Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays From KEH Camera!

Happy holidays from your friends at KEH Camera!  We hope you have a wonderful time with family and friends this season.  It has been a remarkable year at KEH, and we are so grateful for all of our customers and fans.  Thank you so much for making 2012 a great year!


Holiday Schedule Reminder:  KEH Camera will be closed Monday, December 24 and Tuesday, December 25 for the holiday.   We will reopen on Wednesday, December 26.  We will also be closed Tuesday, January 1 for New Year's Day.

The KEH Camera Blog will be taking its annual "vacation", so we will not be posting between December 24 through January 1.  We will resume posting on Wednesday, January 2. 

Again, a huge THANK YOU to our loyal customers and fans!  We wouldn't be a great company without your support and patronage.  Have a happy and safe holiday, and we look forward to an exciting new year with you in 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Why I Love the Pentax 645 System

A few years ago my friend was given a box of old camera gear from a retiring photographer.  In that box was a Pentax 645 camera with a 80mm f2.8 lens and a 120 film back.

At first I thought this camera was old and broken, as it would not dead fire.  However, one day I loaded it with film and it worked perfectly.  From that moment on, I was hooked.  I was now a medium format shooter.  I soon gave that Pentax, which was the 1980’s version, to my assistant.  I upgraded to the Pentax 645N, which was from the 1990’s, and had a better metering system.  Even though the camera has auto focus capabilities, I only used manual lenses with it.  In particular, I used the Pentax 80mm and 150mm lenses with my camera.  I generally only used the 80mm, so I eventually sold the 150mm lens.

Image courtesy of Joesph Prezioso

You may happen to hear a lot about the Contax 645 medium format system, or the Mamiya medium format systems, but for me, the Pentax 645 system is one of the best.  It’s built solid and always works.  I must have photographed hundreds of weddings with my Pentax 645N, and my assistant with the 645, and it has never failed us.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso

The Pentax 645 offers a split prism focusing screen, center weighted metering and full shutter control.  The 645N adds a flat focusing screen designed for AF lenses, which I prefer.  It also adds matrix and spot metering, as well as the traditional center weighted pattern.  Even better, the Pentax 645N adds a digital LCD like that of a modern SLR in the viewfinder so you can easily see you shutter, aperture and exposure information.  

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
Both the Pentax 645 and 645N offer full automatic exposure control with exposure compensation features.  The 645 camera has an LCD and buttons to change the mode and shutter, while the 645N has a shutter dial and knobs for exposure compensation and ISO.  I much prefer the 645N controls, because on the 645 it’s easy to change a setting and throw your exposures way off if you’re using its internal meter or program mode.

Both camera bodies take 120 and 220 film backs (and 70mm if you can get it!) that you can preload and store in your camera bag so that you can easily reload while shooting.  On a 120 roll you can get 16 images, and 32 images on a 220 roll.  

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
Looking through the finder of a medium format Pentax is an eye opener if you have only shot 35mm or digital.  The mirror is much larger, and you get a lot more reflected light.  You also have a much brighter finder. 

645 images are also going to give you a much larger image than 35mm.  Your images will be much more detailed and less grainy.  Compared to digital, 645 images are very “high resolution,” they can be blown up very large and retain their detail.  As with all film, your images will reflect how you shoot.  Many factors can affect how your images turn out, such as what kind of film you use, how you expose the image and how you have the film developed and scanned.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
My favorite film to shoot with in medium format is the Kodak Portra film.  90% of the time I have my 645 loaded with Portra 400 so that I can shoot anything that comes my way.  If I am outside and shooting in super bright light, I will use Ektar 100 or Portra 160.  In my mind though, Portra 400 is the best.  I can shoot with an ISO anywhere from 200 to 1600, and get great results with my 645.

If you’re looking to get into medium format photography, I highly recommend the Pentax 645 system.

