cyrusuncc

Photography tips and tricks...

63 posts in this topic

I like the 30D.. i actually don't have an SLR yet. I'm saving up for a Canon Digital Rebel XT or possibly XTi. The photo i posted was taken with my Pentax Optio S4 point-n-shoot camera. It has some manual features, but i'm quickly outgrowing the automatic functions! For example, there is a manual focus, but you can't control the shutter speed or aperture. I've learned to trick it into a longer shutter speed (covering over the light sensor!) but the maximum exposure is 4 seconds...

I've found another great spot that I'm going to take pictures from at dusk tonight (hopefully) :)

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This seems an appropriate thread to get good camera suggestions, other than the above mentions, anything else? Cyrus?

It depends on what your budget is. I have spent the last 2 months going crazy analyzing and reading up on cameras so let me know. You cant go wrong with a Canon, and the Rebel XTi would have been my second choice.

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My general attitude is to buy something really good just because I hate having to upgrade every 1-2 years (same philosophy with computers/components) which is more expensive in the longrun anyway. I'd be willing to spend a thousand or more on the camera and another K on lenses, how is the kit lens on the xTi?.

EDIT - Just reread and realized how my post sounds, for reference I drive an old but well maintained truck that I will continue to drive until it falls apart on the road. I see no point in spending a lot on vehicles, but a camera, different story, and I haven't really had one in 12 years. Also, hinsp0, what the hell do the six groups of initials after the f-stop mean? :)

Edited by nowensone

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My general attitude is to buy something really good just because I hate having to upgrade every 1-2 years (same philosophy with computers/components) which is more expensive in the longrun anyway. I'd be willing to spend a thousand or more on the camera and another K on lenses, how is the kit lens on the xTi?.

I've had a Nikon D50 for about a year and love it. If you aren't anti-Nikon, then I'd suggest that you check out the D50. The 17-55 mm f/2.8 G IF-ED AF-S DX Zoom Lens is a heck of a complement to the factory lens.

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My general attitude is to buy something really good just because I hate having to upgrade every 1-2 years (same philosophy with computers/components) which is more expensive in the longrun anyway. I'd be willing to spend a thousand or more on the camera and another K on lenses, how is the kit lens on the xTi?.

Kit lenses have a bad rap from what I've seen. I bought the camera as body only and spent the extra 100$ on a better lense. Good glass makes a big difference. If you (like me) dont want to eventually upgrade your lenses, make sure to only buy 2.8 (or better) lenses. Canon makes the best lenses (for canon cameras) with their L series, but that is alot of money to shell out. I got a 17-50 for now for the wide angle and will hopefully get a 70-200 when more funds are available. Check out dpreview.com, lots of good info. Hope that helps...

(and yes, Nikons have great reviews as well)

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Kit lenses have a bad rap from what I've seen. I bought the camera as body only and spent the extra 100$ on a better lense. Good glass makes a big difference. If you (like me) dont want to eventually upgrade your lenses, make sure to only buy 2.8 (or better) lenses. Canon makes the best lenses (for canon cameras) with their L series, but that is alot of money to shell out. I got a 17-50 for now for the wide angle and will hopefully get a 70-200 when more funds are available. Check out dpreview.com, lots of good info. Hope that helps...

(and yes, Nikons have great reviews as well)

That isn't entirely true. A large aperture doesn't necessarily correlate into a better lens. There are some very fine f4 lenses out there like the Nikon 300mm f4 prime. If you aren't going to be shooting in low light or don't need the DOF of a large aperture then you really aren't doing yourself any favors except for lightening the weight of your wallet. What I would look for is good glass. You are right that kit lenses are absolutely terrible. For the casual shooter they're probably ok, but if you care about color abberations for example, then don't buy cheap glass. Stay away from cheap alternative brands like Sigma. You get what you pay for.

