Photography questions and suggestions

I made the switch to digital photography late last year. I was using a Nikon F50 for the longest time until somehow the inner mirror cracked :frowning: . So I took the leap of faith to digital. I started off with a canon S1 IS. It was a very cool camera and I loved the built in image stabilization. I used it for my 2nd trip to Taiwan. The one thing I missed the most about SLR was the ability to really take control of my shots.

This December I sold my Canon S1 IS (Yeah E-Bay!!! Got about $100 more for it than what I had paid :banana: ). I bought a Nikon D50 SLR with 3 lenses: Nikon 18-55mm, Tamron 70-300mm, and Tamron 28-80mm. I quickly learned that the 28-80mm lens is pretty much useless on a digital SLR :thumbsdown: . The 70-300mm has nifty macro capabilities at its zoomed range. However a tripod is mandatory to make this lens usable

Learn how to properly stand and hold your camera. Also, don’t drink coffee, tea or drinks with caffeine.

And what’s wrong with using a tripod? If it’s inconvenient, you can get a monopod.

flickr.com/photos/cantikfotos/

If you need to use a tripod, but really don’t want to because of weight/speed of setting up, etc, why not try a mono-pod?

[quote=“Comrade Stalin”]Learn how to properly stand and hold your camera. Also, don’t drink coffee, tea or drinks with caffeine.

And what’s wrong with using a tripod? If it’s inconvenient, you can get a monopod.

flickr.com/photos/cantikfotos/[/quote]

:notworthy: WOW :notworthy:
I took a look at your “Taiwan Set” on Flickr
:notworthy: WOW :notworthy:
I love the filter effect of the blur. Was it post shoot editing? Photoshop? Or did you use a filter on your lens?
Also, the majority of your pictures look like they have had post shoot editing done to them to make them look like a color pencil sketch. How did you do this? And how did you manage to neutralize the sky in almost all of your shots?

I’m sure you’re aware of the “1 over focal length” rule of thumb, right? If you’re hand-holding, to have a picture with no blur from camera shake, the exposure time should be at least 1 over the focal length. So at the 300mm end, your exposure should at least be 1/300s. (Moreover this rule is from the film camera days. With the 1.5x crop factor, it should be closer to 1/500s.)

Moreover, with a telephoto zoom like that, I’m sure you’d get some image quality improvement if you stopped the aperture down a little. But then you can’t the fast exposure times necessary.

What to do? Don’t be afraid to bump up the ISO. With DSLRs today, you can get decent pictures even at ISO800. If you’re shooting with at least some daylight, I’d think that ISO800 could get you the shutter speed you need as well as being able to stop down the aperture to f/7.1 or f/8. You can clean up what little noise you have afterwards with a program like Noise Ninja.

[quote]or for cameo shots where I want to remain

This is not strictly true. Tripods are advisable, but not necessary. Use the 1/focal length rule. With film, this would simply mean making sure your shutter speed was faster than 1/320 (the closest corresponding shutter speed to a 300mm focal length).

But with DSLR it gets a bit trickier, in that the sensor is APS-C sized, not full frame 35mm. On Nikon, this gives you a 1.5x crop factor, meaning your lens when zoomed out to 300mm behaves like is 300 x 1.5 = 450mm. (Any other photographers reading this - I know that’s not strictly correct, but it’s fine for the purposes here).

So now your lens at 300mm is thinking it’s a lens at 450mm. So, using 1/focal length, a shutter speed of 1/500 or faster should result in an image that is free of shake. Providing you know how to hold a camera properly etc, that is.

If it’s daylight, but still not bright enough for 1/500, simply crank up the ISO until it is. I get usable (professionally) images out of my DSLR (Canon 20D with “L” glass) at ISO1600, so I see no reason why the Nikon D50 can’t produce good images at that setting.

If you’re using the macro feature on the lens, then you’ll have to use a tripod - in fact, for all lenses when shooting macro, a tripod is the best way to go.

Do realise that the Tamron 70-300 is a fairly cheap lens, and the quality, while not bad, is not terribly good. Stopped down (f8 or so) its good between 70 and 200, but even stopped down, between 200 and 300, images will tend to look a little soft.

