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Category: Photography Careers and Making Money : Photographer Promotional Information & Marketing

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Photography Question 
Tim Reese

member since: 3/22/2004
 

Is a Digital SLR Good Enough?


I'm growing my photo business and need to purchase gear that will cover the most ground for me. At present I'm in a position to buy either a new/used medium format system (Mamiya Pro TL) or a digital SLR (Nikon D70). I shoot Nikon and already have lenses for them. The majority of my work in the past has been weddings and advertising. I would like to also be able to amass stock work. If I go with the D70, will I be able to do bridal portraits that will stand up to enlargements of 16x20? For that matter, how large can you make a print from a 6.1mp camera and have quality results? As for stock, is it realistic to shoot stock with a 6.1mp camera?

3/31/2004 9:59:50 AM

 
Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member
gadal-imagery.com

member since: 4/22/2002
  Yes - the D70 should be fine.

3/31/2004 10:16:07 AM

 
Tim Reese

member since: 3/22/2004
  Thanks, Damian. Also, just how good is a DSLR? How big a print can you make with one and have quality results that you can consistently sell clients?

3/31/2004 8:04:31 PM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  I have had 20x30 prints made of my TIFF images after converting from RAW format without any other manipulation. I shoot with the Nikon D100 6.3mp DSLR. You will need to shoot in your camera's RAW format (Nikon = NEF) and then use PS or other RAW conversion software to convert to TIFFs. Shooting in JPEG-FINE-LARGE will give you about a 2.5MB file. I don't advise shooting in JPEG for a number of reasons. Most pros shoot in RAW so they can tweak exposure or other issues after the shot and before converting and printing. There are new 8mp consumer cameras out now, but there is more to getting good images than megapixels. The D70 is a nice camera, but I have heard you cannot use studio lighting with it. I suggest you look into the D100 or even the D1X or D2H for studio work. I have used my D100 with my Alien Bees studio flash without any problems.I would add that switching from film to digital is not something you can do between jobs. You will need to learn digital on the side until you are comfortable with the workflow issues. Many people are misinformed about the learning curve here. There is much more involved in digital photography than simply shooting and printing. Photoshop is an integral part of digital shooting. You should include this into your digital budget along with any peripheral software that will make your workflow actually "flow" and not "frustrate" you.

4/1/2004 6:08:15 AM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  duh .... that'd be "peripheral"....I'm not awake yet this morning....

4/1/2004 6:12:06 AM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  ... and, YES, you should use at least a DSLR for shooting stock in digital format. The megapixels are important, but many pros shoot stock with less than 6mp cameras. The number of megapixels, while important, is not as important as the end-use FILE SIZE. My principle agency wants 36MB TIFF files, minimally.

4/1/2004 6:18:17 AM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  Okay, last one. I promise. Links that may be of interest to you:

http://www.nikonschool.com/

http://santafeworkshops.com

http://www.theworkshops.com/

4/1/2004 6:31:59 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  Thanks, Piper. Great info. And, I couldn't agree with you more on the workflow of digital. Right now I describe myself as a film photographer who has his toes dipped into the digital water. It sounds to me like the Photoshop CS Raw converter is the ticket and worth every penny. Right now I'm using Photoshop 6, and I get so frustated with my RAW mode, mainly because I can more quickly and easily manipulate a .jpeg, that that's what I use - even though I know that I shouldn't do it.

4/1/2004 12:39:42 PM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  Jerry, just remember, you can always get a JPEG from a RAW file, but you can't go the other way. I can't tell you how many images I've lamented over because the only file I have is a 72dpi JPEG. Before I got my D100, I was shooting digital with a POS compact just for the fun family shots. I was still using slide film for important things, but I hadn't yet gotten into stock either. I wish so much that I had shot the POS digitals with film instead. Now they are useless except on the Web. This said, I do still use JPEG format with my D100, but only when I'm absolutely positive that what I'm shooting isn't stock-worthy. This is still a tricky way to go, since there have been many times that a family photo turned out to be a stock-worthy shot but I couldn't use it because of the size. RAW is always your "safest" way to shoot. It just might not be feasible at all times unless you have the dough to spring for a 2 or 4 gig CF card.

4/1/2004 12:58:30 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  Thanks for that tip. I didn't know that Adobe made a RAW converter. I thought it just came with 7.

I'll look at that. I too use 512MB cards. I mostly do weddings and portraits of various kinds. So, my need to go BIG is very small. My JPEG's on my 6.3MP camera are good enough on the super fine setting. I almost never get a request for anything larger than 8x10. BUT, that doesn't mean that I don't want to, because YOU NEVER KNOW.

Currently, I am using the RAW converter that came with my camera, but it's a total piece of crap. Doesn't work well at all. All I can really do with it is a little limited adjusted, and then covert the file to TIFF.

Anyway, I'm going to go look at the Adobe Raw Converter software right now.

