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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Memory Cards.....But Were Afraid To Ask

OK, memory cards may not be the most exciting topic around, but there's that card stuck inside that expensive fancy camera and it's holding all your photos. Screw up the card and there goes that whole photo tour, workshop, weekend, outing  etc.  Card corruption only has to happen once for you to suddenly become more interested.

I happen to run across what seems to be a pretty definitive article that contains a lot of great information and suggestions. The one that grabbed me the most was a fact that I hadn't realized and will change what I do.......never delete single images from the card using your camera. I have to admit that I have done this in the past with no adverse effects, but why risk it!

The article is by Jeff Cable, and you can find it here.  It's definitely worth a read!

Shades Of Paper

Some months ago, I wrote several posts about the 'death' of my second Epson 7900 printer (and third 7900 printhead) and mentioned that I didn't think I could bring myself to purchase another Epson printer again. The pricing is such that if the printhead 'dies' you might as well spend just a very little bit more and get a whole new printer with a one year warranty, as opposed to the replacement head with a 30 day warranty. If you search the internet you will find that there seems to be a very clear problem with these printheads (which are used in the newest generation of Epson printers as well). These problems were not and will not be acknowledged by Epson. It was for this reason that I decided that my next printer would be a Canon (which has printheads that are user replaceable).

At the time there were rumors of a new wide format Canon coming soon and that they would likely be very competitive in performance compared to the newest Epson printers based on the fact that they were an extension of the technology in the Canon ImagePrograf 1000 printer that had received very good reviews. I contacted Shades Of Paper, where I had purchased my prior three Epson printers, to see what I could find out. The purpose of this post is to tell you about a business where customers clearly come first!

From the start the customer service was superb.  I was able to get all the information I could ask for on both the new Epson and Canon printers. The Epson had already been announced and was available for purchase, while the new Canon was only a rumor. I was able to get a rough idea when the official announcement was anticipated; enough to know that it was worth waiting. As soon as there was any information available it was forwarded to me without my asking. Any questions were answered immediately via phone or within hours by email. We talked through the available options and decided that the Canon ImagePrograph 2000 wide format 24 inch printer would be the replacement for my Epson 7900.

The point is that the customer service at Shades of Paper is second to none and the printer price I got was as low as any price I could find elsewhere.  Even were the price a bit higher than their competitors (which it wasn't) it would be worth the extra for the customer service alone. I have purchased media from them in the past and their shipping is faster than 'the big boys'. 

I have no affiliation whatsoever with Shades of Paper. As they say, I am just a very satisfied customer.  I highly recommend you give them a try.

So what about the printer.........well, here it is:

 

Canon ImagePrograf 2000

 

It might take a bit of time to get movers to bring it upstairs and get it all set up. When I do, I will let you know what I think of it. The Epson did produce great prints, but I simply can't put up with replacing it every two or three years for mechanical failure.

How To Fix An iPhone That Won't Charge

Yes, I know that this has nothing to do with photography......but it is a problem that I recently solved with both my phone as well as my son's, so I thought the solution that worked for me should also be available to others that might be having the same issue. And judging from my Google search, it is a problem that is not uncommon.

The problem I am referring to is when you plug the lightening connector into your iPhone to charge it and the phone doesn't indicate that it is charging until you wiggle the connector around or put pressure on it. Then, when you put the phone down, the charging indicator may or may not stay on, requiring you to wiggle or push the lightening connector in again. If you haven't had this problem you will have no idea what I am referring to; but if you have had this issue you know exactly what I mean!

 Image Courtesy Of Salvatore Vuono At freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy Of Salvatore Vuono At freedigitalphotos.net

As I searched the internet for a solution I cam up with several.....none of which worked for me. But they might work for you.  These solutions included blowing into the opening the connector plugs into in order to remove lint, trying a different cable (in case there is a crack in yours, as they do break easily), restarting the phone while connected to power, and resetting your phone while connected to power.

So what did the trick for me? First, let me say that my lawyer, if I had one, would tell me to say that this is not an officially supported solution and I take no responsibility for damages to self or phone and that this is to be done at your own risk.  Ok, now that that's out of the way let's move on to the solution that worked for me........

