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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, July 08, 2003
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* SPOTLIGHT: Summer School is Upon Us - Enroll in an Online PhotoCourse™
* BETTERPHOTO: The June Contest Finalists Are Here
* BETTERPHOTO: Last Call: Online PhotoCourses™ Start Wednesday
* BETTERPHOTO: Brenda Tharp's Travel Photography Class: Don't Leave Home Without It
* PHOTO LINK: The Expressive Image: Nine Steps Towards More Creative Images
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Close Enough / Shoot The Moon
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Note the Exposure
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Can I Shoot Small Flowers or Insects with My 35-70
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Matte or Glossy Paper
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: How to Shoot Through Window
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Is Digital the Way To Go?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: How to Shoot Nightime Lightning
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Quickness and Simplicity of Autofocus, Fill Flash
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: The Advantage of a 50mm Lens
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Push Photography
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Wedding & Portrait films
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Differences in Lens
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: What Is"x" Zoom
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Lens Quality - Which Should I Buy?
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: How Megapixels Effect Picture Size


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Summer School is Upon Us - Enroll in an Online PhotoCourse™
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 121st issue of SnapShot!

Hi

We have posted an amazing selection of the top 279 photo contest finalists to the site. And can I just say - Wow! These images are incredible - let's give the finalists a round of applause for making such beautiful images and for placing in the finalists. Out of over 8650 entries, that is quite an honor.

Classes start on Wednesday so if you've been considering a photo course, now's your chance. One course is already full and several other courses are very close to being full. Sign up today to ensure your spot.

Have a great week!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
The June Contest Finalists Are Here
We've published the June photo contest finalists - the judges are now working on the difficult task of selecting the top placing photos. While they work, visit the following link to browse these awe-inspiring contest finalists:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=904

And contest-goers remember... the Grand Prize for the July contest is your choice of either a Deluxe BetterPholio™ or an online photography course - "Creating Visual Impact" with Brenda Tharp. Learn more about this class or enroll in the summer session of this class at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN01.asp


*****
Last Call: Online PhotoCourses™ Start Wednesday
Sign up today to join one of the exciting online photography courses we have to offer this summer. The session starts July 9th - this Wednesday!

Enroll in Jim Zuckerman's "Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography" - for a complete tour of the top tips and techniques you need to know to get truly amazing photos:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK01.asp

In "Beyond the Postcard" with Brenda Tharp, you'll learn how to master the art of travel photography - before you leave for your next trip:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN02.asp

How would you like to feel totally in charge of your studio lighting set-up? Learn all the ins and outs of studio portraiture in "Studio Lighting Techniques" with Vik Orenstein:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/VIK02.asp

Kerry Drager's "Field Techniques" shows you how to make show-stopping photos of the great outdoors, with step-by-step guidance and super-helpful critiques:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/KRD01.asp

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


*****
Brenda Tharp's Travel Photography Class: Don't Leave Home Without It
Planning on taking a break and going on the road this summer? Before you head out the door, get fully prepared with the help of professional photographer, Brenda Tharp. Learn how to make every picture count and how to make the most of your efforts at great travel photographs:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN02.asp

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PHOTO LINKS
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The Expressive Image: Nine Steps Towards More Creative Images
In the archives of Apogee Photo Magazine, we discovered this wonderful article by BetterPhoto instructor Brenda Tharp. With her amazing and inspiring images as examples, Brenda discusses the creative or artistic activity of "expression" as a way "to give full meaning" to a subject. She tells us that one of the big advantages of 35mm photography is that it "allows us the flexibility of both position and spontaneity that larger formats don't necessarily provide, at least not as easily". Read this article to learn how you can create more expressive images:
http://www.apogeephoto.com/mag4-6/mag4-6BT-1.shtml

Better yet, sign up for Brenda's "Creating Visual Impact" online photo course here at BetterPhoto - before it's too late. In this course, you'll learn how to capture your imagination and feelings in your photographs:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN01.asp

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Who said, "Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn't photogenic?"

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Chris Howarthis:
Edward Weston, complaining about carrying equipment!

See Chris's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=20515

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 - Shoot The Moon - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

What kind of cameras might one find on the moon? How many and why are they there?

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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Note the Exposure
If you really want to learn how exposure works, bring a note pad with you when you go out shooting. After each shot, jot down the settings used to create the picture, as well as any other details like subject names, places names, your goals and intentions, etc. Then, when you are back home looking at the results, match up your notes to each appropriate image and analyze what you see. You'll soon find yourself understanding a lot more about exposure. If you are fortunate, your camera may have an automatic feature that records exposure settings. Many digital cameras offer this feature and some film-based cameras have an accessory you can purchase for this purpose.

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
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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:

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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: Can I Shoot Small Flowers or Insects with My 35-70
Hi,

I have a cosina C1s manual SLR camera with 35-70 mm zoom lens on which it is written MACRO 1:3.5-4.8. What does this mean? Isn't it indication of macro capabilities in the lens? Can I shoot tiny flowers or insects with this lens? Whenever I try to move closer to the subject it gets out of focus and gets blurred. Can you give some tips?
Thanks & Regards
- Rahul Sharma

ANSWER 1:
Rahul,
The approximate definition of macro used to be anything that was 1:4 or greater magnification of subject on *film* which translates to 1/4th life-size. Note that this is on the film, not in an enlarged print made from the film.

Unfortunately, camera manufacturers and lens manufacturers are not following this as much as they did in the past and sometimes refer to what would be better desribed as a "close-up" feature as a "macro" capability with consumer lenses. It's all about marketing and competition. That said, there are a few (not very many) zoom lenses that do have true macro capability.

Is there an extra "close-up" or "macro" ring around the lens that rotates to switch it into "macro" mode? This won't (normally) be the focus or aperture rings. For lenses of this type, they can be frustrating to compose the image with magnification desired and focus it. You may find you can get greater magnification at the 35mm end of the zoom than you can at the 70mm end (because of how the internal focusing works).

What are the dimensions of the subjects you are trying to photograph? From your description, it leads me to believe they are very small. Photographing something that's smaller than about 4x6 inches on 35mm film requires some specialized equipment. There are several methods:

(a) A "true" Macro lens.
These are NOT zoom lenses, but primes and they are expensive. Typical lengths for them are 50mm, 90mm and 135mm. Nearly all are capable of 1:2 magnification (1/2 life-size) without having to add extension tubes or bellows.

(b) Extension tubes.
These fit between a lens and the camera body and are simply a hollow tube that has all the linkages and electrical contacts required by the lens to communicate correctly with the camera body. For extreme magnifications beyond what extension tubes can provide, there are special bellows. I don't recommend using tubes with zoom lenses; they just don't work very well with them. They work best with primes from 50mm to about 135mm although I've used them with a 200mm on a couple of occasions and once used a very, very short tube on an 18mm extreme wide angle lens (it was a for a very special and odd photograph; not anything like a normal macro). Most major camera systems (Canon, Nikon, Olympus, etc.) offer two or three lengths of tubes which can be used singly or stacked.

(c) "Close-up" auxiliary lenses.
These are often and mistakenly called "filters" which they are NOT. They are an additional lens in their own right and screw onto the front of a lens. The inexpensive ones leave a lot to be desired. They have a single element and their optics are not very good. The better ones have two elements, but are more expensive than extension tubes. They usually come in a set of three, each of which has a different "strength" of magnification measured in diopters.

