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


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IN THIS ISSUE - Monday, March 21, 2005
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* SPOTLIGHT: Spring Online Courses: Enjoy a Season of Learning and Shooting!
* BETTERPHOTO: Featured Article by Kathleen Carr: Getting Creative with Polaroid Transfers
* BETTERPHOTO: Book of Month: Brenda Tharp's Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography
* BETTERPHOTO: Spring Color with Art Wolfe
* FEATURED GALLERY: Focusing on Beautiful Morning Light
* FEATURED PLACE: Focusing on the Beauty of Norway
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Annie's Images / Photographic Legend
* THIS WEEK'S TIP:
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Printers for Digital Photos
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Memory Card: Please Help!!
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Photo Problems - With Hair, Pinstripes
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Sports Photography: Stopping the Action
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Product Studio Set-Up
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Selling Parade Pictures ... Model Releases
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Wedding Photography: Low Light
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: How Many Megapixels?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Converting RAW Files to Adobe DNG (RAW) Format
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: New Canon Lens; USA Vs. Imported
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Digital Images on South African Photo Safari
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Why Are My Photos Fogged and Grainy?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 13: Digital Camera: How to Buy It?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 14: Macro Lens Vs. Extension Tubes
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 15: Flash Cards: Losing Images
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Understanding Exposure


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Spring Online Courses: Enjoy a Season of Learning and Shooting!
Would you like to learn more about exposure, composition, digital photography, photographic field techniques, Photoshop, specialty subjects, or the business and marketing aspect of photography? Join us this spring for an inspiring online class at BetterPhoto.com. To aid in the decision-making process, check our course categories page at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 204th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

Springtime always offers lots of photo opportunities. And for those of you who celebrate the upcoming Easter holiday, be sure to keep your camera ready for even eye-catching subjects: colorful Easter eggs in the grass, children hunting for eggs or eating chocolate treats, and parents/grandparents looking on with fond memories of holidays past. Or you could get creative with still life possibilities. We are thrilled about our next session of online photo courses. In fact, the spring lineup is our best ever - thanks to a number of exciting new classes. And, although the next session doesn't kick off until April 6th, signups are already proceeding at a lively clip. See all of our course offerings at: http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp Have you completed Charlie Borland's popular "Lighting for Commercial Photography" class? If so, his new Course Exension is designed to move you to the next level of refining your lighting skills. Special Introductory Offer: $210 (the price will be raised after this session). Information: http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/CBL03.asp And in this issue of SnapShot, don't miss Kathleen Carr's new article, "Getting Creative with Polaroid Transfers", Charlie Borland's photo tip on custom backdrops, and an excellent QnA with lots of input from instructor Peter Burian. That's it for now. Enjoy this week's SnapShot ... and happy shooting! Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


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Featured Article by Kathleen Carr: Getting Creative with Polaroid Transfers
With the Polaroid image and emulsion transfer process, plan on having fun and coming up with some unique and captivating images! That's the word from master photographer and instructor Kathleen T. Carr. One of the great things about both the image and emulsion transfer processes is that you don't need a lot of expensive photo equipment. Transfers have been dubbed "kitchen art" because you can do them on your kitchen table. Kathleen, by the way, teaches two excellent online courses at BetterPhoto: "Polaroid Image and Emulsion Transfer" and "Beginning Photoshop for Photographers (Guest Instructor)". Read her article at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=53


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Book of Month: Brenda Tharp's Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography
Our online store showcases the fantastic books and DVDs from our staff of BetterPhoto instructors. For March, we put the spotlight on Brenda Tharp's awesome book, "Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography." If you buy this fine book before the end of March, you will receive free U.S. shipping. Best yet, it's autographed by Brenda! Incidentally, Brenda also teaches these excellent BP online courses: Beyond the Postcard, Creating Visual Impact, and Mastering Macro Photography.
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetailLg.asp?productID=1171


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Spring Color with Art Wolfe
A workshop with famed nature and wildlife photographer Art Wolfe will catch the beautiful spring bloom in Asheville, North Carolina. The workshop - May 12-15, 2005 - includes directed outdoor field sessions and informal discussions, plus instructor demonstrations and presentations. For information, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/on-location-photo-workshops/art-wolfe-asheville-2005.asp


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FEATURED GALLERY
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Focusing on Beautiful Morning Light
A most valuable accessory is a common household accessory: an alarm clock. Dawn photography, in fact, can be a spectacular wake-up call. Check out how BetterPhoto members and instructors have captured the wonderful light of early day at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=453

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FEATURED PLACE
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Focusing on the Beauty of Norway
Outstanding scenery and wildlife are some of the many attractions of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Check out our Norway Pictures gallery and see how BetterPhoto members have captured this northern European showplace:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=1073

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Annie Liebowitz is most famous for ... what?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Bernie Negron is:
Her portraits of celebrities.

