Choosing a tripod can be an overwhelming experience, given how many different types and choices we are presented with. On one hand, a tripod is a very simple tool to keep our cameras steady when we use them in challenging light conditions. On the other hand, there are so many different variables that come into play when choosing a tripod: How tall should it be? How light should it be? How stable should it be? What kind of weight can it support? How much should I spend on a tripod? These are just some of the questions that might come up as you look into buying a new tripod.
So, what is the purpose of a tripod? You might need a tripod for some or all of the following reasons:
To increase sharpness and depth of field in your images by keeping the camera still in low-light environments when using slow shutter speeds.
To rest heavy camera gear such as long telephoto lenses on the tripod.
To increase the quality of the images by keeping the camera ISO low.
To allow more careful composition, while framing the shot exactly how you want it.
To shoot HDR and panoramic shots that require exactly the same framing and precision.
To photograph night-time objects such as the Moon, planets, stars, etc. as well as painting with light or using available light for landscape and architectural photography.
To do self-portraits with a camera timer.
To shoot extreme close-ups/macro (flowers, insects, etc).
To hold various objects such as flashes, reflectors, etc.
To shoot at difficult or impossible (hand-held) angles.
To shoot vibration-free videos.
To defend yourself 🙂 (just for a laugh)
Use of tripod for one main reason – landscape photography. Shooting sunrises and sunsets can be quite challenging, especially when the light conditions are far from ideal. Thanks to image stabilized lenses and now cameras with excellent built-in image stabilization, the use of a tripod for most types of photography is not necessary when shooting in daylight conditions. However, some photographers still prefer to use a tripod, as it allows them to keep the camera ISO as low as possible, which not only keeps the amount of noise in images to a minimum, but also provides the highest dynamic range the camera sensor can capture. In addition, a tripod can help in proper framing of a subject and allow to capture panoramic and HDR images. Lastly, there are situations where one must use a tripod in order to slow down and blur action, such as when photographing streams and waterfalls as shown in the image below. Therefore, if you are into landscape photography, a good tripod is a must-have tool in the field.
A tripod system is generally comprised of the following parts:
Legs – the obvious. Tripod legs are typically made of aluminum, basalt, steel or carbon fiber.
Head – the part that holds a digital camera or a lens. There are many different types of heads, but the most popular types are ball-heads and pan-tilt heads.
Centerpost/Center Column – a separate leg that runs through the middle, allowing to further raise the tripod head.
Feet – good tripods allow changing tripod feet at the end of the legs for indoor and outdoor use.
The cheapest tripods have legs with an integrated non-replaceable head and feet and sometimes have a centerpost, while the top-of-the-line tripods have a modular tripod system that have replaceable feet and allow attaching a separate tripod head (the head is typically not included).
Disadvantages of Using a Tripod
Tripods are nice and can give you many options to get the highest quality image. However, there are also some disadvantages of using tripods, specifically:
They are potentially heavy. Although there are lightweight carbon-fiber tripods out there, once you add a tripod head, the setup can become heavy.
They are inconvenient. No matter how small and collapsible a tripod is, it still occupies space and is often inconvenient to carry around or travel with.
They are difficult to use in crowded environments.
They can be expensive. Good tripod systems can cost you more
They can take time to set up, making you miss the best moment.
You can easily damage your camera and lens if you do not know how to properly
operate a tripod, or if the tripod system is cheap and unstable.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tripod
You started your tripod shopping spree and have no idea where to start. What factors do you need to consider when purchasing a tripod? As I have pointed out above, purchasing a tripod can be an overwhelming experience, given how many different choices we are presented with from small and compact, to large and heavy. Let’s go through each factor and identify your needs:
The first thing I would look at is how much weight a tripod can support. Many photographers make the mistake of buying a tripod that can only support a few pounds and is not made for heavy camera equipment. What ends up happening is the obvious – at one point or another the whole thing collapses, destroying the camera and the lens. Always make sure that the tripod you want to buy can support at least 1.5 times more than the total weight of your camera and your heaviest lens. I say at least, because I prefer to keep it at around 2x more. Do not forget that you will at times apply pressure on your camera and sometimes even rest your hands on the setup if you are shooting with long lenses, which adds to the weight. You might also add a flash or a battery grip to your camera in the future, or potentially shoot with something heavier, so you have to keep all of that in mind.
I always recommend buying a tripod that matches your height, so that you do not have to bend to look into the viewfinder. Once you put your camera on a tripod, the viewfinder should be at your eye level. It is OK if it goes higher than your eye level, because you can always adjust the legs to be shorter. However, if it is much below your eye level, you will find yourself bending all the time, which can be a tiring experience, especially when you are waiting for some kind of action and need to constantly look through the viewfinder.
If you are buying a tripod with an attached head, you want the tip of the head to be on your jaw level. If you are buying a modular tripod with a separate head, make sure that the legs end approximately on your shoulder level.
Another factor to consider is tripod height when it is folded for easier travel. Do you need it to fit in your carry-on luggage? Mine barely does diagonally, with feet removed, and I take it with me everywhere I go.
Tripod Weight and Construction
Weight is a significant factor when choosing a tripod. You do not want your tripod to be too heavy, because you will find yourself leaving it at home, rather than taking it with you on the road. The lightest tripods are made of carbon-fiber material, which is extremely durable, stable and does not rust. While carbon-fiber is the best material for a tripod, it unfortunately comes at a high price tag.
The next best construction material is aluminum, which is heavier than carbon fiber. Most cheaper tripods are made of aluminum today. You can also find tripods made of stainless steel, but those are generally used for video equipment and are too heavy for regular use.
