Do you really need a new camera? Opinion

Yes, maybe, no, probably not.

Well, there is not a fixed answer to this, it is more of a budget choice, age of current camera gear, etc. but if you are in doubt, or like the majority of people, your budget just doesn’t give you enough leeway at the moment, then probably not.

So instead how about trying out new things with your current camera gear to spice up life a little. Maybe set yourself a monthly challenge. I am currently doing a macro month and will soon do a black and white challenge, this also will help me with my Photoshop and Lightroom skills. If you have any other ideas for themed months, please leave a comment. 

I would imagine that the majority of us really don’t need a new camera, but we are bombarded on a daily basis with new updates from the major camera makers, Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc with their new cameras, more expensive and faster lenses,  what they do and how much better they are than the models we already have. 

GAS – Gear acquisition syndrome

Even I am constantly viewing videos on you tube and blogs and Facebook posts by camera users and I am in awe at the amount of gear some photographers have, how much it must have cost them and what they they are going to buy next. Are all these people pro photographers or just do they have so much money that they have to spend it?

Sure, I would love a better camera, and some faster lenses, specially gear with faster auto focus but it is just not happening at the moment, maybe in the future after I have finished paying off the current gear I have.  

But lets just say you do go out and buy some new upgraded gear, does this make you a better photographer, probably not and as you will more than likely be out of money  and there won’t be many trips in the near future.

So the moral of the story or at least the moral of my opinion, make the most of what you have, learn to use it, what are it’s pro’s and con’s and this way you can become a better photographer, as well as learning to use an editing software. 

You can also check out my opinion on Do you need an expensive camera?

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Lets Talk About Lenses

There are soooo many of them they can get a little confusing, from native lenses for your camera and third party lenses, also your budget needs to be taken in to account, etc.  the choices are a little overwhelming. gear-lenses.159d91fc463dcc02c1d452b6090633f6

I am far from an expert on lenses, after all my budget is next to nothing and the lenses for my full frame Sony camera are incredibly expensive. You might have already read other bloggers saying that if you have invested in a full frame camera you need to invest in really good lenses,  you will also see so many blog posts, vlogs, facebook posts, etc that there are lenses you just have to buy,  16-35 for wideangle landscapes, 24-70 zoom lens, 70-200 zoom lens, 100-400 super zoom, prime lenses….. these are what most bloggers say you need. But do you really?

Well, if I had the money, I might just consider some of them, but as I don’t, I have a rather heavy SEL24240. weight 27.6 oz (780 g). What does that mean? The zoom goes from 24mm to 240mm. i find this lens to be great, not excellent, but great. But why did I go for this lens. First of all living in Ecuador I am limited to what I buy, it is difficult to buy lenses, and more difficult to buy third party lenses which can be cheaper. So how did I make this choice?

lenses

I thought about my purchase alot. After all there is a lot of money involved. But from what I think is important is what you are going to take with the lens you want to buy. So ask your self a few questions like: What do I enjoy photographing? Wildlife, landscapes, macro, travel photography, or a bit of everything, like me.

As I take a little bit of everything I found the mega zoom from 24-240 an ideal choice. Wide angle for landscapes, enough zoom for those elusive owls we have living in the tree and plenty of choice in between.

This of course is my opinion. Others will have theirs and they probably won’t agree with me, but for me, this is the perfect lens. And of course, no changing lenses to expose the sensor and fill it up with nasty dust. Win-Win.

But as most photographers say, the best camera you have is the one with you and with whatever lens you can afford. So go and shoot.

https://www.instagram.com/jo_reason/ 

From My Garden – Day 7 – Bud

This is the first in a series so we can follow the budding flower.

Out of nowhere suddenly this bud grew, ok, well we did plant this a few months ago but we thought it has died, so imagine our surprise when this popped up, we thought it is a Nardo (name in spanish) when we planted it, but we checked online and we decided it isn´t. so this is where we would like some help, Can anyone identify this bud, it is from a bulb, is is growing is sandy earth at high altitudes, 3000 masl.

Nikon D7100, nikkor 50mm lens,  1/8000,  f/2.8, ISO 500

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Long / Slow Shutter Speed

Slow / long shutter speed.
First of all what is shutter speed. Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open. Slow shutter speed is considered anything from 1/60th sec and lower, (lower means a smaller number), when using a slow shutter speed you should consider using a tripod to help reduce camera shake. But why would you want to use a slow shutter speed? Well there are several reasons, one of which is to create motion blur for example. I am sure you have seen those amazing photos of waterfalls where the water is all blurry and soft. To create this a slow shutter speed has been used.

One of the difficulties is achieving the correct amount of blur. For a given shutter speed, three subject traits determine how blurred they will appear:
-Speed. Subjects which are moving faster will appear more blurred. This one is perhaps the most obvious of the three, but just as important.
-Direction of Motion. Subjects which are moving towards or away from the camera usually won’t become as blurred as those moving side to side — even if both subjects are moving at the same speed.
-Magnification. A given subject will appear more blurred if they occupy a greater fraction of your image frame. This is perhaps the least obvious, but is also the one which is most under your control, since subject magnification is the combined effect of focal length and subject distance. Longer focal lengths (more zoom) result in more magnification for a given subject distance, but this also increases the likelihood of blur due to camera shake.
But even with these three subjects it can be difficult to get it right first time, so practice is the way to go.

