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SNAPSHOT - PHOTO NEWS FROM BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to SnapShot, the weekly newsletter on
the art of photography from
BetterPhoto.com


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IN THIS ISSUE - Tuesday, June 17, 2003
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* SPOTLIGHT: Summer School - Online PhotoCourses™ at BetterPhoto.com
* BETTERPHOTO: New Photoshop Course by Jim Zuckerman for the Summer Session
* BETTERPHOTO: One Great New Instructor with Two Great New Classes - Brenda Tharp
* BETTERPHOTO: Check Out the Awesome Winners of May's Photo Contest
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Skyrocketing Subscriptions / Photo Libs
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: For Film Shooters
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Lenses For a Beginner
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Deleting A Previously Uploaded Image
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Advantages of Taking Pictures in TIFF Format
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Previously Submitted Photos
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Photography Licences
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Flash Equipment
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Zone System
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: How Long Can I Keep Film Before Developing?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Buying A Telephoto Lens
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Buying a Beginner 35mm SLR?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: New Lenses for Shooting a Wedding
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Used Camera on Ebay
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 13: APO and Aspherical Lenses
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Medium Format Camera


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Summer School - Online PhotoCourses™ at BetterPhoto.com
Make this summer a special adventure by joining a photography course! Improve your picture-taking skills while having a great time enjoying the summer months. Each class is focused on teaching you how to improve your understanding of photography through exciting weekly assignments and helpful critiques direct from the instructor. Learn more about our excellent courses at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 118th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

Remember how we mentioned last week that we were excited about three new classes coming this summer? They are ready to go!

Jim Zuckerman will show you how to get creative in Photoshop. Brenda Tharp will teach you how to make a creative impact with your shooting. With her second class, Brenda will show you how to get great travel images - whether you are out for a local day-trip or planning to travel half-way around the world, you won't want to miss this class.

You will also notice some exciting changes at BetterPhoto. To see all of your Discussions and Q&A - and be able to turn on or off the email notifications for such - check out your new Member Profile page. You get there by signing in via the left "Sign In" button. Also, you will now see a way to re-enter photos that you have previously uploaded to the site. Oh, and did we mention that Deluxe BetterPholio™ owners will soon have the ability to sell images via their site? It is in testing now... but if you have been thinking about a Deluxe BetterPholio™, now's the time!

And of course, you will be very happy to know that the contest winners have been published. Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners. Once again, your work is incredible to behold.

Happy shooting! For those of you subscribed to PhotoFlash, talk to you tomorrow. For the rest of you, have a wonderful week!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
New Photoshop Course by Jim Zuckerman for the Summer Session
In his latest addition to the online course line-up, Jim Zuckerman shows you his best creative techniques in Photoshop. The course will enable you to create pretty much anything you can imagine in your mind. Jim will show you how to make reflections, flawlessly composite photos, hand color black and white images, turn a photo into a painting, create silhouettes, use layer modes, and more. Class starts July 9th - sign up today to ensure you get a spot.

Sign up for "Creative Techniques in Photoshop" at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK03.asp

If you are more interested in shooting than in Photoshopping, explore Jim Zuckerman's "Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography" at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK01.asp

Or - to learn all about working with flash and natural light - check out Jim Zuckerman's "Mastering Light" course at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK02.asp

Select from all of our online courses at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp


*****
One Great New Instructor with Two Great New Classes - Brenda Tharp
Let's give a warm welcome to the newest member of the BetterPhoto team of instructors - Brenda Tharp. Brenda's images have appeared in a variety of travel magazines, guide books, and travel brochures. Additionally, her images are used in ads, greeting cards, and calendars in Europe and the USA. Brenda is also the author of the exciting new book, Creative Nature and Outdoor Photography:
http://www.betterphoto.com/reviews/reviewItemDetail.asp?reviewItemID=1882

"Creating Visual Impact" with Brenda Tharp:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN01.asp

"Beyond the Postcard" with Brenda Tharp:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN02.asp

Browse the online photo courses at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp


*****
Check Out the Awesome Winners of May's Photo Contest
Out of over 7300 photos, the judges had to narrow it down to these few wonderful images. The images were so good this month! Gustaf L. Bjerne won Grand Prize for his "My Kind of Cat" travel image. It's so beautiful you'll want to go to Greece. But Gustaf is by no means alone this month - all the images are stunning. Take a peek when you get a chance.

Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners!
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/winners/0305.asp

If you haven't seem them yet, be sure to browse the contest finalists too:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=899

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
When did National Geographic begin using photographs?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Sandra Copeis:
In 1903 Natinal Geographic ran its first halftone, a photo of Filipina "woman at work in the rice fields." In 1905 it ran its first photo spread unbroken by almost no text. It was an 11 page spread taken by two Russian explorers of the Tibetan city of Lhasa. In 1910 the magazine ran its first color photographs which were hand colored black & white photos, of Korea and China...

To see all answers to this question, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/trivia.asp?stat=PRV

And Now... This Week's Photo Trivia Question - Photo Libs - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

Fill in the blanks: Ansel Adams once said, "There is nothing worse than a _______ image of a _______ concept."

Submit your own answer to this question by visiting:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/trivia.asp

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THIS WEEK'S PHOTO TIP
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For Film Shooters
During the upcoming hot Summer months, don't forget to take care of your film. Make sure you don't leave it in a hot car unprotected. A great place for film is in the fridge. If you do have to leave it in the car, consider putting your film in a lunch pail designed to keep food cold. Remember that film is a perishable - treat it with care and you will get better colors and better endurance out of your film.

Top Ten Tips:
http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/tips.asp

All Tips:
http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/allTips.asp

Add Your Own Tip:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/login.asp?category=tip&inputType=tip

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ADVERTISEMENT
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Great Photos
My new book guides you away from the point-and-pray method of taking pictures to shooting with confidence. In this simple and clear how-to book, you will learn:

  • How to compose your picture with a more artful eye
  • The top qualities that winning photos exhibit
  • Tips and secrets for consistently getting better results... and much more.
You can order this book online, call our toll-free order processing number 1-888-927-9992, or simply send a check or money order for USD $16.90 (or USD$18.90 if shipping to Canada or USD$24.90 to other international addresses) to:

BetterPhoto.com
P.O. Box 2781
Redmond, WA 98073-2781 USA

To order online, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetail.asp?productID=1096


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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - NEW THIS WEEK
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NEW QUESTION 1: Lenses For a Beginner
I intend to purchase a lens or two and am, for all practical purposes, a beginner. From what I know, the cheap zoom lenses available from various brands have poor max aperture and are not great quality. Can anyone advise if I should consider buying only fixed focal length lenses and if so what focal length lenses should I consider for a beginner. I think a standard lens and a telephoto might be good, but these lenses are quite expensive.

Also I have one more question, I recently saw that a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens was priced about the same as a 200mm f/2.8 lens. How's that possible, I thought the problem with zoom lenses was that the had poor max aperture. Can someone "throw some light" on this?
Thanks
- Anand

ANSWER 1:
In the past, there was a difference in quality between fixed focal length lenses and zoom lenses; however, modern zoom lenses are on par with their equivalent fixed length lenses. In other words, telephoto zoom lenses (e.g., 80mm to 200mm) are likely to be equal in quality to a fixed 200mm lens for all practical purposes. Some would argue that fixed focal lengths are better because less physical elements are involved in the construction of the lens. Although this may be true, the differences are extremely minimal ... to the point that most professional photographers use zoom lenses.

With regard to poor maximum apertures, I assume you are referring to the difference between fast and slow lenses. One can purchase fast zoom lenses with wide open apertures of 2.8 or ones where the aperture is less at 4.5. In addition, some zoom lenses have a fixed aperture throughout their zoom range. Whether one shoots at 70mm, 200mm, or anywhere in between on the 70-200/2.8, the maximum aperture possible will remain at 2.8; in contrast, there are variable aperture zoom lenses such as the 75-300mm/4.5-5.6. At the 75mm range, the aperture can open up to 4.5 while at the 300mm range, the aperture goes to 5.6. When one starts to enter into the realm of super telephoto lenses such as those beyond 300mm, one is unlikely to find apertures more than 4.0 due to the basic physics of a lens. As John Shaw puts it, a 400mm/2.0 lens would require a pick up truck! With regard to fixed focal lengths, one can certainly find "ultra-fast" lenses with aperture going to 1.4 and such (i.e., Canon's 50mm/1.4).

When choosing a lens set, however, you have to consider your subject matter and equally importantly your pocket book. For novices and amateurs (such as myself), I would recommend zoom lenses. This allows one to have a wider variety of options. Of course, if a particular fixed focal length lenses meets some requirement that you have with regard to subject matter, go for it! But, most of your lenses should probably be zooms.

