Q&A Digital Photography
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To aid us in making Digital Help as helpful as possible, please be specific in your query and include components, including software, that you use. David says, “Make me guess the problem and I might guess wrong.”—Editor
A Disabled Veteran’s Photo Query
Q. I am a disabled combat vet who recently got into photography but it was not until very recently that I finally undertook some photo shoots. The next day I was literally incapacitated from excruciating back pain brought about by all those angle changes and my service injury. Do you know or can you guide me to where I can find or locate any type of equipment that would help me remain somewhat motionless while I maneuver the camera?
A. One company that makes remote control devices is Tether Tools (www.tethertools.com) and they may be the most likely to have accessories and devices that could make what you want to do with photography easier and more effective. I would suggest contacting them. You might also want to contact both Adorama and B&H—they may have a greater selection of gear that may be helpful to you.
(Editor’s Note: If you have any further suggestions, please let us know via this column to help one of our veteran heroes.)
Q. When shooting for panoramic photographs, should the aperture and speed be in manual? I feel that if left in aperture or shutter priority, or in full auto, the light metering adjustments made by the camera while moving the frame will affect the photo and make the frames harder to match together. Also, I would like to know what size lens, or nearest zoom setting, would give the least distortion for better frame matching.
I imagine there would be some trial and error depending on what lens is used, but a ballpark area in mm would be helpful.
A. It is generally agreed that keeping exposure at one setting is best, and that comes from setting your exposure in manual exposure mode. But variables like lighting cannot be predicted, so just one set of do’s and don’ts is not always a solution. There are some things that should be avoided: do not change aperture during the series of exposures, as the variation of depth of field will not support effective matching. With some scenes the change in illumination over the entire panorama may be considerable, so exposure could be balanced accordingly, which would suggest varying shutter speeds. But every scene may provide different problems, so visual analysis of the scene is paramount. If you are using a zoom lens, the zoom setting should not be changed during the making of a series. A single focal length lens may be an advantage to assure this. Shorter lenses may involve more distortion, but longer lenses require making more exposures to cover the space of a panorama. There is no way to predict which is best as it depends a lot on the subject involved. So, trial and error is the best way to get a technique that works reliably.
Film Camera Lenses On Digital Cameras
Q. I have a Nikkormat FT with a 55mm f/1.2 Nikkor S lens as well as a 200mm f/3.5 Vivitar. What I would like to know is if these lenses will fit any of Nikon’s digital cameras, or are they just throwaway junk?
A. There is always a way to fit a lens to a camera these days. So I would just look to what Adorama or B&H or your local camera store has listed in terms of lens adapters for digital cameras. I am sure you will find something. Just don’t expect auto-diaphragm or autofocus functions to be supported—you will usually have to do that manually. How useful these lenses may be is also relative to the physical size of a digital camera’s sensor. No, not junk, but very limited usefulness in most cases.
Megapixels And File Formats
Q. When I put my Canon PowerShot G15 at its highest setting of 12MB for JPEGs, why is it when I transfer my file over to Elements 9 or Lightroom 4 it says the resolution is only around 3-4MB? After I’ve fixed the photo up, the MBs then go way up, anywhere from 8-16MB, depending on how much fixing up I’ve done. I usually shoot in Raw+JPEG mode and the Raw file is between 14-20MB.
Also, I read somewhere that if you’re shooting mainly landscapes in the daytime, not in dim lighting, there is no difference in quality between an APS-C sensor and a full-frame sensor. I want to upgrade to a full-frame camera from my Nikon D300, but now I don’t know if it makes any difference.
A. Let me speak to the last topic first. A full-frame camera image sensor is about the same size in area as a 35mm film frame. The advantage of a large full-sized size sensor chip is that each sensor site on the imaging chip is larger, so it gathers more light during an exposure. This results in much cleaner and better definition when the exposure level is low. The greatest range of exposure values in scenes is in daylight landscapes, so with a smaller sensor chip the shadows can be darkest, and any noise and loss of image definition will be in those shadow parts of the scene. With a full-frame sensor chip you will obtain more image information and a cleaner, less noisy image in shadows.