In my bag I have all Nikon equipment including some prime lenses which are probably a great way to start out. You can get a 50mm 1.8 prime from either Canon or Nikon for very cheap and it really pushes your creativity IMO. Probably not the best lens for skylines obviously, but for shooting details you really can't beat it for the money. I also own a 17-55mm f2.8 ED IF and a 70-200mm f2.8 ED IF VR and can vouch that both of those lenses are absolutely superb, but even being so my 50mm is my bread and butter. Not bad for a lens that was 1/16 the cost of my 70-200.

Of course, I may note that I am considering moving to the Canon 5D (from a Nikon D2H and D100) just because of the awesome colors it produces out of the bag.

Perhaps we should start a camera tips and tricks thread for this sort of thing. I'm sure all of us could learn from one another. :)

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I agree, though will ask one more question here until the posts can be moved into a new thread - if one decides to go with two lenses, one that is most ideal for close ups and detail shots (which you partially answered Neo), but what is the best lens for skyline type shots? Vibrant sky/sunset colors would also be desired, but are there light issues with the large aperature lenses and focusing on distant skylines (or mountains, etc.)?

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That isn't entirely true. A large aperture doesn't necessarily correlate into a better lens. There are some very fine f4 lenses out there like the Nikon 300mm f4 prime. If you aren't going to be shooting in low light or don't need the DOF of a large aperture then you really aren't doing yourself any favors except for lightening the weight of your wallet. What I would look for is good glass. You are right that kit lenses are absolutely terrible. For the casual shooter they're probably ok, but if you care about color abberations for example, then don't buy cheap glass. Stay away from cheap alternative brands like Sigma. You get what you pay for.

Yeah, but I like having the fast glass just in case. Having a fixed aperature lense for the entire zoom is nice when there is low light and you dont have your tripod.

An info thread in the photo's forum is a great idea, there would be plenty to discuss.

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I agree, though will ask one more question here until the posts can be moved into a new thread - if one decides to go with two lenses, one that is most ideal for close ups and detail shots (which you partially answered Neo), but what is the best lens for skyline type shots? Vibrant sky/sunset colors would also be desired, but are there light issues with the large aperature lenses and focusing on distant skylines (or mountains, etc.)?

Your questions really depends on what kind of camera you are using. All Nikon DSLR's have a crop factor turning a 200mm lens into a 300mm effective lens for example. So when you buy that 17mm lens you're not really getting 17mm, your getting roughly a 26mm lens. Canon's have crop factors ranging from 1.3x to 1.6x and on the 1D and 5D there is no crop factor (full-frame) so you get exactly what you paid for. On a 5D a 17mm lens is a 17mm lens.

Now to the question, I would say the range of 17-55 (18-55, 17-50, etc. depending on the money at hand) would be best suited to capture a larger range of a skyline. I may not be the best person to answer this question. I do some photography on the side (portraits and events) and I'm more concerned over detail shots. I never use a range above around 50mm for a skyline shot and in fact most of the time I stay around 20-30mm if that is my subject. 70-200mm is a great lens if you're at the back of a church trying to get a great shot of a couple as the groom kisses the bride, but for skyline shots it just isn't my bag.

Color quality really depends a lot on the glass you have in your lens. Great glass produce great quality photos in terms of actual quality and colors. I have owned Sigma lenses before and the expensive Nikon glass is not even in the same category of quality. If you're just printing out 4x6 images though there really isn't as much concern as if you were printing 20x30 images.

Focusing really depends on the quality of the lens and the camera. My D2H is a pro grade camera and has a great focusing system, beating out new cameras like the D200 or D80 in terms of speed and accuracy. There is a general rule to follow though, spend most of your money on great glass, but only the glass you need. If you shoot low light then by all means go out and get that 1.4 50mm, but if you are shooting in daylight or at night with a tripod then don't bother as it won't help you. In fact, my 50mm 1.8 is sharpest at f2.8 and I rarely use it under f2.2 as the sharpness falls off any wider.

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Definitely want the ability to print large sizes that retain sharpness and quality in the event I luck out some good shots.

