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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 17, 2004
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* SPOTLIGHT: Capture Great Photos of Wildlife in Natural Settings
* BETTERPHOTO: New! Combination Online / On-Location Wildlife Workshop in California
* BETTERPHOTO: Point, THINK, and Shoot: Eight Quick Tips to Broaden Your Photography
* BETTERPHOTO: Learn All About the Business of Photography with Vik Orenstein
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: I Only Play a Photographer on TV / Impressive Paintings
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Filters Stuck?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Troubleshooting Shutter Speed
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Digital filters
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: How Has Your Photography Really Improved ?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Blurry Close-Ups
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Digitial Camera Optical Zoom X Ratings
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Opinion On My Picture
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: What Props to Start With?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Digital vs Medium Format Slide Film
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: What 50mm Lens for my Minolta Maxxum 5?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Photoshop Elements
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: TeleLens
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Storing Exposed Film in the Freezer
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Digital Performance in Cold Weather
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: I Can See The Pixels In My Piictures


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Capture Great Photos of Wildlife in Natural Settings
Join Triple "D" game farm in central California for its 2004 wildlife photography road show!

This unique opportunity offers photographers the chance to photograph wildlife models in an array of natural settings, providing you with beautiful, convincing, and visual interesting backgrounds for your animal pictures.

In addition, Triple "D" is offering a rare and exciting "Day On The Ranch" photo opportunity, where you can photograph running horses, roping, colorful cowboys, as well as a cattle drive.

I know I'll be there! In fact, I will be leading an exciting online / on-location mini-course. Learn more at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/wildlife-photography/JCM-CA.asp

Learn more about Triple D and the California road show at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/wildlife-photography/tripleD-california.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 147th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

First off, we wanted to make sure you knew that the January BetterPhoto contest winners have been posted. Congratulations to Terry Joshi for the Grand Prize winning photo, "NY 013", making it all the way to the top of our Landscape category. Congratulations are also in order for Rene Asmussen, Andrew Nitzberg, Francis Cailles, Takaki Kobayashi, and Anette Linnea Rasmussen for their beautiful First Place prize winning images. There's no doubt about it - we have a staggering degree of talent here among the BetterPhoto membership.

View all of the amazing contest winners at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/winners/0401.asp

You can also view all 572 contest finalists at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=2837

After being inspired by these contest winners, head on out and capture some of your own great images. Spring is just around the corner. As the winter photo ops are winding down and the crocus, cherry blossoms, and tulips are beginning to peek out, now is a great time to get out shooting.

We here at BetterPhoto are looking forward to a new exciting session of online courses, with four new classes. Last week, we discussed a new digital camera course by George Schaub and a new Photoshop class by Lewis Kemper. This week, we are introducing you to an excellent photography marketing class by Vik Orenstein and a fun, new beginning photography course by Tony Sweet.

Have a wonderful week of shooting,
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
New! Combination Online / On-Location Wildlife Workshop in California
Jim Miotke is thrilled to announce his combination on-location and online workshop for photographing wildlife in central California April 12th - April 15th.

This unique workshop experience offers photographers the chance to photograph wildlife models in an array of natural settings, providing you with beautiful, convincing, and visual interesting backgrounds for your animal pictures.

Imagine photographing animals such as grizzly cubs, mountain lion and kittens, wolves, bobcat, black bear, and even a beautiful Siberian tiger - all in natural settings. You will learn how to get great images that go beyond mere identifying shots, capturing the character, special qualities, and cuteness of these animals.

What's more, this workshop will include a special "Day at the Ranch" - where we will photograph running horses, cowboys, ranch activities, and a cattle drive.

More like a mini-course on photography, this workshop will include pre-trip learning materials and an assignment, as well as online photo critiques after the on-location shooting is completed.

Learn more about this unique opportunity at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/wildlife-photography/JCM-CA.asp


*****
Point, THINK, and Shoot: Eight Quick Tips to Broaden Your Photography
Have you ever wondered why your pictures don't look like those of a particular professional photographer? In Tony Sweet's online course especially designed for beginning photographers, you'll learn eight quick ways to take your images beyond the point and shoot level. With inspiring image examples and lessons, motivating assignments, and helpful critiques, Tony will show you how to stop and think before pressing the shutter button - in order to get a far superior photograph. Sign up today for Tony's course at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/TNS04.asp


*****
Learn All About the Business of Photography with Vik Orenstein
If you dream of making your photographic hobby into a thriving, income-producing business - but feel overwhelmed by all the forms and sales aspects, consider joining Vik Orenstein's upcoming online photography course, "The Business of Photography". Vik's down-to-earth and effective approach will give you the answers and direction you need with regard to such topics as pricing, taxes, marketing, and doing business plans. Learn how to run your own photography business with confidence, from one of the most successful photographers out there! Learn more at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/VIK04.asp

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Enrico Colantoni, who plays fashion photographer Elliot DiMauro on "Just Shoot Me!", went shooting in Alaska with the Canon Photo Safari. Who was his mentor for this show? What did they photograph together?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Roy Breslawski is:
I believe he was with Arthur Morris and they were photographing Bald Eagles.

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 - Impressive Paintings - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

Which famous Impressionist painter had a darkroom connected to his studio and would take pictures of the various scenes in his gardens?

