Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Human vision is close to a 50mm focal length on a 35mm camera. That is likely the reason that most SLR's and other view finder 35mm cameras had a 50mm lens. These cameras most closely mimicked what human vision saw naturally. Therefore, the only camera that focal length is not a source of some confusion is the 35mm film camera and the full frame DSLR. Why am I mentioning this? Well, you need to be aware of crop factors.
As I have stated before in this blog. I own a couple Sony A3000 which are mirroless APS-C cameras which have a crop factor of 1.5. This means that I have to take the focal length of the lens and multiply it by 1.5 to get the equivalent of what a full frame camera would be like. Therefore, if I want to get close to a full frame 50mm lens view, which will mimic human vision, on my APS-C camera, I have to use a 30mm to a 35mm lens. I have a 30mm Sigma f/2.8 lens that actually mimics a 45mm lens on a full frame and it gets me pretty close to human vision. If I use a 35mm lens, i mimic 52.5mm on a full frame camera so both the 30mm and the 35mm will get me close to a 50mm image on a full frame camera. So if you want a view close to what you see with your eyes, and own a APS-C camera, then you will want to choose a 30mm - 35mm lens, or you will want to set a 18-55mm lens on approximately 32.5mm to get that view.
The one thing that you can count on is that point and shoot cameras show their focal lengths in 35mm equivalent terms. So, when they tell you that they have a zoom range from 24mm to 640mm, they are explaining that it 35mm equivalent terms. I hope that I have explained that the main thing to consider is how any focal length will compare with what you see with the naked eye.
Below are some images from my 30mm lens which comes close to human vision.
Monday, June 27, 2016
Above is a photo that was taken with my Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens. It was on aperture priority setting the camera used a 1/3200 sec exposure with an ISO of 200. If you click on the image it will be enlarged so you can see the way it focuses sharply on the subject, grandma and grandson and blurs the background so that you are not distracted.
Using aperture priority mode when there is a lot of ambient light available works very well. That is the circumstance of the above portrait. With aperture priority mode, the closer you are to the subject and the farther back the background, the more blurred the background and the more bokeh that is present. Below is an example of being close to the subject with a completely blurred background.
This image again was shot with my Sigma 60mm f/2.8 lens wide open.
Now then, if you move away from the closest subjects/objects with a fast lens wide open, you can get all of the background in fairly sharp focus. I use prime lenses wide open in night street photography and have a great amount of success with the results. My Sony A3000 has a native ISO up to 6400 and I find that the results are pretty acceptable all the way to ISO 3200. It is very good at ISO 1600. I have done a lot of hand-held street photography at night and my results are quite acceptable with very little noise.
Both of the above images were shot at night, hand-held with the aperture wide open. This type of photography will become easier to do with much better results as camera sensors continue to improve. Sony has a full frame mirrorless, an A7RII, that has a native ISO that goes over 100,000. It will make unbelievable hand-held low light photos without any noise.
As you can see, aperture priority has a variety of uses that enhance you ability to make photos that you are proud to showcase. I will leave you with additional examples of images shot in aperture priority. Click on all photos to see them enlarged in a slide show format that will allow you to click through them. Also, feel free to comment in the comment section.
I shoot a lot of landscapes/cityscapes so I like to use the (A) aperture priority for many of my shots. It allows me to set the aperture opening and ISO and the camera selects the appropriate shutter speed. I also like to under-expose my images so I usually set it for either -.30 or -.70EV. However, I have a friend who shoots mostly street photography and he likes to use (S) shutter speed so that he can make sure he controls whether there is blurring with motion or not. If you are photographing anything moving such as bicycles or motor vehicles you will want to control the shutter speed value.
I also shoot a large number of night or low light images and that can often require (M) manual mode. In this case, you choose the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to get the exact results you want. A lot of night/low light photography requires the use of a tripod. The reason is that many times you want to slow the shutter speed down to having it open for several seconds and if you use a hand-held method you will blur your image beyond recognition. In this way, you can set the aperture to a higher f value that restricts the amount of light coming into the camera. Slow the shutter down to several seconds (4-30) depending on available light, and keep the ISO low (100-200). This gives very crisp images with the lights starred.
Here is an example:
You can see the starring on the lights in this one. If I remember, this is at f/14 with an ISO of 200 and a shutter speed of 8 seconds.
However, with the newer mirrorless, and DSLR cameras, that are capable of higher ISO you can take nice night shots hand held. You must use a prime lens that has a wider aperture and crank the ISO up to 1600 or 3200. This will make hand held shots that are acceptable with little noticeable noise. Your camera should be capable of at least 6400 native ISO and it is better if it is even higher like ISO 12800 and above. The key is having a lens with a fast aperture, at least f/2.8 - f/2 or f/1.8.
