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Post Info TOPIC: Question For the Photographers Out There


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Question For the Photographers Out There


In my old age, I've become terribly interested in photography; but, I find I don't have even the elementary skills necessary to be good at this.  I greatly admire the beautiful pictures many of you post on your blogs and so I'd like to pick your brains..so to speak...about some things. 
I already have a camera (Canon Rebel XTi) but,
a.  what kind of lenses do you all use? do you use a general purpose lens (size?) or do you continually change lenses depending on what you want to shoot.
b.  do you use a tripod or monopod to stabilize the camera? these look awkward, are they generally user friendly?
c.  do you generally 'touch up' your photos with PhotoShop or other enhancing program?
Thank you all for any tips you care to share. 

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a. Since I use an all-in-one point and shoot (two of them actually), I use the only lens that comes with it.
b. I have a tripod and use it in low light situations, like the lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore or a lunar eclipse.  Mostly I hand hold.  But I have steady hands.  They also make really small tripods that are only about 1 foot high.
c. Sometimes I touch up.  I use Microsoft Picture It! mostly, though it is no longer available, and Photoshop Elements sometimes.  Photoshop is not for casual users, stay with Elements or something like Corel Paint.  Try Google's Picasa (free), it might do everything you need.

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I've also become quite interested in photography, mostly wildlife and especially birds. I've got the same camera you're using, but because of the birds, I use some telephoto lenses to be better able to capture them. Aside from the normal 18-55 kit lens, I also have the Canon 70-300 and I just bought a Tamron 200-500. With the telephotos it's difficult to hand hold and I use either a monopod with the 300, or a tripod with the 500.

I post process just about everything with Photoshop Elements, but am thinking of trying Picassa. It's a great hobby, especially when your traveling all the time, and digital makes it so easy to just shoot all you want and just erase the bad ones.

Fred

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I have a semi-professional photography business (mostly videography) and have been taking photos for 40+ years.

I use a tripod whenever possible to get the best clarity of shots. I have a variety of tripods and monopods from small asy to carry to top of the line heavy pro tripods. For travelling I have a tripod that folds down to a 1 foot to 2 inch around size, it can be strapped onto a daypack or my camera bag and is very light weight.

Or If I'm doing action type shooting I will use a monpod which also folds down to about 10inches.

I run all of my shots through photoshop elements and will usually only do some cropping or lightening of the photos. Once in awhile I have to do color correction or backlight fixes.

There is a noticeable difference between shots with a tripod versus hand held, especially in low light.

I use a Nikon D60 with a 80-300 electronic zoom lense for most outdoor stuff.

It's a fun hobby.

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Some of the things that help me are polarizing filters, lens hoods and tri/ mono pods. I've got two cameras that can fit filters, one is an "older" Fuji FinePix 3800, which is a 3.2 MP point and shoot and the other is a Nikon D80. In daylight, the polarization really make things like clouds stand out, and it makes colors richer, especially greens and blues. It's funny, because the pics from that 3.2 point and shoot look better than the two newer point and shoots I have, with much higher resolution. The difference between these cameras is that the Fuji has a lens hood and it allows me to fit a polarizing filter, like the Nikon DSLR, and it also has a through-the-lens viewer. I find that for me, I can compose better with TTL viewers.

I'll only post process if I need to alter the composition by cropping, or to lighten shadows. I never sharpen.

This was taken with the Fuji on a cloudy day with the hood and polarizing filter. The filter shows off the shine on the car with no glare. There is no post processing on this one.



All that being said, the best two tools at your disposal are light and your eyes. Pics taken early and late in the day are more pleasing to look at and good composition is key (neither of which I employed in this example aww.gif).



-- Edited by RangerPaul at 16:34, 2008-10-20

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Thanks so much to all of you....what a wealth of information.  I was also thinking about taking a class at a Vo-Tech School; but, friends advised me to save my money (for lenses & filters & other stuff) and just get out and shoot...that I would learn through trial and error..and practice.  I do have a couple of really good books that I'm plowinging through (and a DVD specific to my camera), and with the generous and gracious help from this forum, I think I'm going to like my new hobby.  Thank you all.

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What I have is a Nikon D300 with a Nikkor 18-200mm zoom lens.  It serves well as a general "walk-around" lens.  It allows me to get wider shots without having to back up a lot to get in all I want.

Regarding lenses, also look at the "f" factor rating on the lens.  A lower "f" number (say f2.8 versus f3.5) results in sharper images.  Also, keep a lens hood handy in the event you are shooting somewhat toward the sun so as to avoid "flares" on your images from the sun hitting the lens.

If using a telephoto, the farther out you zoom, the more you need a tripod or monopod, so having those are very helpful.  As others said, polarizing filters are helpful, but not always necessary.  Do as much research into filters as you can because not all filters really help except in specific shooting conditions.