Contributor Bio: Joseph Prezioso is a professional photographer who has been shooting for over twelve years.  He went from shooting film, to 100% digital, and then back to film again. He says, "By trade I am a wedding photographer, I shoot over 30 weddings a year, and this year they were all on film. My career started as a newspaper photographer though. I was 16 and like Jimmy Olsen. I learned on the streets shooting next to veteran photographers for the AP and Boston Globe (I worked for some weeklies, but I got to cover a lot of cool events that the big news guys covered too!). Film is something I have fallen in love with; it's the medium I learned on. Film will always be something special to me. It feels more versatile and creative in my hands than when I am using digital."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

KEH's Most Wanted

Featured below are a selection of KEH Camera's "most wanted" Canon EOS auto focus fixed focal length lenses.  We are actively looking to purchase these lenses, so if you have them, we want to buy them! 







 



To help with identification, the following list of abbreviations are used by Canon to designate their products:

EF: Electro Focus (Canon's standard lens mount)

EOS: Electro Optical System

IS: Image Stabilization

L: Canon's professional range of lenses (some say the "L" stands for "luxury")

USM: Ultrasonic Motor

To sell any of the above featured items (or if you have other gear you'd like to sell), please call us at (770) 333-4220 or (800) 342-5534.  We are currently offering top market value for your clean, used gear.  As a bonus, if you send us your equipment, we'll pay for shipping!  Turnaround time is typically 24-48 hours once your equipment arrives in-house.  Once you approve our offer, we'll send you a check.  It's that easy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Digital Exposure In Depth

The Illusion of Digital

There is an image that endures in my memory, a photograph of my grandfather with no less than three Nikon 35mm cameras hanging from his sturdy shoulders. This was not atypical. I grew up with cameras documenting every family moment, so it probably isn’t too surprising that I am rarely without a camera, especially when visiting family. On one trip to visit my brother, I was photographing his son, who must have been about five years old at the time. He stepped around to look over my shoulder. Frowning, he chomped down on the lollipop he had in his mouth and devoted both hands to turning my Mamiya RZ67 around and around – a huge medium format film camera in his tiny hands.

“Where’s the picture?” he demanded to know.

This was not an easy thing to explain to him. By the time he was old enough to ask the question, film cameras were already becoming exotic. Today, I doubt he could remember ever seeing one.

Digital cameras exploded the proliferation of what was already one of the most popular hobbies in the world. Less intimidating than chemicals and emulsions, the screen on the back of a digital camera provides reassurance that there is indeed a picture in there, and the promise that you already know what it looks like. If you don’t like it, you can just try again, at zero cost.

For those whose photography ends with sharing their images on web sites or through email, that reassurance is enough. For photographers who want to produce extraordinary images with precise control over their palette, and especially for whom the print is the final product of a photograph, it is necessary to understand that what’s shown on a camera screen is illusory, to learn how to work with that screen, and to understand its limitations.

Clipping

One of the fundamental differences between analog and digital systems is that numbers define the digital world. Specifically, the number of discrete tones or colors that can be captured is finite. When the computer detects that your digital camera has run out of numbers, no more information is captured. In visual terms, this means that your image suddenly goes from capturing some detail, to rendering pure black or pure white.

© Brian Dilg Photography LLC
This phenomenon is called clipping, and it is utterly unlike the gradual loss of detail on a piece of film (still leaving the physical grain of the film itself). It isn’t pure white or pure black that looks bad, but the transition from some detail to none that is tricky.

Clipping is a commitment, because you’re never going to see any detail in clipped areas later, no matter how skilled you are in the digital darkroom. There is simply no detail. You can make it gray instead of black or white, but that is not always a pleasing option.

Nevertheless, in some cases, you may choose to clip deliberately, as in this high-key portrait example. I wanted to underscore the feeling the woman was enjoying the warmth of the autumn sun, and I did so by overexposing. However, I was careful about what I clipped, which was the wall, not her skin. I like the brightness of the image as a way to convey the feeling of a blindingly bright sun.

By choosing to expose the image this way, I limited my options.  I had to produce a high-key rendering of the digital negative. If I’d tried to darken the RAW image later to a more normal-looking exposure, the wall would still be white, or even gray, which was not the desired effect.

