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On 7/24/2020 at 7:54 PM, PCC Guy said:

I'm not really sure what the best place to ask this is, so I'll try here.

What is the best way to figure out ISO?

So far, in my travels with my SL3, I have found out two valuable pieces of information: f/8 is the sharpness sweet spot on both of my lenses, and I am too clumsy to shoot anything slower than 1/500, so I try to keep my shutter fast, too - for buses, anyway... there is some room for negotiation with other types of photography, in terms of both settings.

This of course means that my bus photos, without a good ISO boost, would be quite dark, but I'm not really sure what the best way to figure out what ISO I need is (auto ISO tends to not be sufficient). Though I am partial to shooting through the viewfinder, one of the limitations is that there is no preview in there as to whether the photo will be correctly exposed or not, and that has bitten me in the ass on more than one occasion. I shoot RAW, so fortunately I've yet to lose an actual photo, but I find that relying on RAW to make up for my lack of skill is a crutch, and it's becoming a bit of an embarrassment. If I'm in one spot and I'm going to be there for a while, obviously I can change to live view, set up a good shot, and then be confident that most of my photos will be fine, but for locations where I might be pointing the camera at various locations, such as at an intersection, it typically happens that auto ISO is insufficient: one location is fine and the other is overexposed, and there's no quick way to correct this without missing the shot. On a few occasions, the auto ISO bumped me up as far as 1250 on a bright, sunny day!!

Does anyone have any advice?

I'm usually around 1//500 at f.8 when I'm shooting 100 or 125 ISO film.

1/500th at f.8 is a very reasonable middle of the road combination of shutter speed and aperture opening, definitely not pushing any boundaries either way, so you shouldn't need an extreme ISO setting to get there.  Heck, the rule of thumb for press photographers was "f.8 and be there!"  Anyhow, I'm strongly leaning towards M. Parson's first point about the camera's metering pattern.  Keeping 1/500 at f.8 under decent daylight without an extreme ISO setting really makes me question how the camera's metering is interpreting the scene.  If it's got multiple metering modes, have you made sure it's not set to spot meter?  If you have a predominantly white bus or predominantly dark grey asphalt road centre of frame when you set up your shot and your camera spot meters that and calculates exposure, it'll throw it off for sure.  Centreweighted averaging is the way to go if possible.

It might be worth borrowing a second camera and duplicating the setup or buying/borrowing a calibrated grey card and compare your camera against a known source of second opinion to see if what it's doing is reasonable.

On 7/25/2020 at 9:55 AM, M. Parsons said:

A few considerations. 

Metering mode. I keep mine usually on spot or center weighted metering. A lot of what I shoot are blue buses or black locomotives. I find evaluative metering will cause an under exposure of the vehicle I'm after, so, I prefer to meter off of what I'm shooting as opposed to the whole scene.

Definitely.  The way buses have a lot of white in the paint schemes now and black locomotives can cause skewed meter readings used to bite me all the time when I was starting out.  Centerweighted averaging would tame most scenes unless it filled too much of the frame.  The trick I used when that was going to be a problem was to go to the left or right and meter the surroundings, minus the subject, to get a good average value and use that instead of getting caught by mismetering something that was skewing a good chunk of the frame I was going to take a picture of.

On 7/25/2020 at 9:55 AM, M. Parsons said:

A lot of the time when it comes to choosing ISO/ F stop combinations it comes down to intuition and experience. I also don't stick with F8.0. My 16-50mm F2.8 lens is quite decent at F2.8 and my new 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 is quite good as low as F4.5, so I'll usually open the aperture and then increase ISO. Off the top of my head, I'd say I probably do 400 on sunny days, 500-640 on a cloudy bright day, 640-1000 on a cloudy day for moving vehicles. Stationary vehicles will always get 400 and F8.0. 

I try not go below 400 ISO. I don't want to run into a "oh shit" situation when I realize my ISO is completely wrong for the scene. At least at 400ISO on a cloudy day I can salvage a shot by quickly hitting the thumbwheel and opening the aperture all the way. 

