Category Archives: Equipment

Cameras and camera gear.

Don’t Forget About Those Old M42 Lenses For Your Modern dSLR…

[tweetmeme]This is a guest post by Rob, from robnunnphoto.com.

If, like me, you’re a photographer on a very tight budget, one of the hardest things to come to terms with is how expensive lenses are for your dSLR. Apart from the “Nifty Fifties”, which for most manufacturers can be had for around $100, new lenses are hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Fear not though – there is another way, where you can buy lenses for a few dollars, rather than a few hundred – M42 Lenses. M42 refers to the type of screw mount these old lenses use, and it was a standard for companies like Zenit, Praktica, and Pentax for many years. There are also lots of other lens manufacturers who produced M42 lenses from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, when Auto-Exposure, and a little later, Auto-Focus, rendered a screw type mount impractical.

To fit these lenses you’ll need an M42 adapter (available on eBay), which is normally just a piece of machined and finished metal, with a bayonet fitting on one side and a screw mount on the other. Having no electrical connection, you then have to focus, change the aperture, and meter manually, but this is a good learning experience and gets easier with practice. If you’re using Canon you can set your command wheel to Aperture Priority, and your camera will adjust the shutter speed automatically as light levels change or you change the lenses aperture.

Some M42 Lens Mount Adapters include an optic, and it’s always best to check compatibility of your camera body with a particular lens. Some old lenses protrude into the body of the camera, and this can cause problems with hitting the mirror.

I get my M42 lenses from car-boot sales, second hand shops, thrift stores and charity shops. There’s a thriving market on eBay, but the most popular and highest quality can demand steep prices. I normally just look for old 35mm Film Cameras that are clean, I make sure the lens works, then pay a couple of quid at a car-boot sale.

Most M42 lenses are fixed-focal length prime lenses – zooms just weren’t made for M42 in great quantities, and their optical qualities weren’t as good. Using a prime teaches you to zoom “with your feet”, a good skill to develop for everyone anyway!

The most common focal length of lenses you’ll find are 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 135mm. Wider lenses are very rare, but you may come across the odd ultra-long telephoto prime – and normally at prices that are unbelievably cheap.

LENS CHECK LIST

Before you hand over the cash for a M42 lens, you want to check a few things:

  1. Is it really an M42 Thread? Make sure you bring your lens-mount adapter (I actually use an extension tube) along to test it is what you think it is. There are other screw-mounts that aren’t compatible.
  2. Is the glass clean? You’re looking for mould, fungus or big scratches. Any lens that looks a bit cloudy or has things growing in it should be passed over. Expect to see surface scratches on most old lenses – don’t worry, it won’t affect your photographs.
  3. Does the focus turn smoothly? We don’t want any grinding or stiffness.
  4. Do the aperture blades work? A real important one this. If a lens has been sitting in an attic for 40 years, chances are any lubricants inside will have dried out, so those blades could be stuck. Look for a pin sticking out of the back of the lens. Press it in, then look through the lens while turning the aperture ring. You should see the aperture blades opeing and closing. Ask yourself if the lens is opening up all the way to its biggest aperture (biggest hole, smallest f number), and closing up to its smallest aperture (smallest hole, biggest f number). You’ll often find lenses where the blades only open up so far. Put the lens down and move on.
  5. Is it a decent piece of glass? A tricky question this – unless you’ve got a really good memory, chances are you won’t be able to remember which are the lenses, brands and models you should be looking for. My rule of thumb is to look at the maximum aperture. Lens manufacturers don’t tend to make poor fast glass. So if the lens is a 50mm, I’m looking for at least an f/1.8 aperture. For 28mm to 135mm I’m looking for f/2.8. With longer glass the bigger the aperture the better, and be aware that Zoom Technology wasn’t at it’s best in the M42 era, so don’t expect great results from non-primes. (Although M42 Zooms, combined with extension tubes, are great for macro work.)

ACCESSORIES

That brings me nicely onto the accessories that you want to be looking for as you’re on your hunt for M42 lenses. First up we want a selection of extension tubes. These are simple hollow tubes of various lengths, that allow you to take incredible macro shots.

Teleconverters look like extension tubes, but have a small glass optic inside. These handy gadgets multipy the focal length of your lens, usually by 1.6 or 2 times. Inspect them for scratches and fungus. Using a teleconverter does cut down the amount of light coming into your camera, and they do degrade the image, but they are fun to play around with.

