Canon 400D - Scared

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by harveypooka, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. harveypooka macrumors 65816

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    #1
    I bought a Canon 400D after my Canon Powershot A80 was stolen and I'm finding it...weird.

    I loved my Powershot A80 - it just took the nicest, well coloured shots ever, albeit at 4MP. I've been trying out my 400D but really can't seem to even snap a half decent shot. I've tried to on MF and AF and images that have a small proportion of darkness, come out very dark indeed. I shot these on Full Auto, so I'd imagine that it'd take a clear, if rather dull shot - but still.

    The first image is taken in direct sunlight, a bit clouded, but you can see how dark parts of the image are. The second image was taken partially in shade, so I can understand it being darker than the rest, but not that dark.

    My question is: what am I doing wrong? Am I jumping too far ahead with my photography? I miss my A80!
     

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  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    Jul 4, 2004
    #2
    We've got one of these at work. I think what you need to do is to read the manual very carefully to get the most out of the manual modes. Experiment with the metering and different ISO settings and look at possibly bracketing some of your shots.

    Some here might say you need a better lens than the standard lens that comes with it; that might be so but I'm assuming you don't want to spend any more money than you have already.
     
  3. harveypooka thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #3
    I'm reading the manual until I quote the thing! Aperture also comes with (demo) some really neat PDF's on taking digital images, how cameras work and what not - really worth it.

    I do have the standard lens but I would consider buying a new lens in January, possibly a zoom one, when I've got a bit more green in my pocket.

    Ok...bracketing, I'll take a lookee...
     
  4. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #4
    I'd definitely play around a lot more with this lens before deciding on buying a new one. Figuring out this one's limitations will give you a clearer picture of what you'll need in the future.

    Also look at exposure lock and exposure compensation. Just keep reading and playing around and it'll all start making a lot more sense.
     
  5. Mike Teezie macrumors 68020

    Mike Teezie

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    Nov 20, 2002
    #5
    Let me see if I can help you out.

    In picture one, you metered on the sky, which is incredibly bright. That's going to make the camera think the entire scene is as bright as the sky, and it's going to set the exposure accordingly. That's why the darker parts are so dark.

    For a scene that bright, you need to try to find the closest value difference in the two extremes. Don't meter on the brightest part of the sky, and don't meter on the dark rocks.

    If I were you, in that situation, I would set the camera to "P", set the ISO to 100, and then turn the metering to partial.

    See what I mean here.

    For what it's worth, I never let the camera focus and meter where it wants, I use a weighted focus point. Tat gives me the most control over my images, and my keeper rate is almost 100%.
     
  6. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a

    failsafe1

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    Jul 21, 2003
    #6
    Digital photography is like shooting slide film. You don't have the range you have in print film. With both of these images your camera metered on the bright areas or large neutral areas and you don't have the latitude to record detail in the shadows that you would have had with conventional print film. Each camera also meters differently. So your previous camera read one way and the new one reads another. I have had two identical brand/models of camera that could be a stop different in the metering pattern. You have to learn your new camera and then adjust how you meter. You will have to bracket your exposures after metering manually or use your EV dial if you have one on the 400 after auto metering. Manual is best. Metering on a different area of your photo could help and us AE lock if you have it. Meter on something other than the brightest area of the photo. You can also use a tripod and bracket your exposures then combine the three images together in a software program. This allows for the combination of highlights, shadows and mid-tones from the bracketed images into one image. This is called (high dynamic range) HDR photography. Photoshop CS2 allows for this and there are other plug-ins and programs that allow you to work with this technique.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/high-dynamic-range.htm
     
  7. harveypooka thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Feb 24, 2004
    #7
    Thanks dudes, I'm grateful. I think what baffled me was that it didn't take 'as good' shots at my A80 on auto, but I guess it was perhaps designed as a more all round performer, where as the 400D is specifically to fiddle with.
     
  8. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #8
    That's pretty much it. Compacts are designed for the "point and shoot" crowd - they don't care about the details, they just want their happy snaps. DSLRs will do that to an extent, but you won't get full value unless you learn how photography works to at least some extent, and use the camera to exploit its abilities.

    Any scene where there's a lot of contrast - eg, sunsets - is a challenge to photograph. Graduated filters can help, or just fiddle with the settings to see what pops out. It's digital - there's no cost to failed experiments, after all. The best way to learn is to try to get a specific shot, and not give up until you have it - especially if it's a tricky shot technically. I learnt more trying to shoot a flame tower at Crown Casino (Melbourne) with the hotel tower alongside it than I have just aimlessly pointing and clicking - the shot was technically perfect in the end, but rather disappointing - but I learnt heaps trying to get it.
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #9
    Well, the camera IS doing the correct job if it's trying to save the details in the clouds by not blowing them out entirely. He's probably just used to point and shoot cameras that overexpose the clouds but makes everything else appear brighter.