In terms of total weight, try to keep the tripod legs without the head under 5 pounds. Generally, carbon fiber legs are between 3 and 4 pounds (but can be lighter or heavier depending on what they are made for), while aluminum legs can be between 5 and 6 pounds and heavier, depending on the size and how much weight they can support. Basalt lava legs are somewhere in-between both in terms of weight and cost.
Tripod legs generally come in two forms – tubular and non-tubular. All carbon-fiber legs come in tubular form and have a threaded twist-lock system to secure the legs, while aluminum, basalt and steel tripods might come in different shapes with a flip-lock. Depending on the maximum height of the tripod, there might be between 3 and 5 sections on tripod legs. The more sections, the higher the tripod and generally a little less stable.
Some advanced tripods will allow you to replace tripod feet for different conditions and situations – they just unscrew on the bottom of the tripod legs. There are different types of tripod feet for indoors (rubber or plastic) and outdoors use (metal spikes). Unless you are planning to shoot in icy, rainy/slippery conditions, the standard rubber feet that come with your tripod should work just fine.
Some tripods come with a centerpost – a single leg in the middle of the tripod that allows you to increase or decrease the height of the camera by simply moving the centerpost in upward or downward direction. Although some photographers find it convenient and nice to have, I strongly advice against having a centerpost on a tripod. A centerpost defeats the whole purpose of a tripod – it is essentially the same thing as having a monopod on top of a tripod. It might not be as pronounced if you are only shooting with a wide-angle lens, but once you set up a long telephoto lens, you will quickly understand that using a centerpost will cause too much vibration. If you still want to get a centerpost for whatever reason, make sure that it can fully decline to the same level as where the tripod legs meet. The centerpost should never wobble at its lowest level.
A tripod head is the most essential part of the tripod system. It is responsible for securely holding camera equipment and controlling camera movement. A modular tripod system does not come with a head and you have to buy it separately. When choosing a tripod head, always make sure that it can support at least the same amount of weight your tripod legs can.
There are three types of heads commonly available:
Pan-Tilt Head – either with a single handle for horizontal movement or dual handles for both horizontal and vertical movement. This is the most common type of head that is typically built into cheaper tripods.
Ball-Head – compared to pan-tilt heads, ball-heads only have one control that loosens or tightens the grip. They are very flexible and allow very smooth operation while keeping the camera/lens securely tightened.
Gimbal Head – a specialized head for long and heavy 300mm+ lenses. Compared to pan-tilt heads and ball-heads, gimbal heads perfectly balance the camera and heavy lens and are best suited for fast-action photography. They are extremely easy to use in any direction and do not require tightening the head every time the camera/lens moves.
Every modern camera comes with a thread on its bottom that allows you to attach it to a tripod or a monopod (heavy lenses also come with a similar thread on the tripod collar). This threaded system makes it extremely inconvenient to attach cameras and lenses on tripods, because you have to either rotate the camera or the tripod to attach them together. To make it easier and more convenient for photographers, manufacturers came up with a great solution – to attach a small removable plate on the camera or lens, which then can be tightly secured on the tripod head.
Cheaper tripods come with a simple plastic plate that can be attached on any camera or lens, while some of the more expensive tripod heads come with a more durable plate. The best quick-release system, however, is the Arca-Swiss Quick Release System. It has more or less become a standard among manufacturers and it has proven to be a very effective solution for quick and easy operation. Compared to plastic plates, the Arca-Swiss Quick Release System is made of very strong aluminum and allows attaching the camera/lens on a tripod without the need to rotate anything. A quick-release plate is permanently attached to a camera or lens, which then easily slides into a quick-release clamp (pictured below). The locking mechanism is simple, yet super tight for a vibration-free operation.
A heavy tripod does not always mean that it is stable. There are plenty of tripod systems out there that are heavy and durable, yet lack the much-needed stability when used in various weather conditions. When a tripod is fully set up, it has to withstand not only wind, but also occasional bumps and knocks that might happen in the field. You always need to make sure that your camera and lens balance on a tripod rather than lean towards one direction, because you might end up damaging your equipment if the head is not fully tightened or if the front outweighs the back and everything falls on the ground.
Which Tripod Should you Buy?
Now that you are familiar with all the criteria for selecting the right tripod, you are probably wondering which tripod you should buy for your photography needs. Since I have numerously gone through the experience of shopping for tripods and have seen others do the same, let me tell you what many photographers end up doing. They first look for the cheapest tripod available that will be good enough to hold their first camera, since they have no idea if they really need it or do not know how often they would be using it. The tripod would cost between $75 and $150 for the legs and the head, which is a good price for a simple tool. Next, they purchase a longer and heavier lens and add more weight to the setup. All of a sudden, they find that the cheap tripod is not good enough and they need something more durable and stable. After making the first mistake, they suddenly realize that they need to do more research and they spend countless hours reading about tripods on different websites and forums. Despite all recommendations from the pros, they are not willing to invest on a top-of-the-line tripod with a good ball-head, so they end up getting a popular tripod system with a separate head. Seems like a great investment and the tripod seems to be much better than the previous one. After a year or two, they realize that their last purchase was not that good, because the tripod is too heavy and hard to use, especially for traveling. They realize that they should have listened to the pros in the beginning and bought a solid tripod system. Does this sound familiar? It certainly does for me, because I went through a similar experience and wasted too much effort and money.
There are essentially two basic ways of capturing these shots; with or without a polarizing or neutral density (ND) filter. Either method requires a tripod, as these shots involve too much open shutter time to attempt holding by hand. The object is to increase your exposure time for the shot without overexposing the image.
Longer exposure times allow you to capture clouds, water, or other moving objects in a smooth, flowing manner, while maintaining sharpness and clarity on still objects. A neutral density filter essentially allows for this extended amount of exposure time, without altering the hue or color of the image. Adding the filter is equivalent to stopping down one or more f-stops, and allows you to avoid making the photo too hot due to the amount of time the shutter will be open.
If you don’t have a ND or polarizing filter available, you’ll need to attempt these captures in lower light, such as in the early morning or late evening (it could be said that if possible, you shouldn’t be shooting at any other time anyway). Many photographers use long exposures to capture shots at night.
Begin experimenting with very small apertures during the golden hour (the hour before sunset or after sunrise) such as f/22 or higher, and bump the aperture up to f/8 or larger after night falls. You’ll end up with several attempts, since nailing a great exposure is largely trial and error. You’ll also need to play around with exposure times, and this depends on what moving object you are capturing.
Clouds need much longer times to properly capture their trek across the frame of the shot; 5 minutes is a good place to start. Rolling or crashing waves at a beach require much less, sometimes 15 to 30 seconds is enough to create the necessary motion in the image.
Light painting is probably the fastest growing technique seen these days, and for good reason; the creative possibilities are endless, and can make for some stunningly beautiful art when done correctly. At its core, light painting is another long-exposure technique that utilises in-frame or out-of-frame light sources to create patterns within the photo or illuminate an object in specific locations.
It is possible for the artist to actually perform the painting in front of the camera without appearing in the final shot, due to the ratio of time the photographer is painting to the actual exposure duration.
How to do:
Any number of light sources can be used, although generally flashlights are the most common. Light pens, candles, and various fiber optics can be used as well. The sky is the limit, use your imagination! Like with other long-exposure photography methods, a tripod must be used. Set your camera for a long exposure (30 seconds or more), and use a remote shutter release if available (or the timer function available on almost all cameras will work as well).
The actual location you shoot in should be as dark as possible, obviously working at night is best. We want the object you’re drawing or highlighting to stand out as much as possible against the dark background. Since we’re shooting a long exposure, we can set our aperture to a smaller setting; start with f/8 to f/16 and experiment from there. This will ensure crisper shots with a full field of depth.
If you are not painting a stationary object within the frame, you can stand facing the camera, and draw a figure with the light source on. Try to physically stay in frame for as little time as possible, this will help ensure you don’t show up in the final shot. If painting an object, you can highlight various parts with your light source, turning the light off and on as you go to target specific areas.
Although not quite as popular today as it was a few years ago, HDR photography is still a relevant artform. HDR shots are finished through your post-processing workflow, but start with your photography itself. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and refers to the range of dark and light levels we see in a photograph.
Modern cameras, even the most expensive models, lack the dynamic range we have in our own eyes. We humans are able to see a much broader range of colors and light levels. This is partially why scenes in photographs never quite appear as they did when we saw them for ourselves.
High dynamic range imaging is a technique that can help extend the range of levels beyond what our camera can normally capture. This is done by taking multiple shots of the same scene, at varying exposure levels, and combining them in our post-processing later. By doing this, we ensure that we’ll see the darker levels and colors as they should appear, as well as the lighter levels without the blown-out colors. Although many software suites (including Adobe Photoshop) offer a “one-shot” HDR tool that does not require multiple exposures, the results are usually not as accurate and dynamic as a true HDR photo.
How to do:
Dynamic range in a photo is measured in EV, or exposure value, and is equivalent to one f stop; each increase of one EV doubles the amount of light captured, while each decrease of EV cuts it in half. Originally, a minimum of three images were shot, one being very underexposed, one properly exposed, and another overexposed, or blown out. However, most modern DSLR’s now have an AEB, or auto-bracketing setting. This allows you to set up a number of shots with a predefined EV range.
After being set, the photographer can press the shutter release once for each exposure, completing the range of shots in one instance. Whichever method you prefer, you’ll need to capture each image with a set EV difference between them for best results. Smaller EV values (such as 1) will result in less dynamic and drastic images than using 2 or 3 EV’s between each exposure.
After the images have been captured, the process will need to be completed using software. Adobe Photoshop does offer an HDR assembly action that layers the exposures together, but I’ve found the results tend to be poor, and pale in comparison to a proper HDR-specific software package, such as HDRSoft Photomatix. Available for Windows and Mac systems, Photomatix has become an extremely popular standard for processing HDR shots.
Panoramic photography is another example of a method that has vastly increased in ease of use over time. What was once a long, tedious process in a darkroom, hunkering over photo paper, making cuts and separations to multiple photos, is now as simple as a click of a button on your camera.
Panoramic photos are simply multiple shots of a single scene that have been stitched together to form a continuous image. Even with a wide-angle lens, we can only capture so much of a particular scene. By taking multiple shots, we can combine those later and create a photo with a much wider field of view than previously possible.
How to do:
There are many cameras nowadays that have a panorama feature; this basically gives you guides and grids on your viewfinder or screen that make it easy to line up your shots. A horizontal photo can be taken by shooting, moving the camera to the left or right (while keeping it level), and taking another shot when the panorama assist shows that you are only minimally overlapping the previous shot. This overlap is necessary to prevent missing a slice of the scene in the final image. The assist usually shows your last shot, and what your current frame looks like next to it; this helps you create a set of accurate images to start with.
