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X5 - how to get the most out of it
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14383 82 2016-1-16 22:10:37
jimhare
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Hi All,

Another forum member asked me for some advice about the X5 and what to expect.  While I don't have one I do have extensive experience with large sensors, aperture and focus challenges so thought I'd throw in my 2¢ on the subject.   Hopefully it will help prepare you for the challenges and great rewards to come.

Again, I don't have an X5 so I can't help with calibration or specific questions.  This is all just foundational info on shooting with full control, which the X5 now allows.

Enjoy!

Jim
x5 tutorial.jpg
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The X5 brings the Inspire 1 further into the world of professional photography, where you can no longer point and shoot.  With this additional power there are now more ways to create a terrible image than a good one so you need to know what you're working with.   

This is frustrating because when you spend a lot of money you expect all your results will be superior but this isn’t the case.  You will take many shots that look horrible compared to the X3, making some people feel they received defective cameras.

The most significant improvement is interchangable superior lenses.  A better lens gives you much more power which does allow for much much better results, but just as it’s relatively easy to drive a car but impossible for most of us to drive a 747, you need to know how to wield the new power or you will crash and burn.

The X3 is pretty easy to use as you just point it in the right direction and as long as the image isn’t grossly over or underexposed you are going to get a decent image  This is because three of the main adjustable components, focal length, focus and aperture, are fixed.

So what are focal lengths?  Easiest way to understand them is how “zoomed in” or “zoomed out” the lens is.  Measured in millimetres, it determines the field of view the lens sees.  Wide lenses, such as the X3, show a great deal in the frame where long lenses are quite tight.   

The focal length also determines the character of the image.  Wide lenses create an almost bending quality where you feel like you are close to an object but can somehow see more than you would expect.  Long lenses are the opposite, they feel more intimate and straight, making you feel like your subject is the only thing in the world.  This goes far beyond what is physically shown in the frame, it affects how you perceive it as well.

Another thing different focal lengths affect is depth of field, which is basically how much of the image is in focus.  With a shallow depth of field your subject will be in focus but everything in front or behind it will be increasingly out of focus.   The longer your lens, the shallower the depth of field.  Take the X3 for instance.  It has a very wide focal length which makes everything sharp, regardless of where it is in the frame and is so wide it completely removes the requirement to focus at all.   But with the X5, longer focal lengths will require much more attention to these aspects, as focus will become a very real issue.

So choosing the right focal length for a shot and shooting conditions (single or dual control) is crucial.

While speaking of depth of field, the second aspect the X5 allows for is variable aperture.  Aperture refers to the iris of the lens itself.  This works the same way as your eye.  If there is too much light the iris of your eye will close, and in low light it opens very wide.   But light isn’t the only thing the aperture controls, it also affects depth of field.   When you open the aperture by reducing the number (f/1.7) it also reduces the depth of field.   When you close the aperture to f/5.6 or f/8 it expands the depth of field and makes it easier to focus to infinity.   Think of squinting your eyes to make things clearer, it’s the exact same thing.


Okay, so we’re getting there.  Focal length determines how tight or wide the image is, along with adding character, and aperture controls how much light comes in, and both affect depth of field, which is how much of your image is in focus.   So let’s review and add it to what we already know.


Shutter speed is of course how many times per second the shutter opens and closes per second.  This is another way to control light but the shutter has a big effect on the final image.  Put the shutter to high and you will get a stuttered effect where every frame is ultra sharp.  A high shutter will also exaggerate rolling shutter known as the jello effect.   Too slow a shutter will give a lot of motion blur and aesthetically look like cheap video.   In feature films, the shutter speed of choice is exactly double the frame rate.  This is known as a 180° shutter as film cameras used a shutter that was literally measured in the circular degrees the shutter obstructed.

So if you are shooting 24 frames per second the shutter speed would be 48.

With the X3, since we couldn’t control aperture, it’s fixed at f/2.8, if you were already at 100IS) (lowest light sensitivity) the only other way to control light without changing the shutter was to add ND filters.  The ND filters act like sunglasses and reduce the light, allowing you to get the shutter close to the correct number.

But with the X5 we can now control the aperture, so we can just raise it up to balance the shutter.   So instead of f/2.8 we can raise it f/16 or even f/22 depending on the lens.   But as you read above, this will also affect your depth of field so you need to be careful you are getting the right effect.   It might be that you are shooting on a bright day but still want a shallow depth of field.   In this case you would still put an ND filter on, set the shutter to double your frame rate, and set the aperture to a low number like f/2.8 or f/1.7.