The Bad News:
You may find you cannot do what you want to with the lens you have.

The Good News:
Your Cosina C1s is a K-mount type camera. You can use any K-mount manual focus lens on it, including those made by Pentax for their K-1000 series cameras, and by other manufacturers for Pentax's "K" system. They are plentiful on the used market, relatively inexpensive, and the entire Pentax "K" system was rather extensive.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Dear Rahul:
On the topic of close up lenses, often referred to as diopters, you can take your camera and lens to a camera store and test a set of diopters right there. Try focusing on objects of the size range you plan to photograph. Diopters are often the close up accesssory that a local, consumer-oriented camera store will stock. As John mentions above, an inexpensive set may not satisfy your needs when it comes to producing images of a quality you find acceptable. However, a set of three diopters may be your stepping stone to a great deal of learning and fun.
Extension tubes are frequently a special order. True macro lenses may be in stock at the store, again depending on the type of clientele the store tries to attract.
Proper focus becomes very important at the degree of magnification you seem to want, so regardless of the close up equipment you choose, you will probably be using a tripod regularly.
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 3:
Thanks a lot John and Maynard. You people have spent so much of your precious time to respond to my query; I really appreciate this and feel indebted. I was not finding answers to my questions from anywhere else. I never knew that so much helpful and good people there are in world. Lots of Thanks again.

Lots of Thanks to Jim Miotke also for creating and maintaining such a great website.
- Rahul Sharma

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6152

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6152

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NEW QUESTION 2: Matte or Glossy Paper
I want to print my photographs from my computer on to my ink jet printer but which paper should I use? Matte or glossy and why?
- Lisamarie Busch

ANSWER 1:
Use only your printer manufacturer's paper to begin. There may be some off brand that will work, but you'll burn up a lot of time and money trying to find one. The glossy is best for some subjects, while the matte is best for others. Keep a package of both handy. I use matte for old retouch portraits when I give the customer an inkjet print. I use glossy for family snapshots and some landscapes. For me, the glossy renders fine detail better.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Thank you so much Doug. That was very helpful.
- Lisamarie Busch

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6134

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6134

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NEW QUESTION 3: How to Shoot Through Window
How do I best take photo through window while moving - eg on a train?
- Caroline Greaney

ANSWER 1:
Use a lens hood and put the lenshood against the window to block any reflections or glare. If you cannot get close enough to the window then using a polarizing filter can cut glare.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6131

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6131

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NEW QUESTION 4: Is Digital the Way To Go?
I am planning on starting an independent magazine in my town, and I would like to know what's the best type of camera to use.
- Corwin D. Jackson

ANSWER 1:
This depends on a lot of factors. Are you shooting landscapes, people, real estate, home interiors? I think you have more flexibility shooting film and then scanning your negs.
Depending upon your printer's (the people who will print your publication) resolution needs, a point'n shoot type of digital might not do it. You'd want a high end compact digital like a Canon G3, or a digital SLR. Again, depending upon your subject matter, the distortion at the edges of zoom lenses (point'n shoot or SLR) may be unacceptable. The only real way around this is to shoot conventional prime lenses in 35-mm or larger film, and then scan the negs.

If you have the bucks, there are two digital SLR's out that enable you to use wide angle lenses at their true focal length, because the CMOS or CCD is the same size as the 35-mm film frame. These SLR's cost as much as a good used car, but, being a business, you can get tax advantages to help offset their purchase. See the last 2 or 3 issues of Shutterbug for reviews of the Kodak and Canon EOS 1Ds SLR's.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6129

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6129

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: How to Shoot Nightime Lightning
I live in an area that has amazing lightning around this time of year. I am wondering what the best settings and film type would be to acheave great results? Any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
- Frank E. Gregory

ANSWER 1:
Frank,
First, think about safety. You DON'T want to do this if the electrical storm is anywhere near you. Being struck by lighting could ruin your day, and a camera on a tripod outdoors has some similarities to a short lightning rod.

The general method is nearly identical to that used for aerial fireworks, except it needs one stop more exposure:

1. ISO 64-125 film is recommended (slower film works better).
2. Use a lens appropriate with how far the lightning is and how you want to compose the photograph.
3. Use sturdy tripod and cable release to operate shutter.
4. Focus at "infinity"
5. Exposure for lightning strikes is set with aperture only and is determined by film speed:
ISO 25 - 50 -- f/4
ISO 64 - 125 -- f/5.6
ISO 160 - 200 -- f/8
ISO 320 - 400 -- f/11
6. Aim in general direction of the lightning strikes. Occasionally check and change composition as desired and as storm moves.
7. Set shutter on "B"
8. Open shutter and hold shutter open until you get the number of lightning strikes desired, but no longer than 8 seconds.
9. Wind film and repeat.

There is an enormous element of luck in this. Unlike fireworks where you can hear the sound of a rocket launch and reasonably predict where it will burst in the sky, you cannot predict the next lighting strike, or where it will occur. If you see it and then attempt to open the shutter, it's too late; you've already missed it.

Again, safety in doing this should be your number ONE priority.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Thank you for the great information. I will make sure I am around to enjoy some great pictures.
- Frank E. Gregory

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6128

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6128

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Quickness and Simplicity of Autofocus, Fill Flash
It is getting more difficult to focus with close baby portraits and children on the move with my Nikon FM2. However, I love the simplicity, smallness, and lightness. I am used to shooting manual. I am considering the Nikon N80, for TTL fill flash vs. the Canon EOS system with focus auto tracking. What are your opinions?

Also, when using fill flash that is non-ttl, automatic Sunpack 28 I use the light meter to take a non-flash reading and then open up 2 stops on the flash, e.g. F8 to F4 (can't open up 1 stop on the flash). Or, I keep it at the setting at F8 and use 1/4 power. Is this the best strategy for soft fill flash either outdoors in sunlight or indoors/outdoors with light behind the subject?
- Linda

ANSWER 1:
Linda,
My method for fill outdoors when using a manual camera (Olympus OM-1n) which has an X-sync of 1/60th:
(1) Meter scene somewhere with shutter speed at 1/30th second. Set aperture for that or between that and about half-way toward 1/60th. This is one shutter speed setting longer than the OM's 1/60th X-sync and tightens up the aperture by one to one-half f-stop compared to metering it at 1/60th.
(2) Shift shutter speed to 1/60th. Alternative method is metering at 1/60th and then stopping down by one to one-half f-stop. I've done it both ways.
(3) Ensure flash is turned on and in the Auto mode (uses the sensor built into the flash). Set flash to lens aperture setting. My Sunpak handle mounts and the Metz shoe mounts allow setting power level for "Auto" mode in one f-stop increments over a wide range of lens apertures.
(4) Shoot photograph.

This gets about half the light from ambient and the other half from flash. With your FM2, you should have a little more flexibility with shutter speed. IIRC, its X-sync is 1/125th which would allow you to use that or 1/60th hand held.

I'm not that familiar with the Sunpak 28. Sounds like it's an older unit. My Sunpak's are the 544 and 555 "potato masher" flash handles. The Metz units are the 40 MZ-2 and 40 MZ-3i shoe mounts (very similar to each other), but I have a bracket and handles for them. I also have softboxes for the Sunpaks and bounce cards for the Metz's to soften and diffuse the light.