Youch!  To this film shooting guy those are really hot ISO settings!  100 is about the fastest I used to like to go.  Kodachrome 25, 64, various E6 at 100, colour negative film is what I used the most of with some of Fuji's now discontinued 400 speed slide film.  I still have some unused rolls in the fridge if the need arises.  125 and 400 speed black and white film is always neat.  For some reason, I don't object to film grain in black and white pictures but it always drove me up the wall in colour; it's kind of interesting that my reluctant top value for ISO is your bottom boundary!  It's also interesting how with digital, the mindset is different since all values can be changed for each frame.  That isn't possible with film where you're committed to an ISO for a whole roll and you have to live with shutter speed and aperture being the two parameters you can work with unless you're in a shooting medium format and can switch film backs loaded with different speed film (the Bronica that was in my minivan when it was stolen) or sheet film.

I find digital photography's closer to shooting video than film.  I'd really prefer having a waveform monitor display, or better yet waveform monitor plus vectorscope, available because you can then see exactly how your scene's exposure is falling into the dynamic range that's possible to capture which is important considering how brutally unforgiving digital clipping is.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m at the storage unit and I found some stuff that should definitely not be there.

3E5E184B-D964-422B-B11F-B7D5D6F96007.thumb.jpeg.3b51c27f70f8e28cf9854c90a6aed522.jpeg

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I thought all my film was at home but apparently not as I discovered when I rummaged around one of the boxes.

So what was I doing 15-20 years ago with Canon FD manual focus gear and Kodachrome?

BEB8D6BC-F110-4A0F-A590-FCD8BC0EE55B.thumb.jpeg.029f1ccda63beb2111cf42b434c7127d.jpeg

B471F102-CC0A-450B-AB97-12F3BEC3EA01.thumb.jpeg.dc7b960544e8d79748ef8f04107a63b9.jpeg

Walking around Toronto wasting Kodachrome 64.

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The TTC’s party for the delivery of the last T1 in Davisville carhouse.  This is the 5370 end of 5370-71, handheld 1/60th if a second with a fixed 50mm lens wide open at f1.4 on Kodachrome 200.

Just to show that massive ISO sensitivities   aren’t needed to take good pictures.  That Kodachrome 200 felt downright unnecessarily fast under daylight so I used to save it for indoor or darkish shots like that.

I think I got all the film and tape out of the storage unit and it’s coming home to live in better climate controlled conditions. 

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1 hour ago, T6H-5307N said:

Remember these? Fired up in all its 640x480 glory today :D

Nice!  I find those things and the technology very fascinating!  My parents were still using film at this point in time, and I dont think they even adopted non-film based cameras until around 2006 or so.

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18 minutes ago, TechSpotlight said:

Nice!  I find those things and the technology very fascinating!  My parents were still using film at this point in time, and I dont think they even adopted non-film based cameras until around 2006 or so.

Indeed. The Mavica line was pretty much the first to really take off in the digital world, with convenience being the primary reason. File transfers were not so easy in the pre-USB world, and this was the best workaround! OK, USB was around, but not widespread and USB 2.0 (over 100x faster) was still a few years off. Anyone who has ever tried to get a Serial/Parallel/SCSI Compact Flash or SmartMedia reader to work will agree :lol:

Biggest issue of course is floppy disks are slow, limited capacity, and VERY unreliable compared to modern media. If I had $1 for every time I tried to copy a file only to get home and the disk wouldn't read, I daresay I would be very rich hehehe.

Even though it has a 10x optical zoom, this particular Mavica also came with two screw-on teleconverters: 0.6x wide angle and 2.0 telephoto.

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On 8/18/2020 at 1:51 PM, T6H-5307N said:

Remember these? Fired up in all its 640x480 glory today :D

DSC01916.thumb.JPG.3aa695c05daf92bbc6c42684e8b088cd.JPGDSC01915.thumb.JPG.8f8c7ede2b998673d970b5a5c1c7cf2e.JPG

Oh yes.  We had one at work in use until at least 2007.  I got lent out to another department for a couple of months and asked if they had a digital camera I could use to document disassembling a piece of machinery and the guy next to me opened up the cabinet above his workbench and handed me a frigging Mavica.  I didn't have to say anything because apparently the "you have to be kidding me" expression on my face did all the talking.  I ended up bringing in a Canon Powershot A470 I ended up with somewhere along the way in the next day.  3 megapixels of visual information is a lot easier to get a clear picture of what's going on vs. 640 by 480 VGA.  The Mavica got retired shortly after and it's in a display case of obsolete technology now.