Do you shoot in RAW or as JPEG? I’d recommend shooting RAW and doing the post process yourself if you’re not already. One thing about DSLRs, is that there’s an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor, and so RAW images (and JPGs if in-camera sharpening is turned off) will look a bit soft when you first view them on your computer. You will need to apply some sharpening in PS.

Anymore questions, feel free to ask.

This is not strictly true. Tripods are advisable, but not necessary. Use the 1/focal length rule. With film, this would simply mean making sure your shutter speed was faster than 1/320 (the closest corresponding shutter speed to a 300mm focal length).

But with DSLR it gets a bit trickier, in that the sensor is APS-C sized, not full frame 35mm. On Nikon, this gives you a 1.5x crop factor, meaning your lens when zoomed out to 300mm behaves like is 300 x 1.5 = 450mm. (Any other photographers reading this - I know that’s not strictly correct, but it’s fine for the purposes here).

So now your lens at 300mm is thinking it’s a lens at 450mm. So, using 1/focal length, a shutter speed of 1/500 or faster should result in an image that is free of shake. Providing you know how to hold a camera properly etc, that is.

If it’s daylight, but still not bright enough for 1/500, simply crank up the ISO until it is. I get usable (professionally) images out of my DSLR (Canon 20D with “L” glass) at ISO1600, so I see no reason why the Nikon D50 can’t produce good images at that setting.

If you’re using the macro feature on the lens, then you’ll have to use a tripod - in fact, for all lenses when shooting macro, a tripod is the best way to go.

Do realise that the Tamron 70-300 is a fairly cheap lens, and the quality, while not bad, is not terribly good. Stopped down (f8 or so) its good between 70 and 200, but even stopped down, between 200 and 300, images will tend to look a little soft.

Do you shoot in RAW or as JPEG? I’d recommend shooting RAW and doing the post process yourself if you’re not already. One thing about DSLRs, is that there’s an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor, and so RAW images (and JPGs if in-camera sharpening is turned off) will look a bit soft when you first view them on your computer. You will need to apply some sharpening in PS.

Anymore questions, feel free to ask.[/quote]

Jinx.

Anyhow, this is a whole other can of worms, but I disagree with your recommendation to shoot RAW. I know, the whole RAW vs. JPEG debate is one of the more obnoxious forum topics to argue about, worse than MS vs. Apple or Canon vs. Nikon. But you will not get any sharper pictures from RAW. Sure, with RAW files you have more control over color temperature, you can recover a half stop’s worth of blown highlights, you can avoid posterization that’s apparent when you’re printing at around 11 x 16 by staying strictly in 16-bit mode. But to put it bluntly, if you’re asking how to get sharp images out of a consumer-grade telephoto zoom, RAW is going to be much more of a burden than JPEG. Personally, I only shoot RAW when I’m shooting sunrises or sunsets.

Perhaps I phrased it badly, I wasn’t meaning to imply that RAW will be sharper than JPEG.

My philosophy on RAW is - Storage (hard drives etc) is cheap, so why throw away any data by shooting JPEG? You can always batch process the RAW files using auto everything if you don’t want to make major changes.

just shoot film… screw digital… :slight_smile:

I just bump up the ISO and try to hold the camera as steadily as possible, and I get some decent night shots. Taipei’s a great place for night photography, in my opinion.

flickr.com/photos/poagao/

With the arrival of the Nikon D80 I’m wondering if anyone’s seen any D50’s and D70’s going a bit cheaper. I need a new camera but I don’t have the dosh to fork out for anything like a D80.

Any tripod recommendations? I came across this string tripod that’s pretty cool, but I’m sure it won’t be good enough for some of the longer exposure shots I’m looking to take, even with my camera’s built in anti-shake. Maybe if I can jerry-rig a still more stable string tripod, I can save some cash, but I doubt it. Hmm… come to think of it, wouldn’t I be the third leg?

Anyways, just looking for something light-weight and decent on uneven surfaces. Easy enough, but if any of you pros thinks this or that tripod’s outstanding, I’d like to know which.

I love the Gorillapod, and just got the smaller version for Christmas, but it’s too small for the dslr, and even a larger one would be a pain if there were nothing to wrap it around to get the right height.

