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General Photography Tips and Education Thread
Posted: 09 June 2012 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I decided to create a new thread on making art with photography. I am doing this to keep things a bit more organized than last time. Here I hope to establish a place for people to talk about photography techniques, equipment, and related things to help us make better artwork.


I’ll start it off by saying I’ve been researching a lot of lenses lately to see what I can get that won’t be too expensive, but get close as possible to the results I am looking for.


I’ve been looking at wide angle lenses for landscapes,
telephoto (zoom) lenses for wildlife such as birds
and closeup or macro lenses for insects and plants.


I recently purchased the 12-24mm Nikon lens used for $650. I have only tested it in my ugly backyard so cannot give a report on it yet,
and the 55-300mm Nikon used at only $250. You can see a recent photo with that lens here. This lens so far is fairly decent in bright and medium light, though for cropping I would say it’s not that great. If you zoom in with the lens itself and get a good shot then it’s been satisfactory.


For closeups of small subjects or for general low-light shooting I am considering the 35mm F/1.8 Nikon. It’s low-priced and seems similar to the 20mm f/1.7 Lumix lens I had before I sold my Olympus PEN. A friend of mine would like me to take some photos for his wedding in December and I think this lens will be good for that.


I told him I’m not sure how good of a job I could do since I am still new to photography but he said I only needed to the stuff outside and I wouldn’t be the main photography guy. So I suspect it would be basically walking around taking photos after the ceremony itself is done. Egads, I hope it goes well.


Eventually, I would like to upgrade to a full-frame camera (called by the designation FX with Nikons) as they can apparently handle higher ISO (sensor sensitivity, like film speed of the old days) with lower noise than non-full frame (called DX cameras with NIkons), but that will cost me around $2000-3000 so don’t know when I will be willing to do that (willing and able are two very different things, lol).


The lens I would get with a full-frame would probably be the 28-300mm Nikon so I could do landscape and birds in one lens.

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Posted: 09 June 2012 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Some helpful links I have found:


F/stop Explained


Depth of Field Explained


Crop Factor Explained (This is important to know when not using a full-frame camera!)


Landscape Photography Tips


How to Create Professional HDR Images


Simple Explanation of Lens Flare, Ghosting and Aberration in Photography


Understanding Camera Lenses


A nice explanation of how resolution and contrast relate to lens quality. Also explains how to understand those pesky MTF charts! Much, MUCH better explanation than Nikon’s. I’d like to skin alive whoever wrote and ok’ed such an obscure technical explanation to be released to the public. Nothing is worse than reading something that only confuses you more… mad


Some good Photography stores for low prices:


Adorama.com


Cameta.com


KEH.com

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Posted: 09 June 2012 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Some ideas on how to avoid camera-shake:


Use a tripod (of course) but even if you use a tripod, you can still have problems with camera shake causing blurred images if your tripod is flimsy. I have a travel-size one that just sucks when I have a powerful (relatively) zoom lens on it due to the weight and shift of balance as the lens extends. A sturdy tripod is best.


Even with a tripod, you can get shake from pressing the shutter button. My easy solution was to buy a Nikon wireless remote. It cost me only 15 bucks and makes it really easy. For shooting birds through my window, I aim the camera and focus it on the bird feeder, then I set the “release mode” to “quick-response remote”. Your menu options may vary depending on the camera you use.


Then I just sit in the comfy chair and wait for birds to show up. Of course, the auto-shut-off gets annoying, but you may be able to change this in the custom menu of your camera. For the nikon D5100 you can see screenshots of the menu here.


For shots without a tripod,


Try to use a lens with some sort of image stabilization control. The name varies depending on the brand. Nikon uses VR (Vibration Reduction). Panasonic uses Mega OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), Canon uses IS (Image Stabilization), Tamron uses VC (Vibration Compensation), Sigma uses OS (Optical Stabilization) and so on.


This technology will help but not always make for perfect blur-free images. Some help more than others. One thing it won’t help with is motion blur from your subject. In that case, and in general, a high shutter-speed will product less blur.


There is a rule of thumb on hand-holding cameras which is for a full-frame (digital or old-style 35mm camera) the shutter speed needs to be the same as the focal length. For example: a 100 mm lens would need to be shot at 1/100th of a second or faster to avoid blur. On a 200mm lens, shutter speed would be set to 1/200th of a second and so on. If you use a non-full-frame camera, the crop factor needs to be taken into account. For example, on a Nikon d5100 using a 100mm lens, the shutter speed would need to be 1/150th of a second (Nikon’s crop factor is 1.5x).


You can see more on this topic at Camrbrige in Colour’s article Understanding Camera Lenses.


One last tip, if you camera has built-in image stabilization like the Olympus PEN, and you have a lens on it which has its own stabilization, I would turn off the Olympus camera body’ stabilization unless the one on your lens is really crappy, in which case you would want to turn off the lens’.

