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I have been asked by a fellow FAA-er,(real word, I'm sure) to open a new thread where questions about cameras, tripods,lenses,gear,toys can be asked and in some cases, even answered! I've been draging my feet on this, hoping Murray(the slacker)Bloom, would come to his senses and re-open his great thread, but nooooooo, he's too busy, huh Murray!!! So I'll give it a go and hope Murray and others here will step in when I'm in over my head or just making stuff up, and give actual good answers.
I've got 30+ years as a "Professional Photographer" (means I got paid, that's all) and many years in the studio, shooting everything from Diamonds and Jewelery( for the late Leona Helmsly) once!, to thousands of images for a local textbook publisher. Cars ,kids and stuff. Food, buildings and people for Travel Mags too. So I'm a "Jack of All Trades", but maybe not a master of any! So that's where my "advisors" will come in, especially answering anything involving the "Dark Sciences" Photoshop and such!
These are of course, just my opinions and you're getting what you paid for, so keep that in mind! I'm more of a "Run what ya Brung" kinda guy and don't think getting the next best thing............(fill in the blank) is always the answer. On the on the other hand, I do enjoy spending other people's money! So keep that in mind too!
I would hope that there will be good discussions here and good questions too. As always, you can email me privately, if you're a shy person, like me, or join my small group and ask there:
I will ask the first question. Not so much for me, but a question I know is asked on this forum from time to time and something I see a lot on others.
Is a beginner photographer with a budget of say $500, better off with a good quality bridge camera ie FugiX10 / Canon G12 / Panasonic LX5, compared to buying the cheapest DSLR, with kit lens? Even though the sensor is bigger in the DSLR, I have not heard good comments about kit lenses. The lenses in those high end bridge cameras are usually extremely sharp and fast, with Fstops as wide as F1.8. The bridge cameras, also usually have most if not all the same manual features of a DSLR and most have viewfinders. (although EVF and not TTL)
One way to look at the low end DSLR, say a Nikon 3100, would be that later on the beginner can invest in better glass.
Murray the slacker here. Yeah, I've been busy with work, love, and other pointless stuff.
I usually shy away from which camera is better or cheaper for this or that, since the players are constantly changing. I'm not one to recommend or dis a piece of equipment based only on what I've read, or maybe handled at a camera shop. I'll keep an eye on this thread to see if I can contribute, though.
Regarding the Nikon D3100, it's a very good buy, has has a great sensor and processing engine, and accepts most Nikon auto lenses (not the older screw-drive 'D' type glass, though; which won't autofocus on it). If you like lightweight plastic cameras, it could be the one for you. Interestingly, some of their kit lenses are remarkably good, and you might want to check out Ken Rockwell (.com) for his lens reviews.
Rich this should be a big help to several folks! Way to go!
Murray you let love get in the way of photography? Well just teach her how to use part of your cameras and you can make a great photo team! :) OK had to toss that in there
OK Rich for what it is worth. My biggest issues with cameras these days are the noise factor and the fact that unless you have the current mega buck high end camera you are going to get noise in any shadow. That is where I pull my air out (sick of spending time in PS for noise!) when everything is right, and noise in the shadows and some in the barely there shadows. I think it was Murray that clued us into the fact the camera company's have duped us into cameras that were not cheep that still will have noise. I wanna take a photo without noise one day regardless of how I shoot. So do you happen to know what the current camera...or maybe ones that might be sold on eBay that are still late models that have almost or zero noise regardless of settings...and as much as one pays for a pro-sumer camera that they have way more noise than some higher end P&S cameras do. Shame on the camera company's!
The Canon EOS starter DSLR with kit lens can take some decent images and sells in that price range. I also have a G12 as my P&S. I've posted a handful of images taken with it but would probably recommend the DSLR with a kit lens as a primary. The advantage of the starter DSLR is that you can add better lenses over time.
