Looking for feedback: what DSLR mode to use

Discussion in 'Photo/Video Tips' started by iter, Aug 17, 2013.

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  1. Aug 17, 2013 #1

    iter

    iter

    iter

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    So I'm trying to figure out this whole camera thing. In particular, I'm trying to figure out what mode to use for capturing rocket launches. I have a Canon 60D. These photos use Tamron 18-270. I set the camera in "sports photography" mode, manual focus and have vibration compensation on. I notice that in the first photo the launcher is in reasonably sharp focus, but the rocket shows a lot of motion blur. In the second photo, the rocket looks a lot sharper (e.g., I can read the decals). I suppose in the second photo, the rocket is farther away and travels fewer degrees per second, so looks less blurry with the same exposure.

    So--my assumption had been that "sports photography" is for photographing fast-moving objects. I wonder if other modes are more useful in rocket photography.

    [​IMG]
    (full size on IMGUR)


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    (full size on IMGUR)
     
  2. Aug 17, 2013 #2

    jadebox

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    Sports mode is the right automatic mode. It chooses a fast shutter speed and continuous drive.

    BTW, my Canon T4i (650D) was only achieving about 3 frames per second and slowing down after a few frames until I read how to fix it on the 'net. It was a setting called "Highlight Tone Priority" which had to be turned off. After that, I get about 5 fps for as long as I hold down the shutter release. I don't know if the 60D has the same problem/feature.

    -- Roger
     
  3. Aug 17, 2013 #3

    luke strawwalker

    luke strawwalker

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    If you have a burst mode, use it... then you can pick and choose what you want to keep.

    Later! OL JR :)
     
  4. Aug 17, 2013 #4

    iter

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    I'm happy with FPS I'm getting out of my 60D. It's the blur I'm trying to shake, so to speak.

    Ari.
     
  5. Aug 17, 2013 #5

    cwbullet

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    I have a 30D and 7D. I continue to fight to figure out how to best take photos with the 7D. Good luck.
     
  6. Aug 17, 2013 #6

    r1dermon

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    go into Tv mode, this is "time value", also known as "shutter priority" mode. your camera will automatically adjust aperture and iso for you, you pick the shutter speed manually. you'll want a very fast shutter speed over 1000/1.

    be sure not to set a limit on the auto ISO, because, especially if it's cloudy out and at full extension your lens is at f/6.3 which is pretty slow, you'll need to bump the sensitivity of your sensor (iso).

    you may be better off (down the road) picking up a canon 70-200 f4l, or a tamron 70-200 f2.8 di vc usd (the new...much improved one), or a canon 300 f/4 prime. the canon 70-200 f4 will run about 600 bucks or so, and the tammy will run about 1300ish, the 300 f/4 about 1500ish. the canon will let in a lot more light than your current lens, and the tamron f2.8 will let in much more still. resulting in higher shutter speeds, lower ISO's, and overall better image quality. also consider renting from the various online rental outlets. borrowlenses.com comes to mind.

    for the time being, definitely throw it into Tv mode and choose 1000 as a starting point. faster rockets will need faster shutter speeds of course though.

    for rapid fire, the 60d is pretty decent in fps. the buffer will fill quickly though in RAW. shoot in lower quality modes for more sequential shots, higher quality modes for less shots, but higher quality shots.

    hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013
  7. Aug 17, 2013 #7

    r1dermon

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    forgot to add....

    next time you're out shooting, take some shots at 150mm or so, make sure your aperture is maxed (it will be in Tv mode with a high enough shutter speed...just keep increasing the shutter speed until the f number is as low as it will go), then when you post process your images, crop them and see what kind of quality you get. my guess is you'll be pleased. reason is, the shorter that particular lens gets, the larger its aperture gets, so you let in more light, higher shutter speed, less motion blur...etc.

    hope this helps, once again.
     
  8. Aug 17, 2013 #8

    aerostadt

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    BTW this is on slightly a different topic, but probably someone here knows the answer. I know the old 35 mm film cameras are on the way out, but the in-store developing for rocket photographs looks terrible. First, I went to Walgreen's with their one-hour turn-around and I thought that was bad, but today I picked up my Walmart developed pictures, which took more than week, and they were even worse. I noticed that some of the close up pictures of people with their rockets at the pad, were not too bad, but the pictures of rockets in the sky had terrible background colors and graininess with bad focus. Has the (automated?) developing process for 35 mm film fallen into the pits?
     
  9. Aug 17, 2013 #9

    r1dermon

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    Send the negatives to a photo lab like whcc. In store will never compare.
     
  10. Aug 17, 2013 #10

    krusty

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    I shoot with a Nikon D5100 set to Shutter priority.

    I shoot at 1/1600s and let the aperture look after itself.

    Check out my photos here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/oflittleinterest/

    You should be able to see the exif data for each photo -

    Exif-Flickr.jpg

    That will give you a good idea of what the camera was doing at the time.

    On the Nikon, I have found that 'sports mode' hunts for focus lock - and photos were coming out blurry.

    Krusty
     
  11. Aug 17, 2013 #11

    llickteig1

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    Canon 30D and 7D shooter here. I'm not a super technical photographer, so some of my terminology might be a bit off. Your 60D will take excellent rocket photos, but some practice and experimentation is required.

    I shoot in Tv (shutter speed priority) mode and usually set the shutter to 1/1250 - 1/2000, depending upon available light. Set the ISO in the 200 to 400 range and let the aperture set itself. I don't know about "auto-ISO" and I'm not sure that's an option in one of the manual modes. As others have stated, higher shutter speeds will help fix your blurry rocket problem.

    You can fiddle with the focus point to a single point to ensure the camera focuses on the rocket and not something in the background. Also, I prefer to have the camera set to not AI auto-focus if you plan on following the rocket for most of its flight. The switching of the processor between adjusting the focus and storing images will cause the frame rate to drop when the camera tries to re-focus.

    You should attend a large launch with a bunch of flights from near and far and many sizes of rockets. Take ample memory for your camera, and shoot every rocket making small adjustments as you go. When you get back to review the photos, look at the exif data (properties) and review the settings of the best ones. This helps provide mental guidelines of which settings affect the photos in what ways and which settings are best. The next launch, limit yourself to mostly the settings you found you like and fine-tune them. You can get good at taking rocket photos pretty quickly.

    Good luck, --Lance.
     
  12. Aug 17, 2013 #12

    iter

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    Thank you guys for your feedback! I'm setting my camera to 1/1600 for the Moffett launch today. Results to follow.

    Ari.
     
  13. Aug 17, 2013 #13

    iter

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    Thank you Lance. My camera dies have an auto ISO setting in Tv mode, indeed it's the default.

    Ari.
     
  14. Aug 17, 2013 #14

    r1dermon

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    there is only one manual mode and you can use auto-iso in it since the 50d. the others, like Tv, or Av (specific to canon cameras...others like nikon or sony will function the same, but be named differently), are really "semi-auto", since you only manually set one or two parameters of the exposure. in all those modes you can also utilize auto-iso, or set it to a fixed value.

    to set it, you simply select your ISO setting, and scroll to "auto". on my 600d (t3i), you need to rifle through the menu pretty deep to set the max value for auto iso. for me i find that 800 is where the image quality really breaks down. the noise reduction in lightroom is spectacular though, so in low contrast, bright scenes, 1600 is acceptable. since the 60d shares the same sensor, noise performance is similar if not slightly better. it normally wouldn't be a real issue, but if you're shooting at f/6.3 it may prove to be an issue, depending on cloud cover.
     
  15. Aug 17, 2013 #15

    llickteig1

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    Ah, now I think I remember seeing the Auto on the ISO settings on the 7D. There are so many features, I probably know how to use about 10% well/correctly. Thanks for the info. I guess I would prefer setting a hard ISO anyway, so I guess that's why that feature hasn't stuck in my brain. Good to know, though. I think I will do some experimentation with it during AIRFest.

    --Lance.
     
  16. Aug 20, 2013 #16

    r1dermon

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    it's a nice feature...actually...it's a REALLY nice feature, given the sensors and computing power of these new cameras...which is why it's SO FRUSTRATING as a Canon shooter, that canon offers very little customization available to the shooter for the auto-iso function.

    when you mount a flash and auto-iso is selected (even for the 7d, which is their flagship crop body...) the iso will stick at 400. this has been corrected with the 5d3, 6d, and other subsequent cameras costing thousands of dollars, when in reality, it should have been updated in the firmware since nikon has had this functionality since the d300. but i digress...just as bizarre is that you cannot user select a threshold for auto-iso to kick in at. of course this definitely has nothing to do with rocketry photographs since that's mostly higher shutter speeds, but with nikon, you can select aperture mode (for instance), and set your aperture to f8 (for instance). this will give you your desired sharpness/depth of field you're looking for, but what if the lighting conditions are dynamic and ever changing? what if f8 at a 1/100 shutter speed gives you a good result on an 85mm lens, but when the light changes, your camera sets your shutter to 1/30? with nikon you can set your auto-iso to kick in at 1/30, so if it does drop that low, the iso will compensate and give you back your 1/100. and in every other situation, your iso would be fixed to what you selected. until recently you'd have to buy canons flagship d1x for that functionality. that's 7000 dollars. lol.

    anyway...it's the little things. i've shot 1 wedding to date, and that auto-iso being stuck at 400 "issue" was honestly a huge major setback. i cursed canon the whole way home. since i've been considering a 6d for an upgrade, im slightly favoring a d600 at this point. but alas...my lenses are canons. :(

    anyway...lets see some pics?!?!
     
  17. Aug 20, 2013 #17

    iter

    iter

    iter

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    Well, I like Tv at 1/1600 a lot better than sports mode. Thank you for the tip! Next time, I'm going to try 1/2000.

    Here are three photos of the same flight, the rocket flying at different speeds. The crops I'm uploading here are full scale but 1000px tall (max this forum allows before scaling). The idea is to show how detail comes out on the moving rocket rather than give it a pretty frame. Full-size files, including their EXIF data are on IMGUR.

    Focusing remains an issue for me. Back in the days of dinosaurs (35mm SLRs) I had a focusing aide in the viewfinder--I think the name is rangefinder--that split a small circle in the middle of the viewfinder if the subject was out of focus. No such aide seems to be available in my 60D, complicating manual focusing. And auto-focus is problematic with a skinny rocket I want to focus on rather than all the obstructions between me and it, and once it takes off, AF has the hardest time keeping up. This batch uses manual focus.

    Ari.

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    IMG_4944cr.JPG
     
  18. Aug 20, 2013 #18

    iter

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    And here's the same rocket from the original post, flying at Moffett on Saturday.

    Ari.
     

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  19. Aug 20, 2013 #19

    krusty

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    If you like the old 'split' focus area of film cameras, there's a simple process to swap out the focus screen.

    Here's two sites you can order from -

    http://www.katzeyeoptics.com/
    http://www.focusingscreen.com/

    I don't know anything about the second link, but KatzEye Optics are well regarded.

    Krusty
     
  20. Aug 20, 2013 #20

    r1dermon

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    Make sure you are in AI servo mode for focusing.

    Also, backbutton focusing is the way to go. It allows you to reframe your scene without losing focus on your subject. Another thing to try is to choose only the center focus point. Focus using that only. Its the most sensitive focus point...

    Obviously the 60d doesnt have the cream of the crop AF sysystem...but its adequate. I think your biggest focusing issues will be because of the lens. Tamrons newest lenses have USM type focusing, which is much more accurate/faster.
     
  21. Aug 20, 2013 #21

    iter

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    Is there a reason microprism focusing fell out of favor? It's cool that you can retrofit it, but maybe I'm missing something important about how modern cameras are.

    Also, what is backbutton focusing? For autofocus, I find it more useful to force focus on the bottom point rather than the middle, seeing as I'm trying to lead the rocket and while it's sitting on the pad, I typically have it in the bottom half of the frame. I find switching focusing points on the go to take a lot of cognitive effort--much more than simply refocusing manually.

    Ari.
     
  22. Aug 20, 2013 #22

    jsargevt

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    Backbutton autofocus moves autofocus off the shutter release and applies it to another button on the back of the camera (for my Nikon it is the AE button). This allows you to separate focus from the shutter preventing an unintended focus change when you press the shutter.

    I have given it a whirl and don't care for it - additionally my wife hates it so I stick to shutter button focus.
     
  23. Aug 20, 2013 #23

    iter

    iter

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    I should say split screen, since that's the feature that I'm missing. But I guess they both fell out of favor.

    Ari.
     
  24. Aug 21, 2013 #24

    Viperfixr

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    I prefer to use Aperture Priority, lens wide open, lowest ISO possible while still at least 1/focal-length-used shutter speed, but I like to see 1/500 minimum (which is not hard on a sunny day). The closed down aperture is also helpful to create a sharp rocket, fuzzy background. I use the 'motor drive' setting where the camera is hammering away as fast as it will capture, pressing down the shutter release all the way as soon as there is smoke coming from the motor. Or, with CTI, start a half-second before the button gets pressed--they tend to cook off near-instantly. Turn off the automatic focus, do it manually before taking the pictures. My most useful focal lengths are between 200-400mm, standing from our launch table (closer would help some).
     
  25. Aug 22, 2013 #25

    r1dermon

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    i use autofocus mainly because i have a canon L lens, crazy fast and accurate focusing, so...i've tried manual focus, but much better results from AF. i wouldn't expect that performance out of a kit lens, and tbh, that's the reason i bought the better lens. better focusing.

    in regards to backbutton focusing and center focus point, when shooting rockets, i try to make focus on the rocket before hand, then frame the rocket at the bottom of the frame (lead the rocket). when the smoke appears, just hold down the shutter. on it's way up in AI servo, i simply hold down the focus button and follow the rocket's trajectory. although with my camera i can only get 3 good RAW shots before the buffer is full, so if im going to do that i'll shoot in jpeg (rare).

    aperture priority is great on a sunny day or midday on a partly/mostly cloudy day. especially if you have a fast lens and you're shooting wide open. with a slow lens like f6.3 wide open fully extended, you're inevitably going to have to adjust your ISO higher in order to get the highest shutter speed possible. a bit of noise is much better than a blurry rocket. and with lightroom and other programs these days, noise reduction is crazy good.
     
  26. Aug 25, 2013 #26

    iter

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    OK, so I like 1/1600 better. Gets rid of much of the motion blur, though in some of the photos (not ones I'm posting here) it's still apparent. It looks like my next challenge is focus.

    I'm especially happy with the last (multicolor) rocket's takeoff photos.

    Ari.

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  27. Aug 25, 2013 #27

    iter

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