Nikon has a series of lenses that feature Vibration Reduction, such as the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm VR kit lens that comes with the Nikon D3100. Vibration Reduction is a wonderful feature that compensates for camera shake and allows you to take pictures with shutter speeds up to three stops slower than you could without it, according to Nikon’s manual.
These lenses have a switch on the side, right under the switch for manual or auto focus, that allows you to turn the vibration reduction off. The manual states that this switch should be turned off when changing lenses. The manual also says that if you don’t turn the vibration reduction off before changing lenses, the lens will rattle a bit, but it won’t cause any damage.
Given that, why would there be a reason to turn this switch off?
This morning while catching up on some photography blogs I follow, I saw a “photo challenge” that looked interesting, but simple. The challenge was simply, get out your oldest working digital camera and take a photo that emphasizes creativity and composition. Thinking to myself that this sounded like an excellent way to get myself shooting at least for a little while today, I dusted off my Canon Powershot G2 and quickly discovered two disturbing things about this camera.
- The camera desperately needs a battery. After charging it until the green light came on to indicate that it was ready (about an hour), I was able to take exactly three quick photos (in a space of about 5 minutes) before the camera shut down because the battery was dead.
- This camera is not compatible with Windows 7. When I connect the camera to the USB port, Windows tries to load drivers for it and fails. This leaves me with two options for getting the pictures from the camera to the computer: (a) put the CompactFlash card in a card reader or (b) reboot, select the Ubuntu operating system – which DOES recognize the Powershot G2 – and download the pictures into the Windows directory structure then reboot again.
Method number two will work for now, provided I keep the charger plugged into the camera the whole time, but I find it a pain to have to reboot twice just to get a few pictures downloaded. I went on eBay.com today and bought a card reader that can take a CompactFlash card for $2.99.
This brings me to a question for you. How old is your oldest (working) digital camera and do you still use it? Answer in the comments.
Many cameras give you the option of saving images in either RAW or JPG format. What’s the difference, you ask?
RAW is exactly what the name implies: the file contains the raw data from the image sensor. The file contains everything the image sensor “saw” when you took the picture. Even areas that are underexposed and appear black still contain image data that can be brought out when the RAW file is processed with a program such as UFRaw. Raw files can be thought of as film negatives. While having all the image data available is a big advantage, there’s a cost. RAW files tend to be on the huge side. They’ll fill up your memory card and hard drive faster than JPG files. If you’re a professional photographer or you just like being able to tweak everything down to the gnat’s eyelash, then you probably have already set your camera to save RAW files.
JPG is a compressed format. In the process of compressing the file, all the extra data that isn’t needed for building a picture is discarded. This means that if something is underexposed and appears black, there’s no way to retrieve the original data. JPG files can be thought of as prints made from a negative and have the advantage of being a lot smaller, but the cost is all the data that’s lost. If you mainly just shoot snapshots and don’t do a lot of post processing then you probably left you camera set at the (usual) default of saving JPG files.
Which Do You Use
So, which format do you use to save your images? Do you go for simple and small with JPG files, or do you prefer to save RAW files so you have the option of tweaking things like exposure and white balance after the shot has already been taken? Personally, I’m a bit of a “data fiend”, so I save RAW images.
I happened upon a YouTube video detailing how to make a light stand out of PVC pipes for $5, and I had to give it a try.
Currently, my only “studio light” is a goose-necked desk lamp that I have to clamp to my tripod when I need a light. That’s fine, right up until I need my tripod for my camera. I figured that for $5 this was worth a try.
Because the video was made in 2009, and prices have gone up since then, this ended up costing me $8.01 without the PVC cutters. The Frugal Filmmaker claimed they were around $4, but my local hardware store wanted $14 for them. Instead, I was able to convince the folks at the store to make the cuts in the PVC for me.
This worked out surprisingly well. As stated in the video, it does get a little wobbly as it gets taller, but when it’s extended to it’s full height, it comes to within a couple of inches of my ceiling, so I don’t expect to need that much height.
I plan on going back to get the stuff to make at least 5 more of these: two to connect with elbows and a longer pipe to hang a backdrop on, two to light the backdrop (after I get some more lights), and at least one more for a fill light or reflector (again, once I get some more lights).
Who knows? I may even rough them up with sandpaper and spray paint them black.
A while back I was complaining about my failure at attempting The Invisible Black Backdrop technique described here.
f4.2 1/250 ISO 1600
I gave it another shot (no pun intended) tonight. Since I lack an off-camera flash, I used a simple goose-necked desk lamp clamped to a tripod, with a window at twilight instead of a reflector. Because of the two different types of lighting involved (tungsten and daylight), I had to use Photoshop Elements to adjust the colors, however, other than that, cropping, and a little softening, this image is pretty much as it came out of the camera.
It was shot in my den, in front of a roll-top desk with an American Flag in a case on top of it, with enough light in the room to comfortably read by.
I used simple typing paper taped to the lampshade to block the lamp light from hitting the desk.