    If you're taking a photo because of how the clouds appear, and you wish to emphasize the clouds, then I guess listen to the meter. If you want the foreground to be bright and don't care about the clouds, then over-expose on purpose. You'll get a brighter scene, although your clouds will have no detail and just be white blobs in the sky. It really depends on what you're going for.
     
  10. dllavaneras macrumors 68000

    dllavaneras

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    #10
    Also, keep in mind that there are many reports of 400D's underexposing. That could be why the images are dark when they shouldn't be. Search dpreview.com for the reports
     
  11. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    #11
    And if you want to have your cake and eat it too, look into a neutral density gradient filter. :D (I'd suggest using the Cokin system, or similar, for such a beastie; any other filter, I'd suggest getting the standard circular screw-in type.)
     
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #12
    Yes, or that. ;)

    Did you get the Cokin ND filter yet? I'm looking into getting it from Madsens because it's located in Wollongong (where I live) and they have really high end stuff (best Manfrotto stock I've seen), although they're also more expensive than any other store I've seen in Australia. :eek: If you have a suggestion for another retailer, I'd like to know.
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #13
    The basic problem is that the scene contained a greater range brightness then the camera can record. Either you or the built-in automation has to decide which portion of the range to record. You can capute details in the bright sky areas and let the forground go solide black or you can capture the forgraouund details and let the sky go blank white. You can't get both because of a limitaion of digital technology. (Film can do a better job here)
     
  14. Ib Corell macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    #14
    400d

    Hello
    I also have the same problem with my new 400D and my PowerPoint Pro 1 was also stolen, and I miss it. I can NOT get pictures as good as with my old Pro 1. I am using a Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 17 - 85 mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM lens.
    My new 400D do not take as good picture as my old Pro 1, which I was very glad for. The pictures come out as VERY dark and often unclear. I am using the setting: "Full Autom." I regret buying the 400D, but I could not find a PowerPoint Pro1.
    Regards
    Ib
     
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #15
    Did you read any of the replies before you posted?
     
  16. harveypooka thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Yeah mate, have a read of the previous posts. I've been scouring the net, eating up information about the relationship of exposure and shutter speed to exposure. Quite interesting. What I'd recommend is that you read the manual a lot, I've read it about six times now, read some pages on the net and then just go and play about. I found this website to be of great help: http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/fototech/apershutter/index.htm
     
  17. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #18
    There are a lot of reports of underexposure problems with the 400D. I don't have one, so I can't help much, but trying a photography forum (dpreview or fredmiranda, maybe) might be fruitful.
     
  18. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #19
    One more thing... I think your metering looks like it's probably off for these photos, but is it possible for you to post a histogram (levels)?

    I made the jump to a DSLR (300D) last year. DSLRs really require you to do the work. They're made for it. Part of that work is setting up the shot correctly, using the correct lens correctly, and so on.

    But a second, if less important, part is that I learned that you must really get used to the idea of some minimal post-processing on DSLRs. The biggest example is that they benefit enormously from unsharpen mask (e.g. 200% / 0.8 radius). At FM and other places, many people consider doing this to DSLRs to be just part of doing business. But in your case, I'm also wondering what the histo of those photos look like to know whether any parts of it were actually completely dark, or if you just need to compress the dynamic range by adjusting levels....
     
  19. harveypooka thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Feb 24, 2004
    #20
    Sure, I can grab the Histograms. In the mean time, I checked out under exposed forum posts through Google and found quite a few rants.

    "So, that to me suggests that the sensor records the data okay, but the digic processor is appying a very strong gamma curve to the data conversion. Now, is that strong gamma curve the result of the default picture style? Can it be made more like the Xt if you choose neutral instead? I don't know at the moment, but at least I think all of you experiencing this can rest easy about having a bad camera. A bad sensor or other hardware issue would not likely do that."

    From http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1031&message=20882844

    I am a bit concerned as I've spent about £600 on this camera so far for the body and lens, 2GB card and case. I am excited to learn the potential of it but on Full Auto it doesn't adequately expose shots. Apparently this is just on Evaluative Metering, the rest are fine. The guy on DPReview reckons (as so do a few others) it can be sorted with a Firmware upgrade?

    I called Jessops where I bought it from and they said they would replace it/send it away for repair, but since the camera appears to have this issue on all of them, replacing isn't going to do a thing.
     
  20. harveypooka thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Here are the Histograms, let me know if you need more data or want me to work it out. Of note, the link I mentioned previously, has comparisons between the 400D (Xti), 350D (Xt) and 30D.
     

