Question about Aperture priority and Shutter Priority

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by John Edwards, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. John Edwards

    John Edwards Guest

    I had been trying to use Aperture / Shutter Priority modes for some
    time now. In all my readings online and in books, it is adviced that in
    low light situations where we need more light to come into the camera,
    use aperture priority. That seems about right.

    My question is the following :

    1) Say if I am shooting a picutre indoors (inside the house) with the
    built in flash of my camera, and say I adjusted the aperture to the
    lowest that my camera can go to (which is 2.9), I see that the shutter
    speed is automatically adjusted which it should as I am using the
    Aperture Priority Mode. The problem with this approach is the shutter
    speed is adjusted to say 1/4 or 1/2 sec, which is quite slow and might
    mean camera shake / blur if the subject is not really still. Now
    consider the same situation, if I used Shutter Priority and adjusted
    the shutter speed to 1/60, I can somehow still get 2.9 Aperture. Now
    the question is, it looks like shutter priority is better for low light
    situations where we want faster shutter speeds and wider apertures, am
    I correct in this assumption.. ?

    BTW, the camera I am using is a Nikon 4500 Digital Camera.
    -- John Edwards.
    John Edwards, Jan 4, 2005
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  2. John Edwards

    Jim Guest

    Sorry that is not right. While it is correct that you need more light,
    there are many ways to accomplish this goal.
    No, you are very incorrect. The reason the camera chose f2.9 when you set
    the shutter speed to 1/60 was that f2.9 is the widest available.
    In the prior instance, the camera came much closer to the correct exposure.
    You should use flash in such a case.
    Jim, Jan 4, 2005
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  3. John Edwards

    Dave Cohen Guest

    On a canon A95 if you select a shutter speed for which the camera cannot
    match a correct aperture, the max aperture displays in red to warn that you
    are out of range.
    In aperture priority, if flash is not set, a time of 1 sec was indicated. If
    flash is set this changes to 1/60 and flash fires. All this requires display
    to be on. I would be surprised if other cameras weren't equally helpful, but
    if this is not the case it only reinforces my good judgement in selecting a
    Dave Cohen
    Dave Cohen, Jan 4, 2005
  4. Sorry, but no. When you forced the 1/60 second, the camera just did the
    best it could with your required 1/60. Based on the camera's meter the
    image will be underexposed, or it might have increased the effective ISO
    (light sensitivity) setting, which you could have done manually.
    Joseph Meehan, Jan 4, 2005
  5. John Edwards

    paul Guest

    It probably adjusted the ISO for you which is good. I think you are
    understanding this correctly, if it's so dark that you are getting
    speeds too slow to hand hold then yes, set it on shutter priority so
    you're pics don't come out blurred from shake when you don't notice.

    I usually use aperture priority when I need a high depth of field & the
    light is adequate. Total auto mode for some reason always defaults to
    poor depth (small aperture number) which is seldom what I want. Normally
    it won't give you a better depth until the speed goes below 1/60.
    paul, Jan 4, 2005
  6. John Edwards

    Dave Cohen Guest

    As long as display is on, in shutter priority my A95 warns if exposure is
    insufficient by displaying aperture in red. It will also warn of under or
    over exposure in full manual mode.
    Dave Cohen
    Dave Cohen, Jan 5, 2005
  7. John Edwards

    MarkH Guest

    This is true for ambient light, not necessarily true for using a flash.
    If using Aperture Priority the camera will set the best shutter speed to
    match that aperture, many cameras do this for ambient light only and use
    the flash for fill.

    If using Shutter Priority when there is not enough light the camera will
    set the aperture to max wide and then use the flash to get the right

    It's all about whether the camera is exposing for ambient light and using
    the flash as fill, or if the camera is using the flash as the main light
    source. If you set the aperture then the camera can use the ambient light,
    but if you set the shutter speed then often there is no way the camera can
    get the exposure right without using the flash as the main light source.
    MarkH, Jan 5, 2005
  8. John Edwards

    John Edwards Guest

    Thanks for all the replies.