Some cameras, especially older DSLR’s, don’t have this feature, and the individual photos will have to be taken manually. This involves alot of guesswork and trial and error. Thankfully, some tools exist to help, specifically panoramic heads, or pano-heads. This is an attachment that sits on top of your tripod head and allows the camera to be rotated around a single axis (instead of the camera itself rotating on a single plane), and eliminates parallax. Parallax is a anomaly that occurs due to differing angles of viewing in a line of sight, and is not something we want in our final photo. Having a panoramic head allows smooth transitions to the next photo, and usually feature stops in regular increments to properly measure the angle of the next shot.
Macro photography isn’t just popular now; it’s been popular for many years. There’s something intriguing about seeing everyday objects in a way that you never get to see, extremely up close and personal. The beautiful thing about shooting macro is the variety; you can shoot almost anything close up and come away with something totally different.
Macro photography is a bit more equipment-centric than most other methods, meaning for the most part you can’t just go out with whatever you have as your default lens and take great close-up shots. The best results come with having the proper equipment, whether it be lenses, tubes, or reversing rings. That’s not to say you have to spend a small fortune to get the shot you want; many methods of macro shooting can be accomplished using inexpensive equipment. There are generally four categories of equipment that will help you capture those itty bitty details you’re looking for.
If you’re serious about macro, the best way to go is by purchasing a dedicated macro lens. This is, of course, the most expensive option. These lenses are available in various focal lengths, generally from 50mm to 200mm. Macro lenses are specifically made for this type of photography, featuring a long barrel that accommodates extremely close focusing.
As a general rule, the longer the focal length of the lens, the more distance between yourself and the subject you’ll have available. To capture the details of a butterfly, for example, a 50mm lens would require you to move in much too close. For close-ups of a flower, however, a 50mm would work perfectly. As with any lens, varying degrees of build quality are available.
Reversing rings do just that; they simply allow you to screw your existing lens on your camera body backwards. A camera lens fitted properly is intended to take what it sees and size it down to be recorded on the camera’s sensor; reversing the lens does the opposite, working much like a microscope.
One major caveat to note here, since you’ll no longer have the electronic pins aligned, you’ll lose any automatic or electronic features such as aperture control or automatic focusing. On the upside, you’ll have a dirt-cheap method of getting extremely close and capturing ridiculous depth of field;
Extension tubes are another inexpensive way of getting up close. These are hollow pieces that increase the space between your camera body and your lens, which allows the lens to focus closer. These tubes usually come in sets of three different lengths, so you can choose which lengths to use or combine them for some fairly extreme results. You’ll probably struggle a bit with the razor-thin depth of field.
Close Up Filters.
Technically, these are filters, not lenses. Just like a neutral density or polarizing filter, these inexpensive pieces screw onto your existing lens. They are cheap, but since they are technically filters, the quality is usually not the best; any screw-on type filter degrades image quality by some degree.
So now enjoy this new techniques in the rainy season.
One of the first qualities of a photo that catches and captures a viewer’s eye is the composition. Great composition is something that immediately separates the amateurs from the pros and enthusiasts. How you place various objects in the photographic frame determines the composition and works tremendously toward creating a feeling greater than what the object would convey in the real world. Composition is one of the most important elements of the craft of photography, and it is a skill that can be taught and honed through extensive exercise and persistent practice.
Fill The Frame / Cropping
If your shot is in danger of losing impact due to a busy background/surroundings, crop in tight around your main point of focus, eliminating the background so all attention falls on your main subject. This works particularly well with portraits when you’re trying to capture something more intimate and focused or are shooting in a busy location where what’s around them would just cause a distraction. Filling the frame could involve you capturing them from the waist up or for more impact, fill the frame with just their face. Patterns are another subject that when capturing, you should fill the frame with, aligning it up carefully to ensure it’s straight.
To raise the quality of your photos you must make sure that the main subject is of heightened interest and is effectively positioned in the frame to draw the viewer’s eye exactly to where you want it, and emphasize that subject. This can be done in a variety of creative, artistic and symbolic ways. Size, color, shape and how the object contrasts with the rest of the elements in the image (foreground, middle ground and background) are ways to isolate and direct attention to the subject.
Balanced Layout including the Subject with other Elements
The layout of your images influences how visually effective or stimulating your photos will be. When composing your photo, seek a balance in the color, the lighting, and object placement within the frame’s constricting rectangle. When we talk about “balance” in a photograph, we mean a composition that has arranged the visual elements in such a way as to be pleasing to the eye. We’ve all seen group photos (of friends and family) in which the subjects are stuck in the center of the frame with no apparent design other than to fit everyone in the frame, and without regard to effectively filling the frame either. This typical shot lacks interesting composition in the layout, and there’s probably way too much empty space above their heads as well. You seek to achieve interesting composition and perspective by being creative with where and how you physically position the camera, such that the composition has a unique perspective, or view of the world. For example, if you put the camera at the level of the floor when your pet or baby approaches the camera, that photo has a much more interesting composition and perspective than if the camera were held at full height while looking down at the pet or baby. Like many art concepts, perspective and composition is either instinctual, or it can be developed through practice and study.
Keep an eye on the edges of your frame to make sure the person/animal you’re photographing hasn’t had any of their body parts chopped off by it. Cutting off your cat’s tail, your dog’s ears or even part of your model’s head, will not only spoil your shot, the unintentional limb chopping can pull attention away from what the viewer should really be looking at.
What is all about Rule of Third
Understand The Rule Of Thirds
The most basic of all photography rules is all about dividing your shot into nine equal sections by a set of vertical and horizontal lines. With the imaginary frame in place, you should place the most important element(s) in your shot on one of the lines or where the lines meet. It’s a technique that works well for landscapes as you can position the horizon on one of the horizontal lines that sit in the lower and upper part of the photograph while you’re vertical subjects (trees etc.) can be placed on one of the two vertical lines.
