View Full Version : What settings do you use for pics and video?

Matt Dean
02/28/2016, 09:22 PM
OK, so I have one of the best cameras on the planet...a new Sony a7Rii. 42Mp, 4K video, and all the bells and whistles you can think of. But...I still can't get a pic i am happy with of my tank. I am probably expecting too much, but I know it's possible, especially with this camera.

I have a 16mm-35mm Zeiss lend and a 24mm-240mm Sony lens that is pretty sweet. The tank is 5 feet wide, so can't get too close. I have tried with the lights low and higher. Still not happy.

I am setting the camera either f4 or f8, with a shutter speed of 160 to 250. I keep the ISO at 100 or 200.

I attached a pic i took tonight. I know I should have turned the computer off behind it :) Colors are pretty bang on what I see with my eyes.

So what setting do you use on your camera to get the pics you are happy with?

Also, Since I now have 4K video ability, what setting would you use to get the clearest, most balanced video from a tank, without having to get into colour grading, etc.

02/29/2016, 05:33 PM
Nice camera. I shoot Sony and that is one I really like shooting with. However, the settings aspect of it doesn't change from camera to camera. You still must take the same measures regardless of what camera you shoot with. First off, as you noted, you want to turn off any computers or lights in the room to minimize reflections or glare. If you have any windows, cover them with blankets if you can.

Lastly, if you want a FTS, you want to shoot at a stopped down aperture. Something in the range of f/8-f/13. Your DOF increases and allows you to get more things in focus. You will have to be tripod mounted however, which I believe you may already be considering the EXIF data you just gave us above.

Personally, I think the shot you have shared here is a great one. The fish in the foreground isn't showing blurriness from too slow a shutter and everything seems well exposed. I'd keep taking pictures until you are satisfied with one.

You have a very capable camera, just take the additional steps to make the shot worth while by reducing glare/lights etc.

Do you happen to have a larger version to share with us? Are you shooting in RAW? How are you processing these files?

Matt Dean
02/29/2016, 05:50 PM
Thanks for the input!

Yes. i am using a tripod - of course. and I am shooting RAW and editing in Lightroom. Just learning the program. I am fairly good at it for my real estate photography(I'm an agent), but the aquarium is more of a challenge.

And yes, I usually turn off all lights. There is little to no ambient light in this room, which is nice. I took another one today with a different lens - I'm thinking the wide angle lens might not be 100%, or the best for this. And of course, the flow is turned off. Here is the link to a high rez pic :

Here is a smaller verso. This one is 24mm, f8 @ 1/25 ISO 200. I may try raising my ISO to 400 or even 800 to be able to stop down more and have a faster shutter. This camera still looks good even at 3200ISO.

Interesting note: I couldn't see the white flecks in the water column with my naked eye. :)


03/01/2016, 01:42 PM
are the flecks above the water line simply a reflection from the tank? Seems weird. That in particular may be "degrading" the overall quality of the shot, but not sure what those are caused by? This may simply be because of the lower shutter speed and may be flecks of something like air or something floating in your tank and may be creating a "streak" because of the slower shutter. I would increase the iso to 800 and in turn increase the shutter speed to 1/200 or there abouts to see if this goes away.

Matt Dean
03/01/2016, 01:50 PM
That's the lights from my LED strips on the corner of the tank that are in a line near the top. The rest are just the floating specs. The flow was off, so nothing really moving except the fish. I did try a faster shutter speed with higher ISO and it looked the same. Thanks for the tips. I will try it again and see if I can work it out.

I think I may be trying to get too detailed and clean a look. I could just be trying too hard.

03/01/2016, 02:30 PM
I really can't explain what is causing those specks to be honest. Do you have 1 or 2 types of fixtures? If 2, try turning one or the other off and see if this problem persists. Not sure if that is the right approach here, but it is a head scratcher to me as far as what it could be considering you said that you can't see them with your naked eye and the fact that the pumps were off.

Regardless, though, it is still an exceptional shot of a beautiful tank. TFS

Matt Dean
03/01/2016, 06:05 PM
So...this is 25mm, f7.1, 1/200 and 1250ISO. Not too bad. My sand sifting goby is really putting a lot of silt in the water column, so not much I can do about that and didn't want to wait around all night for it to settle.

I'm happy with the middle, but the sides have a 'fake' look to them. Whether it's my post processing, or just the water doing it, I wish i could get a more uniform look. Doing several passes and merging them is not an option as the fish keep moving and make it impossible for a clean shot.


Reef Bass
03/02/2016, 06:18 AM
Marine snow is very common in shots of reef tanks. Are you turning off your pumps and allowing things to settle for 5 minutes or so before shooting?

I get some marine snow in my images, but much less, probably because I run a 100 micron filter sock to help to keep debris down. I also use the healing brush in Lightroom to remove them. It makes the picture look so much better, IMHO.

I would also suggest resizing your images down to say 1000 pixels on the long edge before posting. At their current size they can't be viewed in their entirety, even on my 1920x1080 display.

Matt Dean
03/02/2016, 08:15 AM
Hey. Thanks for the input. Yes. I turned off the pumps for a while before shooting, but the sand sifting goby and wrasses kept kicking it up. I was running a filter sock. So, I gave in and just took the pic, since it's more experimentation than anything right now.

I didn't realize I had uploaded the larger pic. I had resized it and saved it separately, but then grabbed the wrong one :) Thanks for that. I did want to show a higher rez version though, so you could see any artifacts and such. next one will be more reasonable!

When i get a shot I am happy with, I will spend more time minimizing the marine snow in lightroom. Thanks for the tip. I forgot about that tool. There is just so much of it, not sure how that would work.


03/02/2016, 03:41 PM
What sort of post processing did you do? It looks like a bit too much sharpening and/or saturation.

A really sharp pic really brings out all the flaws in water quality and glass cleaning! I'm always amazed at how many small spots I can miss when cleaning! :(
To my eye it looks great but in the pic it screams 'Clean ME!'

Matt Dean
03/02/2016, 07:37 PM
Thanks Wood. The glass is actually very clean. All those dots are in the water column. I had just scraped and sponged the glass to be sure. Not sure how I am going to avoid it, with the fish kicking up silt all the time. Granted, the last pic, I didn't wait that long for things to settle, but it seems like every time I am ready to snap a photo, something stirs up a bunch of crap!

I was thinking I may be setting my sharpening wrong. I have been experimenting. I "think" the detail was up higher than normal in my preset, or possibly the masking. I need to try it without any sharpening at all and go from there. Appreciate that input!

03/02/2016, 09:39 PM
Are you setting the shutter off with a timer or are you physically pushing the shutter button?

Matt Dean
03/03/2016, 05:53 AM
I always use a 2 sec timer and tripod.