Sony Party-Shot

9/30/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

The Sony Party-Shot IPT-DS1 works with both the DSC-WX1 and DSC-TX1 Cyber-shot digital camera models. It is a base that tilts (24 degrees) and pans (360 deg.) to locate subjects (works off of the cameras face and smile detection setting). Base takes two AA batteries, is portable, and will mount to most tripods. It captures your photos for you, even adjusting the composition, for up to 11 hours.

New, $99. Find it here.


9/27/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

A silhouette is an outline or general shape of something filled in with black and against a lighter background. Silhouettes are simple, but can add moodiness and mystery to an image.

To make a silhouetted photograph, your subject will need to be in front of your light source. You will then want to meter off the bright area of the background, making your subject (in the foreground) underexposed. You can back light with windows, a sunrise or sunset, or any other lighted source. It won't work if you have background light and another light source such as one from overhead or from a flash pointed towards your subject. With this being said, be sure to turn off your cameras flash.

If your subject comes out dark but not completely black, you can adjust your levels in your editing software to take the darks all the way to black.

Another thing to keep in mind when shooting silhouettes is the subject matter and the shapes that it makes. Since you're loosing the details that typically make a photo interesting, you'll be relying heavily on the positive/negative space aspect. Pay attention to how the shapes work with each other, and how identifiable they are without the details in them.

Machine Gun Camera

9/24/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

The 35mm WWII, Japanese Type 89 “Rokuoh-Sha” Machine Gun Camera

This is a very rare and highly sought after collectible, a Japanese Machine Gun Camera made during World War II. The official name of the camera is the Type 89 Rokuoh-Sha made by Konishoruko Manufacturer Company, later to become Konica.

This camera has a fascinating history in that it was used to train Japanese machine gunners during WWII. The camera would be mounted inside or outside the plane. When inside it is manned by the gunner, and outside it would be controlled remotely by cables. The camera takes 18x24mm pictures on 35mm cine film loaded in 2.5m strips. The Type 89 camera was said to be used to train gunners on the famed Zero fighter plane, the pilots would do in-air target practice with the camera recording accuracy. The film would then be processed and reviewed before true in-air combat (once pilots mastered the Type 89 camera with improved kills through target practice, the real thing was then mounted on the aircraft and said pilot was sent into battle).

This camera is an amazing piece of history that is essentially priceless for a collector of unique cameras or WWII memorabilia.

Rokuoh-sha machine gun camera type 89 with sights, case. BGN, $3,520. Find it here.

- Michael Reese

Vintage Magazine Covers: Fall

9/23/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

Autumn officially begins today in the U.S...

Careers in Photography

9/21/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

There are a ton of different types of photography/photographers out there (portrait, landscape, architectural, commercial, editorial, documentary, still life, forensic, nature, etc.), but have you ever thought about all of the different photography related careers other then the photographer role itself? Here are some of those positions to think about if you're looking to get into the industry, or simply switch things up...

* Editor, art buyer, teacher/professor, lab tech (film developing, printing), studio manager, equipment (sales, technician, repair), brand trainers, conference coordinators, gallery curator, book publisher, director, assistant, digital retoucher, photo restoration, archivist/library, researcher, historian, framer, master printer, inventor/concept design, writer (reviews, technical, instruction books, etc), prototype tester, analyst.

* Other places with related positions: Camera manufacturing companies, stock agencies, photography organizations, photographic rental companies and retail stores.

Strobist Part 2

9/20/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

We're continuing on from our strobist introduction, to intermediate strobist technique with multiple flashes.

The concept for this shoot was to have the road going out of sight behind the subject and to have the sun backlighting the scene. This is a tough scene to capture correctly with available light and/or a pop-up flash because the subject may end up being under-exposed, and the background blowing out (extreme highlights). A pop-up flash doesn't have the power necessary to reach all the way to the subject in this setting, and is also not powerful enough to balance with the strong sunlight. Since the sunlight is behind the subject, we also need light in front of the subject to be able to expose properly for the foreground and background (and keep the details).

Using natural light- under exposed subject and blown-out background

For this scene, three external flash units were used. All of them were set at either 1/2 or 1/8 power, and shot bare (no modifications like umbrellas). Two of the units were on stands (pointing down) to my (the shooters) left. One unit was also to the left but on the ground pointing up.

The set-up
These final images were taken near sunset when the sunlight was truly magical. The same flash set-up as described above was used...

Equipment used: Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 EF-S IS USM and Canon 70-200 2.8L IS, 2-Nikon SB-28 flash units, 1-Vivitar 285HV, 2- 8ft light stands, wireless radio trigger and wein optical slave triggers.
All images © Patrick Douglas


9/17/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

Globuscope series 100025 F3.5 (35mm), with case, level. Manual focus, fixed lens, hand-held, 360 degree rotation panoramic camera. Produced from 1981-2006. EX, $1,369. Find it here.

