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Photography QnA: Photographic Field Techniques

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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques

Ready to learn about field technique for large object photography? How about for small object photography? This Q & A covers it all. Or if you are interested in private instruction, check out Kerry Drager's Field Techniques: Light and Composition online photography course.

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Photography Question 
Tarah Dawdy
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/29/2008
  41 .  Telephoto Lens Vs. Macro Lens
Hi,
I would like to purchase a lens for my camera. Can you please fill me in on the difference between a macro and telephoto lens? Thanks so much! =)

3/25/2008 10:57:44 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  A telephoto lens technically is one that is designed such that its actual length is less than its optical focal length. More generally, it refers to long focal length lenses that give a narrow angle of view and "bring distant objects closer."
A macro lens is one that focuses very close so that it can project a 1/2 life-size or larger image onto the film or sensor. Macro lenses can be wide angle, normal, telephoto or zoom. The camera makers (Canon, Nikon, etc.) tend to reserve the term "macro" for their lenses that are capable of 1:1 (life size) or greater. The third-party makers, like Sigma and Tamron, are a bit looser in their definition and will use the "macro" label on zoom lenses capable of focusing close enough to give 1:4 magnification (1/4 life size) or larger.

3/25/2008 12:02:28 PM

Paul D.
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Paul
Paul's Gallery

member since: 1/25/2006
  Hi Tarah!

OK, simple answer: if you want close-ups of your nephew in his soccer game, you'll want a telephoto lens. If you want to squat down and get 2 inches away from a tiny flower and have it look big in your photo, that's what a Macro is for.

Here's a great article that JUST came out in email from B&H Photo yesterday:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/find/newsLetter/Beyond-Kit-Lens.jsp

Enjoy!

Paul

PS: my 70-200mm telephoto zoom is my favorite lens...

4/1/2008 6:08:23 AM

Tarah Dawdy
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/29/2008
  Thanks so much Paul! I really appreciate your help! =)

4/1/2008 9:23:23 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  Exactly what Paul said, soooo did you shoot your Avatar with a Micro lens that makes the big cars Small????? hmmmm

4/1/2008 9:50:11 PM

Gaiil R. 

member since: 12/19/2008
  Dear Paul and Tarah,
Thanks so much for the info. I just got a Canon Rebel XS and a telephoto lens - 75-300mm. I am just learning.
Thanks again,
Gail

12/19/2008 4:39:45 PM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 
Amanda R. Milam

member since: 5/10/2005
  42 .  Studio Lighting Kit
I'm seriously thinking about buying the Novatron D1500 Studio Four Head Kit w/ Wheeled case. Is this a good choice? Does anyone own this kit that could possibly give any pros/cons about it?

3/13/2008 6:49:16 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  While I don't own one, IMO Novatron is a very good system with numerous accessories available, well-made and durable. I know a lot of pros who have Novatron lighting and they like them a lot.
And, just for kicks, if you haven't done so already, you might take a look at either Bowens monolights or even Calumet Travelers. John Siskin, who teaches lighting here, and I both also like the Norman packs systems like the P800 and I have a special affinity for Norman and Speedotron pack systems with at least 2000 w.s. Monolight systems are pretty easy to expand on. So you can start with say 2 lamp heads and get more later without a huge investment now.
Essentially, which lighting you get depends on what you plan to shoot now and in the future, whether it's expandable with additional heads, how powerful the heads are and who services them in the event something goes kaputsky.
Remember, Amanda, everyone sells cases. That's just a bit of glitz they throw in with the deal. Try and get as much light-bang for your bucks. Used equipment cases abound, even at B&H or Adorama.
Your thoughts here are good ones though.
Be well.
Mark

3/14/2008 10:50:05 AM

  Hi Amanda,
I know Novatron to be good gear, though I have never owned any of it. The thing I would mention is that if you want one more head you will need to buy another power pack or buy a monolight. If you started with one monolight and built a kit from there, say with the Calumet Travelites or the Alien Bees, you would almost certainly pend more. But you might spend the money over more time and create a lighting kit that is fitted specifically to your needs. I also noted that the kit weight is 64 pounds, worth considering. Also, can you stand on the case? I never get lighting cases I canít stand on.
Thanks, John

3/14/2008 5:15:37 PM

Amanda R. Milam

member since: 5/10/2005
  Thanks for the advice. I'm really new to all the studio aspect of photography. I will be using the lights for portraits in studio and wedding portraits (if I decide to venture into wedding photography). Do you think that the four heads will be enough for a small studio set-up?

3/14/2008 8:02:32 PM

  Hi Amamda,
The four heads will do well for a small studio. You will be happier with monolights for wedding portraits. It is easier to set up the power. Thanks, John

3/14/2008 8:09:40 PM

L. W.

member since: 1/28/2004
  Hi Amanda,
I have used Novatron kits for years now and recommended the lightning kits enthusiastically. At first my reason for buying Novatron was the lower price but was happy with my purchase immediately after setting up the equipment for a quick shoot. Since my first kit, I have brought three more-each larger-and the kits are interchangeable. I used a mini kit for shooting kids' sports leagues and in-home portraits for over the past ten years without the equipment ever letting me down. The larger kits are better for weddings because they provide more lightning choices. I never found the kits difficult to set up. Because the kits are made to fit the cases, I don't worry about transportation damage. My suggestions are: DO NOT buy the kit with the flash meter (I suggest Wein or Sekonic meters); ALWAYS have additional synch cords (I use transmitters with the kits) and have a three-prong electical adaptor in your travel case (I have used the case to pose kids but use a ladder to stand on). Friends have bought kits on my recommendations-all are quite happy as well. Hope this helps. Happy shooting!

3/18/2008 5:21:46 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Amanda,
In 30 years of attending seminars I have always been amazed at the diversity of lighting that has been used to create wonderful portraits. John and Mark offer good advice here. A 64 pound kit is probably not one which you will take on location many times without looking for a more "portable" system. Several years ago (OK more than several) I had a dealer talk me into a great Pelican camera case that would hold all my gear. Wonderful, I thought. With all my wedding cameras, strobes, extra lenses it weighed in a 45 pounds!! Wearing a suit and tie on a hot summer day and carrying that up a couple flights of stairs to a reception soon gave me a different perspective about the case. LOL. I've spent more than a little time trying to get cords out of the way in the studio. A system with four heads certainly will work and you CAN keep the cords out of the way. For me, I like an independent system where I can keep cords -- and tripping over them (me or my subjects) from being just one more thing to deal with in a studio environment. Early strobe systems were locked in with the power output. for example (and this is variable with the system), one head gets 400 watt seconds of power (fortunately there is usually more these days) with one head. The second head splits the power and gets 200 ws each, and so on. Most of the newer systems have a slider to provide infinite adjustments to lighting in tenths of an f-stop instead of whole stops at a time. In a small studio this becomes an important issue. Most units have more than enough power for MOST subjects, we always want more sometimes but frequently we need to cut it back and have less to create the light we want. Hope this helps.
Bruce

3/18/2008 5:35:49 AM

Amanda R. Milam

member since: 5/10/2005
  Hey guys! I went and had my taxes done today and I have decided to purchase a light kit. I have a few questions first though. If I were to purchase this light kit. Here's the ones that I'm looking at:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/517789-REG/Novatron_LSK15D_4_D1500_Studio_Four_Head.html

or

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/311774-REG/Novatron_LSK15D_4FC_1500_W_S_4_Light.html

I've seen studios use a small black box with a small antenna on the hotshoe to set the lights off. This allowed them to hand hold the camera while taking portraits. What is this device called and will it work with these lights and the camera that I have? Can someone explain the difference in these 2 kits to me and do you think one would be easier to use than the other? I really appreciate all the help and advice from the people here at Better Photo. Thanks again.


