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Category: Equipment

Using older Nikon lenses on your modern DSLR

Using older Nikon lenses on your modern DSLRdan

Last month I was visiting my brother. After a wonderful dinner he disappeared down the basement stairs and returned with an old, dusty camera bag. To my surprise he pulled out an old Nikon F2 film camera and said, “You want this old stuff?” Without a moment’s hesitation I said “Absolutely!”

The camera was in great shape and came with an old Nikkor 50mm lens looking as good as the day it was made! So now I have a vintage Nikon F2 with all the fancy attachments (a work of modern art!) and an old 50mm f-2 lens in excellent condition. This lens was made in 1978 but it works perfectly on my Nikon d750 in Manual Mode. I’ve had a lot of fun using the lens for macro and close-up photography where manual control of aperture and focus are necessary.

 Why use an older lens?

  • These lenses were very well made and inexpensive. They are fun to use and can even improve your photography by forcing you to use your camera’s manual settings.
  • Older Nikkor/Nikon lenses were made of metal rather than plastic and are very rugged.
  • They were optically very good and can often hold their own when compared to modern lenses.
  • Although these lenses lack some of the modern coating to reduce some chromatic aberration, some are optically just as sharp as many modern lenses. Chromatic Aberration can be easily fixed in Lightroom so this issue shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Rather than spend $200 or more on a new 50mm Nikon lens, an older, manual lens can be purchased on the Internet or at a used camera sale for as little as $50. Some of the best old lenses can fetch up to $200 or more but can be used in place of lenses costing over $1000!
  • These lenses are most useful in situations where manual aperture control is needed e.g. Macro photography using manual bellows or extension tubes, reversing the lens for macro.
  • Modern lenses are designed for Autofocus. To improve autofocus speed, focus can often be adjusted from close-up to infinity in as little as half a turn of the lens focus ring. This makes it difficult to get accurate manual focus with modern lenses. Older manual focus lenses have a much larger “focus throw” making it much easier to make fine adjustment to focus where sharpness is critical.

Where to buy these lenses:

  • Used camera stores (HITS Cameras, Burlington Camera for example).
  • On the Internet from eBay. Be careful and buy only from reputable vendors with at least 99% Positive Feedback rating and don’t forget to factor in the exchange rate and shipping costs!
  • Online from You can often negotiate the price and save shipping costs since sellers often live in the local area and you can actually check the lens yourself in person.
  • My favourite place to purchase old lenses is at Used Camera Sales organized by the Photographic Historical Society of Canada. These Photographica Fairs are held a few times a year where you can find dozens of vendors selling all types of old cameras, lenses, tripods, film, and hard-to-find accessories. They also run Auctions twice a year where you can get all kinds of camera gear for bargain prices. Locations and dates of upcoming sales and auctions can be found at their website (http://phsc.ca/ ).
  • Many people buy an old film camera with the lens attached and just get rid of the camera. This is an excellent way to add to your “stable” of lenses without breaking the bank!

Notes on using these lenses with your modern DSLR:

Newer Nikon lenses have CPU contacts that transfer focussing and exposure data to the camera. Older lenses do not have any CPU contacts so they cannot transfer any information to the camera and must be used in Manual Mode.

On older Nikkor/Nikon lenses (non-CPU lenses) made from 1977 onwards, the aperture must be adjusted by turning the aperture ring on the lens and the lens must be focussed manually. Consumer-level Nikon cameras ( D5300, D5200, D5100, D5000, D3300, D3200, D3100, D3000, D80, D70, D60, D40, and D40X) cannot read the metering information from these old lenses. The camera’s light meter will still work but no f-stop values will be displayed by the camera. Higher-end Nikon cameras (D4(S), D3X, D3, D810(A), D800(E), D750, D700, D610, D600 D300S, D300, D200, D7100) can be set to report exposure information from these older lenses and will actually show the f-stop value from the lens. To configure these cameras to use the older manual lens, open the Menu and choose the “SETUP” sub-menu and ”Non-CPU lens setup”. Simply enter the focal length of the lens and the minimum aperture and save.

