21 2015 Aug

How to Choose Photo Editing Software?

I have to admit that I rarely use photo editing software to correct photos that I take casually on my smart phone, but maybe some of you do. When I did the research for this article, I was complete blown away by the number of choices out there (and most of them are free).

My photography these days is mostly limited to taking photos of items that I am going to list on my website or in my eBay store. And, until now, I havn’t needed to do much to use them as intended.

But recently I purchased a custom layout template for my listings in eBay. This addition created a whole new set of problems with my images that I wasn’t expecting. So now I’m really digging into photo editing software and guess what? You get to go along for the ride.

My goal is to list at least five new products a day on eBay, which means editing at least three to five or six photos for each item. To accomplish this, I need something that will make these photos meet the necessary quality standards for the layout template with just a few clicks.

I also work with various sources for my photos: some from my smart phone, some from a digital camera, and many from my suppliers right off the web. I’ll report my results of my first choice next time. Until then, Happy Shuttering!

20 2015 Aug

Camera Mounts for Action Videos.

Some third party companies assemble kits which include a large number of components to connect various sports cameras in various configurations. Here is an example of the components included in one of my favorites:

  • 1 Flat, 3M™ Adhesive Mount
  • 1 Curved, 3M™ Adhesive Mount
  • 1 Horizontal Surface Quick-Release Buckle
  • 1 Vertical Surface J-Hook Buckle
  • 1 Thumb Knob with Nut and Bolt
  • 3-way pivot arm
  • 1 Quick-Release/Vibration Plug
  • 1 Leash Tether
  • Warranty: One Year

This kit is still designed for various camera models from the same maker, but it can be used with any camera model in that line. It includes a flat surface base plate, a curved base plate, a thumb knob and stainless steel hardware, a quick release buckle, 3-way pivot arm assembly, a quick-release vibration plug, a leash tether, and a vertical J mount for mounting your camera on a vertical wall surface like a car bumper, wall, or back of a helmet.

Most importantly, what I want you to absorb from this is that a choice to purchase a sport camera must be well thought out ahead of time. You will want to, not only choose a camera that is right for your use of it but also, choose a mounting kit that will allow you to mount the camera in the way you intend to use it. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

19 2015 Aug

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

Most camera companies design their cameras with their own unique lens mounts, so one company’s lenses generally will not fit another’s. But there are some exceptions.

Third party companies like Sigma and Tamron produce multiple versions of their lenses for each of the most popular camera manufacturers, so you will typically be able to choose a lens for a Canon, Nikon, Pentax, or Sony camera.

There are also adapters available which will allow lenses designed for one type of camera to be used on another camera, but in doing this you might lose control of some features. This may not be an issue for the casual photographer, but it could be a deal breaker for the professional.

For the photographer who is really determined to use lenses designed for other cameras, the use of mirror-less cameras will provide more flexibility than conventional DSLRs. This is because lenses are designed to focus on a sensor at a specific distance and inserting an adapter will increase that distance. Mirror-less cameras are thinner, so it is possible to squeeze in adapters for lenses designed for thicker cameras.

If you decide on a mirror-less camera, you will be pleased to note that Olympus and Panasonic have chosen to use the same mounting for their mirror-less models, called Micro Four Thirds. So Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds lenses are interchangeable. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

18 2015 Aug

How to Choose Photo Editing Software?

Coming soon, how to choose your photo editing software?

18 2015 Aug

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

In general, a light weight digital camera has less zoom capabilities, a lower resolution, and fewer bells and whistles than their heavier cousins. If a less cumbersome camera is your priority then a good point and shoot camera may be your best choice. These are also lower in price range.

A larger digital camera will have a more powerful zoom capability, better resolution, and a wider array of bells and whistles. These cameras will also cost hundreds more than their lighter cousins. The extra money is worth it though, if you are looking for professional features in your camera and are willing to lug around a heavier camera.

This goes back, once again, to the original questions we asked. How are you going to use your digital camera? How you answered this question and the one on how much you want to spend will help you decide which of these camera groups is best to pursue.

At this point you should be able to select two or three cameras to compare. And this is the part of the decision where you actually need to go to your favorite camera shop and look and feel the weight of the different cameras. Compare the features of each. How convenient are the controls? You will want to be able to find these and operate them without looking. How easily does the zoom work? How does the camera feel on your shoulder? Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

17 2015 Aug

Components of a Tripod

Now that we’ve made a decision about the feet, we need to discuss the tripod legs.

