learning about D-SLR

Discuss cameras, settings, composition, or anything related to photography - cactus or other subjects.
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peterb
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learning about D-SLR

Post by peterb »

Finally getting up and running with the Canon Eos Rebel that a friend gave to me last spring. I haven't had time to really study up on all the manual controls until recently. I used to do a lot of 35 mm film photography with fully manual cameras (including developing and printing!) but had forgotten *so much* of the basics. It has been a steep learning curve, learning all over again.

I was unhappy with the kit lens (EF-S zoom 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6 II), as many Eos Rebel users are. It has some noticeable color issues and the zoom is unreliable handheld. I have found a few settings and situations where the kit lens is perfectly all right, however, if not excellent.

I bought the 50 mm f/1.8 prime lens (for $99!) and I've been very happy with it. It's a great little lens for the price and takes great cactus pics with or without a tripod.

Still experimenting. Will definitely be doing custom white balance for the AZ sun. Might be using the tripod a lot more in the field, as the stopped down apertures for greater depth of field come with some pretty slow shutter speeds. I do have a lightweight tripod that is easy to use. A few comparisons below, all SOOC unless cropped. No color correction.

peterb
Attachments
cropped, close focus, using the kit lens; 800, f/5.6
cropped, close focus, using the kit lens; 800, f/5.6
005.JPG (183.92 KiB) Viewed 8097 times
cropped, close focus, using the 50 mm prime. 500, f/8, ISO 100.
cropped, close focus, using the 50 mm prime. 500, f/8, ISO 100.
031.JPG (199.94 KiB) Viewed 8097 times
kit lens, zoomed in a bit, 800, f/4.5
kit lens, zoomed in a bit, 800, f/4.5
004.JPG (161.74 KiB) Viewed 8097 times
Sony Cyber-shot DSC W560, fully auto settings
Sony Cyber-shot DSC W560, fully auto settings
020.JPG (167.42 KiB) Viewed 8097 times
50 mm f/1.8 lens, 200, f/8
50 mm f/1.8 lens, 200, f/8
030.JPG (149.4 KiB) Viewed 8097 times
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JamesEG
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by JamesEG »

Wow! Thanks for the comparisons, I knew the kit lens was bad but I didn't full realise how it looked in comparison to other lenses until I saw those images, the 50mm is way better, and for roughly the same price as a kit lens it's excellent! I have an EOS 60D with the kit lens and desperately want to upgrade it to the 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, but as always price is an issue, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 however could be a possibility one day if I'm lucky.

I did however have to good fortune to get a 400mm f/5.6L USM telephoto last year as I love wildlife photography, particularly birds, that lens produces some stunning images provided the right conditions and settings (as any lens would need) and it has the ability to make some photographs taken by me as an amateur look truly professional, this obviously is something I love. Here is a link to an example of an image I took with the lens, the image is the most popular one that I have ever uploaded to 500px too!

http://500px.com/photo/55939578" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I also shoot some film, my grandfather gave me a lovely Pentax K1000 when I started doing my photography course at school and I absolutely love it, the addition of a darkroom at school this year is also brilliant as processing the film is something I like doing too.
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SnowFella
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by SnowFella »

That is quite the difference indeed, makes me wonder if that kitlens has something wrong with it or just is that bad. :-k Or is it just that the camera can nail it's focus better with the prime lens.

For funsies I did a similar comparison of 4 of my lenses that cover the 50mm focal length, though in this case I set the camera up on a tripod, used the same aperature setting for all shots and same focus point. Do have a few more lenses that can do 50mm but their minimum focusing distance is to long for this.
Care to guess what one is a Sony 50mm f1.4 lens, Sony 18-55mm kit lens, Minolta 24-50mm F4 lens from the late 80's and lastly an old Tamron 28-105 I picked up through ebay for the massive cost of $4.70. :wink: Slight difference in magnification would be through focus magnification, some lenses change slightly with focusing.

#1
Downsized crop
Image
Full image
http://i1268.photobucket.com/albums/jj5 ... 941667.jpg

#2
Downsized crop
Image
Full image
http://i1268.photobucket.com/albums/jj5 ... 0488e0.jpg

#3
Downsized crop
Image
Full image
http://i1268.photobucket.com/albums/jj5 ... 4cb960.jpg

#4
Downsized crop
Image
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http://i1268.photobucket.com/albums/jj5 ... ce4153.jpg

Not really a dramatic difference to my eyes between the 4 lenses, though I'm sure it would be quite a bit of a difference had I tried the same test at F1.4 :lol:

Coming up to an upgrade in camera body here as my old Sony has started developing some problems lately, still tossing up between 2 new cameras but have to stay with Sony as I'm to heavily invested in lenses to really swap brands. Just got to save alittle bit longer, or hope that Sony releases something new that will bring current prices down.
DaveW
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by DaveW »

I know they are not cheap, but if you are really into plant photography have you considered a proper macro lens? By the time we have added up all the lenses we have bought, plus all the close up accessories we have tried on normal lenses we often have paid more than obtaining a proper second-hand macro lens designed for the purpose off the Web, or even from a camera shop from the start.