Filters. With all your new lenses you’ll need filters. Don’t bother with UV protection filters, these lenses are cheap anyway, so why put another piece of cheap glass in the way? Look for CIrcular Polarizers (C-PL) to reduce glare and increase colour saturation. You may find Linear Polarizers. These have the same effect, but could affect the metering of your camera. If you’re shooting fully manual, this doesn’t matter one bit. Look out for special effects filters – soft-focus, star-bursts, grads and neutral density. Coloured filters aren’t that useful if you shoot in colour and convert to b&w in post, but they can add a fun look to your images. Keep an eye out for Cokin Filters, holders, and adapters – a whole world to explore!

Lens Hoods. Very, very, important. The coatings on modern lenses that keep our photographs contrasty and flare-free are probably missing from these old M42 lenses, so the best practice is to always use a lens hood.

MY EXPERIENCES

I particularly like my Pentacon 29mm f/2.8, and my Helios 135mm f/2.8. I use my Soligor 90-230mm with extension tubes for macro work, and I’m currently playing around with a Hanimex 200mm f/3.3. There’s no way I could afford to buy the equivalent Canon EF primes of these focal lengths, and half the fun of using these lenses is paying a couple of pounds for them at car-boot sales, then seeing the wonderful images they produce.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

Go on eBay and buy a lens-mount adapter for your digital body. Just search for “M42 Lens adapter Canon” or whatever model of camera you’ve got. Do a little research on the ‘net as to what lenses you could be looking for, then get out at those garage sales, thrift stores and flea-markets to hunt out those bargains. Have fun and marvel at the prices you’ll pay for lenses that are perfectly good enough for the majority of photographers.

Thanks for reading! Rob.

You can read more about Rob and his photography at robnunnphoto.com.

(All photos in this article were taken with a Canon 350d dSLR and M42 Lenses).

FURTHER READING

M42 Lenses On Wikipedia.

M42 Lens Mount Adapters On Ebay.com.

Compatibility list of M42 and manual lenses on Canon EOS 5D. (And Other Makes)

M42 and dSLR’s Flickr Group.

HAVE YOUR SAY!

Have you used M42 lenses, on a dSLR or perhaps on the original Film Body? What have your experiences been? What are your favourite lenses, and what has been your best buy? Please add your comments below!

Must-Bring Cameras for Wedding Photography

[tweetmeme]Guest post from Nick Smith, author of Digital Wedding Secrets – a guide solely focused on the wedding photography and its business. If wedding photography is your passion too then Sign Up to its RSS or the FREE Digital wedding newsletter to receive wedding photography tips in your email.

For many, Wedding Photography is the “pays the bills” aspect of photography, and therefore it might get short shrift on the respect meter because of the seemingly lack of “excitement”, but as my friend in the movie business says, “if you take the job, you do the job” and that means no griping. And honestly, there is a compelling aspect to wedding photography, let’s take a look, shall we?

The truly interesting thing about Wedding Photography is that it has an editorial aspect to it as well as a photo-journalistic aspect to it (or at least you should position yourself as a photographer who offers a blend of both). This dual nature enables you to provide a premium product… with a premium price.

While it goes without saying bringing two cameras to a wedding is the minimum ideal way to go. However, the true question is what two cameras to bring? I’m going to suggest a dSLR and a Rangefinder.

dSLR

A wedding
Creative Commons License photo credit: yaili

Canon and Nikon make some extraordinary dSLRs and the higher end Prosumer models can easily handle nearly every situation conceivable for wedding photography. Obviously Pentax and Olympus make quality product, too, but Canon and Nikon are the two heavy weights. dSLRs provide you with so much versatility in lens choice and other accessories. But there are few specifications that you might want to consider (either when renting a second or third camera, or buying a second camera, and possibly trading in one of the cameras that you do have) to ensure that you don’t miss a shot. The camera’s recycle time and burst fps are important factors to weigh, as well as what type of flash units the camera can accommodate (i.e., a High Sync Flash unit). It’s important to use a full-frame dSLR, this is pure an aesthetic bias on my part, but you want to be able to use as many lenses as are available in your camera manufacturer of choice’s line. Sure you could miss out of the fully computer-controlled lenses, but you might have a favorite lens that was for a film camera.

Most people will do well with two dSLRs, one fitted with a wide angle zoom (perhaps a 17mm-35mm), and the other with a telephoto zoom (probably a 85mm-200mm). This combination will enable you to quickly jump back-n-forth for group shots and tighter more intimate shots… without having to swap lenses, and perhaps miss a crucial shot.

