How to “Rate” Photos in Your Camera

Camera LCD zoomed in on a Grackle photo. iPhone photo.

It is simple to rate photos in your camera, provided you have a rate button. (Later on I will tell you what to do if you don’t have a rate button.)  If you take a photo you want to find quickly when you download the memory card, just push the rate button.  When you download the photos on your memory card you can use Adobe Bridge (more about Bridge later) to quickly find your rated photos.

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Radio Controlled Speedlites: Yongnuo YN600EX-RT vs Canon 600EX-RT

Yongnuo 600 EX-RT Speedlite and Yonghuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter.

Yongnuo 600EX-RT Speedlite and Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter. Click to see a larger version.

Should you spend $549 on a Canon 600EX-RT speedlite, or $138 on Yongnuo’s nearly identical clone, the YN600EX-RT? And what about the radio transmitters? Canon’s is $299 and the Yongnuo copy is $95. So you can buy three Yongnuo speedlites plus the radio transmitter for a total of $509, less than the price of one Canon speedlite. The price advantage is clear, but what about quality, reliability, and service issues? Continue reading

A High Quality, Compact RØDE VideoMic for Your DSLR and Smartphone

RØDE VideoMicro in use at Acadia National Park.

Let’s face it. While many recent DLSRs, ILCs and smartphones can give you excellent visual quality in the videos, the sound quality of the built in microphone leaves a lot to be desired. For a modest amount of money you can bring the sound quality up to par with the visual quality. That is why video mic sales have exploded.

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GoPro: Amazing, Small, Inexpensive, HD Video Cameras

GoPro HERO12 Black. Click image for a larger version.

Looking for a small, mountable, “ideal for sports and action”, inexpensive, high definition video and still camera with a waterproof housing and image quality that Lucasfilm (the Star Wars people) calls “amazing”? This camera will go anywhere and mount just about anywhere. Prices range from $279 to $399 (which is a lot less than your typical DSLR with HiDef video).

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The Best Panorama Gear: Living in Panorama Heaven

180° Panorama: Yosemite Valley at Night. Eagle Peak, Yosemite Point, and North Dome. Yosemite National Park. Right click to see a larger version.
Really Right Stuff makes an excellent, simple to use panorama set up that won’t take up a lot of room in your camera bag. After using bigger, more awkward panorama gear, switching to Really Right Stuff’s set up was like being in panorama heaven. It is compatible with the Arca-Swiss-System. 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.

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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 starting at $8. 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 Prices are current as of the date of this post, but prices do fluctuate. Some items can be temporarily unavailable. These items are not listed in order of price.

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Camera Choices: Using Full Size Test Images from

Panasonic Lumix ZX20 (left) vs Canon SX260 HS (right)

I was comparing the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS with other cameras with similar features (shirt pocket size, 20x zoom range) like the Panasonic Lumix ZS30. There weren’t full reviews of either camera so I went back to reviews of the Canon SX260 HS and the Panasonic ZS20, assuming the current cameras would be somewhat better than the older models and that both would have the pedigree traits of their predecessors (which is often but not always the case for a camera’s family tree).

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

Welcome to my online buying guide for photographers. With over 75 articles it is one of the most comprehensive photography buyer’s guides on the web.

I get lots of photo questions, especially at this time of year, and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone who is shopping for a photographer.  If you are shopping for yourself, or for a photographer in your life, this series is for you.

My “best of the best” series recommends the best photo gear, accessories, software, books, DVDs, online photo labs, and a whole lot more. Thanks to the information in these articles I get emails from photographers thanking me for saving them time, frustration, and a lot of money.

This article is published annually in November with regular updates. Re-posted November 20, 2023. Most recent update: December 8, 2023.

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Camera Settings for Trunk or Treat

Trunk or Treat, sponsored by the Graceland University Enactus program, Lamoni Iowa.

If I am photographing an event and the light is constant, I shoot in manual mode for the most accurate exposure and the best color. But if the light is variable, there isn’t time during an active event to be constantly changing the exposure because you will miss too many photo ops. That means shooting in an automatic mode.

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Camera Gear for Trunk or Treat

Camera gear for Trunk or Treat.