You don't need the fancy image stabilised ones, they are a recent idea since people have been shooting macro hand held with conventional macro lenses for years. Though even a standard simple optical construction 50mm lens with a set of extension tubes will usually produce better images than a zoom, even if it falsely has macro tacked onto it's name.

http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/gear ... guide.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.canon.co.uk/For_Home/Product ... ses/Macro/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

If budget is an issue then a good lens on a basic camera is a better choice than a cheap lens on an expensive camera, even with all it's "bells and Whistles".
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Harriet
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by Harriet »

I used extension tubes for many close up shots. They worked well until I could save up for a macro lens. (Sometimes I think they worked better... but that depends on all the other settings.) Macro shots also need the aid of a tripod, unless you are good at being extrememly still!

Glad to see you are getting used to the DSLR!
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DaveW
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by DaveW »

I agree with Harriet about a tripod and preferably used with a remote release to avoid the vibration of pushing the shutter button too since plants do not fly away like insects, therefore you can set up for them just like portraiture rather than take quick snaps. You will never get the potential resolution a lens has to offer hand holding it at anything but the cameras highest speeds, or with flash. In the former case that will mean limited depth of field close up and in the latter flash is not always the most flattering of lighting, particularly on camera flash. Raising the ISO rating to be able to use higher speeds also introduces more noise and degrades picture quality.

http://www.photographic.com/issue-11-cl ... 611floral/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/ti ... of-plants/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.irishbotanicalartists.com/pl ... l-artists/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Unfortunately most of our plants will only open their flowers in strong sunlight which is the worst photographic lighting. Diffused lighting works best so a cheap diffuser held between the plant and the sun often provides better lighting for them. See the video in the link below for how to make a cheap diffuser:-

http://www.wikihow.com/Diffuse-Light" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I usually use a diffuser between sun and plant when photographing cacti in harsh sunlight. The loss of light caused by the diffuser is made up for by a longer exposure, so even more of a case to use a tripod rather than try and hand hold the camera:-
violaciflora.jpg
violaciflora.jpg (91.4 KiB) Viewed 8067 times
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SnowFella
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by SnowFella »

If you are going to go with some other than a dedicated macro lens I'd suggest the extension tubes rather than the other option of closeup filters.
I've got both and it's a no contest between the 2, tubes beats the filters hands down!

As for stabilisation it's generally adviced to turn it off if you are using a tripod. Even if you have a sturdy tripod the mirror slap can apparently trigger the OS system and most don't cope well with the minute vibrations when on a tripod. Can acctually make the image even worse than if you didn't have OS enabled.
I'm spoilt with it though in the sence that I don't have to buy expensive lenses with OS built in, Sony does it in-body so every compatible lens that I mount will be stabilised. It's only if I go for old manual focus lenses without a chip inside that the OS won't work.

Edit: and btw. Those 4 photos are in order
1: 1985 generation Minolta AF 24-50mm F4 ~$90 through Ebay
2: Sony 50mm F1.4 ~$15 through a pawnshop. Bought a camera with the lens attached for $350 and sold said camera off for the same, only outlay was a new viewfinder eyepiece. New it's $600 if I buy through Sony Australia.
3: Sony SAM 18-55mm kitlens ~$90 through Ebay
4: Tamron 28-105mm IF ~$5 with an old filmbody as rear lenscap.
DaveW
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by DaveW »

Also really close up autofocus is not too accurate and you don't have enough depth of field to cover up the fact that the point you need to focus on to spread the depth of field to best advantage over the subject may have nothing for it to focus on so it will focus on something nearer or further away than is ideal. It may only be millimetres out, but that can be enough to throw the parts you want out of focus. Therefore switch off autofocus really close and learn how to screen focus. Of course if you are going to screen focus you need your dioptric viewfinder adjustment properly adjusted. I think some of the chaps problems in the following link is his viewfinder dioptric adjustment was not properly adjusted with the lens fully open, so when stopped down the image appeared more in focus therefore he was slightly miss-focusing the lens:-

http://www.jayandwanda.com/photography/ ... focus.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Obviously most articles on manual focus are written with conventional photography in mind. Split image and microprism focusing aids suffer the same problems ultra close up as does autofocus, in that if the ideal point to focus on to spread limited depth of field has nothing there to focus on they do not work. With screen focusing you can look around the screen and spread your limited depth of field (often a few millimetres) over the subject.
focus.jpg
focus.jpg (13.29 KiB) Viewed 8057 times
Of course it depends on how large a magnification you want. Most people with normal close ups may never encounter the autofocus difficulties at lower magnifications that manifest themselves at high magnifications.
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SnowFella
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by SnowFella »