Like many of the others, I do little post processing.  Some cropping and light adjusting is the majority of what I do.  I use Microsoft Digital Imaging Pro 7 (also no longer available - - Microsoft dropped all their photo packages a while back) and Photoshop Elements for what I do with processing.  It isn't "overly" expensive to buy, but very versatile to work with.

Not that you asked, but I'll mention one of my biggest weaknesses.  I have a lot of pictures of leaning lakes.  Meaning that I sometimes get so wrapped up in composing the image and taking in all I what that I forget to check my horizon for level.  But, in my defense, if I'm in the mountains, it is sometimes to have a flat horizon anyway.  Then one has to look at trees or structures to get a perspective of what is level or straight up and down.

Whatever you end up with, have fun.  Also, take criticism if it is constructive but ignore that from "uppity" people.  Everyone can be a critic.  I've long said that if one is willing to pay money for a picture to hang on their wall, they are a critic and thus able to choose as they like.


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I also have a lot of "leaning" pics. Luckily, in Picasa, I can straighten them out and noone has to know that I can't see straight!

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I have a Canon20D with several different lens. I was like you , when I got my slr I knew nothing and the lingo was all Greek to me. I found a book "Digital Photography" by Scott Kelby that helped me a lot. He does the book as if you are on a photo shoot with him and he is just answering your questions. He also is fairly entertaining. His book is how I began to understand what I am doing. It certainly isn't the definitive book on photography but it sure helped me in lots of ways. Since then I have gone on to take many photos some for $$, I hate to call myself a professional because I still feel like a newbie with lots to learn. Don't be afraid to look at some other brands of lens too. My workhorse lens is a Tameron 2.8, 28-75mm. I can do macro,portraits, and landscapes with that lens and it costs a lot less than the comparable Canon lens.

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This thread is so old, I've updated my equipment also. I bought another Canon body, this time the EOS450. I liked my Tamron 200-500 so much, that I went for a Tamron 18-270 for my general purpose walk around lens. I agree with you janieD that the Tamrons offer an awful lot of quality at substantial savings over the Canon lenses.

For any of you that are on Facebook, I have a number of albums with wildlife and birds up there.

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My husband has a Tips & Techniques on his pbase.com site - http://www.pbase.com/merriwolf/techniques

It may be of some help.

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Sandra wrote:

My husband has a Tips & Techniques on his pbase.com site - http://www.pbase.com/merriwolf/techniques

It may be of some help.



Yep, I've been to Gordon's site and that is some good stuff.  The rest of his site isn't bad either.


 http://www.pbase.com/merriwolf/


Terry



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Terry and Jo wrote:

Regarding lenses, also look at the "f" factor rating on the lens.  A lower "f" number (say f2.8 versus f3.5) results in sharper images. 


 This is patently untrue. You can shoot in lower light with a fast lens but F number has nothing specific to do with the sharpness of a lens, it's strictly the quality of the glass and the construction of the lens that affect sharpness. Please read this for more details.



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Terry and Jo wrote:

Regarding lenses, also look at the "f" factor rating on the lens.  A lower "f" number (say f2.8 versus f3.5) results in sharper images. 


Lot of good info here, but this is false. The speed of a lens has nothing specific to do with sharpness. The quality of the glass will determine that (retired newspaper shooter; worked for 30 years). Besides, how sharp does it have to be for 72dpi?

Fast lenses are great. I used them a LOT during my career. But the lower the F number, the better the glass has to be the the sturdier the construction has to be. In addition, fast lenses aren't very sharp at their widest aperture. They CAN be but the glass and construction (think pro gear) has to be superior in every way. But the same idea applies to ALL lenses.

 



-- Edited by Old_Man on Wednesday 14th of March 2018 07:49:42 PM

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Old_Man wrote:
Terry and Jo wrote:

Regarding lenses, also look at the "f" factor rating on the lens.  A lower "f" number (say f2.8 versus f3.5) results in sharper images. 


Lot of good info here, but this is false. The speed of a lens has nothing specific to do with sharpness. The quality of the glass will determine that (retired newspaper shooter; worked for 30 years). Besides, how sharp does it have to be for 72dpi?

Fast lenses are great. I used them a LOT during my career. But the lower the F number, the better the glass has to be the the sturdier the construction has to be. In addition, fast lenses aren't very sharp at their widest aperture. They CAN be but the glass and construction (think pro gear) has to be superior in every way. But the same idea applies to ALL lenses.

 



-- Edited by Old_Man on Wednesday 14th of March 2018 07:49:42 PM


 First of all, everyone keep in mind that this is a very old thread, so if responding to someone, be sure and check the date of the post you are responding to and check to see if that "person" is still an active member.  (See their profile by clicking on their username.  The info in the profile will state the last time they signed into the forums.)

As for an answer to Old Man, the lower f/number allows in more light, which may account for images being sharper.  On some of the photography forums that I frequent, a lot of the photographers (some are also professionals) do state that the image sharpness is affected by the f/number.  As for your question of "how sharp does it have to be for 72dpi, who says I'm interested in 72 at all?  I'm not photographing subjects for a newspaper.