In most cases, however, it is wise to protect your options by carefully exposing so that neither shadows nor highlights are clipped. If you do this, and are of course shooting in RAW format (never JPEG), you can produce an astounding range of interpretations from your digital “negative.”
© Brian Dilg Photography LLC
In the example image of the Manhattan Bridge in New York City (shot during a blizzard in December, 2010), I’ve shown two radically different interpretations from the same RAW file, as well as the untouched RAW as originally exposed. The low-key and high-key interpretations were produced straight from the RAW processor in Adobe Lightroom without using Photoshop. Since I exposed conservatively, I had plenty of detail in shadows and highlights that I could lighten or darken to suit the desired effect, either by preserving the detail or throwing it away to pure black or white. I think they both convey the feeling of the blizzard, but in radically different ways.

The interpretations were not intended to be compared or seen side by side. In fact, it is impossible for you to perceive the low-key image without isolating it on a dark screen. If do you, you’ll see that there are no black tones, and that there is subtle, but sharp, detail underneath the dark bridge.

The Nitty Gritty

Ultimately, I find that commitment is a very good thing, and that the forgiving nature of digital RAW mode has the same effect as too many options in all creative endeavors: uncertainty. I’ve noticed over years of teaching that constraints help creativity thrive.

While it is essential to experiment when you are a student or exploring new techniques, ultimately you need to find your own iconic style.  You’re never going to get there by avoiding risks and hugging the safe middle. Exposure is as much a creative decision as composition.  It is one that is mostly underused in the world of photography, still pretending as it has since its invention that it is a medium in which reality is objectively rendered.


Contributor Bio
:
Brian Dilg is an internationally published and collected photographer and award-winning filmmaker with over 20 years of professional teaching experience around the world. He is currently the Chair of the photography program at New York Film Academy, a film, acting, and photography school.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cash for Cameras!

If you have old photographic equipment in your closet that you no longer need, why not turn it into cash?  We want to pay you top dollar for your clean, used camera gear! 

We've realized that many of our customers enjoy the convenience and simplicity of sending gear directly to us, rather than looking up values online or calling in to receive a quote.  We've simplified the process to make it as easy as possible for you to sell your used photographic equipment.  We want to give you CASH for the following brands & collectibles!


* We are not currently buying Minolta, Yashica, Konica or Ricoh, Pentax ME, darkroom enlargers, studio lighting, off brand tripods & flashes, generic brand filters, slide or movie projectors.

It's never been easier to sell your gear to KEH Camera! Simply follow the instructions below, and we will handle the rest!  Of course, if you would like to call us with questions or to receive a quote in advance, we will be happy to help you!  Click HERE for our hours & contact information. 

1. Safely pack your items (we suggest using smaller boxes with lots of padding).  In addition to your equipment, please include your contact information (name, address, email & phone number).  Also, please include a copy of your shipping receipt, as we will reimburse your shipping costs up to $20.00 (sorry, we cannot reimburse you for packing materials or other shipping services).  Ship your package to the following address:

KEH Camera
Attention: Kelly
4900 Highlands Parkway SE
Smyrna, GA 30082

2. Once we receive your package, we will evaluate your equipment & contact you with our best offer (please allow 7 to 10 business days). If you already have a price in mind, feel free to include a note in the box, and we'll simply cut you a check.  If we can't meet your request, we will contact you.  If you would prefer us to make an offer, that's fine too! If you are not fully satisfied with our offer, we will return your gear free of charge.

3. Once you have approved our offer, we will mail a check to you.  It's that easy!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nikon D600 & 24-85mm Lens Kit Savings!

For a limited time, Nikon is offering a great deal one of their most popular camera kits!  Save $700.00 instantly when you purchase the Nikon D600 & 24-85mm lens kit Friday, December 14 through Saturday, December 29.

The price before the rebate was $2,699.95, but during the special promotion period you only pay $1,999.95.  We have limited supplies, so don't miss out on the opportunity to save!
 
Click HERE to start shopping!

* Special promotion price only available to customers in the United States.  Ends Saturday, December 29 at midnight Eastern time.  Instant rebate will be deducted during the processing of your order.  The amount in your shopping cart is before the rebate.  Applicable taxes & shipping fees will apply.  Promotion subject to end at Nikon's discretion.  Product availability is limited (no back orders or rain checks). Not valid on previous purchases. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

11% Off + Free Shipping!

