The last part of the camera tutorials will be focused on settings and to use your cameras for what we need.
First of all, go and set the camera on M mode, which is the manual mode.
White balance: You should just put it on auto. This is one less thing to worry about, as it can change from a scene to another quite frequently, and since it can be easily corrected in post process, it’s ok.
ISO: In most cases, you should put it on auto as well, however, you can still tune it a bit. You can set a maximum ISO for the auto mode to reach, the max you set is gonna depend on situation. For the dreamcatcher concert, I set it at 8000 max in Amsterdam, because I got some shots at 10 000 in London, and it was too much. Since in a dance performance, the lights are gonna change a lot, auto iso is necessary. For more calm scene, like, in a fanmeeting or fansign, you can fix the ISO yourself for a better control of the image. However, in a fansign, from one member to another, the light can be different so keep that in mind.
Exposure composition: it’s the black and white +/- symbol combo, in general, it’s best to have a slightly underexposed picture, so you can go to -0.3 to -1, don’t go too much. Letting it at 0 is also fine, this is not a decisive factor in image quality anyway.
Shutter Speed: You need something fast enough to freeze the moments (no blurr), and something slow enough to let enough light and limit noise. What I use right now:
- 1/125 for posing idols, where the subject will freeze himself for a shot time
- 1/200 and 1/250 for talking and reaction capture, slow paced stuff in general
- 1/400 and 1/640 for dance performance, depending on dance, you can also change it, but for Dreamcatcher for instance, I find those two shutter speeds to be in a sweet spot. The hair are sometimes a bit soft on 1/400, this is why I’m also using 1/640 depending on songs.
Aperture: Always go to the lowest value possible, it’s especially true with variable aperture lens, as it change depending on the range. It can happen to forget to put it back to the lowest. One exception is that you have a really fast lens (below f/1.8) and you are close enough to the subject, you might want to tune it a bit. But considering that f/2.8 is quite the standard, it shouldn’t happen much.
File: Shoot Raw in priority, and if you are lacking storage … yeah, go jpg. If you have two cards slot, one good option is to shoot Raw on main card and jpeg on second card as you have a back up just in case the main card die. However, this will add a strain on the camera so it will be slower (buffer size), so it’s up to you. I personnaly set my second card on overload option as I want to keep my momentum while shooting.
Focus mode: depending on the camera, try to get the focus mode dedicated to moving subject, this will help you track the subject across your screen more accurately. Also, choose the largest possible area (highest numer of cross focus points) to focus. In mirrorless, you also have face detect and eye detect, those are good options in general. You might want to try the settings yourself to see what suits you the most.
Button configuration: In general, to get a photo on a fresh camera, you push the trigger halfway, it focuses, then, you fully push and it shoot. What I find more convenient tho is to configure one button to focus, and let the trigger to shoot pictures, regardless of the focus. You have to choose a conveniently placed button (under the thumb ideally), and that is not important in general, and configure it to AF-ON (autofocus on). On my Nikon, it’s the AE-L button that I decided to switch off. Note: you also have to configure it on the battery grip if you have one and the camera settings propose this option.
Video settings: I would suggest to shoot at least at 1080p 60fps, but if you can, shoot 4K, even if it’s 30fps. When shooting video, you can change the shutter speed to adapt to the record.
- 25fps = 1/50 / 50fps = 1/100
- 30fps = 1/60 / 60fps = 1/120
Then, the bitrate, if your memory card can handle it, choose the higher bitrate everytime. This will put a strain on your memory card, and the post process since the video will weight more, but better have good quality from the start than regretting it later.
Shooting mode: You can have different modes: single shot, quiet single shot, continuous high speed, continious low speed, continuous quiet, delay, bulb. It can be a bit different depending on brands. It’s quite simple, single shot is taking one picture at a time, and continuous high speed will take pictures at max speed as long as you keep pressing on the trigger. I would suggest continuous high speed.
Advices on how to use the camera
Try not to fill the buffer everytime, you never know when a worthy moment appear. Also, know what buffer can you handle, note that it can change by a few depending on your ISO (high ISO = heavier file => lower buffer size eventually).
Change your battery when it’s getting low, don’t wait the last moment, and do it in a gap time (when you know there won’t be anything worth to shoot).
Learn how the focus work, this is the most important thing I would say, a slightly dark or overexposed image can still be corrected, but if your photo is clearly out of focus, nothing can be done. Example of me fucking up.
Shooting in full auto is fine, the only issue is the shutter speed that is kinda random, in my experience, it was often too slow so there was some kind of blurr.
It’s better to shoot wider than too tight, as you can still crop afterward. (understand, shoot 135mm more often than 150mm for instance).
Shooting jpeg is ok, as you will save time on the post process, but getting the light right is gonna be more important.
When shooting raw, you are gonna need softwares to deal with the files, Rawtherapee and Darktable are reputable free softwares, and Lightroom is the most common software, although not free (it does come with Photoshop though). You can use Gimp instead of Photoshop.
It’s fine if your subject is a bit far, when using a 70-200 on a full frame, it can happen quite a lot, as long as the picture is fine and in focus, you will be able to crop and get a good picture afterward. For instance, in this screenshot, you can see the original photo on the left, and the crop on the right side, you can see that the quality is still there (the ISO 125 is helping, that’s for sure, but still).
Don’t spend all your time on your camera, you also want to appreciate the interactions and the performances, it’s nice that you want to capture the moment, but don’t forget to live it as well.
The more you shoot, the more you use your camera (shutter count), so is it worth it to spam the trigger, well, not really. In fansign, you don’t see the people spending all their time shooting. On another hand, if you are not seeing your idols often, it’s understandable to shoot a lot.
I’m here to explain to you the process I’m usually going through. The post process is what you have to go through once you have done your shooting.
1/ Export the files: I usually have two back up for all my photos, so it’s up to you if you have the storage for it or not. It would be a shame if your hard drive die and so on the pictures … Put the files from your memory card on your computer. Sometimes, depending on the card reader, it can be faster to use a cable on the camera, so try both to see which is fastest.
2/ Organize folder: My folders got this organization: group name – event – date, so I know how I’m looking for my stuff.
3/ Select the pictures: I’m using a software called FastStone Image Viewer to look through all my Raws, and every picture I deemed worthy is copied on another folder (that I usually put on my desktop).
4/ Filter: I’m doing another selection on the pictures that I’ve selected earlier, so I can delete the ones that feels a bit redundant.
5/ Editing: I usually put all the pictures in Lightroom, and do the edit there, it might be more or less heavy depending on pictures. I usually don’t go into photoshop as it is not needed, but as you have maybe seen, editing is clearly not my strongest feature, so …
6/ Export: don’t forget to put a watermark on your pictures, and export in jpeg. The size is up to you but most people won’t leave the SNS they see the pictures on. So going over 1500×1000 is not a necessity.
7/ I usually keep track of the pictures I’ve selected in raw, so I can come back later if necessary, so it’s another storage needed.