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 - Photographic Legend - entered by BetterPhoto member Kerry Drager

A number of legendary photographers died in 2004. One of them, a longtime Life magazine shooter, once reportedly told an editor: "Whenever I was on assignment, I was always aware of history. I was thinking about it, and I was seeing it. That's what I did in my photographs." Who said that?

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

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

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

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

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Great Photos
My new book guides you away from the point-and-pray method of taking pictures to shooting with confidence. In this simple and clear how-to book, you will learn:
  • How to compose your picture with a more artful eye
  • The top qualities that winning photos exhibit
  • Tips and secrets for consistently getting better results... and much more.
You can order this book online, call our toll-free order processing number 1-888-927-9992, or simply send a check or money order for USD $16.90 (or USD$18.90 if shipping to Canada or USD$24.90 to other international addresses) to:

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

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


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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - NEW THIS WEEK
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NEW QUESTION 1: Printers for Digital Photos
I am looking to buy a printer for printing digital photos. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what to buy based on price and quality. Thanks!
- Tammy Scott

See Tammy's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Generally speaking, most inkjet printers deliver acceptable prints. The issue remains the cost and quality of paper and ink.
But, you should go for a photo-grade printer and, based on my experience, go for a printer that will handle 13X19 paper. That is, don't get trapped with a printer that handles 8.5X11 as its largest size - you're then limited to 8X10 prints.
Also, go for a printer that uses individual ink cartridges. That way, you change only the cartridge that becomes exhausted, not a multiple-color cartridge that still has one or more colors not exhausted.
There will be many arguments on manufacturers. Like the Canon vs. Nikon debate with cameras, you'll have supporters of Epson, Canon, and HP. I have a Canon and love it; however, I have to say that most pros use Epsons. I'd stay away from HP.
To start, use the papers supplied by the printer manufacturer. You can always try other manufacturers (Kodak, Ilford, Fuji to name a few).
But, everything I've read says to stay with the inks from the manufacturer. Perhaps someone else has experience with aftermarket inks.
Hope this helps.
- John Sandstedt

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14975

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14975

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NEW QUESTION 2: Memory Card: Please Help!!
Hi, I was recently on holiday, and in the middle of taking my pictures, I got a warning come up in my camera saying that my memory card needs formatting but as I had taken lots of good shots by then, I didn't want to do it. Can anyone suggest a way I can retrieve the pictures without having to delete them all?
Many thanks.
- Karen Lehmann

ANSWER 1:
Memory cards are formatted with FAT. It is readable by almost every computer ever made; but, it is prone to file corruption. But even that isn't 100-percent correct; it is almost always the file allocation table that gets corrupt. How? Voltage variations, pulling a card out when you are not supposed to, etc.!
You can get help! Don't put the card in any reader or camera for now. Our company offers recovery as well as 1000 other companies. You can also invest in a recovery program. A good investment of $50. Call around to the local computer and photography joints, or look on the internet for a downloadable trial. But be careful. When we try to recover a customer's memory card, we offer no warranty. We back up the contents of the card first, corruptions and all. Then we work with the file, not the card. We try the recovery and then burn a cd with the recovered files and the corrupt file that is the mirror of the memory card. Then you reformat the card in your camera. You shouldn't pay more than $30 for the recovery. You should also have a memory card reader if you plan a recovery. Don't use your camera as the card reader!
Let me know what happens. I wouldn't mail it anywhere. Could cause more damage.
- Chris J. Browne

ANSWER 2:
Karen: I think you will find that you can download the images on the card. After that is successful, use the Format function in the camera. Do NOT format a card using the Formatting function in your computer.
- Peter K. Burian

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Guest Instructor Peter Burian

