Questions on correctly using Nikon 17-55 f2.8

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by oz388, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. oz388

    oz388

    50
    Aug 8, 2008
    calgary
    Hey guys I have a noob question about aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings when shooting photos (here please use Nikon 17-55 f2.8 as a reference lens)

    Where do you usually set your apertures, shutter speed and ISO at to produce the most sharp clear photos (without using a flash)?

    Situations:
    1, outdoor with lots sunshine
    2, indoor with enough daylight coming in.
    3, outdoor, cloudy
    4, indoor with less daylight (say it's cloudy outside)
    5, indoor without daylight (evening), with normal lighting in the house

    Thanks!

    ADD: I use D80, portrait and group of people are my main subjects. Thanks!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2008
  2. leahp26

    leahp26

    926
    Apr 28, 2008
    Southern NH
    Hi oz388 (not sure what your name is!)

    Which camera model are you using as the body? That will alter the answers relating to ISO.


    I'm pretty new too....so don't take all of my answers as 100% accurate

    First - if you can buy/borrow/library loan "Understanding Exposure" by Brian Peterson that will give you a HUGE help. It's a phenomenal book, really easy to understand

    The answers really depend on what you're shooting.

    As a general rule you want to keep your ISO low to reduce noise (although with a D300 you can go pretty high with minimal impact)

    So - let's take the outdoor sunshine example:

    You'd probably have your ISO all the way down to 100 or 200 (depending on camera model).

    Then say you were shooting a landscape, you could set the mode to Aperture Priority, and select an aperture which would give you lots of detail (maybe f16) and let the camera select the shutter speed. Or you could change to manual mode, select your aperture and then adjust the shutter speed until the meter shows in the middle (i.e a correct exposure). You might then want to take a look at your histogram on the screen to see if you're in the right area.

    Alternatively, if you were shooting a person, you might want to throw the background out of focus (so it looks blurred behind them) and in that case you might select an aperture of f2.8. That would be "wide open" for the lens you're referring to - the maximum amount of light would be getting in and so you'd need a really high shutter speed to not totally overexpose. Although in reality you would try to avoid shooting a person in bright sunlight and would try to move them into a more shaded area....

    I don't think I'm very good at explaining this but I would really recommend that book.

    You could also go outside and pick one aperture and then alter your shutter speed, and then pick a shutter speed and alter your aperture and take a look at the differences.

    Have fun experimenting!
     
  3. Miguel

    Miguel

    May 12, 2006
    Norwalk, CT
    Aperture and shutter speed are usually picked based on what you want to accomplish in the picture. Your aperture will control the depth of field in the shot which can help to isolate your main subject by throwing the background out of focus using a large aperture like f/1.4 or f/2.8. Then your shutter speed and ISO would be used to get the correct exposure. Or you might want to use a small aperture like f/16 to give you greater depth of field in a landscape shot.

    There may be times when you will want to pick your shutter speed to freeze action or prevent camera shake. In that case you would select the appropriate shutter speed then select the aperture and ISO that will give you the desired exposure.

    Really what it comes down to when making these choices is just knowing what you are trying to achieve in your image. You have to visualize your shot first. Then you will know how to set your camera.

    As for the best aperture to achieve sharp pictures it really depends on the lens, but they say most lenses have a "sweet spot" where they will perform well. It's just a matter of working with your lens and finding that spot. Quality of the lens will also play a factor in the sharpness of a lens through out it's range of aperture settings.

    In my opinion though the most important thing in achieving sharp images is the quality of the light you are shooting under. Light is everything.

    Hope this helps and welcome to the Cafe.
     
  4. Where do you usually set your apertures, shutter speed and ISO at to produce the most sharp clear photos (without using a flash)?

    Situations:
    1, outdoor with lots sunshine
    2, indoor with enough daylight coming in.
    3, outdoor, cloudy
    4, indoor with less daylight (say it's cloudy outside)
    5, indoor without daylight (evening), with normal lighting in the house


    Your camera, your subject and what you want to accomplish are the ingredients that you need to answer your questions. Skilled photographers do all this intuitively when confronted with the conditions you just asked in your post.
    Let me give you my answers but keep in mind these are my opinions. We are all different and my answers could be different to those of others.
    1- I do not do my shooting when the light is so strong, unless I can use fill flash and that is not common.
    2- Depends on the subject and the lens I am using. A fast lens is ideal for available light photography. I could combine ambient light and flash and that I do often.
    3- I tend to overexpose by 1/3 stop. Surely I will need to improve on contrast and saturation during post processing. Careful metering is very important. Be careful with the sky and overexposure.
    4- Not much different than answer given in No. 2. although I would favor ambient light and flash.
    5- When too dark you have no other choice than to use flash but I usually bounce the light or diffuse it.
    Apertures control depth of field. Outside, if shooting a landscape I could use F11 or f16 even if cloudy.
    If shooting a portrait and you want to blur the background go to a larger aperture like f4 or f2.8 if not f8 usually renders a very pleasant photograph. If a group of persons at different distances, then treat it like a landscape shot.
    Ambient light-flash is a good way to go when you have enough available light. I like to shoot at ISO 400 minimum but would go to 800 in a blink if I am indoor. Use large apertures like f5.6 or f4, underexpose the background just a bit and bounce your flash. I usually underexpose the background by 1 or 2 stops of light from the meter reading.
    When you have no other choice than to use flash as your main source of light then I will diffuse the light or bounce it. I generally go with f8. For pictures indoors with a fast lens you need a high ISO speed if you are not going to use flash and you better use a camera like the D3, D700 or D300.
    I should mention also that most of my photography is done from a tripod.
    I hope this helps you.
    William Rodriguez
    Miami, Florida.
     
