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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 - Monday, August 25, 2003
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* SPOTLIGHT: Got Great Photos? Show Them Off with a Deluxe BetterPholio™
* BETTERPHOTO: New Course Devoted to Digital Photography
* BETTERPHOTO: George Schaub at BetterPhoto.com: B&W Digital Printing Course
* BETTERPHOTO: Further Improvements to Search Engine, Premium BetterPholios™ and Deluxe BetterPholios™
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Origins / Most Expensive Throw-Away
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Sunny 16 Days
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Resolution and Compression - Which is Best?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: How to Develop a Model's Portfolio
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Steps for Best Photo Printing with a Canon 10D
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Blurry Results From Close Up Filters
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: How to Compensate for a Polarizing Filter
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Flash Guide Numbers and Exposure
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: What Can Photoshop LE Do For This Picture?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: How to Sharpen
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Reciprocity Failure
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Is There a Big Difference Between f/1.4 & 1.8??
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: How Do You Do High Key?


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Got Great Photos? Show Them Off with a Deluxe BetterPholio™
With a Deluxe BetterPholio™, you can show off up to 1000 of your best images, set up slide shows, and create the look and feel you want... all in as little as 24-48 hours! Our Deluxe BetterPholio™ solutions give you a ONE STOP SHOP for getting your portfolio on the Web. And if you opt for the Image Sales option, you can sell your images via the Internet! Learn more at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/deluxeWebsites.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 127th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

We have been listening to your requests... many of you have been asking for a digital photography course and you got it! Beginning with the upcoming session, I will be offering a course dedicated to showing digital camera photographers how to make the best images they can. We'll explore the things that are troubling most digital photographers - file formats, white balance, exposure issues, and more...

This along with George Schaub's excellent digital black and white printing class, the Leeson's wildlife class, and Lewis Kemper's two new classes... have we got a great line-up for you.

I also wanted to make sure you Deluxe BetterPholio™ owners and Premium BetterPholio™ owners knew about two wonderful new enhancements: 1) you can now delete your duplicate images; and 2) you can now use the search engine to find your photos.

We have a selection of truly awesome and enlightening Q&A for you this week. Enjoy the newsletter and have a great time making beautiful images this week!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
New Course Devoted to Digital Photography
Are you frustrated with how hard it is to get truly stunning photos from your digital camera? Are you overwhelmed by all the choices - JPEG vs. RAW, flash cards, software options, etc? Do you want to know how to use features such as white balance options, ISO equivalents, and exposure controls? Then join BetterPhoto founder Jim Miotke for his upcoming online photography course on digital camera usage and technique. In this course, you will learn Digital Photography in the best way imaginable. You will walk away empowered and knowing exactly how to make the best photos with your digital camera:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JCM03.asp


*****
George Schaub at BetterPhoto.com: B&W Digital Printing Course
Trying to get decent black and white prints from your digital printer? Consider enrolling in "Digital Black and White Printing" with George Schaub - the highly esteemed editor of Shutterbug magazine and famed author of "Professional Techniques for the Wedding Photographer", "Using Your Camera: A Basic Guide to 35mm Photography", "Shooting for Stock", and more. His excellent online photography course will teach you everything you need to know to print beautiful black and white images in the digital darkroom: http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/GEO01.asp

Check out all of our classes at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp


*****
Further Improvements to Search Engine, Premium BetterPholios™ and Deluxe BetterPholios™
We noticed a lot of Premium BetterPholio™ and Deluxe BetterPholio™ owners were attempting to use the search engine to find their own photos. So we made a few tweaks to help you out. Now, if you own a Premium BetterPholio™ or Deluxe BetterPholio™, your photos will be returned to you when you search for your name or member ID#. We will also add all of the BetterPhoto articles to the search engine as soon as we can. There are about 100 of them so it may take a while. When we're done, you will be able to easily find the article you are looking for, along with photos, discussions, Q&A, courses, and more.

Also, Deluxe BetterPholio™ owners and Premium BetterPholio™ owners will be very happy to hear that they can now delete their own photos. That's right! The day has arrived... the beta testing is over and we have unleashed the new delete functionality. So please take a moment and go through your pool of images, deleting the duplicates. Just sign into your admin control panel, click the "Your Selected Gallery Photos" or "Select and Categorize Photos" link. You will now see a "Delete Altogether" option. Try the search engine or sign in to your admin pages at the BetterPhoto Home page:
http://www.betterphoto.com/home.asp

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
What kind of photography was Julia Margaret Cameron known for? Where was she born?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Susan Dietrichis:
Julia Margaret Cameron was known for Victorian photography. She was born in Calcutta in 1815.