So as you can start to see, your perfect image is a well thought out combination of all these things.

Focus.  Okay, focus can be a nightmare.  It’s the easiest way to ruin a beautiful shot.   For this reason someone just starting out is best to use the highest aperture possible to keep the iris closed.   In extreme conditions with a low (open) aperture, the depth of field can be as shallow as 1/2 inch.  This means if you were filming someone’s face their eyes would be sharp in focus but the tip of their nose would out of focus.   Imagine trying to determine what’s in focus using an iPhone screen while your Inspire is 1/2 mile away!   The challenges are massive and expect to make some big mistakes in the early days.   You will quickly learn how the lens reacts and where infinity sits.   But in general, the larger the screen you are using to determine focus the better.  

Finally, I just wanted to touch on the difference in sensor size.  Many are surprised to hear and baffled at the concept that sensor size also affects depth of field.  Crazy right?   The bigger the sensor you have the shallower the depth of field.   To illustrate this let’s compare sensor sizes of the X3 and X5.   The X3 uses a 6.17 x 4.55mm sensor and the X5 is 3x larger, 17.3x13.00mm so you will need a much longer lens to cover the same field of view.  The longer the lens the shallower the depth of field and voilà!  

Feel free to ask for clarification for any of this.  Again, it's more general than X5 specific.  


2016-1-16 22:10:37
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rfrye
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Great tutorial and discussion, Jim Hare!
2016-1-17 09:58:24
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RichJ53
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Thank you Jim, for continuing to help others understand the advanced camera settings. You have helped me immensely and even though I do not have the X5 this is great information to store away for the day I may need to use this advise.

Rich  
2016-1-17 11:38:05
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Arrow1969
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Yes gerat tutorial Jim
2016-1-17 11:40:35
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kvamens
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dam, sure pick up a lot from you, Mr.Hare
2016-1-17 12:38:01
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jimhare
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rfrye Posted at 2016-1-18 04:58
Great tutorial and discussion, Jim Hare!

My pleasure, I'm sure my explanation left everyone with more questions than answers to feel free to ask anything.
2016-1-17 12:59:26
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jimhare
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A forum member offline asked this - "I feel you might consider connecting the dots with a connection to ISO/Aperture/ and Shutter speed – maybe using some real setting numbers to 'illustrate'  your points."

Happy to.  Specific numbers are of no use as they will change in every single environment, so I'll talk about balancing all the options to create the perfect exposure.  
The first thing is to separate motion filming from still capture as the decisions you make will be totally different.  I'll dedicate this space to motion and we can talk about stills in another.

You start with your frame rate, known as FPS or frames per second.  There are two camps off the bat.  Those looking for a traditional cinematic look will usually start with 24FPS because that's what our eye recognizes as film.  The problem with 24FPS is it isn't enough to create really smooth motion when the camera is moving quickly.   Let's say the camera is moving at 5 feet per second.  This divides into 60 inches so at 24 frames per second it means you are only capturing a frame every 2.5" which is quite a big move between images.   So how about we bump up the frame rate to 60FPS.   Now we are capturing a frame every inch of movement, which makes it perfectly smooth but you lose the aesthetic film like quality we had at 24FPS.  Instead it gives a hyper-real look that is not particularly pleasing to the eye and reminds you of a bad 90s soap opera.  

But this is the cost of smooth motion.  Naturally it has divided artists into two warring camps, those who love the cinematic look and are willing to put up with a staccato effect during quick movement, and those that embrace the smooth motion and new bold look of HFR (high frame rate.)   The Hobbit brought this to a head when they released the films in both 24 and 48 frame 3D.   I couldn't stand the 48 FPS version but both my son and my father loved it.   This is war...

Okay, so you now have picked your frame rate based on your own sensibility of what looks good.

From there you need to balance shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and whether to put ND on the lens to create your image.   By reading the original post you will know how each of these aspects affect the image so you need to consider your goals.  Ultimately the exposure is the same as you would make on the X3, watch the histogram so you get plenty of light without overexposing, and use the overexposure warning in the app if it's available to you.  Beyond this all you are doing is using the various tools at your disposal to achieve your goal.

