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Best Practice - forget A mode shoot M! ?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by dcassat, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    272
    Nov 16, 2011
    Cloverdale,CA
    Because of a thread I followed recently I have adopted a new practice while shooting. I've dumped Aperture priority for manual.

    Why?

    Because I'm finding better exposure control when shooting landscape this way. This really is about RAW processing so let's avoid the JPEG discussion.

    I set my aperture to 5.6 which is a really great sweet spot on most of my lenses.

    I set my ISO to 200.

    I meter the scene and 'spin the dial' for a shutter speed that moves the histogram as far to the right as possible, avoiding overexposure, occasionally backing off a notch.

    When I pop the images into Lightroom, they're a little overexposed. I use the auto exposure and BAM! I have all of the highlights back with nothing over the top. I then make very minor adjustments to get the contrast and brightness just right.

    What's the difference between this and using A(perture) mode with the EV dial?

    THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. I dunno, but it feels different and my results have been more consistent. I know THEORETICALLY this is no different. But then there's room for some art in science, isn't there?

    Consider it and if you know more about why this method 'drives' differently, please share!

    Dan
     
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  2. FastCorner

    FastCorner Mu-43 Veteran

    310
    May 28, 2011
    I imagine you get more consistent exposure this way. With A mode, you're at the mercy of whatever the camera decides to base the metering on.

    When I'm indoors or have consistent lighting, I often use A mode to get a baseline then switch to M mode to lock it in.
     
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  3. fljoe

    fljoe Mu-43 Regular

    101
    Dec 30, 2011
    FL
    Gave up on the A-mode in bright FL sunlight trying to capture silky smooth waterfall.. camera always chose wrong shutter speed overexposing the image... Manual mode finally got it right after bunch of trials :)
     
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  4. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    I guess I mostly prefer shooting things that are moving :thumbup:
     
  5. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    532
    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Mark
    I'd be interested to see how the exposures you arrive at by this method compare with an incident reading from a handheld meter. Maybe I'll give it a go.
    I have found that for consistent exposures in indoor situations using manual exposure from an incident reading (if possible) gives a more natural result than using AE which tends to wind up all over the place.
     
  6. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    The only time i think anyone should put their ยต4/3 camera in A mode is when they hand it to a novice.:biggrin:
     
  7. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    272
    Nov 16, 2011
    Cloverdale,CA
    To reiterate, I do mean (A)perture Priority mode... not AUTO, which feels more like a crap shoot to me!
     
  8. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    532
    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Mark
    "A" on my G3 is aperture priority (not sure it merits capitals). There is a button marked iA which I assume stands for "idiot assist" :smile:
     
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  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    don't you all know you should keep your camera on P mode... its P for professional :)

    K
     
  10. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    272
    Nov 16, 2011
    Cloverdale,CA
    I love 'idiot assist' - I'll keep that in my satchel...:smile:
     
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  11. I'd rather keep the camera in an auto-metering mode to at least get me to about the right spot and then just give the exp comp a quick tweak if necessary by looking at the LCD preview and/or the histogram. M mode is fine if you have the time available. Contrary to some opinions you may read on the Internet, image quality doesn't magically increase as you go from Auto to P to A/S and finally to M.
     
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  12. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    272
    Nov 16, 2011
    Cloverdale,CA

    Interesting observation - I have never considered such a hierarchy in quality. My observation is made from thousands of shots starting in aperture priority and moving to manual to optimize the light. I'm seeing a higher level of consistency in this method. I first dismissed the idea when I read about it but in practice I'm finding some truth here.
     
  13. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    You can get the same results in A mode simply by using exposure compensation.

    While what you describe is fine for landscapes, it's probably not the optimum solution for subjects that are moving.

    But whatever works for each photographer is the best technique for them. Not necessarily for anyone else, though.
     
  14. I'm not sure what you mean by consistency. Auto-metering can be inconsistent because it can read the distribution of light in a scene but won't always know what is the more important element to expose. Manual mode allows you to set the exposure based on feedback from the camera, but that same feedback is available in any other as well. All other settings being equal, f/5.6 @ 1/200 will deliver the same results in P, A, S or M. The full auto modes are a bit different since they lock out some settings.

    Micro 4/3 cameras have caused me to move away from more manual controls because of the greater feedback available. I let the camera decide in the first instance, which more often than not is about right, and the make any small adjustments as required.
     
  15. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Another thing to keep in mind is that we are now using Live View cameras... we are no longer using SLR systems with viewfinders that only show focus and composition until we actually commit the frame. Our cameras show us what the sensor sees in REAL TIME. That makes Manual mode much more quick and efficient than it used to be. You can see the effects on exposure (and even color) right on the screen or in the viewfinder, making it easy to go directly to the settings YOU like and stay there.

    That said, it also makes Exposure Comp more efficient than it used to be as well, lol. xD
     
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  16. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    334
    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    I've been really liking the results of A mode on face priority. I don't mind if the background is blown-out so long as the subject is right. For example, I used A mode face priority in the snow and I didn't even have to set exposure compensation because when the face is exposed properly, the snow looks white.

    //my two cents
     
  17. LDraper

    LDraper Mu-43 Regular

    84
    Feb 4, 2011
    Albuquerque, NM
    I generally prefer A mode. I discovered on my EPL1 the glories of A mode and exposure-lock. I set the aperture and frame the scene. If the sky is overexposed I simply rock the camera up and let the shutter speed increase until it seems 'right' (based on the histogram mostly). Then I lock exposure and focus and reframe. It gives me quick incremental control over the exposure - its also easy to take different shots to compare exposure. It's pretty much the same as shooting in manual, but I think it's quicker. Obviously it breaks down at times, (e.g. You can't quicly find a portion of the scene that yields the shutter speed you're looking for) but then I just kick in an exposure compensation.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    272
    Nov 16, 2011
    Cloverdale,CA
    I believe what it comes down to is that Manual mode will keep you watching the exposure and adjusting it before each shot. Since my eye is on the shutter I'm going to know when I run out of light and have to make a compromise and at that point I can choose whether to bump the ISO or pull out the tripod.

    Yes, it takes a little longer but remember I'm talking landscape shots here and the results have been very consistent since I began started shooting this way. Finally, because you are always exposing to the right you get the best signal to noise ratio.

    It's all Zen to me anyway - a great way break away from reality!

    Dan
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. punkman

    punkman Mu-43 Regular

    151
    Dec 30, 2011
    Europe
    Using the Gradation setting can also increase the range of shadows or highlights and give you more detail. Only accessible through the Super Control Panel.
     
  20. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    272
    Nov 16, 2011
    Cloverdale,CA
    I believe from everything I have read that the gradation setting only affects the JPEG. I so wish this was not the case however.

    Dan