You might think about buying a more capable flash unit if yours doesn't allow setting power level for its "Auto" mode in single f-stop increments . . . or if it doesn't allow a wide range of them (about five minimum). This could prove to be much less expensive than an entirely new camera system.

Regarding fast moving kids:
Watch their behaviors, what triggers them when they're playing, etc. I think you'll find there is a fair amount of repetition. Then set up the situation to trigger what you want where you want it, or simply wait for it to occur and be prepared in advance as it unfolds. Patience is key and you won't get everything (even with an AF program mode camera).

Hope that helps.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Oops . . . garbled (1) above:
(1) Meter subject/scene with shutter speed at 1/30th second. Set aperture for that or somwhere between that and about half-way toward 1/60th. This is one shutter speed setting longer than the OM's 1/60th X-sync. It tightens up the aperture by somewhere between a half and a full f-stop compared to metering it at 1/60th.

Hope that's a bit more understandable.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
John,

Thanks for your response. I checked and have a Sunpack 383. I auto mode it only gives me 3 f-stops, e.g. 400ASA, 4, 8 and 16. If I am understanding you correctly, I meter for a scene using 30 for the shutter speed. So let's say it comes to F8. I close down to F11 and change the shutter speed to 60. On the flash unit I use F8 and shoot.

The advantage doing is that I can work in 1 stop increments. As mentioned, I have experimented with shooting the scene usng 60 getting F8 and then opening up to F4. Alternatively, I will stay at F8 both on lens and flash and use only 1/4 power. With using this last way, it may work more like 1 stop.

I like your system and will do a test roll.

If I do invest in another flash unit for my FM2 which do you recommend?

Thanks.
- Linda

ANSWER 4:
Linda,
Hmmmm . . . guess I did garble it some, and your Sunpak 383 complicates things a bit.

I have a 383 although it hasn't been used in quite a while. It's a reliable, fairly powerful, basic shoe-mount auto flash, and their price makes them a very good value. Also can swivel and tilt which most others in is price range cannot do. Even if you get another one, don't get rid of it. Keep it as a backup. It's why I still have mine.

The one drawback of the 383 is its auto mode settings. There are only three, they are two stops apart, and the three f-stops you can use depend on film speed. For the ISO 400 film you mentioned, it can be set for f/4, f/8 or f/16.

This complicates things a little in trying to use the method I tried to outline before.

With ISO 400 film:
(a) Adjust shutter speed using 1/60th or 1/125th for a lens aperture of f/2.8, f/5.6 or f/11. Do this as if you were going to shoot it without flash. If you cannot get one of these apertures using 1/60th, then use 1/125th. Don't use a shutter speed faster than that or your FM2 will not X-Sync properly. If it's a very bright scene such as direct sunlight, you may not be able to do this with ISO 400 film.
(b) Stop down by one f-stop. Your lens aperture should now be set to one of the options you have on the 383.
(c) Set flash in auto mode and select the same f-stop setting on the flash as on the camera lens.

What you are doing:
You are setting an exposure that would be one f-stop underexposed if you shot it without a flash. By setting the lens to an aperture that matches one of the three you can set on the flash, and then adjusting the flash to that same aperture, it will put out enough light to properly expose the photograph.

You may find ISO 400 film too fast during the day outdoors, unless it's very overcast and you're in deeper shade. If you find you cannot get the shutter speed down slow enough to allow an aperture setting you can use on the flash, try ISO 200 film.

This method produces a 1:1 fill ratio. Half the light for the exposure is ambient and the other half is from the flash. It's about the maximum ratio you can provide from a flash before it becomes obvious you used one.

I use this method quite a bit with ISO 160 professional portrait film and a flash that has a lot more auto settings on it than the 383 does. I still have trouble in direct sunlight because I cannot stop the lens down far enough to get an X-sync shutter speed. Because of this I put people into shady areas with lower light levels when doing it. The ambient light in shade is also diffused which eliminates harshness.

Flash recommendations:
These will be a bit more expensive than your Sunpak, but you should be able to find them in excellent condition used with a little patience:

Shoe mount:
Metz 40 MZ-2
Metz 40 MZ-3i
For the FM2, you only need the generic SCA-301 foot and these Metz units should come with one. Used price should be about $200 (presuming it includes the SCA-301 foot). The MZ-2 and MZ-3i are nearly identical with some minor changes in the switches on the back. The 40 MZ-2 is the better value as it a slightly older model and sells for a little less. Metz is a German company and the name is well known among pro photographers. They are very well built, pro grade units.

Handle mount:
Sunpak 544
Sunpak 555
For your FM2, the 544 would be the better choice, and would be a little less expensive. It is more flexible with film speed and auto mode settings. Flash hooks up to camera using a short cord that plugs into the PC flash socket on your camera, and it should come with this cord. The cord will look like a longer, coiled and heavier duty version of the one that came with your 383. You can also use a hot shoe adapter with a PC socket on it if you wish.
The 555 has about the same power level, looks almost identical, but is really made to work with TTL flash control which the FM2 cannot do. It's great with a camera that supports TTL control, but it doesn't have quite the flexibility in Auto mode. I have a 544 and a 555; IIRC they were about $150 or so used.

I'd like to be able to suggest one of the older Nikon Speedlights for your FM2 and found the specs for them (SB-10, SB-15 and SB-16B). Unfortunately, all offer only two f-stop settings in Auto mode giving you less flexibility than your 383 has. Otherwise, the SB-16B is a fine flash unit.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
Just occurred to me . . .

Do you have an FM2 or an FM2n?

Look at your shutter speed dial. The FM2 has a red "125" in the middle of the other shutter speeds, and a red "X 200" at the end of the shutter speed range. The later FM2n has a red "250" in the middle of the other shutter speeds, and there is no additional red number at the end of the shutter speed range.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 6:
John,

I guess I have an FM2n although it says FM2 on the camera, which I always thought I have. But, according do your questions the red "250" is in red. I guess this will play a role in sync speed?

Also, according to your suggestion why is the only advantage of doing it the way you suggested to have a 1 stop vs. 2 stops decrease of light? Why is not the way I mentioned practical, outside of the problem with the two stops. All the literature I have read says to open up not to stop down on the flash. I am just curious. I have done tests and it seems to be fine but I would prefer your expertise. Also, why is not just using 1/4 flash power practical? Again, just interested from a technical point of view.

As far as the flash, I need to understand the shoe and handle mount. I was hoping to get a flash that would fit into the shoe of my camera and also use off the camera with the stobofrom bracket I have. I try to keep things simple. However, I will research what you mentioned. What about the Vivitar flashes? But, not when I think of it I think it also is limited in the Fstops like the Sunpak 383.

Also, I rented a Nikon N90s and set it on auto for fill flash with aperture priority and it seemed to work pretty good. I know the N80 has a pop up flash and I was thinking trying it out with the babies/children portraiture. Do you think that would solve some of my problems. As time goes on I find it difficult to focus with my macro 90 lens with extreme close up portraits. There are some that are too out of focus, even a tiny bit, for my liking. this is why I was thinking of the N80 autofocus, which I can use manual and purchasing a 28-105 macro zoom, 1.4 or close for the aperture. Perhaps in Tokina or maybe Nikon if I can afford it. Any thoughts? I may try to keep using the Nikon FM2 (n) but I will have to see how my focusing goes. I use progressive lenses which I had problems with due to the narrow ranges of optics for each of three distances. So, then it was suggested to have just distance levels when photographing. It has been quite an ordeal. I photograph exclusively fine art, natural shots of pregancy, babies, children, families. If you have the inclination you can view my website, www.focuspocusphoto.com and see some of my work.

