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  1. #1
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    How to take good photos?

    I have taken almost 10k photos but none can satisfy me. I mainly shoot portraits. I read some books and know some basic skills. But still not working, how can I improve myself?

    I upload some of the photos to Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/43038359@N04/

    So please give me some advice.

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Senior Member BlueRob's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Im in the same place right now...I know some basics but I'm still finding my way.

    The only thing I can say is that for example in "Vicky2" maybe playing with the metering mode and some fill out flash would help to brighten the subject without loosing the sunset in the background, which I think is what you tried to capture.
    HTH

  3. #3
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Pick a few of your best and post them (one at a time) on the Critique forum and ask what is wrong. Take more - USING THE ADVICE - and post the best of those asking for more help. If you listen and practice, you will improve. TF
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  4. #4
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    I just wrote a comment on the Flickr photos in the Nikon forum.
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  5. #5
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    The subject matter : is all that matters !! Now how do you learn how to CONSISTENTLY create stunning photographs ???


    COMPOSITION: what YOU (everybody) has to LEARN. next question: How does one LEARN correct composition ??? read lots of books ?? memorize the rules ???

    NO ! none of the above !! Ansel Adams once said. There are no rules for great photographs. there are only GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS !!

    As a successfull professional photographer with more than 40 years experience. I can let you in on a few secrets.

    It is going to take time for you to develop your style. You can purchase all the books in the world and read them.. but that is NOT GOING to help you.

    I have found through teaching experience that the BEST WAY to learn COMPOSITION.

    Is to STUDY... .. professional photographers photographs !! The Best of the BEST!

    LOOK - very carefully and NOTICE where the 'point of interest or focus is" in EVERY SINGLE IMAGE !!!

    Now when you can CONSITENTLY accomplsh this will ALL your photographs.. you have arrived at the next step !!!

    Ask yourself this question (before squeeaing that shutter).. Is this image sale-able??

    Will someone pay for this imiage ??? -=[click]=-

    F.A.S.T. focus - aperature - shutter - think !!!

    I hope some of this helps you on your journey !!

    That image was created in 2001 using a 4 mega pixel toy camera !!




    Ansel Adams once said.. 12 good images per year - is a good crop !!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member BlueRob's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Majik_Imaje
    The subject matter : is all that matters !! Now how do you learn how to CONSISTENTLY create stunning photographs ???


    COMPOSITION: what YOU (everybody) has to LEARN. next question: How does one LEARN correct composition ??? read lots of books ?? memorize the rules ???

    NO ! none of the above !! Ansel Adams once said. There are no rules for great photographs. there are only GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS !!

    As a successfull professional photographer with more than 40 years experience. I can let you in on a few secrets.

    It is going to take time for you to develop your style. You can purchase all the books in the world and read them.. but that is NOT GOING to help you.

    I have found through teaching experience that the BEST WAY to learn COMPOSITION.

    Is to STUDY... .. professional photographers photographs !! The Best of the BEST!

    LOOK - very carefully and NOTICE where the 'point of interest or focus is" in EVERY SINGLE IMAGE !!!

    Now when you can CONSITENTLY accomplsh this will ALL your photographs.. you have arrived at the next step !!!

    Ask yourself this question (before squeeaing that shutter).. Is this image sale-able??

    Will someone pay for this imiage ??? -=[click]=-

    F.A.S.T. focus - aperature - shutter - think !!!

    I hope some of this helps you on your journey !!

    That image was created in 2001 using a 4 mega pixel toy camera !!


    Ansel Adams once said.. 12 good images per year - is a good crop !!!
    Interesting write up! :thumbsup:

    Where can we find the "general rules" (if any) on the F.A.S.T. I think I understand the basic concepts but when I have the camera on hand TBH I have no clue how my initial settings should be according to the situation. I guess somewhere the are the "rules of thumb" to take as a starting point.:blush2:

  7. #7
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Well if you are really serious about learning the Art of Photography and learning how to 'shoot from the hip' then I suggest you take the time to learn - .. .. how to read light !!

    As you are all aware - Photography is all about light - & what you can do with YOUR IMAGINATION and THAT light !!!

    Now this is very easy to do and master but it requires practice !! So .. before you can succed - first you have to 'fail' !!! that is the ONLY WAY TO LEARN -'ANYTHING !!!!