Early versions of autofocus lenses, first introduced in 1986,  do not have a built-in focus motor so they can only autofocus on Nikon cameras with a focus motor built into the camera. These older lenses without a built-in focus motor will not autofocus on the following cameras: D40, D60, D3000 series, D5000 series.

How to tell if an old lens will work with your DSLR?

 

In 1977 Nikon introduced a new system for coupling the camera to the lens. This system was called “Automatic maximum aperture indexing” or “Ai” for short. These cameras had a small lever that coupled with the lens to report the f-stop value to the camera.

nikon

Lenses using this system will fit on modern Nikon DSLRs and are called “Ai” lenses. They can be used in Manual Mode.

 

WARNING: Lenses made prior to 1977  (NON-“AI” lenses) cannot be attached to modern DSLRs without possible damage to the camera’s autofocusing and metering system!

 

How to recognize a Nikon/Nikkor “Ai” lens:

 

  • “Ai” lenses have a coupling ridge that interacts with the “Ai” lever on the camera. This ridge is cut out of the aperture ring and is raised as shown in the photos below.
  • “Ai” lenses have 2 rows of aperture numbers as shown below.
  • The coupling fork, often referred to as the “rabbit ears”, is not solid but has two small cut-outs.

 

These lenses will mount to modern Nikon cameras and can be used with manual focus and manual aperture. The camera must be set to M or manual mode.

 

CHART SHOWING TYPICAL “Ai” LENS

ai

Here’s how to recognize a NON-“Ai” lens:

  • There is no raised, cut-out coupling ridge
  • The aperture ring sticks out past the metal mounting ring. This can damage the AI lever on your camera.
  • There is only one row of aperture (f-stop) numbers).
  • The coupling fork, often referred to as the “rabbit ears”, is solid.

WARNING: These lenses may damage your camera if you try to use them!

ai2

Nikon provides some excellent resources focussing on older lens compatibility with new cameras.

Before you try an old lens, check out these web sites!

 

  1. A Nikon web site that lists different lens types and compatible cameras. http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d3000/compatibility.htm

 

  1. An excellent article: “Can I use my lens from my old camera on a new digital SLR? “

https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/14439/~/can-i-use-my-lens-from-my-old-camera-on-a-new-digital-slr%3F

 

  1. An excellent summary: “What is the difference between an AI lens, an AI-S lens, and Non-AI lens?”

https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5366/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xNDUzNjgzOTUyL3NpZC90MjRaUm1IbQ%3D%3D

 

  1. The following web site lists Nikon lenses, their version numbers, serial numbers, the year they were made and, most importantly, the lens type (AI or NON-AI)

By clicking on the lens number you can also see a photo of the lens… An Excellent resource!

http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html

 

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to try older Nikon “Ai” lenses on your camera. These lenses are most useful in situations where manual focus and manual aperture are preferred:

Night Photography, Macro photography. (These lenses can also be reversed to give even more magnification!), High-speed photography, Video, Portraits and Still-life. They are often of high quality, were built to last a lifetime or two and will give you hours of enjoyment. You may also find that its lots of fun browsing the vendors in the Photographica Fair or bidding on used gear at the auction.

Older lenses are much less expensive and will allow you to try out prime and zoom lenses of different focal length before you decide to purchase a new one. By working in manual mode you will learn more about how your camera works and how to take control of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. You will be forced to slow down and really take the time to create the photograph that you want!

 

 

 


Give your computer a performance boost

Give your computer a performance boost_DSC6835-2

Let us imagine that it has been a year or two since you brought home that new shiny computer; too early to consider a replacement, but a good time to consider a mid-cycle refresh – to improve performance and take you through the next couple of years.

Below are a few ideas.

Operating System/Software

Before you start spending your money on hardware, there are some software things you can look at:
• Disable or remove unwanted startup programs
• Remove abandoned software/Clean up unnecessary system files
• Keep your system free of viruses and malware
• Upgrade to a newer operating system
• Check for newer device drivers

Please be careful, make sure you have a proper backup before starting, and if you are unsure as to what you are doing, get knowledgeable assistance.