I suppose to nail down what I want, it is a camera/lens that will afford good wide shots, quality colors (though I love B&W's as well) and also allow for the prolonged exposure night shots. I would certainly use for skyline shots but would also like for scenic and mountain shots as well, my decent "regular" cameras not being good for those kinds of shots at all. I've had use of a real camera before (a Canon) and so know intuitively what the difference is, just don't understand the terminology or some of the concepts.

To summarize what I think I have learned so far, I probably do not care about shutter speed or the fine detail lenses, so basically 17 - 50mm is fine for my purposes, though I saw a Canon 5D with a 24-105mm lens which seems like a good range (is 17mm the lowest?); got to have great glass (is there a glass quality rating?); but what level of zoom is really necessary? Canon or Nikon, I suppose that is a realm of debate.

Edited by nowensone

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To summarize what I think I have learned so far, I probably do not care about shutter speed or the fine detail lenses, so basically 17 - 50mm is fine for my purposes, though I saw a Canon 5D with a 24-105mm lens which seems like a good range (is 17mm the lowest?); got to have great glass (is there a glass quality rating?); but what level of zoom is really necessary? Canon or Nikon, I suppose that is a realm of debate.

If you want good glass a basic rule to follow is to look for Nikon ED glass or Canon L glass. I'm a Nikon guy so I am more knowledgeable about their equipment. Nikon has been known to put ED glass where it is not needed just to have the ED name on it so that they can charge a higher price. ED for Nikon really comes in handy on telephoto lenses, but aside from that, lenses with ED glass are usually of higher build quality and typically have internal focusing (which means the lens is a fixed size physically and only internally do things move. These lenses are also typically weather proof as is Canon's L lenses. You do pay for this though as ED and L glass is typically much more expensive than regular glass from either of these manufacturers.

A 24-105mm lens is a very good range for an all around camera. As far as 17mm being the smallest, that isn't the case. 17mm just happens to be the standard that most lenses for most purposes are built to. There are in fact lenses with much wider angles, even 6mm. When you speak in mm you forego the compact camera's zoom rating. A 300mm lens for example is a very high powered zoom, but there isn't an 8x rating persay if that is what you're asking.

Canon or Nikon? It doesn't matter really. I have a lot of money invested in Nikon, but I've fallen in love with what the 5D can produce, but it is all relative to what you shoot. I honestly don't shoot much architectural subjects anymore, most of my stuff now revolves around people and events, something Canon does extremely well IMO. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Nikons are said to be easier to control (more user friendly). Canon's have much higher megapixels than Nikon (though really, that doesn't matter a whole lot as my D2H is 4 megapixels and I dare even a camera like the new Nikon D80 (10 megapixels) to do what I can with my D2H). Some say Nikon glass is better, some say Canon glass is better. I will say one thing in regards to Canon. You can get a larger aperture on Canon cameras because of the mount system used, but there is a drawback that you can't use older Canon lenses on new Canon equipment. Nikon is opposite in being that they make their cameras backwards compatible with older lenses. You can even mount a 1970's lens on a new Nikon (with the exception of the Nikon D40 for cheapness reasons).

In the end it doesn't matter what brand or model of camera you use, or ultimately what kind of lens or glass you have, but it is what you do with it that matters. Don't go out and get a $1600 piece of glass just because it is better than the $200 version, because you may not warrant the extra features the more expensive version may have. There are special needs for certain lenses, and until you know you can't live without it then I wouldn't worry about it. Just go out and have fun.

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A 24-105mm lens is a very good range for an all around camera. As far as 17mm being the smallest, that isn't the case. 17mm just happens to be the standard that most lenses for most purposes are built to. There are in fact lenses with much wider angles, even 6mm. When you speak in mm you forego the compact camera's zoom rating. A 300mm lens for example is a very high powered zoom, but there isn't an 8x rating persay if that is what you're asking.

I'll do some reading on my own so I can ask questions better generally, though not sure I understand what you mean by zoom rating to lens size, is there some relationship there?

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I'll do some reading on my own so I can ask questions better generally, though not sure I understand what you mean by zoom rating to lens size, is there some relationship there?