So, let's imagine you are shooting a lake with a mountain range in the background in the middle of the day.   You want to pan across the lake in your shot.  How do you want the final image to look?  If you want both the foreground and background (lake and mountains) perfectly sharp then you will want to close the iris as much as possible (high aperture like f/16 or f/22) and balance the exposure with ISO and shutter.  A closed aperture is not ideal as anything above f/8 is considered a compromise but we won't get into that.  In a perfect world you would stop around f/8 but sometimes you really need it closed and accept the consequences.    You have the ISO at 100, shutter speed at double your frame rate and close the aperture the f/22 but you find you are slightly underexposed (looking on your histogram.)   You have a couple of choices.  You can start raising the ISO, maybe to 400 or so, you can slightly reduce your shutter speed (it doesn't need to be exactly double your FPS, anywhere in that ballpark is fine) or you can start opening the iris (reduce the aperture number) until exposure it correct.    Essentially we are just talking about controlling depth of field since your goal has more to do with how much of the frame is in focus than anything else.   But now you have to deal with focus as well.  
Moving on.

Let's say your goal is the opposite.  Same scene but there is a log in the lake and you want the log to be sharp but the mountains to be out of focus.  In this case you want to reduce the depth of field so you put in a low aperture number (open the iris.)    Your ISO is 100 and your shutter speed is double the frame rate, but you are quite overexposed due to the open iris.  This is when you choose to put ND on, like we would the X3.  You physically want less light to get through the lens so you can keep your desired aperture, shutter and ISO in balance.  But a reduced depth of field has pitfalls.  Remember the camera doesn't know whether you are interested in the mountains or the log.  You will need to focus manually.  Problem is, if you are judging focus on a 5" phone it is extremely difficult to know whether your subject is truly sharp or not.   Some cameras offer tools for focus that overlay a color on sections that are sharp, and some allow you to zoom in to show what specific areas look like, but I haven't explored the X5 to see how they assist you in focussing.   Just know that focus can become the bane of your life if you aren't careful, so treat it with the utmost respect.


Again, regardless of settings we are judging exposure the same way by using the histogram and over exposure warning.  The only difference is the balance between settings required to achieve our artistic goals.  

Hopefully this is making sense.  You need to experiment with these in the real world and you will quickly home in on your personal style.  
2016-1-17 13:42:42
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jimhare
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And here is a post about how to treat still images differently.
I was also asked what settings may have been used to take these still photos.

composite.jpg


Freezing a fast moment in time is all about shutter speed.  In these photos notice the perfectly clear splash of water at the dog's feet and the complete lack of motion blur in the top image.

Unlike video, where a fast shutter works against you, in still photos it is your best friend.  

These would probably use a shutter speed between 1/500 - 1/2000.   Because having such a high shutter speed will stop quite a bit of light, you will need to compensate with aperture and ISO.   On a sunny day this would be no problem as you need to get rid of a lot of light anyway.  

So let's talk about depth of field.  In my opinion the top photo was manipulated in post.  By that I mean the shallow depth of field wasn't there in the original.  Look at the bottom of the wings and how soft they are.  That isn't motion blur.  My opinion is the original photo was taken with a deep depth of field and all the brush in the background was also sharp.  This makes sense because trying to estimate focus with no warning as this magnificient creature flew by is no small feat.  So I'm thinking everything was in focus (small aperture/high f stop), the shutter speed was blazing, like 1/1000, and the ISO was probably around 800 to compensate.  On a DSLR high ISOs are a no-brainer, but on the Inspire you need to keep it pretty low.

Okay, so now they have a perfectly frozen moment in time where all the fast motion is perfectly clear.  From there I'm thinking they brought it into Photoshop and isloated the bird and front section of brush from the rest of the image.  You can also tell this because as the brush reach to the top of each stem they also become soft.   So after isolating the elements from the background they blurred the Hell out of the background to create the pseudo depth of field.  

In the dog photo on bottom they wouldn't have had to doctor it this way.  Since the dog would be under their control and not moving fast, they could use an open iris (low F stop) to create the depth of field in camera, and use a high shutter (probably 1/500) to freeze the little splashes.    The open iris would let plenty of light in to compensate for the open iris, allowing them to use a lower ISO, maybe around 320.  Having said that it would be child's play to also create the shallow depth of field in post so could have been done that way as well.  

Jim


2016-1-17 15:26:40
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rfrye
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-17 17:26
And here is a post about how to treat still images differently.
I was also asked what settings may h ...

