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Tag: zoom lens

Ask David : Should I Purchase a 16-270mm lens?

Filed in Tips by on July 3, 2014 8 Comments
Ask David : Should I Purchase a 16-270mm lens?

I was recently asked this question: “I have a 18-55 mm and 75-300 mm lens. I am considering buying a 16-270 mm. Is this a good idea?”

My first instinct is to say no. Between the two zoom lenses you already have, you cover pretty much all of the ground a 16-270mm lens is capable of perusing plus some. Also, as a rule of thumb, a range with a longer lens (ie 16-260mm) is not normally going to produce the same quality as a lens with a shorter zoom range (ie 18-55) or a prime lens.

I would look into lenses that cover ground my current gear doesn’t but ultimately, it truly depends on the type of photography you shoot the most. Let me explain.
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How to Photograph the Moon

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How to Photograph the Moon

OK, raise your hand if this has happened to you. You’re sitting around on your deck or maybe you’re inside doing something, and suddenly you notice through the trees or through your front window that the moon has just come up, and it’s HUGE. The scenery around the moon is picturesque–maybe it’s beautiful trees still lit by the last light from the sunset. Or maybe it’s the skyline of the city where you live. Wow, you think, that would make an awesome picture. You grab your DSLR and go outside to find the perfect vantage point. You frame your shot, take the picture, and viola! A tiny, featureless, glowing ball of overexposed light. Frustrated, you spot meter the moon and adjust your camera’s settings. Now you have a shot where you can actually see a couple of craters, but everything around the moon is pitch black.
Obviously, there’s a secret or two to getting great shots of the moon. I’m going to tell you what they are.
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Photographing Air Shows

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Photographing Air Shows

It’s air show season in the US, and that means hot weather, high-decibel noise and a whole bunch of hazy photos of tiny little specs in the sky.

Air show photography is tough! Unless you’re in an airplane looking down at the performers, it can be difficult to get a great shot at an air show. But don’t worry, you don’t have to leave that camera at home. There are plenty of things you can do to get the most out of your air show visit.
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Understanding Camera Lenses

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Understanding Camera Lenses

Intermediate “One of the many revelations that photographers have is discovering the difference between letting your camera decide how to do something, and telling your camera what to do.” – James Brandon

I love that quote by James Brandon because it speaks to all that I do to inform photographers on how to use their camera to its fullest. Naturally, part of your camera is the lens you use with it. This post is dedicated to helping you determine which lenses are best for you so that you can control the outcome of your images.
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Animal and Wildlife Photography

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Animal and Wildlife Photography

We all have them. Those photos from the family camping trip or from a hike in the woods–you know, when you spotted a deer or a wild turkey and you snapped a photo with your point-and-shoot. And now when you show that photo to your friends and family, you have to tell them what they’re looking at because said deer or wild turkey is a mere spec in the center of the frame.

Wildlife photography is difficult, because wild animals are, believe it or not, even less willing to be photographed than an active toddler or a moody teenager. So what can you do to turn that little spec in the frame into a photo that any National Geographic photographer would be proud of?
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What is a Prime Lens? Why use one?

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What is a Prime Lens? Why use one?

If you own a digital SLR camera, or are thinking of purchasing one, you may have heard of prime lenses. Unlike zoom lenses, prime lenses don’t allow you to zoom in or out while taking pictures. This has led many to wonder what they’re good for. If they do less, why purchase one? I’d like to take a few moments to clear up some of the confusion surrounding prime lenses.
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Ask David: White Balance, RAW images, Slow shutter speeds and Lenses

Ask David: White Balance, RAW images, Slow shutter speeds and Lenses

In my Ask David column, I answer common questions from my readers. By answering them here, I hope to help everyone else who might have this problem, and not just the person who asked the question.

Today, we cover White Balance, RAW images, slow shutter speeds and a few questions on lenses.
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Do you have to zoom in while taking a portrait or landscape photo?

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Do you have to zoom in while taking a portrait or landscape photo?