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 - Most Expensive Throw-Away - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

In the movie, The Spanish Prisoner, how much does Steve Martin's character offer to pay for the protagonist's single-use camera? Why does he want it and why doesn't the sale go through? Bonus Question: What kind of camera is it?

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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Sunny 16 Days
I don't know about where you live, but here near Seattle, WA, we have been enjoying one beautiful day after another. So I thought it would be a great time to talk about the Sunny 16 Rule. This guideline states that you can get correct manual exposure on a sunny day if you shoot at f/16 with a shutter speed as close to your ISO as possible. For example, if you were shooting with a film rated at ISO 100 (or the digital ISO equivalent), you could select a 1/125 or 1/90 shutter speed, an aperture of f/16, and fire away. If conditions are less than perfect, simply adjust your f number down one stop for each degree of worsening conditions - f/11 for hazy fun, f/8 for a bright but cloudy day, and f/5.6 for open shade. Why would you ever want to use this guideline? It can come in handy when conditions make the scene difficult to meter. It can also save you from time to time when your meter needs to be tested for accuracy or when it simply stops functioning. As they say, knowledge is power.

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
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  • 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: Resolution and Compression - Which is Best?
I have a Minolta Dimage 7HI. My question: if storage space is not a problem, what would my best setting be, full resolution and superfine compression, or full resolution and standard compression?
- Nick Milton

ANSWER 1:
A compression program actually throws away pixels. If you have any idea of printing or archiving your shots, avoid compression as much as possible. If your camera doesn't shoot in TIF or RAW mode, take your images right out of the camera and save them as TIFs before you start editing them. If the camera saves in JPEG only, do as many edits as you can in one session, then SAVE. Memory cards are only about a dollar or less per MB, and CD's are dirt cheap. Try an experiment and see how much compression you can get away with. Other readers here report pretty good results when they use JPEG compression. Remember, though, that when those pixels are gone, they ain't comin' back.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Yes, I agree with Doug - use the superfine mode is that is your best choice. I then save any images that I work on as a TIFF file to keep myself from JPEGing it too much.
- 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=6559

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6559

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: How to Develop a Model's Portfolio
My daughter needs to put together a "modeling portfolio" - the cost associated with this being done from a 'professional' is TREMENDOUS! I love to do a little picture taking and would like to give a try to taking these portfolio pictures myself! I am hoping you can help.

I have a Canon Rebel EOS, it is a great camera. I have two lenses:
a)Canon EF 75-300mm and b) Canon 28-80mm.

We have to take pictures that will be great when enlarged to a 9x11 size. I need help in determining the film speed and suggested brand/type for the following scenarios:

1. Outdoor location pictures, some sunny/some cloudy/etc.
2. Indoor pictures
3. Black and White pictures (both indoor and outdoors).
**Some of these pictures will be done in a still fashion while some will be with her moving. Some will be close-ups, some more distant and full body length.

Please keep in mind that I am SO amateur it isn't even funny! Of course, any other comments and/or feedback on putting together a portfolio for a model would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much.
- Marilyn Gottsponer

ANSWER 1:
I have found, personally, that when taking outdoor photos to use a film speed of 100 or so, because when you blow it up to an 11x14 or so it will be less grainy. However, when doing black and white photography, the grain almost adds to the picture. But I've read that the bigger picture you want to end up with the lower film speed you need to use. For indoor pictures, you will have to use a faster speed film, but if you haven't taken many indoors, I don't think you'll be happy with the outcome for professional looking pictures. What about putting a "backdrop" outside, where you can take advantage of natural light, but it could still "look" like a studio pic (with the backdrop). This is just an opinion, hopefully you'll get more feedback and can try a few things. I'm pretty amateur too!!

Good luck!
- Crystal G. Collins

ANSWER 2:
Crystal - thank you SO much for the feedback. I love the idea of doing a 'backdrop' outside for the natural lighting! That is a neat idea. I took some "starter" photos yesterday and today - I can't wait to see how they turn out. If you have any other thoughts, send them on!
Thanks!
- Marilyn Gottsponer

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6552

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6552

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*****


NEW QUESTION 3: Steps for Best Photo Printing with a Canon 10D
I just got a 10D (and I am totally green to digital photography), so I am sure I am about to ask a question that has been asked before, but...