This is an artistic concept that photographers lifted from painters, which one uses a frame (like a water, the boatman, & Sky ) within the overall frame to further isolate an object/subject. The key to using a frame within a frame is to make sure that the frame is distinct in shape and lines, and is in sharp focus. Your viewer’s attention will immediately be taken to exactly what you want them to see by using this technique.
Keep your depth of Field view
Make The Most Of Lead In Lines / ShapesOur eyes are unconsciously drawn along lines in images so by thinking about how, where and why you place lines in your images will change the way your audience view it. A road, for example, starting at one end of the shot and winding its way to the far end will pull the eye through the scene. You can position various focal points along your line or just have one main area focus at the end of your line that the eye will settle on. Shapes can be used in a similar way, for example imagine a triangle and position three points of focus at the end of each point where the lines of the shape meet. By doing so you create balance in your shot as well as subtly guiding the eye.
A photograph can have a blurry foreground or background, so this special optical property can enhance the composition of your photos by further isolating the main subject from everything else around it. You can blur the background or foreground by having command over the depth of field, which is controlled by the lens’ aperture, focal length and object’s distance from the lens. Mastering this skill is critical for more interesting images. The wider apertures (f/1.4 to f/2.8) effectively reduce DOF, as do longer focal length lenses
Create the effect of The Background Magic
Unsightly objects, overexposed or particularly bright areas and blocks/dots of bright colour will all pull the eye from what it’s meant to be focusing on so take a good look at your background before you take your shot and if possible, find a background that’s not so obtrusive. If you’re working on portraits make sure there’s no unwanted items sticking out of your subject’s head and unless it adds to the shot, throw the background out of focus. To do this, select a wider aperture if working with a DSLR or select the Portrait Mode on a compact camera to tell it you want to work with a wider aperture.
Perspective is how the photographer views the objects in the camera frame via the placement of the camera. For example, the same subject will have different perspectives when photographed at eye level, from above or from ground level. By varying the perspective you change the placement of the horizon line and you influence your audience’s perception of the scene. For example, if you placed the camera on the ground level to take a full-body photo of someone, and angled the camera up to fill the frame with your subject, he or she will appear much more menacing, powerful and larger than if the camera was held at eye-level. Another way to look at differing perspective is to utilize camera positions that are atypical to what the human eye sees. Bird’s eye views or extremely high angles change the dynamics of your composition.
So let us conclude with 1 Mantra , Keep it Simple
The concept of less is more lends itself effectively to just about everything, and photography is no exception. Overly complicated or complex photographic composition has the same problem as compound complicated sentences in writing, which make it difficult for the audience to understand and appreciate the idea that is trying to be conveyed. Simple in this context doesn’t mean simplistic, but rather lacking unnecessary elements that confuse or are redundant. In photography creating uncluttered, but distinct compositions simplify yet enhance the delivery of the idea. The mind’s eye of the viewer can do all the heavy lifting.
Aperture is one of the three pillars of photography, the other two being ISO and Shutter Speed. Without a doubt, it is the most talked about subject, because aperture either adds a dimension to a photograph by blurring the background, or magically brings everything in focus. In this article, We will try to explain everything known about aperture in very simple language.
Simply put, aperture is a hole within a lens, through which light travels into the camera body. It is easier to understand the concept if you just think about our eyes. Every camera that we know of today is designed like human eyes. The cornea in our eyes is like the front element of a lens – it gathers all external light, then bends it and passes it to the iris. Depending on the amount of light, the iris can either expand or shrink, controlling the size of the pupil, which is a hole that lets the light pass further into the eye. The pupil is essentially what we refer to as aperture in photography. The amount of light that enters the retina (which works just like the camera sensor), is limited to the size of the pupil â€“ the larger the pupil, the more light enters the retina.
So, the easiest way to remember aperture, is by associating it with your pupil. Large pupil size equals large aperture, while small pupil size equals small aperture.
2) Size of Aperture -Large vs Small Aperture
The iris of the lens that controls the size (diameter) of the aperture is called diaphram in optics. The sole purpose of the diaphragm is to block or stop all light, with the exception of the light that goes through the aperture. In photography, aperture is expressed in f-numbers (for example f/5.6). These f-numbers that are known as f stop are a way of describing the size of the aperture, or how open or closed the aperture is. A smaller f-stop means a larger aperture, while a larger f-stop means a smaller aperture. Most people find this awkward, since we are used to having larger numbers represent larger values, but not in this case. For example, f/1.4 is larger than f/2.0 and much larger than f/8.0.
Now take a look at the aperture picture , courtesy Wikipedia
One important thing to remember here, the size of the aperture has a direct impact on the depth of field, which is the area of the image that appears sharp. A large f-number such as f/32, (which means a smaller aperture) will bring all foreground and background objects in focus, while a small f-number such as f/1.4 will isolate the foreground from the background by making the foreground objects sharp and the background blurry.
4) Lens Apertures: Maximum and Minimum
Every lens has a limit on how large or how small the aperture can get. If you take a look at the specifications of your lens, it should say what the maximum (lowest f-number) and minimum apertures (highest f-number) of your lens are. The maximum aperture of the lens is much more important than the minimum, because it shows the speed of the lens. A lens that has an aperture of f/1.2 or f/1.4 as the maximum aperture is considered to be a fast lens, because it can pass through more light than, for example, a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.0. That’s s why lenses with large apertures are better suited for low light photography.
The minimum aperture is not that important, because almost all modern lenses can provide at least f/16 as the minimum aperture, which is typically more than enough for everyday photography needs.
