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Price is an Issue

I've noticed that a lot of your equipment reviews tend to focus on price. Sometimes it's almost as if your editors are trying to justify whether they'd buy a camera or lens with their own money. Wouldn't it be better to just report on the quality and let the readers make up their own minds about their own wallets? I recently purchased a Canon EOS 1v. Price wasn't even a consideration. I wanted the best camera Canon makes. Period. I would think professional photographers would feel the same way.

Dr. Evan McAndrews

Actually I think most of our editors do weigh out if they'd spend their own money on a piece of equipment as part of the review process, and I think that is the correct way to do it. Not everyone can afford an EOS 1v, and those who can often have other commitments to consider. Except for those pros who make a living with their cameras, photography is a luxury. So given a limited budget most photographers evaluate "bang for the buck" as part of the buying decision. For pros the measure is a little different. It's often will this piece of equipment pay for itself?


Hey, the girl in your black light nude article looked pretty hot under the alien paint. Are you guys going to do any other nudes with her?


Calm yourself Ray. We'll be doing an article on fine art nude photography later this year with the emphasis on fine art. In the meantime there's always Playboy for your more salacious needs :^)

Book Review

Three cheers for Vivid Light! So many magazines won't utter a word of criticism. I loved the review of Richard Avedon's Portraits in the December issue. Talk about telling it straight!

Keep 'em coming,

I don't think I've ever seen such a scathing book review! It was so bad I actually made a side trip to Barnes & Noble just to check it out. You know what? It was even worse than you said! Thanks for your honesty.

George Weider

"It's rare that I come across a photography book where I can't find a single positive thing to say - but this is one. Actually there is one positive. I don't own a copy." 

Wow, I thought you guys were going overboard - until I saw the book in the book store. Keep calling a spade a spade. I get more respect for you guys every month.

Happy Holidays,
Alfred K.

He Struck  a Chord

The response to Jim's column The Price of Quality in last month's issue was overwhelming. Rather than try and answer each email individually we've included a sampling of your emails here. 

I am looking forward to my first digital SLR but can't really justify the cost...yet. My biggest knock on digital is the lack of full frame capability...I'd like my 20mm to remain a 20mm or close to it. I'm waiting for the next release from Nikon hopefully this spring. In the meanwhile I'm trying to learn what I can about digital issues.

Robert Muirhead

Your article "The Price of Quality" is right on. Too many people talk too much about camera features and brands. It is as though they are more interested in the cameras themselves than in making photographs.

The best photography teacher I ever had, Freeman Patterson, a highly acclaimed and much published photographer, never once in his workshops talks about equipment. Never once. He talks about the art of seeing, about lines and forms and textures. To him, equipment is secondary. He gets it, many others don't.

....Steve Naor

Right on, I have been tell people that asked me questions about cameras exactly the same thing. Practice is best.

Jerry Cannon

A great article with a good deal of common sense wisdom!!!! I try to use the same logic in my photography experience and the advice I share to others.

I am using this time in my nature photo career to learn my equipment and the technics necessary to produce good images. I have had more work published before I knew anything about capturing a great photo than I have since I know "so" much.

Nature Photography has taught me that you have to be in the field to take the photo. You have to be prepared. It does not matter what equipment you have if you do not get the shot.

My personality wants to have all the latest gadgets like Art Morris, John Shaw, or George Lepp. My photo budget tells me to sell more. So I spend time marketing my slides and prints.

The greatest leason I have learned is that even on a day where I do not shoot one frame of film, I can still have a great day enjoying nature. So what does it matter if I take my F5 out or grab the N70 or take the wife's Fuji 2800!!!

Eric S. Gudger

You are right on target with your editorial on camera selection. I'm the camera man, retired F5 and active D1X, to many of my friends that ask should I go digital? Or, what camera should I buy? Those people that buy a camera to "grow into", usually never grow.

Larry Powell

A strong "Hear Hear!!" for Jim McGee's Editorial. The one 'myth' I wish he would have included is "digital is cheaper". It can be - but usually isn't. And for many consumers chasing their kids around the soccer field, not only is it more expensive, but the need to focus on the LCD screen for composition, often results in much poorer pictures since the eyes aren't focussed even in the general realm of the action.

