The Best Film and Flatbed Scanners

Plustek Film Scanner, Epson Flatbed Scanner

If you have precious slides, negatives, or prints that you want to scan, you have come to the right place. Choose wisely from the scanners that are available or you could get burned. A scanner that might be just fine for one person will be totally unsuitable for the next person. When it comes to scanners you need to know what you are getting and, just as importantly, what you aren’t getting. That is what this article is all about.

Continue reading

On A Really Tight Budget? How About a DSLR and Two Lenses for $389.99?

Some of the refurbished camera gear at the Canon web site.

It was early December when I received a Facebook message from a friend whose granddaughter in college wanted to take a digital photography class starting in January. My friend wanted to give her a camera and lens as a Christmas gift. His budget was around $400 and he had no idea what to get her. After pricing camera gear he was in sticker shock and asked for my advice. He found a point and shoot camera in his price range and wondered if that would work.

Continue reading

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Twelve. Lens Comparison Test Three: “Shoot the Moon”

 

Side by side comparison test: Chinese lens vs telephoto lens and teleconverter on a DSLR.

Almost every day I see ads for the same plastic, cheaply made Chinese lens, and the ad often uses the same faked photo of an impressive picture of the moon (see examples below). I decided to do a “shoot the moon” comparison test. As you will see in the results that follow, it is impossible for this Chinese lens to take the moon shot used in these ads.

Continue reading

The Chinese Lens Rip Off Series, Part Eleven. The Same Lousy Lens With Many Different Names

HD Zoom Pro Lens Ad

Don’t get ripped off. The quality of this lens is so bad and the reputation of the company is so awful that the people who market this lens have to keep coming up with new names for the lens and new web sites to sell it. So far I have found 16 different names for this lens and it is sold with the same fake information on dozens of web sites. Continue reading

Metering Nighttime Winter Scenes

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park. Sirius, Canis Major, Orion, Taurus, the Hyades star cluster, and the Pleiades star cluster are all visible in the fading light. Click for a larger version.

You can photograph the night sky year around, but winter brings an added bonus: SNOW! When you don’t have the benefit of moonlight, most of the year land forms a dark to black silhouetted skyline against the night sky. In winter you have the possibility of including the highly reflective snow. You can see both in this photo. Any place not covered with snow is very dark to black. Having reflective snow is why winter is the favorite time of year for a lot of photographers to go out and photograph the night sky.

Continue reading

Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Originally posted Nov. 1, 2017. Most recent update: Dec. 20, 2017.

Continue reading

A High Quality, Compact RØDE VideoMic for Your DSLR (and Smart Phone)

RØDE VideoMicro in use at Acadia National Park.

It’s not a good thing when the mic on your DSLR is visible at the top of your videos. That’s the first thing I learned when I started doing research before buying a video mic. It is also not a good thing if the sound quality is disappointing. Fortunately, I found just the size I wanted with the quality I needed.

Continue reading

The Best Insurance for Your Photo Gear (and Photography Business)

Granite Ledges and Otter Cliff, Acadia National Park, Maine

Your camera falls down a mountainside and off a cliff. An unexpected wave drenches your valuable photo gear in salt water. Your photo backpack is stolen from your home, motel room, or trunk of your car. To add insult to injury, you learn your homeowner’s insurance will not replace the value of your damaged or stolen gear.

Continue reading

Using the Histogram to Check Studio Flash Exposures

Sarah, Professional Fitness Trainer

Sarah, Professional Fitness Trainer

When using studio flash units, usually the best way to check your exposures is to use an incident light meter which is capable of metering flash exposures. But what if you don’t have an incident flash meter? Or what if you have a subject that absorbs a lot of light? Or a subject that reflects a lot more light than your typical photographic subject? You can double check your exposure settings by using the histogram on your camera. FYI: Do not trust the LCD image on the back of your camera to judge your exposures.

Continue reading

Environmental Portraits and Off-Camera Flash, Part 2

Warren Stevens, Magic 106.3

Warren Stevens, Magic 106.3

Off-camera flash is so useful because it gives you a different look from the millions of photos that are taken with the flash on the camera. The light can come from any direction you choose, no matter where your camera is, and the latest technology makes automatic flash exposure quick and reliable.

