. What else is changing when taking these pictures?

Have a read about Shutter Speed and ISO.

Shutter Speed

What is it?

Your camera has a door that opens to let in light; by controlling how long the door is open it can control how much light comes into your camera, and therefore how light or dark or your photo is.

Shutter Speed is how long the door is open.
How do I use it on my camera?

Shutter Speed Pics 1

Depending on the make and model of camera you have, by using the S or Tv mode on your camera dial or menu, you can select the Shutter Speed that you want the photo to be taken at. The camera will then set the Aperture to maintain the correct exposure. You can use the main scroll or menu to change the Shutter Speed. Your camera is likely to have a range of 30” to 4000 or (1/4000th), this is 30 seconds to 1/4000th of a second. It may also have “Bulb” or faster than 1/4000th. I will leave “Bulb” and Long Exposures to another Blog post.

What does it do to my pictures?

The longer the shutter is open, the more that the objects that are moving  in your pictures will blur. So to freeze your subject in time you will need to use a quick shutter speed. To blur your subject you will need to use a longer shutter speed. Tip: if you are trying to capture your kids on a swing, you will need to use a faster shutter speed than 1/250th.

Shutter Speed Pics 2Fast Shutter: has frozen the seagull in flight.

Shutter Speed Pics 3Slow Shutter: the waves in this picture have a ghostly appearance.

Examples

Shutter Speed Pics 4Fast Shutter: has frozen the subjects mid jump.

Shutter Speed Pics 5Fast Shutter: the movement of the water is frozen.

Shutter Speed Pics 6Slow Shutter: the water on the waterfall has blurred.

Shutter Speed Pics 7Slow Shutter: the cars are so blurred they are not visible. All you can see is their headlights / tail lights.

Try This

Set your camera to Shutter Priority mode. Using a garden hose or sprinkler, take a picture at 1/1000th and see what happens to the water.

Next, take a series of pictures of the same object, changing the shutter speed after each photo. Note how your pictures are changing. What else is changing when taking these pictures? Feel free to leave your comments on this post.

Have a read about ISO and Aperture.

The making of “30 Minutes of Lightning over Bulimba”

I recently posted a picture which was taken of a large storm with lots of lightning over Bulimba. It was on the 29th of Dec last year. Usually I would post a picture like the one below of ONE big strike captured in one shot.

ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba

To capture this sort of picture, I have set-up my camera on a tripod, I have set the camera to manual focus, and pre-focused on the tree in the distance, then set the camera to a manual setting that suited the night, on this occasion it was aperture F9.5 ISO 400 and shutter speed of 30 seconds (this is a long exposure). Then I wait for the lightning to do its job.

But while the storm was passing over, I noticed that the lightning was quite regular. The storm was so large that there  would be lots of strikes. So I had an idea, if I took lots of images of the strikes and then put them all into one shot, what would it look like?

This style of processing is called “stacking”, to do this I have used some free software called Startrails, its usually used to stack images of stars tracing across the sky into a star trail, like the picture below. You can download their software here.

110514 Startrails1

So I reset the camera with this in mind, all I wanted was the shots with lightning in them, so I set the camera to F9.5 ISO 400 and 4 seconds. Using a remote shutter trigger, I locked the camera on so it took continuous shots of the storm as it passed over.

The result was about 450 shots taken over 30 minutes. Of those there were 75 images with lightning bolts in them, here are a few of the images.

ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba

Please note that the buildings in the foreground and the clouds are not lit up by these four pictures above, but a couple of the closer stronger bolts of lightning actually lit up the houses and clouds like this one.

ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba

Those 75 were then processed by Startrails and the result is below.

ligthning over bulimba
ligthning over bulimba

The difference in the lightning bolts colour and size were the first things that amazed me. Not to mention the amount of bolts that hit very similar spots!

If you note the camera settings above, this could have been taken on a 100D Canon or a D3200 Nikon with a standard kit lens.

The extras that you would need are a remote shutter cable release depending on your camera brand and model they range from $20 to $100, and a tripod.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

Michael

ISO

What is it?

It is an international standard for measuring the sensitivity of light of film. But we now mostly don’t use film. So how does it relate to your digital camera? Why do you need to know about it?

Digital cameras may not use film, but the sensor recording the image uses the same sensitivity scale outlined by the ISO standard.

In film days, ISO 100 film was used outdoors where there was lot of light. 400 film was used in the shade and 800 was used indoors with flash.

Most modern digital cameras, have a range of ISO from 100 to 1600 as a minimum, with some cameras boasting much higher.

How do I use it on my camera?

Depending on the make and model of your camera, you may have a dedicated button for changing it, or you may have to change it through the menu system. Most of the latest cameras will have an intelligent Auto ISO that allows you to set a minimum and maximum value.

What does it do to my pictures?

The short answer to this question is, not a lot! By increasing the it when taking your picture it will allow you to take a picture in a darker environment. So as a general rule always use ISO 100. If you cannot take the picture at 100, then change it. As the light around you gets darker, you will need to increase your ISO to match.

 Technology has made ISO nowadays just a number, gone are the days that 1600 was “noisy” and you lost detail in your pictures when using it. The new Canon 700D allows you to use ISO 6400! That film speed even 5 years ago was considered unusable.

Examples

ISO Pics 1.jpgThe picture above was taken in 2007 on a then new Canon 30D, the picture settings were Aperture F5.6 Shutter Speed 1.6 seconds and ISO 1250, the image to the left has been processed to look like it was taken on a 1000D at the same ISO, with newer technology that has better ISO, there is less noise.

ISO Pics 2.jpgThis picture was taken at 3200 at about 9.30 at night, the high number allowed me to take this picture where the only light available was moonlight. The Aperture was F2.8 and the shutter speed was 1/60th.

ISO Pics 3.jpgThis shot is a crop of the original shot to show the noise that was around with older cameras, this was taken on a Canon 300D, the settings were Aperture F3.5 Shutter speed 1/160th and ISO 1600, you can see the grain mostly in the darker areas of the image.

ISO Pics 4.jpgI have reprocessed this image and reduced the noise but there is still a little evident. Newer cameras will do this for you in camera without the need for reprocessing.

ISO Pics 5.jpgThis image was taken in such a dark setting that the camera needed a torch to focus! The settings were Shutter speed 1/10th Aperture F4 and ISO 1600, the settings were used to bring out the background that was extremely dark, the couple were lit by two flashes.

Try This

Set your camera to Manual mode. Set your camera to Aperture F16 and Shutter speed 1/100 and ISO 100, take a picture, then change the ISO to 200 and take the same picture, then repeat for 400, 800 and 1600, what is happening to your pictures? What else is changing?

Have a read about Shutter Speed and Aperture.