Auto ISO .. Nikon or Canon

Of course one of the most irritating things with Canon cameras is the way they set their auto ISO speed which is something you use all the time .. In Nikon it is the logical choice .. auto ISO tries to get a shutter speed >= 1/focal length with a pre-set minimum .. so if I use a 200mm it is 1/200+ .. if I set the minimum as 1/60sec and I use a 16mm lens then it won’t drop below 1/60 to 1/20 for example .. in Canon it is not the case .. they use an obscure algorithm and so it is very random and has no relation to the focal length you are using which is absolutely crazy and goes against all photography rules .. but Canon users have got used to living with it by setting a maximum and minimum ISO and minimum shutter .. this obviously is not good because if I set a minimum 1/60 for a 70-200mm lens I may end up with 1/60 at 200mm because the camera thinks so ..

 

Something else Nikon does well with auto ISO is that it sets Auto ISO to be up to 2 stops either quicker or slower than the focal length .. i.e. if you have VR and want a slower shutter speed than 1/FL you can have 1/100 @ 200mm or the opposite 1/400 or 1/1000 at 200mm if you are shooting something moving .. this doesn’t exist in Canon .. you have no control over what Auto ISO is at all and that is a major flaw that people keep moaning about all the time ..

 

The third thing is that inspite of Auto ISO .. if you are in A or S modes you can still vary the other variable i.e. A in S or S in A just by turning the main dial to vary the ISO without having to press any ISO buttons as well .. so it is the opposite variable on the opposite dial always .. and that is very useful and quick because you don’t have to take your eyes off your target you just turn one of the dials and hey presto the other variable changes .. so if I am at f4 and the speed according to Auto ISO is 1/200 and I want it to be 1/1000 I just turn the dial and I have high speed .. this is not in Canon either .. so Nikon cameras have better practical controls that you use all the time .. they are extremely user friendly once you go deeper than the shell or the skin as they say ..

 

Also, if you use Manual Aperture and Shutter then Auto ISO sets in to keep the exposure right for the set A/S .. i.e. if it becomes cloudy or sunny during the shoot yet I want all the pictures to be f4 and 1/60 then the ISO varies to keep the exposure right for these settings as much as possible .. of course if you set it in cloudy weather and becomes suddenly sunny or the opposite then you will have to change your basic settings .. but it is important if you are shooting a group of photos and want them all to have the same DOF and speed for the same look and effect .. Canon does not do that in Manual .. in manual you have to set your ISO as well .. So whether 6D, 5D or 1Dx they are all the same irritating settings .. baseline I would like to have a Nikon camera with a Canon L lens ??

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Cleaning Nikon D600

I cleaned my Nikon D600 sensor for the first time since December 2012 when I bought it. I am aware of the talk about the self-generated dust, and that was the case here. It started appearing almost immediately. I followed the advice of leaving it to around 2500 shots when it usually stops happening before cleaning the sensor. I used a light loop with a side opening. The dust was easily removed with an anti-static brush only. I did not need to use any of the other gadgets I have nor did I need to do a wet clean. I will let you know if it would start collecting dust again.

Idea, design and composition

We agreed that design and composition are the hallmarks of photography .. and without them you end up with record photos or worthless photos.

I think that we tend to confuse three things .. ideas, design and composition .. where idea is the story, design is how to tell it, while composition is how to tell it well ..

So I have an idea .. I may be reading about the artistic effects of using perspective, driving across the country and see a scene that stops me, or I want to do a study about poverty .. the list is endless, from the mundane to the abstract .. I would then have to design how to tell the story .. still life, street photography, studio work, and so on .. and based on this choice I would choose my equipment .. and the last bit would be the composition .. i.e. shooting the scene using the equipment and technique most suitable ..

So for example .. the other day I wanted to photograph a historic site, that is always full of people, especially at the time of the day when the light was most appropriate for photographing it. I wanted an angled frontal shot with perspective that would show the glory and tell the story of the place, with no or very few or blurred people .. I decided to shoot just before sunset (site front is west facing), using long shutter speeds to ghost out the moving people (I needed a -8 or more ND filter), a tripod, and a shutter release. I set my tripod and camera at a place where I could get these angled frontal shots with perspective, using a wide angle lens. I took some shots on a clear day, with hard low sunlight, producing some harsh shadows. I also shot others on an overcast day, with diffuse light and little or no shadows. I used different shutter speeds and apertures to get as many shots as I can, so I can later choose the best ones .. Some shots (20-30 seconds) showed no people (completely ghosted out) and others had people in slow motion.

Studying what I did carefully you realise that the first step was the idea: photographing the site front, angled and with a perspective (ideally without people, few people, or blurred people) .. then the design: long stutter speed with ND filters and tripod and a wide angle .. then the composition: frontal with perspective using a wide angle lens and different shooting angles and positions, and different shutter speeds and apertures .. At the end of the day I chose only one photograph that I felt was good and fulfilled my idea and vision .. it was what I saw in my mind to start with, and was then physically produced, for me and others to see ..

So have a story, decide how to tell it, and tell it well .. Idea, design and composition

That’s how you make a good photo

Calibrating lens to camera

Is this really a useful thing to do .. ??

Both Canon and Nikon have this facility in their higher end bodies under different names; AF Microadjustment in Canon and AF Fine-Tune in Nikon.