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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Filters Stuck?
If you've ever had a filter stuck on your lens, or two stuck together, a rubber jar opener can come to the rescue! Two wide elastic bands can do the job, too, but I find carrying a simple jar opener to be the trick and they take up no room in your bag. If this doesn't work, try letting the two filters sit for a while. Sometimes, if one is warm and the other was colder, the expansion/contraction of the metal can cause a problem. By letting them sit, they equalize and that can often do the job.

Take Brenda Tharp's Creating Visual Impact or Beyond the Postcard Online PhotoCourses™

Learn more about our Online PhotoCourses™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.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
  • The top qualities that winning photos exhibit
  • Tips and secrets for consistently getting better results... and much more.
You can order this book online, call our toll-free order processing number 1-888-927-9992, or simply send a check or money order for USD $16.90 (or USD$18.90 if shipping to Canada or USD$24.90 to other international addresses) to:

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

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


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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - NEW THIS WEEK
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NEW QUESTION 1: Troubleshooting Shutter Speed
Re: Nikon N80. I am an unexperienced photographer - rec'd Nikon N80 from my husband for Christmas because I want to learn about photography. I have had my camera for about a year but only recently started experimenting with manual settings. Yesterday, while attempting to set shutter speed - I was unable to set speed any faster than 30. I keep getting "bulb" message. Looked in manual, but still can't solve the problem. Is there something wrong with the camera? Makes no difference what the Fstop is set at - just won't go beyond 30 shutter speed in manual or "s" modes without displaying "bulb". Note: using 400 speed b&w ilford film. Help! Very frustrated.
- Linda Flanagan

ANSWER 1:
Simply turn the adjustment dial the other direction. What you saw was 30 seconds then bulb, not 1/30. The fractions of a second will show in the display as just the denominator (250 for 1/250). For whole seconds there should be an additional mark by the number, such as 30" for 30 seconds.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
to John Close: Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! Such a simple solution to a problem that was driving me crazy. Now I can sleep tonite! I think I'll keep my camera! THANKS AGAIN. P.S. Recommend any good books for my camera besides Lantern?
- Linda Flanagan

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8272

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8272

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NEW QUESTION 2: Digital filters
I have just ordered a Canon EOS D10 with a Canon 28-135 lens (72mm). Is there a difference between a "digital" lens filter and a 35mm lens filter? The reason I ask is because while researching which filters I want, I see "digital" and "film" listed.
- Darlene Christensen

See Darlene's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Short answer: No. :)

The only real difference between "digital" and "film" filters is what normally is the size and the coatings. The size being 20-42mm for the typical "digicam" and "digital camcorder" filter sizes. Usually 37mm or so.

With film and prosumer digital cameras, the filter sizes are in the 42mm+ range. 49mm-72mm is typical.

The other difference would be the type and number of coatings to reduce things like Chromatic aberration which is a much bigger issue in digital photography than film photography due to the difference between film based capture and sensor based capture of light.

Basically, for your 10D, it is a moot point since you will be using some pricey EF glass which is already coated for high end optics. Filters you would use for "film" and "digital" would essentially be the same.
- Wing Wong

See Wing's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8271

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8271

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*****


NEW QUESTION 3: How Has Your Photography Really Improved ?
When I browse the images posted on betterphoto I see that the vast majority of them are taken with a digital of one kind or another. Very few it seems use film anymore. I suppose my question is in part historical, part philosophical, and part aesthetical. How has your photography improved by using digital capture as oppsosed to film? Did you, prior to switching to digital primarily shoot color slide or color negative film? Do you or can you see significant qualitative differences between your digital images and those you shot on film? If so, what? Finally, how many here actively sell images for stock, editorial, or commercial usage?

Thanks,
- Robert Bridges

Visit RBridgesphotography.com - Robert's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Nice questions. I shoot the same with digital or film cameras. I don't try to use digital to cover up something. I play around with images, like making fake movie posters, or obvious manipulations, but for me it's shoot it right when you shoot it.
And the reasons I'm using the website, I probably wouldn't have it with a film camera. Having to scan, not to mention buy a scanner. I already had the digital camera, so it was a simple step.
But for me, digital didn't do anything but let me do my own stuff. And do it quicker. I don't think digital makes very many people better anyway. At least not better at taking pictures.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Digital doesn't necessarily allow one to take better pictures, but it does allow one to practice taking pictures so that their picture taking skills can improve.

I used to use a 35mm with color negative film. The problem was that taking pictures "to practice" was costing money. So the end result was that I only took pictures when I needed to. Needless to say, pictures came out pretty bad.

When I switched to digital, I took hundreds of pictures. Actually, I'm about to take my thousandth picture with my most recent camera, the Minolta A1. I've only owned it for about 2 months now, but I've been shooting with it alot more than I have ever with any of my film cameras.

This alone contributes to a better understanding of the camea as well as a better familiarity with the camera. This can in turn lead to better pictures and picture taking.

As for the website posting frequency, Basically, why Gregory said: with film, you need to scan and resize and post. It is time consuming and requires a bit of effort. Wtih digital, your pictures are ready to go on your computer already. Much easier and that in turn leads to much more readily shared pictures.