The reason that images from some lower end P&S have less noise, is because there is noise reduction applied, through the processing engine, when the camera produces the JPEG image. Some cameras apply more noise reduction than others and often it is something you can adjust by setting high/med/low.
The higher end cameras, that shoot RAW, will not produce "more" noise, it simply has not processed any of it out. That is up to you to do, in a program like Adobe Camera Raw.
The low end P&S will produce MORE noise than a prosumer DSLR because of the smaller sensor. However you may not notice it as much, because of the in camera processing. A JPEG processed in a crop sensor DSLR should produce less noise than a compact camera, under exactly the same circumstances. On the down side though, with the extra noise reduction in the camera, the image will also come out less sharp around the edges.
Better to shoot RAW with a prosumer DSLR and edit out the noise, while controlling edge sharpness, than letting your JPEG engine do it for you.
Sorry Rich!!!! I am answering questions, in your thread!!! :(
Back on topic, noise comes from the electronic portion of the camera. It's not about optics or light. Every circuit generates noise when it's operating. Turn a radio or TV all the way down and put your ear to the speaker. You'll hear a gentle 'hiss.' That's noise. Whatever program material you're listening to masks the noise because if its greater volume (signal). An important statistic in electronics is "signal to noise ratio," which what is what we're dealing with when talking about digital camera noise.
Image processors (like in your camera) are very complex circuits, which generate noise on many levels. The fact that noise is as minimal as it is today is nothing short of a miracle. The problem arises when there is little signal to mask the noise, like a dark scene or during a long exposure where both noise and signal pile up until the shutter closes. In those cases, the signal level falls back into the noise range and we see it in our pictures. It's really as simple as that.
Fortunately, there are programs available, such as ACR and Noise Ninja, among others, that do an admirable job of minimizing the noise. Some cameras are better than others at concealing it, especially Nikon, which allows you to shoot at astronomical ISOs without seeing very much at all.
If this $500 camera is going to be your work camera and not your only camera for snapshots and such, then the 3100 or the Rebel body is the way to go. I like the Fuji, Panasonic and especially the Canon G12, if you are going to be using this camera all the time for everything. Lugging around a big DSLR when you don't have to, is a pain.
I have mentioned and will mention again, I have several images here on my site taken with a 10 year old P&S, a Canon PowerShot A710, which captures a whopping 7.1 MP!!! and the sensor is smaller than my nail on my pinky finger!
So this is how I feel about worrying about not having the right/best/latest camera/lenses,etc. Shoot with what you have/can afford and when and if you start selling stuff, then upgrade, if you feel that your current gear is limiting you somehow. But trust me, once you go down that road of the next best thing, you're chasing your tail, forever.
Bottom line: If you are a professional photographer, working everyday, then you don't need to spend the "professional money"! Period! There was an artist here about 6 months or so ago, that sold a 40" x 60 " from her iPhone!! If you have the money and you enjoy improving your camera gear kit, then go ahead, just don't let a lack of "something" keep you from creating your art.
And finally, don't worry about the kit lenses, they are a bargin, but you'll be capturing images on a much better/larger sensor,
Oh, sure, now you show up!!!LOL Thanks! You can handle the hard questions!
Andee, here are a few questions:
1. What is you average ISO that you find yourself using?
2. Do you shoot "to the right", slightly overexposed, like I do ( Murray's already typing I'm wrong)
3. Do you ALWAYS use a tripod?
4. Are you pushing your images to make bigger prints than the native capture is?
Andee, chronologically, I'd imagine that we're talking from the D300 onward (which may include yours, tho), in the case of Nikon. Newer is better, but you don't need the really high-end stuff, since some of the semi-pro cameras are really good with noise nowadays, using the same processing engines as the 'big boys.'