Hardware

As you probably know, there are many sub-systems that make up a computer. Some of them are limited by the manufacturer=s system design, but others can be easily enhanced without considerable expense. There are three subsystems that can be upgraded to substantially improve a machines performance – memory (RAM), storage and video.

Please note that there are design limitations and not all computers can be upgraded. Notebooks are generally more difficult to upgrade than desktop/tower machines. This article is intended to be of general information and not necessarily applicable to every configuration. Also note, that right or wrong, the author has a Windows perspective on the world, but much of this will apply to a Macintosh environment.

Memory

More is better. Up to a point. If you have 4GB of RAM, upgrading to more will help. Eight is better than four, and sixteen is better than eight. After that there is the law of diminishing returns, although for power users even more may be beneficial. If you are a power user, you already know this stuff. (Note: You need to be running a 64-bit operating system to take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM.)

You may find that your computer is limited as to how many memory slots are available and the maximum amount it will recognize. Check your manufacturers website or try www.kingston.com as a good third party source for both information and memory. Choosing the right memory can be a bit of a minefield, so you may want to engage professional assistance.

Storage

For the past thirty years we have relied primarily on spinning-media hard drives. The industry is changing. Spinning drives still give you the most storage for the least cost, but Solid State Drives (SSDs) are making significant advances in performance and lowering the cost/GB.

If you have a spinning hard drive, there is a good chance that you can replace it with an SSD. You will be amazed at how much faster everything happens on your computer. Startup times are typically reduced from many minutes to generally under a minute. Upgrading to an SSD gives you the best Abang for the buck@.

The majority of SSDs are available in 2.5″ form factors and have SATA interfaces, which is the usual interface for most notebook and desktop type computers. For the most part, you can unplug the old drive and plug in the new SSD in its place. Be sure you have all the right cables, both data and power. If your old drive is a 3.5” device, you may need a new way to secure it in your computer.
Just like spinning drives, not all solid state drives are the same. A good guide line would be to pay attention to the length of the warranty, and buy a brand name with which you are familiar.

Be aware that a newer solid state storage interface standard exists, it is called NVM Express for PCIe. Higher end notebooks are starting to take advantage of this improved performance, and if you are upgrading a desktop/tower machine, this may be an option for you as well. (http://www.nvmexpress.org/)

What is behind this newer standard? Having a SATA interface means you can plug an SSD in where you once had a spinning hard drive, which is very convenient. However, the speed that data moves through the non-volatile memory (NVM) used in SSDs is so much faster than it can move through a spinning hard drive. This results in a bottleneck at the SATA interface, as it was designed for the slower requirements of spinning drives. NVM Express PCIe removes this bottleneck, but as you might have guessed, at a higher price. These drives look less like the old hard drives and more like memory modules or PCIe plug in cards. Major players are Samsung and Intel.

An NVMe drive is the ultimate storage upgrade, but pricey. It might be something to consider for the next computer.

Video

In April of this year, with the release of Lightroom 6, Adobe made a number of improvements. One of them was to recognize and incorporate GPU acceleration for faster video performance. Okay, before I lose you, GPU stands for Graphics Processor Unit, or in other words what we old-timers used to call a video card.

If you already have a good graphics subsystem, Lightroom may have already recognized it and taken advantage of it. There are methods to check this within Lightroom and your favourite search engine will direct you to them. A good place to start is at:
https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/lightroom-gpu-faq.html

Will a better GPU improve your performance? In doing my research I came across this thread from an Adobe engineer. It seems the answer is maybe; it depends on your circumstances. See more here: https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1828580

For Photoshop, Adobe says the minimum amount of graphics processor VRAM supported is 512 MB (1 GB or greater of VRAM is recommended).

I found some helpful information at:
https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/photoshop-cc-gpu-card-faq.html
and
http://www.nvidia.ca/content/adobe/pdf/adobe-hardware-performance-white-paper.pdf
Be careful as you cannot buy just any card and plug it in, you need to know, or get someone to help you determine, what sort of expansion slots your computer has available, and select the appropriate display adapter. Your computer manufacturer may have some suggestions

I hope and trust this will make your computer and your photo processing experience more enjoyable.

John Allman
President, Toronto Digital Photography Club
 

Acknowledgements:

My thanks to Danny Andonoff of Plexxus Technologies Inc. and Roger Correia of the Toronto Digital Photography Club for proof reading this article and for their comments and suggestions.


Backup Images while Travelling

Bob Fowler from the Richmond Hills Camera Club

Bob Fowler
Richmond Hill Camera Club

I recently did some travelling in the U.S. with the intent of taking lots of images with my digital camera. I also wanted to back up those images as I traveled to ensure that nothing was lost during the trip due to card memory failure, theft, etc.

One solution to backing up which many photographers use is to bring along a laptop/ultrabook computer and periodically backup the memory cards to that device. I used a similar method that is much cheaper, requires less luggage space, and is only marginally less convenient. I brought along a portable, slim, external hard drive; usb cable (the one used for your printer); usb hub; and tiny sd card reader. Together they take a mere few inches of room and a matter of ounces of weight in a carry-on bag. Depending on the choices of brand, hd size, etc. the items can be bought for about $100. In fact you probably have most of these items already. In my case it was more like $130 worth of gear since I had a 2 Terrabyte portable hard drive, plus the other items.

The inconvenience involved in this scheme is that one must have access to a computer with usb ports in order to use the gear. Luckily every hotel/motel we encountered had an easily accessed desktop computer in their lobby open to free use by any guest.   Pretty much every desktop computer today has usb ports both back and front. With the hub I had, I only needed one free usb port – never a problem. The hub provided 4 free ports. I needed 2.

That minor inconvenience factor itself will soon be eliminated by new gear. The Western Digital “My Passport Wireless” has just become available in Canada. It has an SD slot in the side for direct access by your camera’s memory card. Furthermore it establishes its own wireless network, so that your mobile devices can use/control its content directly. Each evening you could upload your card’s images and view them immediately on your mobile device (IOS, Android phone or tablet – up to 8 devices simultaneously). This is a more expensive (about an extra $100) option than the one I used on this recent trip, but that extra degree of control may well be worth it. If your only need for your laptop while travelling is for image backup, you can now skip that device and have equal or better backup storage options.

Here is info re. the new WD Passport Wireless:

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=1330

 


Understanding the ND Filter

Thomas Lee

Understanding the ND Filter

by

Thomas Lee (Chinese-Canadian Camera Club)

 

What is an ND Filter?

ND is short of Natural Density. It is a piece of glass (or acrylic) placed in front of a camera lens in order to reduce or modified the light getting into the camera. ND filter is in gray color and there are different filters with different degrees of grayness (ratings). On a camera, a photographer can use the aperture setting and the shutter speeds to adjust the amount of light entering the lens. Putting an ND filter in front of the lens will give the photographer a third tool for adjusting the amount of light.

 

Ratings of a ND Filter

ND filters are rated with different ND numbers according to their optical transparency, such as ND2, ND4, ND8, ND16, ND32, ND64, ND100 . . . etc. The lager the number, the greater the amount of light will be reduced. ND2 and ND4 are the mostly common used ratings. Also, there is a variable ND filter which allows the user to continuously changing the ND rating without physically changing to a different rated ND filter. By turning the variable ND filter, a photographer can get his precise light intensity for his exposure which cannot be obtained by any f/stop.

 

Application of an ND Filter

  • Extend exposure time without having over exposure take place.
  • Blurring the moving water (such as waterfalls, rivers, water waves) by using very slow shutter speeds.
  • Use a wider aperture to reduce depth of field (such as portraits shooting) on a very bright sunny day when the required shutter speeds exceed the fastest available on a camera.
  • Remove or reduce the visibility of any moving objects (e.g. people on a street or tourist hotspots) by using very slow shutter speeds (up to several minutes).
  • In a continuous changing brightness environment, e.g. moving cloud, the photographer can use a variable ND filter to modify the light intensity without changing the camera settings (aperture etc.)

