What I Don't Miss Anymore!

October 22, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope everyone has had a great week!  This week I want to talk about something new in my bag.  Something I have been missing ever since I switched from full frame and went to crop senor cameras.  I did not miss the image quality or even the dynamic range that full frames claim to have.  But I did miss one thing.  When I was shooting Full Frame cameras of course I was shooting full frame glass and very good lenses to boot.  I had two out of the big three for Nikon.  I had the 70-200 f2.8 and the 24-70 f2.8.  Let me say I just loved these lenses.  Although they did weigh a ton the image quality sharpness was outstanding!.  I recently got on to Light Room and did a search for the most used focal range and the 24-70 by far has the most photo's taken.  Whether I was using a crop sensor or not .   This focal range was the most used and I knew that but wanted to see the numbers. 

When I first got into the crop sensor sized camera's I like everyone else just had the kit lens.  I quickly upgraded the kit lens that was a 16-50 (24-75mm full frame equivalent) pancake lens with a variable aperture to the 18-105 f4 lens ( 27-157.5mm equivalent). This was a pretty good upgrade without too much money and I used this lens for quite a while but it wasn't as sharp as I wanted.  What I wanted was a 24-70mm f2.8 that didn't exist.  I finally upgraded to a Zeiss 16-70mm f4 (24-105mm equivalent) Lens and this was better but not by much but was more compact.  I still didn't have the large aperture that I was used to at 2.8 so I got a 35mm 1.8 (52mm equivalent) and a 24mm 2.8 (36mm equivalent) But I still didn't have the zoom with the wide aperture that I was used to with my Nikon setup.

Finally about a year and a half ago Sony announced a 16-55mm f2.8 lens was coming .  I got a little excited until I saw the price and it cost more than my camera did.  They also came out with a longer zoom a 70-350 variable zoom lens which I got at a lower price.  This was a fantastic lens and I could only imagine how the one I wanted was.  So I stuck with the kit I had for another year.  I only buy one big item a year if I need to in camera gear whether its upgrading older equipment or something new.  This year I finally bit the bullet and invested in the 16-55 f2.8 lens.  And invest is the right word.  Its a very expensive lens but if I remember right I paid about the same price for my Nikon full frame but it was 10 years ago.  There was another contender by Tamron a 17-70mm f2.8.  But all of the reviews talked about how the image quality wasn't quite as good as the Sony and that's why I was upgrading in the first place.  It almost half the price of the Sony but quality won out and I got the Sony.  The lens is still new to me but so far I love it .  The Images are sharp and crisp!  It feels like a quality lens and it is not as large as the Tamron.  Size was a big factor when I went from full frame to crop sensor size.  So all around I am happy with my purchase and my kit is about as good as it gets as far as I am concerned.  I am a 99% photography only shooter with almost no video. A rarity these days.

So my main kit now consist of a Sony A6500 body, a Sony 10-18mm F4 the new lens Sony 16-55 f2.8mm and the Sony 70-350mm f4.5-6.3.  This kit gives me a full frame equivalent range of 15-525mm Range.  This is the kit that I leave in my camera bag all the time and are my go to.  I do have other specialty lenses that I use for food or Star or Street photography but this is my main kit.  Which lately I haven't used a lot but plan to making a change to that situation.

So until next weeks discussion grab your kit and get outside and shoot!


Lens Hoods and UV Filters?

October 14, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everybody! Hope your week is going well.  This week I want to talk about two pieces of equipment that can be controversial .  People tend to be on one side or another whether to use them or not.  So I will give you my opinion on why I do or don't use them.  First is the Lens Hood.

Lens hoods come in all shapes and sizes and they are always in the box when you buy a lens.  Very few lenses don't come with a lens hood in the box.  Lens hoods attach on the front of the lens and are for protection against stray light bouncing on or off you lens.  Much like if you walk outside and you put your hand out and over your eyes to protect from the sun shining right into your eyes.  Without your hands seeing is difficult and you have lots of glare.  But when you put your hand over your eyes you can see more clearly.  This is how lens hoods work.  So when should you use them? Should you only use them when sun glare can be a problem?  My answer is use them all of the time.  Here is why.  There is no disadvantage of not using them.  They stick out in front of your lens providing extra protection if your lens should bump into something protecting your front element.  They also keep you from touching the front element by accident while handling your camera putting a unwanted smudge on the front element.  The only time I would remove the hoods is if I actually wanted sun flares in my photo.  Sometimes when you're using a larger lens and you want to use your pop up flash I would remove because they can cause a shadow on the bottom of your frame.  I personally never take them off. Even when I put my lenses away in my camera bag they are always on.  So I'm in the for using them and bonus they don't cost anything extra you got them with your lens.

