All posts tagged camera

… before we go to the nice and warm Philippines…

I’ll make this an exposure 101. If you’re a pro-photographer you already know this (or at least, you should! 😉 ), but I’ve been asked about this a couple of times and I decided to do a simple, little write up about it, without getting into too technical language.

Why is it important to take (manual) control of your camera?
A lot of people, especially those who have just bought a camera or have just gotten into photography, use the automatic settings in the camera. In most of the average cases that would be just fine, but since a camera is just a thing, with no obvious intelligence, when things get out of average, the picture goes south as well.

My camera is set (in 95% of the cases) to full manual with spot metering. I prefer spot metering above all other settings, because I get to pinpoint a location in my frame for which I decide what exposure is the best one, based on the initial suggestion of the light meter in the camera.
The other metering methods are also working fine, but don’t just blindly trust the values the light meter in your camera shows you.
What you need to know about the camera’s light meter, is that it’s “calibrated” to assume that everything in your frame has an average hue. The light meter doesn’t see or read colors, it just sees light or dark. 18% grey may sound familiar to some of you, maybe not to others. But 18% grey is what the light meter thinks the average hue in your image is (or rather, should become). Green grass, for example, is about 18% grey, on a normal sunny day. So if you were to take an image of a sports field with mostly grass and you’d have your camera do everything automatically, you’d have a great picture with a perfect exposure. Of course there are plenty of other things that are -about- 18% grey. But what if you’re shooting somewhere where everything, or the bigger part of your frame, is NOT 18% grey?
If that were the case, and you have your camera set to automatic (or to manual, and you’d dial the exposure, ISO and/or aperture so that the bar sits nicely on the 0 in the middle), your camera will make everything 18% grey.

The perfect examples are in the two extreme ends of the light spectrum.
Imagine a winter landscape, with mainly… yep: snow. Snow is one of the purest, whitest substances on this planet (provided it’s not territorially marked by some inhabitant of this planet 😉 ).
So what would happen in the camera when I’d point it at my winter landscape? The meter sees the landscape and ‘thinks’: “Wow! That’s easy! A big frame full of 18% grey.” And so, thinking the purest white snow is 18% grey, the camera underexposes your image with about 2 stops.

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/60 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

In order to correct this, and to get the right exposure for the snow, you’d have to manually adjust the exposure time either by dialing up it with up to two stops, or use the exposure compensation.

The same thing goes for the other extreme of the scale. When what you see in your viewfinder (or your Liveview screen) is primarily black/dark, the light meter will assume that this is 18% grey and will adjust –overexpose in this case- the exposure to make the blacks look like 18% grey. You will have to underexpose the image to correct for the camera’s false assumptions.

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 14-24mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 14-24mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec  @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 14-24mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm




It’s been quiet a bit. I know. Been busy, and I had my images to process from the trip to the Rocky Mountains. They will come in the following posts.
But first I wanted to write this.

With my D800 (the space-eating, 40Mb per raw image camera) I needed bigger cards. The biggest card with my D700 was an 8Gig (Kingston). That was a conscious choice. I could’ve put in a 64 or a 128, but you never really know when a card fails on you and you lose everything. I didn’t want to take that risk. So rather than having 1 big CF card, I had several smaller cards.
From a local store I bought a Transcend 32Gig and shot with that the first months. Around the house I don’t usually shoot 0ver 500 images, so that card would keep me going until my trip. A Buddy of mine was going to the US and I had him bring back 2 Kingston 32Gig cards, because they are like… half the price at B&H compared to what I have to pay for the same stuff in this beautiful country.

The old "faulty" cards

I’m of the naive type that believes that everything works out of the package. So I didn’t test the Kingston cards in the camera before I left off to the Rockies. I had my Transcend 32, and the 2 Kingstons. I threw out all the other cards, save for one of the 8Gig Kingstons (just for good measure, but I didn’t expect to need that with 3 32Gig cards).
Rocky Mountains came. It was beautiful. It took me about 5 days to shoot the Transcend 32Gig full (about 750 images). Then I had to switch.

I took out the Kingstons and put one in the camera. No joy. I formatted -or try to- the card. Card ERROR came flashing in the display. Uh oh…
Well, that was bound to happen some time. And of course it would be at a time like this. But no worries. I had a second card. I switched cards. No joy… I formatted -or try to- the card. Card ERROR came flashing in the display. %#&(“%//#&%!!!
What are the odds that TWO cards, straight out of the package, don’t work? I got to fire up my Buddy’s laptop and went to Kingston’s website. The FAQ’s on this card mentioned something along the lines of “What if the card doesn’t work in my camera, but does work in another camera?”, which led me to test the cards in my Buddy’s Canon 1D MkIII. And of course… they worked in his camera. I planned on testing it still in my D700 at home, but for now I had to make do with the 8Gig that I had brought (just for good measure and which fit about 120 images of the D800-size).

When we got to Colorado Springs we went to a Best Buy to get me another big CF card (can you believe that none of the other big stores had anything bigger than 4Gig??). They only had Sandisk as a brand (which is fine), but the largest was 16Gig and it cost 87$. For reference: the two 32Gig Kingstons I bought from B&H were 53$ each. One of the clerks came to me and asked me if he could help me, and I told him that I got 32Gig from B&H for almost half the price of his 16Gig. He was eager to help and suggested a price match. He checked on Amazon for the price of the Sandisk and it came in on just over 60$, so he sold me the card for just over 60$. No hassle, no fuss, no struggle. Just plain and simple, friendly customer service.
That’s customer service #1, at Best Buy.

