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Old 03-17-2008, 11:39 PM
clupica clupica is offline
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Default what are the best general camera settings?

I have a Nikon D80 and usually use my 18mm-70mm AF-S DX f/3.5 - 4.5G ED to take most of my photos. I principally shoot panoramic landsacapes. Recently I have been reading about hyperfocal distance as well as dispersion, vignetting, and chromatic aberation (CA).

It seems to me from reading about all of this that, in general, I should set the f/stop to f/8 and focus at an object about 10feet away. This would then force everything from 4.5 feet to infinity to be in focus while getting optimal performance from the middle range on the lens; thus reducing CA, vignetting and dispersion. Higher f/stops would yield greater depth of field but if everything from 4.5 to infinity is in focus why would I want to go smaller aperature (creating greater dispersion)? (Other than for close-up and macro images).

Any comments?
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Old 05-22-2008, 01:29 PM
mathiasmag mathiasmag is offline
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Default Re: what are the best general camera settings?

I think considering those things when you take your photos leads to taking small technical problems into consideration and letting them impact your flexibility as a photographer. It will essentially lead to a form of putting the camera on auto. You could also consider the difference in sharpness from the middle of the lens to the side and then decide to always use a 50/50 composition with the main subject in the middle.

I've used the kit lens with all photos I've taken so far with my D70s ('m planing to add a lens or two this summer) and I've never taken a picture when I felt that the lens disappointed me and I should have used other settings to overcome technical issues with the resulting file.

Have you actually seen these issues yourself or is your concern based on what you've read on some of the lab sites? I like the lab sites for letting my understand how it works, but I think they have little impact once I have the equipment in my hands and I'm headed out into the field.
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Old 05-27-2008, 11:08 PM
AdrianW AdrianW is offline
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Default Re: what are the best general camera settings?

Remember that the hyperfocal distance changes with focal length, so whilst what you've said might be true (I haven't checked) at 18mm, it's NOT true at 70mm. You'll need a far narrower aperture (larger f-number) at 70mm to get the same results, if it's even possible.

Diffraction and lens aberrations also depend on the specifics of your lens and sensor combination, test it, as each system is different.

In my tests on the EOS 400D I found the sweet spot in sharpness terms for my camera and the Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro is between f9.5 and f13. Between those values the sharpness is effectively equivalent, above and below it sharpness deteriorates; the losses due to diffraction are very significant by f32.

Also it's worth remembering that the correct hyperfocal distance depends on your choice for an acceptable circle of confusion. That's mainly determined by where the key focal point is, and your intended print sizes.
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Old 05-28-2008, 01:31 PM
ryo ryo is offline
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Default Re: what are the best general camera settings?

For hyperfocal settings, check Dofmaster.com.

They have more than I have ever cared to use about it ;) and even downloadable charts you can use on a Palm pocket computer.

Adrian said something extremely important: dof and hyperfocal change with focal length, hence we don't have markings on the lenses for Dof anymore, since we mainly shoot zooms.

The most useless feature of a camera is thus the DoF test button, on Nikon it's located on the right of the lens mount, under your forefinger, and I guess the D80 has it. It will force the lens to close to the chosen aperture value (f/ number) and let you see what is sharp or not... but it requires practice, because it darkens the image too! Note that it won't show anything if you shoot at the maximal aperture value of a lens, since it won't close any further down!

To come back to your original question, and given the fact you shoot mainly landscape and panos, I'd chose A or M mode. A for "one-image" landscape shots, and M for panos, so that you keep the same exposure value throughout the series. In both case, YOU are in control of DoF and hyperfocal - if the latter is possible, which it is usually not with longer lenses. To illustrate, here's an extreme case... on a D200, a 1200 lens at f/16 would have a hyperfocal distance of 14767 ft, meaning that everything from 7383 ft to infinity would be in focus. OTOH, with a subject at 20ft, still at f/16, the total DoF would be 0.04ft... nice bokeh!

Hope this helps!
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Old 05-28-2008, 01:35 PM
ryo ryo is offline
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Default Re: what are the best general camera settings?


In my above post, fourth paragraph, please read:

The most useful feature...

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