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  21. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #22
    Well, the first rule of fight club is, "Do not use Full Auto mode on a dSLR...." :)

    But anyway, I think the histos definitely help. If you look at them... they're not technically underexposed -- one of them has blown regions in the sky (the spike goes all the way to the right end of the histo) and while the other does not, it has sky regions near the top of the spectrum. So if you meter on the ground, you will have many blown pixels.

    You have three basic options in this kind of situation...notwithstanding the option of getting a different dSLR....

    1) Do something that enhances your dynamic range (such as the "high dynamic range" shooting techniques)

    2) Meter on ground spots and accept that the sky will be blown

    3) Adjust levels in post to compensate

    I'm not at all a pro... so I stand to be corrected. But I think I usually end up doing something most like (3), because it's better to start with a photo that uses the full sensor range than with one that has blown or unilluminated pixels.

    I don't know how to do this in iPhoto, which I think you're using, but in Photoshop what you might play around with is the levels adjustment in which you have the "end" controls (that set the high and low end of the dynamic range) and the "middle" button (that sets the linearity, more or less). What I would do in this case is adjust that middle button, I think to the left, and/or use the function to selectively brighten the darks.
     
  22. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #23
    Looks to me like the camera is working fine. You can't expect an evaluative meter to make a good decision. How does it know what part of the picture is important to you? In these kinds of shots where you have a bright sky and dark forground yu should meter the forground using the spot meter ot (more simply) point the camera down to your feet to get an exposure resing off the ground.

    This is the same thing as when you have a person facing the camera with a bright background. You will get a black silhouette unless you metter off the person's face. Meters are stupid.

    This is way I always tell people who are buying a new camera not to let those "marketing numbers" make the desion for them. May beginning photographers will look at the megapixel count and ignore everything else. They simply want "megapixels per buck". Not many beginners look at the Nikon SLR and even know why they'd want a 1024 segment RGB meter. OK now maybe you know why. Some meters are less stupid than others.

    I think part of the problem here is the high megapixel count of the new 400D. When you make more pixels you have to make each one smaller. Dynamic range is a function of pixel size. My 6MP D50 would have a better chance of recording your example shoots. But then Canon knows darn well that beginners look only at the MP count and price and so builds their camera to sell. And it works. They are the market leader.
    Same with Apple computers. Buyers understand "Gigahertz" and price. Not much more. So Dell and the like offer boxes with high Ghz per dollar ratios and most people buy those and Apple is not a market leader

    All that said. You don't have a problem. All camera are trade offs when you add one nice feature it comes at the expense of some others. the D400 seems to offer high resolution (10MP) but at the expense of dynamic range. You will have to learn how to use the light meter and how to use exposure compensation. Notice that the camera has push button controls for both exposure lock and compensation and they are right were your fingers fall. I asume the button placement is that way because they assume you will want to use these quite a bit. It's a good camera but it's a set of trade offs.

    Back in the 1970's I shot slide film with a camera that had a center weighted meter (evaluative meters where not yet invented) It was not hard. If I wanted to exposue for the sky I'd point the camera upward to take a reading and if I wanted the forground to be well exposed I'd take the reading with the camer tipped downward. Not rocket science. Slide film is like digital in that it has a small dynamic range and you can't have everything well exposed so yu have to choose. BUt it take just a second to tip the camera up or down, not a big deal.
     
  23. harveypooka thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Feb 24, 2004
    #24
    I bought the Canon 400D because it had all round good reviews. I also read that it was a good starting DSLR and I've always used Canon cameras and got good results. Yes, the MP count did appeal to me as it is...well, more detail I guess. I did look at the Nikon D80 (or is the D70 - whichever is newer and can do 23 fps vs the 400D's 3fps!) but I couldn't justify £200 for more it I'm afraid.

    I'm not an expert, that's why I rely on reading a lot of reviews, and I've read a few about the underexposure 'problem'. Thanks for your input, it's great to know that there are a lot of things that could be causing it. Maybe the evaluative metering does suck, it does make sense what you say - how can it figure out what balance is right? I'll have a play round - it still scares me though! Problems like these are good (bear with me) because it kind of forces you learn more and maybe be a little bit of scared...

    Scared of a camera, eeee......
     
  24. maxi macrumors regular

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    #25
    Technically the images are correctly exposed. Underexposure is a lot better than overexposure in digital. Once you blow up your highlights you are screwed, but you can still recover the dark areas.
    I'm surprised no one told you to use the shadow control feature in aperture, it will do wonders for your picture. You just have to turn the shadow slider a bit to the right and the darker areas will light up, leaving the highlights untouched.

    Of course a better exposure would be preferable, but the thing is that you don't have that kind of dynamic range with digital, you'd need an ND grad filter, HDR post processing or plain blowing out the highlights in order to make that composition work. Working in raw may give you a bit mor DR too.
     

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