 

Types of ND Filters

  • Screw over the lens, single rating.
  • Screw over the lens, variable rating
  • Rectangular slot-in ND filter uses with a slot filter holder. The holder can hold multiple filters at the same time to get a mix of rating.

 

Some brand names of ND Filters:

 


Phoneography

EdithLevy

Edith Levy

Toronto Digital Photography Club

Phoneography – Taking Big Pictures with a Little Lens

I’m a photographer! I use a DSLR with various lenses to photograph the people and world around me so why would I want to use my phone or any other mobile device to take pictures? That’s easy sometimes it’s the only camera I have with me and really any camera is better then no camera. There are other reasons of course and they include but aren’t limited too:

  • It’s convenient
  • It’s easy
  • It’s less intrusive than a DSLR when doing street photography
  • I can take pictures with my phone when I’m doing long exposures with my DSLR
  • There are 1000’s of Apps that let me get creative on the go and many are free.
  • I can upload to social media and share my images right away

What Do You Need To Get Started

  • A smartphone with the ability to take pictures (which is just about any phone today) – iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, etc.
  • Instagram – it’s free and it’s like twitter for pictures. You can share your pictures with friends easily and follow others. If you want to follow me on Instagram @EdithLevy
  • Camera+ – (I love this camera app) or your phone’s native camera
  • Snapseed – my go to app for processing

One of the keys to getting started with Phoneography is to get yourself organized so that you know where all your important apps are. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create folders so that when you’re in the field your apps are literally at your fingertips when you need them.

Image 1

 

 

I create 3 separate folders to keep all my apps organized (and this method was created by photographer Justin Balog)

  • Darkroom folder – I keep all of my processing apps in this folder. My Photo editing apps include:
    • Snapseed
    • 100 Cameras in 1
    • PhotoToaster
    • HDR FX Pro
    • Dramatic B&W
    • BlurFX
    • Grungetastic
    • Glaze
    • Mirrorgram
    • TangledFX

 

  • Camera folder – I keep all my cameras together with the exception of Camera+ which is onthe first screen of my iPhone. All other camera apps are in the folder and they include:
  • Camera Awesome
  • Hueles
  • 645Pro
  • Pocketbooth
  • Light Camera
  • Hipstamatic
  • MPro

 

  • Photo Tools Folder – For tools that I usually use in the field such as:
    • The Photographer’s Empheris
    • The Longtime Exposure Calculator

Image 2
 

Workflow

Taking pictures with your phone is quite straightforward. Being consistent and following these simple steps will ensure that you come away with good images. As with all photography be sure to be mindful of composition. Open your favourite camera app and tap the screen to focus.

Image 3

 

The square box will appear on the screen indicating where your focus point is. In most apps where ever you decide to focus this is where the camera will meter. This is similar with the spot metering system on your DSLR. It’s for this reason that my go to camera app is Camera+. The focus and exposure are separate in this app. You would tap on the square to focus then set your exposure point anywhere on the screen, via the circular aperture icon, to set the exposure as in the image above.

Take the picture and if you like it the way it is then great…you’re done. If you’re like most of us you’ll want to enhance your image using an image-editing app. The app that I use 99% of the time to edit every image is Snapseed. It’s intuitive and will allow you to crop, straighten, adjust brightness & contrast, bring out detail in your shadows and so much more. I may give my images a final artful touch by using other apps and apply presets to further give life to my vision.

 

Original Image straight out of my iPhone taken with Camera+

Image 4_Original

 

 

Final Image edited with Snapseed and the Toy Story preset in PhotoToaster

Image 5_PhotoToaster

 

 

Finally don’t forget to share your work on Social Media. Whether its Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Google+ there’s a whole community of Phoneography shooters that you could be a part of.

