Going Full Frame?

The morning newspapers contained a very expensive 2 ft. by 3 ft. ad promoting full-frame Nikon cameras.

So will going full frame make you a better photographer?

Of course not but it will make you a poorer one 🙂

Let’s put it this way: If I had an extra $12,000 I’d go full frame within the hour.

I’d buy a D800 (at $3000 a body) or at least a D600 ($2500 per body) plus a 12-24mm, 24-70mm and a 70-200mm (all are fast f/2.8 lenses and run roughly $2K each). Plus I’d buy a 35mm f/1.4 (at around $1500). nikon-d90-1

But I don’t have that kind of cash so my D90 (available on the used market at around $300) and my D300 ($800 used) DX format (full frame is called FX format) will have to do. (And BTW they both take really excellent images.)

So why would anyone want to go full frame? These cameras are much heavier and expensive and cumbersome when it comes to handling the huge files they can produce (A D-800 outputs a 36-megapixel file for every image. Most other DSLRs are really happy to cough up a 16 meg file. With a 36-meg file you could make a flawless print the size of highway sign.)

Well….if you’re a wedding photographer full-frame with a series of lenses that open up to the same f-stop help manage the workflow and the large images they are capable of producing images just pop and sizzle.

Full frame also uses FX lenses that produce views that us older film photographers remember fondly. In other words a 35mm lens on a full frame camera produces a view which closely matches how we see. The view is a little wider that what used to the standard 50mm lens produces. On a DX camera a 35mm lens produces a cropped image that more closely looks like the FX 50mm image.

If you’re shooting full frame it says to your clients you’re a pro. And as a pro you’re going to have to stop shooting weddings for $1200 and enter into the big leagues just to pay for the equipment.



The Best Backup

Here’s a link to an an excellent article about which portable hard drive to buy which appeared in PCWorld.

This comes thanks to one of my Amateur Radio friends who lives in South America.western_digital_my_book_thunderbolt_duo_4tb_1190910_g1

Watch for sales over the Christmas holidays and during New Year’s specials of hard drives with older technology.

If you’re using hard drives to backup your images (and you should) speed isn’t a big issue. A stand 2.0 USB one-terabyte hard drive will likely sell for anywhere between $60 to $99 on sale.

Last year I bought two 1.5-terabyte drives for $99 each at Future Shop. So far this year I’ve used half a terabyte so I’m ahead of the game 🙂

BTW if you are doing video editing or lots of photo editing with multiple editing programs running at the simultaneously then you’ll want at least one firewire, USB 3 or Thunderbolt drive (shockingly fast) and if there’s a choice in performance buy the faster drive. It will cost more but a faster drive saves time if you’re using it as a scratch pad in your digital darkroom.

Backup Or Else!

Back in the good old days of film, the negative strip that you got back from the drug store’s film developer was your backup. If you lost or damaged your prints you could always print more if you had kept your negatives. I’ve got boxes of negatives sitting in the basement and if I ever wanted to make prints from them it would not be much of an issue.

Today we are shooting digital images. The images are initially stored in the camera on the memory card. Then the images are downloaded to your computer software where they are again stored in a folder on your hard drive. Once the images get stored on the computer, most people format the memory card in their camera thus erasing the original images thinking that since there are exact duplicates in their computer they don’t need a second copy.10155404

But the second copy is crucial to keeping your images safe. It makes no economic sense to keep them on the camera’s memory card and it makes no sense from a safety point of view to keep two copies on the same computer hard drive.

So if you want to keep your original images safe you need to store them in two separate places. The hard drive on your computer is one place and you need to keep a duplicate copy of the images on a second external hard drive or on a DVD that you burn or even uploading to an online storage service.

It doesn’t matter so much which two (0r three) places you store your images as it matters that you’ve actually taken the time to store the images in two places.

The safest way to keep your memories is to print out the images you treasure and put them in an album. That’s just what we used to do with our film prints too.

Here’s an article from C/NET on digital storage basics which is pretty comprehensive.

White Balance

Digital cameras come with a setting for something called white balance. White balance is the process of removing unrealistic colour casts. This explanation comes from an excellent tutorial about white balance posted on a site called Cambridge in Colour . r

For most of us, auto white balance works just fine. 300px-ColorChecker100423

When it comes to shooting in JPG format, the white balance you shoot is the white balance you get. So if you shoot in AWB , you get AWB. If you shoot in the cloudy white balance setting, you get an image that appears somewhat warmer than in AWB. Depending on your camera there are several preset white balance settings.

Here’s an article that explains the different settings.

Under some shooting situations your camera will record more accurate colours when you’ve set the camera to a preset as compared to AWB.

When it comes to shooting raw images, white balance takes on a whole new significance.

Raw images can have their white balance changed in software after the image has been shot. This is an enormously powerful tool to create or correct the colours in your image. 17-01

Most, if not all, raw editing software will allow you to create a custom white balance setting specific for the individual image. I use this control often when I’m editing images that have strange colour casts caused by artificial lighting. Many times images shot in meetings or parties can benefit from a custom white balance setting that creates more true colours.

Here’s another article on white balance by Ken Rockwell who is a professional photographer and an online photo blogger and  who is always  posting plain-language instruction about shooting digital photography.

Remember white balance can help produce stunning images with colours that seem true to the viewer. When shooting JPGs on AWB most cameras are going to get the colours right the first time.

However, in difficult lighting situations, professional photographers use white balance presets or custom white balance when shooting raw and then create the colours they wish in advanced photo-editing software like PhotoShop or Lightroom.