With film, the quality of the development and the printing process greatly impacts the quality of the resulting image. Your efforts at the taking of the picture can be ruined by the developer or the printer. This is in turn followed up with scanning the image for digital work and the inevitable "dust" which needs to be edited out, no matter how hard you try to keep your work environment and negatives dust free.

With digital, I reduced my "blurred", "over developed", "under developed", and "un developable" shots from about 1 in 3 to about 1 in 50. From light to sensor to file to computer for any touch-ups or post-work. There is alot of control in the hands of the photographer with digital photography in terms of the development and processing of the negatives.

Ultimately, it comes down to the practice of photography being more convenient. And as it becomes easier to photograph, then more people will photograph and more often. That is what results in better pictures: practice. And I believe that is where digital cameras excel, giving people the ability to practice and develop their skill quickly and without additional costs.
- Wing Wong

See Wing's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
It can accelerate the learning because of being able to quickly see what the picture looks like, but in practice most people get better at fixing with a computer than getting better at taking pictures.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Gregory and Wing,

thanks for your comments to this question to date. Yes I agree that digital does not by itself make one a better photograper....something which only practice, work, effort, more work can do. I also understand the "efficiency" issue in terms of downloading images vs scanning. Wing, when you shoot color negative film you hardly ever get what you see unless you have the lab develop with NO corrections.
Just an observation there - congrats on your 1000th. I hope more people respond to this because I think that questions like this are important for us to think about.
Thanks
- Robert Bridges

Visit RBridgesphotography.com - Robert's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
Thanks for the tip and the congratz, Robert. :)

I think that was my problem with film, I took it to the 1hour/1day places and had it developed for pickup the next day. Though for the most part, it was the point-n-shoot habits that I found myself sorely needing to be rid of. :

Greg, you are quite right about the fixing with a computer as opposed to better pictures. When I first started digital, I fell into the mindset of "I'll just fix it in photoshop later" instead of "I should get this shot as close to what I'm imagining". I ended up trying to fix the unfixable in photoshop. It wasn't until my second digital camera that I really thought about what was wrong with the majority of my shots. Ie, composition, exposure, color balance, and focus. Once I got to practicing and improving those areas, I only ever used photoshop to auto-levels, crop, and/or sharpen as needed for most normal photos. (Panoramas, "artistic manipulations", and cleanups of objects later found in the picture are the exception.)
- Wing Wong

See Wing's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 6:
I too believe that digital will lead to better photos. The reason has been stated, but to repeat, cost was prohibitive - thus less practice, not to mention trying to remember what settings I was using in the first place.

Remove the cost and you can work on composition, colour, balance, etc.

The goal being getting the best shot right out of the camera and spending little to no time (unless you just want to play) altering the images in Photoshop.

Being able to shoot a 1,000 shots a week or more has really helped me better understand my equipment and how camera settings affect the outcome of the shot.

Understanding this allows for getting desired results by visualizing the outcome and setting the camera accordingly.
- Damian Gadal

Visit gadal-imagery.com - Damian's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 7:
No one would dispute that first-generation digital right out of the camera is much more convenient. Howvwer, an archivist here in Washington brought out a potentially troubling pitfall with digital. It can all too easily be just a temporary image, too easily lost in hard drive crashes, server failures, or deterioration and/or obsolescence of the medium on which the image is stored.

When we shoot for the web, the image contains a limited amount of color and structural information. It all too easily falls apart. If I luck out and and get a Pulitzer quality shot at an event here in DC, I'd better shoot at a resolution that enables 300 ppi print quality, and I'd better archive that shot to CD, and keep up with changes in CD/DVD technology, so that I don't end up with my best images stored on a medium that cannot be read. From what I see in the contest entries, you younger folks are coming up with truly stunning work. I'd hate to see you shooting just to post JPEG's on screen. Your stuff is just too good.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 8:
You all have great points on this topic. Digital allows the ability to practice technique without the inconvenience, or financial burdens associated with film.

I still shoot all film, and am always learning. Every time I depress the shutter, it cost me @ $.28. This forces me to be selective, and to take my time on such things as lighting, exposure, background clutter, critical focus, composure,...etc. For me, this is the best way to practice.

Doug brought up an excellent point about the vulnerability of digitally stored archives. (CD-ROM is actually an acronym and stands for, "Computer Device Rendered Obsolete In Months") :)

All joking aside, I like having a transparency original to back up all my images. One day, I'll get a digital SLR for casual shooting, but will keep using slide film fo my good stuff.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 9:
Thanks for the serious, thoughtful input to the above from all! Doug, I am aware of the pitfalls of digital storage not to mention the totally different work flow versus film. I hope you do get lucky and win a pulitzer some day - better still I hope you maintain copyright on that great shot so that it can generate revenue for you and not for the paper! I also agree that I am blown away by the images and the overall creativity of the images I often see posted here. I also admit to being both somewhat jealous of that creativity and somewhat concerned that the computerization of images and the massive proliferation of images.....the production, the range of manipulation, and the reproduction of them presents some serious challenges to how we understand "writing with light." Thanks for your input! Bob, I see two sides to the coin here: Heads.....getting instant feedback can be helpful but can also negate the discipline that goes into image selection and
"seeing." Tails: Knowing that each shot costs does force one to be more selective and careful. I think it costs me .32 cents per shot.