 

Edith Levy is a member of the Toronto Digital Photography Club and her work can be found on www.edithlevyphotography.com


‘Live’ Image Access from Storage to your PDA Device

1-BobFowler

Bob Fowler

Richmond Hill Camera Club

Most of us remember media from the past that was used to store our digital data: cassette data tape, floppy disks, syquest drives, early hard drives gigantic in size. Later came cds, dvds, more compact external hard disks, usb ‘flash’ drives, and various memory cards. Except for temporary storage, the modern, compact, hard disk has proven the most efficient, fastest, and cheapest means of storing large amounts of data. It will also provide a straightforward means of transferring data to any new media (artificial DNA?) that may come along, thus future-proofing our storage efforts as well.

Until relatively recently the external hard drive has had only a limited function for data with respect to portable devices. With the assistance of a desktop or laptop computer it archived the data, and data could be retrieved from it when required. Recently that role has been widely expanded. Now a cpu (brain) has been added to the external drive in order to let it communicate directly on a continuous basis with wifi or internet connected digital devices. Your smartphone or tablet (or laptop) can now use the high-capacity hard drive space as if it were part of its own hardware. Instead of 8 or 16 gigabytes of storage available on your phone or tablet, now you can have terabytes of directly accessible memory when it comes to viewing images, or videos or listening to audio.

The chief players at the moment in providing this kind of storage are Seagate (“Go Flex Satellite”, LaCie (“Cloudbox”), and Western Digital (“My Book Live”). The reviews I’ve read tend to favour the Western Digital device, and my own experience with it has been very good.

I highly recommend exploring these drives if you have a portable device you use for viewing your images or videos. It addresses one of the most outstanding weaknesses of such devices as they are at present: they have too little memory for storing images and video files.


Bring Your Own Light

Bringing Your Own Light - Kevin Chan

Kevin Chan

Oakville Camera Club

Why settle for boring or unflattering light? Just bring your own instead and unleash your creativity! Remote off-camera flashes are powerful and portable tools that can bring your portraits to the next level. They have provided me with the flexibility and confidence to shoot on-location portraiture in all types of challenging environments and conditions.

Getting the flash off-camera breaks photographers away from the limitations of on-axis and bounce flash. While this can be very effective, it’s not entirely conducive to creative portraits. Most Nikon and Canon cameras come with built-in infrared triggers, which are convenient and affordable. Radio triggers are an alternative that allows for greater flexibility in flash placement and orientation. Regardless of the system, being able to place flashes anywhere is advantageous big advantage.

Be dynamic in your use of flash! Speedlights are extremely portable flashes that let you adjust your light very quickly. Studio lights tend to be heavier and more cumbersome with limited flexibility. Take advantage of this mobility and try different types of light as you shoot: sidelight, backlight, fill, overhead, butterfly, or even Rembrandt. Add variety to your images by changing locations of your flashes often. Switching diffusers is another option, giving a completely different look in the same place.

The most common light modifiers for portraiture are umbrellas and softboxes. Umbrellas are easy to use and straightforward. Try shoot-through umbrellas for a softer and flattering look. Slightly different are softboxes, which give beautiful, controllable light. Being able to control light falloff and spill is a key strength of softboxes which is often underused by photographers. Consider the addition of grids or gobos to control your light even further – these are great for picky situations or tight locations.

When using light creatively, I strongly recommend to shooting in manual and setting your flashes accordingly. TTL is convenient, but lacks consistency and control. Dynamic or interesting lighting can be a delicate balance between flash and ambient light, which is easier to achieve with manual settings. Be sure to check that your triggers sync consistently with your camera at its highest sync speed. This enables you to get the most effective power out of your flashes. It can be intimidating at first, but it is well worth the learning effort.

I always encourage experimentation when learning to use flash. There is no set recipe for flash photography; it is very much a learned skill. It’s often best to start simple with flash setups that you are comfortable with. After getting a few shots, progress into more complicated or ‘untested’ setups. Be sure to not restrict yourself to always using the same types of lighting!

Being able to light effectively and creatively is an invaluable skill for portrait photographers. Practice and a bit of experimentation goes a long way in developing your flash photography abilities, regardless of skill level. Expand your options and give off-camera flash a try! Master your lighting modifiers and setups – this is the key to creating great portraits under the most challenging conditions.