Take a paper clip and unbend a portion of it so that it is straight. Gently insert the straight end into the charging hub where the lightning connector would normally go. Advance it to the back of the port and then move it to the side of the port and while pressing on the side of the port pull it forward until it emerges. Now stand there and marvel and be amazed at how much crap comes out along with the clip even though you looked in there with a flashlight first and saw no dirt and even blew into the opening with all your might before you started (and nothing came out except maybe a few small flecks of lint). Do it a few times until the dust bunnies are gone.  Then repeat, this time pulling out the lint by pressing up against the opposite side of the charging port while you remove the paper clip.  Finally, loosen up some more by gently rubbing along the floor and ceiling of the port with the surface of the clip (not the point). This should be done really gently as you will feel the clip moving over the raised portions of the electrical connections that normally contact the lightening connector.

I think you will be amazed at how much lint can get compressed and hide in there.  I know I was. And once the port is cleaned out I found that the charger worked perfectly. I had to repeat the process a few months later. It is, of course, possible that my pockets are way dirtier than yours....but I doubt it!

Give it a try if you have the problem. Stop by and let me know if it worked for you.

How To Build A Photoshop Optimized Computer - 2015

I recently wrote a post about purchasing my new computer and mentioned that back in 2010 I had written a series of posts about optimizing a computer for Photoshop usage.  I also mentioned that some things have changed since then and that I would write a new post about the current status of optimizing a computer that is mainly to be used for editing images in Photoshop.  Please note however that, while I have some degree of computer literacy, I am certainly not an expert and this post simply compiles data from several locations. I would welcome any further comments or updates from readers about these recommendations. In addition, since I happen to be a Windows user this information pertains specifically to computers running the Windows operating system.  

CPU: Faster = Better. More cores = Better.....to a point. There are diminishing returns after about four cores (editing video using Adobe's Premier Pro is a different story). So the performance boost by moving from 4 to 6 or 8 cores is very small.  Save your cash after 4.

RAM: No surprises here. More = Better, depending of course on your file sizes.  If you are working with very small files then massive amounts of RAM won't speed things up terribly.  But if you are working on very large files having enough RAM to avoid having Photoshop write to the scratch disk will be one of the biggest improvements you can make.

Hard Drive: Installing Photoshop on an SSD will allow it to launch faster than if it were on a spinning disk. But what about the scratch disk?  Back in 2010 I had assembled a RAID 0 array to serve as a fast scratch disk, which of course increases the cost and the complexity of the system.  That type of setup is no longer needed.  Having the scratch disk on the C drive will be fine as long as the C drive is an SSD and it has plenty of empty space.  In this instance there isn't much to be gained by putting the scratch disk on a separate SSD drive.

I had no plans to put the scratch disk on a separate drive but happened to see a great sale on a Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD for $150 and grabbed it as an add on.  I decided to use it to save the files I am currently working on so that they can open and save very rapidly (I work on large files) and so, with that large and near empty SSD in place, I decided to use it as a scratch as well.

Storage is relatively cheap, so I recommend getting a large mechanical drive or two for storing your files.

Graphics Card: Here is another place that going top end doesn't buy you very much more in performance (assuming you are not planning on any serious video editing).  Although modern versions of Photoshop do use the GPU, it doesn't do it intensively.  I went with an Nvidea GeForce 960 with 2 GB of VRAM.

Looking for more detailed information?  There is a lot of good stuff out there!  Start with these:

I hope this is useful information for those that might be looking into purchasing a new system for image editing.  I should also mention that my prior system was running Windows 7 and I was extremely happy with it.  Because I anticipate the new system lasting another 5 years, it was with some trepidation that I ordered it with Windows 10.  My daughter has a Windows 8 laptop and I can't even begin to use the thing. She hates it as well.  However, I do have to say that Windows 10 is a joy to use so far and I have not had any compatibility issues with any Adobe Products or plug-ins.  I may actually prefer the interface to 7, though it's a little too early to tell.

How To Change The Epson 7900 And 9900 Printhead

As long time readers may know, some time ago I had major problems with my relatively new Epson 7900 printer.  In fact, I ended up buying a new one because the cost of having Epson service replace the printhead was absurd......it closely approximated the cost of a brand new printer which came with a one year warranty, as opposed to the thirty day warranty the Epson service came with.

Had I seen this video by Eric Gulbranson, I might have had half a chance at fixing it myself.  At any rate, I would have tried.  So I thought I would share the information.  But here's the thing, I watched it even though I don't need a printhead replacement simply because it is actually quite interesting to see what is going on behind all those covers.  Really it is!! And Eric is quite entertaining to boot. His website also contains more valuable Epson printer information.  If you find it useful why not make a small donation. I did, as it has to have taken quite a bit of effort to make these videos.  

And here is one more that I am probably going to try to do myself as part of routine maintenance that appears simple enough.  I have shared this one once before, but it probably bares repeating.  And thanks to long time blog reader Lee Moses for pointing these videos out to me!  Thanks Lee.

Addendum: I did the wiper blade change myself.  Nothing could be easier.  Like the video said, takes a minute.  It might have taken me two minutes because I was nervous with it being my first time and all! The two year old wiper blade was really pretty grungy.

Fixing Epson Nozzle Clogs

If you have an inkjet printer you have inevitably had clogged nozzles.  My experience has only been with Epson printers, and it certainly occurs with some frequency.  The vast majority of times they are fixed with a cleaning cycle.....but sometimes you get a stubborn clog that just doesn't want to open up.  Want to see a great video on how to declog that clog???  Of course you do! The video is put out by the Pro Digital Gear group and is quite well done and demonstrates exactly what you need to know.

The Perfect Lens

by Howard Grill I have written before about issues regarding 'good' and 'bad' copies of the same lens, mostly by referencing some of Roger Cicala's great articles.  Well, Roger has done it again.....demonstrating the wide variety in lens test results from different copies of the same lens and also showing that for the most part, when it comes to making photographs and not pixel peeping, the variations make very little difference.  These variations will never be eliminated unless a company wants to sell single lenses for a small fortune each.  There are however, some grossly faulty copies that occasionally sneak through and these should, in fact, be removed by quality control and do visibly effect the appearance of the photo.

The article makes for an interesting read and can be found here: "There Is No Such Thing As a Perfect Lens".

Gura Gear Bataflae 32L Review

I recently purchased the Gura Gear Bataflae 32L camera bag and sold my Kiboko bag. I ended up never really using the Kiboko because I just didn't like the fact that I couldn't completely open it in the traditional style.  I purchased the Bataflae just prior to going on a trip to Smoky Mountains National Park and got to give it a good 'real life' workout.  Given the relatively hefty price tag for the bag, I thought I might review it in a slightly different way.  Most of the reviews out there are exceedingly positive and say little about the negatives or areas of possible improvement with the bag.......I want to give 'both sides of the coin'. Let's start with the positives:

1) It is extremely well made, no question about it....high quality craftsmanship.

2) The sailcloth it is made from seems to live up to the durability that Gura Gear claims

3) It holds a ton of camera gear.  I fully loaded mine for the trip and, even if it were bigger, I don't think my back could carry much more.

4) As most reviews state, the zippers are amazing.  Why get so excited about zippers? Zippers are often a weak point in bags, especially the internal ones (I don't think I have a single Lowepro bag where the internal zippers still work properly!).

5) Great array of flaps and pockets for smaller pieces of equipment

6) It feels comfortable when worn

7) The ability to open the entire cover like a more traditional bag is a big plus, at least for me.

But you can read all the above in an array of on-line reviews.  I am going to now talk about what I think (opinion here) are the areas that could be improved upon and that I didn't find mentioned in other reviews:

1) OK, this first comment isn't really going to be a negative, but just a statement of compromise.  The bag, to me, clearly seems less protective than the Lowepro and Tamrac bags that I have had or have.  The dividers are thinner, less rigid, and less padded, as are the sides and bottom of the bag itself.  If I had to put all my equipment in a bag and drop it onto concrete this is not the bag I would choose.  Would the equipment survive......I have no data to base it on, but my sense is that it probably would.  But, despite having no hard data, I just don't feel that the protection is as great as in the other bags I have owned.

But here is the kicker.  It is far lighter than those other bags.  I can't load up and wear those bags for very long.  So if the gear is better protected but I can't bring what I want because I can't wear the bag, then what good does it do me?  In short, I feel that Gura Gear has really hit a very nice compromise between protection and weight/usability.  If you want to carry very little gear then, by all means, get a bag built like a tank......because putting a body and two lenses in it isn't going to make it weigh very much more.  But if you are like me and would like to bring the kitchen sink if you could, then I think this bag really hits the 'sweet spot' between weight and protection....so, in retrospect, perhaps I should have listed this comment as a positive.