One other aspect not mentioned is the pallet of film vs digital. Digital images, to my mind, seem to all look the same regardless of camera. Whereas there is considerable difference between the old and new Velvia's, the Astia's, the Provia's
etc....between batchs and within films themselves. When Nikon/Fuji comes out with a "dial a velvia" I might have to bite the bullet myself.

Thanks all,
- Robert Bridges

Visit RBridgesphotography.com - Robert's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8264

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8264

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*****


NEW QUESTION 4: Blurry Close-Ups
I have a new Nikon Coolpix 5700 and love it so far except that sometimes when I take still close-ups, my photos come out blurry for no reason. Any ideas why?
- Lulu LeLeux

See Lulu's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Is the area you're shooting in well lit, are you using a tripod, and does your camera have a macro mode that you need to set?
- Damian Gadal

Visit gadal-imagery.com - Damian's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
You're right I wasn't in macro mode! That must be the problem! Thank you so much!
- Lulu LeLeux

See Lulu's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8257

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8257

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: Digitial Camera Optical Zoom X Ratings
Can you tell me exactly what each increment of "X" means in the optical zoom ratings? Forinstance: if 7X = 200mm and 8X = 280mm, what does that mean for may photos? If an object is 8 yards away will it appear 1 yard away with 8X?
Thanks
- Jody E. Ellis

ANSWER 1:
The multiple is usually just the ratio of the long and short focal lengths of the zoom. so a 28-200 zoom is a 7x zoom.

To relate the magnification provided by a telephoto to that usually given for binoculars, you divide the lens focal length by the diagonal of the film image. For 35mm film the diagonal is 43mm (though 50mm is normally used for this calculation). So a 200mm lens is equivalent to 4x power binoculars.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
John,
Thank you for your reply but I'm still confused - if a 200mm lens is the equivalent of 4X - why do the digital camera makers say that a 200mm lens=7X and a 280mm lens = 8X? Sorry to be so dense but I'm missing a piece here.
- Jody E. Ellis

ANSWER 3:
Something to do with the starting mm rating and the ending mm rating.

For instance, 28mm-200mm is "7x" since 28mm times 7 is about 200mm. (196mm).

It depends on what the starting mm(focal length) is compared to the ending focal length. So a camera that starts with 28mm and ends at 200mm will have a greater X rating than one which starts at 35mm and ends at 200mm, since it is "only" a 5x or a 6x.

Hope that helps. :)
- Wing Wong

See Wing's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
The 8x zoom is undoubtably 35mm-280mm. Actually, [just to add to your confusion ;) ] the lens is probably something like 7mm-56mm and the 35-280 is what its equivalent would be on a 35mm film camera.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8256

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8256

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Opinion On My Picture
I have taken this pic with Sony Mavica fd-90. I don't know what is wrong in this pic. Can you tell me what should I do to improve this photograph?
- Jagrut Raval

See Sample Photo - coins:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=296675

ANSWER 1:
I don't see anything "wrong" with this photo, though I personally would have chosen one of the 2 in-focus coins to be fully in the frame instead of cropping both of them. There are of course different choices to be made with respect to depth of focus, direction of the lighting, the overall color cast, etc.

What do you think is "wrong" with this picture?
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Depends on what you saw in your head before you took the picture, which nobody knows but you. But the background is dark, and you could use more coins to fill up the background.
But if you were trying to get more of a shine off the coins, change your shooting angle. And play around with the angle the light's coming in.
But really, you have to be the one that has to look and know "what's wrong". Because you may have wanted the background dark. So just keep experimenting.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Offhand I would agree with the above two postings: What is right/wrong is dependant on the photographer's intent. :)

Having said that, however, the first impression I had of the photo were:
- Darkness

The darkness of the photograph, or rather, the lack of distinction, lends the photograph a very "late in the day" feel to it. Looking at it, I feel tired.

- Focus

The focus of the picture appears to be on the two largest coins. However, because some of the coins in the foreground are also in focus and neither of the two coins are full in frame, the focus of the picture is not apparent. The picture feels "distracted" by trying to take in too much into the frame.

If the intent was to create a lazy afternoon unfocsed photograph, then it works. If the intent was not that, then the intent isn't coming through cleanly through the photograph. I guess the line of thinking I would use is that the photograph lacks a feeling of cohesiveness. Each part of the photo is trying to say something different and that distracts from what the intent of the photograph might be.

Just my opinion though.
- Wing Wong

See Wing's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Thank you everybody for your response. I have taken another pic. Is this one better than the first one?
- Jagrut Raval

See Sample Photo - coins:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=298636

ANSWER 5:
Wow, much improved. The image seems to be more "awake". With the coin on the right in the frame, the point of focus is much clearer than in the original shot.

The other thing also is that this shot is a horizontally oriented shot as opposed to vertical as the original one was.