Below is an example of a hand-held night shot with a f/2.8 prime lens.
And here is another at even lower light conditions.
I will blog about the other dial settings in more detail in further posts.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Here is a diagram showing the relative size of sensors. There are more sizes than this but let me say that this shows the glaring difference between the three most commonly owned cameras, namely, the full frame DSLR or Mirrorless, the APS-C DSLR or Mirrorless, and the point and shoot/bridge camera.
This is why as a developing amateur, I recommend the ASP-C size sensor. Now professional photographers don't get up in arms! I will readily admit that if one is planning on earning a living shooting photos he or she should have a full frame camera. I know that a lot of pro's have an APS-C camera as an emergency back up, but the pro will do better with a full frame. However, there are some really great images made with APS-C sensor cameras and that is exclusively what I shoot. What you get with an APS-C sensor is detail in the foreground, middle, and background. Also, when it comes to shooting portraits, you get super great detail up front. There is greater detail in the eyes, skin, lips, hair etc.
It infuriates me to see someone who has deep enough pockets purchase a full frame camera, but not enough skill to make their photos look any better than a P&S camera. I am on a lot of Facebook groups and believe me, I see photos every day that are shot with expensive full frame cameras that are barely in focus, dull and look like they were shot with the smallest of sensors. Maybe I am just jealous but it still makes me angry :).
Now then, small sensors do have their place. They make it possible to zoom to great distances with a fairly small camera and relatively short lens. An example of this camera is the one bridge camera that I have kept around. It is the Canon SX40 HS. If you look at the photo of my Sony A3000 at the top of this post you will see that it has a very long lens. Further, it's maximum zoom is 215mm (larger with the crop factor but that is another blog article). The Canon pictured to the left has a zoom capability of 840mm. Yes, you read me right, 820mm zoom. It allows some spectacular moon shots with a very small sensor. It has a fixed zoom lens but it allows a range of 24mm to 840mm (in 35mm equivalent terms). Here is a moon shot I took with it.
This was on a tripod, 100 ISO, f/8
This is just scratching the surface of the importance of sensor size but will be sufficient for today. Hopefully I have given you food for thought and you will not waste as much money on P&S cameras as I did. One thing is certain. You can get a lot of really nice images with an APS-C sensor on either a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera.
Friday, June 24, 2016
Next, think carefully about what kind of photography you want to do. By that I mean, do you want to do mostly landscape or portraits? The reason I ask this question for you to consider is that it will make a difference in lens choice. I like variety so I do both, and at times, I combine them. When I think of landscape I also include architectural structures and can mean cityscapes as well. Another common combination of landscape and portrait is street photography. Street photography often incorporates both.
You will find, that in the beginning, the kit lens will be sufficient for all your shooting. Kit lenses usually range in focal length from 18mm to 50 or 55mm. An 18mm focal length is a wide angle and 55mm zooms out to cut down the angle width quite a bit. For most shooting the 18-55mm lens will be sufficient. If you want to shoot at the zoo however, you will likely need a lens with a reach of 55-200mm or 70-300mm. This will allow you to zoom up close when or where you can not walk closer.
The above photo shows my Sony A3000 with a 55-210mm zoom lens on it. This is the lens I use to shoot at the zoo and it is also good for portraits.
Above is a photo I took at the Memphis Zoo.
One of the reasons that I show this image is that many of the starting camera kits have two lenses. In the case of Sony A3000 it was an 18-55mm and the 55-210mm. I have both of those lenses but use them rarely now. The reason is that I have three prime lenses that I use most of the time. A 19mm Sigma for wide angle shots, a 30mm Sigma for most of my landscapes and street shots, and as 60mm for portraits.
The truth is that most all of the shots one wants to take can be accomplished with the most popular two kit lenses. This will work well for you in the beginning but no doubt if you stick to photography for a while you will want to get some prime lenses. I would suggest that you read the first two blog posts in conjunction with this if you have not.
Below I am going to post some of the variety of shots that I do.
Here is a portrait of Vallonda, shot with the Sigma 60mm 2.8 lens
This is a street shot of a down town park in atlanta
This is a covered bridge in Stone Mountain Georgia
In the first three posts I have given you some food for thought in getting your photography equipment. What ever you choose, whether new, used, or expensive full frame gear keep looking for this blog to develop. I will share the techniques and skills that I have gained along the way. This is merely a five year journey so far. I have learned a lot, and quite frankly, I am learning more every day.