2) I think Gura Gear made a poor decision in increasing the depth of the bag compared to the Kiboko.  Now this is a personal opinion and may simply reflect the equipment I own, but there aren't any lenses that I can stand upright in the Bataflae that I could not already stand upright in the Kiboko.  So why make it a bigger bag, making it that much more unlikely to get on board a plane or regional jet, etc.  For example, I can not stand my Canon 180 macro or 70-200 upright in the bag.  All the other lenses that I can stand upright, I could also store in the same position as the Kiboko.

3) The top flap for smaller items that opens without giving access to the inside of the bag is very, very convenient.  But why only allow it to zip on two sides, limiting accessibility to the inside. The only reason I can think of is that the pocket, while very large, is shallow and if you opened it all the way perhaps objects it contained could spill out.  However, there are pockets within the flap to contain items and that is where I store things, not loose inside to 'jangle' around.

I think that a better design would be for the zipper to go around three sides of the flap to improve opening and access.  A compromise might have been to have it go around three sides with an expandable pocket along the short third side to keep the flap contained but able to open wider.

4) A warning:  Using a bag with side flaps as opposed to the traditional opening design takes some getting used to.  With the traditional design, if the bag is open it is clearly open.  Even if you close the cover and don't zip it up you can pretty easily tell at a glance that the bag is open.  In the side flap access method, the flap doesn't really lay open if the bag is loaded.  With there being two flaps, it is easy to look at the bag from the side of the closed flap and think both sides are zipped.

True horror story:  One day during the trip I was exhausted from the early morning sunrise shooting and, since it was bright in the afternoon, took a mid-day nap.  When the alarm woke me in a daze to get things together to go back out for the evening shooting, I put the bag on thinking it was closed....it looked closed.  In actuality, I had left one side flap unzipped in order to put a new card in the camera. I made it all through my carpeted motel room and down the stairs out to the car when out crashed my brand new Canon 24-70 f2.8 L MkII lens to the pavement.  Goodbye VERY expensive lens with the front element scratched , a noise inside when you shake it, and 'jamming' when you zoom past 5omm focal length!  So it is always good advice to make sure you are all 'zipped up'!

5) Though the sailcloth is quite tough, my gray bag developed a small yellow/orange stain after it was in use for only a few days.  I am not sure where it came from but I certainly wasn't dripping any foreign substances onto it.

In summary, I do think that this is an excellent bag for people that would like to carry around a fair amount of gear.  It is an extremely nice compromise between weight and protection.  But, as my friend Bob who went on the trip with me always says, 'everything in photography is a compromise'!  And he's right.

The above caveats notwithstanding, I do recommend highly recommend the Bataflae!

Lens Testing

Getting a new lens is really great fun, no doubt about it.  It opens up whole new creative possibilities.  But there is always just that little bit of concern (especially if the lens is expensive)......did I get a 'sharp copy', is it as good as it 'should be'?  No doubt one can go a little too far when it comes to lens testing and end up spend more time testing than using.  I know the thought of testing makes me crazy.  So what is a person to do? Well here is a great article on lens testing that is reasonable by Roger Cicala of LensRentals.com with some very good advice on what to do to ensure that your new lens is all it should be.  A very worthwhile read!

Epson Woes Update

In past posts I have documented the woes I have had with my Epson 7900 printer. The first one I had required a printhead replacement within the first two weeks of use and the machine ultimately died an untimely death of printhead failure about three years later (far too prematurely for a machine of this price), but not before I got to sink close to $700 into repairs that did not fix the problem.  The repairs are criminally expensive, monopolied to one firm, and seem to follow a script of sequential and escalating repairs until the problem resolves, which is great if your machine is under warranty but, well, not so great if it isn't.  Rather than throw good money after bad, I elected to stop at $700 when the next step (replacing the printhead) was going to cost over $1800 when labor was included, with only a 90 day guarantee.  For little more I could buy a new machine with a one  year guarante, which is what I did.  Stupid, perhaps, but I went with another of the same printer thinking that the first was anomalous. The other day I ran across a great video on how Epson repair charges $300 for changing out a $13 part that literally takes 50 seconds to do.  Even if you don't have a 7900, this video is worth the very brief watch if only to see the absurdity of it all.  Now, if he would just tell us where one can purchase the $13 part!

Watch this great video on the Epson 7900 wiper cleaner assembly change.  The video looks like it is 'under construction' but if you just click the start button it plays.