There are two types of lenses: Fixed (also known as Prime) and Zoom. While zoom lenses give you the flexibility to zoom in and out (most point and shoot cameras have zoom lenses) without having to move closer or away from the subject, fixed or prime lenses only have one focal length. Due to the complexity of optical design for zoom lenses, many of the consumer lenses have variable apertures. What it means, is that when you are fully zoomed out, the aperture is one number, while zooming in will increase the f-number to a higher number. For example, the Nikon 18-200mm lens has a variable maximum aperture of f/3.5-f/5.6. When zoomed fully out at 18mm, the lens has an aperture of f/3.5, while when fully zoomed in at 200mm, the lens has an aperture of f/5.6. The heavy, professional zoom lenses, on the other hand, typically have fixed apertures. For example, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens has the same maximum aperture of f/2.8 at all focal lengths between 70mm and 200mm.
Why is this important? Because larger maximum aperture means that the lens can pass through more light, and hence, your camera can capture images faster in low-light situations. Having a larger maximum aperture also means better ability to isolate subjects from the background.
let us understand the digital camera modes is essential to control the exposure in photography. As a good Photographer, you should know what each camera mode does and when it should be used, under what circumstances.
1) What are Digital Camera Modes?
Digital Camera Modes allow photographers to control the parameters of an exposure, specifically, Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. While certain modes can fully automate the camera exposure, there are other modes that let the photographer manually control some or all parameters of the exposure.
Today, most digital cameras have various types of camera modes that can be used in different situations. While most point and shoot cameras concentrate on automatic modes for simplicity’s sake, more advanced cameras feature modes that allow both automatic and manual exposure control.
2) Types of Camera Modes
Here are the four main types of camera modes that can be found in most digital cameras today:
Shutter Priority (Tv) or (S)
Aperture Priority (Av) or (A)
3) Program Mode
In “Program” mode, the camera automatically chooses the Aperture and the Shutter Speed for you, based on the amount of light that passes through the lens. This is the mode you want to use for “point and shoot” moments, when you just need to quickly snap a picture. The camera will try to balance between aperture and shutter speed, increasing and decreasing the two based on the intensity of light. If you point the camera to a bright area, the aperture will automatically increase to a bigger number, while keeping the shutter speed reasonably fast. Pointing the camera to a darker area will decrease the aperture to a lower number, in order to maintain a reasonably fast shutter speed. If there is not enough light, the lens aperture will stay at the lowest number (maximum aperture), while the shutter speed will keep on decreasing until it reaches proper exposure.
I personally never use this mode, since it does not give me much control over the exposure. There is a way to override the camera-guessed shutter speed and aperture by moving the control dial (on Nikon cameras it is the dial on the back of the camera). If you rotate the control dial towards the left, the camera will decrease the shutter speed and increase the aperture. If you rotate the dial towards the right, the camera will increase the shutter speed and decrease the aperture. Basically, if you needed to get a faster shutter speed for freezing action, you would rotate the dial to the right, and if you needed to get a large depth of field, you would rotate the dial to the left.
In “Shutter Priority” mode, you manually set the camera’s shutter speed and the camera automatically picks the right aperture for you, based on the amount of light that passes through the lens. This mode is intended to be used when motion needs to be frozen or intentionally blurred. If there is too much light, the camera will increase the lens aperture to a higher number, which decreases the amount of light that passes through the lens. If there is not enough light, the camera will decrease the aperture to the lowest number, so that more light passes through the lens. So in Shutter Priority mode, the shutter speed stays the same (what you set it to), while aperture automatically increases and decreases, based on the amount of light. In addition, there is no control over subject isolation, because you are letting the camera control the depth of field.
I try not to use this mode either, because there is a risk of getting an overexposed or underexposed image. Why? Because if the amount of ambient light is not sufficient and I set the shutter speed to a really high number, my exposure will be limited to the aperture/speed of my lens. For example, if the maximum aperture of my lens is f/4.0, the camera will not be able to use a lower aperture than f/4.0 and will still shoot at the fast shutter speed that I manually set. The result will be an underexposed image. At the same time, if I use a very slow shutter speed when there is plenty of light, the image will be overexposed and blown out.
5) Aperture-Priority Mode
In “Aperture Priority” mode, you manually set the lens aperture, while the camera automatically picks the right shutter speed to properly expose the image. You have full control over subject isolation and you can play with the depth of field, because you can increase or decrease the lens aperture and let the camera do the math on measuring the right shutter speed. If there is too much light, the camera will automatically increase the shutter speed, while if you are in a low-light environment, the camera will decrease the shutter speed. There is almost no risk of having an overexposed or an underexposed image, because the shutter speed can go as low as 30 seconds and as fast as 1/4000-1/8000th of a second (depending on the camera), which is more than sufficient for most lighting situations.
This is the mode that I use 95% of the time, because I have full control over the depth of field and I know that the image will be properly exposed under normal circumstances. The metering systems in most modern cameras work very well and I let the camera calculate and control the shutter speed for me.
6) Manual Mode
As the name suggests, “Manual” mode stands for a full manual control of Aperture and Shutter Speed. In this mode, you can manually set both the aperture and the shutter speed to any value you want – the camera lets you fully take over the exposure controls. This mode is generally used in situations, where the camera has a hard time figuring out the correct exposure in extreme lighting situations. For example, if you are photographing a scene with a very bright area, the camera might incorrectly guess the exposure and either overexpose or underexpose the rest of the image. In those cases, you can set your camera to manual mode, then evaluate the amount of light in darker and brighter areas and override the exposure with your own settings. Manual mode is also useful for consistency, if you need to make sure that both shutter speed and aperture stay the same across multiple exposures. For example, to properly stitch a panorama, all shots that you are trying to put together need to have the same shutter speed and aperture. Otherwise, some images will be darker, while others are lighter. Once you set the shutter speed and aperture to the values of your choice in manual mode, your images will all have consistent exposures.
