Today is Help an Idiot Day.. canon 300d question!
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Thread: Today is Help an Idiot Day.. canon 300d question!

  1. #1

    Default Today is Help an Idiot Day.. canon 300d question!

    I have a Canon 300d, which I\'m ashamed to say, despite having had it for a couple of years, I only use in \'point and shoot\' automatic modes:redface: I have got the manual, but I\'ve never had time nor reason to work it out, and TBH, it confuses me.

    Now obviously, point and shoot modes ain\'t working for taking mini pics.. so can one of you kind souls give me some idiot proof (i.e. not too technical!) ideas as to what settings I should have it on and how to get the best out of it for mini-photography?

    The other problem I have is a lack of light box/lighting... though I intend to rectify that asap (bithtday soon!!) so tips on what to get for a simple but effective and not too expensive set up would also be very much appreciated!:D

  2. #2

    Default Nothing too technical...?

    Hmm.. what works on that camera might not work on another one. And the same with the subject you photograph. One setting that works for small figures will maybe not work with larger ones. So I kind of feel that one should try to learn the basic things when it comes to photography and manual settings or else it\'s very hard to improvise.

    It\'s not that hard if you dare to experiment some and try different settings yourself.. the words and meaning might seem complicated at first but once you start using it practically it will make much more sense.

    Aperature and the aperature priority setting
    One shortcut you might take is to use the aperature priority setting which on the main button where you select modes is marked with an Av. Then you get to choose aperature. Aperature is the size of the hole in the lens letting in light.. equal to the pupil of the eye. The confusing thing with aperature is that the numbers are fractions so a larger number means an higher fraction= smaller opening. typically the lowest number (depends on the lens you are using) is f/2.5 or f/2.8 while the highest might be f/32 (f stands for fraction).

    Choosing aperature setting
    When choosing aperature for miniature photography you should mainly think of one thing, getting it entirely in focus. The aperature is related to the amount of the mini you can get in focus without certain things getting blurry (called the depth of field). A smaller opening (which means a higher number - remember) means a larger depth of field and you can get a larger miniature in focus. What you can try to do is experiment with the aperature number.. on this specific camera there is a little roll dial viewable here that you roll to change aperature. With very 2d miniatures like the bar wench you are painting right now an aperature setting of maybe 5.6-8.0 will do while on larger miniatures you can choose a higher value. The problem with higher aperaturevalues is that it needs very much light as the opening in the lens is very small. Therefor if you find that the images are too dark you can add more light or choose another aperature setting.

    Now we are not far from using full Manual settings.. so I\'ll explain the rest too :P

    White Balance setting
    When you have tried taking a few pictures and they come out descent you might notice if there is a yellow cast to the picture. That is depending on how white your lighting is but it is adjustable in the White Balance setting in your camera. You can find the white balance setting by pressing the arrow facing down (marked with a WB) it is visible on this picture Then roll the dial to change from different modes. You\'ll notice how the colour of the picture changes on the LCD screen as you move the dial. There is an \"Fluorescent\" setting (usually the symbol is a rectangle with some lightbeams around) that should come in handy. You exit the WB mode by pushing the WB button again.

    ISO setting
    As you might notice there is an upper arrow to where it says ISO. This is only something you need to change if you shoot in lowlight conditions as increasing the ISO will lead to a more grainy picture (a higher ISO gives a higher lightsensitivity and thus lighter pictures). Just press the ISO setting and make sure it is as low as possible, on your camera the lowest number is 100. Press ISO again to exit ISO settings.

    Manual settings
    Now we\'ve come to the next step that will give you full control over the camera, which is the M setting on the main button. M stands for manual.

