30 2015 Oct

How to select a lens filter for your DSLR?

To continue our discussion of the basic types of lens filter, the other two basic types are listed below. These two types are not used as frequently as the previous ones.

Rectangular Filters

Another popular choice among landscape photographers are rectangular filters. These filters are mounted just like square filters, via a filter holder system. It is impractical for graduated neutral density filters to be circular (due to different sizes of high-contrast areas and composition), so rectangular filters are the primary choice for landscape photography. And unlike square filters, there is more room to move up and down. The most popular size is 4×6, though larger and smaller sizes are available.

Drop-in Filters

These filters are used inside long telephoto lenses, due to the large size of the front lens assembly. Only clear and polarizing filters are available as drop-in filters.

Next time we will go into more details. Until then, Happy Shuttering!

29 2015 Oct

Selecting Digital Cameras for Action Video.

It used to be that there were just two analog video formats, VHS and Betamax. At the time, no one gave a thought to pixels and resolution figures, but those days have gone forever. Now we have a huge list of format choices led by High Definition (HD), and they are all used in differing situations.

Full HD (1080p)

This is the largest frame size that most HDSLR cameras offer. The frame size is 1920 x 1080 pixels and the quality is astounding when viewed on large plasma and LCD screens. Its downside is the processing demands  that it makes on your computer.

HD (720p)

This is still high definition, but at a smaller frame size of 1280 x 720. Nikon digital cameras use this format and, although smaller than Full-HD, it still provides excellent picture quality. If your intent is to produce DVDs or to upload to the web, HD format is a good choice.

HDV (High Definition Video)

This format is primarily utilized on VHS camcorders. The format is 1440 x 1080 anamorphic. When shooting film or video, an anamorphic lens can be used to squeeze a wide image onto a standard 4:3 aspect ratio frame. After it is downloaded the image is “unsqueezed,” stretching the image back to Full-HD (1920 x 1080), but since the image is squeezed and unsqueezed horizontally, it can lose some of its definition.

We’ll discuss the other two formats next time. Until then, Happy Shuttering!

28 2015 Oct

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

When choosing the perfect telephoto camera lens, sharpness is ideal throughout the entire range of the lens. For this research you will need to rely on test data compiled on various lenses by a trusted source.

Lab tests have shown that the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM and Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM have beaten out most other lenses for sharpness. The Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR scores a close second to these Canon lenses. When looking only at center sharpness at the widest setting, the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM slightly beat out the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM, making it perhaps your best choice.

Fringing (chromatic aberration) is noticeable in images taken with the Canon 75-300mm at 300mm. Chromatic Aberration, also known as “color fringing” or “purple fringing”, is a common optical problem that occurs when a lens is unable to bring all wavelengths of color to the same focal plane, and/or when wavelengths of color are focused at different positions in the focal plane. This is caused by lens dispersion, with different colors of light traveling at different speeds while passing through the lens. As a result, the image looks blurred or presents noticeable colored edges (red, green, blue, yellow, purple, magenta) around objects in high-contrast situations. But despite this fringing, the Canon 75-300mm at 300mm seems to be the closest thing currently available to the perfectly sharp telephoto camera lens.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

27 2015 Oct

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

So what is it about the Canon Powershot G7 X that makes it MSRP for $200 over their N100? Let me count the features that have made this a great digital camera.

Canon Powershot G7 X

The Canon Powershot G7 X employs a 1 inch, 20 megapixel image sensor with BSI CMOS design. This is the first pocket sized digital camera to be produced with a 1 inch sensor that doesn’t boast the Sony name. The G7 X runs $100 less expensive than the Sony RX100 III, and its 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom range is just a bit longer, however it doesn’t include the integrated EVF Sony puts in the RX100 III. The G7 X is an attractive alternative for shooters who prefer a longer zoom range over an integrated EVF.

The G7 X measures just 2.4 x 4.1 x 1.6 inches and weighs 10.7 ounces. It’s about the same size as the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, already discussed. The lens is a 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) zoom with a variable f/1.8-2.8 aperture. This is a wider range than the Sony RX100 III and is brighter at the long end than the Sony RX100 II. The G7 X can focus at 2 inches, at its widest angle, and the lens has a built-in three-stop neutral density filter. This allows you to shoot in very bright conditions at a wide aperture, but you have to manually turn the filter on or off. Until next time when we talk more about this model, Happy Shuttering!

26 2015 Oct

Choosing the Best Camera Tripod.

Here are a couple more to test drive when you’re searching for your best camera tripod. The Gitzo GT1544T Series 1 Traveler 6x Carbon Fiber 4-Section Tripod and Gitzo GT3542L Mountaineer Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod are excellent choices, the latter being the most heavy duty tripod discussed so far.

Gitzo GT1544T Series 1 Traveler 6x Carbon Fiber 4-Section Tripod

The Gitzo GT1544T travel tripod supports up to 17.6 lb and weighs just 2.2 lb. It’s four-section carbon fiber legs extend from 8.7″ to 55.9″ and fold down to 16.7″. It employs Gitzo’s G-Lock twist locks, making it more stable than many other models. The center column is reversible for low-angle shots, and Gitzo’s Anti Leg Rotation System ensures quick extension of each section. Add your choice of tripod heads to the top mounting platform.

Gitzo GT3542L Mountaineer Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod

The Gitzo GT3542L supports a 46.3-lb load capacity, making it ideal for photographers who use heavy lenses or large-format cameras. Its maximum height is 70.1″, and it folds down to 23.2″ for transport. The removable center column gets the head down to just 6.3″ for Ground Level work. The G-Lock Ultra twist locks have internal O-rings, discouraging dust, sand, or other particles from getting between the leg sections. A ballast hook is included on the center column, and the mounting platform includes a 3/8″-16 mount for attaching your favorite head. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

23 2015 Oct

How to select a lens filter for your DSLR?