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14974

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14974

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NEW QUESTION 3: Photo Problems - With Hair, Pinstripes
I am having a problem with some of my photos indoor and out. People's hair often looks crimped (zig-zag), and striped clothing also looks weird. Any suggestions on what is wrong here. I can usually fix the hair problem by blurring it a little in Photoshop, but the pinstripe shirt is a mess.
- Michelle Prince

ANSWER 1:
I think you have to be a little more specific. Are you using film or digital? I've had that striped look but only after I've scanned some prints.
- Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

See Diane's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Michelle,
Do you see these patterns when you view your images on screen, or in your prints? I've had images where a pattern with fine lines (like a herringbone jacket) will look wavy and distorted on screen. But if I zoom in or out, it will look normal again. I think it has to do with the way the lines are interpolated on the screen. I haven't had any problems printing these images.
- Chris A. Vedros

ANSWER 3:
I am using a Digital Rebel. I have not tried to print any yet, but I guess I should. It almost looks like the person's hair is frizzy (not flattering), and I can see it on the monitor.
- Michelle Prince

ANSWER 4:
Michelle:
It may be one of two problems.
1) Do you have the best JPEG quality set in your camera? Large and Super Fine.
2) Do you have a very high level of Sharpening set in camera? Re-set it to the default setting.
Peter Burian
- Peter K. Burian

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Guest Instructor Peter Burian

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14968

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14968

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NEW QUESTION 4: Sports Photography: Stopping the Action
I shoot high-speed motorcycle races. When using my Nikon N6006 (film) with a Nikkor 70-300mm lens, I was able to capture the action great. I'm now using a Nikon D70 with a Sigma 28-300mm lens. If I attempt to use a high shutter speed to stop the action, the photos are very dark. Racers seem to be blurry regardless of what settings I use. I never had this problem with a film set-up. Any thoughts/suggestions?
- Celeste McWilliams

See Sample Photo - Racer Pic #2020:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=785306

ANSWER 1:
Indoor/night lighting is not very bright. To get motion-freezing shutter speeds, you need to set a high ISO. What speed film were you using when you didn't have this problem? I suspect it was ISO 800, in which case you need to set the D70 similarly.
If you still have the Nikkor 70-300, use it instead. It's a little sharper at 300mm than the Sigma 28-300, and also 1/3 stop faster maximum aperture (f/5.6 v. f/6.3).
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14967

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14967

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NEW QUESTION 5: Product Studio Set-Up
Hi, there. I need to shoot small products against white background. I cannot seem to get rid of two shadows directly opposite the light sources. Can anybody help with a basic set-up and advice to get rid of the shadows? All of this is new to me. I shoot with Nikon D70 and two 200w strobes with an umbrella.
- Neal

ANSWER 1:
Shadows in small product photography has always been a hassle for me as well. The problem was that the background was always too close to the subject and, no matter how I positioned my lights or diffused them, I'd get one or more pesky shadows that just wouldn't go away.

Try moving your background material farther away ... with the light sources hitting the subject at 45-degree angles, at approximately the same height, and illuminating in the same direction that your camera is pointing.
This will allow the shadows to dissipate and/or fall out of frame where they will less noticeable.
(Your background may not be pure white, though, since less light will be hitting it.)
Another solution is to use a copy stand type set-up, with two or more light sources positioned at whatever angle illuminates best, placing your object directly onto your background, and setting up the camera to shoot straight down.
This works well with small products that are relatively flat and will cast minimal shadows.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14960

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14960

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NEW QUESTION 6: Selling Parade Pictures ... Model Releases
I took pictures of the local St. Patrick's Day Parade and I'm wondering if I could sale these images as event images. I was not asked or given permission to shoot these images of the very public and free parade through downtown streets, but I would like to provide these images of the parade for sale via my Web site. Is this legal? Do I need permission? What about model releases?
- Alonzo J. Adams

See Alonzo's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Alonzo: There is a discussion about this topic at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=14921

Sure, you can sell the images without Model Releases if they will NOT be used for commercial purposes - such as advertising. Problem is, how do you make sure that buyers do not use the images for advertising? Parade photos are not likely to be used for such purposes, but who knows?
You must make sure to label the images:
FOR PERSONAL OR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
NOT FOR COMMERCIAL USE; NOT MODEL RELEASED.
- Peter K. Burian