PS- Did you know that this camera appears in a scene from Ghostbusters II? In the movie, it's used as a "detector" however, and not as camera.

Tips for Shooting in Sunny Conditions

9/16/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

1) Use a polarizer filter. A polarizer reduces glare and reflections, and saturates colors. It's great for making blue skies bluer. It also acts as a protector for your camera lens- it keeps dirt and grime off of your lens glass, and prevents chips or cracks in the glass since the filter would crack first if hit or dropped. (Reference our past filters posts 101 and 102 for more info.)

2) Use a lens hood. A lens hood keeps sun flare out of your images. This will help to not only prevent the spotted design that may appear in your image from flare, but will keep the colors more saturated instead of allowing the sun to wash them out as well. A hood also acts a lens protector by helping to keep outside elements away from the lens glass.

3) Never look at the sun through a camera. If you are trying to compose an image where the sun is in it, or you're trying to capture bright sun flare, be sure not to look at it through the viewfinder. Simply viewing it through a VF does nothing to protect your eyes. The same results as staring directly into the sun (retina damage and blindness) are possible.

4) Use a lower ISO. You'll want to set your ISO at 100 or lower for shooting in sunny conditions so that you can get the best exposure. Likewise, you'll probably need to use a smaller aperture.

5) Find shade. Sunlight can cause blow outs and high contrast. If there's shade available, you may want to step into it (or create your own shade).

6) Use a fill flash. You may think using more light when the natural light is already bright is too much. But, a fill flash can reduce harsh shadows created by sunlight, and allow you to get a proper exposure for both background and foreground. (Another additional lighting technique to reduce harsh shadows is to use a reflector.)

7) Use the sun to create effects. Instead of preventing effects such as sun flare and silhouetting when shooting in the sun, purposefully use it to your advantage. (More on these techniques coming soon)

Nikon FA Gold

9/14/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

Nikon FA Grand Prix '84 gold with lizard, with 50 F1.4 gold band AIS, display box.
Voted European Camera of the Year 1984'. 500 produced. Ex, $1,369. Find it here.

Strobist: An Introduction

9/13/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

We briefly covered one strobist technique before with our jumping off for dramatic lighting post. What we haven't done yet however, is to start at the beginning and explain for our less advanced readers what it is, and how to start with it (for not so dramatic lighting). So here it is, a little introduction...

The term strobist refers to images taken by small, portable, off-camera flash(s). The same term is used to describe not only the way of photographing, but the photographer who shoots this way, and the philosophy of it.

To understand why shooting like this can be such a huge benefit, we'll start with some example images shot with natural light and shot with an on camera, pop-up flash...
above: shot with natural, available light
on-camera, pop-up flash

Both of the above shots have lighting issues including being dull and flat. Straight on-camera flash is the least flattering of all flash photography. This type of flash can cause whitewash, red-eye and flat lighting. Ambient light can be a good choice in certain situations, but can also be flat. Under these circumstances, a higher ISO setting or lower shutter speed would be required to get proper exposure, which also introduces noise and/or blur.

By using off-camera flashes, you can add an extra pop of light, expose properly for foreground and background, and give an image depth and interest. It also allows you to really control your light. In this particular situation (in the middle of the water), big studio lighting kits that require being plugged into an electrical outlet also pose a dilemma.

above: the strobist approach using one off-camera light
(plus stand, umbrella, slaves and reflector)

the image taken from the set-up above

set-up example 2
shot example 2

A few more details about how the shots above were taken...

The whole session was shot on manual with the exception of the ambient and on-camera shots that were done on program. ISO was set between 250-400. Shot in RAW+ Jpeg. Flash was set between ¼ to ½ power (this is much better for the recycle times and to control the exposure of the sky).

Equipment used: Canon 7D, Canon 24-105 F4 L IS USM lens, Canon 430 EX flash unit, 8ft light stand, 36 inch translucent umbrella, white foam board for fill, wireless flash triggers.

Coming soon, we'll be getting into more advanced strobist techniques by using multiple flash units, so stay tuned!

All images © Patrick Douglas

Crop Factor

9/10/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

We mentioned crop factor a few days ago in our lens compatibility post series, and wanted to give an actual visual reference for what is happening so that you can better understand it.

The red box in the image above indicates what you would see on a full frame camera, and the blue box indicates what you would see with the same lens on an APS-C camera. (Full frame and APS-C refers to the sensor size. (If you didn't read our posts on lens compatibility which covers full frame and APS-C, you can refer back here.)

For our test shots below, we used the same lens on both cameras- a Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II.
We also stood and center-focused on the exact same spots in both images.
Image 1, above: shot with a Canon 5D (full frame camera)
Image 2, above: shot with a Canon 40D (APS-C camera)

You can immediately notice a difference in the area that is covered in each shot. There was no zooming or edit cropping done to change the image area. These images are straight from the camera and what you would see through the viewfinder. So as mentioned before, the slightly wide angle of view with the lens changes to a slightly telephoto angle of view with the same lens, just with a switch in sensor size.

This is something to keep in mind when purchasing a non-digital designated lens to use on a digital SLR body that has the smaller APS-C size sensor. In this case (and using Canon as an example), the 50mm EF lens no longer acts as a true 50mm lens on the 40D. If you want to obtain a true 50mm and own one of the APS-C size digital SLRs, you would want to purchase a digital EF-S lens that is in the 50mm range, or an EF lens that is a smaller mm, or wider angle lens to start with.

Digital Lens Compatibility Part 3

9/09/2010 2 Comments A+ a-

Now that you've learned more about lens compatibility, this post will explain how to find the correct lens on our website.

After entering into, go to the Shop for gear tab at the top of the page. This will put you in our Camera Store.

If you own a film camera, you want to look under the 35mm column for a lens.

If you own a digital camera, you can look under either the 35mm or Digital columns. For Canon, if you own a full frame digital camera, your only lens choices are under 35mm and NOT under the Digital column. The Digital column for Canon lists only APS-C compatible lenses and will not mount or work with a film or full frame digital camera.

If you're looking for a digital lens, then click on the brand of your camera in the Digital column. Now you can go to Lenses. In this section, you can choose which type of lens you want for your camera. You have a choice between a manufacturer lens or non-mfg lens, both zoom and fixed focal length.

*Note that if you are looking for a Sigma brand lens for your Canon or Nikon camera, that you will find that under: Digital, Canon/Nikon Digital, Non-Mfg lenses. Do NOT go under Digital, Sigma Digital to find a lens unless your camera body is a Sigma digital body and not another brand such as Canon or Nikon.

How to understand our descriptions:
As an example, you can follow along on our site in Canon digital... Go to the lenses section. Let's explore the zoom lenses. Below is an example description of what you may be looking at.

Canon Digital- Zoom Lenses
10-22 3.5-4.5 EF-S USM (77)
(Digital Rebel XT, 20D, 30D, 300D)
Digital SLR Zoom Super Wide Angel Lens

Here's the break down of each part...
1) Canon Digital- Zoom Lenses
2) 10-22mm- focal length
3) F3.5-4.5- aperture
4) EF-S- lens mount for APS-C sized image sensor cameras
5) USM- ultrasonic motor
6) (77)- 77mm filter size
7) (Digital Rebel XT, 20D, 30D, 300D)- The camera models stated inside the parenthesis indicate which models are compatible with this particular lens.
8) Digital SLR Zoom Super Wide Angel Lens- angle of view.

We hope this little series of posts has helped you to better understand how to find the correct lens for your camera body. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and we'll be happy to answer them, or you can contact our very knowledgeable sales department. Happy shopping!

Digital Lens Compatibility Part 2

9/08/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

Now that you understand more about sensor size and choosing the appropriate lens, there's still more compatibility issues to consider.

Manufacturer lenses vs. lenses from an independent lens maker...

Independent:An example of an independent lens maker is Sigma, Tamron, & Tokina. The manufacturers of these lenses do have occasional compatibility issues. Part of the problem is that none of the independent lens manufacturers have complete access to the specifications of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, etc. camera-body communication. An example of some compatibility issues with independent lenses and DSLR bodies are:
* Soft focus
* back or front focus
* error messages on the camera body
* intermittent focus

If you do choose to go with an independent lens maker , here's a brief summary of what to look for on several manufacturers...

Tokina- look for the Pro DX lenses. These are digital only and do not work on the full size sensors. Some of the ProD lenses will work on full size sensors.

Sigma- look for the DC format for their digital only line (24mm sensor). The DG line will work on the full size sensors.

Tamron- look for the Di-II line for digital only. The original Di series worked on both digital and film.

Manufacturer lenses:

* The EF-S lenses. As described before, EF-S lenses only mount on the APS-C cameras (20D, 30D and Digital Rebel series).

Nikon- Nikon has continued to use the F lens mount over the years. The different series lenses are broken down as follows:
* D-series lenses are for both film and digital cameras .
* G-series lenses cover 35mm and digital sensor formats but can only be used with cameras that have electronic aperture control.
* DX (digital only) series can be used on all current DSLR's
* AF-S lenses are compatible with most camera bodies, but some of the digital bodies, such as the D40, will only work with AF-S lenses.
* Lenses with VR may auto focus on older film cameras, but the VR function may not work.
* Some of our descriptions specifically say N90 and later. This means that this lens will only work on camera bodies that are newer than the N90 model (+ the N90 itself).
* If a lens is marked Pronea, this lens will only work on the Nikon Pronea bodies.

