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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, February 25, 2003
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* SPOTLIGHT: Showcase Your Best Photos on a Deluxe BetterPholio™
* BETTERPHOTO: The BetterPhoto Contest Results Are In - All 56 of 'em!
* BETTERPHOTO: CH-CH-CH Changes... to Our Monthly Photo Contest
* BETTERPHOTO: Have Something to Share About Your Deluxe BetterPholio™?
* PHOTO LINK: You Outta Be In Pictures
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Presidential Portrait / Notes
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: What's In a Name?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Going Digital
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Where to Sell Used Equipment?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Digital Shots at Night
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: How to Shoot in School Auditorium - Flourescent
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Digital Printing and Resolution
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: How to Critically Analyze Photographs
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Buying Supplies
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: What does SLR stand for?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Why Do I Get a Black Ring Around My Pictures?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Digital Layouts
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Wedding Shoot
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: How to Shoot Great Senior Portraits
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 13: Printing 13x19 Photos at 300 dpi
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Phoenix 100-400mm Lens?


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Showcase Your Best Photos on a Deluxe BetterPholio™
Did you know... with a Deluxe BetterPholio™, you now get your own email address. Imagine printing sales@yourdomainname.com on your business cards. And this is in addition to being able to showcase up to 1000 of your best images! Our Deluxe BetterPholios™ give you a ONE STOP SHOP for getting your portfolio on the Web. Sign up for your own easy Web site 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 106th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

After a very long and painful :) development period, we finally have finished some exciting new changes to the BetterPhoto contest.

In January, a record breaking 5200 entries made us fully realize that we had to do something in order to feature more of your excellent photos as contest winners. There were just too many great images!

Now, instead of having only one general contest category and a total of 14 winning photos, the contest is split up into five categories that allow a total of 56 winning photos. This will give you a better idea of what constitutes a winning photo because you will be able to compare apples with apples, so to speak.

So, here's to greater variety and the ability to include a lot more award-deserving photos!

Happy shooting and happy competing!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoContact.asp?memberID=124


*****
The BetterPhoto Contest Results Are In - All 56 of 'em!
The winners have been posted! And when you go to view them, you'll find a great enhancement to our photo contest. Congratulations to Shelley Sanders for her Grand Prize winning "Somebody's In Trouble" image - a wonderful photo that climbed all the way to the top in our new Animals contest category. Shelley's great photo, though, was far from alone. Enjoy browsing all of the amazing contest winners at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/winners/0301.asp

For an even longer stroll through the great photos entered last month, you can view all 209 of the contest finalists at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=879


*****
CH-CH-CH Changes... to Our Monthly Photo Contest
As we mentioned in the welcome note, there have been some exciting changes around here. The biggest is that we are now dividing the contest into five mini-contests. Visit the contest winners page to view our five new categories: Landscapes and Travel, Animals, People, Graphics and Details, and General (the catch-all category).

To give you a head start with figuring out this new system, we are categorizing the entries ourselves during the January and February contests. This will help you see where your various photos fit best. Beginning March 1st, you will be able to indicate the best contest category for your photo as you upload it.

Learn more about our new contest categories at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/categories.asp


*****
Have Something to Share About Your Deluxe BetterPholio™?
Do you have you an added feature to your Deluxe BetterPholio™ that you would like to tell us about? Or have you figured out your own creative way to sell your images? We'd love to hear about your improvements to your site and showcase them to the BetterPhoto membership! Email us at jim@betterphoto.com and tell us what you did and how it's working for you.

Here are a few especially effective Deluxe BetterPholios™ that we've noticed of late:

PiperShots.com
Piper Lehman includes prices and samples of her work to both sell images and promote her stock business. Piper is a graduate of multiple BetterPhoto online courses and a great example of what one can accomplish when she puts her mind to it:
http://www.pipershots.com

KerryDrager.com
Kerry Drager - who happens to also be an excellent BetterPhoto instructor - has many helpful articles and tips on how to improve your photography on his Deluxe BetterPholio™. He's also included information about his books and links for people to sign up for his courses and seminars:
http://www.kerrydrager.com

Murry Grigsby recently won the Golden Web Award for his Deluxe BetterPholio™. Murry has uploaded numerous images as well as samples of his photo cards for sale. He offers customers any of his beautiful photos with any of a variety of sayings. Click on the Photos button and then the "Samples" category link:
http://www.mcgphotocards.com

Join the fun! Sign up for your own Deluxe BetterPholio™ at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/deluxeWebsites.asp

Or view all of our current Deluxe BetterPholios™ at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/allDeluxesList.asp


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PHOTO LINKS
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You Outta Be In Pictures
When I was a kid, I always preferred books with lots of pictures. What kid doesn't? It is often the easiest way for us visual types to learn. To get to know your history through photos and art work, visit PictureHistory.com. This professional and interesting site has a lot of good educational material.... and, what's more, they make it fun:
http://www.PictureHistory.com

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Who was the first U.S. President to have his photograph taken? What year did this occur and which photographic process was used?

The first, best answer - entered by BettterPhoto member Doug F. is:
I'm too late, but it was President James Polk, taken by Matthew Brady with his "deuro" type photographes.

[Editor: You're not too late, Doug, and you are the closest to the correct answer. James Polk (1845-49) was indeed the first President to have his photograph taken. But it was a daguerreotype and is was photographed by John Plumbe, Jr. Matthew Brady is famous for his portraits of Abraham Lincoln and his images of the Civil War. See the photo of Polk at WhiteHouse.gov or at PictureHistory.com .]

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 - Notes - entered by BettterPhoto member Jim M.

Which great composer did Arnold Newman photograph in 1946 in an image that features a piano lid resembling a musical note?

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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What's In a Name?
When you upload an image, consider your title and description as an extension of your creative expression. While your highest priority should be focusing (pardon me) on making a great image, it doesn't hurt to put some thought into what you name the photo. If possible, include a detailed description of the equipment and techniques used. Accurate and specific names of places, animals, plants, and things can be especially helpful to the beginner trying to learn how to make better photos. Get more help on writing captions for your contest entries at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/captioning.asp

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:

  • 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: Going Digital
I have decided to go digital very soon. I have questions about downloading. Can you download via a card reader and burn a CD without taking space up on the hardrive? And at first I do not want to print my own pictures. If I burn a CD and take it to a store to have prints made. Will the store's equipment be able to read my CD? (I have an iMac)

I have narrowed my choice of cameras to Sony 717 or Nikon 5700, anyone have either and wish to brag about theirs or wish they had not gotten it?

- Linda S.

ANSWER 1:
I'd suggest coming up with a strategy to store images on your hard drive and then burn the CD. Once you've archieved the material you can go back and deleted the files from the hard drive and clean it up. I'd make at least two CD's and keep on off site in case of earthquake, fire, etc.

I've found this method to be the least frustrating and most efficient way of doing things (for me anyway).

You might want to check with the stores where you plan on having your work printed for acceptable file formats and use those. Keep in mind that technology keeps changing and an acceptable file format today may not be the standard in the future.... just like the 3.5 floppy drive, all things pass sooner or later....

hth

- Damian G.

See Damian's Deluxe BetterPholio™:
http://www.gadal-imagery.com

ANSWER 2:
Linda,
I recently went digital and had the same questions. To check your cameras in question, go to dpreview.com and see what this extensive review site says about them. I don't think you can go wrong with either of them, but it helps to ease your choice. I would also check out adorama.com and bhphotovideo.com and look at their new prices AND in the "used" dept. I got a great deal on the Canon G2 in the used and it was simply a display model with full warranty and accessories. Good luck!

- Tony P.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5231

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5231

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*****
NEW QUESTION 2: Where to Sell Used Equipment?
Anyone have experience selling their equipment to camera shops or on ebay? Just hoping someone can point me in the right direction - I see lots of adds to purchase used equipment in the back of the mags I subscribe to and I have know several people who have had luck with ebay. I want a fair price, but have never sold camera eqiupment before and don't want go the wrong route. Thanks! DC

- Dede C.

ANSWER 1:
Selling to a shop (or letting the shop sell for you on consignment) or selling to a broker like KEH will get you wholesale, an incredibly small return.

Ebay, if you're careful, is a good way to sell. Take a week or two to check and see what items like yours go for. Just check "watch this item" and you'll get a list under "my ebay" of things you're tracking.

Take good photos of your items, well lighted and sharp. Send them to ebay as uncompressed JPEGs, about 450 pixels wide. Be honest about defects. You can set a reserve price under which the item will not be sold.

- Doug N.

See Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™:
http://www.DougNelsonPhoto.com

ANSWER 2:
Doug's advice is right on. I've found that selling camera equipment on Ebay is a great way to go. Taking good photos of what you are selling is important. Describing your equipment accurately and being up front about everything you would want to know if you were buying it is essential.

- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

See Jim's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=124

Take a photo course with Jim:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5229

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5229

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*****
NEW QUESTION 3: Digital Shots at Night
How would you reduce the glare off the moon in a country setting? Would setting the white balance to the moon help this? I was at 400 and 800 iso with a -1 exposure,zero sharpening, AF-auto and a + contrast.
I had the white balance on auto also.

The picture came out too bright with the flash and too dark without. Both ways produced a glare off the moon.

- Scar D.

See Sample Photo - moon:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=83653

ANSWER 1:
Scar,
Your basic problem is not related to camera settings. It's the enormous difference between the brightness of the moon and the brightness level of the night landscape. The moon is directly illuminated by the sun, and it has about the same brightness level of things on earth with direct illumination from the sun during the day with a clear sky (no clouds).

Several issues can cause the "glare" you mention (actual term for the "halo" around the moon in the photo you uploaded is "flare"). From most to least likely:
a. Lens flare from a very bright light source compared to its surroundings shining directly into the lens. Some lenses are more prone to flare than others; it's a function of lens quality, its AR coatings, and its design.
b. Flare caused by pollutants in the earth's atmosphere, or by very high, thin clouds that are nearly impossible to see with the human eye. During long exposures at night, the flare from this as captured on film or digital CCD is often more than you see with your eye.
c. If you're using film, some films also flare under these conditions with "light-piping" across the emulsion. Fuji Provia is notorious for this, but isn't the only one. I have a number of photographs of cityscapes and other urban "street shooting" at night in which this has occurred with bright street lights and traffic signals.

Regarding your usage of flash . . . outdoors at night, light from a flash dissipates very rapidly with distance from the flash and doesn't have that much range. It falls off with the inverse square of the distance. The amount of illumination at 20 feet is 1/4th that compared to illumination at 10 feet. At 30 feet it's 1/9th the illumination at 10 feet.

First, forget about trying to use a flash in photographs like this. The one thing I can think of that would help the extreme brightness difference is a graduated neutral density filter. Neutral density filters are a neutral gray that won't affect color balance. A graduated filter is darker in one half compared to the other half and the transition between the two halves is gradual. The lens mount on a "grad" filter also allows turning it so you can orient it to put the darker and lighter halves where you want them in the image.

In this case, the darker half would be oriented for the sky portion of the photograph to cut down the brightness of the moon compared to the rest of the scene which would be capture through the lighter portion of the filter.

An ND-grad filter is most often used just before sunrise and just after sunset when detail and saturation in both sky and ground are desired. In these situations, illumination of the ground is dim with the sky still comparatively very bright, and the difference between the two is too much to capture detail in both . . . the sky will blow out with very little color saturation, or ground detail will be lost as one deep sihlouette-like shadow.

You have a similar situation in a middle of the night version with sky brightness confined to the moon's disc, not the entire sky.

-- John

- John L.

See John's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=322

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5228

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5228

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*****
NEW QUESTION 4: How to Shoot in School Auditorium - Flourescent
I have a slr Canon Rebel 2000 and want to take some pictures in my child's school auditorium with flourescent lights. What is the best speed film and exposure I should use to get the best photos with the camera doing the majority of the work. I also have a tripod I can bring.

- Danita B.

ANSWER 1:
Danita,
First, and this is intended seriously, shift your thinking. The "best photos" (depends on how you define "best") are made with the photographer doing the work. Even though a camera body do some things for you automatically, keep your brain engaged. Work toward understanding what your camera's "auto" modes do under different conditions (mostly lighting levels). I hope you'll understand why I mention this up front as you read the rest.

You didn't mention lens speed (maximum aperture opening), the subject material and activity level (the need to reasonably stop motion), or whether you are allowed to and intend to use flash. The following is based on a presumption you are using the lens commonly bundled with a Rebel 2000, a 28-80mm f/3.5~5.6 zoom lens, and intend to do this using available light (no flash):

a. Camera shake:
Hand held work should not let shutter speed fall below 1/60th second unless you can firmly brace the camera (chair back, pillar, door jamb, etc.). If you can brace the camera, a shutter speed down to about 1/30th can be used and will still stop some motion. At these shutter speeds, you can't stop extremely fast motion, but it will handle things like people walking easily.

b. Average Lighting Level:
My Kodak Master Photoguide (current title is "Pocket Photoguide") has a section for planning existing light work. It shows lighting levels in the average school auditorium requiring ISO 6400 film for exposures using 1/60th shutter speed and f/5.6 lens aperture. I know of *no* true ISO 6400 film, B&W or color, consumer or professional. The fastest film I'm aware of is Fuji's Superia 1600, also sold as "Press 1600" to professionals. This is a color negative film with a *true* speed of ISO 1600, and it's not that grainy considering its super speed (better than consumer ISO 800 films).

Some films can be "pushed" to higher speeds, but this requires special processing by a full-service pro lab, you have to know how to override your camera's film speed sensors to manually set film speed, and the results would have high contrast with extreme graininess very visible in even 4x6 prints. There are two professional B&W films labeled as "3200" (TMax P3200 and Ilford Delta 3200) but their true speed is about ISO 800, they're designed to be pushed to 3200 (by two stops), and as such must be push processed by a pro lab.

Conclusion:
You're not going to be able to do this based on the assumptions I've made unless:

1. You use a fairly powerful external flash unit to cover much longer working distances in much larger spaces than encountered in the average home. The built-in flash is too weak, even with ISO 800 film. You would need a flash with a GN rating of no less than 120 (in feet @ ISO 100).

2. You use a much faster lens than is normally bundled with a Rebel 2000 to allow much more light in (lens speed is its widest aperture opening). How much faster? For the average lighting conditions in the Kodak guide, ISO 1600 film would require an f/2.8 lens; for ISO 800, an f/2 lens.

Recommendation:
Kodak's guide is very good for planning, but lighting levels are not the same in every auditorium. Visit the auditorium *before* the event you want to photograph to find out what the lighting level is using your camera's built-in metering. Manually set the film speed on your camera and start with ISO 400. Then see what shutter speed it will give you with the lens wide open at both ends of the zoom range. Continue bumping up the film speed manually until you get a 1/60th shutter speed at the long end of the zoom range. Based on the guide and my own past experience, I predict you'll end up at ISO 3200 or ISO 6400 with a lens that can only open up to f/5.6 at the long end.

Additional Issue:
Fluorescent lighting is not the same as daylight and produces a greenish cast with daylight films. Some are worse than others. If you are able to use Superia 1600 (if it's fast enough), it is more forgiving of being used under fluorescent lighting than many other daylight color negative films. Even so, the prints must be made by someone who can do color balancing well when printing the negatives. Tell the lab beforehand that the film was shot under fluorescent lights and ask that they take care with color balancing the prints. There are fluorescent-to-daylight filters, but these eat up about one f-stop of light, they're not perfect because there are too many types of fluorescent lights (warm, cool white, etc.). IMO you can't afford the loss of light trying to use one.

Wish I could give you something magically simple, but the basic problem is low light level. For all the reasons I've walked through, it's why I use lenses no slower than f/2.8 for shooting under similar lighting conditions, and prefer using some of my faster ones that can open up to f/2 if at all possible.

-- John

- John L.

See John's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=322

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5227

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5227

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*****
NEW QUESTION 5: Digital Printing and Resolution
I have a Mavica 400, 4 megipixal camera. I am having problems with printing good photos at larger sizes, eg. 8 x 10. In Photoshop I am resizing by changing resolution to 300 and the picture keeps coming up at about 5 x 8. Can someone help with this problem? I don't know what I am doing wrong.

- Grant

ANSWER 1:
Four MP is more than enough for great 8 x 10's. Be sure you are shooting at the full resolution of which the Sony is capable. When you open that image in Image/Image Size, the total file size at the top should read somewhere near 4 megapixels. Also, 240 ppi is a perfectly workable input resolution for home inkjets. Put 240 in the res block, without changing anything else, and see what the dimensions come out to. In Image/Image Size, be sure Constrain Proportions is checked and Resample is unchecked. You are on the right track and asking the right questions.

- Doug N.

See Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™:
http://www.DougNelsonPhoto.com

ANSWER 2:
Grant and I spent some stubby-pencil math time yesterday on this. I think it was worth the effort. It seems I have misadvised him. The makers of digital cameras like to tell us what print size they can yield, so some "rules-of-thumb" have been circulating around, ie. an X megapixel file yields an X-size print. What we found was that, given 240 ppi input into an inkjet printer, you generally can't get an 8 x 10 print from a file size with a long dimension pixel length of about 2275. To get a 10-inch print from 240 ppi, you need 2400 pixels across the long end.
Since I worked with these matters on my job and do it as a hobby, I should have checked out these claims. If I am going to take some responsibility for trying to help folks here, I should know what I'm talking about.

So, the only "rule of thumb" that has any reliability is to divide the pixel width (of a horizontal image) of the highest resolution image your camera can produce by 240. This will give a ballpark minimum quality image length out of the printer. If you're selling digital images, your buyer may demand a 300 ppi resolution, which reduces the print size.
Can you feed less than 240 into an inkjet printer and get true photo quality? Probably. Printer software may generate the pixel shortfall, if it's not too much. Try it and see.
Also, if your resolution falls short, Jeff K. outlined a method a few days ago you can try to boost the resolution.

Grant was asking about some sources of information on digital imaging. Look at Steve Hoffman's page, and check out his stunning nature work, too: http://www.sphoto.com/techinfo/ps1100.html#Camera

- Doug N.

See Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™:
http://www.DougNelsonPhoto.com

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5214

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5214

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*****
NEW QUESTION 6: How to Critically Analyze Photographs
What are the main areas you should concentrate on when analyzing a photograph?

- Olive

ANSWER 1:
Does the image do what you want it to do? If sharpness and fine detail are important, are the details clear? One of the most unsharp photos of all time, and, arguably one of the best, is Henri Cartier-Bresson's image of a man jumping a puddle. It communicated everything he wanted to say and more. Is the contrast or color balance correct for the subject as you visualized it? Is there anything the photographer could have done differently: shot from another angle, waited for softer light? Does the image convey the emotion intended? Is it clear what the subject is?

- Doug N.

See Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™:
http://www.DougNelsonPhoto.com

ANSWER 2:
Olive,
Doug has centered more on the technical aspect, which I consider secondary, and on details. Following is my philosophy as a general approach to doing it.

Still photographs are a form of communication from the artist to its viewers. If you are looking at your own work, it starts *before* you make the photograph:
1. Defining who the intended viewers of it are, and what you want the photograph to convey to them.
2. Mentally visualizing a finished photograph that will accomplish the first step.
3. Deciding how you will execute the photograph (film, equipment, etc.) to accomplish the second step.

After making the photograph, there are two aspects of it to examine:
1. Does it successfully convey to its intended viewers what you intended it to, which determines the success of the first two steps above.
2. Did the technical execution produce the photograph you visualized, which determines the success of the third step above.

If you are critically evaluating someone else's photograph:
1. If there is an "artist's statement" about the work, read it first. It often conveys something about the artist's intent. If it is titled, pay attention to that also.
2. What does the photograph convey to you (and how well does it match whatever intent was given in the artist's statement, if there is one).
3. How clearly does it convey what the artist intended (if stated) or what you believe it is attempting to convey.

Be broadminded when viewing others' works, and attempt not to do it on your own terms; i.e. how you would have made the photograph, studied the subject material, or chosen the photograph's subject material. Be open to other methods, techniques and messages different from what you might have expressed. Instead, evaluate how well its message is conveyed. If you find a photograph to be shocking or repulsive, that could very well be what the photographer intended at the outset. Personally, I've found abstracts (by others) to be the most difficult works to evaluate, and must force myself to consciously break them down into the formal elements being abstracted in the work.

-- John

- John L.

See John's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=322

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5212

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5212

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*****
NEW QUESTION 7: Buying Supplies
I have an opportunity to shoot the local grade school soccer program. I have found the sports folder I want to use to display my pics, but I'm looking for window envelopes that all the photograpers in this area seem to use. Can someone recommend a web site that carries such things. Since I'm trying to break into an area that has one great photographer, but really no one else I don't what to look cheap with plain manela envelopes to deliver my finished product.

- Judith C.

