PART 11: LENSES, FILTERS, EXTERNAL FLASHES FOR YOUR ULTIMATE ENJOYMENT

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Part 11 of a Series:  Getting to know lenses, Filters, and Flashes for your camera:

 

overview-intro-professionals
Photo courtesy of NIKON

LENSES ARE REALLY FUN TO TALK ABOUT, AND SHOULD BE EASY TO UNDERSTAND.  AND TO UNDERSTAND LENSES, LET’S GIVE YOU A REFERENCE  POINT.  IN THE DSLR WORLD, WHICH IS THE MAIN TYPE OF PHOTOGRAPHY WE TRY TO TALK ABOUT HERE MOST OF THE TIME, WE WILL USE THE NORMAL LENS AS THE REFERENCE POINT.  FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE BEEN FAMILIAR AT ALL WITH THE 35MM FILM FORMAT, YOU SHOULD REMEMBER THAT THE 50MM LENS WAS THE NORMAL LENS.  ALTHOUGH THAT CONFUSED SOME PEOPLE BECAUSE WE OFTEN TALKED ABOUT 35MM FILM USING A 50MM LENS AS THE NORMAL LENS.  WELL THAT’S BECAUSE THE FILM SIZE WAS 35MM, BUT THE LENS SIZE WAS 50MM.  NOW, A NORMAL LENS IS DESCRIBED AS THUS:  “A normal lens then, is one that renders a printed (or otherwise displayed) photograph of a scene that when held at ‘normal’ viewing distance (usually arms-length) in front of the original scene and viewed with one eye, matches the real-world and the rendered perspective”.  OR IN OTHER WORDS, AS I USED TO SHOW MY CUSTOMERS:  HOLD THE CAMERA UP AND LOOK THROUGH THE NORMAL LENS, AND IT WILL LOOK THE SAME PERSPECTIVE AS YOUR EYE DOES WITHOUT THE LENS.  THE SUBJECT APPEARS ALMOST IDENTICAL IN SIZE.

AS WE GET TO THE IMAGE SIZE OF THE SENSOR IN A DIGITAL CAMERA, IT TURNS OUT THAT THE NORMAL LENS IN A DIGITAL CAMERA IS AROUND A 28MM LENS NOW.

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COURTESY OF NIKKOR LENSES:  28MM 1.4 LENS

THESE LENSES ARE MOSTLY USED TODAY IN A SMALL ZOOM LENS.  AS IS LOOK AT HOW CAMERAS AND LENSES ARE SOLD TODAY, IT SEEMS LIKE MOST CAMERAS COME TODAY WITH AN 18-55MM LENS OR CLOSE TO THAT.   WHICH MEANS, THAT I HAVE SOME WIDE ANGLE, SOME NORMAL LENS, AND SOME SMALL TELEPHOTO ALL IN ONE LENS.  THIS IS CALLED A ZOOM LENS OR VARIFOCAL LENS.  IT SEEMS SO NICE TO HAVE SO MUCH VARIETY IN ONE LENS, AND THEY CAN MAKE A LOT OF THESE LENSES NOW IN A VERY INEXPENSIVE PACKAGE.  THERE IS ONE DRAWBACK TO MAKING A ZOOM LENS.  AND THAT IS THE LOSS OF LIGHT CAPABILITY IN YOUR LENS.  LOOK AT THE STANDARD 28MM LENS ABOVE, AND THE SPECS ON THAT LENS (28MM F1.4).  DO YOU RECALL YOUR F-STOP NUMBERS AND WHAT THAT MEANS?  THAT MEANS THAT PARTICULAR LENS CAN SHOOT IN EXTREMELY LOW LIGHT.  NOW, LET’S GO TO MY 18-55MM F3.5-5.6MM LENS.  SO, THAT MEANS AT 18 MM I CAN ONLY GET A MAXIMUM OF F3.5 F-STOP OF LIGHT THROUGH THAT LENS, AND AT THE 28MM, WHICH IS WHAT THAT BEAUTIFUL PORTRAIT ABOVE WAS AT, IT WOULD BE AT ABOUT F4.  SO, I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO GET THAT TYPE OF LOW LIGHT SHOT WITH MY STANDARD ZOOM LENS.  AND IF I WENT ALL THE WAY ON MY ZOOM LENS TO 55MM, MY F STOP MAXIMUM OPEN APERTURE WOULD BE AT F5.6.  SO, ZOOM LENSES ARE GREAT BECAUSE THEY ARE MORE LENSES IN ONE, BUT, BECAUSE OF THE MOVEMENT OF THE LENSES INSIDE THE BARREL, THERE IS NOT ROOM TO LET MUCH LIGHT THROUGH THE BARREL.  DO THEY MAKE ZOOM LENSES THAT LET MORE LIGHT THROUGH?  YES, FOR MORE MONEY.

