30 2015 Nov

Choosing the Best Camera Tripod.

An excellent all around choice by novice photographers and professionals alike for functionality at a great price is the Manfrotto 294 Aluminum Kit camera tripod, listing at just $167.

Manfrotto 294 Aluminum Kit (MK294A3-A0RC2)

Manfrotto 294The 294 Aluminium kit is a tripod featured in Manfrotto’s recently launched 290 Series. Inspired by the popular 190 Series, the new range is cast from aluminum alloy and sports a range of features that make them an appealing prospective buy.

The MK294A3 comes with the basic, detachable A0RC2 ball head (also aluminum), adding to the value of this kit. The tripod itself features 3 leg sections, secured with lever locks that are quick, smooth and simple to operate, while the center column benefits from an anti-shock collar and anti-rotation system.

In spite of its low price, the MK294A3 doesn’t feel like a budget option. The tripod performs reliably, with quick set up and reliable stability in a windy environment.  The legs offer angle adjustment for low-level shooting and a removable center column that can be inverted to shoot even closer to the ground. The kit will support up to 11 pounds of camera and accessories, with a max height of 58.06 inches and a min height of 19.57 inches. It folds down to 27.56 inches for portability at 4.2 pounds.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

27 2015 Nov

How to select a lens filter for your DSLR?

I hope you all had a Happy and Peaceful Thanksgiving Day. Today we’ll continue our search for the best lens filter for your DSLR.

Neutral Density (ND) Filter

ND FilterThe purpose of a neutral density filter is to reduce the amount of light that gets to the camera, decrease the shutter speed, and increase exposure time. These filters are particularly useful during the day, because of the abundance of light that cannot be reduced by minimizing lens aperture and decreasing ISO. For example, if you want to create a “foggy” look for a waterfall an 8 stop neutral density filter, will allow you to slow down the shutter speed to 2 seconds while keeping lens aperture at f/11-f/16. (Using apertures beyond f/11-f/16 with normal lenses may decrease image quality due to diffraction.)

You will discover that neutral density filters are also useful in flash photography. When photographing a subject on a bright sunny day with flash to create a dramatic effect, you will possibly end up with an overexposed subject. By using a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light that makes it to the camera, you may eliminate this problem.

Both circular and rectangular neutral density filters are available. There are no benefits to rectangular neutral density filters, so choose a circular ND filter for size and portability benefits. You can stack neutral density filters to decrease shutter speed even more, but stacking ND filters with wide-angle lenses will cause vignetting. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

26 2015 Nov

Selecting Digital Cameras for Action Video.

Sports Action CamWhen shopping for digital cameras for action video, you will want to take note of Video Editing Software that you will be using to edit your videos. There are many consumer applications to consider, including iMovie (Mac), Adobe Premiere Elements 8, and Corel Video Studio X2. These applications offer easy to follow wizards to help spruce up videos.

Also check out Final Cut Pro (for Mac), Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, Avid, Sony Vegas, Adobe After Effects CS4, and so forth. High end applications have a steep learning curve, but also great rewards. You can apply color correction tools, like color balance, hue saturation, and curves, to a whole clip, just as with a still image. Add a music track and export the entire production to a DVD or the internet.

Video can also be delivered in several different formats, called wrappers. A movie file is wrapped in a format that can be read by a player, a MOV file for QuickTime, WMF for Windows Media player, FLV for Flash players, and so forth. You can decide the format after you have finished editing the file, when you are ready to export it. There are also an endless list of output codecs offered. These will define how the movie is compressed. If you don’t want to perform video editing, then simply link the camera to a domestic TV set via the HDMI output and watch your clips from an armchair. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

25 2015 Nov

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

To continue our discussion of the Wide-Angle camera lens, I have another example of a superior wide-angle zoom. The Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lists for $649.99.