* DA-series lenses are the current line of digital only lenses. If someone used these lenses on their 35mm camera, there will be reduced image coverage.

Minolta Maxxum/Sony Alpha
When the 7D and 5D Konica Minolta was current, all of the Maxxum lenses would work correctly on those bodies. Since 2006, Konica Minolta sold their Maxxum digital SLR technology to Sony, naming it the Alpha System. So, if you have a digital Sony body, you can shop for lenses in the digital Minolta or in the Minolta auto focus sections. Even though the Maxxum lenses will work on the Alpha system however, I would take the same caution that was advised on the EOS system- if the lens was produced in the 80's, the technology may have some focus compatibility issues.

Olympus did not have an Auto Focus SLR lens system out on the market to make the change to digital. So, they created their own system called Four Thirds . This is a 4:3 aspect ratio of the sensors used by the Olympus DSLR system. This sensor is larger than most point and shoot camera's but smaller than the 24mm sensor of other DSLR's. Olympus also now has a Micro Four Thirds system (ex. Pen). The distinction between a Four Thirds and a Micro Four Thirds lens will be an M. in the description. So for example, 17 F2.8 M. Zuiko lens is for the Micro Four Third models.

More on Four Thirds
Multiple brands have Four Third and Micro Four Third systems now. Usually, the lenses are interchangeable between brands for these systems (Digital 4/3: Olympus, Panasonic, and Leica).

* If you notice FO in one of our descriptions, that stands for film only, and that lens marked FO will not work on any digital camera body.

Yes, there's a lot to know and a lot to remember, and we know it can sometimes be overwhelming. If you're unsure, then double check your owners manual, or call one of our sales representatives. They will be happy to help you choose a compatible lens for your body! Also, stay tuned for tomorrows post where we'll explain how to navigate our website to find the right lens for your digital SLR.

Digital Lens Compatibility Part 1

9/07/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

We're bringing you information on lens compatibility in three parts, starting with understanding the two basic types of digital SLR sensor sizes and the appropriate lenses to use.

You either have a full frame sensor, or a digital sensor that is smaller in size referred to as a APS-C (Advanced Photo System type-C). Typically, the higher-end pro cameras have the full frame sensor and the mid-range to lower end digital SLRs have the APS-C sensor. Depending on which type of camera you own determines which types of lenses will work on your camera body.

Sensor size comparison chart

Canon: Their APS-C type lens mount is called EF-S. The lenses that are specifically designed for these cameras will be marked with EF-S on the lens, and have a small white square near the mount. Canons film lenses are EF, and have the typical red dot near the mount.
Canon digital SLR mount with mounting spots for EF-S and EF lenses
Canon EF-S lens mount (white dot)
Canon EF lens (red dot)

With Canon, both EF-S lenses and EF lenses will work on the APS-C cameras. On the full frame and film cameras, only the EF lenses will work (EF-S lenses won't even mount onto a full frame or film body). Canon manual focus lens mounts are not interchangeable between AF and digital either.

Nikon: Distinguishes its digital APS-C lenses with DX. All Nikon lenses (both DX and non-DX) will physically fit onto any other Nikon mount including both digital sizes and 35mm film.

Even though Nikon's APS-C lenses will mount onto film bodies, they will not cover the full image size. This can cause vignetting or soft focus around the edges of the image, especially at the widest of the lens zoom range.

Because of the design of the sensor of a digital camera, there are more light rays reflecting back through the lens than 35mm lenses. Digital-only lenses (or APS-C designated lenses) have specially designed coatings to absorb stray light and preserve image contrast and are also typically lighter in weight.

If you're using a full frame/film lens on a APS-C camera, another thing to keep in mind is that the focal length and crop factor changes. A 35mm lens that is mounted to a full frame camera will provide a slightly wide-angle view, while when mounted to an APS-C camera will provide a slightly telephoto view. (You can read more about crop factor here, or stay tuned for more info. and example photos on Friday).

Other APS-C lens designations:
* Pentax DA
* Sony DT
* Sigma DC
* Tamron Di II
* Tokina DX

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!

Learn to Use Your Camera

9/03/2010 2 Comments A+ a-

12 ways to learn more about your camera
1) Read the instruction manual
2) Read an additional instruction book
3) Read about it online
4) Watch a video
5) Take a workshop or class in person
6) Take a workshop/class online
7) Go to a convention or trade show
8) Hire a personal tutor
9) Read (camera specific) forums
10) Visit a manufacturers online learning center
11) DIY/hands on- test functions and learn by doing it
12) Network with others with the same or similar equipment. There's groups for both in-person meet-ups and virtual groups.