Ask David: Memory Card Speed, RAW Images and Macro Lenses :: Digital Photo Secrets

Ask David: Memory Card Speed, RAW Images and Macro Lenses

by David Peterson 5 comments

I find that I get a lot of common questions from my Ask David page. 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'll answer questions on memory card speed, RAW images, and macro and telephoto lenses.

John Rose from Manchester, UK writes:

Hi David I sometimes get a little confused in that, you see say a sandisk memory card 4GB, for lets say £10. Then you also see exactly the same card with same facility and it may be double the price ie £19.  Why is this.

Hi John,

It's all to do with memory card speed. The more expensive ones usually have a faster transfer speed and thus your camera can save more images to your card quicker. It's most useful to have a fast transfer speed when using the continuous shooting mode of your camera. Here's a discussion on the topic: Are High Speed Digital Camera Memory Cards Worth the Extra Money?

Mary Ann Pana from Staten Island, NY asks:

I wanted to add a telephoto lens to my Canon S3 (I love the camera) but I'm having a hard time choosing. I'm not really sure what makes a good lens.  I've never had any training in photography so the lingo is throwing me off.

I've written a few articles over the years about lens. If you want to know what all the markings on your lens means, take a look at Camera Hieroglyphics Demystified: The Camera Lens. Or find out what the MM means on a lens. Also, a discussion on what lens to purchase when considering upgrading.

But if you want simplicity, here's what I recommend: Get the most expensive lens you can afford from the same manufacturer as your camera. So in your case, get another Canon lens that fits your S3. I recommend getting the most expensive you can afford because dearer lenses have better optics and that makes for better pictures.

Good luck!

All the way from Port Elizabeth in South Africa, Diane Darlow wants to know about RAW images.

I have a very early (2nd hand) photoshop CS which does not do RAW and neither does my picasa.  How can I edit my RAW photos.

The RAW format is different for each camera. It's not a standard like jpg that is the same for all cameras. You don't mention what camera you have, but most manufacturers have software available that convert the camera's RAW image to a format that paint programs can load like jpg. Give the manufacturer a call and they'll send you in the right direction. And as an aside, I always recommend you tell your camera to save your images in jpg format. Most of the time you don't need the hassle that RAW images create.

Finally, Bob Haynes from Mt. Pearl in Canada asks:

Hi, I have a canon xti camera and resently purchased a canon 100 ls macro lens. The problen I'm having is when I focus in realy close the camer will not fire. Any suggestions would be appreciate. Thanks Bob

It's likely that your camera is not able to focus on your subject, and it won't take a photo without it finding focus.

Macro lenses have a very short focal length, so you might need to get in even closer. I can usually get a good macro shot with my lens only a few inches away from my subject. Another thing to try is to set manual focus. That way your camera won't ensure it has a focus lock before taking the photo, but you will most likely get a blurry image. At least it will tell you if the problem is focus related.

If YOU have a question, please feel free to send in your question on my Ask David page. Because of the amount of questions I receive, I can't always answer your specific question, but I do try!

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  1. Caryl Hunt says:

    Hi Davir, I was wandering if you can help me out. I have been told when doing Weddings to shoot them in raw instead of jpeg. Is this a good idea and secondly what is the best programme to use to get them from your card to computer. My cousin has some raw images on a sd card and he can't get them of. He even went to a heap of stores that process photo's and they couldn't either...
    Regards Caryl Hunt

  2. Abthony Orr says:

    Hi David I have a strange one to ask you
    I am using a Nikon d2 with a Nikor 70 300 lens I have just purchased a Tameron Tele converter for Nikon to double the focal range of the lens.
    When I use this the image through the viewfinder is wonderful it realty does double the distance that I can pull the image in,but the result stored on my memory card is way out of focus.I have asked the person I bought it from, but he says he has not run across this problem before, and that he has sold lots of these.He has said that I should ask an expert as he is not competent to answer this.
    Regards Tony

  3. PDP says:

    I bought a NIKON D90 camera - can you please be so kind and give me all the advise i need for the best settings on the camera. I truly need all the help i can get. Want to take some portrait and wedding photos.
    Is RAW the best option ? I do have photoshop.

  4. David Peterson says:


    We'll have to agree to disagree. While RAW does give you better image processing capabilities after you take the photo, for most amateur photographers, the extra hassle isn't worth it.

    And I know lots of PRO photographers who don't shoot RAW in most situations. So it's not true that they all shoot with RAW.


  5. Joe Bowers says:

    "And as an aside, I always recommend you tell your camera to save your images in jpg format. Most of the time you dont need the hassle that RAW images create."

    I completely disagree here, and I think this is an irresponsible bit of advice to your readers. RAW files allow you to correct exposure and white balance after the shot has been taken, JPG doesn't. RAW files are also sharper and cleaner.

    A RAW file will also let you create an HDR file from a single shot, combining the highlights and shadows to create an amazing result. Since the RAW HDR is made from one shot, you don't need a tripod and you can make HDR portraits. With JPG, you need to use a tripod, take 3-5 shots, and HDR portraits are impossible because your subject will move slightly between shots.

    Professionals all shoot RAW. No pro worth his salt shoots JPG, that just screams amateur. And even if you are an amateur, shoot raw, convert them to JPG and archive the RAW on a DVD or hard disk. When you learn how to use PhotoShop you can go back to those RAW files and get the most out of them.

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