It's not too late to find the perfect gift for the holidays! We have discounted countless items by 11%, so go ahead and treat yourself or that special someone this season.


Take advantage of discounts on almost every item in our inventory including:
  • Point & shoot cameras
  • Non-manufacturer lenses (fixed & zoom)
  • Lens converters
  • Prisms & viewfinders
  • Motor drives & winders
  • Grips
  • Bellows
  • Flashes
  • All accessories (including filters, lens hoods, caps, bags & cases, camera straps, instruction books, batteries & chargers)
  • Tripods (including heads, legs & accessories)
  • Lens boards
  • Studio lighting (including flash sets, power packs, heads, monolights, stands & more)
  • Light meters
  • Binoculars 
  • + More!
Pair that with your used equipment purchase of $100.00 or more, and receive FREE FedEx Ground shipping!

Prices have already been discounted on the web, so the price you see is the price you pay.

To qualify for free shipping, simply place an order of $100.00 or more of qualifying used gear between Thursday, December 13 and Sunday, December 16 (promotion ends midnight Eastern time),and receive FREE shipping via FedEx Ground anywhere in the contiguous United States.  Qualifying international and expedited shipping orders will receive a credit of $9.95 towards shipping costs. 

Start saving today by visiting us on the web at www.keh.com, or by contacting our friendly & knowledgeable sales department (click HERE for hours & contact information).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Photos of the Month

All images submitted to and chosen from the KEH Camera Flickr Group pool. To view a photographer's profile or to enjoy a larger version of their photograph, click on the link below the image to be directed to their Flickr page.

Thank you to our Flickr members for the wonderful submissions. Please join our group, and your photograph might be featured in next month's post!





Monday, December 10, 2012

Traveling and Film Photography

This has been a busy year for me.  My photography has taken me all over the country, and even out of it.  I have been to Greece, South Carolina, Washington DC, Nevada, New York and Nashville!  I have definitely had my share of fun with the TSA.  Ever try to walk trough a TSA checkpoint with a giant loaded 16mm movie camera and battery pack? Not very much fun!

With my experience traveling, I have several tips on what you should prepare for when taking your gear with you on a trip.  However, this all depends on what kind of trip you’re going on and what you will be photographing.

Let's start with my trip to Greece.  My trip was for one month, and I was traveling with my friend.  We would be staying with his family and in small hotels.  The plan was to rent a car and to explore the tiny villages and seaside towns that dot the coast.  There was going to be a lot of walking and moving, so I didn’t want to carry more then I needed.  Also, I wanted to avoid having to lug a lot of extra weight around.  I packed one suitcase with my clothing, and then I used a travel backpack for my camera gear.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
I made my gear selection based on what I was going to be shooting.  For me, it was vistas and street scenes.  For that reason I picked my Hasselblad X-Pan.  It’s a panoramic rangefinder camera that shoots on 35mm film.  It’s light, small and easy to use.  I also wanted to have a portrait setup so I could take shots and create portraits of people I met in Greece.   For those types of shots, I took my Nikon F3 camera and 85mm f1.4 lens.  I also took my Canonet QL17 for a point and shoot camera.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
All of my gear fit in the bottom of my backpack, and I loaded the top of the bag with my film sealed in Ziploc bags.  I also packed a day kit of medicine, an extra shirt and pants.  Since I wouldn’t always have my suitcase with me, I wanted to be ready with both gear and living essentials no matter where I was.  With this backpack I walked and explored all over southern Greece.  My gear was light and easy to access, and I never had back pain.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
For film, I brought Kodak Ektar 100 and Portra 400.   I used the Kodak Ektar for my vista shots, and the Portra for my low light shots.  For slide film, I shot with Ektachrome 100 VS and Fuji Provia 100.  I also brought some Kodak Tri-X 400 black & white film for portraits.  All the film was taken out of their containers and placed in Ziploc bags.  I did this for the TSA.  I did not want my film scanned by the X-ray, so I simply passed the Ziploc bag with the film to the TSA officer.  I informed the TSA officer that I wanted a hand check of my film, as it was too sensitive to go through the X-ray.  I had no problems, and they were happy to oblige hand checking the film.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
This is not the same for all countries, but I have never had a problem in the United States.  In Greece, I was never required to walk through a checkpoint.  Every country is going to be different, so it’s usually a good idea to check out their security rules before you fly.  When I flew to Mexico to shoot a wedding, I was only allowed to bring two camera bodies.  If I had brought a third camera they would have assumed I was there to work, and I would have had to provide a working visa (which I don’t have).  Knowing what each country allows is as simple as calling their embassy.