Incidentally, I am not a professional photographer.  I refer to myself as a "serious, amateur photographer."  That means that I make no money with my photography, but I am willing to invest in very good equipment in order to get the best images that I can.  Also, I refer to my cameras as "very expensive point-and-shoot," as I generally take all photographs in the Program mode.

Terry



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I'd recommend this class when it opens again - get on the waiting list.  Video-based, gives you a good fundamental background with relevant homework lessons so you can put into practice what you learn.



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Terry and Jo wrote:
Old_Man wrote:
The same idea applies to ALL lenses.

 



-- Edited by Old_Man on Wednesday 14th of March 2018 07:49:42 PM


 First of all, everyone keep in mind that this is a very old thread, so if responding to someone, be sure and check the date of the post you are responding to and check to see if that "person" is still an active member.  (See their profile by clicking on their username.  The info in the profile will state the last time they signed into the forums.)

As for an answer to Old Man, the lower f/number allows in more light, which may account for images being sharper.  On some of the photography forums that I frequent, a lot of the photographers (some are also professionals) do state that the image sharpness is affected by the f/number.  As for your question of "how sharp does it have to be for 72dpi, who says I'm interested in 72 at all?  I'm not photographing subjects for a newspaper.

Incidentally, I am not a professional photographer.  I refer to myself as a "serious, amateur photographer."  That means that I make no money with my photography, but I am willing to invest in very good equipment in order to get the best images that I can.  Also, I refer to my cameras as "very expensive point-and-shoot," as I generally take all photographs in the Program mode.

Terry


 OK, 170 dpi. Big whoop. Anything more than that in a newspaper is wasted data. Even in color.

Clearly you didn't read the story. Because fast lenses aren't so fast wide open. Look at the edge sharpness. Yeah, I know, what edge sharpness? Wide open, anyway The premise just doesn't hold without extremely high-quality glass. There's a reason Nikon went to extra-low-dispersion (ED) glass. Their lower-quality telephoto lenses were lousy. I used 'em.

Honestly, I have no idea what they're doing now. I tend to ignore that stuff because I'm not a gearhead. I know some gear, but not the new stuff. I like older stuff. My gear is two D100 bodies, 24mm 2.8 manual focus; 35mm f2.8; 75-150 F3.5; 180mm F2.8; 80-300 f3.5-5.6 EDAF. I work with one short lens and usually the 75-150. The other thing I do is use the cameras on 'Manual,' all the time except for the big zoom. All other lenses are manual focus. I set the camera to manual exposure because I always set the camera to ISO 400 in daylight, and 800-6400 as the light wanes. 90 percent of the time I don't need a light meter. I just look at the light, shoot a test exposure (shooting digital is like shooting chromes) and start banging away. I don't shoot pro sports any more (thank doG) so I sold my big telephoto (400mm F3.5, manual focus)

In any event, again, f-number by itself is meaningless in terms of sharpness. I don't know who told you what they told you but I believe they're wrong. I also like the way you totally dismiss my 30 years in the biz. Thanks, Terry!



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I lighten but otherwise do not touch up. A good photograph is YOU, not the camera.

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Old Man,

I probably should have stated that differently.  I suspect that the lower f/number lenses would incorporate the better glass, thus leading to the sharper images.  And, I wasn't discounting your 30 years "in the business," but was simply stating that I don't do photography as a profession.  I do it because I like taking pictures of nature, wildlife, and scenic shots.  And, while I don't print very many images myself, when I do they are at a higher dpi than even your reference to 170.

While "not in the business," I have been taking pictures since 1964, then I got into film SLR's in 1967.  I finally went to digital in 2000, and with every digital camera purchase, I went more expensive than most people would.  I then got back into SLR's (digital) in 2007.  I'm now at 3 Nikon SLR bodies, 5 Nikkor lenses, with the hope and plans of buying one more lens within the next 6 months to a year, finances willing.

I'm also NOT a technical photographer.  As mentioned before, I shoot in program mode and pay much more attention to composure and angles instead of f/stops and ISO.

I'm also quick to tell folks that one doesn't have to have expensive cameras to take good photos.  I follow Ansel Adams' quote, "There are no rules for good photographs; there are only good photographs."  And, like LarryW21, I don't do much post processing other than a bit of lightening and occasionally, a bit of cropping to remove a distraction.

Terry



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Since this thread has been resurrected, I'll throw in a few things I've learned/observed over the years...

Some of my best photos were taken as a kid in the '60s with a Kodak folding camera that took 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 negatives on 620 film (light meter optional and hand held). The photos were better than many of my later shots because I had to use the Redwing lens built into the camera (a lot of walking and climbing in Redwing boots) and only got a dozen shots per roll. This made me pay a LOT more attention to location, angle, light, framing, etc. As my cameras and shoes improved, we often referred to a 35mm SLR with a "Nike zoom" (a normal 50 - 55mm lens with a good pair of Nikes).