If pictures from your camera, lens or combination are lacking proper focus, it may be that camera, lens, or both are causing front or back focusing.

Common sense dictates making sure that any focusing problems are investigated to make sure that it is well and truly a problem that requires at least fine tuning, or if more serious sending the camera or lens back for servicing or exchange.

Rumours about quality control for cameras and lenses indicate they would pass the test as long as any focusing variations fall within the depth of field at a given focal length, aperture and focal distance.

All said .. if you find that your lens is either front or back focusing enough at a given focal length, aperture and distance (usually longest focal length in zoom, wide open, and at the minimal focusing distance as DOF is shallowest) then fine-tuning or micro-adjustment is going to be helpful.

From several resources on the internet I gathered the following, and others may differ;
1- Calibrate a zoom using the longest focal length (the tele end of the zoom range)
2- Use the maximum aperture (wide open)
3- Use 25-50x focal length in mm as testing distance between camera and target
4- Use tripod, mirror-up and remote shutter release
5- If you print your own target sheet, do it on inkjet and not laser
6- Do 3 shots per adjustment
7- Do +/- adjustments and keep doing this until you narrow down your adjustment
8- Use JPEG’s or RAW without any adjustments
9- Use a standard target (DataColor© SpyderLensCal© or Michael Tapes Design© LensAlign©)
10- Use computer software (Michael Tapes Design© FocusTune© or Reikan© FoCal©) to decide the best adjustment value
11- Target chart should be contrasty, well illuminated and dead square and parallel to the camera/sensor
12- Set focus to central point and single autofocus after manually focusing at the centre of the target
13- Between shots, set the lens focus to infinity
14- Set image stabilisation off
15- Set ISO to lowest possible for best results

Remember that only one sample of a certain lens can be registered in the camera at any one time, and that the adjustment is saved in the camera. Also, if all the lenses register the same result, it is probably the camera body that needs to be adjusted for all the lenses.

I have to say that I have not tried this complete setup myself yet .. but tried the cheap way .. using a printed focus target sheet on a wall and also tried it on a floor or table with camera at 45 degrees, and I failed on both occasions to achieve a result that would produce better focused and sharper photos in real life after the calibration. I went out with my camera and shot handheld and on tripod real life shots with and without calibration and I have to say I have not seen an improvement .. so maybe the cheap way is not valid or reliable and maybe the more methodical way stated above would be more useful .. I would certainly be interested in hearing from regular photographers who have done that and noticed an improvement .. So please let me know your experiences before I go out to buy all this kit!!

Here are some internet resources ..

http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2011/af_microadjustment_article.shtml#page1
https://nikoneurope-en.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/51633/~/how-to-use-the-af-fine-tune-function
http://www.canonrumors.com/tech-articles/this-lens-is-soft-and-other-myths/

35mm lens on a cropped frame

When I bought my first APS-C sensor DSLR I wanted to buy my first prime lens.

I was told 35mm lens is equivalent to standard normal view 50mm on a 35mm sensor .. and the 50mm will be the equivalent of 75mm ..

I therefore bought the 35mm just to get the surprise of my life .. the 35mm lens did not behave like a 50mm when it came to perspective and distortion .. it kept its usual wider angle perspective .. just being cropped meant the image appeared as if it was more zoomed in due to the cropping ..

I returned the 35mm lens straight away and replaced it with a 50mm that behaved as expected exactly like a 50mm lens and not a 75mm when it came to perspective and DOF .. only the DOF was more deeper compared to the same lens and aperture on a full frame as it took the same shot from further away !!

Full-Frame or not

The ultimate in photography is not full frame sensor cameras of course .. they are the medium format or large format cameras .. However, for all practical purposes and as the 35mm full frame sensor cameras are the mainstream format and are still affordable albeit expensive .. our discussion will be between 35mm full frame sensors and smaller sensors in DSLR’s and other smaller interchangeable lens cameras.

Full frame has many advantages .. cleaner pictures especially in low light due to lower noise ratio .. higher image quality .. usually higher megapixel count all compared to similar cropped sensors .. and the ultimate is a more blurred out-of-focus background (Bokeh) compared to smaller sensors using the same focal length and aperture which in some cases can not be matched by same lens/focal length/aperture .. They also allows using smaller apertures (larger f number) before diffraction sets in and softens the image, although on cropped sensors you don’t need to go really small to get the same DOF  .. and less wide lenses for the same angle of view (a 10mm lens would be equivalent to 15mm on a cropped sensor) ..

Advantages of smaller (cropped sensors APS-C, 4/3 etc) .. less expensive  .. longer focal reach for same focal length (smaller sensors have a crop factor x1.5, x1.6, x2 etc) more useful in wild life and nature shots .. deeper Depth of Field (DOF) more useful for cityscapes and landscapes .. smaller bodies and more importantly less glass .. so smaller, lighter and less expensive lenses .. also using full-frame lenses on a cropped sensor means you get the sweat central spot of the lens in action and discard the soft periphery ..

So what do you go for .. I would say if you have the money you need both .. two bodies, one each .. if you are on a budget then a cropped sensor body .. and add the full frame in the future .. simply because the full frame gives you higher IQ, better low light performance and shallower DOF