Dune GrassDune Grass UV filters.  Use them or not?  In the film days UV or UV haze filters were used to keep a blue haze off of photographs.  With digital there is no need for the filters.  So why do so many people insist on using them?  One reason is its a way for camera stores to make a little more money on the initial sale by selling you a 40 dollar filter.  But that aside people use them for protection of the front element of their lens.  I do think there is "Some" justification to that.  I just watched a video on Youtube that pretty much debunked the myth that they protect your camera against falls or breakage of the front element.  This guy did experiments on how sturdy the filter was compared to the front element .  With only a 1/2 pound of weight being dropped 8 inches all of the filters broke.  But it took 11/2 pounds from 3 feet of height to even scratch the front element of the lens. So protection against a drop I don't think they protect your lens.  Actually a lens hood would do better and I have some experience dropping lenses with the lens hood on and everything turned out OK.   But I do think that they do protect in certain situations.  I think that shooting by the ocean or in very sandy situations they will protect the front element of your lens.  There is also the discussion about quality.  You buy an expensive lens and put an inexpensive piece of glass in front of it will it harm image quality?  My answer to this is probably not that you could notice unless the filter has a scratch or something on it.   And then there is the question of cost.  If you  have 5 different lens you have to buy 5 UV filters.  And of course I use a polarizer a lot of the time so I'd be stacking one on  top of the UV which  could cause vignetting at the corners especially on wide angle lenses. So my answer to using UV filters is, not all of the time only when needed like by the ocean or really sandy and windy.  I have one for each size of lens I own.  In  my camera bag I have a 67mm and a 62mm.

So that's my take on Lens Hoods and UV filters.  What's yours?  Drop me a comment and let me know if there is anything that you would like me to go over or any questions you would like answered.  Until next week keep those lens hoods on and get outside!


The Myth About Always Shoot at 100 ISO!

October 08, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everybody! Hope this week has been fantastic for you!  This week I want to talk about ISO settings on your camera. One of the big three of Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO. The ISO is how sensitive your sensor is to light.  The Higher the number the higher the sensitivity of your sensor.  But with that sensitivity also come noise.  So the higher the ISO the more noise.  Now back in the film days you used to buy your film at ASA 100 or 400 and it worked the same way as ISO does but you couldn't adjust on the fly like you can with digital it was set in stone to what the film was.  But now this is a movable number from frame to frame if you want to and it can be adjusted like Shutter speed and Aperture.  When digital first came out noise was a problem on even the most expensive camera's.  And you didn't move the ISO off of the lowest number unless you had to.  If you did you got noise in the dark Max Stansell Photography portions of your photo. But with all of the technical advances in sensor technology that isn't the case any more and this number can be adjusted like the other parts of your camera.  Nowadays its no problem putting your camera ISO at 6400 and shooting with no noticeable effects. That's 6 stops of light you have to play with.  So what are some of the situations that you can adjust your ISO.  I'm going to use some landscape situations that this would come in handy.

Max Stansell Photography Waterfalls- In shooting water falls getting the water to look right is the most important part.  So first I would get my Shutter speed in the ball park to get the water looking like I want it.  Then I would set my Aperture to get what I wanted in focus.  But if I have a Polarizer and a ND filter on the seen could be 2 to 3 stops too dark at 100 ISO.  But if I move my ISO between 400 and 600 ISO I can bring that exposure back to the normal range.  Now I could lighten the shadows in post production but that could bring in noisy grain but if I get it right in camera by adjusting the ISO that will make my photo look better in post production and my finial photo will look more crisp.

Windy Landscapes-  This is when the leaves on the trees are moving and I want them to be nice and still and crisp.  So I would first set my Aperture to set the part of the scene that I want in focus.  Then I would set the Shutter speed to the speed that will make my leaves nice and crisp. And if my ISO is at 100 and the scene is too dark because of the higher shutter speed I can up my ISO until the exposure is back and like above I don't have to do it in post.

Newer camera's no matter what brand can handle the increase in ISO.  A good thing to do is test your camera.  You can easily do this by setting your camera on a tripod and shoot many photographs of the same scene using different ISO's and you can see where the highest ISO is that you like or can make a difference in your photography.  Where you feel comfortable at.  That threshold might be different for different cameras or different people with the same camera. Its all very personal.  For me and my main camera its about 6400 ISO.  For just run and gun shooting I usually shoot on Aperture Priority and  set my ISO to Auto and put a limit to 6400.  Anywhere between 100 and 6400 will be fine for me.  When I'm on a tripod I usually shoot in Manual mode and manually move my ISO.  

So that's my soap box speech on 100 ISO.  So until next week get out and shoot.  If you have any questions please put them in the comments and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.


Buy Nice or Buy Twice!

September 30, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope you are doing well today.  This week I want to talk about purchasing equipment. Now I have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and I have purchased a lot of equipment over the years.  It has taken me quite awhile to learn the Buy Nice or Buy Twice system.  I am all about buying the best equipment that you can afford.  And upgrading equipment will always be a part of photography because of technology improvements.  In the olden days of film, the camera or lens technology did not improve for a long time the technology for film did.  So you kept your camera for years and years.  But when digital came about, technology pushed the camera companies to make model after model every year like phones.  Keeping up can seem like a chore.  But in my experience, if you buy the best you can afford, it can last for years without needing to be replaced. But how to afford them? It's a boring answer. Save your money!  I tend to buy one big item a year for my camera kit.  It could be something new like a lens or an upgrade of something I already have like a lens or a body or lights. You'll find after a few years you'll have a great kit.  It's very hard to build a great kit from the beginning. We all have to start from the beginner camera with a kit lens and start building up.  Where do you start to build your kit? 

