Exposure Stops in Photography – A Beginner’s Guide

Exposure Stops_Sample 2

There is so much duality in photography. On one hand, it’s the light and the subject, it’s the story we tell and the story the viewer sees, it’s a feeling, an emotion, a state, a symbol, a metaphor. Sounds poetic, doesn’t it? On the other hand, it’s pure science, every single bit of it – from the said light traveling through a complex lens design, all the way to the scene being imprinted whether on a piece of light-sensitive film or, temporarily, on a digital sensor. And that scientific part of photography brings all sorts of terms with it, terms that may not be necessary for the creative process, but as far as skillful execution goes, you can’t do without understanding them for very long. A painter needs to know his brushes at some point, right?

And so we are back to covering basics, something you surely must have noticed. In this article, I will talk about yet another, confusing-at-first-encounter term used in photography, more specifically – exposure stops. I will try to explain what they are and how stops of different exposure parameters – shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity – correlate, as well as give you examples of what are considered to be regular stop values of each parameter, and what are full, half and third-stops.

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Sensor Crop Factors and Equivalence

Full-Frame vs APS-C vs M43 vs CX

The subject of sensor crop factors and equivalence has become rather controversial between photographers, sparking heated debates on photography sites and forums. So much has been posted on this topic, that it almost feels redundant to write about it again. Sadly, with all the great and not-so-great information out there on equivalence, many photographers are only left more puzzled and confused. Thanks to so many different formats available today, including 1″/CX, Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, 35mm/Full Frame, Medium Format (in different sizes), photographers are comparing these systems by calculating their equivalent focal lengths, apertures, depth of field, camera to subject distances, hyperfocal distances and other technical jargon, to prove the inferiority or the superiority of one system over another. In this article, I want to bring up some of these points and express my subjective opinion on the matter. Recognizing that this topic is one of the never-ending debates with strong arguments from all sides, I do realize that some of our readers may disagree with my statements and arguments. So if you do disagree with what I say, please provide your opinion in a civilized manner in the comments section below.

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Nikon D750 ISO Comparisons

Nikon D750

I apologize for not being able to post the ISO comparisons in the Nikon D750 review earlier today. Unfortunately, the comparisons took a long time, because I had to retest everything several times. My first copy of the D610 had strange exposure issues, making it hard to properly compare it with the D750, so I had to find another one. Just in case, I also got a D600, a D4 and a D4s from Tom Redd (thanks Tom!) to add to the comparison. Since the D4 produced very similar result as my Nikon Df, I did not bother with uploading D4 crops.

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The Riddle of Intermediate ISO Settings

RawDigger Screenshot 2

I guess today is a “blow your mind” Friday, because we have a guest post here by Iliah Borg, the person behind the RawDigger software that is used to analyze RAW images. I had a chance to engage in a conversation with Iliah when discussing the noise performance of the Nikon Df, where he not only proved me wrong on my assumption that the Df had exactly the same sensor as the D4 (turns out that they are similar, but not exactly the same), but also shared some incredible information about testing procedures, data analysis and other crazy, mind-boggling stuff! The learning curve with photography never ends, especially when you get into the whole sensor and image processing pipeline side of it. I must warn our readers though – the below article is very technical and is not intended for beginners! Hope you enjoy it! Nasim.

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Nikon Df vs Nikon D4 ISO Performance

Nikon Df

In my previous articles comparing the Nikon Df to other cameras like D800, D700 and D610, I posted images from the D4 as if they were from the Df in the articles (note that I clearly pointed out that the images were from the D4), because I was pretty sure that the Df had the same sensor. Some of our readers criticized me for doing that, arguing that Nikon’s sensor technology and the imaging pipeline might have changed since the introduction of the D4. I received the Nikon Df last week, so one of the first things I did was compare its performance against the D4 to see if I could spot any differences. Below is a detailed comparison between the two, which shows that both cameras utilize the same or similar sensor technology. So my previous comparisons are still valid and can be referred to for comparing between the different Nikon DSLRs.

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Understanding ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture – A Beginner’s Guide

Auto ISO on Nikon

It is difficult to take good pictures without having a solid understanding of ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture – the Three Kings of Photography, also known as the “Exposure Triangle”. While most new DSLRs have “Auto” modes that automatically pick the right shutter speed, aperture and even ISO for your exposure, using an Auto mode puts limits on what you can achieve with your camera. In many cases, the camera has to guess what the right exposure should be by evaluating the amount of light that passes through the lens. Thoroughly understanding how ISO, shutter speed and aperture work together allows photographers to fully take charge of the situation by manually controlling the camera. Knowing how to adjust the settings of the camera when needed, helps to get the best out of your camera and push it to its limits to take great photographs.

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Understanding ISO – A Beginner’s Guide

ISO Sensitivity

It is challenging to take good pictures without a good understanding of how ISO works and what it does. Camera ISO is one of the three pillars of photography (the other two being Aperture and Shutter Speed) and every photographer should thoroughly understand it, to get the most out of their equipment. Since this article is for beginners in photography, I will try to explain ISO as simple as I can.

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