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Guest Instructor Peter Burian

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14949

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14949

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NEW QUESTION 7: Wedding Photography: Low Light
I am shooting a wedding for a friend and want to be sure that my existing flash will illuminate my subjects properly. It will be low-lighting, with some candles. Will my auto mode capture the correct exposure, or do I need to purchase a more powerful flash?
- Lynn J. Sims

ANSWER 1:
Lynn: That depends on how powerfully your current flash unit is, how far away the subject will be, and the ISO setting that you are using.
The higher the ISO, the greater the effective range of any flash unit. But image quality gets lower by ISO 800.
If you mean your built-in flash, it's not very powerful.
Can you provide more specifics as to exactly what equipment you have?
- Peter K. Burian

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Guest Instructor Peter Burian

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14947

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14947

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NEW QUESTION 8: How Many Megapixels?
Could anyone advise me on the minimum amount of megapixels I would need in a digital camera to get crystal clear photos?
Thanks.
- KEV REDDECLIFFE

ANSWER 1:
If you want to blow them up, 3.2 or more. If you want a 20x24, then the mark2 is perfect.
- Strictly Digital

ANSWER 2:
In the point and shoot digital (not single lens reflex), an 8-10 MP camera can't produce as clear of an image in a 5-6 MP SLR camera. The sensor and lens quality just aren't as good. So if you go SLR, you can get excellent prints in a 5-6 MP camera up to quite a large size. In a P&S, you can get acceptable prints up to 8x10 with as low as 3.2 mp - but it won't really compare to a 3.2 MP SLR. It's all a little confusing. Bottom line: megapixels are the least of your worries. You need to consider the quality of your camera overall. There are some very decent P&S cameras out there, but if you're really picky you may want to go with an SLR. Without knowing your specific needs, it's hard to make specific recommendations.
Karma
- Karma Wilson

See Karma's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Kev: Yeah, it depends ...
A 1 megapixel camera can produce a crystal clear photo on your computer monitor. But even a 4x6" print will not be excellent.
For superb 4x6" prints, get a 3 or more megapixel (compact) camera. For superb 8.5x11" prints, a 5 megapixel (compact) camera.
(You can make decent prints with lower resolution cameras, but if you want really superb print quality, high resolution is useful.)
And yes, as Karma says, the digital SLR cameras (like the 6 megapixel EOS Digital Rebel) produce higher image quality than the small digicams. But the SLR cameras are larger and more expensive.
See my article on that topic at:
http://www.edigitalphoto.com/cameras/0407edp_digitalslr/
- Peter K. Burian

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Guest Instructor Peter Burian

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14944

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14944

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NEW QUESTION 9: Converting RAW Files to Adobe DNG (RAW) Format
Anyone who owns Elements 3.0 or Photoshop CS can convert RAW files generated by their cameras to Adobe DNG RAW format. Whether you own the Mac or Windows version of the Adobe product.
You can find full specifics on how to do so in the last few posts at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13346

If you own a Windows-based PC, the Adobe Download page is at:
http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/product.jsp?product=39&platform=Windows

For Mac owners, the Adobe download page is at:
http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/product.jsp?product=39&platform=Macintosh

Full specifics on how to download and how to use the Adobe Raw software, and the DNG converter are provided at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13346
Cheers!
Peter Burian
- Peter K. Burian

See Peter Burian's Premium BetterPholio™

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Guest Instructor Peter Burian

ANSWER 1:
Why would you want to convert a RAW file made by your camera to the Adobe raw format (DNG)? There is no overriding reason to do so. I do not do so.
Also, most other brands of software do not even recognize the Adobe DNG format. (Some new versions do and others will too, in future.)
In theory, the DNG format will be supported for decades while not all cameras' RAW file formats will be supported for that long.
Hence, if you convert all your cameras' RAW format files to DNG, you will feel safe in knowing that you will be able to open the DNG files decades from now. (Assuming you plan to save your Raw format files for a long time.)
At least Adobe promises to support the DNG format for a very long time. If (if!) it becomes a popular format, other software manufacturers will do so, as well.
I can see no other benefit at this time.
Note: In future versions of its own RAW converter software, Canon will stop supporting the old EOS D30. In other words, if you shot RAW files with that camera, you will not be able to open them in the Canon software.
See http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/content_page.asp?cid=7-6465-7664