Karl Schulmeisters

McGee's got his head up his butt. Expensive cameras beat out talent every time! 

Just kidding. It's nice to see someone acknowledge that a better camera does not necessarily make you a better photographer. One other thought. I shoot mostly wildlife. I've found that a little luck doesn't hurt either.

Big Mike
Washington State, out in the trees

Great article. I have been telling newbies and hopefuls a similar story for years. I had 12"x16" prints made from 35mm slides taken through a basic Pentax 80mm-200mm zoom. A visiting judge who is a respected pro asked if they were taken with a medium format camera. I said no, I used a tripod. Your best photographic equipment is between your ears and under your eyebrows.

Tony Wood

Your article on camera buying (December 2002) is probably the best article I've seen in a photo-mag for sometime. And while you are probably right about the large number of scathing attacks you're going to get, this is the sort of article any would be photographer needs to read. Very well said and keep it up

Amateur photographer 
Louis Titshall

In your artilce on buying an SLR you didn't mention that buying off brand equipment is risky because it has a lower trade in value. An off brand may be a better price when you buy it but you'll get a lot less on trade in which can wash out the savings.

Sherman Greene

While I agree with some of the points in your article I think that my pictures have definitely improved since I purchased an EOS 1V.

Dr. Evan McAndrews

Jim, I think you're right on with this article. I use a Nikon D100 and not the most expensive lens with maybe the exception of the 80-400mm VR and I get great results. I recently purchased a used 70-210 D Nikkor for a low price that gives great results and even the inexpensive 28-80 Nikkor has always given good results. My only other lens are the new Nikkor 18-35mm that you recommended and Sigma 105mm macro. And like you said it saves my back a lot of pain. A couple of years ago I was at Blackwater Falls in West Virginia taking pictures with my old 8008s next to a couple with twin F-5's. They really talked my old camera down and pretty much said if I was really were serious about my photography I'd buy an F-5. There is a lot of this mind-set now days that if you don't have the biggest and most expensive car, house, etc. you're just not living! 

Hurray for you.
Bob Roach

Jim, you're taking all the fun out of being an equipment junkie. I'll show this article to everybody at the camera club if I can get them to stop arguing about which 50mm lens they never use is sharper :-)


Just read your December commentary and as journalist working in another field, let me tip my lens cap to you for the honesty and balance you displayed. Way to go!

Dave Higdon PhotoProse Productions Inc.

"The Price of Quality" Right on!

Tevis Morrow

Thanks to all for the kind words. I definitely struck a chord, just not the one I thought. - Jim McGee

But then there's one in every crowd...

The expression "Soccer Mom and Football Dad" reinforces negative chauvinist stereotypes. In a world where young girls play organized football and soccer is a popular sport for both boys and girls I would think that you'd know better since your article is otherwise lucid and well composed.

Sincerely, Susan Stein-Neuman

Susan, pour yourself a martini and take the afternoon off. You're wound waaay to tight and reading waaay too much into this.

Photoshop and Home Printing

Get Ready to Print: Great & informartive.

Jim Hager

I bought an Epson 1280 and Photoshop with the idea of having my lab give me a CD with scans of my negatives. Gary does a good job of explaining the process. I wish I'd seen this article a year ago. There's as much involved in producing a good print with an inkjet as there is in getting a good print in the darkroom. 


My thanks to Gary Stanley for his article on digital scanning and printing. Even though my shop started using the CoolScan 4000ED and Epson 1280 months ago, Gary's article once again proved to me that there's still plenty for me to learn where managing our digital process is concerned.


Dave Higdon PhotoProse Productions Inc.

Thank you for the article on digital printing. I am in the early stages of printing my own ink jet prints for sale. I do have one question. Why do you prefer slides to prints if you are scanning your own film. Wouldn't a negative give you more detail all around to start with? You can set up the " luminousity" in Photoshop. And also your exposures can be less critical. Not that I am promoting inferior exposures but you would have that extra latitude if needed.

Charlie Loeven


June, proper etiquette in email is to use lower case. All upper case is considered to be the equivalent of shouting at someone. In this case we'll figure that you might indeed be upset and shouting at us. We ran an article on darkroom basics earlier this year and Chuck will be doing some more darkroom articles as the year progresses.  