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Posted: 09 June 2012 10:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t think you’re going to want a 35mm for the wedding. You’re going to feel like you’re standing on top of people. Unless you plan on staying towards the back and only taking ‘full scene’ type shots.

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Posted: 09 June 2012 11:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Vaskania - 09 June 2012 10:47 PM

I don’t think you’re going to want a 35mm for the wedding. You’re going to feel like you’re standing on top of people. Unless you plan on staying towards the back and only taking ‘full scene’ type shots.


I am concerned about the available light mainly.


Check out image number 17, 27 and 41 on the Amazon photo page for the lens and see what you think.

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Posted: 09 June 2012 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Ok, those are nice. I thought you were going to be going for the tighter, portrait style stuff.
Like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamonnichphotography/4187780765/

That was actually taken @ 34mm, but I don’t know if I’d want someone that close. o_O

For planned shots I guess it’s ok, but for those I didn’t know anyone was watching moments, I’d definitely go longer. raspberry

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Posted: 09 June 2012 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Vaskania - 09 June 2012 11:44 PM

Ok, those are nice. I thought you were going to be going for the tighter, portrait style stuff.
Like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamonnichphotography/4187780765/

That was actually taken @ 34mm, but I don’t know if I’d want someone that close. o_O

For planned shots I guess it’s ok, but for those I didn’t know anyone was watching moments, I’d definitely go longer. raspberry

Yeah, I wish I could be invisible due to my allergy to people, so perhaps I can weasel out of it, lol.

But if not, I can show him some example photos and ask what exactly he wants me to do.

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Posted: 10 June 2012 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Nice to see a more general thread, and good tips in the opening posts.


Just wanted to add something to the optical stabilization tips, and that is to switch it off if you have it on a tripod.  In user guides for the cameras you’ll often find this advice, and the reason is that if the camera is perfectly still on a tripod, the camera has no movement to deal with and I get the impression it can cause the stabilization system to get confused and cause it to vibrate giving you a blurred picture.


If you’ve ever wondered why there’s a switch to switch it off and thought to yourself, now why would I want to do that?
Well, that’s just one reason for it.


Another tip would be mirror lock-up, which is handy if you’re shooting something close-up and critical.  Locking the mirror up means you don’t get any vibration from it when you press the shutter release.  Obviously this feature is not available on mirrorless cameras because there’s no mirror to lock up.

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Posted: 10 June 2012 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I wish to thank you for the first two links. They are as useful for 3D rendering as they are in photography.

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Posted: 10 June 2012 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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pumeco - 10 June 2012 07:28 AM

Nice to see a more general thread, and good tips in the opening posts.


Just wanted to add something to the optical stabilization tips, and that is to switch it off if you have it on a tripod.  In user guides for the cameras you’ll often find this advice, and the reason is that if the camera is perfectly still on a tripod, the camera has no movement to deal with and I get the impression it can cause the stabilization system to get confused and cause it to vibrate giving you a blurred picture.


If you’ve ever wondered why there’s a switch to switch it off and thought to yourself, now why would I want to do that?
Well, that’s just one reason for it.


Another tip would be mirror lock-up, which is handy if you’re shooting something close-up and critical.  Locking the mirror up means you don’t get any vibration from it when you press the shutter release.  Obviously this feature is not available on mirrorless cameras because there’s no mirror to lock up.


I forgot to mention turning it off on a tripod. Thanks for adding it!

 

Jaderail - 10 June 2012 07:56 AM

I wish to thank you for the first two links. They are as useful for 3D rendering as they are in photography.


You’re welcome. Yes, that’s true, especially when using rendering engines that simulate real world physics. wink

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Posted: 21 June 2012 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Some great tips thanks.

Any thoughts on iso in digital SLR’s, is it best to use 200 most of the time?

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Posted: 21 June 2012 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Rayman29 - 21 June 2012 09:17 AM

Some great tips thanks.

Any thoughts on iso in digital SLR’s, is it best to use 200 most of the time?


You’re welcome. grin


ISO perforamance varies per camera, with the full-frames having generally the best.
The new NIkon D800 for example can do well at ISO 3200.
On my D5100 I don’t like going above 800 but prefer keeping it as low as possible.


Lower ISO’s are better, and if your camera goes as low as 200 natively, then that would
be what to shoot for, but some situations make that level impossible (such as shooting birds
moving fast). But for something like landscapes or buildings, if you have a tripod, I would
suggest using that to stabilize the image so you can have lower ISO and still get a sharp image.
Shutter speeds will need to be longer and/or fstop lower when you have low ISO.


I would recommend using dpreview.com’s review on your specific camera. They usually have a couple pages dedicated to ISO
in each review, with some really helpful comparisons with other cameras. For example: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond5100/12

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