SCSI was great though.  It performed well and you could have up to 7 devices on the buss.  The biggest issue was SCSI ID conflicts but those were easily resolved and termination (annoying if you couldn't arrange to have a self-terminating device at the end of the line in situations where you couldn't find a terminator dongle or the right kind.  My favourite workaround for that was to stick a Zip or Jaz drive at the end since they had built in termination that you could switch in with a toggle on the back.  Problem solved.

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6 hours ago, Wayside Observer said:

SCSI was great though.  It performed well and you could have up to 7 devices on the buss.  The biggest issue was SCSI ID conflicts but those were easily resolved and termination (annoying if you couldn't arrange to have a self-terminating device at the end of the line in situations where you couldn't find a terminator dongle or the right kind.  My favourite workaround for that was to stick a Zip or Jaz drive at the end since they had built in termination that you could switch in with a toggle on the back.  Problem solved.

Very true -- I'll admit you are correct even if the process you described is still much more involved than plugging in a USB cable :P

If only it were more common at the time... SCSI was still a relatively rare option outside of the Apple world, which was a tiny fraction of computing compared to what it is now.

Speaking of Apple, I was always curious about the QuickTake line which actually predated the Mavica by a few years:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_QuickTake

Wikipedia claims (without citation) that it was the first to gain "widespread consumer acceptance" but personally I have never encountered one or talked to anyone who has seen/used one. There are quite a few of them on eBay right now but it looks like the 100/150 models would be more or less useless as they require period software and an ADB or RS232 serial port connection due to their non-removable flash memory. The 200 uses SmartMedia though, so I guess that one might work with the right card reader lol.

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8 hours ago, T6H-5307N said:

Very true -- I'll admit you are correct even if the process you described is still much more involved than plugging in a USB cable :P

If only it were more common at the time... SCSI was still a relatively rare option outside of the Apple world, which was a tiny fraction of computing compared to what it is now.

IDE was an Intel thing that they came up with to save a few bucks, the cost difference at the start when IDE came out vs. SCSI was a handful of dollars per installation but you have to figure on the volume the large PC manufacturers were doing, that added up to serious money, even though it was a turd compared to SCSI.  SCSI was more common than most people realized though at the time.  Outside of Apple:  Servers used it pretty much without exception then, all the high end workstations like Sun, Silicon Graphics, Next, etc. used SCSI.  Amigas did as well (except for the 2090/2090A disk controller; a friend and I opened up an Amiga 2000HD and we both groaned at the same time when we discovered it was an MFM rig instead of the SCSI we were expecting to find - long story) and I think Acorns as well, plus anybody who put together high end PC workstations used SCSI as well.

Basically, any system were performance and/or device count mattered had SCSI back in the day.  I remember doing a test with the same model of HP flatbed scanner except one was SCSI and the other was the parallel port version and the performance difference was severe.  The SCSI rig was great because the internal disk, CD-ROM drive, external disk, Zip drive, and the scanner were all SCSI and it worked beautifully.  The parallel port version took forever to scan to the internal hard drive and then it was shut down, disconnect scanner, plug in the parallel port Zip drive, start up again, offload the files on to the Zip disk to sneakernet them, the whole rigamarole was brutal but it was an effective demonstration as to why SCSI was the way to go even if it was more expensive.  The loss of performance, the downtime to change peripherals on the parallel port, the opportunities for technical problems to arise constantly doing that sort of thing all won the argument.  Any high speed data application practically mandated SCSI unless you wanted to go old school and use instrumentation tape recorders (eeeeeeek!)

8 hours ago, T6H-5307N said:

Speaking of Apple, I was always curious about the QuickTake line which actually predated the Mavica by a few years:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_QuickTake

Wikipedia claims (without citation) that it was the first to gain "widespread consumer acceptance" but personally I have never encountered one or talked to anyone who has seen/used one. There are quite a few of them on eBay right now but it looks like the 100/150 models would be more or less useless as they require period software and an ADB or RS232 serial port connection due to their non-removable flash memory. The 200 uses SmartMedia though, so I guess that one might work with the right card reader lol.