In the above photo the round-a-bout is clearly in movement but the people watching on the right are standing still, as you can see from the two above photos one is after dark and the other during day light hours meaning you don´t have to wait until after dark to use a slow shutter speed. If you are shooting long shutter speed during the day you will need a filter on the lens, use a small aperture or both.
Below is a long shutter speed photo. Here we have Dave with a floating hat and bow tie. Taken for more than 30secs, I moved Dave to paint the bow tie with light, (using a flashlight) then put him back and did the hat; unfortunately the hat is a little higher than it should be or is it that Dave has shrunk, and then lit up Dave with the torch so the camera would also pick him up.

Below is another example of long shutter speed, this was taken at midday, with loads of light, but I used a small aperture, and a longish shutter speed and while the shutter was open I used the zoom. 1/3s, f32, ISO 100.

Technical tips:
Use a tripod, or something stable. When you are using a tripod or similar and you have Image stabilization on your camera or lens then TURN IT OFF. Why? The image stabilizer will attempt to find movement that is not there and take a blurry photo.
Use a remote control or if you don´t have one use the self-timer. Why? This is to avoid touching the camera as even if the camera is on a tripod the moment you touch it, it will create some small movement that will make a blurry photo, so if you use a remote your fingers doesn’t touch the camera and if you use the self-timer you allow the camera to settle before taking the photo.
ISO: when using a tripod or something stable you can use a low ISO, this will help with noise and also allow you to use longer shutter speeds.

To download this as a pdf for printing or sharing CLICK HERE

Lens Lingo – What do all the letters and numbers on a lens mean?

I am sure that at some point you have looked at your lens and said to yourself  “I wonder what all the numbers and letters mean?”, so I decided to write a little about each letter or number for the most common lens makes.

Nikon

So for example:  AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm 3.5-5.6 G ED

AF-S: Autofocus Silent: Focusing is driven by a “Silent Wave” motor in the lens instead of the focus drive motor in the camera. AF-S lenses focus faster than standard AF-Nikkors and almost completely silently. AF-S lenses with a “II” designation weigh less and are generally smaller than their equivalent predecessors.

18-105 mm is the focal length, you will find a variety of different zooms, for example 18-55,mm or 55.200mm etc.,  there are lenses that are zoom and some are prime lenses, prime lenses will only have one number before the mm, for example 50 mm. This is for all lens makes.


3.5-5.6: this will also depend on the lens, but it refers to aperture, so at 18mm the widest aperture is 3.5 and at 105 mm the widest aperture is 5.6, there are lenses that have a widest aperture of 2.8 throughout the zoom, these are expensive lenses. This is for all lens makes.

G: The lens has no aperture control ring and is designed to be used with cameras that allow setting the aperture from the camera body. G lenses also provide Distance information to the camera.

ED: Extra-Low Dispersion glass: High-quality glass that corrects for chromatic aberration, a type of image and color distortion that occurs when light rays of varying wavelengths pass through optical glass and don’t converge or focus at the same point. Nikkor lenses with ED glass deliver superior sharpness and contrast, even at maximum aperture. Super ED glass is a new type that is used together with ED glass in some lenses to achieve an even higher degree of freedom from chromatic aberration.

VR – “Vibration reduction”

DX: The lens is specifically designed for use on Nikon digital SLR cameras. It produces a smaller image circle for more efficient coverage of the imaging sensor in these cameras, which is smaller than the 35mm film frame.

M/A: A focusing mode on some AF-Nikkor lenses which allows switching from automatic to manual focusing with virtually no lag time by simply turning the focusing ring on the lens.

Canon

Canon IS stands for ‘Image Stabilisation’. Lenses with Image Stabilisation allow you take handheld images at slower shutter speeds without camera shake blurring the image.

A Canon EF-S lens is designed for EOS digital SLRs with an APS-C sized sensor. EF-S lenses are a subset of the Canon EF mount. The S in EF-S stands for ‘short back focus’, referring to the distance between the rear element of the lens and the sensor is shorter. EF-S allows lighter, smaller lens designs that cost less to be produced. EF-S lenses are not suitable for full-frame EOS digital SLRs and mounting the lens may cause serious damage to the camera.

Canon L-series lenses are top-end, professional Canon lenses. L-series lenses are sometimes dubbed ‘Luxury’ lenses. The ‘L’ moniker is reserved for professional Canon lenses, which tend to have extra weather sealing, a constant maximum aperture and superior optical performance. You can spot many L-series lenses thanks to the distinctive red ring around the lens barrel. L-series lenses include a lens hood (to reduce the chance of unwanted flare and protect the front element) and a lens pouch.