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso
When traveling for weddings and corporate work here in the United States, I usually need all my gear.  For that reason, I travel with an airport security camera bag.  I can fit all my cameras, lenses and speed lights into the bag, and it fits into the overhead compartment of most airplanes.  

When I travel for work, my gear consists of:

* 2 Nikon F5 Camera Bodies
* Nikon 85mm f1.4 D Lens
* Sigma 28mm f1.8 Lens
* Nikon 35mm-70mm f2.8 Lens
* Nikon 180mm f2.8 Lens
* Hasselblad X-Pan Camera Body
* 3 Nikon SB-80DX Flashes
* Pentax 645 Camera Body
* Pentax 80mm f2.8 Lens
* Film

That all fits right into my rolling bag and I’m good to go!

Image courtesy of Joseph Prezioso

For every trip, I look at what I'm going to be shooting and try to figure out what the light going to be like.  For weddings, I generally bring plenty of Portra 400 film in 35mm and 220, as well as Kodak Tri-X 400 black & white film.  I also bring a slower speed film, such as Kodak Gold 200, Portra 160 or Ektar 100.  With that selection of film, I can shoot most weddings and events.  The Portra 400 is the most versatile of my travel film, as it can be shot from 200-1600 and yield awesome results.  If I shoot it over 800, I will have my lab push the film during processing to give me better shadow detail and contrast.

So what are you waiting for? Go plan a trip, grab your camera and go!

Contributor BioJoseph Prezioso is a professional photographer who has been shooting for over twelve years.  He went from shooting film, to 100% digital, and then back to film again. He says, "By trade I am a wedding photographer, I shoot over 30 weddings a year and this year they were all on film. My career started as a newspaper photographer though. I was 16 and like Jimmy Olsen. I learned on the streets shooting next to veteran photographers for the AP and Boston Globe (I worked for some weeklies, but I got to cover a lot of cool events that the big news guys covered too!). Film is something I have fallen in love with, it's the medium I learned on. Film will always be something special to me. It feels more versatile and creative in my hands than when I am using digital." 

Friday, December 7, 2012

10 Winter Photography Tips for Beginners

Joining us today is guest blog contributor Liz from ViewBug.com.  Liz is sharing some helpful winter photography tips for beginners, and a practical refresher for those that are more advanced.

1.  The cold may reduce your camera’s battery life. Keep your battery warm by placing it in your pocket or insulated camera bag before using it.  You may also consider packing a spare battery to use in case the one in your camera gets too cold.

2.  If you’re really serious about cold weather photography, consider a rugged memory card that is designed to withstand extreme cold and abuse, such as SanDisk’s Extreme memory cards.
Image courtesy of SanDisk
3.  Keep in mind that your camera’s LCD screen performance might be affected by freezing cold temperatures.  It may lose some contrast or color, or even slow down.  If it’s a touch screen, it could become a bit sluggish as well.

4.  Plan your glove options before heading out into the cold.  Consider wearing a thin pair of gloves that work with your camera under a thick pair of gloves that you take off once you begin shooting.  Depending on how often you shoot during winter months, you may want to invest in a specialized pair of gloves made specifically for cold weather photography.

5.  If you’re like me and you’ve taken lots of snapshots in the snow, you may have noticed that your shots are never as vibrant as you would like them to be. A quick tip is to bump up your exposure one or two stops to compensate. If you’re lucky to have blue skies and your camera has spot metering, you can get a reading from the sky before photographing the snow.