Going forward, the D30 will be the only Canon digital SLR not supported in Digital Photo Professional software. (Older versions of the Canon software support it, of course.)
So, if you have any such EOS D30 RAW files, it may not be a bad idea to convert them to DNG format if you own Elements 3.0 or CS. (Assuming you plan to save your Raw format files for a long time.)
The same may happen to other cameras' RAW format files in the future. That's why DNG may have some value in the long run.
Peter Burian
- Peter K. Burian

See Peter Burian's Premium BetterPholio™

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Guest Instructor Peter Burian

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14941

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14941

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NEW QUESTION 10: New Canon Lens; USA Vs. Imported
Has anyone bought the new Canon 28-105mm usm 4-5.6 lens? How is the lens?
Did you buy USA or imported? Does it make a difference? This lens is less expensive and does not have the metal ring.
Thanks
- Jyan

ANSWER 1:
Jyan: This is an inexpensive lens that should be OK, though not superb.
USA and imported are the same lens, BUT the imported lens will not include a Canon USA warranty - just the dealer's warranty.
For a few bucks more, I would always buy the USA product.
Peter Burian
- Peter K. Burian

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Guest Instructor Peter Burian

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14930

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14930

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NEW QUESTION 11: Digital Images on South African Photo Safari
I'm going to South Africa on a photo safari with my wife and son in a few days. I'm looking for comments from anyone who has been there, done that. I will be using a Lumix 5mp with a 12 power optical lens. I do have a polarizing filter, tripod, and monopod. Any suggestions on what would let me bring back amazing pictures would be appreciated. Thanks, Tom
- Thomas E. Harrison

ANSWER 1:
Tom: I have not been to Africa but I have tested that camera. It has a built-in image stabilizer, so you should not need a tripod. On dark, overcast days, use ISO 400 for fast shutter speeds just to be sure of getting sharp images. But image quality is MUCH better at ISO 100.
Besides, you cannot use a tripod in a safari van. Most photogs brace their cameras on a bean bag on the roof or window sill of the vehicle.
See my article on getting sharp images in general at:
http://www.edigitalphoto.com/tips_techniques/0305edp_sharpen/
Polarizing filter: Also covered in that article.
Cheers!
Peter Burian
- Peter K. Burian

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
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ANSWER 2:
I've been to South Africa and it's an amazing place - great people. Treat your photo shoot like a wedding. Take lots of pictures and close-ups, if you can. Bracket, handheld light meter makes a big difference if you have one. The dollar is so good there, you can eat out all the time. Just remember when driving that left is right and right is wrong.
- Strictly Digital

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http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14929

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14929

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NEW QUESTION 12: Why Are My Photos Fogged and Grainy?
I've had a Nikon EM for years, loved it, and it took great pics even though my skills are limited. The camera was stolen, so I replaced with same model used from an eBay seller. I took the camera on a trip to the USVI, brought 4 rolls of film with me, and purchased 4 rolls there. When I got home and had the film developed, they turned out grainy/foggy/hazy. Some rolls had all photos turn out bad, others had a few bad and others good. Was the film zapped by X-ray machines? It was in my luggage, not carry-on. Frustrating as I have few good pictures of a wonderful vacation place! Any suggestions? Could the camera be defective in some way? I used Kodak 400 ASA film and set the aperture based on the light meter in the camera viewfinder as I've always done with a Nikon. All pictures were taken in bright sun, a few at sunset. I would appreciate any help/suggestions!
- M Fussell

ANSWER 1:
I'm sorry for your loss. If you had the film in your checked luggage, it is almost certain that your problem is that was ruined by the X-rays. The X-rays used on checked luggage are much stronger than those used for carry-on and will fog all speeds of film. Never put film in checked luggage, not even in those lead bags.
Always bring your film with you in carry-on. The carry-on scanners are generally safe for film up to ISO 800. Plus, you can ask that the film be hand-inspected instead of scanned, though your request may be declined. To increase your odds of getting film hand-inspected: When you pack, take your film out of the box and plastic canisters, and put it in a clear plastic bag that you can hand to the inspectors. Include a couple of rolls of Kodak T-Max 3200 or Ilford Delta 3200 (ISO 3200 can be fogged by carry-on scanners) to force the issue.
See Kodak's Technical Bulletin - Baggage X-ray Effects on Film.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=14911

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=14911

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NEW QUESTION 13: Digital Camera: How to Buy It?
What is a good digital camera for someone who is just now starting in digital? I have been taking portraits for 4 years now but have always been film. I am experienced for photography goes just have never done digital. I want a camera, something that I might be able to take some candids at weddings and maybe formals, but I don't want to spend $6000.00 on a camera. Does anyone have some suggestions?
- LaChelle A.