    Yes, the Flash on the camera is the main light source. Indoor
    photography atleast as far as I have seen has very little ambient light
    (which is atleast in the USA driven by halogen lights that are around
    150Watts). So I have to mostly use the flash on the camera as the main
    light source, ofcourse a TTL external flash would be a better choice.

    In my experience, whenever I photograph people at parties,
    get-togethers etc. I have noticed that the ambient light is definitely
    not enough to get good exposures in the Camera "auto" or "Programmed
    mode". This is when I started using the Aperture Prioriy mode to
    increase the aperture so that I get better exposures (basically so that
    atleast the people are not "dark"). This is the point when the camera
    started choosing very slow shutter speeds, which again is a problem as
    people at parties often move quite randomly, so photo blur/shake is a
    definite possiblity. Then I started to venture into shutter priority
    where I can atleast have 1/60th of second so that I do not get motion
    blur. Incidentally the camera as you had written chose the widest
    possible aperture (f/2.9) in my case, and the exposures were brighter
    with the subjects and backgrounds well lit.

    I am not sure how other people cope with this situation, photographing
    outdoors where there is enough ambient light is not much of a problem,
    I think even with a point and shoot camera if you are lucky you will
    get good exposures. I always find it very challenging to photograph
    people indoors especially during parties at night where I have to
    depend only on the indoor "dull" lighting. I have seen phots taken by
    way too many people (not professionals) and have always observed that
    the subject is very dark and the backgrounds virtually not visible !!
    I am sure if there is a professional taking these photos, (having the
    same cameras without any fancy strobes or studio equipment) he would
    definitely get better photos. That is what I am trying to find out in
    this newsgroup, as to how the pros handle this situation ??
    -- John Edwards
    John Edwards, Jan 5, 2005
  9. John Edwards

    Owamanga Guest

    You got it. External bounce flash is what you need. On camera flash is
    fine for daylight fill but just horrible for low-light portraits.
    But people movement also brings life to the picture. You don't want
    too much, but you don't want none at all either. Shake can be
    eliminated totally by using a tripod or other static support for the
    camera. Even the cheapest video camera tripod for $15 will help
    enormously here.
    One thing you haven't mentioned is film speed. When the metered
    combination of shutter and aperture is still giving you a very slow
    shutter speed it's time to turn up the ISO setting.

    In these situations I have two approaches, and usually do both.

    One: Bounce flash, directly up or slightly angled forward with the
    little white card attached to the back of the flash to reflect a
    little light forwards to create a catch light in the subject's eyes. I
    usually stand about 4ft away from the subject. It's a bounce, so harsh
    shadows are not a problem.

    Two: Very high ISO (1600-3200), steady support. 1/60th is fine, even
    to 1/15th for a little people movement to help with the atmosphere of
    the shot. Very low power forward facing diffused flash - or no flash
    at all. You get extremely natural night lighting and attractive
    backgrounds. Movement of people to show they are alive, and *how*
    alive they are.
    This is typical of a direct-flash night-photo. The flashlight hits the
    subject first, but it's power falls-off quickly so that by the time it
    gets to the background, it's significantly dimmer. It's effectively a
    1/10,000th sec photo completely obliterating any movement or ambient
    atmospheric light and giving the subjects demonic red-eye and bright
    shiny faces. The people at the party may as well be dead.
    A pro would, by definition, have the equipment he needs to achieve the
    shot. Usually multiple strobes, probably just one external mounted on
    the camera and the other held high front-side by an assistant. At the
    very least a single external bounce flash if a neutral ceiling is
    nearby. And if he's using slower shutter speeds, a tripod.
    Basically, they buy/rent/steal/make the equipment they need to do the

    But just to be clear, I am not a pro.
    Owamanga, Jan 5, 2005
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