    Take your camera off Automatic and put it on manual & let me show you how to begin to learn how to read light.

    Now we have to start somewhere. a starting point - so lets make it very simple.

    100 iso is the speed you will learn & stay with until you master it.

    Now what type of lighting are you going to learn how to read ?? Lets keep it simple

    sunlight outdoors !! Ok.. your outside with your camera it is sunny outside - there are distinct shadows. Place the sun at your back and look at what the sun is shinning on.

    It makes NO DIFFERENCE what you are looking at. as long as it is lit by the sun and there are shadows. Create an image - -=[click]=- good. now the rest is easy.

    because you can instantly see your results !!

    Ok you just created an image - how ?? what did you use for settings ????

    100 ISO . Shutter speed of 125 is your starting point. anything lower - might cause blurring or camera shake / wiggle etc.

    If you are creating images of 'sports' activity or something moving such as a race or whatever then you need a faster shutter speed. i.e. 1/250 or 1/500 or sec.

    FIRST CHOOSE THE SHUTTER SPEED- that you can use to capture razor sharp detail

    then choose the aperature you want to use.

    DIGITAL is much different than FILM .. I was shocked at the difference in EV (exposure values).

    Give me a film camera - no light meter - no batteries - I go out into a sunny park and see people etc. I know from experience 1/125 @ f11 will give me perfect exposure.

    If I am on bright sand or snow - I will stop down to f-16

    some people refer to this as the 1/125 f-16 sunny rule.

    That is the suggestion Kodak always gave in their film instructions for people that did not have a light meter. GUESS - guess what ?? it works.. in fact it works so well I threw my light meter away in 1973.

    Now.. you see a gorgeous sunset - wow.. what do I do ???? 1/125 @ 5.6 will give you awesome results every time (for film). digital is different !!

    So where to start. go out into a park or in your back yard - MANUAL SETTINGS.

    100 ISO shutter speed 125 aperature ???? use F11 - If your image is too dark - then open one stop !! F-8 still too dark ?? open 1/2 - one full f-stop.. Once you create a perfect exposure.. record the settings.. write them down. Keep notes. Now keep walking around using what you have just learned and try to create more images that are correclty exposed.

    YOU WILL ALWAYS BE CLOSE.. within a stop or two.. as you practice this and keep reading your notes and LOOKING at the scene .. dark colors ?? bright colors? it deptnds on what is in your viewfinder. If that viewfinder is filled with dark dim colors.. open a stop.

    If the scene is bright with large areas of open sky.. then you will close a stop.

    Once you contiue to practice this method of 'reading light' your going to become quite comfortable shooting from the hip . Light is light - !! A sunny day @ noon is the exact same light no matter which part of the world you are in.

    Now for overcast days. of course your going to have to open 2 more stops. that is all you have to do to learn how to read light .. if you create an image - you instantly know if it is close or way out. adjust your aperature accordinly !!

    Shooting into the sun ? open your lens.. your meter will tell you to close the aperature.

    Practice makes better !! I have taught complete rookies how to turn off the light meter and - guess !! guess what ?? they all learned this quickly with no problems at all.

    It won't take you long to master this..but it takes practice and you must keep notes!!

    now let me give you one last bit of information

    EXPOSURE VALUES: there are 22 different EV charts 1 - 22

    I am going to give you ONE value ( I already have) EV 15

    Just by knowing this one value - you can fill out all 22 exposure value charts (in your head)!!

    EV 15 100 iso


    1/1000

    1/ 500@F8

    1/250@F-11

    1/125@F-16

    1/60@F22

    1/30@F32

    1/15@F45

    1/8@F64

    1/4@F96

    1/2@F128

    Each of these shutter speed / aperature combinations are ALL EV 15

    Each of these = perfect exposure (for a certain type scene). The only thing that is different is the - depth of field - how much is in focus ??? Well @ F 128 EVERYTHING is in focus. - With large aperature openings the depth of field is DECREASED.

    DIGITAL is different. you cannot use THE TINYEST OPENINGS OR APERATURES.

    I.E. f22 - for digital - you want to learn how to use the 'sweet spot' of your lens.

    i.e. F 4 or F 5.6 or F8

    so adjust your shutter speed accordingly.

    Once you get the hang of this, then you will understand what to do if you want to use a different ISO..

    want to use 400 ??? then close your aperature by two f-stops..

    want to use ISO 50 then open your aperature by one f-stop

    want to use 800 ISO ?? then open your aperature one stop from 400 ISO SETTINGS OR 3 STOPS FROM 100 ISO SETTINGS.

    So.. instead of 1/125 of F 16 for 100 ISO - CLOSE TWO STOPS for ISO 400 & you are using -- 1/125 @ 32 = 400 iso
    or - 1/125 @ F11 orF 8 for 50 ISO

    400 ISO =EV 16

    50 ISO = EV - 14

    see how easy it is to fill out all the combinations ???? LEARN THIS SIMPLE METHOD !!

    Keep your camera on manual.. - learn.. .. first your gonna fail.. then YOUR GOING TO SUCCEED..

    As I am walking down any street. my camera is all set - 1/125 @ F 8 for the conditions of the day. I have one hand on the aperature ring - I am walking and as I see a photo opportunity arise I either keep ther aperature the same or I open it one stop (dark areas) or I close it one stop (bright areas). it is all that simple..

    Now with film we didn't have instant results. So when in doubt - do what the pros do

    "bracket" your exposures !! UNTIL YOU LEARN HOW TO READ THE LIGHT !!

    believe me.. it may sound scary - but you will learn - if you take the time to practice and keep good notes !!!

    believe me.. trust me.. some day soon - YOU will be TEACHING others how to use this very simple principle !!

    guess what happens when you learn this ?? .. your exposures are going to become CONSISTENT !! it will all become second nature to you.

    I have spent 30 years out on the ocean ice pack @ 40 below zero with no light meter - using film in the most extreme situations imagineable.

    100 ISO f 16 = perfect exposure - year after year - decade after decade !!

    cloudy skies ?? I open two stops and keep shooting !!!



    for 30 years. I have only used one film speed - 100 ISO !!

    DO not - use other ISO'S until you have perfected 100 ISO !!!

    LEARN how to use exposure values to calibrate your camera !!

    have fun - post results !!! - please !!

    NOTICE WHAT HAPPENS - gorgeous color !!! even @ 20 below zero !!

  8. #8
    Senior Member BlueRob's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    :thumbsup:
    Majik! Thanks very much for that long and well detailed writeup! I really appreciate the time and patience, for sure its going to help me and others around here wanting to squeeze all the juice out from our cameras.
    I`m printing that guide and will start to digest all the info given. During the weekend I`ll start playing with values mentioned looking for the "sweet spots"

    Thanks!

  9. #9
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Ansel Adams once said: A good photographer has ten thousand bad photographs under his belt !!!

    now go make some !!! (chukle) let me tell you a little secret that humble pro's will reveal. Their very best photographs .. .. 'were accidents' !!! Ansel Adams said the same thing.. basically but using different words.. more on that later !!

    In order to be good. @ anything.. YOU MUST.. have a STRONG foundation in the 'basics'

    Now begin to learn how to shoot from the hip and read the light. It won't take long I promise you !! I have had hundreds of students over the years. FIRST THING I taught them.. shut off that light meter and LEARN.to LOOK !! it only took two rolls before they all became EXPERTS !! I am positive with what you have for a 'tool' at your disposal. you can do it in under 100 frames.

    Once you BEGIN to create consistently exposed frames - THEN you can use all of your time - not worrying about exosure but learning how to be CREATIVE !!

    REMEMBER: only 3 things happen when you squeeze that shutter .

    That image is either too light

    That image is too DARK

    Or.. .. that image is correctly exposed !!.

    To correct for your mistake(s) open 1 stop or close 1 stop !! ta da !!! It is that simple.

    Have fun and post your results !!!

  10. #10
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by easypress
    I have taken almost 10k photos but none can satisfy me. I mainly shoot portraits. I read some books and know some basic skills. But still not working, how can I improve myself?

    I upload some of the photos to Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/43038359@N04/

    So please give me some advice.

    Thank you

    Ok... I studied your photos - both pages - I see the problem(s) you are experiencing !!