When full-frame sensor chips became reasonably affordable with the Canon EOS 5D, I got one to replace a D-SLR with an APS-C-sized sensor. The greatest improvement in image quality I obtained with the full-frame camera was in landscape images.
In the first paragraph of your e-mail what you are describing is a confusion of image resolution and image file size. The two are not directly related. You refer to using the camera with the maximum setting in megabytes (12) in JPEG format. JPEG is a lossy compression file standard made to reduce image file storage space and has no relation to the image resolution. So when you open the file with Elements, go to the Information dialog and it will tell you the image size in pixels (that is resolution).
Matte Surface LCD Displays
Q. I have been advising a friend about monitors and she is hung up about glare from the screen. Can you comment as to the four monitors you have recommended over the recent past—the Dell, NEC, LaCie, and Eizo—as to their “glare” properties?
A. All of the LCD displays I recommend for digital image editing and processing are matte surface screens. All the shiny surface screens I am aware of usually have properties that excludes them for use at the professional level of image editing and processing. Most have a limited sRGB color range, and many cannot be adjusted to the lower brightness of 80.0 to 90.0
CD/m2 white luminance to be a match to paper white for editing for color-managed printing. In addition, many of the shiny screen models are LED backlight, which requires the most recent display management equipment and is rated by scientific lab tests as inferior to CCFL backlight for color accuracy.
Q. I am about to act on your advice again and have a quick question. While you often talk about the Dell UltraSharp U2410 I can’t recall any mention of a seemingly sister Dell display, the U2711. They seem to share color managing technology and I am curious if you would recommend them both equally because of this.
A. Yes, Dell has UltraSharp models in 27” and 30” sizes that have similar display color management capabilities. But apparently the screens of the larger sizes are not quite the same. All of the feedback I have received about the 27” and 30” models has been negative. So no, I do not recommend the Dell UltraSharp you mentioned.
Your interest in the larger sizes, I assume, is a desire to have a larger screen area. My answer to that is simple. Instead of buying a 27” or 30”, how about just getting two Dell UltraSharp U2410 displays? It costs less and you get even more screen area for what you spend. Yes, for some it may mean making some other connection adjustments or workarounds, but that is neither an impossibility nor of great difficulty.
Low Cost, Best Display Monitors
Q. It is a strange thing, but recently B&H and Adorama both had messages on their websites declaring the NEC P221W as discontinued. I just went on the B&H site and the monitor is back in stock. Strange. What is your current recommendation for a low cost monitor and calibration solution like the P221W, but perhaps a bit better? Thanks for all you do.
William (Billy) Brehm
A. Unfortunately, there is only one pro-graphics LCD display that is in the inexpensive range currently available. It is the 24” Dell UltraSharp U2410 LCD display. It has a list price of $549, but Dell often sells it for less. In fact, it is currently selling on their website for $399. The NEC P221W is no longer listed on NEC’s list of SpectraView displays.
The only display color management system I currently recommend is X-Rite’s i1Display Pro. It is easier to use than any past software and colorimeter and provides a very good profile with all brands of displays, except NEC SpectraView. I don’t recommend NEC to my readers anymore.
The better quality LCD display I suggest is the Eizo FlexScan S2243W. You can get all the information on it at: www.eizo.com/global/products/flexscan/s2243w/index.html. Eizo has dealers in all the major cities and many sell at modestly discounted prices. It is what I use myself by choice, although I also have a Dell U2410 in my lab.
On page 149 of the February, 2013, issue we featured a sidebar by Randy Bradley that provided detailed instructions for creating a personal signature to add to your digital photos. Unfortunately, when we ran Randy’s photo to illustrate his instructions, we embedded a copyright notice inside his photo. In doing so, we not only doubled down on the point Randy was trying to make, but we may have inadvertently caused some confusion. Here is the photo as Randy intended for it to be seen: