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Problems with D40 and aperture and shutter speed

SnapHappii

US
74 posts

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SnapHappii Registered since 10th Dec 2011
Sat 28-Apr-12 03:44 AM

Recently I've been getting into portrait photography. I have the eye for it and the basics of the D40 down. There's something that always has me stumped, aperture and shutter speed. I understand that the lower the aperture, the more light let in. It never seems to work out when I try to adjust aperture on my camera.

How do I adjust aperture AND the shutter speed so I get decent pictures? It seems as if everytime I adjust any controls on my camera it doesn't work out. (example: I'll lower my aperture, get a decent amount of light in, but the shutter speed is off so it's blurry)

I would appreciate any help.

(and you may say 'read the manual' which I've heard many times before; I have read the manual but I'm the hands on type of learner. So I think if I have easier directions from someone else on here, I might be able to understand it better.)

JosephK

Seattle, WA, US
7108 posts

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#1. "RE: Problems with D40 and aperture and shutter speed" | In response to Reply # 0

JosephK Silver Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Nikonian since 17th Apr 2006
Sat 28-Apr-12 06:00 AM

When you make the aperture bigger (smaller f number) you need to speed up the shutter speed to keep the amount of light hitting the sensor the same.

When you use a smaller aperture (bigger f number) you need to make the shutter speed slower.

Using aperture-priority mode works well by letting you pick the aperture and the camera figures out which shutter speed goes with it.

If you are getting blurred pictures due to camera movement during the slow shutter speeds, bump up the ISO until you get a shutter speed fast enough to negate your shaky hands.

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Joseph K
Seattle, WA, USA

D700, D200, D70S, 24-70mm f/2.8, VR 70-200mm f/2.8 II, 50mm f/1.4 D,
17-55mm f/2.8 DX, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX

aolander

Nevis, US
3972 posts

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#2. "RE: Problems with D40 and aperture and shutter speed" | In response to Reply # 0

aolander Silver Member Nikonian since 15th Sep 2006
Sat 28-Apr-12 02:01 PM | edited Sat 28-Apr-12 02:09 PM by aolander

When you let in more light with a larger aperture (lower number, e.g. f/2.8 is a larger aperture than f/4) you need to compensate by increasing the shutter speed. For example, if a scene is correctly exposed using f/4 @ 1/125th, it would also be correctly exposed using f/2.8 @ 1/250th. You are letting more light by using the larger (f/2.8) aperture and letting in less amount of light in with a faster shutter speed (1/250th), i.e. the exposure remains the same.

You said:

"(example: I'll lower my aperture, get a decent amount of light in, but the shutter speed is off so it's blurry)"

This is contrary to what should be happening. If you lower the aperture to let in more light, I assume you are using a larger aperture, e.g. f/2.8 instead of f/4. If that is what you are doing, the shutter speed should increase (become faster), and the image would be less likely to be blurry from camera or subject movement. If you change one parameter, you have to change the other in the opposite direction to maintain a correct exposure.

For a learning experiment, set the camera to aperture priority and point it at a scene. Keeping the scene through the viewfinder the same, choose different apertures and watch what the shutter speed does (which the camera will be setting).

Alan

gkaiseril

Chicago, US
6739 posts

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#3. "RE: Problems with D40 and aperture and shutter speed" | In response to Reply # 0

gkaiseril Gold Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005
Sat 28-Apr-12 02:53 PM

As noted you need to adjust aperture, shutter speed, and ISO until you get the combination that works for you. You could also add some external light from either a hot light or flash.

Have you looked at a reference about exposure like Byron Peterson's book?

George
My Nikonian Galleries

MEMcD

US
31592 posts

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#4. "RE: Problems with D40 and aperture and shutter speed" | In response to Reply # 0

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Sat 28-Apr-12 03:54 PM

Hi Megan,

The exposure setting triad: Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO must be balanced by the Photographer based on the ambient lighting conditions and the desired look you want to capture. When shooting ambient light, the best combination is usually a compramise. I would recommend reading Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. It will help you get up and running in Manual exposure mode.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing settings:

Shutter Speed
The Rule of Thumb to prevent blur due to camera shake on a DX body like your D40 is:
Minimum Shutter Speed = 1/1.5 x focal length
eg. Min SS = 1/150th sec. w/100mm lens. This would be rounded up to 1/160th sec. Keep in mind that the above assumes the Photographer is using good hand holding technique. The above is a general guideline. Some will have to use an even faster shutter speed others can use a slower shutter speed.
Next consider the motion of your subject.
If your subject is static, the Rule of thumb applies.
If your subject is moving, the faster the subject is moving the faster the shutter speed must be to freeze the motion.

