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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> dark pictures when using fast shutter speeds
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04/16/2004 08:17:45 AM · #1
I'm going to be taking the camera with me on my next few bike rides in hopes of getting a few good action shots, and I'm looking for some tips to help get my pics to turn out better.

I know the #1 issue in getting decent action shots is shutter speed. For general trail riding (not sure fast downhill type stuff), what's a good shutter speed to use?

I know faster shutter speeds reduce the amount of light entering the shutter - that's why my pics usually turn out dark. How can I overcome this? Depth of field? ISO?

I generally keep my depth of field rather large to keep everythign in the pic nice and sharp, and my ISO as low as possibe for better images, but these also reduce the amount of light entering the shutter, right? What's the compromise?

I'm going to try a fast shutter speed, average depth of field, and low ISO setting and see where that gets me. I don't usually have a hard time getting sharp images, but I have a hard time getting sharp, bright images.

FWIW... my camera is a Sony DSC-S85 - no fully manual mode, but I do have control over shutter speed, aperature, ISO, and a few other things (but I don't think those other things are relevant to this conversation).
04/16/2004 08:30:39 AM · #2
Adjusting the shutter speed within a certain range should not change the exposure due to an equal (in f stops) change in the aperture setting, this is know as reciprocity. Reciprocity failure occurs when you push at the extreme edges of the allowed settings and cause, along with other things, a change in the exposure along with grain in film or noise in digital.

If you find your exposures are consistently too dark or light then compensate with opening or closing a half stop.
04/16/2004 09:11:59 AM · #3
Reciprocity failure is the fact that the direct linear relationship between exposure used and light recorded on film fails. Normally if you double the shutterspeed then the amount of light reaching the film doubles as well and you get an exposure which is twice as bright. With longer shutterspeeds (seconds) this relationship is no longer linear and you need to compensate for that. So for example not go from 5 to 10 seconds but to 12 seconds.

To go back to the original question :

1) the right shutterspeed depends on what you want to achieve and from which angle you photograph the moving object. For sharp pictures taken from the bike I would suggest around 1/250 s, but you will have to experiment.

2) If you have chosen a shutterspeed, you can increase the light coming in by chosing higher ISO values (which also increases noise) or by chosing bigger apertures (smaller numbers, so F2 is bigger then F4).

A bigger aperture has the side effect that it reduces depth of field. DOF in itself does not have anything to do with exposure.

So you want sharp, bright pictures with lots of depth of field and low noise ? Well, you will probably have to compromise, unless on a nice sunny day.

I suggest you determine your shutterspeed first, at ISO 100, then see which aperture you can use to get sufficient bright pictures and move from there. Want more DOF ? then choose smaller aperture, but increase ISO to compensate, etc.
04/16/2004 09:21:49 AM · #4
If you are pushing the shutter speed very high you are forced to open up the apperture and setting the ISO high.
The open apperture dont have to be bad since then the background and other things that is not part of the main subject gets out of focus which can give a good effect. But of cours it´s then harder to get the main subject into sharp focus.
Freezing action with fast shutter is of cours a fundamental thing in sport imaging but remember that by slowing the shutter speed you can also have some motion blurr effect which can give cool sport images.
04/16/2004 09:41:53 AM · #5
I suggest that you open up your aperature slightly as the depth of field on most digital cameras is roughly 4 to 5 times greater than that of 35mm.
04/16/2004 01:14:55 PM · #6
I think the S85 has a 'sports' mode. Give that a try. If it does, your results will probably be good.

04/16/2004 04:13:03 PM · #7
Originally posted by jacksonpt:

...my camera is a Sony DSC-S85 - no fully manual mode...

Originally posted by jmsetzler:

I think the S85 has a 'sports' mode...


The S85 does have a full manual mode, but no 'sports' mode. The 'S' mode (Shutter Priority) is the closest thing to a 'sports' mode on this camera.

-Something I've been known to do when approaching unpredictable scenes and moving subjects is shoot everything above 1/1000 in Shutter Priority.
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