ANSWER 1:
Judith,
I will now reveal one of my secret weapons for quickly finding things photographic on the internet, the ACE Index. This URL will take you directly to their index for manufacturers of albums, archival materials and frames, most of whom will sell direct:
http://www.acecam.com/cr7index.html

For other stuff, back up the URL a step. This one shows the various categories of indexes they maintain:
http://www.acecam.com/

ACE isn't 100% (I've found other sources for things they don't list), but it is very comprehensive and has all the major players. If you're looking for a specific manufacturer and don't find it listed alphabetically, it may be listed under an importer's or parent company's name. It sometimes requires searching the page after it loads completely for the manufacturer's name to find it buried in a narrative describing an importer's or parent company's products.

If you haven't done text searches of web pages before:
(a) Netscape:
Menu Bar->Edit->Find in this page (Ctrl+F)
(b) Internet Explorer:
Menu Bar->Edit->Find (on this page) Ctrl+F

-- John

- John L.

See John's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=322

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5209

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5209

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*****
NEW QUESTION 8: What does SLR stand for?
You said what APS stands for, but what does SLR stand for? If I want to buy my first "real" (non-idiot) camera and learn how to take nice black-and-white travel and family portrait shots, is that what I want to buy?

- Ariela M.

ANSWER 1:
It stands for single lens reflex. That means that the image comes through the lens, and is reflected through a prism and up on a different plane through the viewfinder of the camera. What ya see in the finder is what ya get.
I think it's the best tool for learning photography and for the images you want.

- Doug N.

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ANSWER 2:
Thanks. Your site is excellent -- the least intimidating, most informative I've found as I camera shop. I will keep visiting it once I get the camera to learn how to take good photos.

- Ariela M.

ANSWER 3:
A special thanks to Doug and all the BetterPhoto members who go out of their way to give such helpful and informative advice!

- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

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*****
NEW QUESTION 9: Why Do I Get a Black Ring Around My Pictures?
I've experienced a problem I have never had before. While using my 28-105mm Nikkor lens with a circular polariser and a hood, I noticed a black ring (presumably from the hood)from 28mm to around 50 mm. This disapperared beyond 50 mm. Was very surprised to see the same printed out on all my photographs! Seem to have the same problem with my wide angle (24mm, fixed focal length) when I use the hood. Without the hood, there seems to be no problem. Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

- Karthik D.

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ANSWER 1:
You are using a lens hood that is designed for telephoto lenses on your wide angle lenes. The proper hood for the Nikkor 24 f/2.8 is their HN-1, for the 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 is the HB-18.

You should not be surprised when what you see in the viewfinder also appears in your pictures. That's kind of the point of an SLR camera. ;-)

- Jon C.

ANSWER 2:
Jon C is 100% correct in his answer. If you are using a zoom lens you must make sure the hood is specifically for that lens. It sounds like at the point you hit 50mm the shot is becoming wide enough that you are starting to get the edges of the hood into the picture. I would also think that the wider the shot you take, the more you would get the hood in the edges of the picture.

- Doug V.

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*****
NEW QUESTION 10: Digital Layouts
I have a Canon D60 and use PSP 7. I have designed a lot of great layouts for Senior shots for 8x10's of serveral different poses, but when I size down my shots and then print the smaller photos are not clear. Any help with this would be great!

- Susan K.

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ANSWER 1:
Two possibilities that I know of: If by "sizing down", you mean changing the dimensions only (Resample turned off), then you're doing the right thing. When you decrease the image size, the resolution SHOULD go up, because you're squeezing the same pixels into a smaller space.

If you are making a collage or placing pictures onto a blank page, the resolution of your page should be the same as the res of the pictures you're placing on it. If you're printing on an inkjet, these photos and the page onto which you're placing them ought to be at least 240 ppi GOING INTO the printer. 300 is fine, more may be overkill, but doesn't hurt anything.
If you're making edits to these pics and saving several times in JPEG mode, you might be degrading them. Do all this work in TIF.

- Doug N.

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*****
NEW QUESTION 11: Wedding Shoot
I have been asked to shoot my first weddding. I use a Canon D60 digital. What pointers can anyone give me? I have had problems with underexposure inside and then get outside and have a lot of blue tint to my pics. I am a VERY hands on person and still not comfortable to setting camera myself. Too used to auto settings. I do a lot of editing myself after I take the photos.

I am open for any suggestions!!
A Big Thanks From Texas!

- Susan K.

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ANSWER 1:
Personally, I think that for doing good work on any field, if you use any instruments, then you have to know how your instruments work, their features and capabilites!

Don't get me wrong Susan, but You have to know how your camera works from button to button! In your very first assignment and as demanding as a wedding is, you have to know before hand how your camera works! If you have another camera that you feel more comfortable with, then go ahead and use it!. I believe is not the time to experiment with this camera on that wedding! ... But I also hope you will find answers for your problems! I'm not familiar with your camera.

- Leo E.

ANSWER 2:
I agree that you have to know your camera button to button. I shot my first wedding in Dec. With a new Nikon D100. The only problem I had was a little yellow cast from the lights at the reception. Not nearly as bad as what my step-daughter shot with film though. It sounds like you may need to set your white balance manually. I don't think the auto setting is doing it for you. The manual that came with your camera should give you a chart that explains everything in pretty clear english. Mine did. As far as exposer, buy a light meter. I didn't use mine a lot at the ceromony, but the shots that I metered with my light meter came out much more the way I wanted. This saves a lot of time editing afterwards. I hope you have a lot of memory. I took about 200 shots and my step-daughter took equaly as many with film. We delivered about 200 shots (we got to weed out some because they were duplicated). I got about 50 shot per 256MB memory card. Make sure you have extra batteries to charge and take. Have fun, relax, and do as much reserch on wedding photography as you can before the big day. My biggest tip is make a list of the shots the Bride and Groom want before hand and take it along. You will forget once you're in the mist of shooting. Be prepared to control what you want because everyone else is so nervous they don't know where they are supposed to be when. You have to tell them. Good luck!!! You'll do great.