I guess "widespread consumer acceptance" meant that some Apple customers bought them which meant that a thin slice of a thin slice of the computer market buying them amounted to more digital camera sales than all the others combined.

I've seen them twice and used one once.  One was owned by a friend's family who were extremely into Macs back in the day almost to the point of being rabid.  They had one and it sat by one of their computers but I never saw it get used.  The other was in a high school art department which was also Mac based and their QuickTake wasn't being used either.  I'd never done digital photography before and didn't know what the shortcomings were so I asked the department head why the kids were using Pentax K-1000s, developing and printing in the school's darkroom and then scanning prints instead of going direct in from the QuickTake to bypass the whole film chain.  So I got the rundown on it and took it out to see for myself.  Everything was fine through the computer screen.  Then I hit print.  And on the 600 dpi laser printer out comes a black and white postage stamp 640x480 a bit wider than an inch at the printer's native resolution.  Back to the computer.  Enlarge it to fill the page.  Print.  Out comes a horribly chunky all the pixels have been blown up into full size picture elements to fill the page and yeah, that's when I discovered first hand that VGA resolution could fill a computer screen but didn't work so well for print.

Looking back at it, the 1990s was the wasteland for digital photography.  Sure it could be done but things like QuickTakes or Mavicas were totally unsuitable for professional work where the pros were scanning film.  Fuji Velvia or Provia + a pro lab with two hour turnaround time + Nikon film scanner (SCSI of course) was how image acquisition was done for desktop publishing for the first 15 years or so because that was the only way to meet the technical quality and turnaround time requirements.  For consumer use, there wasn't a need before domestic internet became popular since emailing photos or posting them online wasn't possible when very few people had internet access at home.  And emailing JPEGS using dialup was nobody's idea of fun.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To follow up on the ISO issue I was discussing in here earlier... I think I figured out what the problem is, and it's not that I don't know how to use my camera settings, but my camera seems to read some scenes in a very strange way.

Lined up my shot, checked the light meter reading (a feature I only discovered after my previous post LOL), it says it's in the middle, my exposure should be good... 1/1000, f8, and... 1250 ISO:

j3Y0u6y.png

RAW files to the rescue:

EZC50oO.png

Lined up to take a second shot some minutes later, the light meter still says 1250 ISO. The car was moving very slowly so I had time enough to go into the menu and bump the ISO down to 200, and got a "correct" exposure for my eyes:

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Another shot, another place, 1/1000, f8... 500 ISO.

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Post-production saved my ass yet again:

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I understand that the camera wants to expose for medium grey, and in some environments, such as if you're shooting in the shade of the trees, or just past a bridge underpass with lots of shadows and dark, it could get confused, so in a circumstance like that the easiest way to deal with the problem would be to change to live view, choose an ISO speed manually, and stick with that (or move), but I have no idea what the issue could be with either of the scenes depicted here; they're all pretty standard. There's nothing really extreme here that could cause the light meter to get confused. Would anyone happen to have any advice?

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5 hours ago, PCC Guy said:

There's nothing really extreme here that could cause the light meter to get confused. Would anyone happen to have any advice?

Does the camera have user selectable metering patterns?  That would be my prime suspect.  If it's somehow gotten bumped onto a very narrow spot metering pattern, whatever the spot lands on when you're composing your shots could be totally skewing the meter reading; eg. if it's landing on dark grey ashphalt pavement or the black parts of the TTC's current paint scheme when you're shooting transit vehicles, that'll cause overexposure for sure.

The streetcar picture really makes me wonder because if it's on a small field of view spot metering pattern because it would've landed right on top of the black rear of the streetcar that's dead centre in that photo and caused the camera to calculate a much brighter picture than if it averaged the whole frame.  Likewise the dark windows plus the black paint on the bus is centre of frame in the bus shot and would've done the same thing.  If you can, make sure it's on centreweighted averaging.

If it is on centreweighted averaging, it's possible the algorithm in the camera is over-emphasizing the centre part in the exposure calculation at least compared to how Canon set it up on the 1970s and 1980s SLRs I'm used to using.