CANON 16-35 F2.8
Courtesy of Canon Cameras:  16-35mm f2.8

HERE IS ONE OF THE FASTER OF THE SMALL ZOOM LENSES FROM CANON, AND EVEN THEN THE FASTEST IT GOES TO IS F2.8.  AND THIS ONE WILL COST MORE THAN YOUR CAMERA.

LET’S TALK A MOMENT ABOUT WIDE ANGLE LENSES.  WIDE ANGLE LENSES ARE USED PRIMARILY FOR SCENERY AND LANDSCAPE PHOTOS.  THEY ARE NOT GOOD FOR PORTRAITS OF PEOPLE.  THEY TEND TO PUSH THE SUBJECT BACK TO GET MORE ANGLE INTO THE IMAGE.  SO, IF YOU WERE TO TRY TO GET A PORTRAIT OF A PERSON’S FACE, THEIR NOSE WOULD BE GREATLY ENLARGED AND YOU WOULD FOR SURE LOSE A CUSTOMER.  BUT TO GET MORE OF THE BEAUTIFUL SCENERY IN YOUR PICTURE, THIS IS THE IDEAL LENS.

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ANY LENS LOWER THAN 28MM, WOULD BE A WIDE ANGLE LENS.  FOR EXAMPLE, A 24 MM WOULD EVEN BE A WIDE ANGLE LENS.  THE MORE POPULAR WIDE ANGLE LENS IS AN 18 MM LENS.  IF YOU START GETTING MUCH WIDER, YOU WILL START PICKING UP A FISHEYE EFFECT TO EVEN GET MORE ANGLE.  THOSE LENSES ARE CALLED A FISHEYE LENS.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKON:  AF DX FISHEYE 10.5MM F2.8 LENS

IMAGINE WHAT YOU COULD DO WITH THIS LENS?  THIS LENS HAS A FULL 180 DEGREE IMAGE VIEW.  YOU WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET YOUR SHOES IN THE PHOTO.   SO, THIS IS DEFINITELY ULTRA WIDE.

LET’S GO THE OTHER WAY TO TELEPHOTO:  ANYTHING LARGER THAN A 28MM IS THEN PULLING THINGS IN CLOSER TO YOU TO GET THE IMAGE CLOSER.  THIS ONE HAS SOME REAL PROS AND CONS TO IT.  THE PROS, OF COURSE IS THAT YOU CAN BRING IN SOME INCREDIBLE IMAGES FROM FAR AWAY, RIGHT TO YOUR FACE:

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKKOR LENSES:  180MM – 400MM F4LENS

NOW, HERE IS THE ONE BIG CON TO HAVING A LENS LIKE THIS:  YOU ALMOST ALWAYS NEED A TRIPOD.  BECAUSE OF THE MAGNIFICATION OF THE IMAGE, IT ALMOST ALWAYS SHOWS ANY LITTLE TINY MOVEMENT OF YOUR CAMERA.  AND I HAVE HAD PEOPLE SAY THAT THEY HAVE NERVES OF STEEL, COME AND BUY A TRIPOD.  THEY JUST CAN’T DO IT.  THE MOST POPULAR LENSES IS USUALLY IN THE 100 – 300MM ZOOM LENS.

NOW LOOK AT THE TOP PICTURE OF THIS BLOG, THE MAN WITH THE BIG LENS.  THAT PERSON COULD BE MOST LIKELY A SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHER.  YOU WILL SEE PHOTOGRAPHERS WITH BIG LENSES LIKE THIS AT THE SIDELINES OF FOOTBALL GAMES, SOCCER GAMES, BASKETBALL GAMES, ETC.

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PHOTO COURTESY BY NIKON:  300MM F4 LENS

THESE LENSES CAN GET REAL BIG AND MASSIVE.  THEY WILL GET UP TO 1000MM OR EVEN BIGGER, AND THEY WEIGH A LOT.  THERE IS A LOT OF GLASS IN THEM, AND THEY ARE VERY, VERY EXPENSIVE.  TO DO THIS KIND OF PHOTOGRAPHY, YOU WOULD PROBABLY BE HIRED BY SOME PUBLISHING COMPANY.

MOVING ON TO ONE MORE FUN LENS:  THE MACRO OR MICRO LENS.  THIS LENS IS THE ONE LENS THAT IS DESIGNED TO GET YOU INTO THE CLOSE-UP WORLD.  THIS WILL LET YOU JUST FOCUS EXTREMELY CLOSER THAN ANY OTHER LENS, LIKE WITHIN AN INCH OR EVEN CLOSER.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKKOR LENSES:  85MM F3.5

ALL I CAN SAY ABOUT MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY IS THAT YOU CAN GET ADDICTED DOING THIS.  YOU WILL FIND THINGS ABOUT THIS THAT SHOCK YOU.  THIS IS ALL AROUND YOU, AND FIND IT SO FASCINATING, THE MACRO WORLD.  BUGS, FLOWERS, COINS, IT IS A NEW WORLD OF EXPLORATION.  HERE AGAIN, A TRIPOD WILL BE A MUST BECAUSE YOU WILL FIND YOU CAN’T HOLD YOUR CAMERA STILL ENOUGH TO GET THE SHARPNESS YOU DESIRE.  THERE ARE SEVERAL TYPES OF LENSES IN THE MACRO WORLD.  NIKON AND CANON AND SONY AND PENTAX, ALL HAVE LENSES THAT ARE BIGGER THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO TAKE THE SAME TYPE OF CLOSE-UPS BUT, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET SO CLOSE TO THE SUBJECT.  SO, THE JOY OF TAKING CLOSE-UPS OF BUGS IS EASIER WITH SAY, A 200MM MACRO LENS.

flash photography:

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PHOTO COURTESY OF CANON CAMERAS:  CANON SPEEDLITE 600EX

MOST OF YOU HAVE A BUILT IN FLASH ON YOUR CAMERA.  THERE ARE SOME ISSUES WITH HAVING A FLASH BUILT-IN ON YOUR CAMERA:

  • The flash is small and doesn’t have a real long range
  • Because the flash is so close to the lens, it shoots straight into the back of your iris of your eye, and causes “red-eye”.  And that is why you have “red-eye” reduction system in your camera (note it is a red-eye reduction, and not a red-eye eliminator)

SO THAT IS WHY ALL CAMERA MANUFACTURES MAKE THESE HUGE FLASHES TO GO ON THAT “FLASH SHOE” ON THE TOP OF YOUR CAMERA.  IT DOES SEVERAL THINGS FOR YOU:

  • IT HAS MUCH MORE POWER AND MUCH MORE FLASH RANGE
  • IT HAS BEEN EXTENDED UP AWAY FROM YOUR LENS, THUS ALMOST ELIMINATING THE CHANCE FOR “RED-EYE”.  PLUS IT HAS “BOUNCE FLASH” TO TOTALLY ELIMINATE RED EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE BOUNCING THE LIGHT OFF THE CEILING, AND SO THE LIGHT IS NOT EVEN SHOOTING DIRECTLY INTO THE EYES ANYMORE, PLUS IT MAKES THE LIGHT MORE DIFFUSED AND MAKING THE LIGHT MORE NATURAL.