ANSWER 1:
LaChelle: What is your budget? Are you looking for a compact camera with built-in lens or an SLR that accepts many optional lenses? Many readers can provide suggestions but we need to know specifics.
Cheers!
Peter Burian
- Peter K. Burian

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ANSWER 2:
Well, I would like to get something around $2000.00. And I would rather get an SLR, but that's the thing: Would the compact cameras be better or does it even really matter? I have only worked with medium formats, know nothing about digital, and really haven't done a lot with 35mm.
- LaChelle A.

ANSWER 3:
Hi LaChelle,
Good questions! An SLR allows you to change lenses, offers through-the-lens viewing, etc. But some new features at BetterPhoto are designed to demystify the digital-camera-buying process. Check them out:

Digital Camera Calculators
http://www.betterphoto.com/digital/camera-calculator.asp

Digital Camera Comparison Charts
http://www.betterphoto.com/digital/camera-comparison-charts/overview.asp

Hope this helps, LaChelle!

Regards,
Kerry
- Kerry Drager

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NEW QUESTION 14: Macro Lens Vs. Extension Tubes
I struggle with depth of field with my macro lens. I have a 100mm macro lens and a set of Kenko extension tubes. Can someone tell me the difference between the two? Is one easier to use? Can I get better DOF with the extension tubes? I really struggle with macro shots. Trying to get the tripod set up just right is impossible. When I use the extension tubes, do they only work at one distance vs. the macro lens that I can focus?
- Sherri McGee

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ANSWER 1:
OK, here is my experience and knowledge of macros and extension tubes.
Macro lenses let you focus at closer distances than regular lenses. Extension tubes increase the size of the image on the sensor (or film) without the use of glass by increasing the distance from the lens to the sensor. An extension tube reduces the minimal focus distance, and the depth of field is reduced (but increasing the f-stop will help give control over the depth of field).
A little hint I found on another thread on BP, when doing macro: set the camera up on the tripod. Set the background, then move the subject into position, sliding it back and forth until it is in focus and position. This is sometimes easier than adjusting the tripod.
Hope this helps and Good Luck.
- Robert Hambley

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ANSWER 2:
There is no real difference. A true "macro" lens simply has a "built-in extension tube." Look at the back of your macro - see all that space in there?
The optical rule is this: the farther you space your lens from the film plane, the closer you can focus. Thus, the purpose of extension tubes is to do just that - extend your lens farther from the film plane. Your macro lens does the same thing, only it does it internally with its built-in helicoid - and it has a whopping helicoid system inside - look how long it gets when you focus from infinity down to 1:2 or
1:1. Aside from this is the fact that true macro lenses are optically designed to provide the best imaging in the closer ranges, usually about 1:10, while "normal" type lenses are optically designed to provide optimum quality about 10-15 feet away. Macro lenses also have a flat focusing plane - ideal for stamps and other flat surfaces, while regular lenses all have curved focusing planes.
You CAN use your extension tubes in conjunction with your macro lens to get even closer. I own some MF macros from the 1970s that only focused to 1:2, but came supplied with a dedicated extension tube that, when mounted, would get you down to 1:1.
As far as DOF is concerned, it makes no difference whether you are using an extension tube or just the macro lens. On the same lens, at any given focusing ratio, your DOF will be the same.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net
- Michael H. Cothran

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ANSWER 3:
One thing I've found helpful when trying to focus on a macro subject is to set my lens to the minimum focus distance before getting into place. Then, while looking through the viewfinder, I'll ease into position until I see the subject pop into focus.
With the tripod firmly mounted, I'll lean the camera forward or backward just enough to assure tack-sharp focus on a critical part of the image ... then take the shot.
This can be done with macro lenses or extension tubes (or a combination of both), but keep in mind that light loss, subject and/or camera movement, and a lack of DOF will be your biggest challenges.
I wouldn't recommend moving the subject back and forth unless it is firmly anchored on something stationary or some movement will likely register.
- Bob Cammarata