Canon EF 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Canon Wide AngleThis zoom provides ultra wide-angle coverage to the EOS 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D and Digital Rebel SLR cameras. It offers excellent performance and optics designed for digital SLR use, equivalent to a 16-35mm zoom. Excellent image quality is achieved by three Aspherical lens elements and a Super-UD element. A ring-type USM translates to fast and silent AF and full-time manual focus. It focuses down to 9.5 inches. Creative photographers use this phenomenon to create separation between subject and background for a strong sense of presence.

Designed specifically for digital photography with APS-C size sensors, the lens utilizes the three aspherical and one Ultra-low Dispersion elements to minimize aberrations. Super Spectra coatings suppress ghosting and flare, which can be caused by reflections off digital camera sensors. An optional lens hood is available, which may further reduce the incidence of flare.

The EF 10-22mm uses optics designed to take full advantage of the small APS-C image circle and short back focus in EF-S lenses. Its circular aperture diaphragm also produces brilliant out-of-focus characteristics.

24 2015 Nov

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

The next great digital camera that might be of interest to you is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50. This digital camera lists at $399.99.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 (Part 1)

Lumix ZS50Despite an incredible zoom range, the ZS50 slides easily into a pocket. It measures just 2.5 by 4.4 by 1.4 inches and weighs only 8.6 ounces. The ZS50 is available in a black or black and silver finish.

The camera’s lens provides the same field of view as a 24-720mm lens on a full-frame camera. The ZS50 uses a 1/2.3-inch sensor in order to minimize the size and weight of the integrated zoom lens. The aperture is also modest, with light gathering capabilities ranging from f/3.3 at wide angle down to f/6.4 at full zoom. Macro focusing allows you to lock onto subjects that almost touch the lens, when zoomed out to the widest setting, through about the 50mm (2x) equivalent. In-camera stabilization allows you to handhold shots at longer shutter speeds, and the 12-megapixel image sensor improves the image quality at higher sensitivities.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better electronic viewfinder (EVF) in a camera this size. Integrated Wi-Fi is  a built-in function. The free Panasonic Image App allows you to copy pictures and video from the camera to your phone or tablet, and also supports remote control.

I’ll go into the ZS50 controls next time. Until then, Happy Shuttering!

23 2015 Nov

Choosing the Best Camera Tripod.

When shopping for the best camera tripod to support your DSLR and accessories, you are sure to run across the Induro Alloy AT213 Tripod. This tripod lists without a head for $210.00.

Induro Alloy AT213 Tripod

Induro AT213With its maximum capacity of 22 lbs, the AT213 is capable of supporting a pro DSLR body with a long telephoto lens attached. It’s an ideal choice for sports and action photographers.

Constructed from aluminum alloy, the AT213 ensures the utmost stability with the wide stance of it’s legs when the tripod is set up. In particularly harsh conditions, a spring-loaded hook at the base of the center column allows the addition of extra weight.

Other features include; generous padded grips on each of the legs to provide comfortable handling in all weather, adjustable leg angles for shooting on uneven surfaces, an integral bubble level, and reversible locking center column for low-angle photography. The legs are in three sections, secured by dust and moisture-resistant half-twist leg locks. The legs terminate in interchangeable rubber feet and stainless steel spikes. The AT213 comes with a tool kit and durable carry case for easy portability, a great buy online for about $140. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

20 2015 Nov

How to select a lens filter for your DSLR?

Polarizing FilterLast time we discussed the basic reasons that you might want to purchase a polarizing lens filter for your DSLR. But there are a few potential issues that you need to be aware of when using a polarizing filter.

You’ll discover there is a minimum and a maximum effect of polarization, depending on the filter alignment. Rotate the filter each time before you snap for best results.

The effect of polarization will change in relationship to the sun. Maximum effect of polarization is achieved when the lens is aimed 90 degrees from the sun (in any direction).

Never use a polarizing filter on ultra wide-angle lenses. You could end up with a partially dark sky that will be difficult to fix during post-processing.