You have been terrific. I am a self-taught photographer and always learning.
- Linda

ANSWER 7:
To address the last thing first . . .
I'm into the Presbyopia age bracket. Won't tell you long I've been there though. :-) It's a PITA getting a waiter to hold the menu across the restaurant so I can read it. Had one pair of progressives made and that was the last set. Drove me crazy hunting for the "sweet spot" all the time.

I assume from your posting that your glasses have some correction for far distance, and not just for mid and reading distances. If you do NOT have astigmatism, or if it's very slight, one of the best things you can do is put a dioptric correction lens into the viewfinder and get rid of your glasses when using the camera. I did this a number of years ago and it was the best thing I ever did to improve focusing speed and accuracy. The difference was quite dramatic. Couldn't see the entire viewfinder image with them and couldn't focus accurately without them. Lived with this misery for many years and now I don't know why I put up with it for so long when the fix was so inexpensive! Unfortunately, if you have significant astigmatism, a dioptric correction lens on the viewfinder won't help. Astigmatism is oriented in a particular direction and cannot be corrected for both orientations of the camera.

Your eye focuses on the image on the focusing screen. The viewfinder optics effectively place this image as if it's several feet in front of the camera. Because of this, viewfinder correction should be based on far distance vision, not reading or mid-distance correciton.

The best method to set up your camera with correction is to go to a camera dealer that has the Nikon dioptric viewfinder correction lenses for the FM2 and find the correction strength that works best for you (same style fits FE2 and FA also). The marked strength may not be exactly the same as your distance prescription due to interaction with the viewfinder optics. Nikon still makes them and suggested list price is just over $20. It screws into the threads on your viewfinder. Then consider adding a eyecup if you haven't done that already (DK-3); list price on them is $12. Didn't improve focus, but it's another Good Thing I did some time ago!

More on fill in a little bit.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 8:
Major T-storms tonight . . . shut down for a while to protect computer from surges. What a fireworks display we've had this year!

About Fill:
Perhaps I should have first asked why you're using fill.

If it's to bring a shaded subject up to the brightness level of a directly sunlit background, the technique is different from what you've been doing, from what I've described, and a little more involved. Because of the setup time required to do this, I use find acceptable backgrounds outdoors that are equally shaded as the subject (e.g. north side of building, thick stand of trees, tall hedge, etc.) and avoid trying to fill to match a bright background if at all possible. It takes too long to set up and I usually don't have the time to do it (wedding stuff). In addition, the brightness level difference between subject and background is too high to make the effect subtle (usually 3-4 stops). It almost always results in a photograph that shows obvious use of flash.

I use the method I described to add catchlights to the eyes and let the shaded background fall a little lower in brightness compared to the subjects by about a half stop or so (due to farther distance from flash). With a diffuser to cut the harshness (large bounce card on the Metz), the effect is relatively subtle. This is the effect, or something similar, I presume you are trying to achieve.

Metering and setting exposure on the camera as without flash, then setting flash at two stops wider without changing camera settings:
This sets a proper exposure as if there were no flash, and then adds some light with the flash. You will get a slight overexposure, but I believe it will result in variability with the results. Electronic flash output is varied by changing the duration of the flash, not by changing brightness of the Xenon tube. Its brightness when it fires is always the same. As a result, there is a minimum flash duration. You are demanding so little light from the flash that it's very likely up against the minimum duration most (if not all) of the time, and that's why I'm thinking you will get varied results.

Metering and setting exposure on the camera as without flash, then setting flash at same aperture and power level switch to 1/4th:
This will result in much greater overexposure than the other method you've been trying and I belive it's enough to be noticeable. The power level switch has no effect on flash power when the 383 is in Auto mode! Doesn't matter what position the switch is in, it's as if it's set to the "full" position. It's why there's an "A" printed above the "full" position on the switch. The power level switch is only for Manual mode, and only affects flash output when the 383 is in Manual mode.

Handle Mount Flash:
You've undoubtedly seen a "handle mount." They're also called a "potato masher" due to their shape. The flash is permanently attached atop a handle. The handle attaches to a base plate that bolts onto the bottom of the camera using its tripod screw socket.

The handle ends up on the right or left side of the camera depending on how you mount it. Think press photographer from about 25 years ago. It's also how the larger flashbulb units attached to cameras.

Hot shoe mounted flashes can only have so much power. If you really need mondo flash, the only ones that can deliver it are the potato mashers. The 544 has a GN of 140, the 555 has a GN of 150, and they're mild. The Metz 60 CT-4 and Sunpak 622 Super Pro with standard head deliver a whopping 200 GN; almost enough to light up a block party. None of them have a zoom head. These are the GN's for 35mm wide angle lens coverage. Most flash brackets have an optional mounting scheme that allows puting a handle flash onto the top of the bracket (without the base plate for the camera base). They tend to end up being mounted rather high and many feel they make the bracket top heavy.

Shoe Mount:
Your 383 is a "shoe mount" flash and it's what most people own. Do you have a "flip flash" stroboframe, or the "camera rotator" style? Either way, since you're using a camera bracket I recommend you think about one of the two Metz units. Because of their profile, you might have to adjust a "flip flash" style bracket slightly compared to how it would be set up with the slightly higher profile Sunpak 383.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 9:
More on the Metz flash units:

There are other reasons I'm thinking one of the two Metz units (40 MZ-2 or 40 MZ-3i) might serve you better than a handle flash and would greatly increase your flexibility using a flash in Auto mode. Both of the the Metz units have an enormous range of settings in Auto mode. IIRC, the aperture settings span f/1 through f/45 in one-stop increments. Unlike every other flash I've used, this doesn't shift with film speed setting. Both also have tilt/swivel zoom heads, *and* a secondary low power flash tube under the main one that does not tilt/swivel. The secondary can be turned on or off as needed. This allows using the main head for bounce and still getting catchlights and eliminating shadows in the eyes using the secondary. All the significant settings are displayed on an LCD panel on the back, and settings are made using pushbuttons just under the panel. I can very rapidly change settings on the Metz units. For use on a bracket there are several methods for mounting cabling them to the camera.

The easiest is using the Metz SCA-307A remote cable. One end replaces the removable foot on the bottom of the flash and has a standard size foot of its own (without any trigger contacts). The SCA-301 foot is attached to the other end and slides into the hot shoe onto your camera. The cord is coiled and fairly heavy duty.

The SCA-301 foot also has a sub-mini phone jack on the side, similar to the one on your 383. A cable similar to the one that came with your 383 plugs into the foot and has a PC plug on the other end to connect to the PC socket on the camera. When the cord is plugged into the SCA-301 foot, the flash contacts on the foot are disconnected so they don't short out if it's mounted in a solid metal shoe (such as the one you have on your Stroboframe).

There's one more method that isn't documented much, even in Metz's literature that uses an SCA-300E foot and an SCA-300A cable. A little more expensive because of the foot and cable, it ends up being very similar to using the SCA-307A remote cord, which is likely why it isn't documented in Metz's literature. Had to figure this one out on my own after becoming familiar with the Metz system of SCA modules, cords and flash feet.