THE FLASH THAT COMES BUILT-IN TO YOUR CAMERA HAS A RANGE OF ABOUT 30- 35 FEET (DID YOU EVEN REALIZE THAT LIGHT GOT WEAKER AND WEAKER AFTER IT LEAVES THE LIGHT SOURCE?  YUP, IT DOES.  THAT’S WHY THE SUN IS BRIGHTER ON THE PLANET MERCURY THAN IT IS ON EARTH).

THE FLASH ON THIS BIG HUGE CANON FLASH HAS A RANGE OF:  196 FEET WITH YOUR LENS AT 200MM.  AND THIS FLASH IS SYNCED WITH YOUR ZOOM LENS, SO THAT IT WILL GIVE YOU THE PROPER LIGHT COVERAGE FOR EVEN A 20MM LENS.  IT AUTOMATICALLY HAS A ZOOM FLASH HEAD FROM 20MM TO 200MM.

SO, IF YOU ARE A SERIOUS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHER, YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE.

filters to consider for your lenses:

IN PART 10 OF THIS PHOTO SERIES, WE TALKED ABOUT A FEW FILTERS THAT I FELT YOU SHOULD HAVE THAT WAS A NECESSITY TO HAVE ON YOUR LENS, JUST TO PROTECT YOUR LENSES.  NOW, I WANT TO TAKE IT ONE STEP FURTHER AND TALK ABOUT FILTERS THAT YOU WOULD USE FOR CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY.

THERE ARE 2 TYPES OF PHOTO FILTER SYSTEMS OUT THERE, AND THE CHOICE IS YOURS.  IT WILL DEPEND ON HOW MUCH YOU GET INTO THE FILTER WORK.  LET’S LOOK AT THE TYPES OF FILTERS THAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR AND YOU CAN SEE AT WHAT DIRECTION YOU WANT TO GO, AND I WILL SHOW YOU THE DIFFERENT TYPES AS WE GO ALONG.

  • THE CIRCULAR POLARIZING FILTER:  THIS ONE IS PROBABLY A MUST IN EVERYONE’S BAG.

Basically, polarizing filters absorb polarized light, which is light that is being reflected off non-metallic surfaces, as well as some light from the sky. So, they’re really great at removing reflections from surfaces like water, glass, book spines, leaves and other vegetation, or anything shiny really that isn’t metal. And, when it comes to shooting the sky, you can get a nice, deep and dark blue color when you use a polarizing filter.

dark blue sky photo

HOW TO USE A POLARIZING FILTER

The effect you get in the final image really depends on how much you turn the filter. You want to make sure you buy the right size filter for your lens, so it can be screwed onto the front of it. Once it’s on, you turn the filter in a left or right circular motion to adjust how dark you want the polarizing effect. Check out the difference it can make when photographing water:

shiny water surface photo

remove water surface shine

If you’re photographing the sky, the effect only works if you shoot at a 90 degree angle from the sun. It doesn’t work if you shoot directly into the sun or away from it. For this reason, you might not want to use a polarizing filter with an ultra wide angle lens because you could get some uneven results. You may also get some strange, colorful effects if you shoot with a wide angle lens through a window.

polarizing effect photo

A polarizing filter will block around 50 to 75 percent of your light, so don’t forget to remove it when shooting indoors or when it’s getting dark outside. These are just some basic facts about polarizers and a few simple tips to keep in mind.