- Judith C.

ANSWER 3:
Susan,
Wedding photography is anything but simple. For a traditional wedding there are two fundamental styles of photographs, and the type of shooting required to make them: formal portraiture, and candid editorial or photojournalist shooting. You have to be able to do both and switch from one to the other quickly and smoothly several times in the course of a wedding.

See my wedding survival guide:
http://johnlind.tripod.com/wedding/

It's intended for *advanced* non-professionals who haven't done one before. If you're doing this work professionally (i.e. being paid for it), you need to beef up your equipment inventory, especially with backup equipment and more sophisticated lighting than is presented in my tutorial. A paid professional should be using portable studio strobes on stands, typically with umbrellas, for the posed formals. Even so, you can consider it a basic primer that will acquaint you with the issues and major pitfalls.

It also centers on doing it with film. Since you're intending to do this with a digital, Judith is dead on about ensuring you have enough battery power, for camera and flash, and sufficient memory. One of the major pitfalls for those who have not done weddings before is seriously underestimating these requirements. Based on what I shoot (with film), her number of frames is low. I don't go on a shoot without enough film for about 500 frames, and typically burn 300-350 frames. Large weddings will consume more than smaller ones. Why so much overkill with all the extra film? Running out is catastrophic and a roll can jam up in a camera. Equivalent things can happen with digital memory if something doesn't work quite right or outright fails.

Experienced pros estimate likely film consumption (or memory for digital) as a "burn rate" in frames per hour for the type of shoot being planned, and how many hours they will be shooting. My wedding burn rate runs about 50 frames per hour. Some shoot more than this, and some shoot less. The estimated number of frames can then be used to estimate battery requirements for camera and flash.

Leo is also dead on regarding equipment familiarity; cameras, lenses, lighting, everything. This is an absolute must. When you pick up a piece of equipment, it should become a natural part of you . . . you should feel a "zen-like" oneness with it . . . and be able to operate everything in near darkness . . . seriously. There's too much to think about too quickly to be fussing much with equipment in trying to find controls, find settings, or integrate it with other equipment . . . and wedding receptions are almost always very dimly lit after the dancing starts.

All this said, I've found weddings both challenging and enjoyable even though they make for a long day and can feel drained afterward.

-- John

- John L.

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ANSWER 4:
Sorry John, you're right. I mentioned what we ended up shooting, but I had plenty of memory and film with me to shoot double that, we shot about 400 frames between us and this was a very, very small informal wedding and reception. I could have easily doubled that number had they even had a dance at the reception, or more guest. John's web site was an invalueble sorce of information for me, and I would have recommended it, but could not remember the web address at the time. Both guys are right about being familar with your equipment. Start practicing now, I set up a lot of shots with my daughter and son in-laws, and did all the research I could do online.

- Judith C.

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*****
NEW QUESTION 12: How to Shoot Great Senior Portraits
I have to take a couple peoples senior pictures in a couple of weeks and they want indoor pictures. I have no back drops but have ideas of how to work around that. My plans are to buy some type of thick material such as black and white and use that as the back drop also. I have no studio lighting but They only want a few indoor pictures in their gown against a black or a white back drop. I want these to look professional with what I have. I take excellent outdoor pictures. What should I do? I have a Canon AE-1 that has a separate flash that I don't really know how to use and I just bought a Nikon N-70 which I have not used yet? which camera should I use for these? I AM A QUICK LEARNER. Is it possible to use black and white film inside against say a black satin homemade backdrop with a flash already on the camera? If anyone can help me please be my guest. Are there any type of homemade things I could make? Any type of help is needed.

- Rebekah H.

ANSWER 1:
An advice I got is that you don't go on an assignment with the equipment you are not familiar with. I learned it the hard way. Personally I will stick with the AE-1 until I am very familiar with the new camera.

As for the backdrop, other experts here may help you how to make one yourself because I either use the wall (for b&w) or the one I bought.

For professional look portraits, you should separate your flash from your camera and put it on the side, at 45 degree, of your subject. It is doable with only one flash. But you must get a sync cord to connect your camera and the flash. I started out with a Canon AT-1 and one Metz flash (with tilted head). I mounted the flash on a tripod about 4 feet away from the subject, set the flash to full burst and tilted the flash head upward so the light is bounced from the ceiling (softer light and eliminate shadow behind). From 6 feet my setting on the camera should be f11 at 1/60 second. Since I bounced the light from the ceiling, I have to compensate for the light lost (approximately one and one half or two stops). So my setting is f5.6 at 1/60 second. Your flash manual should tell you what f stop to use at what distance and speed of film. You just need to open up 1 1/2 or 2 stops if you bounce the light. Later I bought an umbrella and a bracket to bounch the light. I also invested in a flash meter, a reflector, another Metz flash and a slave unit.