Really nice improvement.
- Wing Wong

See Wing's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8255

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8255

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: What Props to Start With?
I am starting out in my home and am looking for some props to start with for portrait photography. Most of them are very expensive in the catalogs. I am mostly interested in photographing children. I plan to look at antique shops, yardsales, and even walmart to come up with less expensive props. Also, my dad and my husband play around with carpentry--is there anything they could build for me? And for small children, do I need a table to put them on? Thanks!
- Tammy Comer

ANSWER 1:
I have recently begun to collect props. Actually a great place to start is craft places. I just bought a mini white picket fence at Hobby Lobby in the Garden section for $10. Also Michael's craft has great unfinished wood items like a rocking chair or stools or benches. You can stain them the color you like. You can usually use a 40% off coupon or they often go on sale. Look around and think as a kid what would be cute. I've actually found too many cute things for cheap that I've had to cut back. yard sales and antique mall's are also great. Think vintage!
- Kristen J.

ANSWER 2:
For small toys, games, and other playthings of interest to children, check out a nearby Dollar Store. (This is also a great source for still-life props like glassware and vases.)
I occasionally walk through these shops and I am amazed at the stuff which can be found for practically nothing.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Hi Tammy,

Hmm... off the top of my head:

- Step blocks

These are great for people to stand on to even out height or to seperate a back row of people from the front row for group shots. They are also great for children to sit on when they are posing in front. Just be sure to round the edges of the blocks/boxes so that the wood is smooth to the touch.

- Simple stools

This is the so-called "portrait" stool. Think slightly shorter than normal barstool. Good for people to sit on for single or multiple people shots. Make sure the stool is padded for comfort sitting on the edge or at an angle.

- Curtain/backdrop hanger

Something that can hang a 8'-10' tall and about 6'-15' wide curtain or background for an impromptu background. Not required if you are shooting in the environment of a living room or library. :)

- "Antique" table or chairs

Something to add character to a group or solo shot. You can "antique" something by distressing it and then oiling the wood to give it a deep "lived in" look.

- Throw rug, Vases, and "antique" metal light stands.

Various items to add to the richness of the scene or as props for people to lean against/stand next to.

The items above can be had at just about any WalMart, IKEA, Home Depot, Michael's Art and Craft store. Don't skip over places like KMart, BigLots, and other "Storage bin" places as they tend to have great deals on cheap items that can really add character to a shot.
- Wing Wong

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NEW QUESTION 8: Digital vs Medium Format Slide Film
I'm torn between digital and slide photography, and am thinking of selling my Hasselblad system and my Pentax system and going to digital. Should I? And if I do what type of digital camera should I purchase? I still have a Nikon system (n8000S, and my favorite Nikon F, yes F which I love to shoot with and the lens to go with this camera) any suggestions would be appreciated.
- Stan Kwasniowski

ANSWER 1:
Hi Stan,

Does your hasselblad have a interchangable back which might be compatible with one of the digital backs available? I'm assuming the hasselblad you have is medium format.(see www.luminous-landscape.com)

Depending on what kinds of pics you want to shoot and what kind of lens/equipment you want to use, the choice is far ranging.

Hasselblad's H1 is a nice medium format digital camera body which will work great with the Kodak DCS Pro Back and the Phase One digital backs. So is the Mamiya 645.

Take a look at luminous-landscape.com, dpreview.com, and steves-digicams.com to get an idea of which cameras can do what in relation to your needs.

Good luck!
- Wing Wong

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ANSWER 2:
Thank you Wing for your kind thoughts, I will look into the sights you suggest. And it is a medium format, Its a 500ELM a moon camera that came out in 1979 and their were 1500 only manufactured, my number is 0174 of the 1500 that were made. I still have the orginal box it came in, the Hasselblad pencil, key chain and gold slide.
Again, thank you for your opinion, never thought of that.
- Stan Kwasniowski

ANSWER 3:
If you want to go digital. You should check out Nikon's D-100. You can use the same lenses as you currently use on your other Nikon bodies... (assuming that they are not pre-AI models).

I'd definately hang on to that vintage Hassy!
- Bob Cammarata

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ANSWER 4:
Bob, thank you for your comments, you know I had just looked into the freezer and seen all that slide film Velveta etc. for my Blad and stared to think maybe I will keep the Blad, Its expensive to operate using slide film which is all I use that for, I think I will hold on to it and use up all that film first, and maybe now think to sell my pentex system and go from there, again thank you.
- Stan Kwasniowski

ANSWER 5:
Why not keep both the Hassy and the Pentax and STILL go digital. You could get a nice dedicated film scanner for less than the price of the digital back. Look at the latest Nikons for MF. I ended up going with a Canon FS 4000US for 35mm and the Epson 3200 for MF and LF (slides). They're ok but, the Nikon would probably be much better... espically for the MF transpencies.
- Terry

ANSWER 6:
Thank you Terry, I think I may go this way as you suggest, I think I will sell my pentex system and buy what you suggested. Or else buy a small digital camera for fooling around and have the best of both worlds. Well at least for now.
- Stan Kwasniowski

ANSWER 7:
I too was a little interested in digital, but had a lot invested in film equipment. So, I wound up purchasing a high grade consumer model digital camera, the Canon Digital Rebel. It has some draw backs from the pro model, but I saved some cash, and it is good enough for experimentation.

I am glad I did that because I am not too impressed by digital. One thing was I thought I could use it to check exposure settings, especailly when using studio strobes, but it seems to read light differently from film, so it's a waste of time for that.