As to what types of lenses to get ... that depends on your subject matter. Generally, you will want to cover the the three major lens categories -- wide angle, "normal", and telephoto -- for most subject groups. The extreme lens, such as super wide angle and super telephoto are geared toward specific subject groups. These extreme lenses can get fairly expensive.

I have the following lenses:

28-80mm to cover the "normal" range
70-200mm to cover the telephoto range
22-50mm to cover the wide angle range.

My only fixed length lenses is a 100mm macro that is specific to my needs because I enjoy shooting close ups. In addition, this doubles as an excellent portrait lens.

One suggestion I would make, something I learned by expensive error, is to try and purchase the fastest lens you can afford. If you can't afford fast lenses in all three groups, I would begin with purchasing a fast zoom lens for the normal group; then, save up money and purchase lenses to cover the other ranges as your desire warrants. I made the mistake of compromising on quality and buying a telephoto that was slow and of poor quality. Now I am replacing it. A costly mistake.

Additionally, the major lens manufacturers make consumer grade lenses and professional grade ones. In the case of Canon, the professional grade lenses are designated with an "L"; I am sure Nikon differentiates their's somehow as well (beyond the exhorbitant pricing, I mean). Personally, I don't think amateurs need to spend the money on getting the professional grade lenses. Some would disagree, but since my livelihood doesn't depend on my photographs and I am in this for fun, I can't justify spending 3,000 dollars on lens. So, buy the consumer grade lenses ... just try to buy the best you can in that grade.

An alternative to purchasing lenses from the manufacturer of your camera, you can also purchase third party lenses from manufacturers such as Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina. From my research, I would stay away from Tokina lenses ... but Sigma and Tamron make excellent lenses for a lot less than Canon or Nikon. Perhaps you may want to look into theirs as well.

Before purchasing any particular lenses, check out the reviews on that lenses on this website, at photographyreview.com, and at photo.net

Good luck and I hope my long winded response answered at least some of your questions. Sorry, didn't comment on that Nikon issue, but I'm a Canon user.
- Laljit S. Sidhu

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5985

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5985

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: Deleting A Previously Uploaded Image
How do I delete from the website a previously uploaded image to which I have made adjustments?
- A. Borchetta

ANSWER 1:
All you have to do is email BetterPhoto Support with the PhotoID# and title of the image that you would like to be removed.
- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

See Jim Miotke's Premium BetterPholio™
Visit Jim Miotke's Deluxe BetterPholio™ - Miotke.com

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Jim Miotke:
Jim Miotke's Online Photography Courses

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5984

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5984

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*****


NEW QUESTION 3: Advantages of Taking Pictures in TIFF Format
My camera (Nikon CP 800) allows me to take pictures as a .TIF file. I rarely use that file format and I am wondering when I should take advantage of TIF and when can I get away without it. Could you suggest some experiments I could do to show the appeal of TIF. I take lots of snapshots with the hope that some might make a good print.
- William

ANSWER 1:
TIFF files hold more info. That is the long and the short of it. The more info you have to start with the better off you are going to be if you want to edit or enlarge later on. I use TIFF images on everything I shoot that I might want to save or enlarge later on. You can always compress the file later, but you can not get back the info if you never saved it to begin with.
- Judith A. Clark

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5982

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5982

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*****


NEW QUESTION 4: Previously Submitted Photos
Is there a way to see all of the pictures you have previously submitted to the contest if you do not have a gallery? I can't remember which ones I have submitted and don't want to repeat! Thanks!
- Jen Jesseph

ANSWER 1:
I appreciate that you do not want to upload repeat images, Jen, but unfortunately we do not have this feature. As you mentioned, you can get a way to see all of their uploaded images when you sign up for a Premium BetterPholio™ or Deluxe BetterPholio™.

However, one recent development might come in very handy. You can now see a list of all photo discussions you have participated in. So if you have uploaded a photo and then commented on it (or responded to a comment from someone else), you will see it on the list.

This list can be found on the Member Profile page that you get to after signing in via the "Sign In" button on the left filmstrip.

On this new Member Profile page, you can also list which cameras you use, which will help you indicate the camera you used to shoot each photo you upload.