You asked what level of zoom is necessary, perhaps I didn't understand the question correctly. What telephoto length you need (200mm, 300mm, 400mm, etc.) is all dependent on your uses. If you want to stand at street level and view the color of someone's hair washing windows on the top floor of a 60 story building then you'll want a lengthier telephoto, maybe 300mm or so.

Here is a good resource for both Nikon and Canon equipment, reviews, lenses, etc.

Ken Rockwell

I will note that there is a bias towards Nikon on this site, but it does have some good technical information.

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I big boxed it, which is to say Best Buy extended me financing, and evil devil worshiping salespeople that they are, were out of the Nikon D50, save the floor model, which is been there done that territory for me. They even said it was discontinued, but they did have the new model, the D80, would I like to look at it? Well of course I would, I am after all a sucker for your exotic succubine ways. Or just simply a sucker (did they really have the D50's hiding around the corner in the warehouse?). And how nice it comes with a 18-135mm 1:3.5-5.6G ED lens.

Anyway, I am now the proud owner (in 6 months) of a D80, will be reading the manual tonight and testing tomorrow. Neo, was reading Ken

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You'll like the D80. Of course that's depending on what you're planning. A partner of mine in my website venture uses it and we noticed a difference right off between the quality of that vs. the D70, which we both have. Ken Rockwell swears by it, especially when setting your color settings to Vivid. I've done that to my D70 and noticed a difference, though I still enhance through Photoshop and a couple of plugins for PS.

Thanks for some of the info on lenses, Neo. I'm hoping to start searching for some to purchase in the coming months and appreciate the info. Right now, I'm shooting with the kit 18-70, but would love to up to a 300mm range for people photos. Is the 300mm you have fixed or zoom?

I've also heard what you were describing about Canon, that they'll tweak the lens mounts and if you upgrade to a new body, all your old lenses are pretty much worthless. I've thrown an older (probably 70's or 80's) Nikon 300mm fixed on and it worked like a charm. If only I could steal it from my family member that has it.

Edited by cdub

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^ Simple hobby for me, though I plan to get a serious workout with it, this discussion started in the Charlotte skyline thread, so I am going to test it out at that task Sunday. Don't have a real wide-angle lens for it yet, going to see what Wolf Camera has tomorrow. Saw some 4-18mm lenses online, hopefully I can get one in a store at a decent price without having to wait to order one.

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Here's a list of my equipment currently:

Canon Digital Rebel XT

EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II (kit lens)

EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

EF 50mm f/1.8 II

EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Speedlite 430EX w/diffuser

tripod

mini-tripod

monopod

hoods and filters (especially protection filters) for ALL my lenses

Working on getting a 30D sometime this year, and hopefully my first piece of L glass.

I got my XT back in late June/early July, so I've basically had it for 8 months. Great camera for an entry-level DSLR, but I'm ready to take that next step. I'd love to buy the 5D next, but at around $3,000... I think I'll focus on talking my wife into the 30D first. :)

Edited by SBCmetroguy

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I'd be willing to spend a thousand or more on the camera and another K on lenses, how is the kit lens on the xTi?.

If you're willing to spend an extra thousand dollars on lenses, do yourself a favor and get one all-emcompassing L lens like the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L.

The Canon "kit lens," which is generally the 18-55mm II really stinks overall. It can be a decent lens when used within its sweet spot, but overall it's really not worth even getting to begin with. Get the XTi or 30D body ONLY and add a good piece of glass to the lineup. You'll also want to keep the 70-300mm IS in mind as a telephoto until you can shell out the big buckaroos for a good telephoto L-series lens.

Edited by SBCmetroguy

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What do you think of the Rebel digital bodies? I've felt one or two and thought they feel pretty weak. I'd definitely hate to drop one. My boss has the 30D, I believe, and I used it for some shots on a project we were working on together. Seemed very nice and the color quality with no enhancement was quite good.

Since we're adding up equipment, I have the following:

Nikon D70

18-70mm 1:3.5-4.5G ED (kit lens, but I have no complaints other than not being in the 300mm range, always want what we can't have. damn salary of an LA!)

