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  • AV or Manual

    I have a simple and straight forward question.

    What should be the preferable mode for capturing potraits in normal room lights. By normal room light I mean may be a tube light.

    If so what would be the settings.
    Canon EOS 600D
    Canon 18 - 55mm

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  • #2
    If you're going to be shooting under steady lighting and not moving or changing around much, I would say manual mode dialed in to exactly the look you want.

    Portraits are often shot at a large aperture (low f number) to separate the subject from the background. A good starting point would be to use a large aperture and adjust the ISO and shutter speed as necessary. Being indoors with typical lighting, you'll probably need a fairly high ISO, maybe 1600 or even more depending on how bright the lights are.
    Last edited by khiloa; 11-08-2012, 06:20 PM.


    • #3
      In generally my advice is to always use AV unless it isn't working for you. AV works just as well or better almost all of the time for most of us. If you are in M mode and are using the camera's meter to set the exposure then you are usually wasting your effort.

      Use M mode if you are are not going to use your camera's meter to determine your exposure, such as when using external manual flash or when setting a fixed exposure for a series of shots that need to be absolutely consistent, such as for a panorama. Also use M if you are in an environment where the meter is regularly being fooled and AV is not giving you good results.


      • #4
        I'd respectfully disagree with idcanyon. It may be a matter of preference, and as Bryan Peterson says in his book "Understanding Exposure" (great book by the way) The best settings to use are the ones that will give you the correct exposure.

        I tend to use Manual when I'm in situations where I control the light (or flash) and the ambient light is not changing. If I'm in a situation where I'm changing locations quickly or the light is changing (like at a wedding) then I'm likely to be in Aperture Priority mode. Then I only have to change my aperture settings for when I want to manipulate the depth of field.

        so to answer the original post question, an indoor portrait session with natural light, I would be in manual mode. The settings I usually use in a portrait session are going to be from f5.6 to f8 because that's the "sweet spot" for most of my lenses where I get the sharpest picture, then I'll adjust my shutter speed and ISO to the correct exposure
        Rich Spears
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        • #5
          I see/hear both sides, but I'm going to side with "canyon". Respectfully (truly) disagreeing with the respective disagree...

          Originally posted by rspears View Post
          ...the best settings to use are the ones that will give you the correct exposure.
          Av mode will give a correct exposure in most conditions. Also, Av mode will help by selecting the shutter that corresponds to the meter. By hitting the exposure with a touch of EC up or down, you can get any exposure that you like. The very first exposure will still be "in the ballpark" even in a worst case situation.

          The OP is asking a question that suggests not a lot of experience just yet with all aspects of exposure. Starting with manual will require a certain level of proficiency or experience and will probably start with unusable exposures at first.

          Personally, I would most likely be in manual. But, I'm almost always using lights (which I control) and drawing from experience.

          But regarding the aperture selected, I totally agree that something in the area of f/5.6 is going to be a good place to start.
          Some pictures... (500px)


          • #6
            I based my thoughts on your question ; I would shoot in Program. The camera computer is faster than you can adapt, adjust and move on. This gives you the advantage to crop, look for a better expression, and in general take better photographs, should the camera decide you need more light, your wink light will auto flash. If it is a portrait setting try to use a tri-pod you will look more pro and the subject will feel more important. It is hard to hand hold a telephoto lens at F-4 @ a 15th.For portraits I always tell others to try a pistol grip camera mount like a Manfroto brand grip and I like to recommend a black tri-pod so you cannot see your own reflection in glasses of the subject. This info can save you from buying equipment that you may regret later, and remember it only cost 80% more to go first class . Stroker Ace


            • #7
              I would go with manual. I tend to always shoot in Manual because I like to tell myself when my exposure is correct. It gives you more versatility in your shots and honestly isn't that hard. I would go with a high aperture (around 1.8-2.8) and a shutter speed that matches your focal length to compensate for motion blur. Just adjust the ISO accordingly.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by suvorc View Post
                I have a simple and straight forward question.

                What should be the preferable mode for capturing potraits in normal room lights. By normal room light I mean may be a tube light.

                If so what would be the settings.
                Nobody touched it yet.

                Tube light comes in many different flavours. There is no WB setting in the camera that is sure to get it right, so you have to set it to the actual lighting situation.

                Skilled photographers tend to shoot RAW under most circumstances, for the ease of correcting white balance in post production. If you are unfamiliar with RAW, it might be the time to start using it, or you'll have to tame your camera's white balance beforehand.

                Standard procedure is using a white reference, a known neutral white reference and shoot it or set the camera with it in the same light as taking the photos, but if you don't have any, in many cases the ceiling beside the FL tube may work for setting it. Then you use instructions per your camera's manual to measure and set white balance. It is the setting with two wedges pointing toward each other, with a ball between. Your manual will tell you how to use the feature.

