Hi all - complete newbie


EKE_38BPM

Link Posted 20/08/2011 - 14:31
I am a complete photography novice. I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY!

My girlfriend's Dad gave her his K10D when he bought something new (no idea what) but she's not interested in learning how to use it and is happy to use her point and shoot or camara phone for snaps. As she doesn't want to learn how to use the K10D, she has given me the task of learning how to use it and then I can show her (she's pretty smart, huh).

I said I am a complete novice but that is not strictly true. My last camera was a Kodak Discman (remember those?) so I am completely overwhelmed by the number of buttons, menus, sub-menus and options on the camera.
The only button I am completely confident with using is the delete button!

A full list of the contents of the camera bag I've been given is (and prepare to laugh at me when I get all of the names of things wrong):
Pentax K10D - I think its a called a 'camera body', right?
Pentax SMC DA 18-55mm. - I think it is the 'standard' lens but I'm not sure of the 'F' thingys. It looks similar to this.
Pentax 52mm lens hood - I had to google the serial number to find out what it is called. What is it for and when should it be used?
Kenko MC Skylight [1A] 52mm - Google tells me its a filter of some sort. Again, I have no idea what its for and when it should be used.
Tamron AF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 LD Tele-Macro[1:2] - You can probably tell I'm a novice as I just copied everything written on the lens. I don't know what is important and what isn't. Oooh, just found the lens hood for this lens too.
Battery, charger and a couple of 2 gig Sandisk Ultra II SD cards.
All of this kit lives in a Lowepro camera bag.

I've had some fun over the last couple of days taking pictures of the cat and annoying some mates by taking more pictures than a pap on the red carpet but as I play around with the myriad options all of my shots are very hit and miss.

I am a believer in learning the hard way from the begining rather than getting going on automatic and then having to relearn how to use things manually (like driving a car) so I've tried to stay away from Green mode. I've messed around with the various modes, but I don't understand what they all mean.

So, I'll start with what I think is an easy(ish) question:
For indoor shots of people under those horrible low energy lights, what settings and kit should I be using?

Phew! A bit War and Peace there.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

EKE

matwhittington

Link Posted 20/08/2011 - 15:23
Hi Eke and welcome. You have a K10D - a very cool camera and a pretty capable tool so you should be taking ace shots in no time. In terms of your questions - where to start??? I would strongly recommend you find a copy of the K10D instruction manual, as it is pretty good as I recall at effectively teaching the basics! The 18-55mm lens you have is indeed often referred to as the 'kit' or 'standard' lens as it is typically supplied with the camera when bought, but it is a neat zoom lens which goes from "wide angle" (at the 18mm end) to "short telephoto" (at the 55mm end) - effectively the longer the focal length (i.e. 18mm or 55mm (or anything in between)) the narrower the angle of view of the lens and therefore the larger things look through the viewfinder... The 'F' thingys (f-stops) are measure of the size of the opening in the lens which lets light through to the sensor (the aperture). There is a relationship between the aperture size and shutter speed you need for a correct exposure. All other things being equal, a big aperture (signified by a low 'f number') means more light gets through and so the shutter speed can be faster for a correct exposure. This is good if you want to 'freeze' action, however, there is a trade-off in that a big aperture (small f-number) also means that the depth of the picture in focus is reduced. However, this can then be used creatively to isolate the subject of a picture against a blurred background, for example.

Overall, the exposure of the picture (which is the critical aspect generally) is dictated by the amount of light hitting the sensor, and therefore the key parameters are the aperture (f number), the shutter speed and the sensitivity of the sensor (which can also be adjusted - this is often referred to as the ISO and I think on the K10D it will start at ISO100 and go up to about ISO1600 or more). The modes on the camera let you hold certain aspects constant, while adjusting others (or indeed to set all of them manually yourself), to get the picture exposed correctly and creatively controlled as you wish. So for example, Av mode (which is often people's mainly used mode) lets you dial in a set ISO (sensitivity level), then control the Aperture manually - the camera will automatically then set the correct shutter speed to expose the picture correctly. Alternatively, Tv mode lets you hold the ISO constant, choose a shutter speed and then the camera will select the correct aperture...

In terms of taking pictures of people under high energy lights there are a few things to consider - will they be moving (and therefore will I want a faster shutter speed to 'freeze' their motion); do you want a shallow depth of field (and therefore a big aperture (small f-number)); and just how bright are the lights - what ISO level do you need to select to achieve the right exposure with the shutter speed/aperture that you wish to use. Suggest you do a lot of experimenting. Try Av mode, start at ISO 100 and f8 and see what shutter speed the camera sets. is that quick enough to get a sharp picture? if not then open the aperture by going to f6.3... f5.6... f4 etc until you get the shutter speed you want. if you cannot achieve a quick enough speed, then set ISO 200 (i.e. make the sensor more sensitive) and repeat, then ISO 400... etc.

What shutter speed should you be looking for?? well in general to get a sharp pic the shutter speed should be at least the inverse of the focal length. So at 18mm, you would want at least 1/18th of a second (or the closest setting - probably 1/20th second); at 50mm you would want 1/50th of a second etc... Obviously, if the subject is moving, then use a faster speed to freeze their action (or you might want a blurred pic to show the movement). You can see that to get a sharp pic hand-held with your Tamron lens at 300mm, you would be looking for 1/300th of a second at least, which might need a big aperture and a fair bit of light to achieve...

One or two other things to watch - a digital camera also has a further parameter called white balance which dictates how whites appear in the image, and is related to the source of light (the 'light temperature). Setting this incorrectly can lead to a coloured cast in the final pics. I suggest initially you set that to 'AWB' which means the camera will automatically sort it as best it can - although again this is something you can experiment with. Finally, the higher the ISO, the more 'noise' manifests in the final picture, this looks like a fine pinkish/blueish grain in the pics, and can be removed to an extent in post processing (if you have a processing package with noise reduction) or otherwise lived with. The K10D is OK up to ISO400 as I recall but beyond that the noise gets quite noticeable.

In all of the above I have assumed you won't be using the onboard flash! - of course you could pop that up too but flash is probably lesson number 2

Your lens hood will help reduce effects of glare from lights so suggest you have that attached, and the skylight filter (I think) helps reduce UV light which would have been more important if using 'real' film as a digital sensor has a built-in UV filter I think so it will only really act as a 'protection' for the front of the lens should you attach it. I think

Another War and Peace! (apologies) - there is a LOT that you can control but it's great fun playing around and learning.

Hope that helps!
Mat W

My Flickr: link

EKE_38BPM

Link Posted 20/08/2011 - 15:48
Thanks Mat,

I have got the manual, but I was suffering from information overload and couldn't take it all in.

Your explanation of the Av and Tv modes make perfect sense to me. You fix one variable, adjust another variable and the camera works out the final variable. Why don't they just say that in the manual?!

As well as the manual, I've also been given a couple of books:
The Digital Photography Handbook by Doug Harman &
The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby
More information overload. I can't see the wood for the trees.

From searching t'internet I had found a link to a Pentax tutorial for the K10D, but it seems to have been taken down and I can't find it again to post here to find out if someone else knows where to find it.

Now that the battery is fully charged, and armed with Mat's "Use Av for now" advice, I'm off to a friend's house to return a Chimpanze and take pics of their toddler. I may even set up a Flickr account!

paulgee20

Link Posted 20/08/2011 - 16:29
Hi Eke


Mat has given you the gist. The K10d is a brilliant starter for you, (I had 2 bodies and was more than pleased.

Welcome to the forum. DOnt be backwards at asking they are some really helpful sources of info on here.

Regards

Paul
K5's (2)both gripped, K10d gripped, Pentax 28-90 f3.5, Sigma 18-250mm, Sigma 150-500mm. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro, Sigma 10-20 f.4-5.6.EX DC, Hoya 135 f2.8, Take on 28mm f2.8 Pentax AF360 flash, 2 fill in slaves. 30 metre remote release, Rt angle viewfinder, Giotto NOT 3261B Tripod with Manfrotto 808Rd4 ball head, Manfroto 4861RC2 monopoly, shoulder stock, various filters etc, Panasonic SET HBS HD Video cam, Tamrac Explorer 8x backpack and a sore back.....
-------------------------------------------------------
Photography is an index for measuring futility and pride.......

Paul

:wink
http://s743.photobucket.com/home/pg20_photos/index http://www.flickr.com/photos/pg20

paulgee20

Link Posted 20/08/2011 - 16:31
Hi Eke

You may try these sites as well: -

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/
http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-help-central/

Paul
K5's (2)both gripped, K10d gripped, Pentax 28-90 f3.5, Sigma 18-250mm, Sigma 150-500mm. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro, Sigma 10-20 f.4-5.6.EX DC, Hoya 135 f2.8, Take on 28mm f2.8 Pentax AF360 flash, 2 fill in slaves. 30 metre remote release, Rt angle viewfinder, Giotto NOT 3261B Tripod with Manfrotto 808Rd4 ball head, Manfroto 4861RC2 monopoly, shoulder stock, various filters etc, Panasonic SET HBS HD Video cam, Tamrac Explorer 8x backpack and a sore back.....
-------------------------------------------------------
Photography is an index for measuring futility and pride.......