If you ever decide to switch to an AF Nikon, or some other brand, you can create a "dedicated" TTL controlled flash out of either one for whatever camera you purchase. Metz makes an enormous number of SCA-300, SCA-3000 and SCA-3002 series modules that cover nearly every make and model of 35mm SLR manufactured within the past 20+ years.

I use the Sunpak 544 on a Custom Brackets flash bracket with a medium format Mamiya M645, and a Sunpak 120J TTL on another rotating bracket with the 35mm OM bodies indoors. However, for outdoor events I put the Metz units on the brackets. Their flexibility and very wide range of settings enable coping with the very wide range of ambient light encountered outdoors.

You may have to be a little patient in finding one of the Metz flashes. They're not rare, but it took a couple months of checking B&H and KEH used stock periodically to find the second one so I could have one for each camera bracket.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 10:
John,

Thanks again for your prompt response. Yes, the fireworks were exceptional tonight. Where do you live?

In regards to the diopter. I went this route already and it doesn't work for my vision. I am inbetween two of them. My progressive lenses work fine, I have had them for years and adjusted to them. They have prescriptions for reading, mid and far. For the reason you mentioned, as far as finding the 'sweet spot', the optometrist made me a pair of distance glasses just for photographing. It works fine. It is just that the detail I need to focus on, reflections in eyes using a 90 macro lense, super close portrait, is diffcult for me to focus. This is the reason I am thinking of the Nikon 80 with autofocusing. I miss having my eye into the viewfinder. I loved that but needed to adjust. I have tried everything else short of an autofocus. As mentioned I will see how the last few rolls of film did. I cannot use an eye cup with the glasses. I thought I couldn't use an eye cup with the diopter either as I recalled as I used to use the diopter until my vision worsened.

I need to research the flash situation as all of what you mentioned is new to me. I didn't know about the 1/4 output nor that the flash is controlled by duration only. Why are there f stops on it then it that doesn't make a difference? And, is the only advantage to your method the fact that I will have a slight (1stop) increase of brightness? Yes, I do not want to light situations. I have used it for when it is dark (subject and and background) but also want to use it for when sunlight is shining on someone's face to prevent dark shadows. However, I do not have time to make many adjustments as when I do my professional shoots I need to be fast, fast, fast. I need to set up a system so I could just put the flash on the camera or bracket, set the shutter, f stops on camera and flash and shoot away. My experience when using 60 on the shutter is that the background is too dark for my liking. I like the scene to look as I see it. Perhaps using a longer shutter would be better. And, perhaps using your method with my Sunpak would work fine except that I ultimately change the shutter from 30 to 60.

And, yes I have the flip-flip strobofrome I can shift it for vertical shots. However, I have done test where it doesn't make a difference whether I use it or not, so for simplification on the camera seems to be best. Red-eye, from my reading, should not occur as it is still high enough above the lense. And, for using the flash outdoors or indoors in not formal, lighting situations I think the flash on the camera would be fine. What are your thoughts. However, I will look into the Metz thing. Again, do you think getting the TTL flash for the Nikon 80 solve my problems, with autofocusing, etc.? I know ultimately I need to test it out and will see. Being in NYC I will go to B&H. If need by I can return it within 2 weeks for a full refund.

Thanks again
- Linda

ANSWER 11:
Linda,
Central Indiana, north of Indianapolis. About seven inches of rain in as many hours. Major flooding . . . worst I've ever seen here. The local man-made show ended just in time. It was eclipsed by a much more spectacular one provided by Mother Nature throughout the night.

The switches on the back of the 383:

Mode Switch:
This one has a manual plus three different auto settings. In the manual position, the flash puts out the amount of light determined by the power level switch. In the three auto positions, it sets the sensitivity of the auto sensor on the front of the flash, not the flash power level. In all three auto mode positions, the position of the power level switch is disregarded and has no effect.

Power Level:
Allows setting flash output level when flash is used in Manual mode and has no effect on flash output if the mode switch is in one of the three Auto settings. It also moves the distance scale across the lower window, but it does not change the position of the lens apertures in the upper one. If the flash is in one of the three Auto modes, the only relevant position for this switch is in the "full/A" position . . . the distance scale in the lower window will show the correct flash range (minimum and maximum distance) for an auto setting only if it's in the "full/A" position.

Film Speed:
This is not really an electrical switch. All it does is move the lens apertures back and forth across the upper window to show what aperture to use for a particular auto mode setting and film speed . . . or in manual mode to show what aperture to use based on film speed, power level setting and focus/subject distance.

I'll get to the rest of your questions tommorrow . . . getting late and need to put a dent in a pillow for a while. :-)
- John A. Lind

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NEW QUESTION 7: The Advantage of a 50mm Lens
Please excuse this question from a very rank amateur who still has lots to learn. I keep reading about the benefits of a 50mm lens and wonder what the difference is between a 50mm lens and a lens say 28-80mm that has a 50mm lens mark on it. Do I need a separate 50mm lens and what are the main advantages?
Thanks people
- Faye Bishop

ANSWER 1:
Faye,

First, the definition of lens speed:
This is how much light the lens admits to the film. Film exposure is controlled by two things, lens aperture opening and shutter speed. A "fast" lens can open up its aperture wider to admit more light than a "slow" lens can. Among other things, fast lenses allow shooting in lower light levels, they're easier to accurately focus manually, and the viewfinder image is much brighter.

The 50mm "standard" lens is what used to be bundled with 35mm SLR camera bodies. At the least, it is among the fastest lenses in the entire system, if not the fastest, and is typically among the best in optical performance. For 35mm small format cameras, the 50mm lens also approximates the perspective of the human eye and produces photogaphs that have a natural looking perspective.

Yes, the 28-80mm zooms bundled with today's consumer SLR's include the 50mm focal length, and it's marked on all the ones I've seen, but they are slow and among the poorest optical performers within the system's lens offerings. They're usually the least expensive too. This includes Canon's, Minolta's, Nikon's and Pentax's systems. Optical performance is so poor that it shows in 4x6 prints. It's not only lack of resolution (ability to capture minute detail), it's also aberrations such as pincushion and barrel distortion that make straight lines in real life into curved ones if they're near the edge of a photograph. They also lack durability. I'm completely underwhelmed by both their optical and build quality.

IMHO the lens is the most important part of the camera. It's the only thing between subject and film when taking the picture. Spending more money for a lens than a camera body doesn't phase most professionals. They want the best optical performance possible. It won't create great photographs. The photographer does that. However, poor optics can detract greatly from what could have been a great photograph.

There's not much that can be done in general photography with a 28-80 zoom that cannot be done with a 50mm prime by using a little shoe leather to compose the photograph. There are occasions when a zoom lens is convenient, but for those of us who cut our teeth using nothing but a 50mm prime, they're not that often, and it forced us to think about what we were photographing and why while composing the image with it. For that reason, all four of my 35mm SLR camera bodies has a 50mm lens mounted on it instead of a body cap. It's my most used focal length. In the event it cannot be changed quickly enough for a longer or shorter lens I might prefer to use in making the perfect photograph of a fleeting moment, I know that odds are very high something very good can be done using it.