Just thought I'd say, "thanks". I see many articles in magazines where it seems the pictures accompanying the article don't match some of the photographic descriptions in the story. e.g a travel story talking about a photographed building for which there is not an accompanying photo. I often wonder, why did you talk about it? 

I really liked the way the article/photos progressed. It makes you feel more like a shared experience. Even better. Its making me head out the door with my D100. 

Guy Buckingham 
Physics, Internet, Digital Photo Instructor

Great article on the bears. How nice to have a place where you can enjoy animals that are in their natural environment and not caged. Sounds like you can experience them as they are. If more people could do this, we might be able to cut down on the activities that are ruining the beauty that so many of long to see and be a part of !

Sonja Oliveri

My thanks to Gary Stanley for his article on digital scanning and printing. Even though my shop started using the CoolScan 4000ED and Epson 1280 months ago, Gary's article once again proved to me that there's still plenty for me to learn where managing our digital process is concerned.


I just wanted to send along a word to Moose and Gary. Their articles make me want to get outdoors.


"No Pictures, PLease". Great! Thanks.

Jack McCann

I was in a photo workshop in Yosemite and was hiking back to the car after a sunrise shoot when a deer came within 10 feet of all four of us. No one attempted to remove photo equipment from their backpacks. We just stood there for approximately 5 minutes while the deer stopped, sniffed the air and stared at us. He did not get in a hurry and eventually walked off. It was a great experience and something special I will always remember.

James Saxon

This is another splendid, fabulous article by the "Moose". I would love to try this type of photography but can not afford the super fast extreme length lenses. The longest lens I have is a 75-300 f 4-5.6 IS Zoom, along with a Canon A2E which does afford me some opportunities. I had to stretch my meager budget just to get this gear. I always like to read Mooses articles. They are always packed with good solid info and interesting stories.

John Hurd

It seems the animal "rights" groupies are everywhere. They forget they exist...and drive over animals, consume products, use medicines, and even occupy space that once belonged to animals. And, who 'beheads' their cabbage and rips the living lettuce out of its home?

Jim Probelski

Gary Stanley's article Sorry, No Pictures (December 2002)was absolutely wonderful! I spent eight days photographing in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park this summer, so I was able to truly relate to his message to the reader; however, I'd like to add that his message should apply to all nature photography - whether it be a national park or you own back yard - stopping to enjoy the beauty and wonder of it all is really what it's all about, right?

Kristi Esarey


Just a note, which I have suggested in my camera club also, that digitally enhanced pictures should be a separate category for contests. Many of us (me) shoot slides and go for correct exposure and composition from the get go. Once you start altering an image, removing distracting stuff, and changing colors dramatically, then I think it is a different category.

Michael D. Miller

The problem is that it's almost impossible to tell (unless the enhancement was poorly done)

As I ponder entering the monthly contest, I would like to ask for a bit of additional clarification about the phrase, "submission of a photo will be considered a defacto release for publication." Does this mean publication only on the Vividlight website, or any and all publications from this time forward, etc.? 

Thanks for helping me understand,
- David

The lawyers made us do it! 

It just means that you're allowing us to publish your photo if you win. We may also use it in a "best of" of in the case of last month's holiday photos we used last year's holiday photo winners on the page describing this year's contest. We won't resell any contest photos. In one case I used a contest photo in my column (a photo of the Twin Towers), but only after I asked the photographers permission.

Friendly Notes

I came across Vivid Light a few months ago and have been hooked ever since!! The articles are very helpful and it's great how VL is a web-based magazine - it means people like me are not disadvantaged by living half the world away in New Zealand!!

Thanks again, and have a great Xmas!!

I can't wait for each issue and start checking to see if it's up the first day of every month. I've learned so much and feel like you guys are friends. Just wanted to wish each of you the happiest of holidays and all good things in the new year. I'll continue to look forward to each issue. Thanks!

Carol Husske

Love you guys. Merry Christmas!


May you and everyone at Vivid Light have a Merry Christmas and may God smile upon you and your families.


Finally we'd like to say thank you to all the folks who took the time to send us holiday greetings. Hopefully all of you had good times, good food, and time with family over the holidays.

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