Types of Lens Filters – An Introduction

Lens filters come in different shapes and forms. The following paragraphs summarize the most common filter types and their common usage.

Circular Screw-on Filters

The most popular lens filters are circular, screw-on filters. These filters mount directly onto the filter thread in front of a lens. They come in different sizes, depending on the lens filter thread. The standard and most common size of screw-on filters for professional lenses is 77mm.

Examples of circular screw-on filters include UV/Clear/Haze filters, circular polarizers, neutral density, and color filters. Circular filters also come in different thicknesses. Some are thick and can potentially add vignetting (darkening of image corners when compared to the center). While others are ultra-thin to diminish vignetting, but these will make it impossible to use your lens cap.

Square Filters

Popular for landscape and similar types of photography, a filter holder that can hold one or more filters directly attaches to the lens filter thread. The most popular sizes are 3×3 and 4×4. Filters can be stacked together in the holder under certain situations, but this can negatively impact image quality and add reflections when the wrong combinations are stacked. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

22 2015 Oct

Selecting Digital Cameras for Action Video.

Depth of Field

A major advantage to using a digital camera for action video is its ability to capture movies with a limited depth of field, especially when using full frame HDSLR cameras. The larger sensor size provides amazing shallow depth of field, but also means your focus on main elements in your clip must be critical. Smaller sensor sizes, used by compact cameras and camcorders, are more forgiving with focus due to their extended depth of field (which can be from the front lens element to infinity). You must avoid dust spots on the front of the lens of your HDSLR.


Manufacturers came up short on quality audio for the first generation of HDSLR cameras. Video frequently uses audio sampling at 48 KHz, whereas a few manufacturers have chosen other sampling rates. Audio is regarded 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 production. However, several models now have a stereo microphone, as opposed to the common small mono microphone on the camera body itself (which annoyingly picks up all handling noises). A few newer cameras even include a stereo socket, so you can use a microphone which is not attached to the camera. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

21 2015 Oct

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

So, you might ask what the perfect camera lens is for my Sony DSLR? If we’re still talking telephoto lenses, you will find that it is best to focus your search more toward generic lens makers.

The Tamron SP AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD is a very good choice. This lens package is literally stuffed with high-tech extras, like USD (UltraSonic Drive) autofocus. This ring-type system gives super-fast and practically silent performance, along with full-time manual focus override. There’s a focus distance scale at the back end of the lens, under a viewing window, and focusing is fully internal. So there’s no movement or rotation of the front element. There are no glaring distortions at any focal length setting throughout its zoom range.

Its high-quality workmanship helps to keep things steady during handheld shooting. Its only downsides appear to be a lack of weather seal on the mount and the zoom ring is a little jerky. Image quality is sharp at the 300mm end, with only some color fringing noticeable around extremely high-contrast edges towards the corners of the frame. For example, this might be noticeable when viewing dark tree branches against a very pale sky. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!


20 2015 Oct

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

Canon PowerShot N100

So what is it that makes the Canon PowerShot N100 a great digital camera? For starters, it includes a sharp f/1.8 lens, a larger than average image sensor, 3.6fps image capture, and solid image quality through ISO 1600.  Add a tilting touch-screen display. To finish, let’s add a Creative Shot mode and Rear camera Dual Capture mode, plus Wi-Fi.

This is a great starting camera that will grow with you as you hone your shooting techniques, with an f/1.8 wide angle lens and 12 megapixel 1/1.7 inch image sensor. The N100 is a bit taller than most cameras in its class at 2.7 by 4.1 by 1.4 inches. It is comfortable to hold and has a tiltable rear LCD, although color choices are limited to black and white.

The N100’s main lens is a 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 (a 35mm equivalent) zoom lens, which captures  abundant light at its widest angle but narrows significantly as it is zoomed. With its large image sensor, you get very high quality images at a more modest price.

On top is a pop-up flash, Mobile Device Connect button, NFC sensor, power button, zoom rocker/shutter combination, and a record button for 1080p footage. On the rear is a toggle switch to change shooting modes, Star button to tag photos as favorite during image review, playback and menu buttons, and four-way controller for quick access to Exposure Compensation, macro focusing control, flash settings, and display settings. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

19 2015 Oct

Choosing the Best Camera Tripod.

Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Carbon Fiber Tripod

The BeFree from Manfrotto is a compact carbon fiber tripod that supports up to 8.8 lb while being lightweight at just 2.4 pounds. It has reverse-folding legs, so its folded length is only 15.75 inches. It’s height extends from 13.4 inches to 55.9 inches. Unlike many carbon fiber tripods, it features flip locks instead of twist locks. The BeFree employs a simple ball head with one locking knob for both pan and tilt. A quick-release plate and carrying case are included with the tripod. Also, it is available in a kit with an Advanced Travel Backpack. The backpack will accommodate a DSLR with an attached lens, two additional lenses, a flash, and accessories. There is also room in the backpack for a 13 inch laptop. An expandable side pocket may be used to hold the BeFree tripod.

Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod

The MT055CXPRO3 is designed for photographers who care less about portability and more about the extensive features that this tripod offers. The three-section tripod sports a load capacity of 19.8 pounds and extends from 3.5 inches to 66.9 inches. It features Quick Power Locks and a newly designed center column with “one-finger” operation which can be oriented parallel to the ground for unique angles. With its Easy Link 3/8″-16 attachment, accessories such as an LED light or a reflector can be attached via a compatible arm. It comes without a head, so you can attach one of your choice. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!