Ask A Pro: Scott Kelby Answers Your Photography Questions
Q. I am new to DSLR photography and have just ordered the Nikon D5500 with the 18-55mm kit lens because I’ve heard it’s a great camera for beginners at an affordable price. For the pictures I want to shoot I would like to have sharp focus not on a specific subject in the picture but on all the picture frame—from corner to corner, top to bottom. I want to photograph graffiti on flat walls, therefore I need the picture to be completely focused from top to bottom, with no deepness, just flat sharpness. I have ordered the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens. Will this 35mm lens help me achieve this purpose, or is there any other specific Nikkor lens in an affordable price category that is better for this kind of job?
A. If you had told me that your only lens was that 18-55mm, I would have been worried, but that 35mm f/1.8 you picked up will do a nice job with what you want to do—just don’t shoot it at f/1.8. For you to get everything in focus the way you’re wanting, you need to be shooting at something more like f/11 or f/16, as that will keep everything in focus and sharp. Beyond just the lens, though, if you really want that image to be sharp as a tack, let’s add something else to your setup: a sturdy tripod (to keep that camera steady as a rock—critical for super-sharp shots) and a cable release (you can get the Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control for $17.95 and that will do the trick). So now take that lens; shoot at f/11 or f/16; put your camera on a tripod; and add that wireless shutter release. I think you’ll be very happy with the results.
Q. I like using Lightroom’s Quick Develop panel, but I wish you could make more precise adjustments. I know the single-arrow button moves the adjustment much less than the double-arrow, but sometimes I need a finer adjustment. Is there any way to do that without having to jump over the Develop module?
A. Believe it or not, there is a way, but it is totally hidden, and also rather new, so to have this feature you’ll have to have Lightroom CC to take advantage of it. Here’s an example of how it works: by default, clicking the right single-arrow button for exposure would increase the exposure amount by + 1/3 of a stop. To get a finer adjustment, just hold the Shift key before clicking the single-arrow Exposure button, and now the amount of the adjustment is just 1/6 of a stop (half of the normal adjustment).
Q. Sometimes when I am shooting couples or groups I find that some or one of the people are not in focus. What am I doing wrong?
A. There are two things you can do that should help. First, make sure that you’re shooting at an f/stop that would pretty much put nearly everybody in focus, so try something like f/11 as that should do the trick. Second, and more importantly, if you have rows of people (the old “tall people in the back” type of situation), make sure you focus on the eyes of someone in the front row. Do those two things and everybody should be in good focus.
Q. I want to put a camera behind the bride and groom and fire it remotely. What equipment do I need exactly to make this happen?
A. Well, you’ll need at least two wireless triggers. I use PocketWizards. (When you visit the PocketWizard website, pocketwizard.com, you’re going to need to order the cable that goes from the PocketWizard to the little port where you plug in a cable release. They have a “Wizard” on their site where you put in the make and model of camera you own, and it brings up the right cable to order.) In addition, you’ll need something to hold your camera, like a flat floor plate. I use a Platypod Pro Max, which is sturdy as anything, and also very thin and lightweight. However, I’ve also tried the Promaster SystemPro Clamper Mini Tripod and Clamp, which works well. It isn’t as rock solid as the Platypod, but still versatile. Lastly, you’ll need a ball head to be able to aim the camera. I use the BE-117 from Oben and it works well. It holds up to 17 pounds and is a pretty decent ball head all around. OK, that’s your rig. One more thing: you don’t want your shutter firing loudly and interrupting the ceremony. So, if your camera has a Silent shutter mode, make sure you turn that on, or use a mirrorless camera that has a hot shoe mount (your PocketWizard goes on that mount).
Q. I am getting ready to utilize my Minolta Vectis Photo-Player VP-1 to project photos from APS cartridges onto a white board to be captured digitally by a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RM100M4 with an electric shutter extension. What White Balance and Vivid or Standard modes do you suggest? Do you have any other hints?
A. Wow! I am totally stumped here, as there’s not a piece of equipment in your question that I’ve ever used, or perhaps ever even seen in person. My suggestion? Ask easier questions in the future. ;-)
Q. I have a question about using a lens from a film camera on a digital camera. Back in the film days I had a Canon AE-1 SLR with a Canon 80mm lens. I used that setup then for some portrait work. The 80mm is a nice piece of glass. Is there an adapter to use it on my Canon EOS 7D DSLR? Should I even try this, and will it even work?
A. Those were great lenses back in the day, but, sadly, those old lenses won’t work on today’s digital camera mounts, like the one on the Canon EOS 7D. However, there is some good news: buying a brand-new Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens, which is an EF-mount lens designed to work perfectly on your 7D, is actually a bargain. I’ve seen it online for $319.
Scott Kelby is a photographer, Photoshop Guy, award-winning author of more than 50 books, and CEO of KelbyOne, an online education community dedicated to helping photographers take the kinds of images they’ve always dreamed of. You can learn more about Scott at his daily blog (scottkelby.com), or follow him on Twitter: @scottkelby.
(Editor’s Note: Ask a Pro is a Q&A column from professional photographer, writer, and educator Scott Kelby. Scott is here to answer all your photography-related questions, so if you have something you’d like to know, e-mail him at email@example.com -- with “For Scott Kelby” as the subject line -- and your query could be featured in the next edition of Ask a Pro.)
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