Wednesday, 7 May, 2008
Aquariums are difficult locations because of several issues.
The water surrounding your intended subject may be crystal clear to your eyes but there is still particulate matter floating in it. Also, water has a large light-bending effect and every inch you shoot through makes it more difficult for your camera to collect enough light.
When photographing fish on exhibit at an aquarium you are shooting through glass or plexiglass type material that is, at times, a full foot in thickness.While this is easy for your eye to see through, the light bending properties can make it difficult for your camera to focus properly. Also, flash reflects off of glass and leaves a nasty glare on images.
When you walk into an aquarium the displays all look incredibly bright to our eyes. That is because you are standing in a dimly lit room and your eyes have dilated. The exhibits themselves are not as bright as they appear to you. Also, your eyes are continuously recording light. Your camera only has a fraction of a second to collect enough light. This makes the lighting levels of the aquarium displays harder to photograph.
Overcoming Shooting Difficulties
In order to take great shots at an aquarium you must learn to overcome the innate challenges of the location. To do this we must look at each challenge individually because each challenge affects the image to different degrees at different displays.
To overcome the challenge of water is to pay attention to timing and your subject's position. Plan to take photographs when the water is at it's clearest. Just before feeding time the fish are generally excited but the water is at its clearest and free of additional fish debris. During and after feeding the water is cloudy from food particles, extra air bubbles (created from frantic feeding), and fish waste. In addition to avoiding cloudy water, plan to photograph subjects relatively close to the glass. This will minimize the amount of light refraction from the water and particulate matter.
It takes a lot of strength to hold back thousands of gallons of water and large sea creatures rubbing against the glass. In spite of the exceptionally high quality of this material, it does still scatter light to some degree. Be prepared to switch to manual focus (if your camera supports one) to make adjustments to your camera's autofocus if it has trouble locking on to your subject.Your on-camera flash is not usually helpful with glass/plexiglass either. Because the flash fires directly ahead of the camera the reflection obscures the subject you wished to capture. To avoid this glare you need to increase the angle of the flash to the glass in relation to your camera. If your camera does not have an add-on flash option you can turn your camera (and yourself) at a 45 degree or better angle to the glass before taking an image. This can mean shooting upwards at a fish or shooting from the side. There can be some distortion of your subject with shooting this way but it should help avoid flash glare. If your camera accepts an add-on flash via hot shoe mount you can use a flash with a tilt head. By tilting the head of the flash at least 45 degrees you will move the position of the glare away from your lens.
Because exhibits often seem very bright to our dilated eyes, it can be confusing when your camera insists it does not have enough light. If you have a camera without shutter speed and aperture control you will need to rely on manipulation of your camera preset modes to make shooting adjustments.If your camera has the ability to control aperture and shutter speed your task will be much easier. When taking photographs in an aquarium you should use a small F-Stop setting (large aperture) to allow more light into the lens. Shutter speed will then be set based on exposure values as determined by your light meter (if you have one). Keep in mind that fish are almost always in constant motion and keeping your shutter speed about 1/60th of a second is a good idea. You will also need to set your film speed to a more sensitive number. ISO 800 is generally a minimum film speed for shooting without a flash while ISO 400 is probably ok with flash.You can also make the most of the light available in a scene by photographing fish near the tank light source. Often this light source is at the top of the tank so you have to be careful not to photography only the underside of the fish when shooting upwards.
By pulling together the techniques to compensation with water, glass/plexiglass, and lighting you can greatly improve your aquarium photographs.Also, when taking photographs in an aquarium, you must be mindful of proper photography etiquette. Most aquariums are very photography friendly (commercial photographers be sure to check for additional restrictions) but there are a few restrictions. Some marine species are very sensitive to light. Because of this, flash is not allowed at certain exhibits. Please take the time to look for "no flash" signs at an exhibit before starting your photography. Be respectful of other guests as well. Just because you REALLY want a great photo of a stingray does not give you the right to push anyone else out of the way or take the best viewing spot at an exhibit for an hour. If you really want a lot of camera freedom, consider an aquarium photo workshop offered by the aquarium. Some aquariums also limit the size/number of bags than can be brought into the facility and some ban tripods. Be sure to check ahead of time to find out whether or not you can bring your camera bag full of equipment with you. By following the rules of the aquarium you are visiting you will help to ensure that you (and other photographers) will continue to be allowed to photograph an amazing variety of fish without ever getting wet.