When I load my photos from my camera to my computer what steps should I take to ensure a good photo quality in the developed print? I am shooting in the large/fine mode so I should have a pretty good captured resolution. Is it common to have to make adjustments to ALL your photos prior to burning them to a CD for printing (such as unsharp/mask, or color adjustments)?

I know there are vast possibilities for alterations in Photoshop... I just need the basic steps that one might follow prior to burning their photos on a disc that they are going to take to a local chain type place for developing, and what instructions you might give the retailer for printing.

Thanks in advance for your help. I am at the beginning of what appears to be a long learning curve!
- Angela Majerus

ANSWER 1:
All digital pictures need some USM before printing to get the best quality out of it unless the picture looks better not sharpened like a portrait where you may want it a bit soft. I personally use CP Pro action from Fred Miranda but you can use USM in photoshop. I also do if needed a bit of curves and/or levels, color, whatever depending on the picture. I then crop if needed, resize and print. I do my own printing but it would be the same for sending to a lab. Check which them what the best parameters are and file format and then do the upsizing yourself if needed.
- Michael Kaplan

ANSWER 2:
Thanks for the input. I guess I didn't realize that I would have to do anything to the prints prior to burning them to a CD for printing. Like I said, I am totally green to the digital thing. But, I have been reading all the great posts here and going through my software tutorials.

Thanks for the help!
- Angela Majerus

ANSWER 3:
I should have said BTW that you don't HAVE to do anything and many people don't do anything and are perfectly happy with their prints. I would suggest you do a trial and error thing. Maybe take 1 print you like and send in 1 image untouched and play around with another and see which you like printed the best. It has been said that you need greater sharpening for prints than for screen so you can try a few variations. Also 4x6 might not show the differences the way an 8x10 or larger shot will. For the cost of prints now a days, experiment a little and see what YOU like best.

Also I said I use Cp Pro. It should have read CSPro by Fred Miranda.
- Michael Kaplan

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6545

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6545

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NEW QUESTION 4: Blurry Results From Close Up Filters
I bought close up filters for my camera and have been trying to photograph pictures of flowers and they are not coming out good. Can anyone give me any pointers on using them because I am not sure if I am using the correctly or not?
- Erin Shoemaker

ANSWER 1:
What specific problems are there with your pictures? Generally when shooting close-up/macro you have very shallow depth of field, so you need to stop down to f/16-f/32 to keep the whole flower in apparent focus. This combined with the greater magnification requires slower shutter speeds ==> use a tripod, shoot when there is no breeze waving the flowers around, or construct a windscreen to block the wind.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Thanks that sounds like some great advise and I will try it. Basically they are coming out blurry and since you mentioned it, I think it may have to do with me not using a tripod and maybe the wind. Again, thank you very much!!
- Erin Shoemaker

ANSWER 3:
I wouldn't necessary blame yourself, Erin ;-)

I am not a big fan of the close-up filters because I too have experienced less than optimal results. If you continue to feel dissatisfied, know that you are not alone and look into either extension tubes, a macro lens, or both.
- 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=6540

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6540

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: How to Compensate for a Polarizing Filter
I live around lots of water and just bought a polarizer to help compensate for all the glare. After developing my film it occured to me that I probably have to adjust for the polarizer as the prints didn't come out as I'd hoped. What do I change and how?
- Raja Lahti

ANSWER 1:
What you do is look thru the lens and rotate the polarizer till you see the shy darken or the glare disappear. You can then take the picture. Be careful though; on some lenses the outer lens where the filter is attached rotates during focus. You would need to 1/2 press the shutter first, let the lens focus then turn the polarizer bufore taking the shot.
- Michael Kaplan

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6539

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6539

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Flash Guide Numbers and Exposure
Hi again,
About flash guide numbers: I have a manual camera and manual focus lenses and a manual flash unit. I know how to do the calculations f-stop = GN (iso 100)/flash distance. How does this change when you use, for example, a 135mm lens instead of a 50 mm lens. Not sure about this... thanks.
- Pieter Roelofse

ANSWER 1:
That's the beauty of f-numbers. You don't have to take the lens focal length into consideration. f/4 is the same amount of light on the film, regardless of the lens used. The only thing that will come into play is the maximum angle of coverage that the flash can provide. Depending on the model it could cover the field of view of a 35mm, 28mm, 24mm, or 18mm lens. Whichever it is, you don't want to use a wider angle lens than what the flash can cover.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6536

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6536

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: What Can Photoshop LE Do For This Picture?
Obviously, the picture is overexposed (right term ?) in the upper portion where the sun is hitting the woman directly in the face. Is there something I could do in Photoshop LE to "fix" this? I am a complete newbie to Photoshop, so bear with me!