    #1 Your exposures are NOT CONSISTENT


    # 2. You have a yearning to be creative in ways that are not working for you.

    STUDY - look - learn - from studying other professional photographers images.

    Notice what they all have in common.

    They FILL that viewfinder - with textured 'detail' !! You have toooo much 'open' areas in your images.

    I love the composition of the girl with the sun . but you exposed for the sun and not for the girls face. So this is what you do NEXT TIME.

    turn around and face and look at what the sun is shinning on.. take a meter reading. lock it in.. turn around and create a PERFECT exposure !!

    eye hope that helps.. your much better at this than you think you are.. !! now move up to the next level. - "practice.. .. . makes - better !!!

    Don't give up.. your gonna be great - someday !! (but its gonna take time ) !!

  11. #11
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Majik_Imaje

    100 iso is the speed you will learn & stay with until you master it.
    Interesting, but why ISO 100? On most DSLRs, 200 is the 'native' ISO. 100 is just a processing conversion. TF
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  12. #12
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Well first of all .. I am OLD SCHOOL - FILM !!

    100 iso IS ABSOLUTLY meaningless. UNLESS you have something else to compare it to.

    It doesn't matter what those numbers are. they are meaninless unless compared to something else.

    100 ISO 160 ISO is only 1/2 an F stop

    I do not work with light meters. I use Exposure Values (that are in my head)

  13. #13
    Senior Member BlueRob's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    And I guess that ISO is very relative given that each processor is different, correct me if I`m wrong but I think it would be a matter of trial and error to find the "sweet spots" of each brand and model.

  14. #14
    Spamminator Grandpaw's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldClicker
    Interesting, but why ISO 100? On most DSLRs, 200 is the 'native' ISO. 100 is just a processing conversion. TF
    I think the point he was making is to pick a ISO and keep it constant. This will allow you to learn the pattern of how your F stops and shutter speeds work together before adding another variable into the mix. If you get comfortable with how the relationship between F stops and shutter speed works with one ISO it can easily be applied to others, Jeff
    Check out my website Here
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    All images posted by me anywhere are Copyrighted by Federal Law and may not be copied or used in ANY FORM without my personal written permission. Jeff Impey
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  15. #15
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    I took a look at your flickr images. I don't think the issue is whether or not your technical abilities (i.e. exposure) are at fault. I think you need to analyze how you interact with your subjects and learn how to make them feel more comfortable so that they look more nature through the camera. That is far more difficult than mastering the technical details.

    However, if you do want to fine tune your technical skills, I wrote a thread about it some time ago here:

    The 4 Basics
    Please do not edit or repost my images.

    See my website HERE.


    What's a Loupe for anyway?

  16. #16
    Senior Member OldClicker's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grandpaw
    I think the point he was making is to pick a ISO and keep it constant. This will allow you to learn the pattern of how your F stops and shutter speeds work together before adding another variable into the mix. If you get comfortable with how the relationship between F stops and shutter speed works with one ISO it can easily be applied to others, Jeff
    And my point is that there is no reason to ignore the strengths and weaknesses of your equipment. If you are going to pick an ISO without reguard to what you are shooting, pick the best one your camera has.

    I also have trouble with the 'film' cary-over of always picking an ISO first. Doesn't it make as much sense to pick the aperture and shutter speed that gives you the image you want and then set the ISO to make those choices work?

    TF
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  17. #17
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Right on Grandpaw !! I couldn't have put it better !!

  18. #18
    Spamminator Grandpaw's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldClicker
    And my point is that there is no reason to ignore the strengths and weaknesses of your equipment. If you are going to pick an ISO without reguard to what you are shooting, pick the best one your camera has.

    I also have trouble with the 'film' cary-over of always picking an ISO first. Doesn't it make as much sense to pick the aperture and shutter speed that gives you the image you want and then set the ISO to make those choices work?