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ANSWER 4:
Greetings,
Bob's suggestion is better. I only move the subject back and forth when I have control over its exact position. For this I use the 'PLAMP'. It is a plant clamp, that can hold the stem.
Good Luck!
- Robert Hambley

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*****


NEW QUESTION 15: Flash Cards: Losing Images
I had trouble losing images on my flash card. I had downloaded the images before I found out that they were lost when I tried to print them. Can I use that card again? And how many times can we use a flash card?
- Gordon T. Garrison

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ANSWER 1:
You can re-use a memory card hundreds of times and probably thousands of times.
Once you know that you are ready to delete all images from the card, use the camera's FORMAT function. That is the best way to permanently delete images from a card. It also ensures trouble-free performance with the card in the future.
NOTE: Do NOT format a camera's memory card using your computer's Format function. Use only the camera's Format function.
Cheers! Peter Burian
- Peter K. Burian

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Understanding Exposure
I just took a photography course, and I still have no idea when it come to understanding the meter. What exactly do I do when I want to make black look black and white look white?
- Jessica Rae Hardy

ANSWER 1:
One, you could take a meter reading off the black and then take a meter reading off the white to see how many stops of light difference there is, and just make your compensation from there. (Use a middle value.) If the black gives you a slow shutter speed and the white gives you a fast one, go for a shutter speed that will split the speed equally between the two of them. Another thing you can do that is really easy is buy a grey card from a photo store and use it to meter from in the same light. The grey card will give you a middle value between black and white. Hope I helped you some.
Justin
- Justin

ANSWER 2:
There is a book called "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. I learned everything I know from that book. He also teaches a class here at BetterPhoto under the same name. I highly recommend the book and the class.
Chris
- Chris L. Hurtt

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ANSWER 3:
I agree with Chris. Get Bryan's book; it's the bible of understanding exposure. Using the gray card is fine, but the card has to be in the same light as your subject. If your subject is beyond arm's length away, it won't work. The secret to exposure is knowing what an average tonality is. Average tonality is not only 18-percent gray, it's 18-percent everything (blue, green, brown, yellow, etc.).

But don't worry about the 18-percent thing. It takes time to learn average tonality. The process that I use is something like this: When looking at a subject, I ask myself the question, "Is the subject brighter or darker than average?" Let's say it's brighter. Then I know that I'm going to open up to let in more light than the camera meter says I should (so the meter will be on the "plus" side). Then I ask myself, "Is the subject a little or a lot brighter than average?" If I feel that it's a little, I open up to +1/2 stop and take a picture, then bracket by opening up +1 stop and take another picture. If I feel it's a lot brighter than average - like a very light subject - then I'll begin at +1 and take a picture, then to +1 1/2 and take another picture. You'll only have to do this process a few times to get an idea of how exposure works. TIP: Never meter black, and meter white at +1 1/2 and +1 2/3.
- Tony Sweet

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ANSWER 4:
Greetings,
Thanks for jumping in, Tony Sweet. Your answers to the various questions have helped me a lot. (I can't wait to take your Fine Art Flower Photography course ... probably this fall ... I need Photoshop lessons first, since trial and error is taking too long.)
One thing I have learned, if there is snow in the frame, I start out at +2/3 and increment up to 1 1/3 using the exposure compensation. But, as Tony pointed out, bracketing is the key here.
Good Luck.
- Robert Hambley

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ANSWER 5:
I don't understand. If the subject is "brighter than average", why would you be letting in more light?
- Marjorie Amon

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ANSWER 6:
This is because the meter gets "fooled" by bright scenes, like snow, and will set the exposure too low, resulting in greyish/blue snow, instead of white.
So you let more light in through exposure compensation, in order to get the snow white.
Hope this helps ...
- Robert Hambley

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ANSWER 7:
Hi, easiest way, if you have a hand-held meter: Use an incident reading (with the dome covering the sensor). This measures the light falling on the subject. Point it at the camera, and your exposure will be accurate regardless of the color of your subject or surroundings.
- Maria

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