In this week’s video, I’m covering a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while, but couldn’t find a good way to put to paper. Ultimately, I think it works much better as a demonstration format instead.
At 17 minutes, this is our longest tutorial yet. I promise it’s worth the time for anyone who is trying to master how the “big three” camera settings (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) interact with one another, or who wants a refresher on such a critical topic.
Also, heads up that I spend the first part of the video recapping those three settings. If you feel like you know the basics already, you won’t miss anything by skipping to 4:39, where I start explaining the system I use to make sure my camera settings are always optimal.
I like making this type of video, and it’s certainly easier than field-based excursions like last week. But at the same time, I don’t want our Youtube channel to be all tutorials. Next week I’m hoping to spice things up and try a genre of photography that I’ve never done properly before. Hoping for the best!
As always, let me know below (or on the Youtube comment section) if you have any feedback or questions I can answer. This whole process is still new to me, and I’ve really appreciated the suggestions and ideas you all have offered so far.
Lastly, if you liked this video, please consider subscribing to our Youtube channel so you don’t miss out on our newest videos.
When you’re talking about base iso, is that the number 100? I just bought a D750 and aside from the value 100, there is L.O. 50. What does that mean?
Spencer, this was a great video, so well focused on the subject. I like your system, although you obviously combine it with a lot of your own experience to make it seem simple.
I’d be very interested in a similar video on focus, particularly the various focus/ auto focus modes you use in various situations on modern cameras. I confess that I still have a fair bit of confusion on this stuff, even having read camera manuals and lots of other written material on the subject. For example, in this presentation, I’d love to know how you used focus and a focus point for your Milky Way picture.
Really appreciate the work and wonderful writing you and everyone else does here.
Thanks, Mike! Milky Way photography is a bit different than the rest because of the importance of getting sharp stars. I always recommend focusing at infinity for Milky Way work.
A video on focusing modes is on my list. I appreciate the suggestion! Just need to find some good subjects to demonstrate on.
Nice video Spence, It’s good practice to watch a video even though one is familiar with the topic. Sorta like telling your spouse you love them, they already know that but it’s always nice to hear those words on a regular basis. Anyway thanks for your time in making this clip.
Haha, I like the analogy! And thanks for the feedback George. Glad you enjoyed the video.
Very good, thank you, however, there is a 4th problem, that is, Lens Size””, as the greater the lens size the higher the aperture or the ISO, or if you are a bird in flight person (I cannot master), thehigher the Shutter speed required!
Please give your opinions on this, as I’m sure it also affects sports photographers. I currently use a Pentax K-3ii and Pentax 450 mm lens combo.
Thank you Spencer,
Colin C Jennings
South Africa (Durban, KZN)
Colin, absolutely, the focal length of your lens plays a big role in which shutter speed values are “safe.” I mentioned something similar in the video with regards to higher magnification macro photography, but not with regards to telephoto lenses, so I appreciate you adding this!
You are one of the best explainers i know; So calm, so fast educational, so down to earth :-)
I have now used auto ISO for a while now, with to much grainy fotos to follow. Will go as low an iso as possible in the future. Thanks!
Q: Would you always go base ISO100, even if you could go 64 or 80, (D850) and your desired shutter and aperture can be met with them (64-80)?
Thank you, Jens, I’m happy you like the videos and I appreciate the feedback! If you have the D850 with base ISO 64, use ISO 64 whenever possible (of course, not at the expense of having motion blur or the wrong depth of field). Good question. I shot most of the photos in this video with the Nikon D800e which has base ISO 100, but not all cameras do.
Thanks so much for conveying this information in a way that is super clear! These are the basic rules that a photographer must work with, and you do a superb job of explaining it. I find that I work with these principle in the field and my learning is all about how to intuit these rules on the fly as I’m working.
Sure thing, Andy! Glad you thought it was a clear explanation.
And by the way –
Is it better for Photography Life for us to comment here or on YouTube about your videos?
Given that traffic levels affect income.
Thanks for asking. If it’s not inconvenient for readers to comment on YouTube, that probably is slightly better, due to helping YouTube’s algorithm see the video as engaging and therefore ranking it higher. Really I’m just happy to see comments and feedback regardless, so don’t sweat it if you’re commenting on PL itself!
Thats a very clear explanation. I particularly like the fact that you recommend a sequence to follow – too many guides for novices fight shy of doing so.
Speaking personally, as a returner and relative newcomer to digital rather than a newbie proper, I appreciate the reminder that these three variable are basic and that enough light must be captured. Too often I read articles that bang on about the importance of using your lens at the sweetspot – the aperture that gives the sharpest image – and just thinking that way can hamper your efforts. As long as your principal points of interest are in focus a little softness from diffraction etc. isn’t the end of the world but I’ve been struggling to keep that in mind…
Thank you, David! I think you hit the nail on the head – at the end of the day, it’s all about capturing the right amount of light. I’m all for using a lens’s sweet spot when you can, but depth of field is a more important concern 99% of the time.
Very informative. Your videos are among the most “professional” photography videos the Web. Question: What in your experience are the most effective de-noising programs available today (not including Photoshop or Lightroom)? I only scanned the comments, so I hope this is not a duplicate question. Good shooting. Greg.
Greg, thank you for saying so! It’s pretty shocking to me how much better the “AI” algorithms are at pretty much everything nowadays (not just denoise, but also de-blur and upsampling). At the moment, Topaz Denoise AI is leading the pack in that regard. Granted, most of the time I just end up using Lightroom or Capture One’s own built-in noise reduction, not because they’re better, but just because I’m generally at base ISO for landscapes and don’t need to sacrifice the convenience to open up a separate program.
Great video. As you did with the Milky Way, provided examples of your base default setting, it would have been nice to do the same for the dragon fly or some of the other examples. But I can understand why you didn’t . Assume that is why you prefer shooting in Aperture mode to get the depth of field you would like.
Well done!! Keep them rolling.
Thanks Zigman, glad you liked it and thanks for the feedback! I tried to do something akin to what you’re talking about, but for most of the non-Milky Way shots, my default, “ideal” settings weren’t so far from my final settings.