3/31/2008 4:48:15 PM

  Hi Amanda,
In the more expensive kit you have more control over the power of each light. In the inexpensive kit you have only one head with variable power. I think this is an important feature. The thing you are talking about is a radio slave. You can get an inexpensive one on EBay, by searching radio slave. Quantum makes better ones called Pocket Wizards, this is probably what you saw. Good Luck! Thanks, John Siskin

3/31/2008 5:16:57 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Good day,
If you are going to spend that type of money, why not look at the Photogenic kits as well.
I know for a fact that Photogenic make a Long lasting ,sturdy Product well known through out this industry.
My first studio kit is still operating today and I sold it at 35 years old.
I shoot now with the 2500D/1250Dr/300
Power Lights.

here is a really nice kit ( adding a fourth light can be done anytime,but this comes with your built in remote system):

Photogenic Powerlight 3 Light Remote Standard Studio 1125 W/S Kit - Includes: 2- 1250DR, 1- 300DR Monolight, Infrared Remote Control Transmitter, 2 Receivers, Umbrellas, Sync Cord, Light Stands, Case (120V AC)

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/301894-REG/Photogenic_917031_Powerlight_3_Light_Remote.html


Or if you really want to do on site work, Photogenic has AC/DC kits available as well.

Just a thought,
Debby Tabb

4/1/2008 9:07:08 AM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Amanda,
Debby's thoughts on the Photogenic are good. I have used them for years. One of the lights I bought used and it is still going strong.
Bruce

4/1/2008 9:24:18 AM

Amanda R. Milam

member since: 5/10/2005
  Here's another kit that I found while I was looking at the kit that Debby suggested:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/301692-REG/Photogenic_958201_Powerlight_Solair_4_Light.html

Which one would be the better kit? I'm mostly going to use it for portraits and maybe weddings if I decide to do weddings in the future. Will both of these kits (The Novatron and the Photogenic kits) be okay for family portraits of 5+ people or wedding parties? Thanks Everyone for all the help!

4/1/2008 5:50:30 PM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 
Alex B. Smith

member since: 1/30/2005
  43 .  Photos Aren't Sharp
I was wondering what one has to do to get crisp and clear pictures out of a D-SLR. I have a 20D with a Canon 28-135 f3.5 IS lens. I usually shoot under P mode, and increase ISO when it gets a little shady, but even in sunlight, they dont turn out crisp. I always have the IS on and I use L quality. I don't get it. Any ideas?

3/10/2008 11:35:35 PM

  Hi Alex, You should go to a camera store and ask if you can use one of their 28-135mm lenses and go outside and do some test shots to compare if you may have a soft lens. Use a tripod and shoot at various focal lengths & apertures at a brick wall with both lenses (like 50mm at f/8 or 75mm at f/4) and look for differences. I am not familiar with the 28-135 but I turn IS to OFF when using a tripod with my IS lenses. Sometimes you just get a bad copy of a lens.
You mentioned you use "L quality". I am not sure what you mean by this because L is a distinction of the best Canon lenses and the 28-135mm is not an L lens nor in the same league as the 24-70mm f/2.8 L or the 24-105mm f/4 IS L lenses. These 2 lenses will give you much sharper images because they are built better and are higher quality throughout. My friend used the 28-135mm and he was able to produce sharp images but he recently upgraded to the 24-105mm, so now his 28-135mm doesn't make it out of the bag anymore.
And, even with a sharp lens, digital images often require some sharpening when processing the images with Photoshop or other editing software. I doubt that your problem is the 20D itself, and it is most likely your lens is a bit soft or possibly you are using too slow of a shutter speed while hand-holding for a shot.
Also, learn to shoot in TV, AV or Manually and avoid P setting if possible. I don't want to discourage you and please ask if you have other questions. I have had "soft" copy lenses before and had to trade them out, and I have also made plenty of mistakes while learning to get sharp images with proper exposure.
Hope this helps - Carlton

3/11/2008 12:42:28 AM

  http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/

3/11/2008 1:15:41 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Agree with Carlton. Additionally...
- Are you using a "protective" UV filter? Try without.
- P mode often chooses to wide-open aperture. As good as the EF 28-135 is, stopping down to f/5.6-8 (choose Av instead of P) will be sharper than at f/3.5-5.6.

3/11/2008 6:14:44 AM

Anonymous 

member since: 2/10/2008
  I've got the same problem Alex. I got a cheap body 10D. It must be the sensor because I've tried prime lenses and its kind of here and there. You have to use the center sensor point or forget it. Even then its a crap shoot. If the lighting is perfect you've got better chances, but how often is that. I would love to get one of the bodies with the "sweet spot". You know where all the sensor are together so if you're off a little' it'll pick up the slack.

3/11/2008 5:17:29 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Alex,

Problems with "sharpness" can have several causes. Number one is usually the lens. This can be determined with some basic experimentation; just make sure you have a good baseline. (i.e) Don't change FL, focus manually and shoot f/stop consistently on the same subject. Use a tripod. Then try different F/stops. Lenses have a sweet spot (diffraction limited) around f/8-f/11 are where the sharpest images will form.

#2) Many people complain of "fuzzy" photos. It would help to see an example from you. The subject is often the culprit. Shooting at wide angles at trees for instance generally produces unsharp images. This is not a camera problem and often not a lens problem.
It is a compound problem of optics and sensor. (enter medium format) LOL

Tree branches and leaves are known as "fractal" in shape. APS size sensors have a tough time resolving such shapes..even moreso at a distance as the image projected on the sensor is VERY small and traverses few photosites.
So know your subject.
Is the entire image 'fuzzy" or all of it?

Lastly; experiment with IS off and on. I have seen a few IS/VR systems go bad where the optical elements are not on axis due to the constant shifting.

all the best,

Pete

3/11/2008 8:47:25 PM

Alex B. Smith

member since: 1/30/2005
  I uploaded a typical picture to my gallery. I only have one picture there. When I reviewed the properties of the pictures I took that day, it turns out that Program mode on the camera had to choose a wide-open F/stop and use a long exposure time. The exposures were as short at 1/50 and long as 1/6. This even at an ISO of 800. Under these conditions is it just hopeless without a tripod? The pictures look great in the 1.5" LCD, but when you download them, you realize that are not so good after all. I am new to digital photography and must get some experince so I know what to expect in whatever light conditions I find myself in. Having said that, other pictures ive taken that had exposure time of 1/250 and Fstop of 11 didnt turn out crystal clear either. perhaps it is also an issue with the focus metering as somebody suggested. The focus points selected simply will not allow for a clear picture? I have the metering on all focus points.