SB600 flash (Nikon speedlights are fantastic, just wish I had better control at shooting varying apertures with the flash. I'm not a fan of algebra to take a simple group photo unless I put it on 'P' mode.

Bogen/ Manfrotto tripod-pistol grip ball head to the side, love the panning action. I've heard the vertical grips are a bit top heavy and can contribute to tripods tipping.

What monopod do you have? I've seen a cool hiking pole by Leki that doubles as a tripod and has a small 3-legged system pop out at the base. Seems like it would give a little added stability, especially when hiking and needing light gear.

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D80 out of the box settings, not bad except the color settings are significantly off.

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Just looks like a White Balance issue to me. If you shoot in RAW, you can adjust that later without ever having to mess with it in the camera.

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What do you think of the Rebel digital bodies? I've felt one or two and thought they feel pretty weak. I'd definitely hate to drop one. My boss has the 30D, I believe, and I used it for some shots on a project we were working on together. Seemed very nice and the color quality with no enhancement was quite good.

Since we're adding up equipment, I have the following:

Nikon D70

18-70mm 1:3.5-4.5G ED (kit lens, but I have no complaints other than not being in the 300mm range, always want what we can't have. damn salary of an LA!)

SB600 flash (Nikon speedlights are fantastic, just wish I had better control at shooting varying apertures with the flash. I'm not a fan of algebra to take a simple group photo unless I put it on 'P' mode.

Bogen/ Manfrotto tripod-pistol grip ball head to the side, love the panning action. I've heard the vertical grips are a bit top heavy and can contribute to tripods tipping.

What monopod do you have? I've seen a cool hiking pole by Leki that doubles as a tripod and has a small 3-legged system pop out at the base. Seems like it would give a little added stability, especially when hiking and needing light gear.

My tripod and monopod are extremely cheap. They might both be Promaster, bottom of the line. I bought the tripod before I knew ANYTHING about tripods, though I've had my eyes on a Manfrotto tripod and head for a while. Might even be the one you've got. As far as monopods go, I didn't feel I needed a really good one at the time. Boy was I wrong! ;) I've seen that monopod you're talking about... it's a very clever design!

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OK fellas I am a newbie at outdoor photography. I bought a nikon D50 for starters and I am dumbfounded by the amount to adjustments and settings on this camera. I'm even intimidated by it. I usually just use the preset camera modes because I don't really know what setting to use. I like to shoot from daytime to low light to night panoramas but as you can guess I can't get it right. Need help. Neo I need some pointers using Nikons because I am lost!!!!!

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I'll post some of my best pics and tell me what the hell I am doing wrong and what equipment I need.

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Just looks like a White Balance issue to me. If you shoot in RAW, you can adjust that later without ever having to mess with it in the camera.

Was reading about white balance and didn't realize it affected colors, I will return to it now that you mention it. I hear you NcSc74, I am also confused by some of the functions, particularly ones that impact and distort other ones, I will be taking the advice I've given to others in the past and read the [email protected] manual. ;)

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I feel your pain since I had the same problems. I'll see if I can cover some of the basics.

Shooting modes: You can refer to your inst. manual for the auto. modes (portrait, landscape, close up/macro, etc).

Full auto (green box): Camera controls every aspect of the exposure (aperature, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, flash, meter mode, etc) All you do is point and shoot.

P mode (Program AE): Camera controls the aperature and shutter speed, but you control everything else like the white balance, flash, and ISO speed.

Tv mode (Shutter priority): You set the shutter speed and the camera adjusts the aperature to get the correct exposure.

Av mode (Aperature priority): You set the aperature, and the camera adjusts the shutter speed to get the correct exposure.

M mode (Manual exposure): You control all aspects of the exposure and use the meter reading (level indicator, usually -2 to +2) to get the desired exposure.

Notice I said desired exposure because getting the correct exposure according to the camera's meter is not always the right, or "creative", exposure that you want. When shooting a sunset, your meter on the camera is going to flip out depending on where in your shot the camera is taking that meter reading.

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