Lastly you can turn on or off the email notifications for various Photo Discussions and Q&A.
- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

See Jim Miotke's Premium BetterPholio™
Visit Jim Miotke's Deluxe BetterPholio™ - Miotke.com

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Jim Miotke:
Jim Miotke's Online Photography Courses

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5980

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5980

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: Photography Licences
Do need a licence to take pictures of things for charge for other people?
- Hannah Oborn

ANSWER 1:
Hannah,
This is subject to local laws and ordinances. Basically, if you charge others for making photographs, you are operating a business and must have all the business and tax permits/licenses, etc. that any other business requires.

I've never heard of any "special" license required specifically for photography . . . just the normal business things common to every other business.

If you begin operating a studio in your home, you must also be aware of local zoning ordinances which may, or may not, allow operating a business of that type where you live. Again, depending on local laws/ordinances, this may require a "special use permit" if the neighborhood is zoned for residential use.

Caveat:
This is just some general advice to get you started. It's not intended to be comprehensive. Inquire with your city clerk's office, your county clerk's office and your city, county and state tax offices, and don't forget about your city/county Chamber of Commerce. They are often helpful with more detailed information.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5978

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5978

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Flash Equipment
I have retired and now have time to follow my interests. I have a Minolta SRT-101 (1974) and the flash unit I purchased with it will not charge.

I guess I'm looking for a suggestion on what flash to get (new or used). The Minolta is match needle and there is neither automatic focus nor auto exposure - only a hot-shoe mount.

Therefore I guess my flash needs are pretty simple - although I think I've forgotten everything I once new about guide numbers. Thanks
- Paul K.

ANSWER 1:
You don't need/can't use a dedicated TTL flash, just get a good manual or auto via built-in sensor. Fitting this category:

Vivitar 2800 is a nice basic inexpensive unit. More powerful and more manual modes are the Vivitar 283 and 285HV. Sunpak 383 is similarly powerful, and allows head to swivel as well as tilt, so you can bounce flash with the camera held vertically. I'm not as familiar with Metz's line, but they are also highly regarded.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Thank you very much, Jon C, for your helpful answer. I'm very glad I found this site.
- Paul K.

ANSWER 3:
Jon mentions all three of the standard, basic, shoe mounted auto flashes that have withstood the test of time, and they're among the most powerful on the market.

IMO, the Vivitar 285HV is a better buy than the Vivitar 383. The 285HV comes with some features that are accesories to the 283 and must be purchased separately. Add up the cost of a 283 plus these accessories and it's more than the price of a 285HV.

Metz is a German company that makes an enormous line of superb flash units. They're reliable, very durable and the upper half of their line caters to professionals. Well known in Europe and among professionals in the U.S., most non-pros in the U.S. have never heard the name. The design, build quality, and durability of their pro-grade flashes spill downward into the lower half of their line that caters to the consumer market. Within the Metz line for the SRT-101, the "32 Z-1" and slightly less powerful "36 C-2" are their basic auto-flashes. Between the two, the 32 Z-1 is more powerful (in spite of its model number). Both have a manual zoom head that tilt. The 32 Z-1 also swivels. Between the two, my recommendation is the 32 Z-1. More expensive new compared to the Vivitar 285HV or Sunpak 383, they can be found used in very excellent condition for about the price of a new Vivitar or Sunpak. The English version of Metz' web site with their Mecablitz flash products:
http://www.metz.de/1_metz_2000/m_pages_english/main_index_e.php3?link=4&sub=1&linkname=mecablitz
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Dear Paul:
If I write a few sentences I suspect you'll quickly recall everything you may have forgotton about guide numbers.
Current "auto" flash units are so quick and easy to use that fewer photographers use a flash in manual, which is where it helps to know the guide number. With the flash set to manual, you focus the lens, read the subject-to-camera distance off the lens, and divide the guide number by that distance. The number that results is the f/stop you will use. If you give it a moment's thought, you probably realize that the f/stop number you get as an answer will not always be one you recognize, or one that appears on the f/stop ring of the lens. It may, in fact, be some intermediate value, in which case you might round it to the nearest full f/stop, or half stop, and depend on the exposure latitude of the film to cover the slight discrepancy.
All of the flash units mentioned in the responses above will also have some sort of graph, scale or display on the back or side of the unit that indicates which f/stop should be used for a given distance and film speed. Purist practitioners of manual flash will tell you to be wary of these scales or displays: They argue, often accurately, that the guide number assigned by the manufacturer to a given model is often, well, "generous."
Of course, you can use the auto flash settings these flash units also have, which work just fine for an SRT-101. A thyristor circuit in the flash will quench output when it detects enough light has reflected off the subject to provide correct exposure. A scale or chart on the flash tells you which f/stop to use. In auto flash mode, an f/stop will provide correct exposure over a range of distances, say, five to fifteen feet, not just one specific distance, which is the case in manual mode. Auto flash is convenient, to say the least.
Sometimes auto flash circuitry can be fooled by very light or very dark subjects, just the way the camera's built-in meter can sometimes be fooled, but as someone who has used almost every one of those flash units mentioned above, in auto, I can say that auto flash is accurate for a wide variety of situations. (Again, the exposure latitude of current films can often help you obtain satisfactory results in those situations where auto flash might be fooled.)
Well, once again I've managed to write more than anybody cared to know on a topic. I'll have to rig a timer or a lock-out on this keyboard...
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 5:
Maynard remembered the GN math correctly . . . divide GN by subject distance for aperture setting. However, the GN for nearly all electronic flash units is ONLY given for ISO 100 film. A flash's GN changes with film speed. For something other than ISO 100 film, here's the conversion formula for a GN given for any film speed to another film speed:

GN[new] = GN[old] * squareroot(ISO[new]/ISO[old])

Examples:
If the GN for a flash is given in the specs as 120 for ISO 100 film, in feet, and you wish to use Kodachrome 64, the new GN becomes:
GN[new] = 120 * squareroot(64 / 100)
GN[new] = 120 * squareroot(0.64)
GN[new] = 120 * 0.8
GN[new] = 96
Now load up a roll of Royal Gold 200 and calculate the new GN:
GN[new] = 120 * squareroot(200 / 100)
GN[new] = 120 * squareroot(2)
GN[new] ~= 120 * 1.414
GN[new] ~= 170

Do this in the comfort of your home using a calculator and write the guide numbers for a list of different film speeds for your flash onto a 3x5 card. Stuff the card into the camera bag . . . or tape it to the flash (if taping things to your equipment doesn't bother you). This beats carrying around a calculator and trying to remember the equation to use.

-- John
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 6:
Thanks again to Jon, John and Maynard. You guys have been great. I am going to start looking for a flash this week.
- Paul K.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5975

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5975

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Zone System
Okay, I read the trivia question; but I still don't understand about the Zone System. Is it a technique one can use while shooting the photo or is it done in the darkroom? Does that mean if I don't have a darkroom (I use a pro lab) that I can't utilize the Zone System? Sorry for sounding so dumb about this, but I have continually heard about this technique and would like to be able to use it.
- Judy

ANSWER 1:
Judy,
It's actually everything . . . exposure when making the photograph, how the film is developed and how the print is made.

That said, there's a lot you can do with the Zone System in just making the exposure on film if developing and printing are "normal" (not adjusted for anything). The Zone System is the subject of entire books and is a bit too much to explain here. The definitive books on the subject are by Ansel Adams who created the Zone System. Go to a library and look for his classic trilogy:
The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. The Zone System as it applies to each is found in each volume of the trilogy.

Basically, the underlying theme of Ansel Adams Zone System is careful calibration of equipment so that exposure and results are predictable and repeatable, and control, control, and more control by measuring everything carefully. The Zone System as he devised it is most applicable to Black and White, but major portions of it can be adapted to color work. Use as much or as little of his Zone System as you desire, and modify it to suit your own needs. As you learn about it, keep in mind his objective: calibration and control to get the exact results desired every time.

-- John
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5969

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5969

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: How Long Can I Keep Film Before Developing?
I have about 50 rolls of 35mm film which I began taking about a year ago. Money has been tight and while I cannot afford the developing at this time, I continue to take pictures and my collection of rolls waiting to be developed grows weekly. How long will a roll of film last after it has been used in my camera? Also- does anyone know of any developing services that give discounts on volume?
Thanks and God Bless.
- Joann Tompkins-Winborn

ANSWER 1:
Refrigerate any film (including exposued by unprocessed) that is not going to be used or processed promptly.

See Kodak's Pub. E-30, Storage and Care of KODAK Photographic Materials

"While storage in a refrigerator or freezer can be highly beneficial, you should not rely on it to extend film life beyond the "Develop Before" date. This is especially important with high-speed films, which can be fogged by cosmic and gamma radiation that is naturally present all around us. Neither cooling nor lead-foil bags will prevent this effect."