A Rangefinder

Leica addict
Creative Commons License photo credit: c-reel.com

Why a rangefinder?, you ask. Simple, these most innocuous of cameras allow you to get extraordinarily candid and intimate shots that you might not otherwise be able to get with a dSLR. The level of intrusion that an dSLR causes can ruin the spontaneity of precious moments; not to mention that some people act a fool when they see a camera in active position.

Now I wouldn’t say that these cameras really fallen out of favor, more like they have become the ultimate niche photographic item. And the granddaddy of them is the Leica M7 or its digital cousin the M9 (Leica’s newest, most state-of-the-art digital camera). The unparalleled image quality that these cameras provide are worth taking the time to learn the unorthodox focusing method.

Leica’s new M9 is an AWESOME digital camera with a full-frame (24mm x 36mm) image sensor and captures images in a high-density RAW format. And because of the full-frame image sensor,you can effectively use any of the Leica lenses from the past 30 years… and those are perhaps the lenses on the planet. Known for their sharpness, incredibly speed, and lack of chromatic aberration, you’ll be awe-struck at the quality of the photos.

Bride
Creative Commons License photo credit: zamario

I had mentioned earlier the photo-journalistic aspect of Wedding Photography, well with a Leica (or any rangefinder for that matter) you can take on the role of photo-essayist. Rangefinders, and the Leica in particular, have supremely quiet shutter releases, so hardly anyone will know that you’ve actually taken the photo. Plus you can focus and fire from the hip so easily that you’ll have an unprecedented ability to grab photos with practically no one noticing. This gives you a lot of creative power as a photography, because you can concentrate on getting the Wedding Party and the guests to behave as naturally as possible.

You might think the Leica is overkill (due to its price), but the images will be well-worth it (and if you rent it, the actual expense is minimal).

So the camera configuration of two dSLRs and a rangefinder can yield you a wider variety of more compelling photographs with different feelings and emotions captured. That’s what the clients ultimately want, images that define the moment, that will spark memories in the future and will stand-out from the standard wedding photography fare (not that you won’t offer those as well, but it’s always about offering more than the standard these days).

About The Author: Nick Smith is author of Digital Wedding Secrets – a guide solely focused on the wedding photography and its business. If wedding photography is your passion too then Sign Up to its RSS or the FREE Digital wedding newsletter to receive wedding photography tips in your email.

Master Bokeh with the Bokeh Masters Kit

Bokeh Masters Kit

Have you ever seen those photos with nifty bokeh shapes scattered in the background? Well, it’s actually easier to accomplish than you might think.

The shapes are a result of two things: bokeh and a mask (a mask for your lens, not your face). Bokeh is something that happens naturally with the right lens and lighting conditions, and the mask is something that you can purchase from one of our “local” photography bloggers.

Udi, from DIYPhotography.net, has put together the Bokeh Masters Kit so the rest of us can experiment with custom bokeh shapes. The kit includes a bunch of precut shapes and a holder that attaches to your lens so you can swap them out easily.

vmmm vmmmm birds walking_the_other_way

Bokeh Masters Kit Contents

The concept is simple — place a thin mask with a small shape cut in the center right in front of your lens. The shape acts as a secondary aperture and forces the blurry background highlights to take the shape of the cutout. Without the mask, the shape of the bokeh takes on the shape of the lens aperture. But the mask cutout is just the right size to only have an effect on the bokeh while leaving the primary image in tact.

Right now, Udi is offering up three different kits: Demo, Advanced, and Master. The demo kit includes the disk holder and five pre-cut disk shapes. The advanced kit includes the demo kit plus an additional 15 disk shapes. And the master kit includes the advanced kit plus eight uncut disks and a disk wallet to keep all your disks in one place. The uncut disks allow you to create your own shapes and designs.

Now, you might be saying to yourself “I can make this stuff with construction paper, why would I buy it?” Well, because the disks and disk holder aren’t made of construction paper. They’re made from a thin and durable plastic and the pre-cut shapes are laser cut to give you nice smooth edges on your bokeh. Plus, the cutouts are just the right size to give your bokeh nice definition while minimizing any negative effects on the overall image. The blank disks in the master kit also have a circular guide on them to help you keep the size in that optimized range — I made myself a Christmas tree shape and took a shot of… the Christmas tree, duh.

[UPDATE 12/11/2009] Sorry, I just found out that the blanks no longer have the guides because some of the testers found that it got in the way of cutting. But you can trace your own outline from the circle in the disk holder.