There are no noise issues, more than can be expected. As Murray mentioned, your sensor, from 2008, which was probably designed a year or so before that, cannot compete with sensors on newer comparable cameras of today,
You little lurker you! Here's what I think you need to try. Go take an image, anything,using your system and then using a tripod and setting the ISO at 100 and using your +- add about 1/3 to 1/2 stop to your exposure, which as Murray has shown, is just a few bumps to the right, (+) and then get those two images onto the monitor and compare. See if there's any noise, in either. If you're hand holding your camera, then you're probably bumping the ISO a bit too, just to get the right aperture and shutter speed. Also, you do need to update your firmware. Look and see if it's something that's important and then just do it. It might have to do with noise, don't know,
...kinda like the knowledgeable male version of Laverne and Shirley for us fledgling photographers. ;c)
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Ansel Adams used this trick also. I think I read it in one of his series on zone photography. I like to pop off the view finder on my medium format range finder camera to walk around a scene to find a composition. I think they do the the same thing while shooting movies in Hollywood to find the proper angles.
You're right and that's where I must have gotten that idea. For the film industry, they have this very expensive monocle thing, that has an eyepiece and looks like a skinny long lens,which you can look through and click on different lens sizes and see what is needed for the next shot and then that info is shouted over to the cameraman and a lens change is made. When I was shooting 4x5, I came a cross one for sale, but didn't buy it and I wish I had. Don't remember what they were called, but you could get them them for different families of lenses, wide angle, normal and telephotos,
They were mainly for help in previsualizng B&W tonal relationships but are also useful in composing. Also useful (if you can fine one) is an old 35mm slide holder. (Cut out the image with a razor blade)
I had one of those and never got impressed with it and really didn't shoot that much 4x5 B&W, except for myself and then only used only 1 film. And as far as the slide holder, a cardboard contraption like I described is much easier to use and not lose!
Well I guess many of us went through our Zone VI stage (I know I did lol - still trying to sell off some stuff from that era). Maybe the best thing about the Zone VI viewer is that it had a strap to fit around your neck. And yeah I agree - a large cardboard contraption is easier to use than the slide holder for sure since you can hold it further away from your eye to view the scene.
She has a bag of old Nikon lenses from the 70-80's and was wondering about giving up her P&S camera and buying a new Nikon digital body and use these lenses and here's my reply:
As far as the lenses go, there are a few issues when using lenses that old on new digital cameras and I'll try and explain. First, there are very few lenses from that time, 30-40 years ago, that were as good as our "average" lenses of today, they've gotten that much better. Secondly, old lenses, if not taken care of, will develop mold and stuff, inside the lens housing,especially if they have just layed in a closet some place. Thirdly, lenses from that time period will not be able to "talk" to any new Nikon and some may not even attach to a new camera. As an example, Canon switiched to an "EOS" style camera body, with a larger hole and old lenses don't even fit anymore. They had to do that since they needed more contacts on the lens and the body to handle all the new functions the new stuff can do. Old lenses simply don't have the right contacts and if they even do fit on your lens, they all will be manual focus only! And some may not even let your metering system work too!
Finally, there is the problem of the sensor in the new cameras you might get. If you get something like a "Rebel" type camera,either Canon or Nikon, or even Sony, they have what is called an APS-C sensor, which is smaller than the hole in a slide or the size of a regular negative,which is 24mm x 36mm. An APS-C sensor is usually about 23mm x 15mm. The "effect" of this is this and I'm oversimplifying here, but your old 100 mm lens will now produce an image that looks like the lens is really 160mm!!! There is a 1.6x factor in most "small" sensors. Your film camera is the original "full frame sensor" and ALL "full frame" digitial cameras are that exact size now, 24mm x 36mm or 2x3, or 4"x6" proportionally.
And finally,finally!!! The Sony camera you're looking at now, is a really good system, but the main drawback to me, is that the list of lenses available is tiny, when compared to what is availalble to Canon and Nikon,especially if you throw in any third party lens people! This may not be an issue with you, but once you commit to a "system", then you are limited to those lenses.
So that's your homework, read up on those two sites, take two aspirins and call me in the morning!
