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  1. #21
    David Allen's Avatar
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    I believe that automatics on cameras are generally not needed, impair the learning process, can lure people in to the false belief that they do not have to think and, furthermore, automatics can get in the way of getting the shot.

    True story one

    Photographer A has an Exa 1a and a Weston Master III. Photographer B has a (at that time new on the market) Canon A1. Both are on the North Devon coast in changing weather with spectacular waves. Photographer B is struggling because the meter reading is constantly changing and the level of surf and clouds requires constant adjustment of the exposure compensation dial.

    After some minutes, a particularly spectacular shaft of light comes through the clouds just as the surf rises up. After this, Photographer A sits down and opens up his thermos. Photographer B then enquires if Photographer A is giving up due to the difficult weather. Photographer A replies "no, I have just got a great shot with that shaft of light hitting the rising surf". Incredulous, Photographer B asks "but how?, you have only got that old camera and that old exposure meter. It is simply not possible that you got an accurate reading, set your camera and took the shot all in such a brief period of time." Photographer A explains: "Five minutes ago, when the sun was out, I metered a dark shadow and simply set my camera accordingly (meter reading minus two stops). When that shaft of light came out, I simply took the photo when the surf rose up."

    True story two

    Two photographers are at a press conference where a highly unpopular CEO of the local NHS Trust is rumoured to be planning to announce the closure of the A&E unit. Photographer A is there with a Hasselblad with 80mm lens and a flash. Photographer B is there with DSLR, zoom lens and flash. Before the event starts, Photographer A tests the flash to make sure which f-stop he should use. He then sets the aperture appropriately, zone focuses the lens and leaves the flash switched on. Photographer B fires off a few shots at different focal lengths and then proceeds to look at the LCD to check the exposure, auto-focus and histogram. At the same time, the CEO comes out and is immediately hit by three eggs. Photographer A caught the second egg hitting but, due to Photographer B having been looking at the LCD and the dim lighting slowing down his auto-focus, misses all three eggs and has to contend with a shot of the CEO walking away dripping with eggs.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by fotch View Post
    My uncle taught me. ... Any good beginners book would be a an alternative.
    ... and the equally important part of the story is that you WANTED to learn.

  3. #23

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    David, I suspect that if the photographers in both of your stories had swapped cameras Photographer A would have always got the shot and Photographer B would not.

  4. #24
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    I'm a 'manual camera' snob but I will admit that when I go out shooting with my 7 year old, I set his Nikon N75 to "P" and autofocus and just about every negative is printable. This is a far cry from my first rolls in grade school where only a few images would be printable.

  5. #25
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    You learn exposure as you go along. Content is the hard stuff.

  6. #26
    blansky's Avatar
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    Bottom line is: if you don't understand and can't use manual easily, you don't understand photography.
    Last edited by blansky; 01-25-2014 at 11:47 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  7. #27
    David Allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    David, I suspect that if the photographers in both of your stories had swapped cameras Photographer A would have always got the shot and Photographer B would not.
    Quite possibly!

    Actually, in the first story Photographer B was a very competent amateur photographer and one of the leading lights of the camera club (there is a bit of a clue in this, as in many other photographic societies', name). His problem was that he knew enough to tell himself he needed to compensate for so many highlights in the scene but, at the same time, was in awe of his new acquisition.

    To be fair, this was most probably brought on by the massive publicity campaign launched by Canon in the photographic press during 1978 whereby they pounded out facts such as "electronically controlled programmed autoexposure mode with exposure compensation" and "the A-1 is the first ever camera with a micro-processor (in 1978 the word 'micro-processor' meant something like space technology and was, after all, some 11 years before the Mac IIcx revolutionised desktop publishing) programmed to automatically select exposure based on light meter input".

    However, the point remains that, if you know what you are doing, automation is not needed and can be a hindrance.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de

  8. #28

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    The photographer should be automatic, not the camera.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    I'm a 'manual camera' snob but I will admit that when I go out shooting with my 7 year old, I set his Nikon N75 to "P" and autofocus and just about every negative is printable. This is a far cry from my first rolls in grade school where only a few images would be printable.
    +1. My son's Pentax ZX-70 is usually set to P. Soon I will show him the wonders of Av and Tv modes. When I helped him pick out his camera, I made sure it had a way to override the ISO so film could be pushed or pulled and non-DX coded cartridges could be used.I myself use mainly Av mode but usually have an idea about which aperture or shutter speed I want and most of the time the camera picks the other one right. If I'm doing something special like infrared, then it's manual all the way. The meter doesn't see through the IR filter very well so I meter manually TTL without filter and then screw on filter, apply the filter factor, and away I go. With the Rollei IR400s, this means set the ISO to 25, manually focus, set aperture and shutter based on what the TTL meter tells me, screw on the filter, and take the picture.
    ME Super

    Shoot more film.
    There are eight ways to put a slide into a projector tray. Seven of them are wrong.

  10. #30
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heterolysis View Post
    One problem is that a lot of people are "taught" to pick up SLRs that have meters and simply line up the needle to the middle and away they go. That was my introduction to photography.
    Mine as well, though I studied and learned all I could in those days, I relied too much on that needle. It cost me a part of the experience, the part that I enjoy most now. Most of my pictures came out well because the cameras are properly designed and I was using them correctly.

    But now I take the batteries out of the cameras, and I use a separate meter. When I do experiment with the in-camera meter, I struggle to trust the exposure (Is the camera adapted for Alkaline cells? Does the averaging needle agree when I meter my palm and open up one stop?)

    So my bottom line here is that it is harder for me to use Automatic, or even Match-Needle metering, and I prefer manual with separate meter.

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