3/12/2008 11:33:30 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Ahh, now we are getting somewhere. Thanks for the example Alex.

The basic problem here is two fold.

1) Hi ISO

..and; the real culprit; too slow a shutter speed.

Although you have a IS lens, 1/50th sec at 135mm is really pushing it. That is almost 3x your chosen focal length.

Typically, a IS/VR lens is usable up to 3x the FL. "Up to" are the key words assuming a steady hand.

A basic rule of photography indicates to shoot at or faster than the FL. In your situation, a (non) stabilized lens should be shot at about 1/135 sec or faster. (Stabilized) should not exceed 1/3 of that; or 1/45th.

The 20D camera above ISO 400 will certainly have noise (grain).

So you are dealing with two problems here that compliment eachother well, (i.e) fuzzy pics.

all the best,

Pete

3/13/2008 4:13:56 AM

Alex B. Smith

member since: 1/30/2005
  Pete, thanks for the help. I thought that SLRs produced great images even at high ISO, and only the compacts had grain issues. Considering the fact that the camera thought there was way too little light, what is one supposed to do? My lens is 28-135, so even though the picture may have been taken at 28, I still have to do the math using the 135 focal length? Is a tripod the only solution under such conditions? Then the exposure math no longer is a factor because there is no shake. Perhaps a faster lens is also an option. What metering mode do you like to shoot? all points, or centered?

3/13/2008 11:25:29 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Alex,

You always want to do the rough math.
At 28mm with a normal lens, your shutter speed should be 1/28th sec or faster...1/30th is the closest increment. With a IS/VR lens you should be able to hand hold a 28mm at approx 1/10th sec.

"Is a tripod the only solution under such conditions?"

A tripod is used when you can not hand hold the shot.

ALL sensors will suffer from noise (grain), yes; a compact point & shoot has more noise than a DSLR..This is due to sensor size and somewhat with processing algorithms for the sensor chip. Size counts! LOL

" Then the exposure math no longer is a factor because there is no shake. Perhaps a faster lens is also an option. What metering mode do you like to shoot? all points, or centered?"

A faster lens is always desireable..and always more expensive.

Metering mode: This is totally dependent on the subject matter you are shooting; but has nothing to do with image "fuzziness."

"what is one supposed to do?"

Your choices are few in low light situations. 1) Faster lens...best choice
2) Raise ISO..Ok to a point and sensor limited

3) Get more light on the subject.


Pete

3/13/2008 1:41:28 PM

  Another thing to consider is the aperture. It looks to me like the focus is on the tree in the middle of the frame. At f/4, you're going to get some fuzziness on the guys at the edge of the frame, even at 28mm.

Re: "Perhaps a faster lens is also an option"

A faster lens will only exacerbate the depth of field problem.

Re: "What metering mode do you like to shoot?"

With the 20D you can safely use evaluative metering in most situations. Unless there is back lighting, a real high-contrast situation, or a problem like bright snow/sand, evaluative does a pretty good job in the 20D/30D/40D series.

Cheers,

RK

3/13/2008 4:27:53 PM

  Hi Alex,
Everyone has chipped in with a lot of great information. I would add 2 other things to the discussion and that would be to maybe use some fill light (look into investing in a 430EX or 580EX flash), and I would also remove the UV filter. When I first started out, I bought UV filters for all of my lenses. I no longer use them at all. Placing another optic (the filter) in front of your lens can make images worse if they are not the highest quality filter. Since I am now shooting with mostly L glass, I don't use any UV filters at all (I keep my lens hood and lens cap on all the time anyway for protection) and only use a top-of-the-line circular polarizer (B&W Kaeseman 77mm) and sometimes ND filters for doing waterfall/landscape images and ALWAYS with a tripod. I do believe one of the biggest differences between a pro and a hobbyist is that the pro will lug their tripod with them everywhere.
I have also noticed that my 40D does perform much better at higher ISOs than my 20D. This technology will continue to get better & better. I also use the histogram to view my images on my LCD screen rather than trying to see details of a photo on a 2.5" screen. The histogram will give me much more real information about the image.
There are lots of threads and online classes here at BetterPhoto that address many of the specific issues we are discussing, so keep reading and asking questions.

3/14/2008 8:06:30 PM

Walter Turner

member since: 4/30/2006
  Like many I have hundreds of 35MM slides which I would like to transfer to CD.
Ihave an HP 4070 scanner which does have the slide carrier,
What is the best method of transferring these slides?
I do thoroughly enjoy your newsletter & hope to take one of the courses you offer.
We have photoshop elements 4.
Any advise You can offer would be appreciated.
Many Thanks W.Paul Turner Ancaster ON

3/18/2008 5:53:31 AM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  I have had a 20D for about 3 years. Not had any problems whatsoever. Your settings appear to be OK. The "L" is for quality setting (meaning Large File, other settings are M for medium size file, and S for small file (low quality).

I always use Manual setting (only very rarely do I use anything else). I just tried 2 test shots for you, one using Manual and the other using "P" mode. As expected, no difference whatsoever. Both sharp etc.

As some of the previous comments suggest you may be handling it wrong: low light, camera shake, etc etc. The Image Stabiliser can only do so much stabilising.

Your 28-135 lens sounds like it is not a "long lens" (shake etc) which means something else is the problem.

Your comment of... "I usually shoot under P mode, and increase ISO when it gets a little shady, but even in sunlight, they dont turn out crisp."

This sounds a little strange. For a start one would not really have to increase ISO, on a sunny day, even in the shade, unless you want very fast shutter speeds. Even a cheap pocket digital camera will give crisp pics on a generally sunny day, even in the shade.

My suggestions are do the previous suggestions above... and then use every setting on your camera with "test shots". First try AUTO, then MANUAL, then P mode, then the others. Photograph the same subject from the same distance etc, preferably in general light (outdoors mid afternoon etc).

This method must give you some results for you to eliminate and find the problem.

3/18/2008 6:13:08 AM

David Boesch
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/5/2006
  If you're coming from the Point and Shoot world then you will be horrified at what you see from the 20D with a variable lens. That's due to P&S cameras automatically applying modifications to each image like high contrast, saturation bump and sharpening. I firmly believe you'll find the answer in Sharpening which Carlton hinted at. You need Photoshop, but do NOT run for the sharpen filter. Instead, try this:

My first recommendation would be to shoot in RAW mode. I never shoot in "L" mode on the 20D. This will give you a world of additional control that L-mode cannot offer. Be sure NOT to sharpen or reduce noise in RAW mode.

Next, open your file and create a new layer.
Zoom in 100-percent on a portion of the image that you are convinced should be sharper than it looks.
Now select UNSHARP MASK from filters.
For RADIUS enter a value of 1.
For THRESHOLD enter a value of 4.
Now slowly adjust the AMOUNT level up.
(You will know when you've sharpened too far. My 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM can require as much as 300)
Now click OK.

People differ on the next mode of action but I've always pulled down from the EDIT menu to FADE UNSHARP MASK. From this window select LUMINOSITY (at the bottom of the pull-down) and click OK. This prevents "halo" effects in the bright spots.

