Getting the most out of my camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by yg17, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #1
    I'm going on a cruise in the Caribbean in May and want to get the most out of my camera for this trip. I am a complete idiot when it comes to these things, all I know is I push a button once the picture I want is in the screen and magical things happen and the photo winds up on a memory card. I've got a cheap point and shoot, a Sony 6 megapixel Cybershot DSC-S500 and don't plan on buying anything more expensive (a DSLR crossed my mind, but they're too expensive, and I rarely use my camera enough to justify it).

    First of all, batteries. My camera takes regular AA batteries, nothing fancy. I have some rechargeable NiMH ones that charge in 15 minutes which is convenient. But this camera sucks up a battery like nothing else I've seen, and not to mention, NiMH batteries seem to have a huge auto discharge rate as well. I can have my fully charged batteries just sitting there and after a week, they'll be dead. Is there another type of battery (preferably rechargeable) that I can buy that will get me better life? When you're out at some places, recharging isn't possible and the longer I can go without charging, the better.


    Second, and this is probably a loaded question, but how do I get the best quality pictures? I've found that in auto mode, if the lighting is pretty good, they come out great. But in the dark, you can't see a damn thing in the photo (yes, I'm using the flash, I know that much ;)) So I switch it to ISO 400, and you can see more, but it's a bit grainy. Then if I leave it on ISO 400 and take pictures with enough lighting, the graininess is even worse. So I guess the key here is auto mode when there's enough ambient lighting? What's the best way for night photos then? My camera has a night mode, but those come out blurry since I can't hold the camera completely still (I guess it's designed for tripod use?) Also, what's white balance and what should that be set on? Auto, I guess? Just explain to an idiot how to get the best pictures possible from his cheapo camera and I'll be happy :D Any other tips you have would certainly be helpful. Thanks in advance
     
  2. SLC Flyfishing macrumors 65816

    SLC Flyfishing

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #2
    Yup for night shots you really have to use a tripod! I don't know anyone who can handhold a true nighttime shot!

    SLC
     
  3. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #3
    Well... where to begin?

    First off, it is important to remember that having the greatest pictures is not the most important thing in the world. This sounds like a nice trip, and in your shoes, I'd try to get the most out of my experience. The whole "don't just look, see" thing.

    Learning how to take pictures takes time, practice, patience, practice, knowledge, practice... and umm, did I mention practice?

    A good photo is much more than knowing about ISOs, apertures, focal length, depth of field, and all that terminology that will confuse most of us. You have to see the picture.

    Batteries on a trip like this can be a hassle. I would recommend a set of lithiums, that you can throw away... think about it- where are you going to charge batteries on an island, and do all the countries you'll visit use the 110V as we do in the US?

    To take good night pictures you will need to use the lowest ISO settings, no flash, and support. If you're in a bind, put the camera on a rock or tree or on the ground, make sure the flash won't fire, and set it on timer (to reduce vibrations). One trick to try in tricky lighting (if your camera allows for manual mode) is to try metering in the area that you'll be shooting, remember the settings, and set them manually (so if you're in the shadows, and there is some light beyond them, point the camera at the ground, get a reading for aperture and shutter speed, set the camera, and then take your picture).

    Enjoy your trip. It sounds like fun.
     
  4. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #4
    Well, you've got a bit of time between now and May to read the camera manual, and a coupla books on basic photo techniques, and shoot a few thousand pix. You'll learn fast, 'cos you don't know so much right now. ;)

    But, I agree that you shouldn't let your camera get in the way of your enjoyment of the trip. Maybe take a few 'people pix', and buy some postcards of the landmarks and locations. Have a great time...
     
  5. yg17 thread starter macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #5
    Thanks for the advice guys.

    And I'm not going to let taking photos get in the way of having fun, I'm not much of a photo taker anyways. I just want the few that I do take to be good
     
  6. Regis27 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    #6
    re: Batteries

    Sanyo's new Eneloop batteries are designed to have virtually no auto-discharge (at least compared to normal NiMH). I would recommend picking up a set of those (you can use a normal Nimh charger, but I am not sure about a 15 min charger, which usually needs special high tolerance batts).
    However, in a case like this (a cruise where you'll be taking pictures everyday), it's not like they'll be sitting around for a week unused and discharging, so normal nimh might work out for you. Nimh are actually supposed to have better performance in electronic applications (like cameras) than alkaline. I would think that your batteries are worn out (even if they've only gone through 10s of discharge cycles, they lose their ability to hold charge when they are over-discharged, so it's better to switch them out BEFORE they're completely empty).

    So much for the background info, here's my recommendation:
    1. get a new set of nimh's. either eneloop (2000mah) or normal (but at least 2500mah)
    2. charge them every night on the ship
    3. carry around a set of lithiums as backups. They're expensive, but very light and very long lasting. If your nimh's are getting you through most days, you should be able to get by with one set of Lithiums for the trip.
     
  7. darfel macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    NorCal
    #7
    As one post put it, you need practice. Try simulating your night shots by going to a restaurant at night and take some pictures inside and outside. I would suggest using the flash on what's called second curtain; that way you can avoid trying to place it on something as it may fall and break. The most important variable of taking pictures is the light that falls upon the subject and adjusting for it. I would suggest using the P mode and practicing using the flash compensation to get the picture you want. Read the manual a few times and practice all the features. Scott Kelby's Digital Photography book may help understand situational assessment. Download the pictures to your computer and look at them objectively.

    http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Photography-Book-2/dp/0321524764/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202282315&sr=8-1

    Don't forget to enjoy the trip...good luck
     
  8. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #8
    Even the fanciest camera doesn't give you this kind of guarantee... ;)

    It's a learning curve. When you take a good shot... remember what you did, and what the conditions were like at the time...
     
  9. qtpie36963 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #9
    YUP!! You're right, definitely need a tripod! It's tough to take anything with the shutter speed at a 15th of a second or slower.... your heart will beat and that is enough to subtly move the camera. That's why You don't know anyone!! :)
     
  10. qtpie36963 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    #10
    Well with a "cheapo camera", you kind of get what you pay for, not to say you can't get good pictures. A good photographer can get a good picture no matter what his camera.. even a brownie camera!! HAHA. Just practice and as long as you capture the memories, you're pictures will be perfect! You'll basically want it for snap shots, but if you want night time snap shots, use a tripod and don't use a flash. BUT if you're on the boat, chances are you may not get a clear shot because the boat is moving.

    Regarding the ISO... The higher ISO settings ARE for lower light conditions, but unfortunately, the higher the ISO the more grain you're going to see. And you're not an idiot.. you knew enough to fool with the ISO and other things!!! :)
     

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