Continue reading

Environmental Portraits and Off-Camera Flash, Part 1

Warren Stevens, Magic 106.3, Columbus, Ohio.

Warren Stevens, Magic 106.3, Columbus, Ohio.

If I am using flash for an environmental portrait, I usually prefer having the flash off of the camera. In this portrait of Warren Stevens (program director and mid-day air personality at Magic 106.3 FM in Columbus), the flash is above Warren and to his right, providing a nice semi side-lit photograph. On camera flash is flat and even. Getting the flash off of the camera and moving it to the side provides more shape and texture to the subject.

Continue reading

Photo Shoot: Using a Halo Softbox with a Yongnuo Radio Controlled Flash System

Kristina

Kristina. Sunlight coming from the right. Halo softbox with Yongnuo speedlite providing light from the left.

After testing a Bob Davis 45 inch Halo Softbox and Yongnuo YN600EX-RT radio flash on my most available model (my dog), I needed to test it out on a real model. Opportunity called in the form of a message from Kristina, a professional model based in Los Angeles (and an absolute delight to work with). She would be in Ohio for Thanksgiving and she wanted to schedule a shoot. I was leaving town for Thanksgiving, but fortunately for us we had one day to shoot after she arrived and before I left.

Continue reading

How To Set Up a Halo Softbox or Umbrella with an Off-Camera Speedlite

Halo Softbox set up on location and ready to use.

Halo Softbox set up on location and ready to use. The radio controlled flash and umbrella adapter are inside the softbox.

If you have never used an umbrella adapter to put a flash and umbrella or softbox on a tripod or light stand, the steps below will show you exactly what is involved. If you have already used an umbrella adapter, setting up a Halo softbox will be ridiculously simple for you. Skip to the Halo section below.

Continue reading

“How To” Series: Off-Camera Flash

Margarita

Margarita, Studio Portrait with Off-Camera Flash

Twelve articles (links below) to get you started with off-camera flash. The equipment you will need and how to use it.

Getting your flash off the camera opens up a whole new world of photographic possibilities. And the really good news: the equipment is way less expensive than it used to be. If you are ready to get started, I just finished writing (or re-writing) a series of articles on off-camera flash that covers the equipment you will need and shows you how to use it.

Continue reading

Inexpensive Gifts (Starting at $8) for Photographers

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

Flash adapter and umbrella for a shoe-mount electronic flash.

There are a lot of practical and inexpensive (more or less) gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items from $8 to $179. To make it easy to track them down, these items are individuality linked plus most of these items can be found  in the Misc Goodies section of my photography store which has direct links to Amazon.com. Prices are current as of the date of this post, but prices do fluctuate. Some items can be temporarily unavailable.

Posted Nov. 21, 2017. Updated Dec. 4, 2017.

Continue reading

Get Sharper Images By Using The Best Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

A lot of photographers have discovered their almost sharp lens was actually a very sharp lens once they tweaked the micro-adjustment settings. You will get sharper images if you adjust the settings for your specific camera and lens combinations. You do this using the micro-adjustment settings in the camera menu along with a lens calibration tool which you can buy or make yourself.

Continue reading

The Best Closeup Photography Equipment

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

There are several ways to do closeup photography. Closeup filters, extension tubes, and macro lenses are the most commonly used options. The best gear for you depends on your preferences, how you want to work, the subjects you are after, how much stuff you want to carry, and how much you want to spend. I cover your best options.

Posted Nov. 19, 2017. Updated Dec. 6, 2017.

Continue reading

Tripod Head Recommendations: Some of the Best of the Best

Two ball heads and two 3-way heads.

A good tripod head will save you lots of frustration. For still photography I recommend two types of tripod heads. If you do a little of everything you will want a quality ball head for the quick and easy aiming of the camera. If you only do landscape or architectural photography and you want precise separate controls in each axis of motion, you will want a 3-way head.

Continue reading