Take one roll of the oldest film and have it developed. If it's ok, then so should be the rest.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Jon-
Thanks for your quick reply. I will put all my film in the fridge as soon as I get home! Also, I will check the dates on the rolls. Still hoping someone will have a lead or two on inexpensive but good quality developing services.
Thanks again!
- Joann Tompkins-Winborn

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5957

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5957

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Buying A Telephoto Lens
I am interested in purchasing a telephoto lens for my Canon Rebel Ti. I am looking at the 75-300 or 100-300 range, to use for taking pictures of landscapes, animals and people. In my research I have read reviews from PhotoReview.com and this website. I am finding so many conflicting reviews, and am feeling a tad confused and overwhelmed. I am an amateur, with a serious interest in photography. At the moment I can only afford a lens that is $300 or less, so I know that the lens I get won't be of the top quality. However, I do want the best for what I can afford at the moment. I am currently looking at Sigma and Canon. So, does it basically come down to brand preference or are there any important differences that would make an impact in deciding on a lens? Also, in making this decision what would be important things to keep in mind when comparing the lenses?
- Lea A.

ANSWER 1:
My personal opinion (others may take issue) is that there is no difference in optical quality between the Canon EF 75-300 f/4-5.6 USM, EF 100-300 f/4.5-5.6 USM, Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6 APO Macro, and Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 LD Macro. The Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6 DL and Tamron 75-300 f/4-5.6 LD Macro are a very slight step down.

The Sigma and Tamron models have a macro focus range that allows them to focus down to ~37" v. 59" for the Canons. This gives a maximum magnification of 1/2 life size v. 1/4, thus "macro" in the lens name. I believe both the Sigma and Tamron zooms come with a bayonet-mount lens hood where Canon's are sold separately (~$20). If you want macro on a budget, these 2 are good choices.

My personal favorite of this group (other opinions also valid) is the Canon EF 100-300 f/4.5-5.6 USM. It is the only xx-300 zoom under $300 with a non-rotating front element so that a polarizing filter does not have to be reoriented each time the lens is refocused. It also has ring-USM autofocus which is (1) silent and faster than the geared micro-USM of the 75-300 or the Sigma and Tamron af motors, and (2) has a wider, damped manual focus ring with full-time manual focus override without needing to change the AF/MF switch. If you want to use the lens for macro you can add a close-up filter.
- Jon Close

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NEW QUESTION 10: Buying a Beginner 35mm SLR?
I'm brand new to photography and don't know a thing about it. I'd like to get a new 35mm SLR (not used; don't trust them) that I'll be able to use for a long while. What would you suggest I look for? Body, lens, flash? And who would you suggest I do business with? Thanks for your time.
- Mike

ANSWER 1:
It depends on your goals. Do you want to learn photography or do you just want a camera to take pictures with? If you want to learn photography, or if you're just looking for a camera to take pictures with, probably any decent automatic camera will do.

I suggest buying a fully manual SLR.
I know Nikon still makes a couple of fully manual SLRs. There may be some other companies that make manual SLRs also. I particularly like the die-cast metal, manual SLRs. They are incredibly durable - practically indestructable.

I'd suggest getting a camera that has a spot metering option. I recommend fully manual SLRs because you have to understand exposure, shutter speeds, and apertures to take good pictures. The spot meter makes you think about what exactly to meter off of. The automatic cameras make all the decisions for you, so you don't learn anything.

Don't be afraid to buy a used camera. I've got a couple used Canon F1s I bought used probably 8 or 10 years ago, and they work great. You can get used manual 35mm cameras on eBay for good prices. There are some reputable internet retailers also, like B&H Photo in NYC that sell new cameras. I've used B&H a lot, and I've never had any trouble with them. Others may have other internet retailer recommendations.
- Tim Devick

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NEW QUESTION 11: New Lenses for Shooting a Wedding
I am preparing to shoot a wedding for a friend. I have a Nikon N80. At this time the only lens I have for this camera is a Quantary telephoto. What lens would you suggest for me to purchase to either replace or upgrade this lens?
I also just inherited a Pentak K 1000. It has a 50 mm lens. Any suggestions to upgrade or replace this lens?

Thank you!
- shannon

ANSWER 1:
A telephoto is a specialized purpose lens. Get a 50 for the Nikon. You camera MAY take manual focus AIS lenses. If so, you'll save some money. The 50 will give you the best possible optical quality for this important responsibility you've taken on. See keh.com for reasonably priced 50's.