The shot was taken with a Canon G3 with the following settings:

Shooting Mode: Program AE
Shutter speed: 1/160
Aperature: 4.0
ISO Speed: Auto
White Balance: Auto

I basically let the camera decide what to do, realizing now that I should have probably set the ISO at 200 and the white balance to sunny.
- Joy Fender

See Sample Photo - Maddie and Donna:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=169009

ANSWER 1:
Sometimes a digitally acquired image may be like a print from the drug store in that the information is there, but it doesn't show up. Many people try to bypass the imaging software step and print out of the camera or from the hard drive picture file. Many, if not most, images can benefit from some tweaking.

Go to Image/Image Adjust/Levels in PS LE. See if either of the end sliders needs to be moved over so that they touch the point where information is present in the histogram [where the black peaks begin to spike on the right or the left ends]. They may already be correct. Now move the middle slider so that it looks right to you.

Here's an alternative fix, not to be done in addition to Levels. If I remember correctly, LE has Curves under Image/Image Adjust. If so, click the cursor on that too light part of the face. You'll see a place indicated on the diagonal line. Grab that place with the cursor and move it up or down to see if that helps. If you value this image, SAVE an unworked original of it. There may be a way to do this that another reader might be able to tell us.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
No Doug, you're answer is perfectly right... and thanks again for offering such great help. Let us know (with a visually example) how it goes, Joy ;)
- 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=6534

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6534

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: How to Sharpen
I have been shapening my photos in Photoshop for a long time. We just got a Canon EOS 10D. When I try to sharpen those photos nothing seems to happen. Why is this? Have I missed something that I should be doing with this new camera?
- Diane Kay Schull

ANSWER 1:
It could be that your resolution is so high that more sharpening needs to be done before you see an effect. I have that happen with scanned negatives and slides. Read at scantips.com about some parameters for sharpening with Unsharp Mask (that's the correct sharpening tool). It's better to undersharpen than to overdo it.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Thanks, Doug. I will check out the website. I do use the unsharp mask tool but with these photos see almost no effect even with all three slides to the furthest right position. Thanks, Diane
- Diane Kay Schull

ANSWER 3:
Make sure you have preview ticked to be able to see your adjustments. Also try looking at the picture at 100%. You should definitely see the sharpening effect and way before the sliders are at the right. Try for example 200%/2/0 and you should see areas sharpened. Normally you would only apply maybe 100-200/.6-1/0-2 but it depends on the image and everyone likes a different look. I once started following a thread in a forum on peoples preferences. I was amazed on the great differences that people use to acheive the same thing.
- Michael Kaplan

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6533

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6533

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Reciprocity Failure
What is reciprocity failure, and why does this occur when taking photoes at night without a flash?
- Anne Mary Louise

ANSWER 1:
In general there is a reciprocal relationship between light level and exposure time in getting the proper exposure recored on film. For example, a 1/2 reduction in the light level (either dimmer ambient light or smaller aperture) is completely offset by increasing the shutter time by x2, 1/8th as much light is offset by 8x longer shutter time. So for example 1/125 @ f/8 gives the same exposure as 1/60 @ f/11, 1/30 @ f/16, 1/250 @ f/5.6, 1/500 @ f/4, etc.

But this relationship does not hold for longer exposures (usually 10 seconds and longer), or extremely short exposures (1/10,000 and less). For longer exposures to lower light levels f(or extremely short exposure to high light levels) the chemical sensitivity of the film loses this reciprocal relationship (suffers reciprocity failure) such that a 1/2 change in light level will require maybe a 3x, 4x, or greater increase in exposure time. Thus if the meter suggests 2 seconds at f/4 and the photographer wants to shoot at f/11 (3 stop change = 1/8th as much light), the reciprocal change to 16 seconds may not be enough and the film may require 30 seconds for proper exposure.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6516

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6516

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Is There a Big Difference Between f/1.4 & 1.8??
I am wanting to purchase a 50mm lens and wonder if I will see a big difference between f/1.4 and f/1.8... My use for this lens would be shots of children using available light. Thanks.
- America A. Block

ANSWER 1:
Dear America:
It's not vital to know this, but perhaps helpful - which brand of camera do you have?
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 2:
I have a Canon D60 & also a Canon 10D, I would interchange the lens between the two. Thank you in advance for your help and opinion.
- America A. Block