Christmas Tree Bokeh

I’ve known Udi for a few years now, and I was lucky enough to get a pre-production kit a few months ago. It was really neat to mess around with the kit and give some feedback to Udi (which he did take and work into the final product). So I’m pretty excited to see the end result of Udi’s hard work — he really has put a lot of effort into these kits. If you’re interested in the kit, visit the links below.

BOKEH MASTERS KIT PRODUCT SITE

BOKEH MASTERS KIT + GIVEAWAY @ DIYPHOTOGRAPHY.NET

And if you guys have any cool bokeh shots (all shapes are welcome, even plain old circles or pentagons), feel free to drop them in the comments below!

Win a Free Lens Rental

Some time ago, we gave out a few free lens rentals via BorrowLenses.com — and now we’re doing it again! We’ll give out a one week equipment rental to two different winners (see details below for entry). This is a cool deal as the holidays approach, and it’s a good way to try out some new equipment or even use it for a paid shoot or personal project.

BorrowLenses.com

If you haven’t checked them out in a while, they have a few new things happening. First off, they’re selling some of their equipment as the bring in new stuff — not a bad way to pick up a new lens or camera body at a discounted price. Also, you can get a 10% discount as a first time customer if you use the code “First10″ when placing an order. And finally, BorrowLenses.com is offering a membership program to the heavy users — $99/year gets you a full-time 10% discount on orders, increased availability of rental items, and no cancellation fees. Not a bad deal if you’re shooting a lot of paid projects that require top quality glass. They’ve also been bulking up on lighting equipment for you Strobists, and they now do sensor cleaning for you dSLR users.

For the rental giveaway, here are a few ground rules:

  • You need to be in the US.
  • The order will need to be made online and you will need to provide a credit card number. This won’t be charged but they will need it to ensure you don’t run off with their lens :-). BorrowLenses.com is a reputable business but if you don’t feel comfortable with this condition please don’t enter.
  • The offer excludes super telephoto lenses and pro camera bodies.

To enter the raffle, just leave a comment and tell us you’d like to win! I’ll draw two winners on December 12, 2009 — so get your entry in right away.

[UPDATE 12-8-09] You can enter multiple times by doing any of the following:

  1. Leave a comment on this post. (1 entry per person)
  2. Retweet (Via your Twitter account) “Another lens rental contest! http://bit.ly/56AGTp Retweet and post the RT as a comment for a second chance to win! (via @BorrowLenses)” Post the RT and/or (preferably) the link to your RT here in the comments (as a separate comment from the #1 entry method). (1 entry per person)
  3. Post about this giveaway on your blog, in a forum, or any other appropriate avenue — just don’t spam the forums and other public spaces. Then leave a comment (again, separate comment from your other entries) with a link to your post. (1 entry per person)

So there you go — 3 ways to improve your odds at winning.

[UPDATE 12-13-2009] The raffle is over, and the winners have been chosen. See my follow-up post for more details.

Buy and Sell Photo Gear at RutsCameras

I tend to buy cameras and equipment from time to time, as I’m sure most of you do too. In my case, I’m usually scouring eBay for good deals on old film cameras or darkroom equipment. eBay is a great place for this, but I have more than one issue with it from a photographer standpoint.

RutsCameras

Jeff Rutman also had issues with existing sites and services dealing used photography gear, so he did something about it. RutsCameras is a camera & equipment auction site similar to eBay, but it’s only for photography stuff. He’s just getting it started, but it could be a very good marketplace if enough people get on board. Here are some of the strong points of this new site:

  • IT’S FREE! At least for now. I know, “free” usually sounds too good to be true, but this guy seems legit. No seller or buyer fees.
  • NO JUNK! The problem with eBay is that you have to wade through tons of crap in order to find what you’re looking for. No more searching for a camera model only to find 800 listings on a screwdriver of the same model and 3 camera listings buried in there.
  • SWAP GEAR! I noticed on a few of the listings that swap offers were accepted. I would assume that this means you can swap gear if you have something the seller is looking for too. Pretty cool option.
  • JEFF LISTENS! He actually wants feedback and suggestions when it comes to shaping the site. This is way cool because you’re more likely to “have it your way”. The site even has a forum for feedback and general discussion.

At any rate, I just wanted to give a shout out to RutsCameras in case some of you are looking to buy or sell photography stuff. I haven’t tried the site myself (I don’t have anything to buy or sell at the moment), but I’ve been poking around for a day or two. If you’re looking to buy or sell any time soon, maybe give it a try. And, as with any online venue, make sure you read the fine print and that you understand what you’re signing up for.