That's my "rather low opinion" about the 28-80mm zoom lenses bundled with consumer SLR's.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 2:
I fully agree with John. It's the best statement on the 50 I've ever read. My 50 is going on vacation with me, for sure.
- Doug Nelson

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ANSWER 3:
Dear Faye:
If you were born in Missouri (the Show-me state), or tend towards wanting to see the difference, you can test a 50 and a 28-80 yourself.
Shoot a roll of someone's face using both lenses, use the largest, smallest and several intermediate f/stops, document the lens and f/stop used for each frame (and the focal length if you choose to vary it on the zoom), and inspect the negatives using a strong lupe. You could even borrow a darkroom, place the negatives in the enlarger, and use a grain magnifying focus aid to inspect the negatives. (I suggested a face as a subject so that you could examine the eyes with the loupe or focus aid. Can you clearly distinguish individual eyelashes/freckles/eyebrow hairs?) By the way, you could use slide film instead of negative film.
Such a test might help you decide whether you want one or both of the lenses.
I once borrowed a 28-80 to test it, and found as I attempted (yes, attempted) to focus the negatives in the enlarger that the lens would work quite well as a paperweight. One 28-80 cannot speak for the rest, however.
Just to toss a red hankie in front of the bull, though, you might want to borrow, if not own, a lens of lower quality sometime. Say your assignment calls for images with a "retro", shot-it-with-my-instamatic look. Well then, a ratty aftermarket 28-80 may put you a step closer to creating the images your editor wants.
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 4:
Thank you all for your comprehensive replies. Now I feel sick. And disillusioned by that fact that perhaps I have been 'duped' by a so called respectable camera dealer. These lens' including my zoom were purchased on their advice. I knew that the lens was the most important part of the package and they reassured me that they were a good quality. I suppose for the price they were. So taking your advice now I will go and purchase a 50mm lens for my Canon EOS. But will the lens I have already surfice until I have more money and be enough to at least learn the techniques? And which 50mm lens should I consider for my particulare camera. I'm almost scared to hear more on the subject.
- Faye Bishop

ANSWER 5:
Faye,
To a very large extent, you get pretty much what you pay for in a lens compared to other lenses at/near the same focal length or zoom range. Several of the reasons for the very high prices on pro grade lenses:
(a) Durability . . . they're made to take what gets dished out to them in pro use, which can be a little abusive at times . . . depends on the user. Regardless, a pro can easily run more film through a camera in a week than even a very active non-pro burns in a year. That's a lot of use.
(b) Faster lenses . . . pros demand faster lenses for a variety of reasons. This means bigger glass, more complex formulation of the optics to make aberration corrections for a faster lens design, and there's more R&D poured into their design.
(c) Manufacturing volume . . . not nearly as large, sometimes only a few percent of that for consumer lenses, and many are made by periodic production runs rather than continuous manufacturing. The cost of the tooling and setup/teardown for production runs must be spread out over the much lower quantity of lenses made.

Some examples in the EOS system:
B&H in NYC lists the EOS 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 at $90. There are other, similar speed zooms with slightly different ranges, but they're all under $100. The pro grade 28-70mm f/2.8 USM lists for $990; likely more than you ever want to spend on a lens. OTOH, the 50mm f/1.4 USM lists for a more affordable $295 (preferable to the $65 50/1.8). Yes, a reputable camera dealer will have knowledgeable employees. However, their first job is to sell you something. If they feel like you might not buy the goods if they hit you with "sticker shock" they'll drop down in price point what they show you.

What you have will suffice as you learn and grow with your photography. While we've been pretty gloomy about how well the typical consumer 28-80 performs (for Maynard's benefit I almost made my own "doorstop" remark), you can still use it, and it should be at least a little better than the zoom lens on an inexpensive P&S. Recognize there are lenses with much better optical performance and that's the point of view from which Maynard and I have posted. The zoom's slow speed may limit how slow a film you can use under lower lighting conditions outdoors (e.g. around dusk or dawn), and you may encounter a few problems with the AF system functioning in very low light (e.g., a wedding reception after the lights are turned down for the dancing). If you photograph much architecture, you may find some pincushion or barrel distortion with straight lines near the edges.

Is it usable? Yes, although you may find some limitations if you use it in lower light levels. Save your $$$ and start building a system of better lenses. If budget is a severe limitation, you can consider buying used equipment . . . but if you do, do it with caution and have someone that **really** knows how to inspect camera gear with you. One of the dealers I've bought used equipment from without any reservation is KEH Camera Brokers in Atlanta, GA, by phone and by ordering over the internet (www.keh.com). Their inspection of equipment is rigorous, they have high grading standards, ship promptly, and their business reputation is impeccable. For all the $$$$$ in gear I've bought from them, there was one problem with an inexpensive accessory that would have been difficult to detect with inspection, and they sent me the wrong item one other time. No business is 100% perfect, but their customer service corrected things very quickly . . . and that counts heavily too. In short, they've got their act together. If you buy something from them, look toward the EX and EX+ equipment. You can get it for about 1/2 to 3/4 the new price depending on what it is and the demand for it. I've gotten a couple EX+ items from them that made me wonder if it was ever used; it looked brand new.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 6:
Just one more thing, the definition of a fast or slow lens. I presume from what you are saying that a 'fast' lens is one that will allow me to open it up to something like f2.8 or more? Is this assumption correct? And what makes a lens 'fast' or 'slow'? I apologise if these questions are basic but at my age it takes longer for things to sink in. Oh, and finally, I read books, take courses on photography, (not enough obviously) and 'make' lots of photos, recording my settings. Which is more important? Reading? Courses? 'Making' pictures? Or a combination of all three?

I really appreciate all your help here and can not thank you enough.
- Faye Bishop

ANSWER 7:
Yes, a fast lens opens up to a wider aperture. A "slow" lens cannot open up as far. I believe the terminology relates to exposure time (shutter speed). A "fast" lens opened up allows using a faster shutter speed to make the same exposure. This dates back to the late 1800's when film emulsions were exceedingly slow and exposures were often measured in tens of seconds. You might imagine then, a lens that opened up by even a single f-stop wider would easily be perceived as a "faster" lens if it cut the exposure time in half from 20 to 10 seconds!

"Fast" and "slow" are relative terms, and whether a particular lens falls one way or the other depends on its focal length. For a 50mm prime lens, "fast" is typically f/1.4, with "slow" being f/2.8, and f/2 (close enough to f/1.8 or f/1.9) falling in the middle. However, for a 35-105 zoom lens, f/5.6 would be considered "slow" and an f/2.8 would be considered "very fast." Indeed, it's as fast as they get, and they are quite expensive. For prime lenses shorter and longer than 50mm, f/2 is considered fast and f/4 considered slow until about 200mm telephotos. At about 180mm and longer, f/2.8 becomes the "fast" and "very fast" standard. Similarly, extremely short lenses (21mm and shorter), f/2.8 becomes the definition of "fast." Confusing? Get a catalog, or go on line to a site such as B&H Photo Video in NYC (www.bhphotovideo.com) and look at the entire lens line for Nikon or Canon. You'll get a feel for what's fast and slow for zooms and primes in various focal lengths.

