29 2016 Apr

How to select a lens filter for your DSLR?

Sony-lens-filter-62mmThe most popular special effects are emulated by most high quality DSLRs produced these days. So why on earth would you want to buy a lens filter for your DSLR?

Actually, there are many reasons to buy a lens filter. I will only touch on a few of them today.

The first example that comes to mind is that the quality of your lens package is very important to the quality of your pictures and video. Next to your camera body, it is probably your most expensive purchase for your hobby. You will want to protect your lens and keep it clean. This is the most common purpose for buying a UV Lens Filter these days, since there is already a UV filter in front of your DSLR’s sensor. A clear glass UV lens filter is also easier to clean than a DSLR camera lens and inexpensive to replace if scratched or broken.

The effects produced by special effects lens filters are additive. By stacking most types of filters, you can come up with many special effects that are not available to you electronically on your DSLR. Manufacturers typically only choose the most popular special effects and most popular gradations to emulate. So for creative photography that will WOW your fans, give lens filters a try. You’ll be glad you did!

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

28 2016 Apr

Selecting Digital Cameras for Action Video.

GoPro 3 SilverI find that, when asked if they are still using the first digital they bought, most casual photographers will say that they owned several to “grow into” the camera that they carry today. So when looking for a digital camera for action video or camcorder, shop for the features that you expect to use now. As you grow your photographic craft your expectations for your equipment will change.

Many budding creative photographers rush out and buy the latest and greatest model from their favorite manufacturer without making a list of features that are important to them, assuming that the latest model will have all of the latest features. But this is not always the case. Sometimes manufactures just give a new look to last years hardware to draw more sales. Do your homework.

For example, the GoPro 4 series is drawing all the attention these days. While they have added some very nice features to the version 4 line, these features may be unnecessary features for you (at your skill level). So by doing your homework, you might find that a GoPro 3 Silver Edition has everything you need at hundreds of dollars less.

If you like the features of the Panasonic Lumix ZS50, do your homework by comparing its features to those of the Panasonic Lumix ZS40. If the ZS40 meets your current needs, this can save you a ton of money that you can use for either your next camera or a new lens package.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

27 2016 Apr

Getting a New Sony Lens for My Son

Sony-lens-filter-62mmOne of the things that my son really enjoys doing is taking all kinds of different pictures. He likes to bring a camera practically anywhere with him so that he is able to get some great shots of the different things that he runs into while he is out and about. It is really fun seeing the pictures that he takes since I feel as if this gives me a glimpse into how he sees the world.

I love my son’s pictures so I am constantly helping him get some of the different items that he needs to continue taking them. Most recently, I have been trying to help him by getting him some different types of lenses that I know he will enjoy using. Most recently I bought him a nice Sony lens filter adapter that is really the perfect complement to his camera.

27 2016 Apr

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

A specialty camera lens is usually more expensive because the manufacturer includes additional lens elements in the package to improve picture quality. This means that you, the photographer, can focus more on your creativity and less on basic photography issues.

For example, the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM contains a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) and an Optical Stabilizer (OS), boasting a large fixed 2.8 aperture throughout the entire zoom range. The OS allows for easier handheld shooting while the HSM ensures quick, accurate, and consistent autofocusing. The enclosed FLD glass elements (with performance equal to fluorite) and two glass mold elements and one hybrid aspherical lens provide excellent correction of aberrations and allow for incredibly sharp images with great contrast. A multi-layer coating reduces flare and ghosting.

In the case of the Sony 18-250mm F/3.5-5.6 DT ED Alpha A Zoom the internal lens elements move, so the overall length of the lens package does not change. This means that the lens can focus more quickly and doesn’t change its balance. Sixteen lens elements are used in 13 groups to correct visual aberrations across its entire zoom range. ED Glass lens elements are used to help minimize flare and reduce chromatic aberration, providing sharp and clear shots throughout its full telephoto range.

Lens AdapterWhen using advanced lens packages, you may need a lens adapter to adapt the lens thread to your camera body’s thread. This is not uncommon.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

26 2016 Apr

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

When I go shopping for a new digital camera I like to shop by feel, as well as with my eyes. I hold the camera in my hands as if lining up that perfect shot. Are the controls I use most often easily reachable? Do the controls function in the ways that I am used to using them? Can I live with the differences?

For example, when setting EV compensation, the configuration for most digital cameras is to locate the dial’s positive values toward the front of the camera and negative values toward the rear. A few manufacturers have released some models that use this feature with the configuration reversed (negative values toward the front and positive values toward the rear). For me, this would take some getting used to, but to entise me, the new camera would have to have some other features that I considered really outstanding.

If the camera has a dedicated button to start video recording, is it located where I can easily reach it? Is it close enough to the shutter release that I could confuse the two? These are great questions to ask yourself.

 accu shutter 2 4-05-16Most camera manufacturers place the camera lens right in the center of the camera and build the controls around it. Some manufacturers, including those of most rugged compacts, offset the lens to one side. This means all the controls must be moved to accomodate the lens configuration. Are they still easy to use?

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

25 2016 Apr

Choosing the Best Camera Tripod.

When choosing a camera tripod, I pay careful attention to the minimum height, in addition to maximum height, of the tripod legs and the possible center column configurations. A whole new world of creative photography is opened to me by a ground level view.