Aperture
The larger the aperture (smaller the f/#) the more light passes through the lens and the narrower the Depth of Field.

ISO
The higher the ISO, the noisier (grainier) the image will be.
In an ideal world with perfect lighting we would always be using the base ISO setting to minimize noise and maximize Dynamic Range and Color Depth. In practice always use the lowest ISO setting possible for the given ambient conditions and subject.
If you are in a dark gym shooting sports you will likely have to crank the ISO up to the maximum, and use your fastest lens wide open to get a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the motion of your jumping subject.
As I said above, Exposure is the best compromise of settings for any given situation.

When the ambient light is too low you have the option of using your flash to add light on your subject. Depending on the ambient light level, the power of your flash unit, and the flash to subject distance the flash will allow you to use a faster shutter speed (up to the maximum sync speed), and or a smaller aperture for more DOF, and or a lower ISO setting for a cleaner image with more DR.

For an individual portrait focus on your subjects near eye.
You can shoot with the aperture wide open to isolate the subject from the background.
When shooting g a group in more than one row, you will have to stop down the aperture to get enough DOF so everyone is in focus.
If you have to turn up the ISO.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,
Marty

RodW

AU
116 posts

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#5. "RE: Problems with D40 and aperture and shutter speed" | In response to Reply # 0

RodW Registered since 25th Mar 2012
Sun 29-Apr-12 08:38 AM

I think I know where you are coming from. I have a D40 too. We've got a very restrictive ISO range to play with. The camera goes up to 1600 but at that speed, noise is a problem so that leaves us with a choice of 200, 400 or maybe 800 ISO. We have limited ability to push the ISO up to allow you to get the shutter speed up to prevent blur.

There is a direct 1:1 relationship between shutter speed and aperture. Changing the aperture by 1 stop is the same as changing the shutter speed by one click.. At a given shutter speed, there will be one aperture for perfect exposure. If you want a faster shutter speed say from 1/60 to 1/125, you need to open up the aperture by one complete stop to keep the exposure correct.. So if you get to a situation that you run out of aperture adjustment (eg. Using a f 3.5-4.5 lens and you get to 3.5) you don't have many options but you could consider using a 50mm f 1.4, increase the ISO or add more light.

In portraits, subject movement is usually not a problem as you can ask your subject to sit still for a moment but if it is camera movement that is the problem, then maybe you need to focus on your technique.

So from here I will leave you with some homework.
1. Find out what settings on your lens equate to a full stop as you might find the lens supports 1/3 or 1/2 stops.
2. Research technique, holding, shutter release, minimum suggested shutter spped, breathing, tripod etc.
3. If you still can't nail it, then look at adding light eg. strobist or studio lighting.
4. A faster lens like a 50mm f1.4 would help as it gives more aperture adjustment but at the expense of a shallow depth of field which may not be enough for a good portrait.

WRider

Terre Haute, US
77 posts

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#6. "RE: Problems with D40 and aperture and shutter speed" | In response to Reply # 0

WRider Registered since 09th Nov 2008
Sun 29-Apr-12 03:56 PM | edited Sun 29-Apr-12 03:57 PM by WRider

Megan,

I've got a D40 as well, and I think it's a fantastic camera. I'll upgrade some day, but even then I'm sure I'll keep using it because it works so well in many shooting situations.

As to people's advice on reading the manual, I think that's terrible advice for the problem you're having. The D40 manual reads like swing set assembly instructions. I don't think there's anything in there that speaks to your problem, and if there was, it would be impossible to extract that info.

On the other hand I highly recommend purchasing and reading Peterson's "Understanding Exposure." It's currently in its 3rd printing, and is sort of a beginning photographer's bible. It has very plain language explanations of how shutter speed, aperture and ISO interact with each other, and what types of settings to use for different shooting situations. Probably the best $16 you can spend on photography at this stage in your development.

If you want to check it out prior to purchase, I'll bet your local library has a copy.

Here's a link to it on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Edition-Photographs/dp/0817439390/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335722027&sr=8-1

Good luck,

Brad

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

sybali

AU
17 posts

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#7. "RE: Problems with D40 and aperture and shutter speed" | In response to Reply # 6

sybali Registered since 17th May 2012
Sat 02-Jun-12 11:56 PM

If you get blurred images, it could be camera movement, and a tripod could be your answer, if possible in combination with a remote release.

G