BTW, "fast" and "slow" also shift around with film format. In medium format which uses 120 and 220 spooled roll film, f/2.8 is considered pretty fast, and the front lens objectives on them are fairly large hunks of glass.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 8:
Thank you for all your help John, I don't feel so bad now. I live in Australia so if your know of any 'reputable' dealers I can trust here it would be appreciated. Other than that I don't think I want to know any more about lenses. I have learned more from this web site than many books. Probably more than I wanted to. Thanks again for all your time.
- Faye Bishop

ANSWER 9:
For the other part of your question:

I've never done much in terms of formal coursework. I have spent a *lot* of time reading, and made thousands of photographs. Early on I recorded what I did, and still do that if performing an experiment to determine performance of something or what its limits are. If courses work for you, that's good. Probably the greatest gain for me was making photographs and either taking notes or remembering what I did, evaluating them afterward, and then doing reading on specific topics to sort out anything I didn't fully understand during the evaluation.

Keep evalutating every photograph you take, even if it's only to think about how its artistic aspects might have been done differently, or how something completely different about the subject material might have been explored. There's something to be learned from every one.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 10:
Dear Faye:
I apologize if my comments caused a viceral response. Consider that hundreds of SLRs are sold yearly with similar zooms to people who are tickled with the vacation, family and special occasion photos they get, photos of a quality level that is new and amazing to them. Moving into 35mm SLR photography, to any extent, opens up a world of quality (and potentially, creativity) that was once the realm of specialists and serious hobbyists. Welcome!
Plateaus of quality exist in the equipment, but I hope you consider beginning where you are, with the equipment you have, and let yourself enjoy the process of creating images. I suspect you may still be amazed with some of the images you produce initially, even those that happen more accidentally!
I also suspect your camera vendor made some lens suggestions in good faith, based on information you shared about your interests and experience.
I'd add one more component to your learning strategy (the "reading, courses and making pictures" part of your later response): Dialogue. Talk about photos and photography 'till your blue in the face, find other kooks who talk about it as much or more, and evaluate each others' photos. Start an album of your successful images, and include the exposure data, compositional strategy, and a discussion of what you planned to do, what you got, and what makes the image "work." You can even start an album of "flops", pictures that didn't work. Document the images the same way, except that you explain what makes it a flop. You may find that more deliberate, systematic evaluation makes you a more deliberate, systematic photographer, which is alright sometimes.
You should allow room in this hobby for goofiness, too, like a photographic essay of all your friends' bare feet. You can set up your home as a gallery, send out invitations, and serve hors d'oeuvres as your guests rave about the deeper significance of hangnails, hammertoes, etc.
A camera can be a toy for adults: Play! Toss the doubts, second guesses and regrets to the wind...
(Why yes, my book of inspirational sayings IS coming out soon...)
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 11:
Thank you John and Maynard

After all this I am much less depressed. Now if you will all excuse me I have some photos to make, some books to read and some invitations to send out and some albums to make up. I guess you have all confirmed for me - to some extent - what I already knew (except for the part about 50mm fast lens). Again my thanks. Hopefully we will talk again.
- Faye Bishop

ANSWER 12:
If money matters a lot, get the current version of the Canon 1.8 50mm. The earlier metal bodied one also has a good reputation. Canon's 1.4 50mm has, for 30 years, been so good that it is a benchmark for lens designers. There's no reason to think that the EOS version is in any way inferior to the classic FD 1.4's. It is probably even better. Try KEH.com. Their "Bargain" lenses have only cosmetic wear, and are fully operational and optically fine. Your zoom is not junk. Use it for grab shots. Also, people sitting for a portrait may not want every skin pore in sharp focus.
- Doug Nelson

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NEW QUESTION 8: Push Photography
When pushing a 50 speed film 1 stop will the grain quality still develop clearer than shooting 100 speed at the correct ISO?
- Jimmy Flaherty

ANSWER 1:
Depends on what film you're talking about.
- Jeff S. Kennedy

ANSWER 2:
Let's say Fuji Velvia pushed 1 stop vs. Fuji Provia shot normal.
- Jimmy Flaherty

ANSWER 3:
If grain is you only consideration then in that instance I would shoot the Provia. It's going to have a better grain structure vs Velvia no matter what you do. The reasons for pushing film go beyond just gaining an extra stop or two. In the old day when I shot a lot of Velvia I would push it usually to boost saturation and contrast. I would do this when I was shooting under low contrast light.
- Jeff S. Kennedy

ANSWER 4:
Great, thanks for the info jeff. i'll have to give it a try sometime.
- Jimmy Flaherty

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NEW QUESTION 9: Wedding & Portrait films
Is there a quality difference in the following film types:

These are offered in Portra NC & the price difference is substantial. This film would be used for weddings & portraits.
IMPORTED Film made outside the USA and imported for us. This may also be referred to as "GREY".
USAW Film manufactured in the USA for Worldwide distribution.
USA Film manufactured in the USA for domestic distribution.
- Kathy Lewis

ANSWER 1:
Kathy,
Sorta looks like you copied and pasted this from B&H's web site . . .
:-)

If you talk to Kodak about the Imported and USAW film, they will ply you with the "FUD Factor" . . . a strategy created by IBM, and still used by IBM to dissuade customers from buying someone else's computers. What does "FUD" mean? Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

Kodak will attempt to strike fear into your heart by telling you there is complete uncertainty surrounding how the film was handled as it was done *outside* their official distribution channels, leaving you with doubt about whether or not it's still good stuff.

I buy the "grey" stuff from B&H, and if that's not available, the "USAW" stuff. I've NEVER had any problem with it. Just looked at two of the Portra 160NC boxes in my refrigerator. Both were "grey" orders. The box of 220 states it was made in the U.S. and packaged in England. The 35mm 5-roll "stick" states it was both made and packaged in England.

The USAW and USA is pretty much as B&H states. AFIK the difference is the USAW is made in the U.S., packaged for export, and was wholesaled to B&H outside Kodak's domestic distribution channels, but unlike the Imported made in the U.S., sent out and brought back, it never left the U.S.

I originally gave all this some thought about a number of years ago. If I order film from B&H and it gets shipped to me in Indiana via UPS, it gets subjected to unrefrigerated conditions for several days. Depending on weather and season, what it is subjected to varies. However, it's not that long, I refrigerate it as soon as it arrives, and again, I've never experienced any problem with "bad" film. Someone who is concerned with extremely critical color accuracy and/or consistency across many rolls might think differently. However, in my experience with wedding work, which has moderately high color accuracy/consisetncy requirements (but not extreme) the lab used to print the negatives has overwhelming influence over outcome compared to things such as film lot numbers. It's for that reason I'm not concerned with it. If there is a problem sometime in the future that is attributable to the film, I will become concerned with it. In the meantime, I'm going to continue to save $$$ with the Imported and USAW pricing.
- John A. Lind

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NEW QUESTION 10: Differences in Lens
For a while now I have been visiting your site and found it very interesting and helpful but there is one topic that I haven't come across yet and would appreciate a little advice. I am an amature photographer and I'm looking for a new lens. Right now I have a Canon Eos Rebel Ti with a 28-90mm II USM lens. I am looking to pursue nature photography and would like to get a lens of at least 100-300mm. The problem I am having is selecting the brand and also the features of the lens. Right now I am looking to get the Canon EF 100-400mm
f/4.5-5.6L IS USM but find it a bit too pricey. Is there a cheaper alternative or should I go with the best from the start. Thanks in advance!
- Ryan C. Lee Chow

ANSWER 1:
If you're most interested in the 300mm to 400mm, the EF 400 f/5.6L USM (not IS) and EF 300 f/4L IS USM are $200-300 less than the 100-400 IS and just as good.