    Shutter speed
    The only important change to what I\'ve spoken about so far is that you can also control the shutter now. The shutter is most easily described as an eyelid. When someone takes a photo you hear a \"click\" and that\'s the shutter opening and closing again. The reason why it opens and then closes again is because it sets how much exposure the film (in this case a digital chip) get to light. The more exposure it gets the lighter the picture will be. But also things moving fast will become blurry. this animation of a small waterfall will illustrate that effect. Again the numbers can be confusing. But this might not be the case for you as they may write out the entire number including fraction (1/10 for 1/10 of a second and 10 for 10 seconds).

    This is a small write-up if you don\'t get the whole number. The short shuttertimes are fractions.. and that\'s the one\'s we usually use. So 10 means 1/10 of a second, 100 means 1/100 of a second and 1000 means 1/1000 of a second. But if you go down further 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Then 1 of course means one second but when you start to have even longer exposure times the numbers go up again. But that is marked by adding a symbol \" before the numbers (not sure this is universal) as in 1\", 1.5\", 2\"... etc.

    Choosing shutter speed
    In miniphotography this is fairly straight forward you pick the shutter speed that gets the best exposure for the selected aperature setting. In other words the photograph when you view it on the LCD shouldn\'t be too light or too dark.. perfect amount of light and darkness is perfect exposure. This might be a bit difficult to appreciate until you get it onto your computer so try some different shutterspeeds and see what works best.

    In other photography you might instead focus on how still you can hold the camera and if the things you are photographing are moving. Often you have a flash as an help to take sharp images. Really long shutter speeds might give cool effects as well when for example taking picture of cars in the night as illustrated in the Wikipedia link.

    On your camera in manual mode the main dial that in aperature mode is for aperature now is for shutterspeed. so when you roll that dial the shutterspeed will change. Changing the aperature in manual mode includes holding a little button marked with Av +/- which is situated on the right hand side of the LCD display (visible on the link I gave earlier).

    Picking distance to subject
    This is entirely dependend on the lens you use. In macro mode (which I think you already know about) each lens has a different minimum range. Often you get the sharpest image near that minimum range, so go as close as possible with the entire mini in focus and some room for cropping the image later. But remember that the closer you get to the mini the smaller the depth of field.. so you might have to change the aperature for close shots.

    As for lighting.. The photographing minis with just one lamp article is a very good start. Get a fluorescent light whith as natural (white) light as ppossible.. you might ask for full spectrum light but sometimes they don\'t know what you mean. At least here in sweden each fluorescent light comes with a 3 digit number. What you want is as high number as possible. I use 840 I think in my 11W armature. The 8 stands for colour rendition while the other two numbers stands for how white the light is. I always take my pictures doing the day and use a fluorescent light (the one I paint under) as the main light. The most important place to get light from is straight forward and slightly from above. Never take pictures against a white background as it might confuse the camera. You\'ll notice the difference when switching to a neutral grey one.

    Positioning the camera and taking the picture
    Many recommend tripods when taking pictures for miniatures, and I agree it is a great idea. That will keep the camera well positioned and steady which will give sharper pictures. In faster shutterspeeds you can however do with just supporting your hands and get the flexibilty to move around the mini with the camera. The same with using a timer to take the photo. Pressing the button might shake the camera but in faster shutterspeeds you can do it carefully and it won\'t matter much. I always take many pictures of the same view even if I use a tripod so that I can be sure that I have several pictures that are sharp.

    Post processing
    No digital image is complete straight from the camera it always need some tweaking. Spacemunkie has written a great article about it in this thread that I recommend. However I most often use a gradient backdrop that I have printed out as I think it looks more natural.

    This might be the beginning of an article, so if anything that needs to be clarified further or expanded... just ask! :D And remember it\'ll come together in practice even if it seems difficult now.

  3. #3


    Avelorn you are a star! Thankyou so much for taking the time to post all that- I\'m going to print it, read it and LEARN from it:D

  4. #4


    One thing to add regarding Aperture Priority - This isn\'t a fully manual setting... basically, you set the aperture size and the camera chooses the shutter speed - this will typically be a slower speed with a smaller aperture (ie.. f12 will have a slower shutter speed than say f4). This allows the camera to \'gain\' more information and change the depth of field. When the aperture is smaller and the shutter speed is slower, you will definitely need a tripod.