Hammer Forum

I had to take a break from photos in order to post the following, so that everyone could get a good laugh.  I am sure that many who read this blog have had the opportunity to check out more technically oriented photography forums and read some of the banter back and forth about what is better....Canon or Nikon, PC or Mac etc.  Lately, with new Nikon (D800) and Canon (5D Mk III) cameras being released almost simultaneously, these arguments have reached new heights.  For a humorous satire about these arguments check out this piece by Roger Cicala.  Only then will you understand the title of this post!

Epson 7900: More Frustration

About 2 1/2 years ago, when I first bought my Epson 7900 printer, I did a series of posts related to my unhappy initial experience with the output related to what appeared to be linear 'scuffing'.  At that point, since the machine was only days to weeks old, it was still under warranty.  After several 'house calls' by the service team the printhead was finally replaced, as nothing else seemed to do the trick.  As soon as the printhead was replaced the machine worked perfectly and delivered beautiful output.  I have to say that it wasn't as easy as it should have been to get the repair done because I wasn't using Epson paper and the service agents, over the phone, kept repeating that they could not warranty the machine for output onto non-Epson media, which was, of course, total nonsense. They finally agreed to service this brand new machine after I mailed them the output, including output on Epson media, showing that it occurred on their paper as well. Now, as I need the printer more than  ever since : i) I am trying to finish the project I have alluded to in this blog several times and ii) it appears that a nearby institution might make a sizable purchase of my artwork.....I have discovered a problem.  I noticed horizontal banding, mostly in the highlights limited to neutral coloration and when I print in black and white.  Printing a gray square showed why.  There is severe horizontal banding when I print gray/light black that is not present in other solid colors.

A nozzle check revealed a small area of nozzle clogging in the Light Light Black ink. The clog would dissolve with regular and power cleanings, though even when open the line of the nozzle pattern 'stairstep' seemed light, and then some nozzles would drop out a minute later.  A small fortune of ink and a maintenance tank later (related to power cleans) it still prints with gross horizontal banding.  This persists even with two head alignments.

Of course the machine is now out of warranty.  Though the printer has been used only very lightly, complex machines break and I would just attribute it to bad luck.....and bad luck always comes at the worst times.  However:

i) When I look 'out there' on the internet it appears that this is a known problem with the 7900, specifically in the Light Light Black channel, possibly attributed to the chemical composition of the ink.  It does not seem to happen in the other channels.  It does not seem to be a simple 'clog', and my experience bears that out.  Simple nozzle clogs are easily removed with the regular cleanings and don't recur within seconds.

ii) Once Epson tech support recognizes that the machine is out of warranty, they do very little to help except set you up with a service visit.  This too is well reported on the internet (with the realization that people don't usually take the time to post about good interactions in forums).

iii) Epson has a service agreement with only one service company (they don't do the repairs themselves), so there is no competition.  The cost, in this instance?  The charge will be $100 for them to travel here (even though there is a local office), $175/ hour labor and they want to start by charging my credit card for $1712 (yes, you read that right) in parts to be shipped by Epson, with the caveat that they will refund the cost of parts they don't use.  The whole printer cost $2500-3000 when I bought it.  The repairs are rapidly approaching the cost of the printer itself and may even exceed it when you start counting in the price of the ink/tank used for the initial cleanings.  This seems like highway robbery, but what else can one do except go along with it (or buy a new printer)!

My Lens Is A Bad Copy

Back in May, I wrote a post entitled "I Have A Bad Copy Of Lens X", which referred to an article written by Roger Cicala about the variances and tolerances involved with the manufacture of cameras and lenses and how these factors play into the conclusion that a particular copy of a given lens is 'soft'.  Cicala has now written an excellent summary article on the same topic that incorporates  many of his former writings on the subject into one concise piece. If you have ever wondered about the validity of 'soft' or subpar copies of a lens, this is the place to learn about some of the realities involved.  The article is entitled "Variation Facts And Fallacies".

What About Us Still Photographers?

It has been some time since the Canon 5D MkII has been updated, and rumors of the 5D Mk III abound.  However, I find it disconcerting that most on-line discussions seem to focus on a new camera's video capabilities.  I understand how exciting video capability is to some people, but I miss the days when speculation and improvements were directed towards still imaging.  Frankly, I find trying to produce the highest quality still images that I can extraordinarily challenging.  I don't know where I would even find the time to try to learn video capture to the level of quality that I would want to achieve. Is it too much to ask for the ability to capture 7 or even 9 exposure bracketed images in this era of HDR capture (Nikon in this price bracket can)?  How about better noise characteristics at 400 and 800 ISO?  The ability to capture in-camera multiple exposures (yup, Nikon can)?  Improved auto-focus? GPS tagging in camera (OK, I could let that one slip by and be none the worse for the wear)?  An articulated LCD to be able to get higher or lower tripod mounted angles while using Live view to focus?  The ability to g0 +/- 3EV without calculating exposure and going to manual? Yes, the newly announced 1D-X does many of these things, but at an almost $7000 price tag.