  5. Actually, Leah's comment in her earlier reply about reading up on "Understanding exposure" is probably the best advice you will receive on your question. (Incidentally - no aspersions cast on the other replies!)

    What I find compelling about her suggestion is that the question you asked really has less to do with the 17-55 and which camera you are using than it does about photography in general.

    In order to fully grasp the concepts offered to you and to be on your way to maximizing the lens you mention, you need to "go to school" on exposure in general and incorporate the points made in the other replies.

    Once you understand the interplay between shutter speed/aperature, distance to subject and can apply these concepts to the vision you have when you are setting up the shot, you will be well along the way to answering your specific question about the 17-55.

    Sorry to seemingly generalize your specific question, but truth be told, there is not much difference between nailing a shot with the 17-55 or with a 17-35 or an 18-200. Granted that any lens has a sweet spot (or sweet range of spots) where it performs optimally, but you need to understand the fundamentals of producing a "photograph" (what "images" used to be called) as a first step in maximizing the potential of any lens/body combination.

    Hope this doesn't come across as simplistic or condescending....but the fact is that there is little substitute for knowledge of the basics. Read Peterson (or any of the other good photography primers - John Shaw's how to books come to mind), understand the fundamentals of photography and then apply what you learned specifically to the 17-55 and practice, practice practice.

    None of our well meaning answers, no matter how accurate and/or wise, can substitute for hands on trial and error by you.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2008
  6. oz388

    oz388

    50
    Aug 8, 2008
    calgary
    Hey Leah, thanks for the book! I will find it :)  btw, sorry for the missing info, Camera I'm using is D80, wedding photograph is what I'm interested the most. So I guess people are the main subjects I should focus on.
     
  7. oz388

    oz388

    50
    Aug 8, 2008
    calgary
    Thanks Miguel! I understand the basics. However I'm not sure how to use the large aperture correctly (in low light if not using flash I will have no choice but using f2.8, right?). From f4 to f16 is a huge range, how do I decide? does f10 and f16 have huge difference in depth of field??
     
  8. oz388

    oz388

    50
    Aug 8, 2008
    calgary
    Hi William, very detail and useful info, thank you so much! Do you think f2.8 is fast enough for indoor photograph with enough daylight from windows? (I try not use flash because I only have a SB600 and I'm not totally in control with it)

    Also you said: "...use flash as your main source of light then I will diffuse the light or bounce it. I generally go with f8". So when shooting portrait indoor will your "f8+flash" still throw the background out of focus??
     
  9. oz388

    oz388

    50
    Aug 8, 2008
    calgary
    Sorry for the missing info, portrait and group of people will be my shooting subjects. Thanks!
     
  10. T o n y

    T o n y

    33
    Nov 18, 2006
    Wellington NZ.
    Hi oz388

    I'd have to agree that "Understanding exposure" is going to give you all the answers your looking for, and a lot more probably.

    It's very clear and easy to understand with great examples to visually explain the text. A good read over and over.
     
  11. Miguel

    Miguel

    May 12, 2006
    Norwalk, CT
    From f/4 will give you less depth of field then f/16, but it also depends on your focal length. At 17mm and f/4 you can still get enough depth of field to shoot a small group of people, but at 55mm and f/4 you will have less depth of field and could probably only shoot one person and have them in focus.

    Also your distance to the subject and the distance of the background to the subject comes into play with the depth of field.

    The best thing to do is just play around with different apertures, focal lengths and distances to see how your lens performs. Then you will get a better feel for things.
     
  12. leahp26

    leahp26

    926
    Apr 28, 2008
    Southern NH
    "However I'm not sure how to use the large aperture correctly (in low light if not using flash I will have no choice but using f2.8, right?). From f4 to f16 is a huge range, how do I decide? does f10 and f16 have huge difference in depth of field??"

    In low light with no flash you can also bump up your ISO. You mention that weddings/people would be an interest - if you're shooting in low light with no flash maybe 2-4 people at f2.8 you would struggle to get all their eyes in focus.

    When you have shoot wide open (f2.8) you are letting in lots of light but you also have a shallow plane of focus so if there are 2 rows of people or even the eyes of 2 people are not on the same plane you will have some blur.

    I would say if I look back 3-6 months ago I used to have all the same questions you had - I struggled so much with the interplay between ISO, SS and Aperture but reading books, hanging out at the cafe and making TONS of mistakes (shooting 8 people at f1.8 and having a huge blur, shooting in bright sunlight at ISO 3200, shooting fast moving children with an 85mm lens at a shutter speed of 30 - the list goes on!) - I can promise that it will come together! Keep practicing!
     
  13. leahp26

    leahp26

    926
    Apr 28, 2008
    Southern NH
    Should just add that I still make stupid mistakes - slightly less than before - but I think I did the all time best tonight, I drove off with an SB800 on the roof of my car.
    I retraced my route but it is gone. I am very sad.
     
  14. that is unfortunate. Great thread for a noob like me. Thanks to all who are sharing.
     
  15. cr2596

    cr2596

    719
    Aug 20, 2008
    Baton Rouge, LA
    A lot of great info in this thread. Im learning more an more on these forums.
     
  16. primoz

    primoz

    17
    Aug 25, 2008
    Willoughby, Oh
  17. f/5.6 does it for me.
     
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