But I’m side-tracking.
When I got home from the Rockies I tested the cards in the D700, and they worked. I find it a tad bit strange that a newer camera wouldn’t be able to read older cards, but anyway… I contacted Kingston, explained them the situation and it took them less than 2 hours to respond to my inquiry:

Dear Arno,
Thank you for contacting Kingston Technology.
We are going to replace your 2 x CF/32GB-U2 with 2 x CF/32GB-U3 that has been tested as working perfectly fine with the Nikon D800.
The CF/32GB-U3 is the fastest of our CF cards range with a speed of 600x.
Could you please let us know if you agree with that replacement?
I look forward to hear from you.
Kind regards,

No “What did you do to your cards”, no “this is your fault and it doesn’t fall under our warranty policies”, not a single attempt to squirm away from their responsibilities, like I’ve seen so many companies do in the past. Just a simple “we’re going to replace your cards with a faster and more expensive card than what you had, do you agree with this?”.
I mean… Duh? Do I agree?

I sent them a mail back to confirm that I -of course- agreed with this, shortly after which I got a ticket number and an address where to send the “faulty” cards.

I sent the cards on Monday, on Tuesday I got a mail confirming that they received the cards. On Wednesday morning I received another mail, saying that the new cards were shipped and on Thursday in the afternoon I got a phone call that the delivery guy was waiting downstairs at the door with a package from Kingston.

The new, faster and more expensive cards

That’s Customer Service, with a capital C and a capital S. From Kingston. With a Royal K.
It is absolutely refreshing to receive this kind of service in a world that has turned so individualistic and profit-based. The client is King isn’t something I would ALWAYS take literally. In the type of work I’m in I’ve seen clients behave like jokers and assholes, but when “the client” reports a faulty product Kingston for me has just set an example of how things are supposed to be dealt with. I’m typically not brand loyal when it comes to smaller accessories for the camera, but this kind of service makes me want to come back to Kingston. And I will recommend them to anyone.


It took only a month and a half of waiting, but it finally came… I believe words are not necessary…
Me = happy camper! 🙂 🙂

Nikon D800

D700, ISO1600, 1/125 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm macro

Facebook has been flooded with them. Up to the point of nuisance some times.
But there have been some really funny ones among them. And -I can’t quite remember what triggered it- but I made one myself. Several times it’s been that I (over)heard people say or say it straight in my face that everyone can take pictures if they have a good camera.
Of course…. Everyone can take pictures, but that doesn’t make you a photographer. It’s been one of the lines I’ve been using for quite awhile: Buying a (big) camera doesn’t make you a photographer, it makes you a camera owner.
People think they are a photographer, because they have a big camera. They think that if you have an expensive camera with a high pixel count, you make great pictures. They think with a big expensive camera all you have to do is lift, aim, press shutter and you have a perfect picture. Sure, the image quality gets better with a bigger camera, but that doesn’t make the photographs any better. If you don’t have the eye, if you don’t have some sort of technical knowledge of what you’re doing, it makes no difference if you have a big or a small camera. The photographs will be crap no matter what. And Photoshop doesn’t help there either. You can’t make a good picture out of a bad picture.

So for all those who think they photographers are photographers just because they have a big camera, I would like to dedicate this to you (click it, like it and share it, if you will):

The pretentious wannabe photographer

…shame on the camera?

Hmm… I guess it doesn’t work like that, eh?

Last Monday was full moon (at least on this latitude). I was in a hurry, and on my way down town. They said it would be a clear evening, but hey… Who ever believes the forecasts, right? So I was driving on the freeway and BAM! Right in my face. A HUGE full moon. HUGE! I’ve rarely seen it this huge. It was civil twilight. There was a business park to the left which cast some great reflections in the partly frozen water in front of it.
And I’m sitting in my car. Looking at the moon, looking at the business park and its reflections, looking at the back seat, where I usually always put my camera bag, and I go “Sh*T! SH*T!!! I HATE MYSELF!!! SH*T! That moon’s probably not going to be like that for another year or so. SH*T!!!”
Usually I’m very decent and not really all that wound up, but this was one of those situations, well, you know…

Today I came back from helping out a friend. I did bring the camera, but of course not the stuff I really needed for this shot. I was driving home on the freeway, when all of a sudden I see a big owl in the field next to the freeway. It was in full flight, wings spread, a magnificent image. If only…
I would’ve been able to slam the brakes and stop dead from 110 km/h, park the car on the side of the road, get my camera out of the bag, change the lens to the zoom, get out of the car, and…
I probably could’ve done most of that (let’s leave it in the middle whether or not it would’ve been wise to do it), but of course I didn’t have my zoom with me.

I will probably drive back there some time via the country roads. It’s said that owls usually stick around in the same area, so maybe I get a second chance…

You know what NOT to do…

It’s been on the minds of photographers around the world since way back.
Many photographers are told to, and have, also get themselves familiar in the area of (digital) video and moving images. The time that stills are taken from video images is drawing near.
Red Digital Cinema is working hard on making digital camera manufacturers obsolete. The toys that they have announced for the coming period are… well… very interesting to say the least.

Image courtesy Red Digital Cinema

Image courtesy Red Digital Cinema

The Epic 617, announced for 2010, is said to have a whopping 261 MP sensor with a 186x56mm sensor size. Imagine an image of 28000×9334 pixels.
I hope by the time this camera comes on the market, Apple’s released a G15, because otherwise processing the images might be quite the painstaking and time consuming ordeal.

This kind of gadget are still well outside my budget. But how long will it take for these things to get available for “normal” people?
And what will happen to photography?
I’m sure there’ll always be photography and photographers, as there will always be newspapers and books, but boy, this is a development…