In some cases the maximum effect of polarization can result in an unnatural-looking dark blue sky. Rotate the filter slightly away from maximum to avoid this.

You will lose approximately 2 stops of light with a polarizing filter. You’ll need to watch your shutter speed when shooting hand-held with a polarizer.

Polarizing filters are normally thicker than regular filters and can cause unwanted vignetting. To avoid vignetting, a polarizing filter should not be stacked with other filters. Due to light loss, you’ll only want to use a polarizing filter when needed. In high-contrast situations, however, it may be necessary to stack a polarizing filter with a neutral density filter, which I’ll introduce you to next time. Until then, Happy Shuttering!

19 2015 Nov

Selecting Digital Cameras for Action Video.

Canon 5D2 SLRAnother consideration when you look at digital cameras for action video is File Sizes. When shooting still photographs you can either shoot RAW files, which are generally large file sizes and occupy a large amount of memory, or capture more pictures using JPEG compression. The trade off with JPEGs is lower quality, but most users will not notice any significant drop in image quality.

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, the same four minute sequence without compression occupies 32,457 gigabytes of memory. Many stills cameras offer Motion JPEG compressed AVI or MOV capture. These are also compressed file formats but use less sophisticated compression.

For example, the Canon 5D Mark II records on CompactFlash cards using QuickTime MOV files with the H264 codec. The Panasonic GH1 uses SDHC cards and 17 M/bs AVCHD format, an efficient codec which in many cases will outperform 25 M/bs HDV recordings. Nikon uses AVI (Motion JPEG) to record video. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

18 2015 Nov

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

In last weeks segment I discussed some generalities about wide-angle zoom lenses. In this segment I want to begin our tour of some specific examples that are available today for your DSLR from various manufacturers.

AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED (List $1899.95 Nikon)

With its fast fixed maximum aperture of f/2.8, the AF-S NIKKOR 14–24mm f/2.8G ED ultra wide-angle zoom camera lens delivers truly superlative performance in any situation. Nikon’s exclusive lens technologies and innovations in optical design deliver outstanding sharpness, color and contrast, even in backlit conditions. Tough and reliable, this is an essential zoom for serious photographers who demand the best photos and HD videos.

This wide-angle lens is optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness on both FX- and DX-format Nikon DSLR cameras, and combines the latest Nikon lens technologies, innovations in optical design, and NIKKOR glass to deliver truly superlative performance in any situation. Rugged construction and professional dust and moisture resistance withstand the most difficult environmental conditions. This lens employs Nikon’s exclusive Silent Wave Motor (SWM) and Internal Focusing (IF) technologies enabling ultra high-speed auto-focusing with exceptional accuracy and powerful, super-quiet operation. Nano Crystal Coat (N) minimizes ghosting and flare, and Aspherical Lens Elements (AS) virtually eliminates coma and other types of aberration. Until next time, Happy Shuttering!


17 2015 Nov

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

Canon PowerShot G7 X (Continued)

The very sharp and bright rear display is 3 inches in size, with a 1,040k-dot resolution. You’ll discover that there are no issues using it on a sunny day, even when light hits it directly. The display is mounted on a hinge and can face all the way forward for selfies.

Wi-Fi is built in. The Wi-Fi menu can be launched during image playback via the up direction of the rear control dial, or connected directly to a smartphone using a button on the right side. If your phone has NFC, you can also tap to connect. You can transfer images and video clips directly from your camera to your iOS or Android device with the free Canon CameraWindow app. Remote control is supported via the app, but its functionality is limited. You can adjust zoom, set the self-timer, and fire the shutter, but can’t select a focus point or adjust exposure settings. CameraWindow has a location log option. When enabled, it can be used to add location data to photos on the camera, assuming that the clocks are set the same on both devices.

Until next time, when we dig into the Panasonic Lumix ZS50, Happy Shuttering!