Wednesday, 19 March, 2008
It's cheap, plasticky, uses old-school film and takes truly terrible photos – but that's exactly why thousands of new fans love it. Simon Usborne snaps up the 1960s camera that's found a second life on the web.
The Holga is, by all accounts, a terrible camera. Shake it and it rattles as if something has broken inside. Its laughably retro design looks like the work of a child let loose with a crayon. You almost expect it to squirt water when the shutter is pressed.
The toy-like camera, which is more than twice the size of a digital compact (but less than half the weight), takes poor pictures. Often blurred and streaked with patches of red, they look like the end-of-the-reel snaps you would throw away in the days before digital. But in spite of all this, a pack of snappers – amateur and professional – are racing to get their hands on the plastic oddity (even the lens, which has been described as an "imitation of a cataract", is fashioned from plastic rather than glass).
The Holga, barely more sophisticated than a pinhole camera, takes rolls of medium-format film which, when developed, produces square pictures. It features just two aperture settings ("sunny" or "cloudy"), four focus positions from "portrait" to "landscape", and a basic flash powered by AA batteries. A spring connects a clunky lever beside the lens to the shutter, which has just one speed (one-hundredth of a second – or thereabouts).
Despite its Luddite convictions, the cult of the Holga is being propelled by technology. Holga-mania is sweeping the internet as fans use blogs and photo-sharing sites such as Flickr to extol the virtues of their deficient cameras, and to scan in and share their dodgy snaps.
Hundreds more pages are devoted to guides to "hacking" Holgas, or modifying them by taking them apart and adding bits to improve them. And hack they may, because while most of us shell out hundreds of pounds for a sleek slab of brushed aluminum and inches of expensive LCD screen, Holga converts fork out as little as £15 for a camera on auction sites such as eBay, where hundreds of Holgas are listed, or from specialist shops. At that price, a slip of the screwdriver is hardly going to be disastrous.
On the photo-sharing website Flickr, where as many as five million snaps are uploaded every day, a search for "Holga" yields more than 260,000 photos taken by users with names like "eyetwist" and "kimprobable". Most are American, but in the
Squarefrog (real name Paul Williamson) is an IT technician at an art college in Cleethorpes,
Williamson, 25, soon grew tired of what he calls the "sterility" of digital. In the age of the booming digital camera industry, with its spiraling megapixel counts and camera menus that would flummox a fighter pilot, converts to the cult of Holga celebrate the camera as an antidote to high technology. "Everything seemed so pristine in my photos," Williamson says. "They were almost optically perfect."
Williamson used to spend hours on his computer, using Photoshop to age his images, making them look like the faded travel snaps you might find collecting dust in your dad's attic. He discovered websites devoted to "Lomography", or online communities of photographers espousing low-fidelity images – the name was inspired by another "toy" camera, the slightly more sophisticated Russian-made Lomo LC-A. It was here that he first clapped eyes on the Holga.
"My first pictures were disappointing," he says. "But then I learnt things like focusing distances and how important it is to get close to your subject – the Holga's wide-angle lens forces you to. We're spoilt with zoom lenses on digital cameras."
Soon, Williamson was getting better results. He was so taken with his new piece of kit that he decided to share his enthusiasm with the world through his own website, squarefrog.co.uk. Subtitled "Life Through a Plastic Lens", the site features galleries of his pictures and hints on how to make the most of the camera.
Members of Williamson's Flickr group, called Squarefrography, have one thing in common: a perverse love of the Holga's many flaws. "You really don't know what to expect when you take a picture," Williamson says.
One of the camera's worst features (or best, Holgarists would contend) is what's known in photography as vignetting, where the middle of the photo is well exposed but insufficient light reaches the edges, causing a circular darkening of the picture, especially at the corners. Most camera-makers have spent fortunes eradicating the effect, but vignetting is a big reason for the Holga's charm, allowing photographers to draw interest to the centre of their images.
Other loved flaws include an almost insuperable blur, caused by the Holga's low-quality plastic lens. The same goes for light leaks; light often seeps in through the gaps around the back cover, which is held in place by flimsy metal clips, and through the exposure number window at the back of the camera. This leaves some photographs overexposed, or scarred with a random array of pinky blotches or streaks.
Many Holga owners overcome this by taping up the gaps, or even spray painting the camera's shiny interior matt black to minimise internal reflection – a process called "flocking". Others incorporate the light leaks into their work.
The internet has given the Holga a new lease of life in recent months, but the camera is anything but new. It was designed in
The Holga's antediluvian charm soon seduced many photographers in the West. It ousted the Diana, another camera produced in
David Burnett, the award-winning American magazine journalist and co-founder of the Contact Press Images photo agency in
Burnett, 61, soon started taking his new toy on assignments to separate him from the pack. "You can stand next to 10 photographers taking the same picture, and know yours will be different," he says. "Hopefully better and different, but at least different." His approach reaped rewards; at the White House "Eyes of History" photography awards in 2001, Burnett's Holga snap of Al Gore on the campaign trail won top prize.
Enthusiasts are catching up. There are whole magazines dedicated to the camera. Michael Barnes, an amateur snapper in
The Holga has even developed a celebrity following. Jack White, half of the American rock duo The White Stripes, was so fond of the camera that the Austria-based company Lomography, which produces hundreds of "toy" cameras a year as a licensed manufacturer, recently released a limited-edition Holga bearing White's name, in the band's signature red and white colours.
Williamson's website offers instructions on how to make the camera even more low-tech. Holga hackers can cut a square from a drink can, drill a hole in it with a sewing needle, unscrew the camera's shutter mechanism, insert the aluminum square in place of the lens, add a cable release to allow steady shooting, and voilà – you have a pinhole camera, christened, inevitably, the PinHolga.
Or how about a Holgaroid? By bolting a Polaroid back to a Holga, you can expose photos on Polaroid film for instant results. Or the Holgarama: "People are creating wide cameras, where they cut two Holgas in half and separate them, with a sealed box in between, so they can get a 12cm by 6cm panoramic photos rather than the standard 6cm by 6cm," Williamson says.
But perhaps the hack that gives the most striking results is modifying the Holga to take 35mm film by wedging a standard roll into the camera with folded cardboard and rubber bands. Because the Holga is designed to take bigger film, light hits every part of a 35mm reel. As a result, the developed image includes the film's perforated edges and numbers. "It's a really cool way to make pictures stand out," Williamson says.
Sales of digital and mobile-phone cameras show no sign of slowing, but with sites such as Squarefrog springing up all the time, it seems that the cult of Holga will only spread as more of us swap our technically superior cameras for quirky lumps of plastic that look like badly made toys.
"Until film becomes obsolete, nothing will drag me back to digital," Williamson says. "It just doesn't do it for me any more."
Thursday, 13 March, 2008
Product shots are really important when it comes to selling an item over the Internet. This is especially so because many online retailers sell the same products. However, the problem is that many of them choose to use stock photos. But, when stock photos are used it does not give the consumer a good idea of the detail of the item for sale. As a result, product shots are really important and they may very well be the difference of selling an item and losing a customer.
Product shots are not that difficult to achieve, even if you have never taken any. You just need to understand the basics of a great product shot and you will be able to take them.
Using a digital camera to take product shots is important. However, you will need to use the highest resolution settings the camera has. You want to use a camera with high megapixels but with a minimum of three megapixels to ensure quality. So, you don’t need a top of the line digital camera. An average camera will do.
You want to ensure your original photo is as good as possible so editing will make it better. If the photo has poor lighting or is overexposed then there is no saving it. A plain background with front lighting that is natural is usually the best way to get a good product shot. Choose a contrasting background to the product you are selling. The contrasting color will make the product sot pop.
Use a plain background. The reason why plain backgrounds are important is because they are not distracting. You want the product shots to focus entirely on the product, not something in the background. When only the product is in the photo then buyers will only see that and focus on it, rather than something else. This is exactly what you want.
Many times individuals choose to purchase an item in a brick and mortar store, even if it is more expensive, simply because they can see the product in detail. So, when it comes to product shots you will want to show as many details as possible. Close up bubbles are very helpful in this situation and will allow customers to check out the details without having to load multiple photos.
Use Photoshop after you have your photo so you can enhance colors and make the photo pop. Focus on using real colors and just making them more vibrant rather than completely changing colors simply because you can.
You can really enhance your photos, especially if you are an amateur, with toolbars like brightness and contrast and auto levels. This makes the photos look better, which is what you are going for.
These are just some suggestions to help you take better product shots with a digital camera. If you use detailed product shots then you will see that you will have more customers and make more sales. Go ahead and give it a shot and you will see that it is not that difficult.
Digital Cameras can come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. There are so many features it could make your head spin. When you are looking into your next purchase for a digital camera one of the most important things to look into is the camera’s zoom options. Today’s cameras are marketed with optical and digital zoom options. It is very important to know the difference between the two.
Quite simply the optical zoom feature uses the actual lens optics to bring your subject closer to you. This is your truest option, and it will leave you with the most information when it comes time for editing and printing.
The digital zoom feature uses software built inside the camera to enlarge or “crop-in” the subject to appear closer to you. This option loses digital pixels inside your image and can make pictures appear “fuzzy” or “pixely”.
Is one better than the other?
Absolutely! My recommendation is to only use the optical zoom. The digital zoom robs you of important digital information that could mean the difference between handing grandma a crisp 8×10 of the kids or a smaller 5×7 (She wants the 8×10, I promise). I live in
Just turn it off!
Most digital cameras allow you the option of turning off your camera’s digital zoom feature. I highly recommend that you do this. As always, all digital camera menus and functions are different with each make and model so consult your manual. If you can’t turn it off, set your digital camera to notify you when the zoom switches from optical to digital.
Professional Photographer’s Big Secret!!!!!
Use your feet to get closer to your subject. That’s it. Keep shooting and have fun.
Wednesday, 12 March, 2008
Most people, even professional photographers, are in need of a good ultra-compact digital camera. The Pentax Optio S10 is definitely small enough to be considered an ultra-compact - it just happens to be one of the smallest 10 megapixel cameras in the world. So as far as size goes, the Pentax Optio S10 can be considered an ideal pocket camera that is capable of taking very high resolution shots. Keep reading to find out more.
The Optio S10 is part of the popular S-series from Pentax, which has been around since about 2003. This line of cameras has been successful traditionally as ultra-compact cameras with affordable price tags. The S10 is no different, as this camera carries an MSRP of $249, but it can be found online for even less than that.
Pentax has become a leader in digital imaging with their innovative lens design, which has improved over the past 4-5 years. The Pentax Optio S10 is a great example of what a good lens can do for image quality. This camera produces very good quality photos. It is capable of shooting extreme close-ups as well as wide-angled shots. The super multi-coated (SMC) 3x optical zoom Pentax lens is very versatile.
The Pentax Optio S10 is part of a very competitive digital camera market that consists of powerhouse ultra-compacts like the Canon SD1000 and the Sony DSC-T2. The S10 can hold its own against these more popular models in terms of image quality and performance, but it lacks many of the features that these other cameras offer. This isn't to say that the S10 doesn't have any kind of functionality, but you're not going to find Bluetooth, optical image stabilization, touch-screen interface, or other advanced features in the S10. The S10 has just enough features to get by as a quality, budget shooter.
Images of Camera
In the Box
· Pentax Optio S10 camera
· USB cable
· AV cable
· rechargeable battery pack with charger
· AC plug cord
· camera strap
The Optio S10 features an all aluminum body design that is available in either a silver/gray combination or a blue/silver outfit that is exclusive to Wal-Mart. Overall, the S10 has a "high quality" look to it. It also has just enough weight to feel sturdy and durable. The overall dimensions of the S10 are 2.1 x 3.4 x 0.8 inches, and it weighs a mere 4.6 ounces. Although the S10 is a budget shooter, this camera is anything but "cheap."
The front of the S10 sports the heart and soul of this little guy with an f2.8-5.4 38mm-114mm equivalent 3x optical zoom SMC lens. This lens is really high quality and has a good range. The only major gripe with the lens on the S10 is that it produces a small amount of barrel distortion in images when shooting wide-angled shots. In the S10's defense, this is actually quite common in a camera of this size.
