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Advanced Questions
by Chuck McKern

With over 12 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.

My question is when are you listed as a professional photographer, instead of an amateur photographer? 


This is a good question. There are a couple of different ways that people decide when one is a professional photographer. The most common is when you are earning at least 50% of you annual income doing photography. Other people consider themselves to be professionals if they've charged for at least one photo job. Amateur photographers usually do it for the enjoyment and do not make any money at taking photos or they will sell just enough work to break even. These people are sometimes referred to as semi-professionals.

I own a Nikon F5 and a number of Nikon lenses and accessories. Occasionally I would like to shoot digital. I do not want to invest again huge amount of money in buying F5 quality digital camera, lenses and accessories. I was told that an interchangeable digital back for Nikon F5 exists that allows me to use my Nikon F5 as a digital camera. I am having hard time finding it in local New York stores even the big ones like B&H and Adorama. 

Can you help, please?
Vasantha Dammavalam

The digital back is actually a digital insert by Silicon Film. You can find it at . It is 1.3 mega pixel chip that they say can produce high quality 8x10's. But be aware that it will crop the image in your viewfinder quite a bit. The area covered by Silicon Film's chip is approximately the size of the circle in the viewfinder that corresponds to your center weighted meter.

I was told that Kodak 100VS and Kodak ExtraColor 100 are the same film. If they are why does Kodak charge more for VS? Is it just marketing?

Andy Templeman

They are the same formulation and most photographers won't be able to see any difference between the two. The difference is in the quality control. VS is held to a stricter QC standard from manufacture to the dealer. It is refrigerated (where ExtraColor is not) to slow aging, and is packaged to be sold at it's peak. All this means that if you buy 30 rolls the color reproduction will be exactly the same for every roll. This can be very important for some pros. 

You answered my original question about teleconverters. Actually it made the Website which was pretty neat. One more question. I shoot racecars. Have a Nikon N70 and Use Fuji 800 film. The original lense is a 28-300mm and I bought a 1.4x converter. It also has a Sky (think -1) filter on it. I gained the extra closeness I was looking for. One last question:

Could teleconverters, plus the filter make my pics turn out greenish sometimes. It's not a "every pic has a green tint" to it, just some here and there. My other idea is it's just the store where I have it processed.

I tried Afga film. It was worse, the green tinting. Don't use Kodak anymore. Didn't like the coloring. I only have the filter to protect my lense. I also have a Haze and a circular polarizer (which I have no idea what to do with because the pics come out very dark). I was thinking if it is the filter, do they come in clear glass?

These pics are for my own enjoyment, every so often I sell them to the drivers.

Thanks for the help. 

Using a skylight filter won't cause the color shifts you described. Knowing the usual quality that is produced by many non-specialty store labs (such as the ones found in mass merchants, drug stores, and grocery stores), I would have to question the printing ability of the lab. Most of these types of labs do not do any color correction. They promote high quality, professional printing, but most cannot deliver it. You can try asking them to color correct the prints. 

If the lab is worth dealing with they will not only know what you are talking about but should offer to redo them at no charge. Do not let them give you the line that "our machine automatically corrects the colors and exposures".

Most of these machines do have auto printing modes but they are not reliable and do not produce the best print possible. Far from it. If they can't, or won't, help you, take your negatives and prints to a specialty lab and see what they can do for you. A specialty lab may also be able to determine if there is some other cause of your problem (film, etc.). For more information about finding a good lab, see my article "Choosing the Right Photo Lab" in the January 2002 issue.

As far as the problem with the polarizer, make sure it is a circular polarizer and not a linear polarizer. The circular polarizer will be marked with circular polarizer, CPL, or something similar. A linear polarizer will normally just have polarizer printed on it. With autofocus cameras, you need a the circular version. The linear polarizer will cause you images to be underexposed and dark when printed.

I am considering purchasing a medium format system. I already own two 35mm cameras but would like to expand my creative and printing options.

My question concerns exposure metering with a 645 camera. Almost everything I have read, except for the very newest, indicates that 645s don't have in-camera meters. I understand the lack of an exposure meter is not a problem when doing studio work but how does one determine the exposure settings for a 645 when shooting without strobes or when a hand-held meter is not an option?

George E Givens Jr

It's true that most medium format camera do not have built in light meters. Ideally you would use a hand held meter for most situations, including studio strobes. There is no problem using a hand held meter outside the studio. If you are shooting on location and a hand held meter is not available, there are two methods that you can use.

One is called the sunny 16 rule. This rule would base your exposure as 1/(ISO) at f/16 on a bright sunny day. For example, if you are using 100 ISO film on a sunny day, you would set your shutter as close as possible to 1/100 and you lens to f/16.

The other method is to use the exposure guide that is included in most films (usually found printed on the inside of the box). This guide gives a list of lighting conditions (based on that ISO) and the manufactures recommended exposure time.

With either of these methods, I would recommend bracketing as these are guidelines, and do not guarantee a perfect exposure. Your best bet is always going to be a hand held meter.

Where would you find photo editors that are looking for photos to buy?

Jamie Renee Stanford

The best place to find editors and publishers looking to buy photos is in the "2003 Photographer's Market" Paperback, 636pp., ISBN: 1582971218, Publisher: F & W Publications Incorporated, Pub. Date: August 2002. It lists publishers of books, magazines, calendars, post cards, and just about any other editor/publisher who buys images from freelance photographers.

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