The problem with my light source bouncing from the ceiling in your situation is when the subject has the hat on because of the shadow under the hat. In this case, I would mount the flash on the tripod, slightly above your subject and cover the flash head with a white facial tissue or a thin rice paper and open up at least two stop and bracket from there. It would be very helpful if you have a flash meter so you know the exact exposure. As you move the light, the exposure will be different. Run a test roll before your assignment. Hope this helps.

- Andy

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*****
NEW QUESTION 13: Printing 13x19 Photos at 300 dpi
My objective is to be able to print 13x19 images at 300dpi. At this time, I want to continue using my 35mm camera equipment. Based on current consumer scanning alternatives at reasonable cost, Costco seems to offer the best deal, and for $0.29 will scan slides at 2,934 x 1,914 pixels at a resolution of 72. Using the image resize option in Photoshop (constrain proportions), this allows for a maximum printed image size of 6.4x9.8 at 300 dpi, which is only 25% of my desired image size for printing.

So my question is, what is the optimal way to digitize my images for printing 13x19 at 300 dpi, taking into consideration image quality, cost and time?

1. Costco scan and increase image size using Genuine Fractals
2. Purchase a flatbed scanner with transparency adapter (I dont know if this would still require Genuine Fractals to get to my desired print size?)
3. Purchase a higher resolution film scanner (I dont know if this would still require Genuine Fractals to get to my desired print size?)
4. Other alternatives?

Thanks.

- J

ANSWER 1:
It ain't Costco, J. Look into 4000 ppi film scanners. $1400 is a lotta money, BUT a really good 6 megapixel camera and storage cards to store images that big will cost a LOT more than the scanner. Learning to use Photoshop with this scanner will put you way ahead in digital imaging, skills that you can use elsewhere. If you're not getting the image size and resolution you want from a 4000 ppi scan, in my opinion, you're expecting too much from 35-mm.

I don't know what you're shooting, but images shot at full resolution with the latest digital SLR's may give you what you want. You might be able to use your lenses on the digital SLR.
Sure, upsampling works on some images, and GF is just an alternative software for upsampling. You might get away with it for SOME images. Get a professional scan on some test images. See what you have when you upsample them. You might like the results.

- Doug N.

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ANSWER 2:
It's like the old saying - "do you want it good or do you want it cheap?". Costco's not the way to go. If they're scanning for an output of 72dpi it's meant for viewing on a screen. All the genuine fractals in the world won't give you what you want (besides, there's a better way than G.F.).

I have a Canon CanoScan FS4000US. It is a 4000ppi scanner and you can get them for under $1K. If I scan a 35mm neg at 4000ppi the image size I get is very close to the dimension you are looking at. I've made 16x20 prints from 35mm with it that were beautiful.

If you don't want to invest in a film scanner, check out some quality minilabs (or pro labs) in your area. Most offer high resolution scanning these days.

Don't waste your money on Genuine Fractals (sorry if I'm too late). I mentioned there is a better way. Well here it is. Open your image in Photoshop. Click on Image Size. Enter the dimensions you want to get to and make not of the resulting file size. Don't hit OK yet. Under image size change to percent and enter 110. Now hit OK. Continue this process until the file size gets really close to your goal (you can make an action out of it to make it a one button process). Once your close then you can nudge it to the exact dimensions you want and voila! You're there. I've seen side by side comparisons between this and G.F. and it looks better to me (and most everyone else).

- Jeff K.

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Phoenix 100-400mm Lens?
Ok, I am a 16 year old (as of tomorrow) and have been using a Canon Rebel 2000 with the Canon's 28-80mm lens which came with it for about six months. So far, it has done me well, but since I live in Fairbanks, Alaska, I see wildlife all the time and wanted to get a lens that could cover it. I looked at the Sigma 70-300mm as well as the Canon's 75-300, but finally my dad has convinced into the Phoenix 100-400. I have been desperately trying to find reviews of the lens and would greatly appreciate the opinion of anyone who had used or owned this lens. But please if you are a professional photographer or high budgeted photographer, keep in mind that I have a low budget of under 300$ - that's all I got. Thank you.

- Dylan M.

ANSWER 1:
I have the same camera, and also decided to get a longer lens. I got mine via eBay and have used it for many photos and have NO complaints about the results. Have taken landscapes, wildlife-in-motion, and portraits and any flaws in them are completely mine, not the fault of the lens.
Please keep in mind that I am an amateur with limited experience, so if someone more knowledgeable comes along with advice, you should listen to them, not me.
PS--The zoom on the Phoenix is not a rotating type, but a slide or push-pull type. It's quick, but also, if you let the camera hang from your neck, it will be at full zoom when you're ready to use it. Do your best. Stev

- Orlando S.

ANSWER 2:
Dylan,

I have not used any of the specific lenses you mention, so I cannot speak about them. However I have used long lenses at the far end of the focal lengths you mention: 300mm to 600mm. If you do not already have a good tripod that can hold a body with longer, heavier lenses, consider getting and using one for lenses beyond about 180-200mm. 200mm is the limit of hand held work. Longer than that gets into noticeable camera shake. Even if you can run the shutter speed up to 1/1000th and faster to mitigate blurring, it's very difficult to hold it steady enough on the subject material to compose the photograph. A tripod set up with the head leveled, and the traverse and elevation loosened can allow panning and tracking from a very steady platform (just don't let go of the camera without tightening the elevation first).

-- John

- John L.