In parallel to the higher-end 35mm SLRs I was able to afford in the '70s and '80s, I also carried a medium format SLR (Kowa 6 - which Old Man might recognize). There were some really nice landscapes and portraits taken with that old thing. I still have it to display with my vintage camera collection when we're back in a stix 'n brix.

By the time I finally made the move to DSLRs (was shooting weddings and events for pay at the time), people older and wiser than me had taught me to put my money into glass and buy bodies with what was left over. That was very good advice. Before we hit the road, I sold my lighting equipment, backdrops, darkroom equipment (hadn't been used in years), and nearly all the other stuff. What I'm left with is a full-frame Canon DSLR, a couple of Canon L series zooms, an 85mm portrait lens, and a couple of good flashes (I may have kept my FlipFrame and off-camera shoe in case I'm asked to photograph a wedding for a friend or grandkid).

Now - after all this - the vast majority of the photos on my laptop from the past two years were taken with my Canon G-13 "professional point-and-shoot" or my Samsung Galaxy phone. As the famous marine photographer Peter Barlow said, "The best camera is the one you have with you" (or something to that effect). He kept an old half-frame under the seat of his car, if I remember correctly. I picked up what kit I have left out of storage our last time through and I intend to start taking some deliberate photos again... but we all know about intentions. The bottom line is this: it's not so much about the gear that you use but what you do with it. A few art concepts like the rule of thirds and, on the people side, learning (harder for men than for women) to anticipate emotions in people you are photographing, have made me a better photographer than my expert understanding of lighting, exposure, F-stops vs. shutter speeds, depth of field, chromatic aberration, edge sharpness, internal refraction, resolution, and all that "stuff." Read, learn, and do what you enjoy.

Rob

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LarryW21 wrote:

I lighten but otherwise do not touch up. A good photograph is YOU, not the camera.


 I know. I was there.



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LarryW21 wrote:

I lighten but otherwise do not touch up. A good photograph is YOU, not the camera.


 Depends on what you want. As a practical matter...every digital photo needs some post processing and gets it. If you get jpg images out of the camera they have been post processed by the cameras jpg algorithm and are not what the sensor saw. If you shoot RAW then you don’t get in camera post processing and you need to do it yourself.

Once you get the image to the processing device...and for heavens sake any halfway serieours photog should not be in Program or Auto modes...learn to use those dials and control shutter, aperture and ISO to get the base image you want...full mNual isn’t necessary but an understanding of the variables is...anyway you process the image to be what you want. 

The eye will always see more dynamic range than any camera...so do you want the photo to look like what your eyes saw? If so...post process it that way. Do you want to see more of the original dynamic range...then add a little HDR. Do you want to make the golden hour quality of the light a little more prominent? Again...post process that way. 

About the only reasons to not post process are for journalistic accuracy or if the photo is going to a contest that doesn’t allow post processing... it as I said a camera jpg is post processed in the camera and a RAW can’t be submitted to the newspaper or contest as is. The rule against PP for contests is to prevent insertion of say an eagle other branch into the image...not that it’s a bad image but it’s not based solely on the camera data. Contests with a blanket no PP requirement don’t really understand how digital cameras and jpg algorithms work. 

A good image is a good image...very few photogs can get a contest worthy image straight from a camera jpg...and while I’m all for realism I want my photos to tell the story I want to tell. Suppose you got this brilliant shot of an eagle 2 inches above the fish in the river. Might be a winner except for the beer can floating 2 feet away. So you crop or clone the can away...doesn’t change the shot and it goes from Delete to Winner. Have you lied or manufactured an image? Of course not...any more than if you had been steady enough to zoom in a bit tighter on the bird in flight and not capture the beer can in the first place. Unfortunately...nobody is good enough to keep the eagle in his stoop in the frame with his 500mm lens at the full size of the image...our reflexes just ain’t that good...so we zoom out a bit and half fill the frame which is more doable and then crop. 



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All I can say is that people take photographs for various reasons, thus they may have different needs for how they use their equipment.  For instance, I do not care to work at getting "artistically" correct photos.  I am taking pictures of subjects because I want images of them.  More times than not, I may be the only one looking at those photos in years to come.  Many times, I am taking photos of places that I may never be at again, thus I take lots of pictures.  Taking the time to adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc gets in the way of taking more pictures.

In addition, failing to remember how one last set their camera can lead to some disastrous results.  I have a number of photos that I took while driving up Pike's Peak a few years ago.  I forgot that I had previously been taking photos in a museum, thus I had the camera's white balance set for the appropriate light sources.  All of those Pike's Peak photos turned out blue in hue.  Even my imaging software won't correctly fix those photos.