Legs

Tripod legs typically come in aluminum, basalt, steel, or carbon fiber. Carbon-fiber legs normally come in tubular form and have a threaded twist-lock system to secure the legs, while aluminum, basalt, and steel tripods may come in different shapes with a flip-lock. The maximum height of the tripod is determined by the number of sections per leg, normally 3 to 5. The tripod generally becomes less stable as leg sections are increased. Choose the lowest comfortable height for better stability.

Weight becomes a significant factor when choosing a tripod, because if it is too heavy you will find yourself leaving it at home. Carbon-fiber tripods are the lightest and are extremely durable and stable. The carbon-fiber material also does not rust. However, it does come at the highest price tag.

Aluminum legs are heavier than carbon fiber, but they are also cheaper. Most inexpensive tripods are made of aluminum. Although tripods are available in stainless steel, they are generally used to support the weight of video equipment and are too heavy for regular use.

Basalt lava legs are an ideal choice both in terms of weight and cost. These typically weigh between 4 and 5 pounds, depending on the size and how much weight they can support. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

14 2015 Aug

Selecting a Camera Bag.

In addition to quality of construction and adequate inner compartments for all your necessary accessories, a camera bag is also a reflection of your personal taste. It is not unusual for professionals to own several camera cases to use when choosing to use different cameras or for different types of photography or environments.

If you’re looking for quick access to your camera on the go, you might try an over the shoulder bag, meant to be worn on one side or the other. This is convenient if you don’t like a weighted strap pulling on the side of your neck (as in the typical shoulder strap.

Always check the buckles, snaps, and zippers. The pull on the zipper should be well connected and the zipper should slide freely. Try it a few times before you buy. Give the buckles and snaps a few pulls. Snaps should be tight the first few times you use them.

Camera bags also come in a lot of colors. Remember, you will likely be carrying this camera bag while wearing various outfits. Pick a basic color that is not likely to clash. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

13 2015 Aug

Camera Mounts for Action Videos.

Camera mounts are available with some action camera kits. One such kit that immediately comes to mind is an HD sports action video camera model that includes a waterproof case, camera shield, bike mount, helmet mount, and helmet band.

In this case, the camera shield is a clear, hard shield, with extensions for the shutter controls, that wraps around the camera so that it is protected while still allowing the viewing screen to be viewed. The kit’s bike mount is designed to mount the shielded camera rigidly to bicycle handlebars, next to the post, for forward looking shots. While the helmet mount permits the user to mount the shielded camera directly to the top of a helmet.

Some sites that sell camera mounts have a user friendly interface that allows the prospective buyer to enter specific camera information, arm length, and finish to select the perfect action camera mount for his or her camera. In each instance, the mounts are designed with one camera or camera series in mind.

I will discuss some larger mounting kits the next time. Until then, Happy Shuttering!

12 2015 Aug

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

In this post I want to talk about maximum aperture of a camera lens. Aperture describes how much light a lens is capable of gathering.

Apertures are expressed in different ways with F4, f/4, and 1:4 all having the same meaning. What is important is that a smaller number meant that the lens has a larger maximum aperture and gathers more light. For example, an F2.8 lens gathers twice as much light as an F4 lens.

Maximum aperture is important because a camera with a larger maximum aperture will allow you to shoot pictures in lower light, for example indoors, without a flash. Depth of field (how much of the picture in front of and behind the focal point appears sharp) is also decreased by larger maximum apertures. This is a useful aspect in creative photography.

Image stabilization has become a standard to consider over the past few years, but it is implemented in various ways. Some manufacturers incorporate it into the camera body, while others build it into the lens. Image stabilization is especially helpful when using a telephoto lens.

I’ll talk about the lens mount in the next segment. Until then, Happy Shuttering!

11 2015 Aug

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

A term that comes up frequently, when selecting a great digital camera is megapixels. This is a term used to express digital camera resolution.

Pixels are the individual color dots that make up a picture. You should try to select a digital camera with a minimum of 2 megapixels (two million dots per picture). A digital camera with a resolution of six megapixels will rival that of a good quality analog camera.

Another factor that determines the quality of a digital camera is its zoom quality. There are two types of zoom technology: digital and optical. Digital zoom merely enlarges each pixel electronically, while optical zoom magnifies the image you are shooting with a camera lens. A 35 mm analog camera only uses optical zoom, but most digital cameras employ both optical zoom and digital zoom.

Since you can now enlarge any photo digitally using photo software, digital zoom in a digital camera is redundant. Don’t buy into the hype! When selecting a digital camera, place more weight on the optical zoom power of the camera. A 2x to 4x optical zoom is a good beginning. For more zoom, you will need to purchase a zoom lens attachment. These lenses will be covered separately in the series on Camera Lenses. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!