ANSWER 3:
Dear America:
Perhaps you've noticed a slight difference in price between the two? It may reflect the fact that the EF50mm f/1.4 is a bit more challenging to manufacture well, and is likely made in smaller quantities than the EF50mm f1.8.
The EF50mm f/1.4, with its slightly larger maximum f/stop, is slightly better at shooting in available-light-only situations than the EF50mm f/1.8, given that you use each lens at its' maximum aperture. By letting in slightly more light at maxumum aperture, you will sometimes be allowed to shoot at a slightly higher shutter speed with the f/1.4 lens than you would with an f1.8 at its maximum aperture. This can make it slightly easier to get a sharp photo when you handhold the camera and when your subjects are less than completely still.
The slightly larger maximum aperture on the f/1.4 will produce a slightly brighter image on the focusing screen, too, making it slightly easier to compose your photo in low light.
Do you know anyone who will loan you one or both lenses? Can you rent one locally? Other contributors may have leads on the technical specs of each lens, or reviews and testimonials.
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 4:
Quite a price difference is the reason I was inquiring. It seems to me that I would be happy with the f/1.8 as I am getting by with f/3.5 now. My only reason for wanting a lense with a larger aperture is to gain shutter speed with photographing my children. Unfortunately, I live in SD(woohoo!!) so nothing local. I thank you very much for your halp on this matter, Maynard. Take care, America.
- America A. Block

ANSWER 5:
I'm getting ready to buy a 50mm and I'm going for the f1.4. It never hurts to have more speed. I am going to use it on my 10D for a portrait lens (it will be equivalent to an 80mm f1.4) and I like to shoot portraits wide open to keep the DOF as short as possible. The f1.4 will be great for that. There's a comparison on Photo.net between the two lenses that you might find interesting.
- Jeff S. Kennedy

ANSWER 6:
Thanks, Jeff, for the info. I will definetely check out the comparison on Photo.net. I'm cheap, what can I say, there is like a $200 difference between the 2 and that's a lot of money to me so that's why I inquired. I think I may just hold out for the 1.4 per your recommendation. Thanks again, America.
- America A. Block

ANSWER 7:
You should note that I shoot for money so I will almost always go for speed. If you just shoot for a hobby the 1.8 may be all you need. When I bought my 85mm I had a choice between the f1.8 and f1.4 and opted for the f1.8 because of the huge price discrepency. And the quality of the f1.8 is excellent. But it will be really nice to have an even faster lens in my arsenal in the 50mm f1.4.
- Jeff S. Kennedy

ANSWER 8:
Thanks Jeff.
- America A. Block

ANSWER 9:
Hi, I have both lenses and both cameras and will not use 1.8 any more after I try 1.4. It is much sharper lens and at wide aperture has beautiful selective focus effect.
- Artur

ANSWER 10:
To directly answer your question, the difference between f/1.8 and f/1.4 in pure aperture is 2/3rds of an f-stop. Full f-stops are the following sequence:
f/1, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32

In terms of the amount of light admitted by the lenses when their apertures are wide open, an f/1.8 lens admits about 63% of the light admitted by f/1.4 lens. By comparison, an f/2 lens admits exactly half the light.

From a practical exposure standpoint 2/3rds of an f-stop isn't much. While it's enough to make a noticeable difference for slide film exposure, it's just barely noticeable for negative film exposure (depends on the film latitude). It won't make an enormous difference in low light; usually it's ability to get something not the best and marginal versus dead on. It can allow bumping up the shutter speed to stop motion or mitigate shake, but again you would have to be just barely too slow with the f/1.8 for the f/1.4 to make a difference. In addition, shooting a 50mm f/1.4 wide open at distances of 20 feet or less has a very shallow depth of field. Doing so is often a deliberate compromise to to get a proper exposure.

IMO, the two much more practical differences with the f/1.4 lens are:
(a) Gaining the noticeably brighter viewfinder that Maynard mentions; it enables faster and more accurate focusing in low light
(b) Having noticeably improved optical qualities that Artur mentions.

Some portion of the higher cost for the f/1.4 lens is the "bigger glass" which is a little more expensive to make, but the greater portion of the higher cost is for its better optical qualities. The market segment for the f/1.4 is more demanding of the optics and has higher expectations for overall optical performance.