So, I will continue to use my cameras in Program mode.  I don't worry about post processing in most cases, and I sure don't want to have to sit down and "manipulate" raw images all night.  And yes, I am serious about my photography, as one could tell if they knew what equipment I had.

Terry



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Shooting in RAW would allow you to easily fix the blue Pikes Peak photos. I shoot 95% of the time in aperture preferred, manual ISO based on light level but as low as possible and let the camera pick shutter speed although I do watch that in the viewfinder so it doesn’t get too low and cause camera shake. It doesn’t take all night to manipulate the images either. My bride and I shot almost 500 frames at the swamp sanctuary Friday and while it did take an hour or so to import them into Lightroom I was outside grilling steaks while that happened. Then I spent maybe an hour and a half while watching TV to select and process the 47 I put into the blog...with most of them taking less than a minute to process and crop. I did spend 4-5 minutes on a few of the better shots to make them better. A little practice with the camera controls will teach you to quickly change settings without taking your eyes off of the viewfinder.

Taking the time to adjust things in camera will give you better shots...as I said if you use manual ISO and aperture preferred you can adjust for the depth of field this particular shot needs and let the camera pick an appropriate shutter speed. WB I leave in auto. It that’s becUse if you shoot RAW instead of jpg you can adjust it later if need be. I also use single point focus with back button focus...which again results in the shot I want instead of what the camer thinks is best. 

Shooting in Program gives you snapshots rather than photos you would want to hang on the wall IMO. No offense if you just want snapshots... but if you do just get  point and shoot or use your phone And don’t waste money on expensive equipment and not use it.  

You don’t have to do it all at once...but give taking it out of Auto a try...you will find that with a little practice you will get better photos without any more effort...even if you shoot jpg and never post process anything. Ask yourself what you want from a shot...is it a landscape where you want everything to infinity in focus or a flower that needs the billboard behind it blurred it. Is it a waterfall and you want to freeze the water drops or do you want that nice smooth flowing water effect. 

Nothing wrong with a snapshot...I take a few myself...but mostly I want shots to remember where I was and that I’m proud to show people. We’ve all been the audience where a guy showed his his 350 slides from his vacation with little biddy people in the  foreground squinting in the sun and a barely visible in the background Grand Canyon that isn’t very impressive to look at. 

Artistically correct is in the eye of the beholder I guess...but wouldn’t it really be better 10 years from now to have a better looking shot of Bryce Canyon or the Zion Narrows on the wall instead of just a perhaps poorly exposed snapshot?



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Interesting. Years ago I stopped using my SLR, the film kind, since I did not like carrying it and its lenses with me everywhere. I had bought a small point and shoot and found I would carry it everywhere. Once digital cameras came out I have bought many of them and none had interchangeable lenses. I have no need to blow up my photos and hang them on the wall. Right now I carry a Panasonic superzoom, which optically goes from the 35mm equivalent of 20 to 1200. I do know how to change settings and I do carry a circular polarize filter. I take lots of photos and many I show them to think I do a good job.

When our taking photos most people I see are using their phones and sometimes getting frustrated since the phone camera is not good at taking telephoto shots. Most of the others are using a DLSR (or mirrorless) with whatever lens they thought they needed for the day. If they picked a big telephoto they might pull out their phone to take a closeup, since they might not have a close up lens with them or don't want to hassle with changing. If they only brought a smaller lens they often whine that they should have brought their big telephoto or maybe they should buy one. Only a very few interchangeable lens user bring a camera bag with a selection of lenses. Ten years ago lots more had DLSRs and brought camera bags, so I don't know why I see the bags less and less. I do see others like me, with superzooms and birders seem to like the Nikon P900 with its 83X zoom, though I find it too big and have not bought one.

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Bill,

As mentioned earlier, I went digital in 2000, primarily with point and shoot cameras.  A couple of Kodaks, followed by a Nikon Coolpix 5700.  The Coolpix was what I was using when we did an Alaskan cruise and land tour in 2005.  While it was a good camera, it was limited on optical zoom, enough so that pictures of sea lions on a rocky shore were very blurred.  I couldn't hold still well enough to get good clear pictures with them so far away.

After the cruise, I was perusing Pbase and did a search for Alaskan cruises and found the photographs of another gentleman that was on the exact same cruise as we were.  His photos were excellent and sharp, so I went to checking what kind of camera equipment he was using.  He was using a Canon 20D with a lens that could do 300mm.  That is when I determined that I was going to go back to SLR's.  I've been a lot happier since then.

But, I do carry the equipment with me.  Here in Utah, I've been going around with two cameras around my neck, a wide angle zoom in a case around my neck, and occasionally with a backpack carrying two more lenses and the third camera.  I've found the backpack serves well as a counterbalance for the two cameras around my neck and in front of me.

Terry



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“so do you want the photo to look like what your eyes saw?”

Neil and Connie, yes!

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LarryW21 wrote:

“so do you want the photo to look like what your eyes saw?”