This is the gear I will be taking to photograph Trunk or Treat, a big annual event in Lamoni Iowa. The camera with a 24-105mm lens will be hanging around my neck. The camera with the 70-300mm lens will be hanging from my right shoulder.  Two memory card wallets, one for each camera will be in my jacket pocket. The spare camera battery, which will fit either camera, will also be in my jacket pocket.

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How to Shoot With and Protect Your Camera Gear in Hot Weather

Covered camera during a shooting break.

It has been a really hot summer so I am posting this again as a “save your camera gear” reminder. Camera gear has a temperature and humidity rating. A top of the line Canon camera body has a limit of 115°F and 85% or less humidity. A black camera on a hot day can easily exceed that limit. Less expensive cameras of any brand have lower limits so it is important to protect your gear.

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A Quality Camera and Two Lenses for $300 – $500

A camera body and lens for $200.

The ideas for this article started with a question about camera gear (see my Mama Killdeer article). A friend of mine was surprised to learn I used a lens that cost less than $200 to capture an image of a killdeer. So I went to the refurbished gear section of Canon’s web site to check some of their current prices. The camera and lens combination above is $200. The lens is a good, general purpose, semi-wide angle to short telephoto lens. (To keep things simple I am rounding everything up to the next dollar.)

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Mama Killdeer

Killdeer Portrait, church parking lot in rural Iowa. This is cropped from the original image.

I captured this image in a church parking lot in rural southern Iowa. Two years ago she laid her eggs in the same parking lot and successfully hatched her eggs a few weeks later. This summer she did it again.

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How to Shoot With and Protect Your Camera Gear in Hot Weather

Covered camera during a shooting break.

Summer is here and that means hot weather. So it is time for a “save your camera gear” reminder. Camera gear has a temperature and humidity rating. A top of the line Canon camera body has a limit of 115°F and 85% or less humidity. A black camera on a hot day can easily exceed that limit. Less expensive cameras of any brand have lower limits so it is important to protect your gear.

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Pushing the Limits: $239 lens vs $2159 lens

Bald Eagle, Home Lake. Canon SL3, EF-S 55-250mm lens.

Is a $239 lens as good as a $2159 lens? Much of the time, yes (see the first link at the end of this article). Sometimes no. It depends on the photo situation. I get lots of equipment questions and some of them have to do with photography on a tight budget. I’ve been comparing a refurbished Canon SL3 camera and a refurbished Canon EF-S 55-250mm lens to a Canon 7D Mark II camera with a Canon L series 100-400mm lens.

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iPhone vs Canon Rebel SL3

iPhone (inset) and Canon SL3. 100% magnification (“actual pixels”) samples from the center of both images. Click to see a larger version.

Last night (Monday) I was photographing a band concert for our weekly, small town newspaper. The problem is the photo deadline is 5 pm Monday for the Thursday paper and the concert began at 7:30 pm, 2 1/2 hours after the deadline. Depending on where the newspaper staff is in producing the issue, sometimes they can squeeze in another photo or two that come in after the deadline. The sooner I can get them photos, the better, so I sent the paper two photos taken with my iPhone, one of the elementary school band and one of the high school band. But I used a Canon SL3 for most of the concert. I downloaded the SL3 memory card and sent the paper two more photos just in case they were running really late. Why? The Canon SL3 creates dramatically better photos in less than optimum lighting conditions.

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Lens Apertures, f-stops, and Depth of Field

50mm lens, aperture blades at f/8.

Almost every lens has a more or less round “aperture”, the opening that lets light through to the sensor or film. Most modern lenses have aperture blades that open and close to change the size of the opening. You can see the aperture blades in this photo. Larger apertures obviously let in more light in a given period of time and smaller apertures let in less light in the same period of time. The size of the aperture opening is one factor that determines the exposure. Just as important, the size of the aperture helps determine the depth of field in each image.

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Buying a Red Headlamp for Night Photography: The Essential Feature

Photographers with red headlamps. Field Trip, Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

A red headlamp is an essential tool for night photography. Before you rush out and buy one, make sure it has the most essential feature (other than the red LED). Some inexpensive headlamps have this feature and some very expensive ones don’t, so cost is not the issue.

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