Lastly, with sharpening comes extra gritty artifacts in darker areas. Since your sharpening is on a separate layer you can now use the ERASE tool to remove the UNSHARP action from areas that do not need to be sharpened. This adds extra finesse and you'll get a feel for it as you work in different lighting environments.

This in no way negates the other suggestions here for they are all key in capturing the sharpest image when the shutter is activated.

3/18/2008 10:08:46 AM

Nancy Donnell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/23/2004
  Hi Alex,

i was so glad you posed your question. I have always thought that my 28-135, that I use as a primary all purpose lens, was NOT that sharp, evn on the tripod. I confess, I did not know to turn off the IS on a tripod, and I always shoot with a UV filter. or polarizer if called for, on that lens when shooting, so I will have to try some of the suggestions. I have friends that love their 24-70 lens, but for me it is as heavy as my 100-400, and I just did not want the added weight. Also, I do not own any, but know you can buy sharpening programs.

3/21/2008 3:44:13 PM

Alex B. Smith

member since: 1/30/2005
  I am finding, at least for this particular lens, then even if there is what I would consider plenty of light, a wide open aperture is the only way to reduce the shutter speed such that I dont get blur(aside from increasing the ISO of course) even with IS. As with all lenses, the 'in focus' point being in the middle of the aperture range, typically around 9-11, I never seem to be in a situation that will allow me to use it, unless of course I lug a tripod around with me or I point it at the sun. As for the software sharpening, I was unaware that pretty much everybody feels it necessary to sharpen their digital photos in PS or some other program. And other's apparently go hog wild with colors and saturation adjustement. That is fine for professionals working on a project, but I dont have the time or desire to fudge every single one of my photos. I need to experiment more with my system, as it is relatively new to me. The 20D allows me to set its saturation, which I do so liberaly, so I would hope that takes care of any color issues that PS would otherwise take care of. However, I appreciate David's suggestions and will give them a try. I beleive, however, that a blurred image can not be fixed with sharpening. It just improves an already good image. I sharpen all of my scanned photos.

3/21/2008 11:35:19 PM

  Hi, Alex,

I don't know if this will be helpful but if the constant blurriness at medium shutter speeds is a technique issue there is something you can do to both identify it and possibly help fix it.

Try setting your drive to H/multi. Squeeze the shutter with just a bit of a delay before releasing it. You should then get two shots in quick succession.

If you're inadvertently 'pulling' the camera when you fire off a shot, the second shot will be crisper.

If that turns out to the be problem you can concentrate on technique for squeezing off a shot and, hopefully, cure this problem.

Cheers,

RK

3/22/2008 12:31:57 AM

Nancy Donnell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/23/2004
  Great suggestion, RK!!

3/22/2008 3:14:57 PM

  Alex the best thing for you is to take the course BP offers on using the Canon 20D, 30D and 40D. The second thing to do is stop having the camera think for you. It is going to include things that you don't want or vice versa. I live in the Pacific NW and very seldom use an ASA of 800. The only times I routinely use 400 ISO is under overcast skies while on a Tour boat trying to photograph Orcas with a 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS. I know that the L you are refering to is for Large format and not the lens. Keep your focus point for the camera in the center of the viewfinder. Once focused keep your finger pressing halfway down on the shutter until you have recomposed if you need to. Your lens is considered "slow", not for focusing speed but in aperature. The f3.5 is OK for the wide angle pictures but when at 135mm will close to f5.6 which is OK for a nice sunny day. You have to hold the camera steady. It is very simple to do. The shutter speed should be a minimum of 1.6 times the focal length that you are using.
Start using the Av on your camera. Set it for f4, it will go to f5.6 automatically as you zoom, set ISO to 200. Take photos and hold the camera still.
Do you use a card reader to download your photos? You should for a mirad of reasons.
Purchase PS Elements 6
Take camera course and the one for Photoshop Elements.
Read the Cameras Manual, mine is kept in my camera bag and goes with me in case I forget something.
Good Luck

Lynn

3/23/2008 12:59:28 PM

Jerry Frazier

member since: 6/6/2005
  I don't know why this issue isn't discussed more in forums like this. However, I've owned 5 20D's and they did have sharpness problems. I was never able to pin point the problem exactly, but I defintely suspected that it was shutter movement or vibration of some sort. I couldn't prove it, and Canon denies it. But, I was discussing this issue with other professional photographers, and we all did various tests, like shooting with flash on a tripod, etc. And, in situations where there should be no movement, the images would sometimes be not sharp, or slightly blurry. The only thing we could conclude is that there was some sort of shutter slap/vibration that was going on with the 20d. To make things worse, and I have no idea why, combine that issue with the 24-70 2.8L lens, and you have a whammy of back-focussing and shutter vibration, or whatever.

I've discussed this before, only to have Pete and others tell me I'm wrong. But, I'm right as I look through past images of client shoots and see blur after blur after blur. I also know I'm right as there were other professionals having the same problem. As soon as I started shooting with other bodies, I had no issues at all. So it wasn't me. And, yes, I know what I'm doing. I went to 1D series bodies, and I had no problem. Now, I shoot with 5D's and have no problem. I also never had that issue with my 1V film cameras. So, I am convinced there is something about the 20D. Although, Canon, and others who support Canon, deny the issue. So, whatever.

But, I do think it is a valid concern. As someone who shoots thousands of images a week, I do know the difference. And, my 5D's work as they should. I still have a couple of my 20D's, and the behavior is imtermittant. Sometimes, they work perfectly, other times, over half the shots are just not sharp liek they should be.

Just adding another perspective from actual field experience.

3/24/2008 9:56:31 AM

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Photography Question 
Simon A. Velu

member since: 12/7/2007
  44 .  Did I Buy a Defective VR lens?
I recently purchased a Nikkor 70-300 VR (Vibration Reduction) lens. I noticed that even with the VR supposedly on and active, I'm getting blurred shots. Am I doing something wrong? Thanks.

2/28/2008 8:04:23 AM

  Hi Simon...
I have the very same lens and many of the pictures in my gallery were taken with it at 300mm. What camera are you using it with and at mode do you shoot in?

Sandy

2/28/2008 1:50:47 PM

Simon A. Velu

member since: 12/7/2007
  I'm using the Nikon D50...I have put it in manual and auto modes and get the same result.

2/28/2008 6:26:52 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Simon,
When the VR is "active", you can actually hear it if you are in a quiet place. (It's a high-pitched whine) You can also "see" it functioning through the lens ... it kinda' looks like a slight image delay when you move the camera.
VR is not a cure-all. It does have limitations. For instance, if you are zoomed in at 250mm and shooting at 1/2 second, no way will it prevent blurring from camera shake. A standard guideline for hand-holding is 1/focal length. So, with the example above, most photographers strive for a shutter speed 1/250th or faster. With VR, you should be able to shoot the same image about 3 to 4 stops better - 1/15th-1/30th.
Also make sure you are operating in "normal" mode, not "active".
To test it, zoom to maybe 100mm and shoot at 1/10th sec. Try it VR on and then VR off. You should see a big difference, if it's working.
All the best,
Pete

2/28/2008 6:44:39 PM

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Photography Question 
Tareq M. Alhamrani
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/26/2006
  45 .  High-Key Portrait: How to Do It?
Hi all,

How can I do high-key portraits? Any tips or ways to do that professionally?