Neil and Connie, yes!


 In that case...post processing the image after shooting it in RAW is required. There are many options for doing this...none are free that I know of but several are relatively low cost...and the training needed is minimal and available for free online. The second thing after that is to get the camera out of Auto or Program. Adjust some of the settings to meet your needs for what you want this photo to do and let the camera help with the some of the settings. Again...recommendations for this are all over the map but are inline and one just needs to figure out what works best for the individual. I will put my camera in Auto if needed...like when I’m handing it to somebody to take a shot of us in front of something...but that’s a pretty rare photo for me...I already know what we look like. 

Im actually surprised that Terry...who is serious enough to use a DSLR, carry lenses and use multiple bodies...doesn’t post process or use semi-automatic modes to get shots the way he wants them



-- Edited by Neil and Connie on Tuesday 20th of March 2018 07:18:32 AM



-- Edited by Neil and Connie on Tuesday 20th of March 2018 07:20:55 AM

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OK quickie question here if I may from someone wanting to improve the quality of their photo memories.

For someone like me (not a clue on which camera is the best option), that doesn't wish to become a professional photographer or have the inconvenience of carrying around a lot of extras, but would like nice crisp clear photos for the most part with a reasonable amount of zoom to achieve that (wildlife shots).

In today's technological age, what would you recommend for handy to take with you always, better than a smart phone camera, and idiot proof to actually take the photos and then same idiot proof to upload to your laptop, and do I need a special program to achieve that or will just regular MAC Photos suffice?

Much appreciated,

SD.



-- Edited by Someday on Wednesday 21st of March 2018 12:50:26 PM

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Someday wrote:

OK quickie question here if I may from someone wanting to improve the quality of their photo memories.

For someone like me (not a clue on which camera is the best option), that doesn't wish to become a professional photographer or have the inconvenience of carrying around a lot of extras, but would like nice crisp clear photos for the most part with a reasonable amount of zoom to achieve that (wildlife shots).

In today's technological age, what would you recommend for handy to take with you always, better than a smart phone camera, and idiot proof to actually take the photos and then same idiot proof to upload to your laptop, and do I need a special program to achieve that or will just regular MAC Photos suffice?

Much appreciated,

SD.



-- Edited by Someday on Wednesday 21st of March 2018 12:50:26 PM


What you want on the lower end of the budget is one of the point and shoot compacts with the longish zoom…I don't follow that market specifically but take a gander at https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/buying-guide-best-enthusiast-long-zoom-cameras or perhaps https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/buying-guide-best-cameras-under-500 and see what you like depending on budget. You're going to want something with a lens that goes from say 20mm at full 35mm equivalent focal length out to at least 200mm equivalent so that you'll be able to see the bird instead of just a dot. One of the major vendors…Canon I believe…has one with something like a 50x zoom capability out to 700 or 900mm equivalent or something similar. It really depends on what you want to photo…if you are interested in birds and wildlife then you'll want a longer zoom then if you're interested in canyons and mountains or flowers.

One of the lower end DSLR or mirrorless models with a single zoom lens would also work…but that will be a bit more expensive…and what you get is largely budget driven. If I was starting all over I would give the mirrorless models a serious look…with their APC sized sensor they still give great image quality albeit with a simpler mechanical construction than a DSLR has…which makes them smaller and lighter even though they look very similar to a DSLR…but they have no mirror and an electronic rather than optical viewfinder. Combined with a nice telephoto zoom it's a great combo. 

I'm currently shooting a Nikon D7500 and have 3 lenses…an 18-300mm (which is 27-450mm equivalent) is my walking around lens and is used for probably 90% of my non bird/wildlife shots. I've also got a Sigma 50-500 (75-750 equivalent) long tele for really reaching out and a Sigma 10-20 (15-30 equivalent) for wide angle landscapes and waterfall shots. I don't usually carry the long Sigma on hikes as it weighs almost 6 pounds and requires me to carry the 5 pounds of tripod to go along with it unless I figure we'll see wildlife/birds or it's a shorter hike. I've found the 18-300 to be the perfect walking around lens…at least for me.

On the. software side…Photos on the Mac is pretty limited…but it has the advantage of being free. I use a combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop on their Photographers Bundle and costs me 120 a year via Amazon. If that's too much…then Luminar 2018 from http://skylum.com is under a hundred bucks for a perpetual license and does a pretty good job of managing and editing your photos. It's not the fully featured library manager that Lightroom is (yet) but that feature is promised this year and Skylum has been pretty good about meeting their promises. Luminar comes with a bunch of presets for enhancing photos as well as individual slider type adjustments that you can play with. For now…you would just have to copy the photos manually from the camera card to your Mac (making sure you have backups and all that stuff) and then use Luminar to enhance them…I imagine the upcoming manager functions will largely duplicate what Lightroom does except Luminar is aimed at amateurs with smaller libraries to worry about.

