Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online

Advanced Questions

With over 15 years of retail and professional experience Chuck thought he'd heard it all - until he took this job.

Send us your questions for either the Beginner or Advanced columns by clicking HERE.  Please include as much detail about the technique, camera, lens, or film as you can so Chuck can answer your questions. 

Gary Stanley is filling in for Chuck on the Advanced Column this month.

I have a Canon Digital Rebel with the 18-55 kit lens, Canon 50 1.8 II, the 75-300 IS and the Sigma Super 500 DG flash. I bought a Canon 75-300 IS lens and I'm quite happy with it except for the focus speed and that it broke down and is in the Calgary repair site in Canada and it took them two months to find the IS problem and now another month and still no lens. I am concerned about the durability of this lens as it is only 6 months old. So I'm wondering if I should sell it and try to get a faster focusing lens and a more durable lens. This lens was treated very well. I am willing to spend more money but not a $300.00 more plus what I get for the 75-300 IS.

The IS makes this lens a easy to use and fun lens. But will go on a trip if it miss-focuses and when trying to take pictures of small birds it can be very frustrating. I can't afford the true pro canon "L" lenses. Is it the fast lenses that let more light in that allow for fast focus? If this is true then any of the 4.0-5.6 70-300 lenses will be slow I guess. Is the Tokina 80-200 2.8 ATX Pro a realistic alternative? Then I could put a 2X teleconverter on it?

The Tokina 80-400 ATX II gets mixed reviews out there and It is hard to tell where or what bias people are putting on the recommendation presented. How does it compare with the Canon 75-300 IS. I realize that the 80-400 4.5-5.6 will need adherence to shutter speed and ASA speed to get sharp pictures and a tripod if need be to get low light results of the 75-300 IS.

Thanks for your time, 

Unfortunately, while the 75-300 IS lens can take sharp photographs, you're right, it is slow, does not focus very fast, and is not made like Canon's L pro lenses. I don't think you would be happy with the 80-400 f/5.6 Tokina, especially on a digital camera. It will be slow focusing and with the increased magnification, I wouldn't count on sharp images. You would be well up over 600mm with your Digital Rebel, so steadying this lens would be a problem (I owned the older model without the tripod collar).

The clear choice would be to spring for the Canon 100-400 IS. Price is of course higher, and auto-focus, while not speedy, is faster than the 75-300.

The Tokina 80-200 f/2.8 is a very sharp fast lens, less expensive (maybe even used), and on your camera would be the equivalents of a 480mm f/2.8 with out a converter. You could add a 1.4X first for a 672mm f/4, before going to the 2X, Not bad!

Gary, Thank you for all your help on the tour.

I have a serious question that I am ashamed to ask you, but here goes: The second week of my trip., I dropped my Minolta Maxxum 9 camera and was afraid to use it for the rest of the trip. I had an older model 700si Maxxum that I had never programed before (older model, more complicated to do settings so I had only used prorram mode in the past). Well, having now advanced into various adjustments (using the Maxxum 9) I used aperature and shutter priority, and then 2 weeks in other locations in Indias also using the Minolta external flash when needed. I used it for 4 weeks in India shooting slide film, and thought everything was okay. None of my slides were developed until after Dec 16th.

In Burma the leader said my flash was too bright for fill, so I tried to lighten it. I tried to do a flash compensation for fill flash (or thought I did) and set the camera flash at -3 (scale is minus 3 to +3) The manual says it is "stops". This was to be used when my external flash was acting up, but I did not change the camera back to 0 when I did use the external flash..

My India slides are all fine, but almost all my slides from 2 weeks in Burma are underexposed, big time. Perhaps, I did an "Exposure Compensation" rather than a "Flash Compensation" when it accidentally got into the P mode by accident.--this is the only thing I can figure out. I have about 6 rolls of film that is correct and about 60 that are underexposed. Holding them up to a 75 watt bulb (but not the light-table) shows me I have many excellent images. Daytime images without any fill flash are just as bad as the one with flash. Some images I can recognize on the light table, others I cannot.