  5. #5


    Right, this is 300D specific:

    Turn the dial on top to AV - that\'s your aperture priority mode on a 300D. Shutter speed is irrelevant if you use a tripod.

    Crank the aperture down to f22 or higher (my 50mm macro stops down to f32) - the number will appear in the bottom of the viewfinder when you look through it.

    Use that little circular button next to the shutter button to put the self-timer on. There are three settings - single shot, multiple shot and self-timer. Press the button until you get the timer sign, top right of your screen.

    Stick it on a tripod and fire away. You can use the flash if you diffuse it with tracing paper or the like at a push - I use a piece of bent card as a reflector to bounce light back around the model.

    Forget manual settings, you\'ll never need them.

    Forget your ISO settings - you should always have it set to 100, especially for mini photography (only use higher settings at a push in very low light conditions - the noise you get is nasty and aint even \'arty\' like it used to be with film).

    Buy a decent macro lens. Canon EF 50mm compact macro is a corker for the price. The zoom that came with the 300D is ropey for mini photography.

    The main thing is to not be afraid to prat about with it. It\'s not as if you\'re wasting film or money!

  6. #6


    Beezlebrush and Spacemunkie- two more stars!:D Thanks guys, really helpful.

  7. #7


    Originally posted by Spacemunkie
    The main thing is to not be afraid to prat about with it. It\'s not as if you\'re wasting film or money!
    Definately the most important thing! :)

    Keep adding information and/or questions I\'ll just add and redo if necessary.

  8. #8


    :beer: Cheers! I\'ll go and have a play with the camera with the info here already, but you can bet there will be more questions:D

  9. #9


    You guys are great:D I\'ve read all your tips, and had a play, and taken about fifty shots...

    This is the last photo I posted on my WIP thread....

    THIS is the \'new improved\' version, helped no end by you guys....

    Now bear in mind I haven\'t rushed out and bought the right lighting, haven\'t got a graded grey background sorted yet and it\'s not daylight... settings were f22, ISO 100 and white balance set to the tungusten bulb setting.

    I\'m really happy with the improvement- sadly couldn\'t put spacemunkie\'s photoshopping thread to total use as the background was so close to the \'black bits\' that the magic wand was getting confused (along with me!) but I will get that sorted too, eventually.

    The only thing I don\'t like is how \'unforgiving\' it is... I thought I\'d got all that darn mould line off the left arm (I did know the touch up was the wrong colour!) and I honestly can\'t see that \'blip\' above her eye without a massive magnifier:rolleyes:

    Guess who\'s getting the files out again?!

  10. #10



    If I were you, I would try a slower shutter speed with that aperture, as the highlights have been \"blown\". If you slightly underexpose, it\'s easier to recover details in the shadows - once you\'ve overexposed you can\'t recover details in the highlights.

    if you shoot your pic with the histogram viewable on the lcd display, try to get the histogram within the max-min range. My guess is here the right hand side of the histogram is truncated, meaning the highlights are over exposed. Try several pics at f22 and vary the shutter speed and see what happens

    hope that makes sense!

  11. #11


    Makes perfect sense Orb, will have another play!:D

  12. #12


    I\'d also place white piece of paper under the mini. Then the light will bounce on the paper and up onto the miniature. That will soften some of the harsh shadows and make for a more even light!

    That\'s why I use a gradient backdrop... then I\'ll have white under the mini that will soften the shadows and a more photofriendly neutral colour behind the miniature (I use a grey blue for the effect but a neutral grey would be even better).

    I think the photo looks much more natural now.

  13. #13


    The camera will have problems metering properly from such extremes in dark and light tones. Use a lighter coloured backdrop!

  14. #14


    Like this nicely graduated grey one...?!;)

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