-- John
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 11:
I had a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens which I sold when I got a much more expensive Canon L lens. However the 1.8 lens gave excellent pictures even for enlarging. It is possibly the best bargain in the Canon lens lineup. If you don't abuse it you should get great pictures and long life however don't drop this lens as I have heard it won't take it.
- Doug Vann

ANSWER 12:
All very good advice.
Lets look at the situation from a slightly different angle.
I am assumiong you are using a flim camera.
Check the accuracy of the rated ISO of your film. According to ANSI spec, any manufacturer is able to market any film that is within half a stop of its rated ISO. This means that an ISO 400 film will be anywhere between 200 and 600 effective speed.
When we buy a few rols at a time at the local store, we are not paying attention to emulsion numbers. Different emulsions of the same film can take the allowed half stop spread and actually exhibit up to a full stop difference.
Speaking of manufacturing variability - just how close to the rated f1.4 or f1.8 do you think that lense is?
Lenses are manufactured in batches too (so are antibiotics, don't get me started).
There are quit a few good books out that will tell you just how to test a film emulsion to determine just what the speed is and just where the color balance and contrast index falls.
Professional film is better.
You will need a referance strip. McBeth makes one that has been the industry standard for 30 + years. Its worth the money and will be a lot cheaper then getting the larger lense.
Good luck and keep asking questions.

Hank Greenfield

- Hank Greenfield

ANSWER 13:
I'm not exactly clear on the relevance of Hank's post but as long as he made it I will make a correction to it. 1/2 stop under ISO400 would be 300 (320) not 200. 200 is a full stop. A minor point.
- Jeff S. Kennedy

ANSWER 14:
First, I would like to thank everybody very much for taking the time to help me out! All the info is much appreciated, however maybe I should have been more clear on my question. I I only use digital, no film. And basically was wondering if I would be happy or not with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 or if I should spend the xtra $200 and go with the f/1.4. My outlook is one that my fastest lens right now is one that opens to f/3.5 so the f/1.8 would be a world of difference. THis lens would be used strictly for photographing my children in available lighting conditions. Thanks again for everybodys help, I think that I may just try out the 1.8. Thanks all!
- America A. Block

ANSWER 15:
I think that's probably the best plan. I doubt you could go wrong with either lens. And since the 1.8 is pretty cheap it wouldn't hurt to go with that first. One of the reasons I'm going for the 1.4 that I didn't mention above is that since digital has inherently more DOF I want a lens with as wide an aperture as possible.
- Jeff S. Kennedy

ANSWER 16:
Me again,

I was wrong and I stand corrected. Half a stop range from ISO 400 would be 300 to 500, not the 200 to 600 I mentioned.
I think this is a large gap when you are considering paying $200 extra for a fraction of an f stop. The point is that whichever lense you choose, if you are using commercial film behind it, the film will have more "noise" in the system then the lense can correct. Whatever advantage you think you are gaining by spending the extra money could be lost by the variability of the film.
- Hank Greenfield

ANSWER 17:
LOL! Actually Hank you were half right before and now you're half right again. 1/2 stop below ISO 400 is 300 and 1/2 stop over 400 is 600. Not to be anal just don't want anyone getting confused. ;-)))
- Jeff S. Kennedy

ANSWER 18:
Jeff & Hank...You guys are soooo funny! I'm glad I don't shoot film cuz I'd be real confused! Take care, America.
- America A. Block

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CONTINUING QUESTION 2: How Do You Do High Key?
I would like to know step-by-step how to use or do high key. I have Photoshop 7.0, Photoimpact 5, and Photoimpact 8 as my software.

Any help that you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
- Elena M. Deluca

ANSWER 1:
High Key refers to more a lighting style, then something you do in Photo Shop. What kind of camera do you shoot with, and flash or lights? High Key is a subject in light colored cloths against a usually white background. The lighting technique is to light subject and also light background so that it stays white without spilling on subject.
- Judith A. Clark

ANSWER 2:
If by high key you mean heightened contrast, go to Image Adjust/Levels. Move the outer sliders inward and adjust the center slider until you see what you want. Alternatively, go to Image Adjust/Curves and move the curve so that an "S" curve results. Tweak to your taste. Don't click OK in either case until you get what you want, or the result will be too much image data lost.

My web page under Resources has a book listed by George Schaub on Photoshop techniques that are like what we do in the darkroom.
- Doug Nelson

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ANSWER 3:
Just wanted to mention that we are happy to say George Schaub - the photographer/author that Doug mentions - has joined our team of instructors. His online photography class, Digital Black and White Printing should certainly help anyone interested in creating heightened contrast in Photoshop and making images that take on the high key look.
- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

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