Looking at the back of the camera, the first thing that you notice is the 2.5 inch LCD display with 232,000 pixel resolution. The screen is a pretty good size for being such a small camera. The S10 does not have an optical viewfinder, but it seems that many compact digital cameras are doing away with this feature nowadays.
Alongside the display, you will find the majority of the buttons and controls on the S10. The control configuration is pretty basic. And it's very similar to many other digital cameras, so it should be easy to learn the location and function of the buttons. The buttons on the back of the camera consist of the zoom controls, play button (reviews photos), a menu button, trash (green button), and a 4-way D-pad with center "o.k." button.
The only flaw with the design of the S10 was putting the USB connection inside the battery/SD card compartment. It would have been much more convenient if it were placed somewhere on the exterior of the camera instead of inside it.
One of the most useful dedicated buttons on the S10 is the "green button." When this button is pressed, the S10 will go into fully automatic mode. This mode will automatically adjust white balance, focus, aperture, and other attributes to get the best photo possible. This auto feature works quite well at getting the ideal settings for each individual photo.
DIVx Movie Mode
The Optio S10 is a very capable video recorder that will take either 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 resolution video. The S10 offers three quality settings for both resolution levels. The higher the quality, the more memory you'll need to record the video. The S10 saves video in a compressed DIVx format, which helps keep the file sizes relatively small.
The S10 records video at 30 fps, which is DVD speed. The video feature includes sound, but reviews have shown that the microphone is a little weak at picking up sound. This camera will record video until the memory runs out, so you can get a lot of quality video from this little shooter.
The S10 is capable of high ISO levels, but for the most part, using the high ISO settings will make the pictures extremely noisy. For people not experienced with ISO levels, Pentax has added the ISO correction feature to help them out. This feature will allow the user to preset the maximum allowable ISO setting (I recommend ISO 400), and then when the camera is put into auto-ISO mode, the camera will not go any higher than the level that you preset. This will ensure that each photo is as sharp as possible.
There are a variety of shooting modes available in the Optio S10. First of all, there are 11 scene modes including pet, food, kids, natural skin tone, and others. There is a built-in face recognition mode that will automatically adjust focus and aperture on the subject's face. The S10 can shoot images from within 0.2-0.49 feet with its super macro setting.
Digital Shake Reduction (SR)
Unfortunately, the Pentax S10 does not have an optical image stabilization system as many of its competitors do. The answer to this problem is Pentax's digital SR feature, which works to reduce camera shake and blurring of images. This feature works by basically raising the ISO level, which in turn speeds up the shutter speed. While this feature works all right, it does not replace a good optical stabilization system like the ones in most Canon and Sony cameras.
Performance and Image Quality
For the most part, the performance and image quality of the S10 are its greatest assets. That's a good thing, because those attributes are probably the two most important things to look for when buying a digital camera. Here is what some of the experts had to say about the Pentax Optio S10's performance and image quality.
TrustedReviews really liked the improved performance of the S10 over its predecessors. They say that "the S10's performance is as good as anything in its class." That's saying a lot when you consider the great cameras in this class, including the Canon SD1000, FujiFilm F50fd, and the Sony Cybershot DSC-T2.
They also liked the way that Pentax has improved the AF system in the S10. They said this regarding the AF system in the S10: "I would now rate as one of the best in a compact camera in terms of both focusing speed and accuracy, and in low light ability."
In terms of image quality, they liked the overall picture quality, thanks to the nice SMC Pentax lens. They went on to say that the lens produced "excellent edge-to-edge sharpness and minimal barrel distortion at wide angle." They thought that the S10 produced "consistently good results, especially in low light."
They also pointed out two negative aspects of the S10's image quality, including the relatively weak flash, and the image noise problem with photos taken at ISO levels above 100.
CNet pretty much agreed with TrustedReview's comments. They liked the performance of the S10 when compared to the competition. Their test numbers for the S10 were quite good, as the Optio S10 was able to reach shot-to-shot times of 1.3 seconds in good lighting and 2.5 seconds when using the flash. These numbers are quicker than both the Canon SD1000 and the Sony DSC-T2.