Think he's partially right though, most modern viewfinders are very small and dark compared to viewfinders from the 35mm era. Comparing the viewfinder on my DSLR to some of the old SLR bodies I have laying about is a night and day difference. Combine that with focusing screens not really made with manual focus in mind and the normally very short focusing throw on modern lenses and atleast I'm finding manual focusing to be near impossible.
DaveW
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by DaveW »

I suppose it may be a case whether the camera uses a pentaprism or pentamirror, the latter is supposedly darker but cheaper to produce therefore often used on entry level DSLR's.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRnnPozwenk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Real-Deal ... id=1656898" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I use a Nikon D200 and was looking at the new entry level Nikons the other day which still have the same sized sensors as mine and was amazed how tiny they now are and to me are now "ladies cameras" in that you need tiny hands and fingers really to hold and work them. To me the original SLR film camera size and that of the older DSLR's was about right for man sized hands. But they now seem to be trying to build DSLR's down to as near smartphone size as they can get, which is not the best size or weight for stability hand holding.

I need glasses for reading or viewing a computer screen, but have no trouble manual focusing on my D200 screen. I do usually use a macro lens though which has a longer focusing throw, but as said macro is really only the type of photography where you need switch off autofocus at times.
peterb
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by peterb »

wow, thanks for all these replies, lots to digest. I took the Canon with me to Baja this time and tried it out in a wide variety of settings and was happy with a lot of the results, but still have a lot to learn. Next step for me is to get a good "walking around lens" as they call it, probably a wide angle zoom. I have been seeing god condition used examples of some very positively reviewed lenses like this for under $1000.

On the macro front, I got a suggestion for a trick macro setup where you buy a lens ring and mount the 50mm prime backwards on the kit lens. Supposedly, incredible macro shots on non-moving objects. I haven't tried it yet, but note that the lens adapter ring is $4. :-)

peterb
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JamesEG
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by JamesEG »

I've used the reversed lens method before, as macro lenses are expensive! I don't have an adaptor either, I just hold the lens in place (although an adapter would be a lot easier, and prevents the possibility of dropping the lens)

The pictures that I took on this thread were done by reversing the lens -- http://www.cactiguide.com/forum/viewtop ... 33&t=31716" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; -- so yes, it does produce some good results! Just a couple of things to have in mind (which you might have read about already?) You can set the lens to a smaller aperture to get a wider depth of field by setting the aperture with the lens on normally (I normally go for f/16) then by taking the lens off while holding down the depth of field/aperture preview button the aperture is locked in place. Also having a flash helps (which you might) as the viewfinder is too dark to use with a reversed lens, so you need to use the screen which takes into account the light supplied by the flash.

I hope this helps if you didn't know it already! :)
peterb
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by peterb »

cool, thanks! will try soon.

peterb
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DaveW
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Re: learning about D-SLR

Post by DaveW »

There are two ways of reversing lenses for increased magnification. One is using a reversing ring on the camera and putting the lens on backwards. The other is reversing another lens onto the camera lens using a coupling ring. The reversed lens then acts as a multi element highly corrected supplementary close up lens, often called "close up filters" in their single element form.

http://digital-photography-school.com/r ... y-lesson-3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.eos-magazine.com/articles/ma ... ision.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.school-of-digital-photograph ... raphy.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Remember however you will have to get used to working with minute depths of field when you do this. It is not the same as conventional photography where you have depth of field to spare to cover up any miss focusing. At high magnifications too you cannot hand hold but need the camera on a tripod.

Also you will loose most of your automation, not that autofocus is much use with small depths of field anyway since it is not accurate to a millimetre or so. The greater your magnification the better your photographic technique will have to be to obtain the decent results. This is not snapshot, set the camera on auto everything and rely on autofocus photography, you will have to get used to screen focusing instead.

Don't forget extension tubes either, though these are a slightly more expensive way of increasing magnification they will usually retain more automation:-

http://digital-photography-school.com/e ... y-lesson-2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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