You can do it with Photos…but for anybody that's seriously interested in getting the best output they can will likely find Photos pretty limiting.

Also…once you get whatever you do get…read the manual and at least consider taking the camera out of Auto or Program. Learn a bit about what ISO, aperture, and shutter speed do and how they relate…and more importantly when and why you want to increase or decrease them. Learning a bit about what the difference between an ISO 100 photo and an ISO 6400 photo…and why they're different…allows you to intelligently choose those options while still using the automatic exposure calculations in the camera to keep from having to do it all yourself.

For instance…I almost always shoot landscapes at ISO 100 or 125 and wildlife/birds at ISO 400 (or higher depending on light levels) to get the faster shutter speeds you need to freeze the motion. I use back button focus (where focusing happens separately from clicking the shutter button) to decouple the focus from the shutter actuation action…and shoot about 90% of my shots in aperture preferred mode…i.e., I select the aperture and the camera selects the right shutter speed based on the aperture, selected ISO, and light levels. I still look at the shutter speed readout in the viewfinder and ensure that it's short enough for the shot in question based on movement of the subject and focal length I've selected…but otherwise I don't care if it's 1/1000 or 1/1500 or a second. For my favorite shots after birds (waterfalls)…I use a tripod and slow shutter speeds like 0.5 to 2 seconds along with a low ISO and a very small aperture like f22 to let the water flow and blur during the shot rather than freezing the drops…that way I get the nice flowing quality I'm looking for. Still in aperture preferred though…and still using back button focusing and choosing exactly what to put the focus point on for the best possible result based on what I want.

If you want to discuss this in more detail offline…feel free to drop me a PM with your email and we can continue offline…or here on the forum if that's your preference…I'm good either way.



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SD,

First of all, Neil knows a lot about the technical aspect of taking photos.  As I explained earlier, I prefer to go Program mode and let the camera do the work, so if you are interested in technical details, pay attention to Neil.  As for me, I explained how I take pictures in an earlier post, but I didn't mention that I tend to take LOTS of photos, so I don't have any desire to have to do post processing of LOTS of photos.

As to cameras, if you go with a point and shoot camera, look also at what the manufacturer states about their camera's zoom capability.  They may speak of "optical" and "digital" zoom.  Optical zoom is accomplished by the actual "glass" of the lens and will provide the clearest of photos.  When one gets into digital zoom, then the camera begins to calculate how the image is to look instead of relying on the glass in the lens.  One other person told me that the camera is then "averaging" the data that it sees and adjusts accordingly.  When we took an Alaskan cruise and land tour in 2005, I was using a Nikon Coolpix 5700 which had pretty good optical zoom.  However, I found that when I had to go into digital zoom, my pictures suffered badly.

After the cruise, I ran across a gentleman's pictures on Pbase that I found was on the very same cruise that we were.  When near Skagway, the ship's captain took us to where Sea Lions were reported on the rocks of the shore.  All of my photos ended up being fuzzy, but that gentleman's photos were clear and great and he was using a Canon 20D and at least a 300mm lens.  That is when I decided that I had to get back to SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses.  By the way, Pbase is very good (at least for me) at giving an individual an idea of the capability of a camera.  On the Pbase website, there is a link to "Cameras," where one can research a camera that has one's interest.  One can click Brand name and when the next page comes up, one can click on the specific model of camera.  The nice thing about Pbase images is that the images in the "Cameras" section are taken by all types of photographers, both amateur and professional.  If one is looking at sample images on a camera manufacturer's website, it is likely those pictures were all taken by professionals.  When I use Pbase, I am always looking at the fine details like the clarity of a bird's feathers or someone's hair.  Oh, and the Pbase Camera feature also lets one see the photos taken with specific models of lenses as well.

As Neil spoke of, one doesn't have to spend huge amounts for a camera body if they go with the digital SLR's.  In fact, many suggest investing most of one's money into the lenses.  I'm just the odd duck with that philosophy at times.  None of my cameras or lenses were cheap, which necessitated adding to my "inventory" over time.  Also, all my cameras and lenses are Nikon and Nikkor brand.

As for software, since I do very little in the way of post processing, I'll leave that topic to Neil and others.  All I will say is that I am using Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 for what little I do in post processing.

Good luck with your research, and I sincerely hope you really get to enjoy the hobby of photography.  Incidentally, I refer to it as a hobby because in spite of relatives telling me I should be a professional photographer, I couldn't bring myself to do that for a living and risk losing the fun of taking photos.

Terry



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Neil and Terry thanks for that info. It's a bit late here right now but I'll be sure to digest and research in due course. Like I said not looking to become an expert just take photos worth looking at the memories of in the future :)

Thanks again.

SD.