What, ah, are you asking here? About having the camera sharpen the images or later in Photosharp! I alsways have the camera's sharpening off and adjust in Photoshop, when I get to upload stage or when i'm getting ready to print the file,
It's my understanding that the sharpening you use in your camera affects the JPG's and NOT the RAW. I believe the RAW's have no sharpening so you can add the amount you want in Adobe camera raw (the program it opens in when using Photoshop or Elements). What ISO are you shooting at? Do you have your camera set to ISO auto or do you select it. That can affect your noise for sure.
Andee, this may not be relevant, but have you checked the default settings in your version of Adobe Raw? Mine is set to always add a certain amount of sharpening when an image is first opened in ACR. I don't like that, so the first thing I do when I open an image is to go to the Detail tab and move the sharpening slider down to zero (there's probably a way to set the default itself to zero, but I haven't found it yet). Similarly with the noise sliders, I first set both the Luminance and Color noise to zero and then move them back up a little bit, but only if needed.
Check your camera manual - there's probably a setting in one of the menus where you can turn off all in-camera sharpening. You might be confusing sharpness with depth of field, so make sure your landscape setting is giving you an aperture somewhere in the region of f9-f16 and then focus about one third of the way into your scene.
The luminance and color sliders in ACR are for noise reduction. The sharpening sliders are on the same tab, directly above them. If you set the Amount slider to zero, you can forget about the Radius/Detail/Masking, because those ones only take effect when you set a value in the Amount. I'm still using CS4 - it may be different if you've got a newer version.
It looks like you've identified the problem anyway! If it were me, I'd set it to zero rather than 4 and then add sharpening later if really necessary, but play about with it and find what works for you. Have fun! :)
Andee - I don't know if you have a Nikon or not, but I also have my sharpening set to "0" as Jane pointed out above. Just take a couple of shots in your back yard of some shrubs with a couple of settings. I think you will see when you open them tha "0" is the best setting if you are using RAW.
Has anyone purchasedd a usedd Nikkor Lens from B&H with good results? I'm about to purchase a used Nikkor 12-24 f/4. From time to time they have one or two in stock rated 9 or 9+. Think I could go wrong on this lens?
I knew if I waited long enough, you would solve your problem!!! Thanks Lara,and Jane for jumping in. The purpose of the in-camera sharpening , I believe, is mostly for jpegs and people that shoot mostly jpegs and then do very little post processing, like wedding and event people that shoot only jpegs and want the images they shoot and then send as "proofs" to look good, right out of the camera.
When we shoot stuff and it's likely will end up as art and here on FAA, we are shooting relatively small numbers of images of one subject and then we can narrow down 1 or 2 images, and then process them as finals, using the RAW feature. If you shoot weddings, you certainly don't want to have to process a few hundred or even a thousand images in ACR!!!
Harry, Most of the major used camera shops HAVE to be accurate when they describe their equipment, or they will be out of business and B&H is certainly one of the largest. I would also try KEH, in Atlanta, Calumet, and even eBay, if you are comfortable buying stuff on the Internet. Here's a few that I found and most are new to newish!
Thanks for the feedback Rich! I like to stick with B&H as I have dealt with them for over thirty years. KEH had a couple 12-24's, but they were higher in price there. I'll check out the e-bay crowd, but I think B&H has a better Customer Support team. Of course I have not dealt with KEH before. My friend did sell a lot of his leftover equipment to them though, and was happy with the deal.
IF it's a camera setting and you are shooting RAW images, then you just need to shoot 2 new images of really anything, on a tripod and then find the menu and the settings for "sharpening" and slide it one way and take a photo and then slide it the opposite way and take a photo and then get them on the monitor and see if it's there that the images are getting over sharpened. The only thing else I can think of, is you're pushing the "clarity" slider too far in ACR OR you have an old "default" setting somehwere in ACR and that's still set to sharpen.
If any other Nikon people have this issue or can help, please jump in.
Andee, I would like to see an image or two, that has this issue,
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