Camera setting help please
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Old 02-04-2005, 02:29 AM   #1
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Camera setting help please


I'd like to keep a photo log of how my tanks change over time, but I absolutely can not get a good picture. The images don't show any depth and I get what I think are blown highlights (except they're pale aqua rather than white).

I'm using an Olympus C2100 UZI (it's an oldie, but I love it), so I've got plenty of settings to play with. All tanks are using PC lighting.

If anyone has a similar camera and can suggest settings for me to try, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks,
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Old 02-04-2005, 03:36 AM   #2
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I have an Olympus C5050. Here's what I do. Set the flash off. Use the "shutter priority" setting (it is called "S" on my dial). Set the whitebalance to a negative number (-1.0 works well for me). Use a tripod or something stable. Now try different shutter speeds. 1/10 - 1/50 is the usual range. 1/15 is the one I use most.

Hope this helps ya.

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Old 02-04-2005, 04:06 AM   #3
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Thanks Ted--I'll give it a try. Do you leave your lighting on auto or choose one of the modes?
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Old 02-04-2005, 04:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Use the "shutter priority" setting (it is called "S" on my dial). Set the whitebalance to a negative number (-1.0 works well for me).
ugh....You have just solved something Ive been trying to figure out for a long time. I have c3030 and have been trying to figure out what people are talking about "white balance".

On the c3030 would I turn the dial to ASM and then in the menu set it to S? what exactly am I adjusting to -1.0... is it when the camera is in S, using the left right buttons the number on the view screen will change? I think Im one step closer to figuring it. thanks
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Old 02-04-2005, 05:02 AM   #5
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Imp,

On my camera, the mode that I choose is called "S". By selecting this mode, I am effectively telling my camera that I will be the one in charge of selecting the shutter speed. The camera defaults to 1/1000 sec, which is waaay too fast for a dark, indoor photo. This is why I have to lower it to 1/15 sec or so. The mode selector is a dial on top of the camera.

e.lark, sounds like you have a similar camera - just a little bit older than mine. White balance: Look for a button (on my camera it is on the left side that has a +/- symbol on it. This is the white balance option. By choosing a neg number, it removes glare/reflection. White balance range on my camera goes from -2.0 to 2.0. The "S" stand for shutter speed (how long the shutter stays open - longer time open equals a brighter photo, but has greater potential to be blurry, thus the need for a tripod or stable surface).
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Old 02-04-2005, 06:23 AM   #6
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Default white balance?

Hey folks I think you guys have the right idea but wrong terminology. The +/- dial on cameras that goes from -2 to +2 is actually Ev or exposure compensation. Since tanks have so much internal light you have to "fool" the cameras metering system into thinking it's brighter that it really is.
By setting to -1 is like setting a manual camera 1 shutter speed too fast so it is underexposed by one stop.
White balance is for setting the neutral light tones in pics on digi cams.
I usually set my camera to -1.3 to -1.7 ,1/30 and the largest aperture number I can get so as to get a long depth of field. and use a tripod!
Here is an example plus I used a macro setting.
This was with my 8.3mp nikon slr

This pic was shot only -1.3 should have used -1.7 to remove the slight colour saturation of some of the surface plants.

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Old 02-04-2005, 01:22 PM   #7
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Botia: I just got a new digital camera. Heres a few questions. What ISO setting have you been using on your camera? Is a shutter speed of 1/30 fast enough to stop the motion of the swimmers ,ie: white cloud mountain minnows? Those guys blur in most of the pictures. On a digital cam, will setting a higher ISO enable me to set a faster shutter speed to capture some of the motion like it would on a film camera?
Finally is there a site/area dedicated to digital aquatic photography that you guys know of?

Marcel
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Old 02-04-2005, 02:36 PM   #8
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The higher the iso setting the greater the chance you'll be creating "noise" in the picture, which reduces the quality of the shot.
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Old 02-04-2005, 03:35 PM   #9
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Default re iso

I fyou adjust your iso you will get access to higher shutter speeds but like the previous poster you will introduce noise.
For fast swimmers I would go 1/60 of a second decrease your apeture setting and take lot's of pictures to get a good one.
If you have any lights (plant and aquarium or grolux) you could swap out for 65k's for the shoot that will give you more visible light to work with.
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Old 02-04-2005, 04:01 PM   #10
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Nice thread going so far. As others have said, upping the ISO will introduce noise into the picture (you can run noise ninja or some other form of noise reducing software over it, but that increase the workflow on your side...which kind of takes the fun out of it). The +/- is exposure compensation and the settings will require some experimentation. Take some pictures and if the picture looks overexposed (i.e. flares or blown), then crank it down.

Most P&S cameras will introduce noise at ISO settings of 200 or more (some will become more visible even before this ). All three Olympus has an ISO setting of 100, 200, and 400. If possible, use the lowest setting (100 in this case), and see how the pictures come out.

You can freeze fish by one of two methods: (1) increase your shutter speed (max shutter speed on the two older Olympus models are 1/800 sec. and for C5050, it's 1/1000 sec.), or (2) use the flash. Brighter lit tanks have less problems, since you have more light to work with the the beginning (you can also set a lower f-stop number to let more light in, and worry about DOF later).

Marcel, as for checking out a digital photography site for fish, you might want to check out www.aquatic-photography.com.
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Old 02-04-2005, 04:52 PM   #11
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Eric--Is there a way to correct/adjust DOF after you take the shot? If there is, please share.

One of my photo art buddies had me setting my ISO to 200 and 400--it does freeze the fish, but the grain is pretty horrible.

I almost didn't ask for photo tips, and I'm really glad I did. I'm picking up lots of good pointers. I'll definitely need to dig up my tripod, but I can see a big improvement just with a few quickie snaps last night. I guess I'd better get water changes and pruning done today--I'm gonna want to spend the weekend playing with all the suggestions here.
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Old 02-04-2005, 06:55 PM   #12
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Nope, there's no way to adjust DOF once the picture is taken. You can use Photoshop to distort some of the sharp focused area, but there's no way to increase the sharpness the other way around (unsharp mask has its limits). you can crank the f-stop up to bring the subject matter (e.g. fish) and the background into focus. Doing so, limits the amount of light that enters onto the sensor, so you want to make sure that the lighting over the tank will allow you to do so (otherwise, you'll either end up w/a really dark image or a black picture ). Usually, I prefer to have the fish in focus and blur the background, since the fish is the subject matter. Here's an example of one:


Tripods are good, especially if your hands shakes a lot. Not really needed, unless you're trying to take a shot of the tank. Otherwise, it's just easier and more manueverable to handhold it (using proper techniques).

I'll snap some pictures at various aperture/f-stops to show you what I mean later on.
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Last edited by Ibn; 02-05-2005 at 08:01 AM..
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Old 02-04-2005, 07:59 PM   #13
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The best way to take pictures of fish is to use a flash, which will "freeze" their movement, and provide enough light so you still get a decent DOF (medium aperture).

Usually setting the shutter to 1/30 or 1/60 doesn't work well because the regular restless swimmer will still be shaken up, and the light of the tank isn't enough to get a good exposure at say 1/60. Unless there are [censored][censored][censored][censored]loads of light, and you up the ISO to 400 or so, and the aperture to 1.8. Go Flash for fishy pictures, it's really the only way for repeatable results.

Blown out highlights are a common problem when taking whole tank pictures. Just reducing the EV doesn't work that well because at the same time you start to loose detail in the shadows, turning them into a black mess. You can do some exposure bracketing, but still, the contrast of a tank is often too much to handle for the typical point'n'shoot digital.

If you are good with Photoshop, you can combine the shadows of the overexposed image with the highlights of the underexposed one, and get a decent result without blown highlights that way. Or invest money into a dSLR which have bigger chips that can handle contrasty subjects much better.
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Old 02-04-2005, 09:30 PM   #14
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Whenever I take pictures of my tank with a flash I always get too much reflection off the glass. How close do you guys get to the glass when taking pictures?
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Old 02-04-2005, 09:36 PM   #15
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For full tank pics, don't use a flash.

To take pics of fishies or plant parts etc, you can go pretty close. There will be reflection, but the goal is to keep it outside of the area that you are taking the shot of. How? Put the camera at a slight angle works sometimes, but best, zoom in! This reduces the size of the area that the lens looks at, and chances are, the flash reflection will be outside of the frame.

Also, take lots of photos. Sometimes, out of 10 shots, only one is perfect. Sometimes it takes more than this. Digital film is cheap, just need the discipline to throw out all the duds and just keep one good one.
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