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ANSWER 3:
Dylan,

I recently bought the Sigma 70-300mm for my Pentax (same lens; different mount). This lens is smaller (lighter) than a lot of others with this range, which makes it easier to work with. It also has macro function at the 200-300mm range--only a flick of a switch to focus close up. I've gotten sharp results with the 300 length at less than 12 inches in good light.

The price is right too--under $200. I alternate between this lens and my 24-70mm, which is also a Sigma. I suggest you look at the focal length coverage you'll get with a 70-300, whether it's a Sigma or another brand. You will have a good range with your 28-80 and a 70-300, though I believe Sigma also has an 80-300 or 80-200 to fit the Rebel 2000--(not sure about this). Keep looking until you are sure about what will work best for your needs. Your dad's input is important, but you're the one who'll be carrying all the equipment AND taking the pictures. Don't be afraid to wait--do your homework, and you'll be glad you did.

- Piper L.

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ANSWER 4:
OOPS! Meant to say, "...sharp results with the 200mm macro as close as a foot, but you don't need to be this close to get good shots with a 200-300 reach.

Addendum: Be sure to compare the max apertures between the Canon tele and Sigma's f/4-5.6 max if you need the larger lens openings at this length.

Cheers, and good luck with your shooting. Would love to see some of your work.

- Piper L.

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ANSWER 5:
I have the Canon 75-300 and I would recommend getting the USM version if you do get the Canon. I shoot sports action photos (outside) for track and field and cross country. Especially for track where you have fast moving objects (like you would with wildlife at some times) the extra speed of the USM comes in very handy, in addition to its quiet focus (another feature you'll find handy for wildlife).

As for the Phoenix, I've never used one nor do I know anyone who has. The fact that its hard to find a review should also tell you something, its not real popular. For the 100 mm you'll lose, you may be better off staying with a well known model (Sigma, Tamron or Canon). Oh yes, do take a look at the Tamron 70-300.

Being a fellow younger photographer (I'm 20) I know all about low budget items. I've had great luck with the Canon (w/ USM) and would recommend it. Eventually you'll find yourself wanting a 70-200 f/2.8 :-)

- Brian

ANSWER 6:
The Phoenix 100-400 f/4.5-6.7 lens is made by Cosina. It is the same lens that is also sold as the Vivitar 100-400 f/4.5-6.7. I do not have first-hand experience with this lens, but it has been tested/rated at photodo.com. On a scale of 0(bad) to 5(best) it is rated .9-1.2 (not particularly good). If you only make 4x6 prints you might be satisfied with this lens, but don't expect much from enlargements. Autofocus needs a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or larger (smaller f-number) to work reliably. Having f/6.7 at the long end of this lens will make autofocus iffy.

For $330 at (www.bhphotovideo.com or www.adoramacamera.com) you can still get the Canon EF 100-300 f/5.6L. This lens is being discontinued because of its older non-USM focus motor and unpopular push/pull zoom, but it has true Canon "L" optics with Flourite and Ultralow Dispersion elements. It is a steal at this price. Otherwise I'd recommend the xx-300 zooms from Canon, Tamron, Sigma, Tokina.

- Jon C.

ANSWER 7:
The 100-300 5.6 L is a great lens. While it is definitely slower than my other f/2.8 optics it is sharp, and very easy to work with. Spend the extra $30 above your budget and spring for the Canon L, you'll NEVER regret the extra $30 spent.

- Scott W.

ANSWER 8:
Hello, I am curious to see what you have come up with about your Pheonix lens. I am in the same position - having a offer to pick up a Pheonix 70 to 300 auto focus lens for a Nikon f4. The camera probabally outclasses the lens, but I'm curious how much of a differenc. I'd like to hear what went on with your purchase.

- Matt

ANSWER 9:
Well this is Dylan, once again, the person who first posted the question. I'm am extremely happy to say that I went with the B&H Photo deal for the Canon 5.6 L lens for $330 and havn't regretted it. Unfortuantely Matt, I can't help you much since I bougt Canon, but I'm sure you can find a Nikon lens that is in the same class as the Canon. The images are incredibly sharp, and I never use the autofocusing anyway so the manual focus should work fine for you if you know the subject. Tell me how your purchase goes and if you want any more information, please feel free to respond to this thread. I'd love to hear from you!

- Dylan M.

ANSWER 10:
Hi there. I second that opinion to get the Canon one. Vivitar isn't quite what they used to be, and as photodo rates it (one of the best places for that imho) I would not even come near buying it. When I first got my camera, I got a Tamron 70-300 f/4.5-5.6, and that was my biggest mistake ever. It is rated 2.4 at photodo, but I found it awful. Low contrast / resolving power. I was deceived from day one. Since then, I've gotten a 80-200 f/2.8 (Nikkor). What a difference. I think the Canon one would be much much better of a choice. Don't waste money on bad lenses like I did.... Oh, at f/5.6 you sure want to use a tripod, especially if you stop it down at all.
Hope it helped at all.

- Carl

ANSWER 11:
You people just saved me money and aggrivation. I used a Canon AE1 for a long time and finally bought a newer camera. Canon EOS Rebel G. While doing a search for a 100-300 lens I found this site and plan on taking the advice found here. Common sense should have told me, "you get what you pay for".

- Ray

ANSWER 12:
BTW, just and update. I purchased a Canon 85-200 lens. Not my original choice but I tried it on my camera and liked it. Thanks again for reminding me not to be a cheapo! Ray

- Ray

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