Many tripods come with a reversible center column, so that you can attach your camera to it at ground level. This allows me to use the same tripod that I use for my regular shots for ground photography, saving me money.

Joby Gorillapod SLR Zoom Mini TripodIf you have more funds available for your hobby craft, a mini tripod with flexible legs may make setup for ground photography quicker and easier. A mini tripod similar to this can be purchased online for under $40. The flexible legs allow the tripod to be positioned easily on uneven terrain.

Be sure to check the rated maximum load of any tripod you purchase, to ensure that it will support the weight of your camera and any lenses that you might use. Mini tripods typically support lower maximum loads than full-size tripods.

Since subjects that are close to you will typically block subjects farther away at ground level, you will find your most useful lenses to be your kit lens, a wide-angle lens, or a macro lens.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

22 2016 Apr

How to select a lens filter for your DSLR?

You will be surprised when you see the awsome difference in your pictures when using a lens filter. This time of year I find that a Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density Filter takes the edge off the bright sun when I’m shooting outdoors.

Soft-Edge GND FilterCompared to hard-edge GND filters, soft-edge graduated neutral density filters gradually transition from dark to clear. This allows photographers to use these filters when photographing scenery in a normal environment for most of us, a horizon that is not flat. While mountains, hills, and other objects above the horizon can be a problem with hard-edge GND filters, soft-edge GND filters work much better in those situations. This is due to the gradual transition from dark to clear.

Hobbyists and videographers both use soft-edge GND filters for their landscape photography often and find them much more useful than hard-edge GND filters. It is occasionally necessary, in high-contrast and other rare situations, to stack soft-edge GND filters.

The best way to purchase soft-edge GND filters is in filter sets of three or more in varying strengths and a filter holder. This brought my cost under $30 per filter. Depending upon the thread used on your camera body, you may also need a lens filter adapter.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

21 2016 Apr

Selecting Digital Cameras for Action Video.

accu shutter 2 4-05-16I find that when shopping for a digital camera for action video it is worth spending a few dollars more for improved audio capabilities and efficient video compression.

Many manufacturers regard audio as an added feature with very little importance, offering limited audio controls and monitoring. This is short-sighted as audio is an important element in any video production. Several models offer a stereo microphone and some even include a stereo socket, so you have the option to use a microphone that is not included with the camera.

For video, there isn’t a true RAW equivalent. Instead there are several different CODECS for compression. HD movies can occupy several gigabytes for a short sequence, so to fit it all on a memory card the movie has to use some form of compression (such as MPEG-4).

A four minute sequence captured in Full-HD (1920 x 1080) using MPEG-4 compression occupies 1048 megabytes of memory, that same four minute sequence without compression occupies 32,457 gigabytes of memory. Many digital cameras offer Motion JPEG compressed AVI or MOV capture. These are also compressed file formats, but use less sophisticated compression.

For example, some Canon digital cameras record on CompactFlash cards using QuickTime MOV files with the H264 codec. Some Panasonic digital cameras use SDHC cards and 17 M/bs AVCHD format, an efficient codec which in many cases will outperform 25 M/bs HDV recordings. Some Nikon digital cameras use AVI (Motion JPEG) to record video. What media will your new digital camera accept?

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

20 2016 Apr

A Minolta Lens Helps My Camera Focus Better on Certain Things

accu shutter 3 4-05-16When I started to work on customizing my camera with different types of lenses, I was really excited by the different types of pictures that I was able to get as a result of using the different types of cameras on a regular basis. I was very happy with the types of lenses that I had, but I really wanted my camera to focus better. In some cases, it zoomed well, but wouldn’t focus right.

To make sure that I would be able to find the right kind of camera lens for my camera, I had to look at a lot of different ones that could adapt the way that my camera took pictures. I was very happy when I was able to find a Minolta lens adapter. This lens has been great for helping me to take truly spectacular shots with my camera whenever I want to.

20 2016 Apr

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

Sony Wide Angle LensAs opposed to the macro lens, used to fill the entire picture with a single subject, a Wide-Angle camera lens collects everything (in a mountain scene, for example) and accentuates foreground and background details.  So let’s review the most important features of a great wide-angle lens.

Wide angle lenses are marketed as either primes or zooms and may have a variable or fixed maximum aperture. These lenses typically have a focal length between 24 mm and 35 mm. In addition to offering a wide field of view, they frequently offer a close minimum focusing distance as well.

Wide-angle lenses magnify the perceived distance between objects in the foreground and background. Barrel distortion may cause slight bloating in the center of the frame, while horizontal and vertical lines close to the edge of the frame may not be perfectly straight. A high-end wide-angle lens will attempt to correct for this distortion. This is also a case where photo editing software can also be employed to remove more distortion, but this always comes at the expense of sharpness.

Wide-angle zooms are zoom lenses with a focal range typically in the 12-24mm or 16-25mm region. Their zoom capacity allows the focal range to be adjusted, adding extra versatility as opposed to wide-angle prime lenses. However, wide angle zooms are usually of better build quality and contain additional lens elements to counteract barrel distortion, adding to their cost. A lens adapter may be needed to attach an add on lens.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!