Happy Photography, please share your inputs & thoughts
Shutter Speed is one of the three pillars of photography, the other two being ISO and Aperture. Shutter speed is where the other side of the magic happens – it is responsible for creating dramatic effects by either freezing action or blurring motion. In this article, I will try to explain everything I know about shutter speed in very simple language.
1) Understanding The Camera Shutter?
It is highly recommend reading about what a DSLR is and what it consists of. Simply put, a camera shutter is a curtain in front of the camera sensor that stays closed until the camera fires. When the camera fires, the shutter opens and fully exposes the camera sensor to the light that passes through the lens aperture. After the sensor is done collecting the light, the shutter closes immediately, stopping the light from hitting the sensor. The button that fires the camera is also called “shutter” or “shutter button”, because it triggers the shutter to open and close.
2) What is Shutter Speed?
Shutter speed, also known as “exposure time”, stands for the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera sensor. If the shutter speed is fast, it can help to freeze action completely, as seen in the above photo of the dolphin. If the shutter speed is slow, it can create an effect called “motion blur”, where moving objects appear blurred along the direction of the motion. This effect is used quite a bit in advertisements of cars and motorbikes, where a sense of speed and motion is communicated to the viewer by intentionally blurring the moving wheels.
Slow shutter speeds are also used to photograph lightning’s or other objects at night or in dim environments with a tripod. Landscape photographers intentionally use slow shutter speeds to create a sense of motion on rivers and waterfalls, while keeping everything else in focus.
Motion can also be frozen to an extent with a camera flash, even at low shutter speeds.
It was getting dark and even after increasing the sensor sensitivity to ISO 800, the camera still needed at least 1/250th of a second to properly expose this bird. If I had shot the bird at that speed, the bird would have turned out to be blurry, since it moved faster than 1/250th of a second. I used an external flash and fired the camera at 1/250th of a second and as you can see, it helped me freeze motion, despite having a low shutter speed for a bird in flight.
All of the above is achieved by simply controlling the shutter speed. In summary, high shutter speeds freeze action, while low shutter speeds create an effect of motion.
3) How Shutter Speed is Measured
Shutter speeds are typically measured in fractions of a second, when they are under a second. For example 1/4 means a quarter of a second, while 1/250 means one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second or four milliseconds. Most modern DSLRs can handle shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second, while some can handle much higher speeds of 1/8000th of a second and faster. The longest shutter speed on most DSLRs is typically 30 seconds (without using external remote triggers).
4) Fast, Slow and Long Shutter Speeds
Fast shutter speed is typically whatever it takes to freeze action. For me, it is typically above 1/500th of a second for general photography and above 1/1000th of a second for bird photography.
Slow shutter speed is considered to be the slowest shutter speed that you can handle without introducing camera shake. Some of Nikon’s lenses such as the Nikon 70-200mm VR II have special image stabilization (also known as “vibration reduction”) technologies within the lens that can help photographers take pictures at very slow shutter speeds when hand-holding cameras, without introducing camera shake. Although it is important to know how to hold a camera, image stabilization can significantly help in reducing blur from shaky hands, thus allowing one to shoot at shutter speeds that normally would not be considered to be “safe” under the reciprocal rule.
How about long shutter speed? Long shutter speeds are typically above 1 second, when you have to use a tripod to get acceptably sharp images (for low-light/night photography or to capture movement).
5) How to Set Shutter Speed
Most cameras handle shutter speeds automatically through in-camera metering. When the camera is set to “Auto” mode, both shutter speed and aperture are automatically selected by the camera. When you shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode, you set the lens aperture, while the camera automatically sets the shutter speed.
There are two ways to manually set the shutter speed:
a) By setting the camera to “Shutter Priority” mode, where you set the shutter speed and the camera automatically selects the aperture.
b) By setting the camera to “Manual” mode, where you set both shutter speed and aperture manually.
I recommend letting the camera select the correct shutter speed for you. I personally shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode 99% of the time and I let my camera calculate the shutter speed for me.
6) How to Find Shutter Speed
Do you know how to find out what your camera shutter speed is set to? It is typically very easy to find the shutter speed. On Nikon DSLRs that have a top panel, the shutter speed is typically located on the top left corner:
If you look through the viewfinder, it should also be the number on the bottom left side of the screen. On most DSLRs, you will not see the shutter speed as a fraction of a second – it will typically be a regular number. When the shutter speed is slower than or equals to one second, you will see something like 1″ or 5″ (the ” sign indicates a full second).
If you still cannot find the shutter speed, set your camera to “Aperture Priority” mode, then look into the viewfinder and point at a really dark area. Remember the numbers in the display, then switch to a very bright area and see what number changes. The number that changes is your shutter speed.
Happy Photography, Please share your inputs on this.
This images when you see you wonder why is it looking so good and attractive without any good face or scenery, yes you are right it is the way it is taken is why it looks so attractive.
You may have heard the term depth of field (DoF), but if you are new to photography you may not yet be taking advantage of how DoF can enhance your photos. A basic definition of depth of field is: the zone of acceptable sharpness within a photo that will appear in focus. In every picture there is a certain area of your image in front of, and behind the subject that will appear in focus.
This zone will vary from photo to photo. Some images may have very small zones of focus which is called shallow depth of field. Others may have a very large zone of focus which is called deepdepth of field. Three main factors that will affect how you control thedepth of field of your images are: aperture (f-stop), distance from the subject to the camera, and focal length of the lens on your camera. Let’s explain you in little more detail.
How does aperture control depth of field?
Aperture refers to the access given to light from the lens to the camera sensors. The size of your aperture (the diameter of the hole through which light enters the camera) controls the amount of light entering your lens. Using the aperture (f-stop) of your lens is the simplest way to control your depth of field as you set up your shot.
Large aperture = Small f-number = Shallow (small) depth of field Small aperture = Larger f-number = Deeper (larger) depth of field
It may be easier to remember this simple concept: The lower your f-number, the smaller your depth of field. Likewise, the higher your f-number, the larger your depth of field. For example, using a setting of f/2.8 will produce a very shallow depth of field while f/11 will produce a deeper DoF.
How does distance control depth of field?
The closer your subject is to the camera, the shallower your depth of field becomes. Therefore, moving further away from your subject will deepen your depth of field.
How does the focal length of a lens control depth of field?
Focal Length refers to the capability of a lens to magnify the image of a distant subject. This can get complicated, but the simple answer is that the longer you set your focal length the shallower the depth of field. Example: Your subject is 10 meters (33 feet) away, using a focal length of 50mm at f/4; your depth of field range would be from 7.5 -14.7 meters (24.6-48 feet) for a total DOF of 7.2 meters (23.6 feet). If you zoom into 100mm from the same spot, the depth of field changes to 9.2-10.9m (30.1-35.8′) for a total of 1.7m (5.7′) of depth of field. But if you move to 20m (66′) away from your subject using the 100mm lens, your depth of field is almost the same as it would be at 10 meters using a 50mm lens.
Can I just have a point and shoot camera, or don’t know how to change those settings?
Even with a point and shoot camera, there are ways to control your depth of field. In the Scene Modes menu, look for a symbol of a human head, which is the setting for portraits. This will give you a narrow depth of field. In the same menu there is also a mountain symbol, which is a setting for landscapes, which will give you a deeper depth of field.
If you are a beginner with a DSLR there are some simple ways you can control depth of field and still use and automatic shooting mode. By choosing Aperture Priority mode you can set your aperture to get the depth of field that you want, and the camera will automatically set the shutter speed.
Can I vary the depth of field exactly for each situation?
Yes, but because changing your aperture affects your shutter speed, the result may not meet the needs of your image. For instance, if you are trying to increase your depth of field by reducing aperture size you will also need to increase (slow down) your shutter speed which could make your image blurry. Understanding how all these settings work together can increase your control over depth of field.
Is depth of field equally distributed in front and back of my focus point?
No, it’s usually about one third in front and two thirds behind your focal point, but as your focal length increases it becomes more equal.
How Does the depth of field improve my images?
Managing depth of field is one of the most important tools at your disposal, because having tack sharp images is one of the most important factors to getting that great shot. Knowing how to make the parts of your image you want sharp and the parts you want to be out of focus, is a great artistic tool to create great images.
What and How to use shallow depth of field?
Using a shallow depth of field is a good way to make your subject stand out from its background and is great for portrait photography. Shallow DoF can also be useful in wildlife photography, where you want the subject to stand out from its surroundings. This is also useful because many wildlife photo opportunities are low light situations, and increasing your aperture size will give you more light. Shallow depth of field is also effective for sports photography where many times you want to separate the athlete from the background to bring attention to them. The result of this should also help give you a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action.
When is deeper depth of field useful.
In landscape photography it is important to get as much of your scene in focus as possible. By using a wide angle lens and a small aperture you will be able maximize your depth of field to get your scene in focus.
How to determine depth of field?
There are several on-line sites that will provide depth of field charts for your camera and lenses. Also, there are a number of apps available for smart phone users that can calculate it for you while you’re in the field. Most cameras have a DoF preview button which will give you a preview as you look through the eye piece. (This is probably the easiest and most under-utilized method.) Using this button may cause your image to appear darker as you view it through the eye piece, but not to worry. Your image will be properly exposed as long as you have the correct exposure settings.
Can we get entire Image in Focus and have a good Depth of Field ?
Yes, using what is called the hyperfocal distance. When you are focused at the hyperfocal distance, your depth of field will extend from half the distance to your focal point to infinity. Use a DOF calculator to find your hyperfocal distance. If you don’t have a DoF calculator, a good rule of thumb is to focus a third of the way into the scene. Using an aperture of about f/11 or higher with a wide angle lens will maximize your depth of field.
How to use Depth of Field in Macro Photography.
Because most macro images are produced in low light and with a longer focal length, the depth of field is often very shallow. Adjust your lens to the smallest aperture that the light will allow. It may also be necessary to increase your ISO to allow you to properly expose the image and to maximize your depth of field. Still, in many macro images your DoF may be very minute. With this very narrow focus it becomes necessary to use a tripod, because even the slightest movement of the camera will move your macro subject outside your depth of field.
Bokeh, the most admired feature
Bokeh (boh-ke) comes from the Japanese word meaning blur. This effect is produced by the out-of-focus areas in your image that are beyond the depth of field. Bokeh commonly refers to the pleasing circle shapes caused by the shape of the lens aperture. Usually created when shooting with your aperture wide open, such as f/2.8, bokeh can also be created with smaller apertures if the background is distant enough.
summarize controlling depth of field:
Increase depth of field
Narrow your aperture (larger f-number)
Move farther from the subject
Shorten focal length
Decrease depth of field
Widen your aperture (smaller f-number)
Move closer to the subject
Lengthen your focal length
Take control of your depth of field. Understanding how these adjustments control your it will greatly improve your photography.