Another option would be the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 EX HSM with their matched 2x APO teleconverter. This would be pretty good and even more flexible than the 100-400 (though w/o IS) for under $900. (I personally went with the EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM and Canon TCs, but that's as expensive as the 100-400 IS)

There are lots of options for less, what price level would be good for you?
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Thanks alot for the information Jon, I will seriously consider the Sigma lens you referred to. The price range I am willing to work with is between 200-500 US. Thanks again for your advice!
- Ryan C. Lee Chow

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NEW QUESTION 11: What Is"x" Zoom
Hi there,
Could any one tell me what does it mean 3x optical zoom 20x optical zoom, 5x digital zoom etc...

Ok, if I am not wrong optical zoom is set by changing the distances of the lenses in any objectives. But what is the digital 3x or 5x zoom what does it measure? For example, I have 28-80mm objective of my Nikon f55, so now 80 minus 28 is 52, so does it mean that it is 52x or what? What does the term "x" define?
- algan

ANSWER 1:
"x" refers to the ratio or multiple of the zoom range. A 70-210 zoom is a 3x zoom (210/70 = 3). A 28-80 zoom is also approximately 3x (80/28 = 2.86). This ratio of focal lengths is also called the "optical zoom" because it is acheived directly with the lenses. It is also roughly equal to a magnification factor as objects view through 210mm lens appear about 3x larger than with 70mm lens.

A digital zoom achieves the additional magnification electronically by enlarging just the central portion of the image sensor. A 10x digital zoom simply enlarges the central 10% of the image sensor. There is some loss of resolution since the "zoomed" image has only 10% as much information as the full sensor image.
- Jon Close

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Lens Quality - Which Should I Buy?
I am looking at buying a telephoto lens. The two I am most intersted in are a 70-200mm f/2.8 or an 70-200mm f/4. I am curious as to what the difference is between the f/2.8 and f/4. I have been told it has to do with aperture openings. Is there anything else? Also a few tips on what exactly to look for when buying an excellent quality lens. Thanks
- Paula J. Hoyal

ANSWER 1:
Without knowing the specific models you are comparing (and assuming f/4 is available at all zoom settings rather than a f/4-5.6 lens), the differences between a f/2.8 and f/4 70-200 zoom are:

(1) the larger aperture of the f/2.8 allows shooting with 1 stop faster shutter speed (say 1/125 @ f/2.8 v. 1/60 @ f/4) that may allow handheld shooting in lower light,

(2) the shallower depth of field of f/2.8 v. f/4.

(3) the f/4 will weigh about 1/2 as much as the f/2.8 zoom (~1.5 lb v. ~3 lb) because the smaller maximum aperture allows correspondingly smaller/lighter glass elements.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
P.S.
(4) the f/2.8 zoom when used with a 2x teleconverter will have an effective maximum aperture of f/5.6 and retain autofocus, while the f/4 with 2x TC will be f/8 and AF will become non-functional (except with a limited number of sensors in the most expensive cameras).
- Jon Close

ANSWER 3:
I will add a couple more things to the answers above.

I had to come to terms with the same question as you but I will add one more variable to the mix. The F2.8... with or without IS (Image Stabilization)?

1st of all weight is a consideration. The F4 is only 1.56 lbs, the F2.8 weighs 2.9 lbs and the F2.8IS weighs 3.2 lbs. On the 2 F2.8's add .3 lb more for the tripod collar mount which comes with it (the F4 it is a $150-$200 option).

2nd, for me, it was important to get the most wide open lens I could. I like to shoot concerts and they are always lower light and also most importantly contain a lot of movement. Even if you were to shoot on a tripod so you can shoot for longer exposures any movement from dancers or singers would be blurred because of slower shutter speeds. That is why I got the 2.8IS as every stop counts.

Then there is the importance of IS. The general rule for handholding is the reciprocal of the MM in 35mmm terms. If you are shooting with a lens at 200mm, you should be shooting with a shutter speed of at least 1/200th second. The IS will let you hand hold the lens all the way down to about 3-4 stops below that. You would be able to get a good picture at maybe 1/15-1/30 second rather than 1/250th. If you shoot only on a tripod that may not be important but for hand holding you won't know how you ever did without it.

It is a lot more money but it is a one time purchase. This the lens to trade up to not trade in for better unless you like primes. My decision was to invest only 1 time and get the 70-200L F2.8 IS which I will get delivery of withing the next day or 2.

Hope this helps you with your decision.
- Michael Kaplan

ANSWER 4:
I have the Canon 70-200 f2.8L IS Zoom lens, and it's incredible! It was also incredibly expensive at $1650.00 as was my other f2.8 lens, the Canon 35-70 f2.8L, but both are incredible lenses. I also own the Canon 100-300 5.6 IS, which is a lot less money but is no where's near the quality of lens that the 70-200 2.8L IS has proven to be.

I'm a working wedding photographer, shooting 50+ weddings per year as well as portraits, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, etc. and working with moving objects (people) in the dark has made the f2.8 an absolute necessity on all of my lenses.

I think that whatever you're doing with the lens and where you're doing it will make the decision as to whether you think 4.0/5.6 can handle the situation or if you'll need to go to 2.8, which in my experience can literally SEE in the dark!!!
- Debra Weisheit

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CONTINUING QUESTION 2: How Megapixels Effect Picture Size
I know that the higher the megapixels the better image quality. My question is, if I own a 6 megapixel camera, am I going to be able to print small pictures such as a 4x6 or a wallet? If I am able to, what do I do to ensure that I get a quality print.
- Paula J. Hoyal

ANSWER 1:
The answer is found in your imaging program. With your camera, or with a scanner, maybe, you must have gotten some photoshop-based software, Photoshop LE or Adobe Elements. Maybe you got a propriety software from the camera manufacturer. There will be a screen in there (Image/Image Size in the photoshop-based ones) that lets you size your image for print. I think Elements can even give you multiple small prints on a sheet of paper. If you have Elements or Photshop lE, and you are having trouble, come back.
- Doug Nelson

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ANSWER 2:
First to directly answer your question, Yes, you can print ANY size print. It is settings in your program you are using to view or edit the picture that will adjust the size and resolution for your print. The difference is how good a picture you will end up with. If you are reducing the size then you will get an excellent print whereas if you are making a larger print, quality will decrease with the size and viewing distance. I have printed 13x19 and know of some people that have printed 20x30 and got what they considered good quality prints.

If you were only going to print 4x6 then there would really be no need for a 6MP camera but even then there are advantages to having the extra pixels.

The extra pixels will allow you to crop the picture. Take a snippit to allow a tighter view or enlarge something still leaving enough pixels to get a great quality print (see the Full and Crop samples below).

Hope this helps.
- Michael Kaplan

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ANSWER 3:
I reccomend Adobe Elements 2. It's user friendly and has a gret how-to help guide.

Using the crop tool you can set the height and width of the picture. Use the largest print size for portrait packages of various sizes from one image. Make sure the image resolution is 300 dpi. You can always go to edit, image size, and resize. For internet use lower the dpi to 100 or 72 and the image size to 4X5. Also find a good lab that will print for $2 per sheet. Yhis will save you $$ as ink jet is expensive. Good luck!
- Gregg Vieregge

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