How to Wet Clean Your Lens

Lens wipe
Creative Commons License photo credit: ant.photos

Just admit it… you haven’t cleaned your lenses in a while, have you? Let alone a good wet cleaning. I know, it’s easy to let it go and forget about it. So go do it now!!!

Here’s a little refresher course on wet cleaning your lens elements (and some product suggestions in case you don’t have the stuff already). Keeping your equipment clean is a important part of basic maintenance and it will make your gear last longer. Lenses are no exception, and it’s easy to forget about deep cleaning the front and rear elements because they usually appear to be quite clean at a glance. But if you haven’t given them a good wipe-down for a while, it’s more than likely that you’ve accumulated some dust and grime.

Here are the basic steps for wet cleaning your lens. If you’ve never done it before, make sure you’re comfortable with the process and you understand the risks involved. As for the products involved… we’re talking less than $40 and the only consumables are the cleaning solution and tissues which should last a year or more.

1. BLOW

Before you even think about touching your lens with any type of cloth, blow off all the big stuff that might scratch your glass. My favorite blower is the Rocket Blaster from Giottos — these things put out a great stream of air and I use mine for lens cleaning, sensor cleaning, film cleaning, and scaring the kids when they least expect it. If you don’t have one already, you can purchase a Giottos Rocket Blaster at Amazon.com for about $10.

2. BRUSH

Even if you blow off the lens, you’ll still have some particles hanging on for dear life. A lens brush will help pull off the rest of the “big stuff” before you hit the glass with a cloth. You can purchase a lens cleaning pen with brush on Amazon.com for about $8.

3. WET

Wet the wipe, not the lens! This is important! Don’t drop any kind of liquid straight onto your lens — it could cause damage to the inside parts. Instead, wet a lens tissue with a few drops of lens cleaner or alcohol (which is what lens cleaners are for the most part). You can purchase Eclipse Cleaning System Solution at Amazon.com for about $10 — this stuff is amazing, plus you can use it to clean your sensor.

4. WIPE

They make these special little wipes called lens tissues that are super soft, ultra clean, lint free, and intended for single use. This is exactly what they’re made for, and they’re cheap — so use them! You can purchase PEC-PAD Lint Free Wipes at Amazon.com for around $8 per 100 pack.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Just be careful when making physical contact with optical quality glass — this stuff is really smooth and it can be scratched with something as small as dust. Just don’t be careless. But at the same time, don’t be afraid to do this simple task on your own. When done correctly, you should have nothing to worry about. Here’s a pretty good instructional video I found that should boost your confidence.

And listen, there’s always more than one way to do the job — so don’t take this stuff as the Gospel. For you seasoned photographers out there, how do you clean your lenses?

The Best Camera

You may have heard the saying “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You” at some point in your photographic adventures. I don’t know who coined the phrase, but I do know who is re-popularizing it: Chase Jarvis. And how is he doing it? With is phone, of course!

So Chase created TheBestCamera.com as a central hub for this whole thing. It’s a place for people to share their photos created using the iPhone app. The application looks really cool, and I’d expect nothing less from somebody like Chase. I’m only disappointed with two things: 1) No iPhone for Verizon customers, and 2) No awesome photo applications for Pocket PC phones. But, neither of those things are Chase’s fault, so I’ll just keep my frustrations bottled up for the time being.

But even though I can’t use the app, I still plan on buying the book that goes along with all of this. Chase put together a photo book of his iPhone images and it looks fantastic from what I can tell! The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You is 256 pages of lo-fi inspiration. If you’ve seen Chase’s iPhone work in the past, you know what to expect. If you haven’t… well, go take a look. You could almost convince yourself that these were taken with a toy film camera and they fit right in with the Lomography vision.

The website, the iPhone app, and the book are all quite impressive accomplishments for Chase. But I think he’s doing something much greater: Chase Jarvis is steering the direction of modern photography (at least one branch of it), and he’s driving it with his enthusiasm for art. He’s making the point that great photos can come from any camera and that having your camera in your pocket at all times is more important than having the most powerful gear on the market. And all of this started because he decided to start taking photos with his iPhone every day — in other words, a personal project of his that turned out to be much more (and on a related side note, our latest PhotoNetCast episode is on the topic of photography projects).