2/26/2008 4:24:01 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Hi Tareq,
Get a lot of light, a subject in very light colours, a white background, and nearly overexpose. Tada! You've got high-key portraits!
Have fun!

2/26/2008 5:05:40 AM

Tareq M. Alhamrani
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/26/2006
  Hi W.Smith,

Is that all? hehehehe, I don't think it is only this way, but ok, thank you very much, I have to get more lights then.

2/26/2008 6:16:45 AM

Vik Orenstein
Contact Vik
Vik's Gallery

member since: 10/25/2002
  hi, tareq1 people use the words "high-key" to mean a lot of different looks, from brightly colored clothes and drop, to over exposed or hazy stylistic looks. when I say high key, i'm referring to a background that is true white -- no matter what the subject is wearing. I prefer a lighting style that renders the subject with sharp, crisp edges --no spill light or wrap around light, so that the subject really POPS out of the frame. to achieve this look, you need to have enough space (at least 5 to 6 feet) between the subject and backdrop to allow you to light each separately without any light falling onto the subject from the backlight.

you also need to light the backdrop one stop brighter than your subject to make it true white in your images. you will expose for your subject reading. so for instance, if your subject meters at f8, you'll want your white background to meter at f11 to f16, and you'll set your camera at f8.

we go in detail into this and other lighting techniques in my course, "studio portrait lighting."

i hope this helps!

3/4/2008 10:17:26 AM

Vik Orenstein
Contact Vik
Vik's Gallery

member since: 10/25/2002
 
 
  high-key backdrop
high-key backdrop
 
 
hi, tareq1 people use the words "high-key" to mean a lot of different looks, from brightly colored clothes and drop, to over exposed or hazy stylistic looks. when I say high key, i'm referring to a background that is true white -- no matter what the subject is wearing. I prefer a lighting style that renders the subject with sharp, crisp edges --no spill light or wrap around light, so that the subject really POPS out of the frame. to achieve this look, you need to have enough space (at least 5 to 6 feet) between the subject and backdrop to allow you to light each separately without any light falling onto the subject from the backlight.

you also need to light the backdrop one stop brighter than your subject to make it true white in your images. you will expose for your subject reading. so for instance, if your subject meters at f8, you'll want your white background to meter at f11 to f16, and you'll set your camera at f8.

we go in detail into this and other lighting techniques in my course, "studio portrait lighting."

i hope this helps!

3/4/2008 10:17:37 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Tareq,

As you know, the high key effect is achieved when the finished image is comprised of mainly light tones. One school of thought maintains the high key effect requires a black tone to key off the light tones. Since high key is an art form you are free to make up your own mind. As to the background, in high key it is universally portrayed white.

We generally start with a white background material, however you can use a less than pure white; itís just more difficult as you will need to pour on the wattage to force it to go white. The main trick is lighting the background brightly and uniformly. Light from a single background fixture falls off (weakens) significantly with distance. This situation promotes a lack of uniformity. To reduce fall off, the background lamp should be place as far as possible from the background (distance achieves uniformity). Distance also reduces the light intensity on the background. Thus distance background-to-lamp is both friend and foe. Far achieves uniformity but the cost is severe light loss. In any event you need 300% (3 f/stops) more light on the background as compared to the intensity of the main light at the subject plane. It is often helpful to have more than one background light. Given modern software fixes, better to light evenly and enhance using tools available in your graphics software.

Main light:
Shadows on the background are a detraction however, high key requires main light placement that produces shadows on the subject (modeling). This is achieved by placing the main light high to simulate the sun. Usually the main is set slightly off to one side, almost but not quite frontal lighting. This achieves thin, delicate, modeling shadows.

Fill light:
You donít want modeling shadows to go deep (dark) so you soften them with a fill light. This is accomplished by placing the fill at camera height near an imagined line stretched between camera lens and subject. Fill is placed near this line however itís OK to stray to avoid getting the fill fixture in the picture and to avoid the fill from casting equipment shadows on subject or background.

Lighting ratio:
High key requires a lighting ratio not to exceed 3:1. This is achieved by making sure the fill light arrives at the subject, subordinate to the main. It should be 1/2 the mainís intensity or stated another way, 1 f/stop less brilliant. Measure main and fill independently with all others off. Again, set the main one stop brighter than the fill. If unable to meter, use lamps of equal brilliance. Measure the main to subject distance in feet. Multiply this distance by 1.4. This math calculates fill-to-subject distance (assumes both fixtures are identical). Example main at 8 feet fill at 11 feet. This achieves the needed 3:1 ratio. For high key less than 3:1 is acceptable so its OK to slide the fill slightly towards the subject. If main and fill are identical and set equidistant, a 2:1 ratio results which is too flat.

The starting exposure is based on a reading taken with only the fill illuminating the subject. Then set he camera to this value. Turn on all lamps for the shoot using fill only settings for the trial exposure. Refine this exposure by shooting a sequence at different apertures -- perhaps a bracket using a 1/3 f/stop increment.

I know some will find fault with this account. Thatís OK. Maybe you should just chuckle at my gobbledygook paying it no mind.
Good luck,
Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

3/4/2008 10:27:26 PM

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Photography Question 
Linda Bukovac

member since: 9/16/2006
  46 .  Using a Pentax Flash on a Canon Camera
I would like to know if I can use a Pentax AF-360FGZ flash on a 20D camera? Thanks.

2/24/2008 9:43:34 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  If it fits the hot shoe and the contacts line up, then it doesn't have to be in a dedicated mode. If it has manual or simple auto functions, you can.

2/24/2008 11:14:01 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Hi Linda,
what Greg says is right: it CAN work. But it's a pain! The 20D is a good camera, and it deserves a matching flashgun. Why don't you have a look at Ebay for an affordable Canon Speedlite? Have fun!

2/25/2008 3:32:52 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  I concur. Just get a Canon-compatible speedlight. Still, the AF 360FGZ will work in its manual output (1/1, 1/2 ...) or non-TTL AUTO mode. Set the 20D for Av or M mode so that you can manually coordinate the ISO and aperture setting with the AF-360FGZ. Flash exposure compensation is possible by varying the ISO and aperture from the camera's settings. You'll have to set the speedlight's zoom manually to match your lens. Other features such as AF assist light, high speed flash sync, 2nd curtain sync, etc., will not be enabled.

2/25/2008 5:33:28 AM

Brad Wiederholt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/4/2007
  You know, I just read this thread in the SnapShot newsletter, and agree that you might want to check into a Canon EX over the Pentax.

However I have to say that learning how to control the M mode on the flash is an important skill for the growing photographer. Relying solely on ETTL can be more limiting that it is freeing.

As your photography progresses, one should take the time to learn how to use third-party flashes, or use off-camera flash controlled by a PC-sync cord. This opens you up to all the possibilities of using pentax, canon, vivitar, studio lights, etc. It also opens up the possibility of more creative pictures.

The ETTL stuff is nice (I have a couple of 580's) but there are more times than not where I use them off camera and mix them up with other brands/types of lighting.

(On a side note, be careful about hooking up older equipment directly to the hotshoe. Some older equipment and flashes use higher voltages and could wreak havoc on the electronics in your camera.)