                Other advice above is useful. Either A mode or P mode will do if you don't want to set manually. You may set ISO manually to a suitable value or set your camera to Auto-ISO.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by cocuyo View Post
                  Nobody touched it yet.

                  Tube light comes in many different flavours. There is no WB setting in the camera that is sure to get it right, so you have to set it to the actual lighting situation.
                  I agree, the tube light will give you some real problems, not only in WB, but also directionality.

                  For my two cents - if you're worried about shooting Manual, then shoot Av, I personally find P useless, and Tv for very specific situations.
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                  • #10
                    Hmmm Nice post ... thanks a lot


                    • #11
                      If "tube light" means fluorescent then you are probably going to need a tripod and a subject that can stay still because you are going to need longer shutter speeds...

                      Something around 1/50 or longer...what mode you use to get there matters less.

                      FWIW (next to nothing), I shoot in A (Av) almost exclusively...And when I go to manual mode I usually still have auto ISO enabled so it's still not full manual.
                      Last edited by sk66; 12-22-2012, 01:43 PM.
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                      • #12
                        My take would be manual(custom) white balance if you've got a mix of lights, manual for camera setting if you have constant lighting and you're not worried about changing lighting conditions. If you're shooting with available light coming through a window or outside where the lighting is changing. Go AV set the aperture you want for the DoF you're looking for and let the camera adjust shutter speed for the changing lighting conditions.

                        TV if you're trying specifically to freeze motion or convey movement and let the camera figure out the aperture.

                        None of them are perfect. It's a personal choice. I've been doing a lot of off camera flash shooting lately with predictable light. So I've been shooting in Manual mostly. Do what works for you.

                        Take some test shots in all modes. Manual is going to give you the most creative freedom without the camera dictating what it thinks the aperture or shutter speed should be.

                        I personally never use Program Mode or P some seem to think it means professional

                        I guess the moral of the story is use what works for you. If you're more comfortable with AV use AV. If manual works for you, go for it.

                        Get a gray card / white card for white balance. Take a photo of the card filling the entire frame (in the current lighting your shooting in) and use that to set a custom WB. Mixed lighting can be frustrating. Incandescent (tungsten) and Fluorescent together stinks. If you can control the situation do it.

                        my 2 cents
                        Canon EOS 450D kit EF-S 18-55mm &Tamron A17 70-300mm


                        • #13
                          I think there is a time and place for everything. You can easily learn by shooting in auto, thats if of course if you understand whats going on. I too use to shoot in A priority when im doing portraits, then S priority when i was shooting fast objects, then i would use P mode when shooting with flash. That was 2 years i have to shoot in manual just about every time i shoot anything, it takes a bit more time, but the results i have found to be that much better as it gets me what i want every time.

                          When i first started to shoot in manual, i would probably only have 60% keep rate, now im close to 90%.

                          What helps is knowing where you should generally be right off the bat before you head into anything, for instance if you have an onboard flash, or if you are shooting on a cloudy day or even a sunny day, i hit everything generally where it needs to be, and make slight adjustments while in view.

                          I have seen photos taken in A, S and P modes to where i will probably never be able to recreate, so it never hurts to use what works best for you, whatever that may be.



                          • #14
                            Hi Suvorc,

                            So much for your simple question eh?

                            I've read through all the answers and I think there is one factor that has not been mentioned yet (apologies if it has and I've missed it...).

                            That is light metering. There is absolutely no difference in the result that you will achieve using M and Av if you are using the camera's meter... the only difference is that in Av the camera will set the shutter speed for you and in M you will have to set it yourself. But if you are using the camera's light meter and metering scale then for a given aperture you will get the same Shutter speed and end up with the same result....

                            So perhaps the most important factor is your metering mode. You are likely to get the best results using spot metering on the skin. Generally for portraits you would set your aperture first and try to make it quite wide - say f4 - this will help put the background out of focus. then you would read your metering scale and set your shutter speed accordingly (if in Manual) or allow the camera to set your shutter speed for you (if in Av). You should then check the shutter speed before taking the shot and if it is too slow (say less than 1/60) then you might want to change your ISO to prevent camera shake or movement blur...

                            Hope that helps??

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                            • #15
                              I learned about photography many years ago in high school, first with a borrowed Pentax K-1000 and then with a Minolta XG-1. As you may recall, the K-1000 was a manual mode camera and the XG-1 had manual and aperture priority (Av) shooting modes. I then went to a Minolta X-700 for many years until very recently. The X-700 had Manual, Av and P modes.
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