6.  With gray skies common in the winter, a filter may help liven a lackluster landscape. You may try experimenting with a neutral density or a polarizing filter.  If you’re more experienced with your DSLR, you may want to try a graduated neutral density filter. A graduated neutral density filter will darken the sky, while allowing the foreground to be properly exposed.
Image courtesy of Tiffen
7.  At sunrise or sunset, snow or frost can equal some cool colors and lighting.  Make sure to experiment at those times, as they offer great photographic opportunities.  If you encounter a snowy landscape, the moonlight reflecting off it can result in some interesting photos too.

8.  If you’re shooting action shots, like snowboarding or wildlife, you may be challenged with losing sunlight from clouds or shorter days. To combat this, try cranking up your ISO. If it’s snowing at the time, you may need to adjust the ISO even higher to avoid underexposed images.

9.  An important thing to consider in winter weather is condensation.  Condensation can fog up the inside of your lens, or even damage the electronics inside your camera. To avoid the risk, you’ll want to slowly raise or lower your gear’s temperature to match your environment.  While you may want to jump in and out of your warm house or car as fast as possible, your camera may need to take it slower! Try slowly adjusting the temperature in your car to transfer from your warm house to the cold outdoors and vice versa. You can even let your gear rest in an area warmer than outside, such as your garage, before bringing it inside.

10. To avoid the procedure from number 9, bring an airtight plastic bag (such as a large Ziploc) and seal your camera in it before going inside or outside. The bag will attract the condensation while your camera adjusts to the environment. Also, watch your breath! One gust of hot breath on your lens or viewfinder could equal an annoying cleaning delay.

I hope these tips help you before you head out into the cold. If you have any winter photography tips to add, please share them!

Contributor Bio:
Liz is a life-long DSLR amateur and blogger for social photography site ViewBug.com.  ViewBug is a comprehensive website for photographers where you can enter photo contests and share your images with their growing online community.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

KEH Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Do you have a camera lover or photo enthusiast on your holiday shopping list?  If so, KEH Camera can help!  Whether they are a beginner or a more seasoned shooter, we have some great stocking stuffer ideas for the photographer in your life.
  
* Filters:  Their use ranges from practical to artistic, and they make great gifts!  A UV filter will reduce haze & protect the front lens element, while a polarizing filter will enrich color saturation.  For more artistic projects, experiment with a soft focus, neutral density or B&W filter.

Tiffen 55mm Circular Polarizer Filter


* Caps: Whether it's for the front or rear of a lens, or for a camera body, any photographer will appreciate a set of caps to protect their gear.  Caps will help to prevent scratches and dust, and aid in keeping camera equipment in top shape.

Contax Front Lens Caps

* Lens Hoods: A lens hood is another practical gift idea, and an asset to any photographer.  A lens hood will prevent light from hitting the sides of the lens, which could create unwanted flare.  It also serves as additional protection for the lens.

Canon EW-73B Lens Hood

* Memory Cards: A must have for the digital shooter.  A spare memory card is always handy!

Transcend 8 GB SD Card

* Batteries:  An extra battery is a valuable accessory to have on hand.  It can save a lot of heartache and trouble, and is definitely a thoughtful gift for a photographer.

Nikon EN-EL3a Battery

* Camera Straps: Another useful accessory that ranges from practical to fashionable.  They come in a wide variety of colors, patterns and styles.  Above all, it safely holds your camera when you need to be hands free (or in the unfortunate situation that your camera slips from your hands).

Nikon Neck Strap


* Instruction Books: Manuals and instructions books are nice to have on hand for reference.  Plus, you might learn something about your gear that you didn't know!

Bronica RF645 Instruction Book

* Cases:  Every photographer can benefit from having accessories that allow them to safely protect or store their camera equipment.  A protective pouch for their lens, or a case for storing memory cards make unique stocking stuffer gifts.

Think Tank Lens Case

* Gift Certificates:  If you don't quite know what gear to buy for your photographer friend or relative, a KEH Camera gift certificate is always a good idea!  They are available for sale by phone with our sales department at (770) 333-4200.    

We hope these ideas help with your holiday shopping!