    TF
    In this case I would say NO. What he is trying to show people how to do now is to come up with a combination of F Stop and shutter that will give them the correct exposure. To develop a pattern of the relationship between F stop and shutter speed that it takes to get a good picture you would have to take it one step at a time. Once you get this part figured out then you can add another variable such as changing the ISO. If you try doing this all at once there is just to many variables and too much going on at the same time to get a good picture (Pun Intended) of how to accomplish it.. I think this is like anything else, you start out with the basics and when you get them working well you add to them. Once you have learned how this all works together I really don't think there is a set order. Each shot will be considered on an individual basis depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

    I think majik is talking about is learning how to get the correct exposure and OldClicker you are talking about how to get the finished image to look like you want it to. These to me are two separate things
    Check out my website Here
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  19. #19
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    I am simply trying to show people how to achieve CONSISTENT correct exposures so that they understand why / what they are doing .

    the other choice is to let the 'computer' do the thinking and use AUTOMATIC !!

    A STRONG FOUNDATION in the basics !!

  20. #20
    Senior Member BlueRob's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Majik_Imaje
    the other choice is to let the 'computer' do the thinking and use AUTOMATIC !!
    Which I guess is what most people do...just point and shoot. Been there done that....and TBH that is not photography IMO, that is taking pictures plain and simple...What I`m trying to do is get a deeper knowledge on the subject. I found it really interesting the approach that you mention to stay basic and learn from the bottom before going any further....seems logic.

  21. #21
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Yes, ISO is relative.
    You can get a good idea of how they compare at the DXO website.

    The sensor has a design native ISO Canon 100 and Nikon 200 - why I don't know.
    Then the signal is further amplified to increase the effective sensitivity.
    Noise at high ISO depends on the design of the the amplifiers and A to D converters as well as the sensor.
    PAul

    Scroll down to the Sports Forum and post your sports pictures !

  22. #22
    Spamminator Grandpaw's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Nowhere in any of the previous posts does it say that ISO is not relative in taking a good picture. All he was saying is to pick an ISO and leave it the same until you learn how shutter speed and F stop work together and then add it into the mix later. If you do not want to use ISO 100 then use whatever you want as long as you keep it the same while learning this method of getting the exposure. Majik has taken one part of this, about getting consistently good exposure, and explained how he achieves it without using a light meter. Maybe if the title of the thread had been "Use your brain instead of your light meter" for getting good exposure, it might have been better. Anyone that has taken pictures realizes that the ISO plays an important part in the end result but for learning his method of how shutter speed and F stop works together it would be much less confusing during the learning process if the ISO stayed the same. Jeff
    Check out my website Here
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    All images posted by me anywhere are Copyrighted by Federal Law and may not be copied or used in ANY FORM without my personal written permission. Jeff Impey
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  23. #23
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Learning how to see & look and effectively read that light and transpose it into the correct aperature / shutter speed is a SKILL that very few people possess these days.

    If I hand you a foreign camera (35mm) with no light meter - and place you - miles out on a frozen ocean ice pack @ 50 below zero - for two months !!

    what are the odds that you can CONSISTENTLY expose roll after roll !! ??

    Batteries will not last out there in that brutal unforgiving enviroment !!



    Midnight @ a typical whaling camp - This is where you sleep - for two months OUTSIDE no tents @ 50 below zero !!!

  24. #24
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Thanks Jeff - very well put !!

    The main purpose for learning this method - of reading light - is so that you will be free to create !!

    If something is about to happen and you have to mess with menu's and buttons your going to loose that once in a lifetime shot !!

    But continuing to PRACTICE .. .. will form a habit that is second nature - you won't even have to think about exposure. Just composition !!

    Spend some time - practice - learn to expose 'consistently' !!

    ok-bye !!
    Last edited by Majik_Imaje; 10-30-2009 at 09:04 AM.

  25. #25
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: How to take good photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grandpaw
    Nowhere in any of the previous posts does it say that ISO is not relative
    I mean it isn't absolute, or even that the ISO settings on your camera are correct.

    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/eng/Image-Quality-Database/Compare-cameras/%28appareil1%29/289|0/%28onglet%29/0/%28brand%29/Canon

    Their testing shows that 50 ISO in testing is more like 75 and there's a near constant 1/2 stop underexposure for the 1DSmkIII. Nikon's D700 follows a similar pattern in their testing.

    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/eng/Image-Quality-Database/Compare-cameras/%28appareil1%29/289|0/%28appareil2%29/296|0/%28onglet%29/0/%28brand%29/Canon/%28brand2%29/Nikon
    PAul

    Scroll down to the Sports Forum and post your sports pictures !

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