Jerry

4/1/2004 1:08:33 PM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  One more thought. Remember, there is more to using RAW than just getting a large file size. I don't trust my skills enough to get everything just perfect every time with exposure and all. Having the option to tweak color and white balance, tone, contrast, etc., is a nerve soother for me. I don't have to worry so much as long as I'm close. You can't do that with JPEG, no matter how large.

4/1/2004 1:48:06 PM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  Okay, I think I made a boo-boo. Adobe doesn't seem to offer a stand-alone RAW converter. The update is for PS CS only. That said, I would look into the Bibble software at www.bibblelabs.com.

Also see http://www.steves-digicams.com/digsoftware_color.html for more options

4/1/2004 1:54:55 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  Thanks Piper. For the $169 for the upgrade to CS, I'll probably just do that.

Thanks for the info.

Jerry

4/1/2004 2:03:17 PM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  Excellent. You're going to love CS. I upgraded from Elements! It was a giant leap.

4/1/2004 2:13:34 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  Bummer, I can't get CS. I don't have Win 2000 or XP, I have ME.

I guess I'll just work with what I have for now. I'm not ready for a computer overhaul.

Jerry

4/1/2004 3:57:40 PM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  I used Bibble with win ME before I got my laptop, so you still have options. Might be worth it to wait though. Of course, you'll be paying the full price for CS if you put it on a new computer. I can't even load my CS on another computer in my own house! Really not good since I wanted to be able to have both my laptop and my PC set up the same way.

4/1/2004 4:08:48 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  You can't have it on multiple computers, but you can have it on one, then deinstall it, and reinstall it on another.

That wont be any problem at all. I current license v6.0. So all I'd have to do is uninstall 6 from my current CPU, reinstall it on a new CPU. Then, buy the upgrade.

That shouldn't be a problem at all. It's within the terms of the licesnse agreement. What you cannot do is install the same license on multiple CPU's.

Jerry

4/1/2004 4:27:23 PM

 
Piper Lehman
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/20/2001
  Hmmm. I guess that's true, but I wanted to use the same license on both computers so I could run them both simultaneously. Rats!

4/1/2004 6:01:24 PM

 
Marc D. Bell

member since: 11/6/2002
  Hello, I have to tell you I was wanting a second camera and have purchased the Nikon D70. Especially since I had the chance to try one out. The camera is awesome (even for studio lighting). For the price it's one the line as the Nikon D2H (the burst rate doesn't compare) but if your not planning on shooting extreme action shots you won't need that feature anyway. I love the D70 and I think you will too

4/5/2004 6:17:49 AM

 
Wally Orlowsky
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Wally
Wally's Gallery

member since: 1/30/2004
  I agree that RAW is usually preferable to JPEG, especially if you want large prints. I use Paint Shop Pro rather than PS. While it converts RAW files, it does not allow the post shot modifications that the software from the camera manufacturer does. However, I use an Olympus C-5050 5 megapixel camera and it offers the choice of direct recording in TIFF format. I typically use the highest resolution and get photos easily printable at up to 20 X 16. But,each image is about 14 MB and this eats up card space quickly. Also, there is considerable lag time to record each image, so this is not good if you need to take photos in quick succession. The Olympus also has two card slots, so I can put a couple of 512 MB cards in and get about 70 shots at the highest resolution. Olympus has a new 8 megapixel camera, which has received very good reviews. Of course, none of these are SLR's, so if lens changes are important, this would not be the way to go.

4/5/2004 7:02:23 AM

 
Vincent Lowe

member since: 4/2/2000
  I bought a D70 just a few days ago - I'm up to about page three of the manual so far :o)... but I think it is possible to use it with studio flash, see....

http://www.digit.org.uk/images/folio.asp?image_id=4371

4/5/2004 10:21:34 AM

 
Janet Mayer

member since: 3/28/2004
  hi-i am reading this thread and just thinking about something. superfine jpeg is a quite large file and appears to work for my agency. you certainly can manipulate exposure, sharpness etc. in photoshop, so I am now confused by what you are saying.
raw file processing is unbelievably slow to process after a shoot.
but the underexposure problems I am having with the dig. rebel-i am now wondering-do the RAW files look any different and do you have more leeway with exposure problems? thanks.

5/9/2004 5:39:27 PM

 
Carolina K. Smith
CarolinaSmith.com

member since: 3/28/2004
  Re RAW and PS7, I bought the RAW software for PS7 at $99 and it is not nearly as good as the Nikon View software that came free with my Coolpix 8700 (which I bought afterwards). I always use my Nikon View raw (nef) software, and then save as a tiff to be used in PS7. Maybe the PS CS is better, but I did read an article recently that says that in some cases, the RAW software that comes with your camera will be better than Adobe's. This is certainly true for my Nikon Coolpix camera. So you might get the software free with a Nikon Dslr (not sure), and not have to upgrade to PS CS right away.