EXCELLENT, Jim Hare! I say that because you are getting through my thick skull on this.
THANK YOU!
2016-1-17 17:49:54
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DJI-Tim
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Great work Jim! would you mind add couple of pictures to your post, so i'll add it to the forum's main page
Thank you!
2016-1-17 18:10:10
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jimhare
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DJI-Tim Posted at 2016-1-18 13:10
Great work Jim! would you mind add couple of pictures to your post, so i'll add it to the forum's ma ...

Sure Tim, that would be great.  I'll think about some photos for the original post.
2016-1-17 18:39:14
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DJI-Tim
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-18 10:39
Sure Tim, that would be great.  I'll think about some photos for the original post.

Alright @ me when you done, I'll place it on a main page
2016-1-17 20:03:47
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RichJ53
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-17 15:26
And here is a post about how to treat still images differently.
I was also asked what settings may h ...

Someday, I hope to take some shots as good as you have here in your example.  

Thank you Jim


Rich
2016-1-17 20:58:13
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jones5r
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Jim, you're changing the world...Good Stuff. DJI, pay the man!
2016-1-17 22:13:20
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jimhare
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jones5r Posted at 2016-1-18 17:13
Jim, you're changing the world...Good Stuff. DJI, pay the man!

Heh, for every post they pay me $.0055 so I'm cleaning up!   
2016-1-18 00:12:41
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jimhare
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DJI-Tim Posted at 2016-1-18 15:03
Alright @ me when you done, I'll place it on a main page

Hey Tim, sent a friend request so I can send a PM, but in the meantime, I added a photo to the original post.  ;-)
2016-1-18 00:24:05
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DJI-Tim
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-18 16:24
Hey Tim, sent a friend request so I can send a PM, but in the meantime, I added a photo to the ori ...

Unfortunately since I have an official account forum doesn't allow me to add  friends
2016-1-18 00:44:14
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domidragon90
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Further information about the X5 standard lense:
The sharpest image you'll get with an aperture of 5.6 to 9. If possible, stay in this range for best image quality!
2016-1-18 02:05:40
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jimhare
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DJI-Tim Posted at 2016-1-18 19:44
Unfortunately since I have an official account forum doesn't allow me to add  friends

Understood!
2016-1-18 02:52:45
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dopeytree
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Brilliant idea Jim! This diagram might help explain the exposure triangle. Its essentially a balancing game. Pick your main priotity & then adjust the other two to balance out the exposure.







So... look below.. If we wanted f16 for a deep depth of field, but a non blurry shot. What setting would we change? to maintain the correct exposure?



We'd bump up shutter. However to do this we'd also need to bump up the iso to balance out the exposure.
This is all very good for still photography but for video generally you want a fixed shutter that is double your frame rate (Its called a 180* shutter and helps your videos look less choppy)

So if shooting 4k @ 24fps you'd go for a 50 shutter. So to adjust the exposure you'd change the iso & or the aperature.











2016-1-18 03:52:25
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jonathanp
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Great post.  
2016-1-18 07:57:46
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jimhare
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RichJ53 Posted at 2016-1-18 15:58
Someday, I hope to take some shots as good as you have here in your example.  

Thank you Jim

Someday we'll have to do some shooting together Rich!
2016-1-18 12:23:32
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pantera989
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-18 07:26
And here is a post about how to treat still images differently.
I was also asked what settings may h ...

I doubt that top images blur has been added in post, it's just taken on an telephoto lens, an 600-800mm lens can easily result in only a few cm's in focus. I'm guessing the Focus was on the face/eyes, and the tips of the wings are just starting to become out of focus. In this sense the shot would be hard to replcaite on the X5 as telephoto lenses are not avlailbe for the X5 (as far as I know)

Second to that, it could be motion blur, as the tips of the wings move the fastest, in the same way that the tip of a prop moves faster then towards the center of the prop.
2016-1-18 18:01:55
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RichJ53
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-18 12:23
Someday we'll have to do some shooting together Rich!

Absolutely Jim,  it would be a real thrill to get the opportunity!!

PS, I am still getting a round to sending you the raw Disneyland footage. I just got back from another trip out to the East coast

Rich
2016-1-18 18:22:44
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DJI-Patrick
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That's awesome ! Thank you very much for sharing that !
2016-1-18 18:27:00
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jimhare
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pantera989@gmai Posted at 2016-1-19 13:01
I doubt that top images blur has been added in post, it's just taken on an telephoto lens, an 600-8 ...