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3 hours ago, Wayside Observer said:

Does the camera have user selectable metering patterns?  That would be my prime suspect.  If it's somehow gotten bumped onto a very narrow spot metering pattern, whatever the spot lands on when you're composing your shots could be totally skewing the meter reading; eg. if it's landing on dark grey ashphalt pavement or the black parts of the TTC's current paint scheme when you're shooting transit vehicles, that'll cause overexposure for sure.

The streetcar picture really makes me wonder because if it's on a small field of view spot metering pattern because it would've landed right on top of the black rear of the streetcar that's dead centre in that photo and caused the camera to calculate a much brighter picture than if it averaged the whole frame.  Likewise the dark windows plus the black paint on the bus is centre of frame in the bus shot and would've done the same thing.  If you can, make sure it's on centreweighted averaging.

If it is on centreweighted averaging, it's possible the algorithm in the camera is over-emphasizing the centre part in the exposure calculation at least compared to how Canon set it up on the 1970s and 1980s SLRs I'm used to using.

The camera does have selectable metering patterns, and on checking my menu for it, it turns out I was on...... spot metering.

Well, that should do it. -______________-

I remember your post from a few weeks ago to set it to centerweighted averaging, but I guess I only made a mental note to do it and didn't actually. I've done it now LOL. I don't know when I'll next get to do some bus photography, but I'll report back here once I've experimented enough and see whether that's fixed the issue or not.

Thanks for your feedback!

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/4/2020 at 2:06 PM, Wayside Observer said:

Does the camera have user selectable metering patterns?  That would be my prime suspect.  If it's somehow gotten bumped onto a very narrow spot metering pattern, whatever the spot lands on when you're composing your shots could be totally skewing the meter reading; eg. if it's landing on dark grey ashphalt pavement or the black parts of the TTC's current paint scheme when you're shooting transit vehicles, that'll cause overexposure for sure.

The streetcar picture really makes me wonder because if it's on a small field of view spot metering pattern because it would've landed right on top of the black rear of the streetcar that's dead centre in that photo and caused the camera to calculate a much brighter picture than if it averaged the whole frame.  Likewise the dark windows plus the black paint on the bus is centre of frame in the bus shot and would've done the same thing.  If you can, make sure it's on centreweighted averaging.

If it is on centreweighted averaging, it's possible the algorithm in the camera is over-emphasizing the centre part in the exposure calculation at least compared to how Canon set it up on the 1970s and 1980s SLRs I'm used to using.

I had an opportunity finally to test this theory out and centreweighted average did the trick. Occasionally the camera underexposes but largely the exposure is accurate and the adjustments I make to my RAW files are little touch ups rather than correcting a complete mis-exposure of the photo. So, thanks!

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1 hour ago, PCC Guy said:

I had an opportunity finally to test this theory out and centreweighted average did the trick. Occasionally the camera underexposes but largely the exposure is accurate and the adjustments I make to my RAW files are little touch ups rather than correcting a complete mis-exposure of the photo. So, thanks!

Saturday was a beautiful day to be out taking pictures for sure.  I'm glad the change to centreweighted averaging for the meter setup worked out.

Minor touchups are pretty much normal.  Back in the film days, that's what the lab would do when making prints from negatives after developing the film, minor adjustments for exposure and colour.  Getting the exposure right on slide film was absolutely critical because the positive image on slide film was made by re-exposting (Kodachrome, old Ektachrome) or chemically fogging (newer Ektachrome processes) when it was developed to reverse it from being a negative to a positive, so there wasn't any spot in the processing chain where it was possible to make adjustments for exposure or colour balance so slides were brutally and unfailingly accurate to what hit the film when the camera's shutter opened to take the picture.  Getting the exposure to within +/- 1/3 of a stop was perfectly acceptable, even if you sometimes wished you could tweak it a bit closer to the middle of that range sometimes once you had the processed film on a lightbox or in a projector.

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  • 3 months later...

Update to equipment. I use an S20 Ultra to record @ 4K 60 FPS
For photos, I use an S20 Ultra and a Nikon D3400 DSLR

I use the s20 for long shots, I use the DSLR for far or upclose super high-res shots.

Here's a photo I took with an S20 from my bus stop :)

20210212_115838.thumb.jpg.159951746ddc6d54b6a639d966206fe5.jpg20210212_115728.thumb.jpg.18d81843463ae40ab8ea9456ed712974.jpg

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