It's a good medium for some things. I could see myself taking it on a trip while travelling. It would be a strong advantage not to have to fumble around with film.
- Jerry Frazier

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ANSWER 8:
Thanks Jerry, as getting all these comments and evaluating them, thinking of what I could get for my Blad etc, I am going to do as you did, buy myself a Canon A80 and try it out, for my personal use and go from there. Over the last few years I have been photographing at the Calgary Stampede each July, both rodeo, and people. This year I thought I would try digital and see how it goes. Nice thing about digital is that I will try it out the first few days and if it is not to my expectations, then back to the Nikon with slide film. As you say, fumbling with film just as a great ride is in progress, and nice thing is you can see it, but can't load fast enough to catch it on film.
- Stan Kwasniowski

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NEW QUESTION 9: What 50mm Lens for my Minolta Maxxum 5?
I own a Maxxum 5 and am looking to purchase a 50mm lens - mostly for weddings/portraiture. I am looking at the Minolta 50mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.7 lenses. My question is:
* Which is better and/or what is the difference between the two? It appears that all of the specs are the same except for size/weight.

I am also looking at flashes. Any recommendations? I have looked at the Minolta models (3600 and 5600 models mostly) and some Vivitar models.
- Tamara Bradley

ANSWER 1:
Hi Tamara,
Off the bat, one is brighter(f/1.4). I'm also hazzarding to guess that that one is also the bigger one.

The benefit of brighter optics is that you will be able to take shots even when the situation has darkened, ie. inside the church, at night, indoor shots, etc.

The benefit of the lighter one is that you will be able to heft the setup around longer without arm strain. (sorry if this is stuff you know already, just writing stuff down as it comes off the ol'noodle.)

I'm looking at flashes myself and I would have to go with the 5600 models. More adjustment for the flash head for bounces(getting indirect light from the ceiling/walls/etc). The 5600 is also a remotely programmable flashhead. Ie, you link it with your camera and can trigger it remotely with IR from your camera. Very useful.

For wedding photography, I would be looking at a setup that has a good bounce head and maybe a diffuser cover/sock/hood for the flash head to soften the light for a more natural look.
As for the lens, I think it is a matter of how much weight you are willing to put up with and how steady your hand is in darker situations.
You might want to consider a second lens in the 100-150 range for some mid-distance portrait shots and group shots.

Good luck with your wedding photos and portraits! Would love to see some resulting shots! I'm looking at the 3600/5600 myself. However, I'm using the Minolta A!, so I don't have a choice with the lens.
- Wing Wong

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ANSWER 2:
The price difference between f/1.4 and f/1.7 or f/1.8 50mm lenses is due to
(a) the extra 1/2 to 2/3 stop larger maximum aperture, and the larger glass and extra correction that goes with it.
(b) generally better build quality for professional use.

Up to you whether to spend more for the extra speed and build quality of the f/1.4, or be satisfied with the nearly disposable economy of the f/1.7.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 3:
P.S. forgot one other thing.

I don't know about the Minolta line, but in Canon, the f/1.4 50 has more aperture blades (8) for rounder, softer, more pleasing out-of-focus highlights (good "bokeh"). The f/1.8 is good and sharp, but the pentagon shaped out of focus highlights from the 5 blade/straight edged aperture isn't as pleasing.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 4:
Tamara,

I own the 50mm f1.7 Dynax/Maxxum lens and it is extremely sharp. Now the reason you might want to 'upgrade' to the f1.4 version is if you want a lens that is even sharper! The f1.4 is a G lens which means both optically and in construction it is superior to the f1.7. But seriously, how sharp can you get, the 50mm f1.7 lens is extremely affordable on the second-hand market, personally I would go for this one as it is a top performer, the f1.7 aperture is massively wide, and wide enough for low-light work, it also gives a nice bright viewfinder image for critical and fast focusing (the Maxxum 5 has a good bright viewfinder anyway).
Also, when shooting at f1.4 with the G lens, your depth-of-field will be SO shallow that you will have to work very hard to keep your subject's eyes sharp in the photographs. It will however teach you the importance of choosing your focus point wisely.
As for the flash, the main difference is that the 5600 HS(D) flash has a SWIVEL head as well as a bounce head, whereas the 3600HS(D) only has a bounce head (contrary to the comments of other answers here). The other difference of course is the power of the two flashes, the guide no. being incorporated into the model no. i.e 5600 (GN 56) and 3600 (GN 36). THe 5600 also has a few additional features which may or may not be useful to you. The guide no. of 56 would be better for weddings considering the distance between you and your subjects, even only for fill-in flash. All of the mentioned Minolta products are top notch, and you'd be proud to own any of them.
I hope this helps, good luck!
- Adam J. Lucas

ANSWER 5:
Thank you everyone for your input and suggestions!! Perhaps for now I will go with the f/1.7 and consider upgrading in the future should it be necessary, and go with the 5600 flash for added versatility.

Thanks a bunch!
- Tamara Bradley

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NEW QUESTION 10: Photoshop Elements
I have recently purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. I was reading the course outline offered for Photoshop and noticed that 7.0 was needed. Do I have to have 7.0 or will 2.0 be suffice?