I just started shooting in RAW this year, and the control you have with it really can even help salvage some images, so it is worth all the 'hassle' of the larger file size and time it takes to convert to tiff. After all, it is the final image that counts! Hope this helps someone,

Carolina

5/10/2004 1:58:43 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  I only shoot RAW. After upgrading my computer to Windows XP, upgrading Photoshop to CS, I love it now. It takes a little time to upload the images, but what a difference.

I am shooting a wedding this weekend, and they want all film. I shot a wedding a few weeks ago, and one of the rolls came out over exposed, I don't know why. Had I shot digital, I would just be able to go in and make the adjustments and the client wouldn't know the difference.

Film is great. I love working with film. But, digital also has some pretty neat advantages.

I wish someone, preferrably a wedding photographer, held work groups on digital work flow, or converting from film to digital.

I think I am going to start offering a low budget digital package and experiment a little. The photography would be fantastic, but there are other issues I need to address, such as work flow. And, if you have 1000+ images, how the hell do you work through that to color correct, etc. That's the part I don't get.

I know some things can be automated, like, I know how to make everything Sepia, or Grey. But, can you automate color correction? Man, it just seems like it would be greuling to sit there and correct 1000+ images. I'd have to triple my rates to account for my time.

On the other hand, though, it would be nice to present large proof prints on a sheet, and create digital albums. It's very appealing due to the flexibility.

Jerry

5/10/2004 12:22:07 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  I didn't mean that I would have to correct all my images, but reviewing 1000+ would be hell.

I need to quickest, fastest, most effcient and cost savings way. Right now, it's film. But, that doesn't mean I'm not looking.

Jerry

5/10/2004 12:24:12 PM

 
Liz Novak

member since: 2/24/2004
  I have a Nikon D100 and it came with the Nikon View software. I shoot everything raw. It's so easy to fix exposure and white balance with their software. I'm only just learning PS and it takes me a lot longer to manipulate images there than with the Nikon view. I've also done a 20 x 30 portrait and it came out fabulous. It was printed from a TIFF converted from RAW.

5/10/2004 12:25:57 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  Elizabeth, I'm not sure if you were answering me or not. But, my question has more to do with volume and less to do with a specific software. Even if it was the best software in the world, going through 1000+ images every time, could really be a headache. I just don't know how digital photographers do it.

Are there any digital wedding photographers at betterphoto.com that I could speak to?

Jerry

5/10/2004 12:38:35 PM

 
Vincent Lowe

member since: 4/2/2000
  Jerry - have you tried Nikon Capture 4 Editor? If not, download a trial version from Nikon's website and have a look. You can process your RAW files with this (better than Photoshop IMHO). If you have a bunch of files that need similar settings you can work on one then use the batch processor to apply the settings to as many images as you want - and convert them all to jpeg or tiff at the same time.

But don't ask me any awkward questions beacause I'm new to all this myself.. :o)

5/10/2004 1:16:27 PM

 
Vincent Lowe

member since: 4/2/2000
  Then again some pros, working to deadlines, don't bother with RAW and still manage to get stunning results (though having the use of a helicopter at someone else's expense does help a little) ....

http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-6454-6928

Also see.. http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/raw.htm

5/10/2004 1:32:32 PM

 
Liz Novak

member since: 2/24/2004
  Vincent, I've heard of the Nikon Capture 4, but I don't have it. I've also heard other photographers talk about batch processing which would make a lot of things easier for me. Can you give me some direction as to where to get this software and about what it costs?
Thanks

5/10/2004 1:36:49 PM

 
Vincent Lowe

member since: 4/2/2000
  I downloaded it from Nikon Europe (I'm in the UK) but assuming you are in the USA try...

http://support.nikontech.com/cgi-bin/nikonusa.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_sid=M-Akd1bh&p_lva=&p_faqid=8282&p_created=1068633684&p_sp=cF9zcmNoPSZwX2dyaWRzb3J0PSZwX3Jvd19jbnQ9MjAmcF9wcm9kX2x2bDE9NDImcF9wcm9kX2x2bDI9NDUmcF9jYXRfbHZsMT0yMiZwX3BhZ2U9MQ**&p_li=

That's a hell of a big link so I hope it works - if not go to www.nikon.com and follow the links to the downloads section. It's $99.95 to register.

5/10/2004 4:20:10 PM

 
Grant Laird Jr.

member since: 3/18/2004
  Guys,

You might want to try this out program called ThumbsPlus V6 which is pretty powerful. You can do "batch" on some or all pictures at once like color adjustment, sharpness and/or add symbol/name on them.

http://www.cerious.com/thumbnails.shtml

It took me a while to learn all this features.

Amateur Photographer
Grant Laird Jr.
http://www.grantlairdjr.com

5/11/2004 10:30:37 PM

 

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