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I guess I need to step back in since I use a superzoom or bridge camera. There are two types of these, the "enthusiast long zoom cameras" that Neil put up a link for and the type I use, with more zoom but using a smaller sensor and not as high a price. dSLRs and mirrorless cameras will use either an APS sized sensor or a 35mm sensor (called full frame), with the APS being smaller. An enthusiast camera will use a sensor closer to APS size, while a normal bridge or superzoom camera will use a sensor that is smaller. Smartphones sensors are much smaller. The smaller the sensor the less details will come out well, so if you print a smartphone photo at 16x20 and compare it to my Panasonic FZ80 superzoom, you will most likely see some differences. But with a smaller sensor your zoom lens will go further. It all depends on what you want and can afford. 

My view, obviously, is to get something more compact and affordable to start. If you buy a $250 camera and find it was not enough camera for you, you can carry it in the car as a spare. My camera retails for about $400. If you look at the camera review sites, you are dealing with people who want the largest sensors and think a camera body under $500 is cheap, so having a $1300 Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV as their choice of enthusiast long zoom cameras is understandable. Their second choice, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100, is more affordable at $550. 

https://www.techradar.com/news/photography-video-capture/cameras/best-bridge-camera-1259503 covers the type of camera I use the best, but these are all $400 retail or higher.  



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Terry and Jo wrote:

SD,

As for me, I explained how I take pictures in an earlier post, but I didn't mention that I tend to take LOTS of photos, so I don't have any desire to have to do post processing of LOTS of photos.


 Neither do I...I only process the ones I’m going to actually use. For instance, Connie and I shot about 500 frames T Corkscres Swamp Sanctuary the other morning...it was right after dawn in the woods and Program or Auto would have resulted in maybe a half dozen decent shots at best. Judicious application of ISO along with aperture preferred and minding the shutter speed gave me about 100 pretty good ones that were considered for processing and the 45ish that ended up in the blog I spent maybe 30-45 minutes processing while watching TV. The night heron eating the fish I was glad I had 25 frames to choose from...pick the best shots for focus and process-ability and then choose the best pose of the bird from those shots to get the 2 I actually put in the blog. Once you’ve done it a half dozen times the processing gets pretty routine and quick  

With the limited light available and the shadow and sunlit portions of the swamp...along with moving birds Program wouldn’t have worked. And with no processing I would have only had 5 or 10 shots worth publishing and they would have only been adequate at best instead of good. 

I use the semi auto modes tbough...full manual is too hard for moving subjects  usually it’s “set the ISO“ to start and then aperture preferred to allow me to choose the depth of field needed for this shot and pay attention a bit so the shutter speed doesn’t get too slow for the motion and or focal length  

Not trying to change what works for you...but a little processing would drastically increase your number of keepers. 



-- Edited by Neil and Connie on Thursday 22nd of March 2018 09:52:18 AM

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Ha, Neil.  I hardly ever delete photos.  We've done quite a bit of traveling with family and thus, I have taken a lot of snapshots from moving vehicles.  Those where my timing was off and I ended up with a tree/bush right in the middle of the frame generally get deleted.  Almost all others are keepers.

Primarily, I take photos to put on photo sharing websites so that I can share my photos with friends on different forums and with family and friends that just want to see where we have been.  I never had much in the way of statistics when I was on Photobucket, but after changing to Smugmug, they provide statistics.  In just over 9 months of time on Smugmug, I've uploaded just under 13,000 photos and there have been over 137,700 "views" on the site.  So, someone must be out there enjoying my photos.  Almost as much as I have going out and taking the photos.

Terry



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“but would like nice crisp clear photos for the most part with a reasonable amount of zoom to achieve that (wildlife shots).“

It’s not the equipment, it’s your eyes.

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When it comes to exposure, I'm on manual. Always. I shot so much Tri-X I can do ISO 400-6400 without thinking. I like shutter speed, the faster the better. The old sports shooter in me insists. I still have my vest from Super Bowl XXIII. :D

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I don’t delete many either... I only publish the good ones and have a lot that are either just ok or have other flaws that the better ones don’t. Rarely I have to publish a just ok one if it was the only one I got. 

I wish all mine were keepers...what can I say... you must be doing a better job taking them than I am. Like RVing...there are many ways to do the picture thing and like Howard says...none of them are wrong. 



-- Edited by Neil and Connie on Tuesday 27th of March 2018 06:47:59 AM

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No, Neil, I don't have a lot of good keepers.  Many would simply be considered snapshots and not "top quality" images that others could consider in that realm.  However, I take pictures to share and thus I post thousands of them out onto my Smugmug site so people can see what I saw when I visited places.  Many times, I take multiple images of the same general subject but change the perceptions some in composure by moving right or left, turning to portrait mode instead of landscape, and sometimes a "variation" makes a better picture for one person or another.

I don't limit myself to what I go see, so I don't limit others as to what they see in my pictures.  They can see all the good and the bad.

Oh, and speaking of "bad," I must have one leg shorter than the other because a lot of my pictures of leaning lakes, oceans, and ponds, and we all know that is a violation of physics.

Terry



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