2/26/2008 7:29:22 AM

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Photography Question 
Shelley Toler
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/11/2006
  47 .  Vertical Shots Using Flash
When shooting events indoors, I tilt the head of my SB-800 and use the built-in bounce card to achieve very effective lighting. But when I move to a vertical shot, horrible shadows are created. How should the flash head be positioned for verticals? Thanks!

2/18/2008 9:22:58 AM

Kerry L. Walker

member since: 12/21/2004
  There are a couple of ways to eliminate these shadows. First, you need to understand that when you shoot in the horizontal position, the flash is above the axis of the lens and the shadows fall behind the subject where you can't see them. When you go vertical, the flash rotates to the left (or right, depending on which way you turn the camera) of the axis of the lens so the shadows will fall to the opposite side of the flash. You can either rotate the flash head up and bounce it off the ceiling (if it is white and low enough) or get a rotating bracket which will allow you to rotate the flash (or camera, depending on which bracket you shoose) so the flash stays above the camera.

2/18/2008 9:39:52 AM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  Hi Shelly, Another very effective way to correct this is the Gary Fong lightsphere, a round diffuser that will fit on your SB-800 and allow you to use it in either a landscape or vertical orientation.

Bill

2/18/2008 4:14:00 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
The Lightsphere's trade-off is that it cuts your flash's effective range and your DoF dramatically.

Kelly, another way to handle this is to use your SB800 off-camera, in your left hand, with which you hold it over your head, pointing at the subject while you press the exposure button.
It is a tried and tested method. News photogs in the twenties of last century already used it. You'll get the hang of it quickly enough.

And you will retain the SB800's full range and DoF capability...!

Have fun!

2/18/2008 4:42:40 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Shelley,
Try doing a web search for a site called "Better Bounce Card". It will show a short video by a fellow who shows how to make an inexpensive reflector out of materials you can get at a craft store (e.g. Hobby Lobby). They are easy to make and you will see in the video how they minimize shadows -- much more effectively than Gary Fong's 'Lightsphere'. I use them all the time for weddings and events, and every pro friend I've shown this to has started using one. Give it a try!

God Bless,
Greg

2/19/2008 1:34:17 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
 
 
  Better Bounce Card Example
Better Bounce Card Example
This is a 'Better Bounce Card' mounted on my Olympus E-300.
 
 
Shelley,
Try doing a web search for a site called "Better Bounce Card". It will show a short video by a fellow who shows how to make an inexpensive reflector out of materials you can get at a craft store (e.g. Hobby Lobby). They are easy to make and you will see in the video how they minimize shadows -- much more effectively than Gary Fong's 'Lightsphere'. I use them all the time for weddings and events, and every pro friend I've shown this to has started using one. Give it a try!

God Bless,
Greg

2/19/2008 1:35:23 PM

Shelley Toler
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/11/2006
  Thank you so much!

2/19/2008 1:44:42 PM

Nancy 

member since: 10/24/2005
  I do event shooting and I like the sturdy Stroboframe. I also use the SB800 and you will have to purchase the special sync cord for off camera shooting, depending on your camera. I have the D200.

2/19/2008 2:41:43 PM

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Photography Question 
Ali R. Sinnes

member since: 1/30/2008
  48 .  What Zoom Lens Should I get?
I am an amateur photographer who shoots mostly family and my son. I have a Nikon D50 with a standard 18-55mm lens. I am looking to buy a lense with more zoom. I am not sure if I should get a 18-135 or a 55-200. I do not want to have to carry around 2 different lenses all the time. I want a lens that will be versatile for me. Can someone please shed some light on this for me? Thanks!

1/30/2008 10:30:47 AM

Kevin Moss
thekevinmossgallery.com

member since: 12/27/2006
  Ali,
I am an instructor with BetterPhoto.com. I teach Photoshop and Elements for Nature Photographers. I get these questions all the time from my students, and from other photographers when I present to photo clubs.
To answer your question:
The 18-55mm lens you have is actually a very good one. If you're on a budget, I recommend the new Nikon 55-200mm. For the price, I hear it is an excellent choice. If you have some money in your budget, the best zoom I've used on my Nikon gear is the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR. It's one of the best lenses in my arsenal.
For portraits, I recommend the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 fixed (sharp! and about $100), or the 105mm Nikon macro lens, again, sharp, but around $750. Both are great portrait lenses.
Happy shooting!
Kevin Moss: Pro BetterPholio at
http://thekevinmossgallery.com

1/30/2008 10:37:09 AM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  Hi Alli, I concur with all of Kevin's comments but just wanted to add one thought. If you are looking for a single versatile lens to leave on your camera about 90% of the time, consider the 18-200 VR, not quite as fast as the others but an incredible zoom range that makes it usable in a large number of circumstances.

Bill

1/31/2008 5:26:19 AM

Kevin Moss
thekevinmossgallery.com

member since: 12/27/2006
 
 
  Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Nikon D70, Nikon 50mm f/1.8 fixed lens
 
 
Ali, Bill,

I haven't used the Nikon 18-200 VR, and I was wondering, how good of a lens is it? Bill, if you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear your feedback.

Also, I viewed your BetterPhoto website, and I loved the Elk skull image. I have one similar from a trip I took to Utah. I've posted that pic!

1/31/2008 6:52:06 AM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  Hi Kevin, I think of the 18-200 VR as a perfect hiking/wandering around lens, You can go from wideangle to telephoto without changing lenses. It is compact and light. Now here are the compromises for these advantages.

1) It is a little slower than other lenses and has a variable aperture of 3.5 to 5.6. The variable aperture bothered me more than the speed but the auto ISO function on the D300 has resolved some of the problems with the variable aperture since the camera can now up the ISO to maintain shutter speed. Also, the VR is invaluable at slower shutter speeds or longer focal lengths.

2) It is not a designated pro lens and the build quality while good is not that of a pro lens. Specifically, the lens will extend if pointed downward.

3) There is some very minor distortion particularly at the extremes but overall it is acceptable.

4) Although sharpness and contrast are acceptable they certainly do not match that of the 70-200mm. But it is quite good. In fact the elk skull photo was taken with the 18-200 at probably its sharpest aperture f/8.0. I did some burning in to enhance the dimensionality.

5) It has good bokeh but not the truly creamy backgrounds of the 105 micro. The 18-200 bokeh appears slightly grainier but if unacceptable this could easily be made "creamier" with some gaussian blur.

Overall, this is a great lens when you need to travel light or you are going to be in an environment where you do not want to change your lens.

I liked your elk particularly the weathered feel of it. If you cropped it or have other shots, I think a little more of the background weathered wood would make for a great contrast. Mine was taken in a studio I just set up while playing with the strobes to make sure everything was working. The background is the out of focus concrete floor with the stains from the sheet rock mud.

Bill

1/31/2008 3:28:46 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Good post William, but I must disagree with some of your observations on the 18-200 VR.

1) The lens wil NOT creep out as long as you retract it fully. Mine doesn't.

2)2.8 Vs 3.5? Is that really all that much? It's not even one f/stop.

For the money spent..again; for the money spent, the 18-200mm is unbeatable.