The concepts of using lo-fi equipment, shooting often, taking your camera with you everywhere, shooting from the hip, capturing every day life, and just getting the shot are not new concepts. Just look at the cult following of Lomography. Chase is taking these same concepts and modernizing them. Instead of shooting with a Holga or Diana, he’s shooting with an iPhone — not exactly the best cameras on the market. In both cases, the images produced are not technically outstanding, but they do have a certain artistic quality that can’t be found elsewhere.

At any rate, take all this as you will. I know these types of photos and ideologies don’t appeal to everybody, but I’m guessing that most of you will find some part of it interesting (and maybe even inspiring). For more information, check out the following links:

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Camera

I think this is all of them
Creative Commons License photo credit: xdjio

This article has been submitted by Neil Austin, a digital photography enthusiast who writes on digital photography for his blog: www.DigitalWeddingGuide.com. He mainly writes about wedding photography. If you are a wedding photographer looking for you first camera then make sure you read this article on how to choose a wedding photography camera.

If you are into serious photography, then you have to take into consideration many things when selecting the type of equipment and gadgets to purchase. It does not matter whether you are going into photography as a hobby or as a profession. There are important things that you have to include in the general equation for the determination of the type of photography equipment and gadgets that you will have to invest in.

P&S VS DSLR

PS vs DSLR

When you are going for your foundation equipment, you have to decide if you are going for a Point and Shoot (P&S) or the more expensive Digital-Single Lens Reflex cameras. Your final choice will be based on your budget as well as your requirements and needs. Digital-Single Lens Reflex (dSLR) cameras are the better choice for those who have higher demands from their advanced photography. These are the type of modern cameras which are generally have wider functionality and are versatile in terms of the shooting conditions and controls. It comes with a wide range of features and provides the base equipment for future upgrades in the form of add-ons and accessories.

The dSLR is the camera of choice when it comes to action shots, nature and wildlife photography. It is also the appropriate type of camera when doing portraiture and people photography. On the other hand, Point and Shoot (P&S) cameras are the direct opposite of dSLRs. The main advantage of this type of camera is that they are extremely light and compact making them the better choice for those who put premium on convenience and ease of handling. They also come with the basic features that are normally required for day-to-day photography work as well as other photography requirements on the personal level. The major limitation of this type of cameras is that you will not be able to make any lens changes and their built-in flashes are limited in their range of capabilities.

CONSIDERATIONS ON RESOLUTION

Resolution

There is a wide range of resolution that is provided by dSLR from a low 3.4 megapixels to as high as 16.7 megapixels. There are even some high-end dSLRs whose over resolutions are higher than 16.7 megapixels. It is important to note that not all dSLR produce the same results for the same level of resolution. There are some dSLR cameras that can deliver better shots even with lower resolutions mainly because of the presence of a high-performance and more advanced sensor. The bottom-line is to assess the maximum level of megapixels that you will require in your photography work and settle for the type or model that meets this specification. Higher resolution dSLR does always mean better dSLR cameras especially if you are able to get the shots you like with a lower resolution dSLRs.

DSLR

UPGRADING YOUR DSLR

With the fast paced development and advancement in the field of technology, you will have to keep pace with the emergence of newer and more modern gadgets and add-ons for your dSLRs. The digital format is admittedly the platform on which all upgrades will be based. If you are serious about keeping pace with the advances in the digital photography technology, then you may have to replace your dSLR camera with a newer model every 18 months! However, it is worse in the case of Point and Shoot types of cameras as you may be forced to buy a new unit every six months.

ADDING DSLR ACCESSORIES

Accessories

Most dSLRs are bit heavy and unwieldy compared to the Point and Shoot cameras and you have to seriously take this into consideration when you are choosing the right dSLRs which would suit your needs and preference. You might need models that have a fairly large battery packs and all other add-ons, this will make things really heavier on the side. Don’t forget to consider the size of the lenses that you will need in your photo shoots using a dSLR camera. Once you include all these items, then you really have to consider buying a really large camera bag.

If you have an old camera with lenses and accessories, you may consider purchasing a newer model that can accommodate the lenses and accessories. The compatibility of existing lenses and other accessories can serve as a major motivation in picking out a specific model of dSLR camera.

ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF A DSLR CAMERA

DSLR Features

After you have considered the basic features of your digital camera, you can now assess all the other features which you might consider in your ideal digital camera. Though these might not be an immediate necessity in your present circumstances, you may have to look beyond the present and identify the functionalities which you would like your dSLR to have in the future.

