Modern Classic SLR Series
The Canon AE-1 Program - Advanced Camera Operation - Part II

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Exposure Warnings When taking pictures in excessively bright or low light, the aperture display blinks in the viewfinder. Depending on the warning displayed, make the appropriate adjustment as follows: Note: Besides pressing the shutter button halfway, you can also turn the meter on to check exposure in the viewfinder by pressing the exposure preview switch. Pressing it uses battery power. Be careful not to press it unintentionally.

Over Exposure Warning

Shift PGRM.jpg
Shutter-speed priority AE mode: "32" blinks regardless of the minimum aperture of the lens in use. aperture is displayed.

Choose a faster shutter speed until the display stops blinking. When using a lens whose minimum aperture is f/22 or f/16, even when "32" does not blink, turn the shutter speed selector dial until a number equal to or smaller than the lens' minimum

Illus Over.jpg
Shutter-speed priority AE mode: When "32" blinks and the shutter speed selector dial is set to 1000; or Programmed AE mode: When "16" blinks, you can either: a) Attach an ND filter *; or
b) Use a film with a lower ISO/ ASA rating.
* An ND (neutral density) filter reduces the light intensity while having no effect on colors. Optional accessory.

Under Exposure Warning:

Shutter-speed priority AE mode: A number equal to or smaller than the lens' maximum aperture blinks. Choose a slower shutter speed so that the aperture stops blinking.

Shutter-speed priority AE mode: When 2 sec. is set on the shutter speed selector dial and a number equal to or smaller than the lens' maximum aperture blinks; or Programmed AE mode: When the lens' maximum aperture blinks, you can either: a) Use flash or other additional light or b) Use a film with a higher ISO/ASA rating.

Under Illus.jpg

Note: With the shutter button pressed halfway, a red "M" LED appears whenever you remove the aperture ring of the lens from "A" or when you mount a non-FD lens. It warns you that exposure will not be automatic.

14. Exposure Control

Taking a picture is a matter of letting light fall on the film under controlled conditions. This is called exposure. When you press the shutter button, some blades (called a diaphragm) inside the lens shift to form an opening called the aperture. Almost simultaneously, the first shutter curtain starts to move inside the camera. A second shutter curtain follows it after a fixed interval which you control with the shutter speed selector dial. The amount of light that exposes a frame depends on the shutter speed and the size of the aperture.

For the same exposure, a change in the shutter speed requires an equal and opposite change in the aperture. The AE-1 PROGRAM makes this change in aperture automatically by means of the shutter-speed priority AE mode. In Programmed AE, the camera automatically chooses a combination of shutter speed and aperture for correct exposure.

Exposure Illus.jpg

PDF file (84k)
Strongly suggest you to Download a copy of the PDF file to see the relationship between shutter speed, opening of the diaphragm and the shutter curtain travelling time.

There are usually several combinations of shutter speed and aperture which will give the same exposure. This fact is the key to one of the most creative tools in photography. Find out more about it in the next three sections.

15. Choose an Appropriate Shutter Speed

The shutter controls exposure by the length of time it remains open.

The basic function of shutter speed is to get correct exposure (In combination with opening of he lens diaphragm for any given light scene), but you can also use it to control the expression of your subject's motion and to control the effect of camera movement.

Blurring part of the picture can heighten the sense of action. In most cases, however, image blur is undesirable. To avoid blurred pictures from camera movement, use a shutter speed of at least 1/60 second for handheld shooting with a standard (50 mm) lens. Even higher speeds are necessary with a telephoto lens

What is ISO/ASA film speed all about ?
The higher the film's ISO/ ASA speed, the less the light it needs for exposure, it is due to film with higher ISO/ASA film rating comes with emulsion designed to more 'light sensitive' than a lower ISO/ASA film. That must mean that with a higher film speed we can shoot in lower light or use faster shutter speeds if a higher ISO/ASA rating film is used. What is the compromise? Graininess when doing enlargement, higher speed film usually exhibits higher grains formation when a photo is being enlarged.

1. Freezing Motion

Usually a certain shutter speed is chosen to freeze the motion of a subject. The faster the subject is moving, the higher the shutter speed required to stop the action. While it is possible to freeze the motion of a pedestrian at 1/60 second, you need 1/1000 second for a moving train.

2. Blurring the Subject's Motion

Blurring part of the picture intentionally can give a convincing sense of action. To blur the subject, simply set a shutter speed which is too slow to freeze its action.

You can also blur the background by "panning." Choose a slower shutter speed in proportion to the effect and suitable for the subject's motion and release the shutter as you follow the movement, turning the upper part of your body.

16. Shooting at Shutter Speeds Slower Than 1/60 Sec. With a standard 50 mm lens on your AE-1 PROGRAM, a shutter speed of 1/30 second or slower is liable to result in blurred pictures because of camera movement when you are handholding the camera. Instead of using such slow shutter speeds, it is better to raise the shutter speed, if possible, add light or use a flash. If you are in macro or astrophotography, the chances are even higher dues to high magnification usually demands more light to compensate for such magnification, and usually that interprets in slower shutter speed settings. In such cases, a tripod with a cable release to handle time and lengthy exposure are almost inevitable. Mount the camera on a sturdy tripod and use a cable release is a good pratice - if your type of photography allows you to do that (but most of the time, we are not and it is highly in-pratical to do so). Attach the camera to the tripod via the tripod socket. A cable release is an accessory which screws into a socket in the shutter button and allows you to release the shutter without touching the camera.

