Part Two: Auto and Manual Exposure Modes
Click here to see Part One: How does the L16 work?
Photography, in its most basic form, is the act of capturing light. When you take a picture of something, you are simply recording the light you see in front of you.
The art of photography comes from the choices you make when capturing light. As the photographer, you’re controlling how much light enters the camera, which determines how bright or dark your photo appears.
Before you make any artistic decisions with the L16, you should know how your camera perceives light. Each of the L16’s camera modules work the same way that an entire DSLR would—utilizing the lens, mirror, sensor, shutter, and more to capture an image. But because the L16 utilizes at least 10 different modules in each shot, it collects 10x the amount of light information, giving our software significantly more data to create high-res images.
Auto Mode: Adjusting Exposure Value
When you’re shooting in Auto Mode, the L16 automatically determines what it thinks is a good amount of light for your scene. What you can control is the Exposure, or the amount of light hitting your camera’s digital sensor. When you change the Exposure, the camera changes either the shutter speed, ISO, or a combination of the two. In other words, you’re telling the L16, I see the exposure that you are giving me but I think it should be brighter (or darker).
In Manual Mode, you have more creative flexibility because you can control shutter speed and ISO individually.
If you’ve ever shot with a film camera, you probably know that ISO measures the film’s sensitivity to light. The larger the number on the side of the film canister, the higher the sensitivity.
Since modern cameras use digital sensors to measure and capture light, the definition of ISO is slightly different from that of film cameras. In digital cameras, adjusting ISO does not, in fact, change the sensor’s light sensitivity. What it does do is tell the sensor how to perceive the incoming light.
When you’re in a dimly lit area, you’ll want to use a higher ISO, especially if you’re holding the camera by hand and don’t want a blurry picture. On the other hand, if it’s bright out, there’s no need to use a high ISO—it will only add more “noise,” or graininess, to the picture. Try to avoid noise, if possible, as it degrades quality.
Most professional photographers avoid noise by owning big cameras with even bigger lenses. Those lenses allow huge amounts of light into the camera, which, in turn, lets them increase their ISO without introducing significantly more noise.
The beauty of the L16 is that you don’t need a gigantic lens to combat noise. Since multiple lenses and sensors are firing at once, you’re gathering more than enough light information. So, you can increase your ISO without greatly increasing noise or reducing image quality.
The camera’s shutter works like a curtain: it’s pulled in front of the camera’s sensor until the camera takes a picture—when it opens and allows the light to strike the sensor inside.
You can control the amount of time your camera’s sensor is exposed to the light by adjusting the shutter speed. If you’re in a dark area, you want to capture as much light as possible, so set a slow shutter speed, like one or two seconds (and use a tripod).
Like shutter speed and ISO, aperture is one of the other key tools photographers use to control their photography. Aperture serves two functions. In every camera, the aperture is the opening in the lens through which light travels into the camera. Because of this, the aperture of a lens can control how much light is allowed to hit the sensor. Secondly, aperture controls depth of field: a bigger aperture (smaller f-number) will make a scene’s subject sharp and its surroundings blurry, while a smaller aperture will bring both the subject and its surrounding elements into focus.
There is no native aperture control on the L16 camera. We don't need it. In fact, we don't want it. The aperture for each of its 16 different modules is automatically set wide open to capture as much light as it can. (For the 28mm and 70mm lenses, the aperture is f/2; for the 150mm lenses, f/2.4.) The more light the camera captures, the more light information available in the photo. The more information we have, the greater our ability is to reduce noise, and the higher the quality of image we can produce.
When the L16 captures images at such a wide aperture, each individual photo has a shallow depth of field, meaning the focal point is sharp but everything around it is not. By fusing these photos together, however, Light’s software creates a deep depth of field—which you can then adjust at different levels to achieve certain artistic effects.
Click to go to Part Three: Crop Factor and Focal Length