The biggest decision factor I gave when I bought this lens (other than overall quality) was this; I do NOT have to change lenses in the field very often. (i.e) DUST & DIRT! ARRRGH!

Color & Contrast: These I can play with in post processing if necessary...If I shoot it right, I don't have too.

The VRII feature is a lifesaver in many instances!

Yes, I agree, the 70-200 is better in build quality and somewhat better in overall optical quality.

Ali..Many people prefer long lenses for portraits.
It all comes down to tradeoffs. You can't have everything in just one lens.


all the best,

Pete

2/2/2008 6:11:52 AM

Kevin Moss
thekevinmossgallery.com

member since: 12/27/2006
 
 
 
Pete, Bill, Ali,

Great exchange of ideas. I do not have the 18-200mm VR, so I can't comment on it directly.

I did go to Pete's BetterPhoto website, and noticed his great shot of the Lunar Eclipse. I have one similar that I'll post here.

I'd also like to hear more about the 18-200mm lens. Like Pete has stated, I bet its a great walk-around lens. And if you slug around two Nikon's on your photo journey's like I do, its probably a great lens to have on your second camera...

Best,

Kevin Moss

2/2/2008 6:46:15 AM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  Kevin and Pete, I hope I was not misunderstood. I love the 18-200 VR and use it around 50% of the time. I was just trying to point out the compromises that Nikon had to make to get the amazing versatility of this lens. I don't consider f/3.5 slow but when it goes to 5.6 it is a little slow. Although this is well compensated for by the VRII, the VR does not solve the need for faster shutter speeds to freeze action. I have had some good results using the auto ISO feature on the D300 to allow the camera to bump up the ISO to keep shutter speeds faster to solve this problem. I have not noticed whether my lens creeps when fully retracted but will check. The problem with this characteristic is when you are using a tripod to shoot downward you may need to tape the lens at the desired focal length to keep it from creeping. Again, I highly recommend the lens and it is well worth the $700-$800 price. Compared to its advantages, the compromises are pretty minor and if necessary can generally be easily corrected in any photo editor. Another advantage of the lens that has not been mentioned is that it focuses much closer than any other lens I can think of that reaches a 200mm focal length. I think the minimum focusing distance is around 15 inches.

Bill

2/2/2008 7:57:44 AM

Kevin Moss
thekevinmossgallery.com

member since: 12/27/2006
  Hey Bill/Pete:

A few years ago, I was using a Tamron 18-200 on a Canon Digital Rebel. A lot of my students were using the Canon, so I went out and purchased one. I was happy to have an all-in one lens on the Canon, but, the lens needed a lot of light, and wasn't a good lens in some situations. Good all around walking lens, like the Nikon, but not appropriate for all situations. I'm sure the Nikon has better image quality, OEM lenses often do compared to third-party lenses, but the premise is the same.

Thanks for responding!

2/2/2008 8:17:04 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Great discussion.
One of the few times I think we are all pretty much in agreement.

William; you used the word "compromises." Great word and VERY appropriate when deciding on a lens.
That is what I was trying to get across to Ali...Lens selection goes far beyond quality alone; it is indeed a compromise as no single lens can do it all perfectly.

I recently acquired the D-300. The new sensor has really opened up so much more in the way of available light shooting. The image noise at even ISO 1600 is hardly objectionable. This fact makes the 18-200VR even more useful.
..and true again William, shooting with a tripod with the lens down; it will creep out..I think Nikon could have easily solved this one. LOL

Kevin; I could give you a user review, but you may find it easier to do a search on the lens. Just google it as "Nikon 18-200mm VR +reviews" You will get a ton of info.

I guess the term "walkaround: lens means different things to all of us.
I suppose if my job was to shoot nothing but wild life, the 18-200 would NOT be my choice; obviously.

I suppose if we want a lens like we see on the NFL sidelines, we could spend about $14,000! I call that "lens envy" and I suffer from that affliction as many do. LOL

Ali; again, lens choice requires that YOU ask yourself some questions.

1) Budget? This often drives the decision. What you do NOT want to do is put a crappy cheap lens on your camera.
Old saying.."Good lenses aren't cheap; cheap lenses aren't good"
While the Nikon 50mm prime (1.8 or 1.2) is really not a good lens for portrait photography, it is unbelievably sharp and pretty fast. The price? $100! This lens is probably one of Nikon's best kept secrets. A little more money for the 1.2 This lens stays on my 2nd camera all the time now.
Opinion: I would rather have ONE decent lens, than compromise quality for a crappy all around lens. Crappy lenses seem to be the reason we see posts like "Why are my pictures bad?" LOL I'm serious. Beginners will often lose interest in photography because of this.
Specifically; Nikon's 18-200VR is NOT a crappy lens.

2) What do you primarily shoot? If you do portraits most of the time; then I'd suggest a quality 135mm prime or better.
Sports photography? A fast 300mm prime or better.

" am an amatuer photographer who shoots mostly family and my son. I have a Nikon D50 with a standard 18 to 55 lens."

NOT a good lens for portrait type shots.
It is a GREAT lens, but not for people.
The reason is that the short focal length is not complimentary to people. Noses look big, eye sockets appear sunk in. It accentuates and give too much of a (3D) look. Longer lenses will flatten the image which is what you want for people.

3) Are you comfortable changing lenses in the field? Personally I am not for reasons of dirt & dust getting on my sensor..so I carry 2 cameras as many do.
One with a zoom and one with the 500mm prime.

Ali..You might want to (rent) a few lenses..see what you like and do not like. Once you find one that you feel fits your budget and shooting style; buy it!

all the best,

Pete

2/2/2008 10:31:39 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  "One with a zoom and one with the 500mm prime."

Ooops!..I meant 50mm. LOL

2/2/2008 10:35:54 AM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  I was wondering how strong your back was to carry a zoom and a 500mm prime.

Bill

2/2/2008 11:37:52 AM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/18/2005
  Get the Sigma 50-200/2.8 EX APO lens. Very sharp, bright, small... a fantastic lens. IMO a better choice than the 18-200 VR because of the higher lens quality and the wider aperture means you don't NEED to use image stabilization (VR).

I'm not a big fan of the consumer-level image stabilization lenses. Yes, they work. But, too often, the manufacturers have added image stabilization to mediocre lenses. Far better to get better optical quality.

BTW, if you really want to see how good your camera is, get a Nikon 50/1.8 AI-S manual focus lens off of eBay. You will be AMAZED at how sharp it is, and it will spoil you.

2/2/2008 6:18:53 PM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  Ali, I may have misinterpreted John's comment about VR but just to clarify, the VR on the 18-200 is the new VRII that Nikon is using on its pro series lenses. It is not some inferior version for cheaper lenses. In my experience it operates as promised, you can handhold about 3-4 stops slower depending on the focal length. From everything I have read, the Sigmas is an excellent lens but it should really be compared to the Nikon 70-200 mm 2.8 as both are telephoto zooms on DX format cameras and neither has the main advantage of the 18-200 - a wideangle to telephoto zoom focal length in a single lens.

Bill

2/5/2008 7:20:38 AM

Allen M. Aisenstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/3/2005
  Hi Ali, I know 3 photographers who, like you, wanted to pair down to just one lens. They bought the Nikon 18-200 mm VR lens and are extremely satisfied.