Let me know,
Thanks.
- Michelle Gumina

ANSWER 1:
Michelle:
I use Photoshop Elements 2.0 for my photo editing. It is a user friendly limited edition of Photoshop. It is geared only for doing photo work, it does not have the capabilities of the full blown 7.0 version for graphic work. I don't know what course you are looking into taking and why. If they specificlly stated 7.0 then that I am sure that is what they mean but be prepared it is going to cost you! If you are only interested in using it for photo editing then Elements should be sufficient for your needs. Hope this helps.
- Dan

ANSWER 2:
Thanks Dan for the tip. I guess I'm a bit overwhelmed with the program. There is just so much I can do. The problem is learning how to work the program. I was looking into a course to help me learn how to use the program the hands on way rather than having to read through all the technical instructions offered in the book. Really, it gives me a headache!! Thanks, for the input.
- Michelle Gumina

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NEW QUESTION 11: TeleLens
I have Canon 10D and Canon 28-135mm (45-210) lens. What would be an effective way to extend my tele capability: extention tubes, teleconventor or 75-300mm lens?
What are the pros and cons of each approach?
- Leonid Strizhevskiy

ANSWER 1:
I am a 10D user too. You did not state what series lens you are using. If you are using L series 2.8 lens or the equlivent then cost is a big factor. You could go with a 1.4 or a 2x tele converter to extend your lens for much less money than the cost of another lens. The 1.4 will cost you 1 f stop nd the 2x will drop you two f stops. You can pick up an f3.5-5.6 75-300 canon usm on ebay for around $150 or less. Of course the 10D does extend the effective focal lengh of your lens by a factor of 1.6 making the 75-300 the equlivent of a 120-480. Extention tubes will not extend your tele capabilities but they allow you to focus much closer for macro shooting. I hope this helps.
- Dan

ANSWER 2:
Thanks Dan, It is helpful.
I am not using the L series, due to an obvious reason. What are pros and cons teleconvertor vs 75-300mm?
Many thanks,
- Leonid Strizhevskiy

ANSWER 3:
The Canon Extender only works on a handful of L series lenses only. Auto focus capability is limited or even impossible on those lenses. I have a 75-300mm lens also. Go to the Canon site and see what lenses are compatible with the extender. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

ANSWER 4:
Many thanks Andy,
And one more: what will be the cons and pros of extention tubes vs macro lens?
- Leonid Strizhevskiy

ANSWER 5:
Macro Lens:
Pros -
1) True life size magnification (though the 50mm macro must use a life size converter to achieve this)
2) Sharper from center to edge (arguable)
3) Auto focus (still manual focus recommended)
Cons -
1) More expensive compare to extension tube or close up lens
2) One more lens to carry
3) Weight

Extension Tube:
Pros -
1) Economical
2) Lighter
3) Can use on most lenses (although Canon recommended the EF12 to be used on wide angle lenses and the EF25 for normal or telephoto lenses, it may not work on zoom lenses)
Cons -
1) Almost no auto focus in most cases
2) Even with EF25, no lens will come up with life size magnification; mostly not even half the life size

Another alternative is to use the close up lens. I used a Tiffen 4x close up lens on my EF28-135mm f3.5-5.6 before I acquired the EF100mm f2.8 Macro. With the 4x close up lens, it came up to about 0.76x magnification, which is not bad. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

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NEW QUESTION 12: Storing Exposed Film in the Freezer
I live in Belize where it is hot 11 months out of the year and there is no air condioning. I have just learned about storing new film in the fridge or freezer, which I am going to begin doing immediately. My question is: Can the film be returned to the fridge or freezer after I have finished the roll or are there other ideas to preserve it? Sometimes it is 3-6 months before I can send it with someone back to the U.S. to be developed. Appreciate the help!
- Rhonda E. Weaver

ANSWER 1:
http://www.kodak.com/global/en/consumer/products/techInfo/e30/e30Contents.shtml
is Kodak's recommendations for storing/handling film. They recommend that exposed film be processed immediately.

"Storage at a low temperature after exposure will retard latent-image changes. You can keep exposed, unprocessed film in a refrigerator for a few days when necessary. Put the film in a sealed container, and allow the unopened container to reach room temperature before removing the film for processing."
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Thank you!
- Rhonda E. Weaver

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

CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Digital Performance in Cold Weather
I have a question about digital SLR camera performance in sub zero winter conditions. Just how well will these wonders perform in very cold weather extremes?
- Michael McCullough

ANSWER 1:
Mostly fine. No moving parts (except the lens), no film to get brittle. Only problem is that battery life drops precipitously with the temperature.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Does film get brittle in the cold? I keep mine in the freezer. I hope that's okay. :)
- Jerry Frazier

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ANSWER 3:
Hello All,

I believe that it depends upon how cold you mean? Compact Flash and Smart Media have extremes which they will not go beyond.

Smart Media - according to the Fuji S2 Manual - should not be used below 0*C. I believe that compact Flash and microdrives will suffer a similar fate. I also believe that the LCDs are limited to operating in certain temperatures as well - should be in your manual, or on the camera manufacturers Web site.

I have seen examples of work done in the Antartic. The photographer used a manual camera and film - (no camera LCDs etc - batteries only operated the exposure meter in the camera). He mentioned that one of the biggest problems was using the camera through the mittens - or the possibility of frost-bite if removing the mittens. He also mentioned that the film was brittle and he damaged the odd roll of film trying to load it into the camera, and as already mentioned batteries do not last long.