I use a Manfrotto 190Pro with a Manfrotto 486RC2 ball head that does the job quite well. It does get a little heavy if carrying it around all day, but that’s ok - I figure it’s just extra exercise, which has got to be a good thing. The whole set up cost about NT$6000 from one of the stores on Camera St. The only downside is that it’s a little short for me (I’m 1.85m) as I never raise the center column, so I often need to kneel down.

The beauty of tripods (well the legs anyway) is that if you spend a little more money initially, you’ll save money in the long run. So many photographers (myself included) start off with a cheap basic tripod, then upgrade to something slightly better, then realize that it’s still not stable enough, so upgrade again, etc. Spending say, US$100+ on the legs the first time means you’ll probably never need to buy a new tripod again. The legs will last a lot longer than your camera will probably last.

hmm… thanks. I was about to go cheap this afternoon. I’ll rethink that.

I have the exact same tripod/head combo and I quite like it. I’ve gone down the route of cheap tripods before only to regret it when the cheap plasticky parts break and render the tripod useless. As for shooting with a raised column, unless there’s a lot of wind, it shouldn’t be a problem. Use mirror lock up or a timer if you’re concerned about camera shake when pressing the shutter.

I have the exact same tripod/head combo and I quite like it. I’ve gone down the route of cheap tripods before only to regret it when the cheap plasticky parts break and render the tripod useless. As for shooting with a raised column, unless there’s a lot of wind, it shouldn’t be a problem. Use mirror lock up or a timer if you’re concerned about camera shake when pressing the shutter.[/quote]

I always use MLU and a remote release when shooting from a tripod. Keeping the center column down is more a hangover from the days of using cheap tripods.

It’s the lens which determines how much light gets into the camera, and at the telephoto end fast lenses are going to be very expensive, especially for digital bodies. Chances are those cheaper off-marque lenses aren’t very fast and you are going to be running about f4 at the telephoto end. For a lens that will open up to f2.8 you’re looking a thousand US. You can always go to the other extreme and shoot with 3200 ASA film at night and do that arty-farty grainy B&W thing.

As for tripods, don’t buy anything that’s too heavy to carry. I bought a cheapie one (NT$1500) in Taipei and it’s great - light enough to throw over the shoulder and bring anywhere. Unless you’re balancing an F5 on one end and a 600mm lens on the other you don’t need a US$500 tripod. Mine is called a “Jenova Professional” (i.e. NOT professional) and has quick release clip jobbies for each leg and a spirit level. You just screw a plate into the bottom of the camera and clip it in when you need it. I haven’t broken it yet. Whatever you decide, make sure you won’t be leaving it at home because it’s too heavy. The good expensive ones tend to be manufactured for weight savings.

Tripods are great. You can get some great bizzarro shots of night scenes with them. Make sure you use the self timer or you may wobble the whole contraption by the mere application of your finger to the shutter release. Once you put the lens and flash gun on the camera it gets very top-heavy. (BTW, have you got a decent flash gun yet? I couldn’t believe the difference after I got one. Once you’ve got a flash gun and a tripod you’re set to photograph anything.)

Would like to hear what people think of monopods. Are they really any substitute?

i like my monopod for sports shots (cycling, motorcycling) and wildlife shots where i may not have the time to frame a good shot on a tripod, as you can move the camera around and still have the added stability. it also helps for stability in rough areas and mountainsides where i may fall over while concentrating in the eyepiece for a while. but for long shots, the monopod is useless.

tripods win hands down for stability for heavy cameras though. i think the monopod gives you a couple of f-stop advantage over having no stand at all, but the tripod gives you so much more. and for time exposures, there is no option…

I think that’s about to change … camera brands are more often subcontracting the building and design of lenses to third parties … they have the time and manpower, technology inhouse … now a days camera brands need to concentrate on electronics and sensor technology although some just buy everything and do only design and build it …

So, at present there are some really good off-brand fast lenses available for less (cheaper) than the brand named …

It’s mostly all about the glass they use … which became more affordable due to new technologies …

I have a Velbon all aluminum travel tripod, with central column, a good head but would like to buy a ball head for it … same goes for my manfrotto mono, good thing but needs another head …

But as it goes in real life … I almost never use them … I have a very stable hand and a good in-cam stabilization system …