Alternatively, you could use the Pentax with the 50 you already have. Practice with the 50, being sure you know how to focus accurately. No upgrade is necessary. Pentax never made a bad 50.
- Doug Nelson

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ANSWER 2:
Thank you! A friend that I have spoken to suggested a 17 - 28. Would that be a good lens to get?
- shannon

ANSWER 3:
That lens may be good for interiors and landscapes, but one of the worst choices for a wedding. The edges of photos shot with extreme wides show bowing outward, making egg-shaped heads of folks on the edges of groups. Zooms, unless they're state-of-the-art, show more distortion than single focal length lenses (primes). Shoot some film of small groups with what you're going to use, and let us know of problems that may show up.
- Doug Nelson

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ANSWER 4:
Dear Shannon:
Doug hit it on the mark about the 17-28. I can imagine one specific way to use it that will likely produce a saleable image. Use it to photograph the bride and groom alone. Keep them in the center of your viewfinder so they will not be distorted, and compose the photo to keep large and/or brightly colored objects away from the edges of the image, where they will be distorted and might compete for attention with the bride and groom. This might work for an interior photo, or for an exterior, but I'd spend some time looking through the viewfinder to find a locale where background elements really help make the photo by leading the viewer's eye to the center, where you've placed the wedding couple.
If you put good lens shades on those 50mm lenses, and leave them there, you'll minimize flare and improve image contrast.

Is the Quantaray zoom something on the order of an 80-200 f/4-5.6? If so, and you shoot at about f/8, it can probably produce some good head shots, head and shoulder portraits, and head to waist candids.

A powerful flash is often the one item missing from the bag of a newer wedding photographer. That and a decent source of power for the flash like a quantum turbo battery. A high percentage of wedding photos, even (maybe I should say especially) the outdoor ones, can be improved with fill flash. A flash with a guide number of 120 in feet for ISO 100 film is probably the bare minimum, and a unit with a guide number of 160 or higher with ISO 100 film will be even better, especially if you have a large wedding party to photograph.
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 5:
Wow! Thank you for your answers! It is really great that you are willing to share your knowledge and experience to help others who are just getting on their feet!

Have a WONDERFUL Day!
- shannon

ANSWER 6:
Maynard has given some sound advice. If you have never done a wedding before, and your posting reads as if you haven't, see my :Wedding Survival Guide
http://johnlind.tripod.com/wedding/

It's intended for friends/relatives of bride/groom who find themselves committed to doing one. It's *not* intended for those who want to get into the business of being paid to do them. It does discuss some of the things Maynard wrote about. Although I use a lot more equipment for a wedding, you can do one with minimal equipment if you know how to use it properly. Don't underestimate film and battery requirements. Running out of either is catastrophic. Think also about how you will recover and continue shooting if something quits working properly or is accidentally damaged . . . and plan what you will do in advance.

One of the secrets to successful wedding work is planning, preparing equipment for it beforehand, and thinking ahead about what will happen, what should happen, what *could* happen instead, and how you will react to things. It's rare that a wedding goes exactly as planned from start to finish (including reception). Flexibility to "go with the flow" when things depart from the original plan for a while is important. For the inexperienced, it's also getting some doing similar types of things with camera, lens and flash . . . both with portraits, posing people and making groupings of them, and with photojournalistic type shooting that requires anticipating events before they unfold so you can "be there" and then timing the shot at the "decisive moment."

A couple comments about auto-focus cameras that I don't believe is in my tutorial. Auto-focus systems on consumer cameras with slower lenses (narrower maximum aperture) can have a devil of a time in the very low light often found during the dancing at a reception. I recommend you **test** the ability of your AF camera to focus in low light with the lens you plan to use for this! If it has real trouble, learn how to use and focus the Pentax with its fast 50mm and likely much brighter viewfinder, and think about using that in low lighting.

BTW, I've done entire weddings with nothing but fast 50mm standard lenses and "shoe leather" zoom. Requires a little more work, and occasionally some "fancy dancing" with composition (if one cannot work, use imagination and do something different), but photogs did it for decades before there were zoom lenses.

Good Luck,
- John A. Lind

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NEW QUESTION 12: Used Camera on Ebay
I am thinking of buying a Canon Eos 1000fn on ebay. Could you tell me if it is any good? I am just a novice and need a camera for an upcoming holiday
- David Mr Mcintyre

ANSWER 1:
For a little more money, get a 2000 instead. I owned one EOS 1000 Fn and there are two things I do not like about this camera (this is my first EOS camera).