Really, I would rather have these things than improvements in video capture.  In fact, for me, I would gladly give up the ability to capture video if Canon would just deliver these features in a reasonably priced model with a top notch full frame sensor!  Ah well, I guess I must not be the type of consumer being targeted by the marketing departments.  I don't know, perhaps I am alone in this........

Dirty Lens....Not To Worry

As photographers, we try to obtain the highest quality images that we can.  Of course, it is not the pure technical quality of an image that makes it a succesful one, as there needs to be a compelling subject as well.  All other things being equal though, we would all like to obtain the best quality image of any given subject that we can.  So we try to keep our equipment clean and protect the exposed front element of our lenses one way or another.  If we buy used equipment we look very carefully for any scratches etc that might be on our new lens. Now, I am not implying that we shouldn't be doing any of the above to try to ensure that we obtain the best image quality possible.  But did you ever wonder how much scratches or dirt on the front element really effect image quality?  Well, have a look at Kurt Munger's Dirty Lens article here and find out.

I do wonder how much more might be found if the images presented were inspected more enlarged or printed large and if the effect might be more obvious if the lens in question were a higher quality one but, nonetheless, the answer seems to be that these imperfections of the front element do far less than one might think!

Along the same subject line here is an interesting, if not a bit absurd (with a bit of humor ) article by Roger Cicala of LensRentals.com on shooting through filters entitled "Good Times With Bad Filters".

Enjoy!

Lloyd Chambers

There is a sense that everything available on the internet should be free of charge.  Well, there is certainly a lot of free material, but how much of it is good....I mean really good. When I first found the information that Lloyd Chambers makes available as subscription sites, I wasn't overly interested because you had to pay.  But something kept nagging at me.  The "Table of Contents" to his on-line writings sounded good.....I mean really good.  I figured what could I lose but a few bucks, and so I subscribed to one of his subscription only sites.  It was well worth every cent.

Lloyd has put together material that will educate you, help you make choices, and help you to become a better photographer.  His work centers around the technique and technical, as opposed to the aesthetic.  His in depth writing covers topics deeply, leading to your having truly garnered a better understanding of any subject he writes about.  Within a short time I ended up subscribing to three of his topical sites and am glad that I did.  My favorite?  His work entitled "Making Sharp Images".

Check out all his writing.......

His free blog is here.

"Making Sharp Images" is here.  VERY HIGHLY recommended!

His "Guide To Digital Infrared Photography" is here.  If infrared is an interest of yours, this contains a wealth of information.

The "Guide to Zeiss ZF/ZE Lenses" is here.  Don't bother spending your hard earned money on a Zeiss lens until you read what Lloyd has to say about each one.

Finally, his "Guide To Advanced Photography" is here.

Here is a selection of Lloyd's articles that he makes available as sample freebies.

If the table of contents of any of these series captures your interest, just subscribe.....you will definitely be glad you did.

I Have A Bad Copy Of Lens X

When reading about different lenses or browsing through used lens ads (don't all photographers do that??) it is hard not to read that this is 'a great copy' or a 'soft copy' of any given lens.  We all want those great copies......right?  Well here is a great article about why that great copy of a given lens might not be so great on your particular camera body........that, and lots of other interesting information about why manufacturing tolerances guarantee differences between samples of any lens on today's high resolution digital cameras. This is a really interesting read.  Check out "This Lens Is Soft And Other Facts" here.

Using The Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo Filter

I own the Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo filter and find it quite a useful creative tool.  I thought I was using it properly, but then ran across a YouTube video of photographer Jason Odell explaining how he uses it.  I found the video very helpful. While I had been using the filter reasonably correctly, I did find a few great tips in the video that I will put into use, such as picking a specific white balance setting and not using auto-balance (which is good practice anyway, but more important here) and picking your aperture and shutter speed manually and then rotating the filter to achieve the exposure, instead of vice-versa.

Anyway, I found some nice tips here and thought I would share it.  If you own and use the filter, have a peak at this instructional video...it is well worth the 5 minutes.  Check it out at the link below:

Var-N-Duo Filter