First start with research.  While you're saving up your money, start looking at what you need.  At first you'll just be filling gaps of focal lengths that you have after you've bought your camera and kit lens.  Try to find out what you love to shoot the best and what equipment will facilitate the best photo. Look at what the pros shoot.  They make their living with the equipment they purchase, so they usually invest in the best. You can research professionals through YouTube or just Google the type of photography you like.  Take food photographers for example. Photographers love gear, and when you find a photographer that shoots what you like, they will soon start talking about gear.  My recommendation is buy the best glass (lenses) you can. Glass Lasts. Good lenses are expensive but can last for decades.  While camera bodies change every other year, new technology lenses stay the same. And anyway the lens makes the photo in my opinion.  Better glass equals better photos. When you find what equipment you want, let's say we're looking for a new lens, the cost of the lens new is your target for saving.  First, you might want to try one out by renting it for a weekend. Try it out make sure that's what you want before you get one. Now where can I get one?

Buying Used. Buying used gear can be a great way to afford good gear.  I have bought new and used and have good luck with both.  If you know someone that is selling gear, that is the best way to buy used. I really like this method because you can touch the equipment.  It's not just a photo of the equipment. My main camera that I use now I bought from a friend that loves gear more than me and had only had the camera body less than a year.  It was in great shape, and I saved lots of money buying a used one.  But there are other places to get used gear.  Amazon sells used gear.  When you look at a new item, they usually have other options, and used is one of them. The big photo stores Adorama and BH Photo both have used departments for gear, and they rate the condition of the products.  eBay is another option.  I have bought and sold off of eBay and have had good luck, but you never know what you'll get.  There are companies that only buy and sell used equipment. Companies like MPB and KEH are great sources for equipment and also rate the condition of the equipment. So buying used is a good option in buying equipment.

Of course new is a great way to go too.  With new you do get a warranty and know that no one has used the camera but you.  This is my preferred way just for the wear and tear that I put on equipment. I just like to start from new if I can.  I have bought from Amazon, Adorama, BH Photo, and let's not forget your local camera shop.  When I can I try to buy local.  The last new camera I bought was from a local camera company near me. Its about a 45 min drive to get there, and my granddaughter and I drove there and made a day of it. She was the first photo I took with it. And I got a great deal to boot!

Make sure to protect your investments with insurance.  Maybe that will be a  future blog. Well, that's all the rambling for this week.  Take your newly purchased gear out and start shooting.


What Color Space Should I Use? SRGB or Adobe RGB

September 23, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope your having a great week!  This week I want to talk about Color Space.  What color space is and what you should set your camera to and what you should export to.  This is a subject that can really get you lost in the woods and its very simple to figure out.  There are lots of opinions on this subject.  First of all if you shoot only in RAW you it doesn't really matter what you set your camera at.  Only if your shooting JPEG's.  It does affect your live view a little but not really.  So lets talk about Color Space first.  

SRGB.  SRGB is the most common color space.  It is what your phone , computer screen and all of the devices use for their color.  I like to think of the color spaces as crayons.  SRGB is the pack you got when you were in pre-school.  Maybe 8 Colors and you can mix and match all of them to make other colors.  So all of the colors that you see on your laptop, iPad, phone even TV are SRGB.  Most camera's come factory set at SRGB.

Adobe RGB.  This color space came out after SRGB and has many more colors.  In crayon terms its the 64 crayon box full of colors.  It has 35 times the colors that SRGB has.  The problem is that you have to have a special monitor to see the difference between SRGB and Adobe RBG. So that is the difference between SRGB and Adobe RGB color science.  One Adobe RGB is much more colors than SRGB. So when can I use Adobe RGB?  The only time I think you could use it is when printing.  Some printers can print Adobe RGB and if your entering photo contest they use Adobe RGB monitors to view the photo's.

So for setting your camera if your shooting in RAW which you should it doesn't matter. If your shooting in JPEG you could use either. The real question is how are you going to present this photo? So its really how are you going to export the photo from your photo editing software? Most of us are going to put it on the web or use it as a digital image.  Remember Screens can only see SRGB so if you shoot in Adobe RGB and are outputting for digital use all of the colors won't be used because SRGB space is so small. If your only going to display as a print then Adobe RGB printed on a Adobe RGB printer will work great.  But there aren't many Adobe RGB printers. And they are expensive.  If your going to send it out to be printed check with the company your using on what color space they use. Then choose that one.  The simple answer for all of the questions is SRGB in most cases and Adobe RGB in special occasions.  I hope this has helped and not muddied the water.

The reason I came up with this topic this week is because I was looking at some of the EXIF data on some of my photo's on my web site and saw that some photo's were in SRGB and some were in ADOBE RGB.  So I started researching and thought I would share. So until next week keep learning and get out and shoot!

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