First, there is no remote shutter release. For long exposure, you have to keep your finger on the shutter button. Second, the self timer is not an independent feature. It is one of the "creative modes". When on timer, you have no control of the exposure. You cannot set shutter speed, aperture or compensation AT ALL. If you are serious about photography, those two drawbacks worth considering. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

ANSWER 2:
The EOS 1000fn was marketed in the US as the Rebel S II and Rebel II (w/o built-in flash). It has only a single autofocus sensor and just 3-zone evaluative meter. It was introduced in 1992 and superceded by the EOS 500/Rebel XS just one year later. Do not get carried away in bidding on it. Canon's current entry level SLRs, the Rebel GII (3 point af with cross center, 6-zone meter), Rebel 2000 (7 point af, 35-zone meter), Rebel Ti (incremental improvement on Rebel 2000 plus steel lens mount) can be purchased new for $160, $200, and $240 respectively.
- Jon Close

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NEW QUESTION 13: APO and Aspherical Lenses
I will be taking another trip out to Montana this summer and I need to replace my zooming telephoto lens. I would like to purchase a high quality one without unnecessarily spending a wad of money. I've read Sigma's descriptions of APO and Aspherical. Sigma manufactures both types with dispersion glass. Which one of the two would be of higher quality?
- Michael Natasha

ANSWER 1:
APO and Aspheric models in the Sigma line are of similar quality. The two types address different problems. As explained at Sigma's Web site, APO is more commonly used in telephoto zooms to correct for chromatic aberrations (different wavelengths of light focusing at different points). Aspheric elements are more commonly used in wide-angle zooms to correct for spheric aberrations (rays entering the outter portion of a sherical lens focus to a different point than rays through the center).
- Jon Close

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Medium Format Camera
I am very interested in buying a medium format camera with auto focus. My eyes have really gotten bad over the years but I love taking photos. Any suggestions on what might be the best AF camera on the market. I do have my eye on the Mamiya 643AFD.

Thanks
- Maryann Ianniello

ANSWER 1:
Maryann,
I'm aware of three manaufacturers that have have auto-focus MF SLR's:
Contax 645 AF
Mamiya 645AFD
Pentax 645N II

If priority is given to lenses, the Contax tops the heap with Carl Zeiss glass, but you will pay some $$$ for the privelege of having that name on the front of the lenses. Cannot judge too much on the other two. I use a Mamiya M645 ("j" and "1000-S"), but it's manual focus and the AFD lenses are different from those for the original M645 through current E and Pro-TL . . . an important note to remember . . . and Mamiya's lineup of AFD lenses isn't as extensive as for their manual focus 645's.

I am in the "over 40" presbyopia crowd who cannot focus their eyes as closely as those who are younger . . . a phenomenon of aging . . . and I'm still using all manual focus equipment. A possible alternative to an entirely new camera system is exploring dioptric correction lenses on the viewfinder. If you have myopia or hyperopia (near/far sightedness) without too much astigmatism, you might be surprised at how much this truly helps. You shouldn't need any for pure presbyopia; viewfinder optics place the effective distance of the focus screen several feet in front of the camera.

I started using viewfinder dioptric correction for mild myopia years ago and wondered why I hadn't done that many years before. It made an enormous difference in focus accuracy and allowed significantly better use of the microprism ring and matte area of the focusing screen. Before doing that I was relying very heavily on the center split rangefinder circle. If you have been using dioptric correction, then how much you need may have changed . . . and this is also "normal" with aging. The dioptric correction I use has changed over time. It's much easier than trying to look through a viewfinder while wearing glasses.

-- John
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 2:
I can highly recommend the Pentax 645N. I purchased mine the first month they were out and have not been sorry. I use it to do all my wedding work. With the advent of the newer version, you may be able to pick up the original 645N for a great price on the used market. The 200mm autofocus lens is great with this camera.
- Judy

ANSWER 3:
Mariann,
I know just what you mean! I purshased the Pentax 645-N in 2000 and absolutely love it! I did a lot of research before purshasing this particular camera and it has really paid off. I've covered 50 plus weddings since then and have never had one complaint about the quality of the photos. Another plus is the cost of the additional lenses compared to other brands...a lot cheaper! Pentax has won numerous awards and is well established so I had no hesitation in spending that much money for a camera. It is lightweight and the automatic focus is excellent. I have nothing but good things to say about it.
- Suzanne Boulanger

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