I disagree as getting precise focus on a fast moving object that you don't know exactly where will end up would be nearly impossible.  Plus I see distinct artifacts in the image that suggest it.

And finally, it looks like artificial blur to me.

Then again, could have been a controlled environment with a trained bird, or even be composited.

But I still say it wasn't shot as we see the final.
2016-1-18 18:33:48
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jimhare
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RichJ53 Posted at 2016-1-19 13:22
Absolutely Jim,  it would be a real thrill to get the opportunity!!

PS, I am still getting a roun ...

Awesome Rich!  
2016-1-18 18:34:08
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pantera989
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-19 10:33
I disagree as getting precise focus on a fast moving object that you don't know exactly where will  ...

pretty easy to get focus on moving objects with today's high end DSLR's. Also most wildlife photog's study there subjects for ages, there patterns etc. That spot could have been a spot the bird visited many times, the photog could have been sitting there waiting pre focused on that spot. Do you have an source for the image at all?
2016-1-18 18:50:51
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jimhare
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pantera989@gmai Posted at 2016-1-19 13:50
pretty easy to get focus on moving objects with today's high end DSLR's. Also most wildlife photog ...

I have no desire to go back and forth about the photo.  

Could it have been done in camera?  Sure.  

My feeling is it wasn't, your's is it was.  All good.  
2016-1-18 19:08:30
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HermosaDrones
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Does the X5 have an auto mode at all or do we have to step into the world of setting ISO, aperture and shutter all the time.  My X5 will also come with the X3 camera so I know I can do it that way.
2016-1-18 20:38:51
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rodger
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Great job Jim. Your explanation will be very helpful to those that are new to Photography. Over the years I have found that the hardest thing for a newcomer to understand is depth of field. Another thing is that you have to Photograph as much as possible. The more you do it and analyze your results the better your work becomes. As an example of not practising what you preach I was putting a very large Keynote presentation together to use at a Technical University. I made photos of some of the subject matter and they just were not coming out right. I Hadn't used any of my cameras for quite a while. I did them on a table  with a curved sheet of white paper behind them so they would look like they were isolated with nothing in the background, typical product shot. After a while it hit me in the side of the head. What a dummy, I totally forgot to go out of auto and use the aperture and stop it down to 16-22 and grab my depth of field. The shutter didn't matter because I was using a Tripod and the subject was on a table top. I neglected the basics due to the fact that I had not been shooting for a  lengthy period of time.
2016-1-19 06:30:49
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-17 18:26
And here is a post about how to treat still images differently.
I was also asked what settings may h ...

Two very nice shots Jim.
2016-1-19 06:33:54
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dopeytree Posted at 2016-1-18 06:52
Brilliant idea Jim! This diagram might help explain the exposure triangle. Its essentially a balanci ...

Is this your work? If so, great job.
2016-1-19 06:38:35
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jimhare
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rodger Posted at 2016-1-20 01:33
Two very nice shots Jim.

Yes they are, wish they were mine!  
2016-1-19 21:40:53
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Rob W
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Thank's again, Jim, for another great post with tips!
2016-1-19 22:41:28
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jimhare
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Rob W Posted at 2016-1-20 17:41
Thank's again, Jim, for another great post with tips!

My pleasure Rob.  
2016-1-20 02:48:12
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rodger
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jimhare Posted at 2016-1-20 00:40
Yes they are, wish they were mine!

I am sure you can do it when the opportunity presents itself.
2016-1-20 05:29:37
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DJI-Dave
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Another great thread Jim! Thank you so much!!!


Dave
2016-1-20 18:28:03
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Mike9129
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Pretty spot on as regards manual control, works the very same for anyone whos used a DSLR in manual.

i am however less familiar with using video cameras.

is there a simple list of tips and tricks for manual control with video cameras?
ive heard about the shutter speed being double the frame rate before, and id assume that ISO and Aperture work much the same, but is there anything else to
make the video as smooth as possible. eg ive had problems in the past with what looks to me like clipping or missing frames? where the front of the shot "drags" but
anything in the background works fine. or is that simply down to framerate?

thanks!
2016-1-21 16:44:55
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pantera989
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Mike9129 Posted at 2016-1-22 08:44
Pretty spot on as regards manual control, works the very same for anyone whos used a DSLR in manual. ...

If you use the 180 degree rule (2x the frame rate for shutter speed), it should eliminate missing frames etc
2016-1-21 19:41:12
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