Please confine yourself to only one question per letter. Both postal letters and e-mails are fine, although we prefer e-mail as the most efficient form of communication. Send your e-mail queries to firstname.lastname@example.org with HELP! in the subject header and your return e-mail address at the end of your message. Although we make every effort, we cannot promise to answer every HELP! letter.
When sending a response or suggestion that refers to a published letter please include the month and page of the original question.
All postal letters to HELP! must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope to be considered for reply. We will respond to e-mail queries with an e-mail.
Q. I have a Minolta XE-7 that has seen better days. However, I have multiple mint lenses that I purchased with this camera. Are there any other Minolta bodies such as the XD-11 or XG-7 that would be compatible with these lenses? The lens quality has been superb, and I had invested a considerable amount of money in them.
Sidney Richman, MD
A. I checked with contributing editor Jon Sienkiewicz, who was with Minolta for many years. Here’s what he said: “The Minolta XE-7 accepts the same MD Rokkor-X lenses as the XD-11 and XD-5 (the XD-7 was never sold in the US). Your reader will have no problems sharing his lenses within his Minolta XE and XD camera families. The XE-series camera he has predates the XD-series cameras by exactly one generation.” This should give you an idea about which Minolta models to look for. I’m sure they are readily available in operable but used condition from many large camera dealers.
Depth Perception & Florals
Q. I am shooting flowers close-up. How can I use depth of field to avoid a flat look to the picture? I am shooting in a tiny studio, with reflected light coming from the window in late afternoon. Any solution, or do I have to wait for a 3D camera?
A. Here are some suggestions for obtaining more depth in your flower close-ups. Since you are shooting indoors by weak existing daylight, along with some bounced fill from a white reflector, you are probably shooting with the lens relatively wide-open (f/2.8 or f/4), thus there is not much depth of field on the subject. If you are shooting in any automatic exposure mode, simply switch the camera to Aperture Priority and select a smaller lens opening such as f/11 or f/16. This will also require using a slower shutter speed, so you should place your camera on a tripod to prevent any accidental camera movement. Then critically focus on a point about 1⁄3 in from the front of the subject to obtain maximum front-to-back depth. You could use some flash fill light, but unless the flash was used off-camera (away from near the lens) the lighting would still be rather flat and lack the 3D effect you seek. I don’t believe using a 3D camera would help.
Q. Could you please advise me where I might obtain Colortran constant light sources with barn doors in used condition? Would Lowel lights be a better way to go? What do you recommend for constant light sources today? Unfortunately, I donated my two Colortrans that I had to a local high school photo class and now wish I had kept them. I presently use Paul C. Buff strobes with some success. I do not own a good flash meter so that probably affects the result—I use a vintage Vivitar/Shepherd model. I thought about purchasing a used Minolta meter from KEH as a replacement. Could you recommend one model?
A. I called Columbus Camera Group in Columbus, Ohio, and found they have an extensive collection of used Colortran lights in addition to other well-known brands of hot lights such as Lowel, Mole-Richardson, etc. You can access them online (http://columbuscameragroup.com) or simply give them a call (800-325-7664). Another firm that specializes in used studio photo items of all types is Midwest Photo Exchange (866-940-3686; http://mpex.com). Looking through the www.bhphotovideo.com website under used/lighting and studio you will find many hot lights, but I did not see any Colortrans listed. You can also check www.adorama.com under used equipment/lighting and find many used mono lights. You might also want to check on used models of this type of light made by firms as: Paul C. Buff; Interfit; JTL; Smith-Victor; and Westcott, all of whom make many different sizes and types of hot lights. Hot lights seem to be becoming more popular today, probably because it is so easy to adjust the white sensitivity of a digital camera for different light types instead of having to use either a conversion filter or tungsten-balanced film with film cameras. As to a flash/light meter, I have been using a Sekonic Zoom Master L-508 for a few years and find it quite reliable. Of course, there are other brands available, but I don’t have hands-on experience with them.