  • Burst-Mode Functionality – This is the feature that you must have to consider when you are looking at action or motion shots. This gives you the capability of shooting a series of frames from an unfolding action.
  • Vibra-Proof Feature – This is a feature that you would like to have to give you fairly good shots while you are in motion. Though this may be an optional feature that spells the comparative advantage of one model from the rest of the units of dSLR, some would find this feature as a basic requirement especially when you are making shots while in motion.
  • ISO Rating Range – You also have to consider the ISO rating of your camera especially when you are looking at high speed shots and close portrait and people photography.
  • Digital Connectivity – With the convergence of digital based gadgets and equipments, you also must have to consider the connectivity of your dSLR camera with your computer and other photo-enhancing equipment. This would provide you with more functionality in creating high quality photo shoots with a wide range of use.
  • Review Mode and Review Features – You also have to decide on the size of the LCD panel of your dSLR. You need to assess the functionality that you will require for an on-spot review and assessment of shots. If you require detailed assessment of shots, then you have to consider larger LCD panel with brighter and sharper images.
  • Shutter Speed Range – This is another feature that you have to assess especially when you are into the more advanced photography. This has direct bearing on the kind of lenses and the ISO settings that you want in your dSLR.

About The Author

Neil Austin likes to write on topic of digital wedding photography. His focus is mainly on providing tips and articles for beginner photographers who are just entering into this amazing field of digital weddings. You can read more of his work and articles at digital wedding guide.

Save A Life – How To Get The Most Out Of Your Camera Battery

This article has been authored by Neil Austin. Neil likes to write about digital wedding photography for his blog: www.DigitalWeddingGuide.com. Neil’s blog mainly focuses on wedding photography tips.

Get the Most out of Your Batteries

Digital cameras are packed with lots of great features and spiffy enhancements. But a lot of the goodies are big culprits when it comes to power usage. And there is no worse feeling in the world than having your digital camera battery run down in the middle of a crucial shot.

While you can quickly stop and put a fresh battery in, you can’t always go back and recreate what would have been a great moment for the camera. And even though you may have a few backup batteries, the real trick is to maximize the life of the one that you’re using so you can get the most shots per charge possible.

Here are some things you can do to help get more out of your battery’s life.

  • Give your LCD screen a rest and use the optical viewfinder. What ends up happening is with each picture you take, it will appear on your digital camera’s LCD screen, eating up valuable battery power. Looking through the viewfinder saves your power for taking more pictures. Of course, be aware that what you see on the viewfinder isn’t exactly what you’re going to see on the actual picture. Some of the scenes to the sides of the frame may be cropped off so make sure you’re focused on your subject if the LCD screen is off.
  • The same idea applies to previewing pictures on your LCD screen. Taking a picture, then pulling it up on the LCD screen to show your friends is a wasteful use of battery life. You can save more power by only looking at a previous picture on the LCD screen if it’s going to help make the next shot better. Save the photo sharing for when you’ve uploaded your pictures to your computer or burned them to a disc.
  • If leaving the LCD screen off isn’t practical, look at lowering the screen’s brightness to save power. Lower it to an acceptable level, remembering that you may have difficulty in bright sunlight viewing the screen. Shade it with the palm of your hand if this is the case.
  • Using your camera’s menu function, try adjusting the “sleep” option. What this will do is put your digital camera into a power-saving sleep mode after a designated period of time, but it still remains ready to be used and can usually be “awakened” by touching one of the camera’s function buttons or the shutter. You may even be able to leave your digital camera in sleep mode to squeeze more shots out of your battery’s charge.
  • Use the single focus feature whenever possible. You’re asking your battery to work that much harder when your camera is using continual focus, and that feature is really only necessary if you’re taking pictures of subjects with lots of motion – say, children playing or maybe shots of a sporting event.
  • Many amateur shutterbugs find themselves playing with the zoom out of habit. Use your zoom sparingly. The motor that zooms your camera’s lens in and out is another unwanted power drain, and you should only use it when you’re ready to shoot.
  • Only press the shutter button when you’re ready to actually take a picture. Pressing it halfway puts the camera into a preparation mode that drains power because it thinks it’s about to take a picture and needs to be ready – and it gets ready by resetting and refocusing the camera – a big expense of power.
  • Don’t charge your battery if it still has a relatively strong charge. This can diminish a battery’s ability to hold a charge, and that is something you will start to notice when you begin getting fewer shots per charge. Avoid dropping the battery too. This can affect its polarity and therefore its ability to properly charge.
  • If you’re shooting pictures in cold weather, keep your camera warm by keeping it close to your body. Colder temperatures cause batteries to drain faster, and your body heat can help battery performance remain at optimal levels.
  • Save the video clips for a video camera. Recording and playing back video clips eats up lots of power, and if you’re really wanting to shoot videos, get a camera dedicated for that use.
  • Don’t go cheap on the recharger. It’s true with some things you get what you pay for, and battery chargers are one item you don’t want to skimp on. A good charger will extend your batteries’ lives and charge them more efficiently.
  • Keep spare batteries handy, and rotate through the batteries you use so they all get used as equally as possible. This helps to ensure that battery life remains constant from battery to battery, and more importantly it also means you’ll grab a battery that’s been recharged, instead of the dead one you kept forgetting to charge.
  • Use the flash only when necessary. Most professionals will tell you that the flash on digital cameras don’t really add anything to a picture anyway, even at night.
  • Wait until you’re back safely at home before you start deleting pictures. Deleting shots only drains more power, and you can get rid of unwanted pictures after you’ve uploaded them to your computer for review.
  • If you’re using lithium ion batteries you’ll get more life out of them by making sure they’re charged completely and regularly. Lithium ion batteries typically hold a charge longer than regular alkaline batteries too.
  • When storing your camera for a week or more, remove the batteries to prevent an accidental discharge.