Bringing Your Own Light - Article Image


The ‘Sweet Spot’ of your Lens

Bob Fowler
Richmond Hill Camera Club

The ‘Sweet Spot’ of a lens usually refers to the aperture at which its images are at their sharpest, but it can refer, additionally, to the optimal focal length for sharpness as well as for the absence of various distortions from the true characteristics of the scene in terms of factors like colour and symmetry.

All lenses differ considerably in what their sweet spot(s) is(are).  Let’s look at some of the very broad issues.  I’ll deal with aperture and sharpness in this discussion, but similar arguments can be made for the other ‘distortion’ factors as well.

Only your own testing will tell you where the sharpness sweet spot  of your lens is – i.e. what is the optimum aperture for the sharpest image.  Very often it is in the middle area of apertures between f5.6 and f11, and seldom at the extreme wide open end or the smallest aperture (highest number).  F1.8 on an f1.8 prime lens is unlikely to be the sweet spot for that lens.

Just as the price of a lens can vary significantly, so can the size of the range of sweet spots; and usually they vary together.  The most expensive lens will have more sweet spot apertures available than the cheapest lens, other things being equal.

The latter one-to-one correspondence will be most evident for full-frame cameras using lenses made specifically for their full-frame sensors.  Cheaper lenses will have fewer sweet spot options, both for sharpness and for the other distortion factors briefly mentioned above.

APS-C cameras sporting APS-C lenses will have similar issues.  However, APS-C cameras fitted with full-frame size lenses will have a distinct advantage.  Because their sensors address only the middle part of the lens and not the far edges, where the relevant quality  tends to vary; they experience less quality fall-off at apertures that would be noticeable on their full-frame camera cousins.  This means that cheaper lenses do not necessarily mean severe penalties in sharpness at certain apertures  that more expensive lenses would normally compensate for.  It means that a full-frame ‘kit lens’ on an APS-C camera can be a very good performer at the right apertures (and focal lengths).

What to take from this. 

1)    If you have a full-frame camera, invest in the best glass you can afford, or assemble a good collection of lenses, each tested to determine their fewer, but perfectly useful, sweet spots.

2)    If you have an APC-S camera do the same as 1) OR choose a full-frame version of the lenses you purchase rather than the APS-C.  Also, do not part too readily with your kit lens, for it too has sweet spot areas that can be just as sharp as expensive replacements.  Just test to find them.

Have a Great 2013!

 


The ‘Crop Factor’

Bob Fowler
Richmond Hill Camera Club

Recently at Photokina in Germany it became apparent that some major camera manufacturers are concentrating on bringing full-frame digital cameras to market at more affordable prices.  Why might you be interested in a ‘full-frame’ (i.e. large sensor-equipped) camera?

Two reasons, mainly:

  1. Generally  larger information advantages of a larger sensor (more and larger pixels with positive consequences for image quality and less noise in low-light situations).
  2. Better control of depth of field.

This time I have concentrated on how the larger sensor helped achieve the second aim, namely how it affected the camera’s depth of field (dof).

All other factors being equal [focal length, distance from subject, and aperture setting (f-stop)] the size of the sensor makes a major difference in the dof possible in an image.

If one uses the full-frame dof as a base, one can calculate the equivalent f-stop effect of the other sensor sizes by multiplying the f-stop  of the chosen camera by its crop factor.  Thus, if your APS-C camera has a crop factor of 1.5 and the full-frame camera’s f-stop is f8, your equivalent f-stop effect will be f11, and if your camera phone’s crop factor is 5.6, your equivalent f-stop effect will be f22, probably its highest possible setting and enough to get from camera to infinity as a dof.  Similarly a 4-thirds style camera would have an equivalent f16 result on its hands. This matters a great deal if you are trying to achieve a narrow depth of field for purposes of portrait photography or just to separate out your subject from distracting background matter.

As the sensor  size decreases, the need to manipulate the other dof factors becomes increasingly necessary and can make the desirable result more difficult to achieve, though to some degree possible.

This forms part, but not the only part by any means, of the decision to spend the extra money for a full-frame digital camera.