  • PROBABLY THE NEXT MOST POPULAR FILTERS COME IN VARIOUS STRENGTHS:  AND THAT IS THE NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS.  THEY WOULD COME CONFIGURED LIKE THIS:  ND2, ND4, ND8, ND10.   THESE FILTERS ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A GREY FILTER THAT CUTS THE LIGHT BY A CERTAIN DEGREE.  THIS IS MOSTLY USED WHEN YOU GET OUT INTO BRIGHT SUNLIGHT, AND YOU WANT TO FORCE YOUR CAMERA TO SHOOT A SLOWER SHUTTER SPEED, BUT, YOU CAN’T BECAUSE IT’S TOO BRIGHT OUTSIDE.  SO YOU NEED TO MAKE IT DARKER.  I WOULD RECOMMEND THAT YOU GET A NUMBER ND4, AND AT LEAST A NUMBER 8  TO GIVE YOU THE VARIETY THAT YOU NEED.
  • the graduated neutral density filter system:    NOW THIS TYPE OF SYSTEM IS UNIQUE BECAUSE IT USUALLY, AND IT MAKES SENSE, COMES IN SQUARE SHAPED FILTERS.  I AM GOING TO SHOW YOU PICTURES OF THE FILTERS, AND THEN RESULTS OF HOW THEY ARE USED:

COKIN WAS THE INVENTOR OF THE SQUARE FILTER SYSTEM, SO I WILL USE THEIR SYSTEM TO SHOW YOU THE EXAMPLES.  THERE ARE OTHER BRANDS OUT THERE THAT ARE ALSO SQUARE FILTERS LIKE THIS, BUT COKIN IS THE PIONEER IN THIS FORMAT:

camera-system
PHOTO COURTESY OF COKIN:  THE COKIN SYSTEM USES A FILTER HOLDER, AND ATTACHES ONTO YOUR CAMERA LENS.  

THE SQUARE FILTER FORMAT HAS SOME UNIQUE FEATURES TO IT:  1- YOU BUY 1 FILTER FOR ALL YOUR DIFFERENT LENSES.  THE FILTER HOLDER WILL WORK ON ALL YOUR LENSES.  THE ONLY THING THAT IS DIFFERENT IS YOU BUY A LENS ADAPTER SIZE FOR EACH DIFFERENT FILTER SIZE.  FOR EXAMPLE: MY NORMAL LENS FILTER SIZE MAY BE A 58MM.  MY WIDE ANGLE LENS FILTER SIZE MAY BE A 52MM, AND MY TELEPHOTO LENS MAY BE A 62MM FILTER SIZE.  I WOULD BUY THE DIFFERENT LENS SIZE ADAPTERS, AND 1 FILTER HOLDER, AND THE FILTERS WOULD FIT IN THE FILTER HOLDER AND WORK ON ALL THE LENSES.   SO, I WOULD NOT HAVE TO BUY A FILTER FOR EACH LENS, ONLY THE LENS ADAPTER, WHICH IS RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE.

THE BIGGEST SELLING FILTERS IN THE SQUARE FILTERS ARE THE GRADUATED COLOR NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS:

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NISI FILTERS

THESE FILTERS COME IN A VARIETY OF COLORS, AND THEY JUST DROP INTO THE FILTER HOLDER, AND YOU CAN ADD JUST A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF COLOR OR MORE, JUST BY ADDING ANOTHER FILTER.

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AS YOU CAN SEE, YOU CAN GET QUITE A VARIETY PACK FROM AMAZON AS WELL IN DIFFERENT BRANDS.  QUALITY CAN VARY ON THESE SO LOOK FOR THE ONES THAT ARE NOT COOKIE CUTTER TYPE.  GET THE BETTER QUALITY ONES.  COKIN IS THE MAIN BRAND, NISI IS A GOOD ONE, AND THERE ARE OTHERS IF YOU WILL DO YOUR RESEARCH.  BUT YOU CAN HAVE A LOT OF FUN WITH FILTERS.

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article written by Lanny Cottrell   for 123Photogo

 

 

 

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