I get this question a lot. And you know what, it makes a lot of sense. I think people are pressured into purchasing a higher priced digital SLR (that most of them don’t need) because they’re under the impression that you need to have a really expensive zoom lens to take a nice looking portrait or landscape. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in this article, you’ll learn why.
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Knowing your limits as a photographer

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Knowing your limits as a photographer

As a general rule, you’re used to me being the ever-optimistic “go for it” guy who tells you that you don’t need to best camera setup to take great photos. And, for the most part, this is totally true. There are a lot of cases where you don’t need the fanciest setup, just a knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, in order to get your shot. Wielding a scratched up point-and-shoot someone was about to toss in trash, you can still get a decent image.
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Clutter Robs Your Photos Of Impact

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Clutter Robs Your Photos Of Impact

If only there weren’t so much extra “stuff” in the world. Clutter is everywhere. It’s in your room. It’s out on the street. It’s the extra wine glasses you left on the counter because you were too tired to put everything away before going to bed. Clutter kills photos by drawing the eye away from what’s most important -your subject. Here’s what you can do to keep your shots clutter free for good.
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How To Take Stunning Pictures Of The (Super) Moon

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How To Take Stunning Pictures Of The (Super) Moon

The moon is beautiful to look at, but it sure can be challenging to photograph. Here is what you need to know to get the best possible pictures of the moon.

Start Off With The Right Equipment

Normally I shy away from recommending you purchase additional equipment to take your photos, but in this case, you will need to. The moon is very far away, and you’ll need to magnify it as much possible in your image. That means owning a digital SLR and equipping it with a telephoto lens that, at the very least, allows you to zoom in to 200mm. Although if you can afford it, I’d recommend using a 400mm or 500mm lens. These lenses allow you to get in close enough to make the moon the highlight of your image.

When you use a 100mm lens, the moon doesn’t take up much of the photo at all. Increase to 200mm and it looks better, but is still not the focal point of the photo. When you increase the zoom again to 400mm, the moon now looks as you would expect. And it fills the frame when you increase the zoom again to 800mm. Note that rather than purchasing a very expensive 800mm lens, I recommend you use a 400mm and crop the image.

If you own a Point and Shoot camera or a bridge camera that can’t swap lenses, you can purchase teleconverters that can get you to 200mm. They are worth looking into if you plan on making the moon a serious staple in your photography.

You’ll also definitely need a tripod. When you zoom in as much as you’ll be zooming in here, your images will be a lot more susceptible to camera shake. A good tripod will save you a lot of frustration.

It’s All About Timing

Just like everything else in photography, there is a good time and a not-so-good time to take pictures. You probably already know that the best times for outdoor photography are the early morning and twilight hours, known as the golden hour. The same applies to photographing the moon. You want to catch the moon as it is rising above the horizon. That’s when you can frame it with other elements in the image like buildings, mountains, and clouds.

The moon isn’t on the same daily schedule as the sun, so get an app for your phone that will tell you when the moon enters each phase, and rising and setting times. I use Moon Phases Lite for Android and Moon for iPhone.

The full moon is the best time for photography. The moon is brightly lit, and you won’t get the crescent like here where the dark part of the moon is too dark while the lit part is too bright. The full moon also rises and sets at the same time as the sun, so you’ll be able to get some spectacular shots with the sky still partially illuminated by the sun. Don’t let that limit your options though. Try a crescent moon so you can include the moon along with the sunset.

How To Capture All The Little Details In The Moon

Most pictures of the moon fail to capture the tiny details that we see when we look at it. Why is this? Put simply, the moon is a very bright on a very dark background. If you use the camera’s automatic settings, it’s likely to get confused and the shutter will stay open too long. The moon’s brightness will then wash out the details.

So use Spot metering on your camera so it will choose the appropriate exposure for the moon. Spot metering tells the camera to correctly expose what’s in the center of the image, the moon in this case. It ignores the black around the edge of the photo that would otherwise fool the light sensor.

Also try the bracketing feature of your camera which will take a number of photos at different exposures. Finally, think about setting EV-2 to under expose the image slightly. You can fix underexposed images later in a paint program. If the moon is over exposed, you’re going to lose some detail and won’t be able to retrieve it in a paint program.

However, it’s probably easiest to choose manual mode when taking pictures of the moon. Start with ISO 200, f11 aperture and 1/125 second. Try a test shot. Then use trial and error by changing the shutter speed until you can find the best exposure that works for your composition without overexposing the moon.

Turn off auto focus. Most of the time you can set the focus to infinity, but do some test shots with your own camera first as some cameras allow you to focus beyond infinity which will result in a blurry moon.

Composition

Try to catch the moon close to the horizon, or place it between some trees. It will add a point of reference and some interest to your photo. You’ll usually see a silhouette of the object beside the moon, like the trees here. However, it is possible to show some detail by using two photos.

First, take a photo with the moon properly exposed. You’ll likely just see the moon with the rest of the image black, like the first image below. Next, slow down the shutter speed so the rest of the scene is correctly exposed. This time the moon will be a white blob in the sky.



Correctly exposed moon


Correctly exposed surroundings


Merged image

Now, load those two images into Photoshop. Place the photo that correctly exposes the moon on the top layer, and the photo that has the trees correctly exposed on the bottom layer. Right-click on the layer and choose Blending options. Then move the left slider for “This Layer” to the right a bit. That tells Photoshop to show the bottom layer anywhere there is black in the top layer. And you can immediately see the correctly exposed moon and the trees in the layer underneath.

Now there’s a slight problem with this photo as you’ll see if we zoom in. The overexposed moon from beneath has bled onto the sky, so we can see that as well as our good moon. I use a slight cheat to fix that by pressing Ctrl-T to transform and making our moon a little bigger. Then I just need to center it on the old moon like this. That hides the bleed of the moon underneath. And you get a perfect shot! Even if you zoom in, it’s hard to notice you’re looking at two shots.

The moon is a wonderful object to photograph. Try it at your place tonight!

Want more? See a video tutorial of taking better photos of the moon inside my Digital Photo Secrets Video Course.

How to find a lens that’s perfect for your photographic needs

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How to find a lens that’s perfect for your photographic needs

If you own a digital SLR, you know there are a lot of lenses on the market, and most of them are definitely outside most people’s price range. Purchasing the wrong one can be a costly mistake. While no lens will ever do everything you want it to do for you, you can get yourself a small kit with a few lenses to cover all of the important bases. Where you go from there is up to you and where you want to take yourself as a photographer.
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When and How to use a Telephoto Zoom Lens

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When and How to use a Telephoto Zoom Lens

The easiest way to achieve this is to use your feet. You can get almost as close as you want to a subject just by walking up to it. It’s so easy (and important to good photos) that my very first tip on my free tips course is Move Closer. Filling the frame entirely with your subject makes a terrific difference to your photos.

Of course, that assumes you can actually walk up to the subject in question. Sometimes you have other objects in your way, or your subject is high above you. This is where having a zoom lens in the telephoto range comes in handy.
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Camera Hieroglyphics Demystified: The Camera Lens

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Camera Hieroglyphics Demystified: The Camera Lens

Welcome to the first in a series where I explain what all the numbers and symbols mean on your camera.

It’s a problem almost as old as cameras. Manufacturers want to impart as much information as they can about an item, but they don’t have room on the product to place paragraphs of explaining information. So they invent a shorthand and while it helps them succinctly provide information, it doesn’t help us poor consumers who have to read it!

Today begins a series where I decipher the information on your camera so you know what each of those mysterious numbers and letters mean. Today I’ll start with camera lenses. I’ll discuss what’s printed on my SLR detachable lens – those of you with a Point and Shoot camera (with an inbuilt lens) won’t see all this information. However your lens will have most of these values printed in the user manual.
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