They agree that the image quality is also quite good. They said that "Pentax strikes the right balance between noise suppression and sharpness in the S10." The only gripe that they had with the S10's image quality was a "slightly worse-than-usual barrel distortion at its widest end."
Steve's Digicams also agrees that the performance of the S10 is good when compared to the competition. They recorded a shutter lag time of just one-tenth of a second in good lighting. They also were able to get shot-to-shot times of 1.5 seconds, which is very close to CNet's numbers. These tests were conducted while using a 4 GB SDHC card.
They agreed with CNet in regards to a slight barrel distortion at wide angles, but went on to say that this is quite common for a camera in the S10's class. They liked the image quality of the S10 very much and said this about outdoor shots: "the colors were very vivid and had excellent saturation and exposure." They noticed some edge softness in photos when viewed at 100% and also some image noise when going above ISO 200.
There's been a milestone in digital photography and it's one you'll want to hear if you're in the market for a new camera.
TODAY’S TMJ4 Technology Guru Scott Steele found a breakthrough that gives you more for less.
It's common to see prices on electronics come down as technology improves, but one company has crossed an incredible barrier. DXG - the digital camera company has developed a 10 mega pixel product for less than $200.
Ten mega pixels for less than $200 seems impossible, especially since they claim that price is achieved without sacrificing qualities and features.
To check that out, Scott Steele had one of the nation's finest photographers put the unit through its paces.
"I've had a very diverse career over the last 25 years of photographing. I've ranged from fashion and advertising in
Dan Zaitz has been hired by the likes of Barbara Streisand, Jerry Seinfeld and the producers of Baywatch.
"I was the photographer for the number one show in the country and the number one show in the world at the same time,” Zaitz said.
While his fine art hangs in high end galleries, his cameras and accessories consume several large cases and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
"Well, like I said, this camera here, the body of it alone starts at about $4,500, so it's about $4,300 more than your little camera that you're talking about,” Zaitz said.
Zaitz took the DXG 110 out along side his high-end SLR to shoot some of the same subject matter side by side.
TODAY’S TMJ4’s Scott Steele: "So this is a fair way to compare the two?"
"It's a relatively fair way to compare the two cameras. I mean, part of it is that you're trying to compare apples and oranges,” Zaitz said.
One of the first things that surprised him was the extensive professional feature set that includes AutoFocus tracking and face detection along with proprietary technology like Advance Flash controls and Automatic Contrast management.
"As you can see, the exposure, light level, contrast is very similar. The main difference is in the focus, in the saturation of the two,” Zaitz said.
When it came time to comparing the photos from both cameras, Zaitz, a man whose vocabulary never included point and shoot found himself impressed.
Scott Steele: "You think the average person would be pleased or not?"
"They would be absolutely pleased. I know I would be pleased to use a little camera like this. Ten mega pixels affords me the opportunity to make larger prints. The fact that you can get a ten mega pixel camera for under $200, you can't go wrong. You absolutely cannot go wrong,” Zaitz said.
The camera will also record video and audio clips.
You can find it at most big box stores or online.
Tuesday, 11 March, 2008
Due in May, the 10 megapixel E-420 weighs 380 grams for the body and is only 53mm in depth. Width is 129.5 mm, while height is 91 mm.
The E-420 comes with a live view sensor, 2.7-inch screen and can take photos up to ISO1600. It also features ‘shadow adjust’ technology to deal with high contrast situations, face detection and also has buttons coloured to be visible to colour blind people.
Retail price has yet to be confirmed.
Despite the lack of an industry-wide trend to shrink their DSLR’s, Olympus Imaging Australia professional photography manager Lucas Tan said the company had taken the decision to slim down their consumer-focused models after conducting market research.
“We had a good look at the market some years ago, as to where the consumer digital market would go, and we realised that a lot of consumer digital camera users were actually upgrading into digital SLR-type cameras. And we’ve also … discovered that a lot of these users were not exactly very thrilled that single lens reflex cameras tend to be a little bit on the thick and chunky side,” said Tan
Tan also confirmed the size-reduction regime would also continue with new E-400 series cameras in the future, but would not flow on to higher-end models.
In addition to the E-420, Olympus has also launched the
Article Courtesy: Current
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