Paul

:wink
http://s743.photobucket.com/home/pg20_photos/index http://www.flickr.com/photos/pg20

i-Berg

Link Posted 21/08/2011 - 00:34
G'day and welcome, it's very nice to have been given a K10!

The books you have will complement the manual, so re-read stuff as you experiment with the camera.

Some of it will also come down to your own technique and style, and some down to the way you process your images on your PC (or Mac). Good pick-up re the impact of light on your shots by the way. There is a white balance setting on your camera that attempts to compensate for various types of light ('temperatures'). The good thing is that white balance (WB) is fixable in your post-processing.

You have a choice of shooting images in jpg format (quick and easy), or in RAW (far more flexible and forgiving once you start post-processing).

All the best!
http://www.pbase.com/iberg

stub

Link Posted 21/08/2011 - 01:49
Hi , Welcome to the forum.
I found that getting out and taking photos, worked the best way for me. Enevitably at first I got most of the images wrong. (Still do) Then, you can use your books as reference points. Not so laborious a read then. You will pick it up quite quickly, and you will soon be matering your camera, and not the other way around,
K-1Gripped K-1 ungripped K-5ii K7 Various lenses

Stuart..

EKE_38BPM

Link Posted 21/08/2011 - 12:24
In the last ~20 hours, I've probably taken about 300 pictures!

I followed Mat's advice about Av mode and it worked really well, so I now have loads of pics of my friend's toddler, er, toddling around, as well as some shots of my mates playing pool and DJing.

I was in a bar and a burlesque stripper came on stage. I tried to get some shots of her, but they all had some serious camera shake. I think Av mode was wrong for that situation and Tv mode with a fast shutter speed would have been better. Ah well, you lives and learns.

I find that the image on the LCD seems MUCH darker than they come out on the PC and isn't really representative of the actual picture taken. Is this something that can be changed, is it something I'll get used to, or, is it me talking crap?!

Now to venture into the park with a crappy tripod that I've borrowed from a mate...

johnriley

Link Posted 21/08/2011 - 12:28
Quote:
I think Av mode was wrong for that situation and Tv mode with a fast shutter speed would have been better.

Just open the aperture and the shutter speed increases. No need to change modes. However, a high ISO will help in low light situations and also something to compensate for subjects that add shake to your shooting naturally, such as burlesque strippers. Perhaps a drink seeing you're at a bar.
Best regards, John

xleon

Link Posted 28/08/2011 - 01:07
Hi EKE,

I'm also completely new to photography and bought a K-x (18-55 / 55-300) kit which I've found to be a fantastic camera.

To add to your book recommendation, I've also been looking for good books and I can highly commend the books by Tom Ang.

X

Opethian

Link Posted 28/08/2011 - 09:02
Welcome Eke! Hope you'll be taking fantastic photos soon!

Caution though, as the girlfriend may start to wonder where you've been spending your "time" as you get to know the camera more.

Twitter | Someone said time-lapse?
Pentax K5 | Samsung N9005 | DA 18-55 WR | DA 35 2.4 | DA 50 1.8
Tamron 10-24 SP | Tamron 90 2.8 Macro | Tamron 70-300 Macro
Samyang 85 1.4 ...and a few other manual lenses older than me.

EKE_38BPM

Link Posted 05/09/2011 - 21:04
Update

My girlfriend has returned from two weeks holiday and is suitably impressed with my pictures. She is so impressed that she has even volunteered to model for me (no need to go to bars to shoot strippers).

She is even thinking about going on photography trips so that 'we' can take pictures together ("It'll be romantic). Luckily, I'm a cyclist too, so there is still plenty of scope for solo trips (when I'm allowed out).

I've opened a photobucket account so that you can have a look and tell me that I'm a natural and possibly a photography genius. I may have overstepped the mark.
I've just had a look at the album and see that not all of my good stuff (IMO) is in there, so I'll be updating it tomorrow as I don't have the pictures on this PC.

I took a trip to the library and have discovered Tom Ang's books. Some good tips in there.

JudithAnn

Link Posted 03/10/2011 - 04:04
Welcome and enjoy the forum!

Regards:
JA
https://www.jastandringphotos.com
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