2/5/2008 8:34:15 AM

Ali R. Sinnes

member since: 1/30/2008
  Thanks so much for everyones help and opinions to my question. It really did help alot.

2/5/2008 11:14:39 AM

  Hi Ali,

I have a Nikon D50 with the kit lens. I looked at the 18-200mm VR for a long time (mostly waiting for the price to come down...LOL). In the end, I bought the Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens. (I paid $400) This was because wanting a longer lens (son's football games and nature photography)outweighed my needing the wide angle (which I already have with the kits 18-55mm). The 70-300mm is more affordable and I find it to be perfectly acceptable as a "walk-about" lens, especially at events that I attend. No, it's not a super fast 1.8 but I feel the VR, in this case, picks up some of the slack in lower lighting situations. I'm not an expert on this, but my understanding is that a 70-120mm range is perfect for portrait photography. Oh and you can use the VR with a monopod (also helpful at football games).

Recently, I got the 50mm 1.8 and I LOVE IT! I've only used it for what I call "table top" photography. The first two images in my gallery were taken with that lens.

I hope the info on the 70-300mm VR helps.

Good luck and good shooting! ~Susan~

2/6/2008 6:39:37 AM

Tom Recklein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/6/2006
  I also have a D50 and I was able to pick up a Sigma 70-300mm 5.6 for less than $200. It's only limitation is you have to back off about 7ft or so to get it to focus. It is sometimes a pain to carry an extra lens but if you can decide, more than 7 ft or less than 7ft, you can take the one you want and get some good stuff. I get better portraits from a distance and zooming than up close. It seems to let the SB800 flash do it's magic..

2/9/2008 9:58:00 AM

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Photography Question 
Cindy Sj
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/27/2007
  49 .  Concert Photography: What Now?
I am curious what knowledge and equipment people find most useful when shooting concerts with digital and ever-changing lighting conditions. All input appreciated!!

1/30/2008 8:39:03 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
Hi Cindy,

type "concert" in the search box, and hit enter.

Have fun!

1/30/2008 9:44:53 AM

Kevin Moss
thekevinmossgallery.com

member since: 12/27/2006
 
 
 
Cindy,
I am an instructor with BetterPhoto.com, and like you, I shoot with Nikon equipment (as well as Canon!).
For concerts, I recommend fast lenses, and digital SLRs. You have a Nikon D80, so you're all set there. For concerts, the important aspect is to get in close, and use a fast lens.
What I mean by "fast" is that the maximum aperture is f/2.8 or larger (remember, small number, larger aperture). This lets more light in, and gives you faster shutter speeds. I recommend fixed focal-length lenses, or fast zooms. An inexpensive fixed lens is the 50mm f/1.8, or the 105mm from Nikon. You'll have to set your ISO to at least 400 as well, as you're shooting in low-light situations.

1/30/2008 10:42:23 AM

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Photography Question 
Tom L. Fettes

member since: 1/8/2008
  50 .  Photo of Glass and Jewelry
I have a Nikon D40. Is there a lens accessory that eliminates the hot spot created by using a flash when photographing glass or glass jewelry?
Thanks!

1/10/2008 11:31:46 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
 
 
 
Tom, in a word, no. However, there are techniques for using flash that can reduce or eliminate the "hot spot". When I shot glazed pottery for a local gallery, I used a three-strobe setup with two difused slaves at 45-degree angles and a center master flash bounced off the ceiling. I moved the lights around and adjusted the intensity of each until I was happy with the results. You don't want to completely eliminate the "catch light", but you don't want it blown out either.

1/10/2008 12:09:04 PM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  Tom, assuming you don't have three strobes here are some thoughts. You didn't mention whether you were using an external flash or the D40's pop up flash. With the pop up there is little you can do since the flash is permamently mounted directly over the lens. You can try to angle you shot a little to make the reflection less obnoxious. If you are using an external flash get a sync cord so you can take the flash off the camera and angle the flash to reduce the reflection. Finally, does the D40's pop up flash function as a wireless commander? If so, get an SB600 or SB800 and position it at angle to the glass and use the pop up to trigger it wirelessly.

Bill

1/15/2008 5:07:03 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Tom,

What you want to do is called ďTent LightingĒ lighting. To photograph shinny objects such as ceramics, glass, silverware and the like. The idea is to create a set-up that provided even bright light that eliminates reflections. OK you can do it yourself.

At the hardware store buy ĺ PVC white pipe and fittings ( Ĺ works but itís a little feeble). Get some PVC clear pipe cement too. An inexpensive PVC pipe cutter wonít hurt and a hack saw too. Look in the lawn sprinkler section too. Some PVC pipe fitting used for this application can be helpful.

You are to construct a box frame using the PVC pipe and fittings. Try making on 3 feet (1 meter) square. Often the pipe and fittings fit together so tightly no glue will be needed. You donít necessarily need to work with PVC however itís cheep and light and strong. Again the idea is to create a box.

Now cover the box completely with white cloth. Bed sheet material will do however you might try drapery material. White fiberglass curtain material is ideal. Itís fireproof thus you can use it with continuous hot tungsten lamps. Also at the hardware store buy three or four clip-on reflector light fixtures. You can get the ones with 10Ē reflectors that screw on or you can use indoor flood bubs or the more durable outdoor PAR flood bulbs.

Using needle and thread make a flap for a trap-door so you can put your product inside the box or not cover the bottom so you can just drop the tent over the product. Use a sturdy needle and thread like a sail maker.

With the product inside, place lamps about and light using three fixtures. Coat racks make a fine holder for the pin-up lamps.

The camera peeks into the box via a hole cut in the tent material.

Knowledgeable photographers use a dulling spray of their own concoction. Some brands of hair spray work just fine and clean up with soap and water or alcohol. Try talcum power mixed in water sprayed on using old style insect sprayer (flint gun). The best accessory will be a polarizing filter as they suppress reflections from no-conductive surfaces.

Alan Marcus, Anaheim, CA (marginal technical twaddle)
ammarcus@earthlink.net

1/15/2008 8:14:50 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  I actually bought mine at B&H and they're available for well under $100. Mine was pretty large and collapsed into a handy carry bag so it cost a bit more. It doesn't give you the satisfaction that comes from creating your own tent.

1/15/2008 9:35:43 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
"creating your own tent"

Does throwing a large white bedsheet over a small table count too?
Makes an excellent light tent, imo, for the odd one-off occasion that you need it. Like when you just want to test whether you like to do that type of photography more often but you don't yet want to spend a lot of money on something like that, because maybe after having done it it turns out you don't even like doing it.
But if you DO turn out to like it you can then of course simply 'build' a better frame. A custom frame. Based on your own knowledge of and experience with the technique, within your own set of constraints.
How hard can it be?

Sometimes life can be simple.

Have fun!

1/15/2008 5:30:15 PM

Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member
imagismphotos.com

member since: 2/27/2003
  Tom,
Alan's response is a good one -- you need some sort of light tent. Just for the record they can be purchased in different sizes for very cheap prices from several Ebay merchants.
God Bless,
Greg

1/16/2008 7:47:57 PM

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