Needless to say I am very depressed. Yesterday I scanned in several slides into Adobe Photoshop CS and the monitor screen was black. That's right, black. I went to Shadows and Hightlights (default said "50"). Can this be changed? Anyway, nothing happened until I clicked on the image, and a box came up "Analyzing image" Then the image appeared, and I dialed down the "50" to "15" and it looked "about right" I say "about" because it looks somewhat pixelated----going to 100% image looks very different that what I am used to. I had scanned them in at 3600 resolution, thinking, perhaps wrongly so, that the higher the resolution, the better I could rescue the image.

Is there any hope for rescue of any of these images, to the point of being able to print them? If you use S&H, do you loose resolution in the process? If they do become pixelated, can they be rescued with an additional technique? I expect I might, with trememdous amount of work have some images for an LCD slide show, but this is not really what I want. I wanted a slide show (now impossible) and enlargements of selected images. Also if I did a flash compensation for the camera, then added the external flash, does the external flash override the camera, or consider the camera setting also?

Can you help me understand, and ideas as to how to proceed? I can not check the camera settings since I took it into be cleaned and the other one repaired the day I returned from Asia. Hoping not all is lost. At least the 4 weeks in India are good, but Burma was the best opportunity yet on all my travels.


My answer could be quite lengthy and I may still not be able to help. Sometimes it's better to show someone in person the film, and for them to see the equipment to check for any problems. That said, you're probably right about having set the cameras exposure compensation as apposed to the flash compensation (again I'm guessing).

It would have been nice to have had your lab do a test strip of one roll, then develop the other similar rolls with that change in development time. Scanning may be your only option. You refer to your corrected image as being pixilated. Do you mean film grain? This would be likely because of the severe underexposure. Shadow and Highlight can be adjusted many ways beside those presets in order to bring up detail (see my article Digital Shortcuts ). There are more adjustments available by clicking on the "show more options box." S&H will not affect the resolution. Make sure that you scanned at the highest possible resolution. If there is a lot of grain or noise in the image, try to reduce it somewhat using a software program such as Digital Gem from Kodak.

You could also send me one of your underexposed sides for me to scan and try to fix. If it works, I could let you know how I did it. Also feel free to call me anytime and I could elaborate more on your email.

I wondered if you have tried any custom tonality curves in your camera. I have tried several with some success; I feel it has improved the exposures that I am getting. Have you heard of anyone who has created a curve that mimics Velvia film?

Best regards, 
Mike E.

I've heard of several folks creating a "Velvia" look but I can't think of anyone in particular (maybe or Personally, I don't want to be that restricted. I start off by setting my color mode to the II setting, which is adobe RGB (that resembles Velvia somewhat). Then I shoot in NEF (RAW) and set my white balance to Cloudy 0. By doing this I get the Velvia look that I want but with one advantage. Because I shoot in RAW, I can override my color temperature setting once in the computer, if I think the image is too gaudy or unnatural looking. As far as I'm concerned, having total flexibility is the real key to getting an image that looks the way "You" want and RAW allows you to do that.

Glad to find another person who besides myself, thinks Tokina lenses are excellent. I have a D100 and the 80-200 f2.8 APO Tokina. I also have a Nikon 24mm, Nikon 33-70, Nikon 60mm Micro. Which other Tokina lens or lenses would you recommend? I am into landscape/nature work.

Johnny "An Avid Vivid Light Reader"

It looks as though you are a little short at the wide angle end of things, especially when using the D100 as I do. I got my wife Pam the Tokina 19-35. It is not very expensive, but very sharp and well made. I was using the Nikkor 18-35 for a while, but it cost twice what the Tokina did, and wasn't nearly as well made, but it was sharp. I now have the Nikkor 12-24 and love it, however, it's not cheap! I've also used the Tokina 24-200 for several years with great success; it is an extremely versatile lens. I recently retired it for the new Nikon 24-120VR finding it to be an excellent lens too.


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