One of the things that I was glad to get when I last changed camera bodies was the ability to have exposure compensation while shooting in manual mode. You might wonder why this is a useful thing to have but I was shooting a couple of time recently when it was useful. Sadly, the first time I didn’t think to use it. The second I did though. This is the result of shooting in dark conditions when the light levels are changing quite a bit.
The problem in the first case was that I was shooting in aperture priority mode. The light was low, so I went to auto ISO to allow it to adjust. The camera looks to get a shutter speed that is related to the focal length of the lens you are using. I was shooting a landing aircraft and, when I was out at the full length of the zoom, it kept shutter reasonably high. However, as the plane got closer and I zoomed out, the camera dropped the shutter speed down which meant the panning resulted in a lower keeper rate. I should have foreseen this and I was annoyed with myself.
The next time, I thought through the issue a bit better. A gray sky meant that I needed to have some positive exposure compensation. I went to manual mode, set the shutter speed and aperture that I wanted but included the exposure compensation. Then I set auto ISO. Now I had the ISO adjusting to get the combination I wanted while including exposure comp. On my old bodies, this was not possible. The result was the exposure I wanted with ISO adjusting throughout the sequence. When conditions are not great and changing quickly, this is an approach I can highly recommend.
I have a pretty well defined routine for importing and processing my images in Adobe Lightroom. I have presets for importing images that put them in the right folders, apply copyright information and apply development presets. I can then edit from there as I go. One of the settings I have set as a default is the application of the lens correction settings. This setting deals with any natural vignette in the lens as well as some distortion. Occasionally this can be tricky if you have something close to the edge of a wide lens and it gets slightly chopped by the correction.
I discovered a more extreme version of this while processing some shots from the Lick Observatory. I had taken my 8-15mm fisheye zoom with me as I thought there might be some use for it in the telescope buildings. It turned out to be a good thing to have. When I first had the lens, Adobe had not created a profile for the lens so the shots came in uncorrected with the fisheye look I expected. More recently, Adobe have created a profile for this lens. It was added in one of the updates and, since I don’t use the lens all of the time, I hadn’t noticed.
When I was going through the shots, I noticed the wide shots had some strange distortion at the edges. I was perplexed by this and also wondered where the circular fisheye shots were because I was sure I had taken some. Only then did I realize that these were those shots and the corrections were being applied. Here are some examples of the before and after with the correction to give you a idea of what the transformation is. A pretty dramatic change. I might make use of this sometimes but I shall also have to remember switching this off when shots with this lens are involved.
There is a function built in to my cameras that, until recently, I had never bothered to use. It hadn’t been something that immediately grabbed my interest and so I had forgotten about it to some extent. Therefore, when it could have been useful to me, I had not thought about how to make good use of it. This is Automatic ISO. This is an interesting idea when you start to think about it in more detail and one that might cause some to react in strange ways.
Many photographers will react poorly to the camera doing anything automatically. They will say how they like to have control. Then they will totally contradict themselves by telling you that they always shoot in aperture priority mode, totally ignoring the fact that the camera set the shutter speed for them in this mode “automatically”! Therefore, for anyone reading (is anyone reading?) who jumps to the “I am against automatic anything” approach, why don’t you go and analyze exactly how your camera works and you use it. If you are totally manual in everything you set, congratulations. You obviously don’t need to read this anyway.
For anyone else who is a little more open-minded and who hasn’t played with this capability, let me explain why I tried it. Plenty of times I have the camera in aperture priority in a situation where it is quite dark. I know this is not clever of me but I often notice that the shutter speed is low because I can hear that it is! In situations like this I might then tweak the ISO setting to try and bring things back into a range I am comfortable with. My technique for this is rolling the dial a bit and seeing what I get. Not clever analysis by any stretch.
Recently I was shooting a job in natural light (or lack thereof) that started long before the sun came up. I knew I was going to be using some pretty high ISO settings to get useable shots and this is when the auto ISO function came to mind. I went to manual mode, set the aperture and shutter speed I wanted and switched ISO to A. Now, it worked out what was needed to get the exposure right. As the light conditions improved, the ISO got dialed down but I didn’t have to do anything other than find what I wanted to shoot, compose and get on with it. The only limitation I had was that I don’t know how (or even if) you can add exposure compensation in this situation. Something for me to research – maybe even take the dreaded step of reading the manual!
The results were very satisfactory. I got the images I wanted and didn’t have to constantly wonder about whether my ISO setting was right. Obviously, this is not a solution for every situation but it does provide a good approach in some conditions. Maybe you will have a time when it is worth a go to.