These battery maintenance tips will help you dramatically extend the life of your battery, while getting the most out of each charge. They’ll help you prolong your enjoyment of your digital camera. And they’ll help you and your camera to always be ready to take a great picture – no matter when the right photo opportunity arises!

This article has been authored by Neil Austin. Neil likes to write about digital wedding photography for his blog: www.DigitalWeddingGuide.com. Neil’s blog mainly focuses on wedding photography tips.

What’s On Your Photography Wish-List?

013/2009 Year 2 Want! Seven Deadly Sins: Greed
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tyla’75

Most of us probably have at least a short wish-list of photography-related items. My list usually fills up with things that I don’t have the money for, and over time I stop caring about those particular items. But there are a few things that I’ve been wanting for a while — and I don’t see myself losing interest in them.

  • MINOLTA HI-MATIC 7SII
    I’ve been wanting this camera for quite a while — this thing is freakin’ awesome for an old rangefinder. Some would even argue that this is the best rangefinder ever produced by Minolta. Why do I want it? Street photography. Why am I holding back? Price: they usually go for over $150 (2-3x that for the black version).
  • CANOSCAN 8800F
    This wish-list item is more of a necessity than a craving. I’ve got the Canoscan 8400F (which is more than a few years old), and I’m getting very finicky about my film scans. I’d like to have a bit of extra resolution and possibly better color control during the scan process. Besides… my current scanner could commit suicide any day now.
  • DSLR SPLIT IMAGE FOCUSING SCREEN
    This is an item that’s been in the back of my mind ever since I started shooting film. I like the split image focusing screen with the microprism ring that my film SLR has, and I often find myself wanting the same feature on my dSLR. Why? Low light situations, macro, street, etc. Sometimes autofocus just doesn’t cut it, and manually focusing without a good screen is useless.
  • BESELER DICHRO 67S HEAD
    This one is on my backburner for now, but I’d like to get into color developing and printing by the end of the year. I’ve had a good experience with the b/w printing, but I also have a growing collection of color negs that I’d love to print in full analog glory. Scanning is okay, but nothing beats a true print. This head I have my eye on will bolt right up to my existing enlarger stand, so it’s really just a component swap-out rather than a whole new setup.
  • SONY 35MM F/1.4 LENS
    Yeah… this lens is way out there for me right now, but I certainly wouldn’t mind having it. I often find that my 50mm lens on the dSLR is too tight for many street photography situations. I like the field of view I get with the 50mm lens on a full-frame film camera (I even prefer my slightly wider 38mm sometimes), and the 35mm on a crop sensor would basically be equivalent to the 50mm full-frame. This thing is spendy though!

Those are probably my top 5 items outside of the low-budget realm. I’ll probably be lucky to pick up one or two of these within the next year, but it’s fun to dream!

WHAT’S ON YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY WISH-LIST?

Leave a comment and let us know what you crave. I’m always curious about the things that other photographers want when it comes to equipment. And be sure to check out the results of the last poll: What’s Your Experience With Film Photography? Believe it or not, there are actually a good chunk of photographers shooting film today (around 40%). But another 40% gave it up and never looked back.