As far as keeping your film in the freezer (or the fridge)- it is ok as long as you let it come to room temperature before using it. This stops condensation entering the camera and the possible tearing of the film due to the brittleness if trying to load it when brittle.

Regards,
- Davin Edridge

ANSWER 4:
I use a Fujifinepix 3800, and yes the manual gives an operating range of 0-30 c. 0 c corresponds to 32 in the f scale. By experience , living in northern ontario , and having not purchased me cam till dec of the year. Winter pics are the only pics i've shot. I don't think any of the hundreds i've snapped showed any effects from the temperature. And some were taken at at temperatures exceeding -20 c. A good example is in this months contest for you to view. Appropriatly called 20 below. I should note the cam never spend 2 hours emersed in those temps. Nor would the photographer!but sometimes it was over an hour in the outer pocket of a parka. And often it was exposed for periods longer then half an hour. So I guess try to keep it warm best you can, but I havent seen any adverse effects even the lcd display functioned for the 15 minutes I was on the shore of a wind swept lake bracketing a series of shots and varied compositions. More of a concern may be effects of condesation of the electronics and lenses when the camera shifts from those cold temps to a warm moist environment. the point being, to play with a $400 fuji cam this way, while I can afford to do so, take the chance, I don't believe I would however try the same experimentation with a camera with higher price tags. Just couldn't afford to take any chances!
- Mike Fitzgerald

ANSWER 5:
Actually digital cameras perform better at lower tempratures. Digital "noise" is drastically reduced at extreemly low tempratures. The batteries are your weak link. Try keeping them in your pocket or a heated vehicle until you are ready to shoot. The biggest problem for your digital camera is condensation that could damage fragile electronics. I allways try to let my equipment aclimate by leaveng it in the bag (Tamrac backpack in my case) so it can slowly change temprature before taking it out for use, keeping batteries warm seperately. Hope these tips help.
- Dan

ANSWER 6:
Okay, I'm thrown off by the talk of batteries loosing life in the cold. I have always been told the best place to store my unused batteries is in the freezer, and so I do. Am I shortening their life span? Where is the best place to store them?
- Nicole C. West

ANSWER 7:
Storage and use are two different things. Refrigerating/freezing batteries increases their storage life by slowing down the chemical reactions that expend the charge. But at the same time, cold increases the internal resisitance of the battery, making it unable to deliver that charge.

When working in the cold, the battery will appear to quickly lose its charge and be unable to power the device. But it doesn't need recharging so much as it just needs to be warmed up.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 8:
Another factor you will want to consider is condensation. Digital cameras are even more sensative to condensation than electronic film cameras. The condensation can cause internal corrosion and/or shorts.

The battery issue can be worked around by bringing extra batteries. Go with CF cards as opposed to hard drive based storage. So no microdrives and such. The only other concern would be the various rubber and rubberized plastic parts of some digital cameras. The extreme code may render them brittle and/or cracking.
- Wing Wong

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CONTINUING QUESTION 2: I Can See The Pixels In My Piictures
I am shooting with the Canon 10D. I have had wonderful luck in the past few months and all of my pictures have turned out great. The images are large and are brought in as jpegs. I burn the ones I like and on a CD and take them to a local lab for developing. All of which has worked perfect until now. I got a whole series of pictures back and the megapixels are showing in the faces of the portraits. First of all how or can I fix it and second how to I keep from doing this again?
- Gretchen D. Solomon

ANSWER 1:
If you're shooting for printing, you have an excellent camera. Just be sure you are setting a high enough quality level to keep this from happening. Try to isolate the problem that caused this, whether it was inadvertantly setting a wrong setting, overcompressing the JPEG's, or editing them too many times with too many Edits and Saves, thereby causing them to look as if they were made of LEGO blocks.

For the best possible image quality, have you tried shooting in raw mode and high bit color, doing the brightness/contrast/color correction in Photoshop and only then doing the switch to 8-bit and to TIF? JPEG is for sending and posting to the web, although some people get away with multiple edits and are getting decent prints.
- Doug Nelson

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ANSWER 2:
I've have gotten similar problems on the highlight areas of white clothing and objects when using strobes and being less than meticulous about my exposures. If your skintones are the lightest part of your shot and the lighting set-up is contrasty (a lot of side to side contour, for instance,) and you're over exposing EVEN JUST A LITTLE BIT this could be your problem --especially if your subjects are moving around a lot toward your light source. You can check this theory by looking at any shots with multiple subjects and comparing the faces --are the ones closest to a light source the ones with the mega pixels?
- Vik Orenstein

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ANSWER 3:
Hmm... the Canon 10D is a 6.3MP digital camera. Unless you were cropping heavily, taking pictures at a low resolution mode on your camera, using ALOT of Jpeg compression, or the photo place did something weird to your shot, you should not be seing pixels in a digital print from a 6.3MP camera.

I had an Olympus C2100UZ which was a 2.1MP camera and did 8"x10" blowups at home on my Epson printer and did not see pixels unless I looked closely(4" from face).
Overexposure CAN affect the look of the picture, but it shouldn't pixelate your image to the point where you can see the pixels in the final output. :
Gretchen, if you want, I can take a look at one of the JPEGs you archived and had printed to see what's up. I'm curious since the 10D is a pro-grade camera and shouldn't have that problem.
- Wing Wong

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