With a wide-angle (less than 50 mm) lens, it may be possible to use shutter speeds slightly slower than 1/60 second for handheld shooting. With a telephoto (more than 55 mm) lens, even faster shutter speeds are necessary to prevent blurring.

: Canon offers a handy and inexpensive optional accessory called Tripod Adapter A. If the tripod head is quite large, it may be helpful to place this accessory between the camera and the head. Otherwise, it may be difficult to turn the focusing and aperture rings. This accessory also prevents damage to the camera when the tripod screw is too long for the camera's tripod socket.

Rule of Thumb: Generally, DO NOT use a number on the shutter speed scale which is any smaller than the focal length of the lens for handheld shooting. For handheld shooting with a 100 mm lens, for instance, set a shutter speed of 1/125 second or faster; with a 200 mm lens, at least 1/250 second. If this is not possible, use a tripod and a cable release. Note: In the programmed AE mode. the "P" blinks when the shutter speed is 1/30 or slower to warn you of the possibility of camera movement if you are hand holding the camera.

17. Aperture, Exposure's Other Half The lens has diaphragm blades. They open and close to form certain-sized holes, or apertures, which control the amount of light allowed to expose the film. The aperture scale can be found on the lens' aperture ring. The numbers on the scale are called f-numbers or f/stops.

Aperture Illustration.jpg (29k) Loading...

When taking pictures using shutter-speed priority AE or programmed AE the lens' aperture ring must be set to the "A' mark. With the lens on this setting, the AE-1 PROGRAM automatically selects the correct aperture, based on lighting, the film speed, and the shutter speed. When you press the shutter button halfway, the f/stop the AE- 1 PROGRAM has set automatically appears in the viewfinder. Because the meter reads light continuously, as the lighting conditions change, the different apertures which compensate for the change appear in the viewfinder. The AE-1 PROGRAM does not fix the aperture until you press the shutter button to take the picture.In addition to controlling the quantity of light, the aperture influences depth of field which, in turn affects the way a picture will look. When you; subject is in focus, there is a certain area in front of it and behind it which will also be in focus. This range of sharpness is called depth of field. In portraits and still-life shots, a particular aperture may be more important to your picture than a particular shutter speed. To get the aperture you want in shutter-speed priority AE, simply turn the shutter speed selector dial, while pressing the exposure preview switch, until the desired f-number appears in the viewfinder. Keep in mind that the shutter speed should not be slower than 1/60 second for handheld shooting with a standard lens.

How the Aperture Affects the Picture
(More info relating to this topic)

1. The smaller the aperture, the wider the range of sharpness. This is illustrated by this picture above which was taken at f/16. Compare it with the photo to its right. This extended depth of field is especially good for such subjects as landscapes.
2. The larger the aperture. the narrower the range of sharpness. An aperture of f/1.4, for instance, can isolate your subject from its surroundings. This is often used to blur a disturbing background in portraiture.

Note: Depth of field is also greater the shorter the focal length of the lens. For example, a 24 mm lens will show greater depth of field than a 50 mm lens, provided the aperture and shooting distance are the same. Depth of field is also greater the longer the shooting distance, and is generally greater in the background than in the foreground by a ratio of two to one. With a Canon FD lens, viewing and metering are done at maximum aperture where the viewfinder is brightest. The lens diaphragm does not close to the shooting aperture until the shutter is released. Afterwards, it re-opens automatically to the maximum aperture. Because the maximum aperture provides the narrowest range of sharpness, the subject is viewed with the shallowest depth of field.

Checking the Depth of Field : There are two ways to check the depth of field with the AE-1 Program. The usual one is by using the depth-of-field scale on the lens. This is a scale of f/stops repeated on each side of the distance index.

DOF scale.jpg
1. First focus. Then press the shutter button halfway and note which number appears in the viewfinder. Find the two f-stops on the depth-of-field scale which correspond to that number. 2. Draw imaginary lines from those two numbers to the distance scale. The effective depth of field lies between those two distances.

You can roughly check the depth of field visually with an FD lens as follows:

1. Make sure the film has been completely advanced.
2. Press the shutter button halfway to find out which number is displayed in the viewfinder.

3. Then press in the AE lock pin and turn the aperture ring to that number. Note: As a reminder that the lens is off "A" the "M" will light up in the viewfinder when you press the shutter button halfway.
4. Push in the stop-down lever until it locks. Now, just by looking at your subject through the viewfinder, you can see the range of sharp focus.

DOF illus.jpg

5. After checking the depth of field, unlock the stop-down lever. Now turn the aperture ring to the smallest number. Then turn it to the largest number, press the AE lock pin and return the aperture ring to "A."

dofpreview1.jpg dofpreview2.jpg
Caution: It is NOT possible to push in the stop-down lever when an FD lens is set at "A".

Do not push in the stop-down lever before you advance the film or the diaphragm will close down only as far as the aperture used for the previous exposure.

: When an FD lens is mounted DIRECTLY on the camera (with no accessories between), NEVER take a shot before releasing the stopdown lever or exposure may be incorrect. And unless you want to make an exposure correction return the aperture ring to "A" before shooting.

| Previous | Next | Exposure Compensation and handling non-FD lenses

Part I: Basic Camera Operations (3 parts)
II: Advance Camera Operations (5 parts)
III: Other Issues (2 parts)

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