The USM label means the lens features an Ultrasonic Motor Drive. Canon USM lenses allow quick, accurate autofocus, which also produces less noise than traditional autofocus systems. There are two types of USM found in Canon lenses: Ring-type USM (premium) and micro-motor USM (value). Ring-type USM has the advantage of full-time manual focus, which allows you to adjust the focus manually without switching between AF and MF modes.

DO stands for diffractive optics, a special glass designed to reduce chromatic aberration and allow a shorter lens design. You can spot a Canon DO lens thanks to the thin green ring around the lens barrel.

Sigma

Sigma DC lenses are designed for digital SLRs with ‘cropped’ sensors. Cropped sensors are smaller than traditional 35mm film or full-frame sensors. Sigma DC lenses are suitable for cameras with APS-C size or cropped sensors that need a smaller image circle to cover the sensor, compared to conventional lenses.

Sigma DG designates the lens is designed for use with digital SLRs but can still be used with 35mm film SLRs. Sigma DG lenses are suitable for cameras with full-frame or cropped sensors.

OS designates the lens has Optical Stabilisation built-in. Sigma OS lenses compensate for camera shake which can blur images at slow shutter speeds or whilst hand-holding telephoto lenses.

HSM stands for Hyper-Sonic Motor, a type of autofocus motor that provides fast, accurate autofocus whilst making less noise than traditional autofocus.

Sigma EX denotes greater optical quality and superior build quality. Sigma EX lenses used to have a distinctive crinkle finish, but this has recently been replaced with a matte black finish.

Tamron

Tamron VC lenses are designed reduce image blur from camera shake. The Tamron Vibration Control (VC) technology corrects for camera shake at 4000 times per second, for a smooth stabilized view in both the viewfinder and your image. The VC system also allows you to pan without changing any settings.

Tamron PZD stands for Piezo Drive, a form of ultrasonic autofocus. Tamron PZD lenses offer you fast but silent autofocus, in a more compact lens size than traditional ultrasonic autofocus motors.

Tamron USD stands for ultrasonic drive, used for fast and smooth autofocus. Tamron USD lenses use deflective traveling waves to drive a rotor, moving elements within the lens to focus your image.

Tamron XR denotes the lens has extra-refractive glass, allowing Tamron to make the lens barrel shorter whilst retaining the same optical quality.

Tamron Di II lenses are designed for digital SLRs with ‘cropped’ sensors. Tamron Di II lenses are specifically designed for cameras with APS-C size sensors, whereas the Tamron Di series (without ‘II’) are compatible with full frame and APC-S digital SLRs.

HDR

HDR.  High Dynamic Range

It is post processing a series or one photo in an editing program, combining them and then adjusting the setting in the program to achieve your desired effect.

This method of editing is useful when there are extreme light levels, (high dynamic range) when there is very dark and very light in the same scene, the camera has a very hard time capturing this, unlike our eyes, so there is the option to take various shots to expose for each different light and combine them later.  You can get much more detail in photography with this technique.

But, when to use this technique? Lets say you are in the living room and outside the light is very bright and inside it is dark, the camera can´t take just one photo of both lights, so you can bracket for both lights and then combine the photos later one. A bright sky, with a dark subject in the foreground is another, although people and moving subjects are not the best for HDR.

You can shoot in bracketing mode or use the RAW option on your camera.  Although the best method is to bracket, take three or more photos (depending on the options on your camera, my D90 only allows for three).


ok, I know they are not straight)

Bracketing is sometimes called auto bracketing, exposure bracketing or look for the -2, 0 +2 on the camera menus. The bracketing button on a Nikon looks like this BKT and on a D90 is on the left, very close to where it says D90.  If you don´t have a bracketing mode but you do have manual options you can still take various photos with different exposures manually. I recommend aperture value, and then adjust the settings to the -2, 0, +2.


Set the camera in Aperture mode, this is so you can chose what is in and out of focus and it doesn’t change with each individual photo.

Chose the bracketing mode, -2, 0 +2, if you have the option to take 5 photos then do so but 3 are normally enough.

Shoot in Raw if you can as this contains more light information, but jpg is also fine.
The most important part is to use a tripod, the programs to a fairly good job with aligning the photos but a tripod is best.

The best program for HDR is Photomatix. I won´t go into a full tutorial for this just follow this link.

HDR Tutorial Part 2


(Trey Radcliff is considered one of the masters on HDR, some of his photo are amazing and he has also had the chance to photograph some amazing places and sights. )

If you only take one RAW file and then want to post process it, open it in Photomatix and use tone mapped option. But whenever you can, take 3 or more photos.

Photoshop also has an HDR merge. Follow these instructions. Open the files in PS. Click on File-Automate-Merge to HDR.  A window will open. Choose Add open Files-OK.
Wait for the program to do its job, then it will show you a preview of the finished job. An on the right a bunch of options-play around with these until you are happy with the result. Click OK.  The finished result will open in PS. Here you can also play around as much as you like. Then save, remember to use a different name for the file and also to remember where you save it.