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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.

I am considering the purchase of the Nikon 80 - 400 VR lens but have some concerns regarding the focus speed.

Are there any plans by Nikon to produce an AF-S lens in this range within the next 12 - 18 months?

Philadelphia, PA

Nikon recently announced an AFS VR 70-200 f2.8G lens. It's in the current Nikon catalog but a release date hasn't been announced. I've been told by Nikon that an AFS version of the VR 80-400mm would be to heavy and bulky to have wide appeal.

For more information on the 70-200 VR check out or the new Nikon full-line catalog.

Greetings fellow photoists. 

I was wondering what the optimum refrigeration temperature was for film- reg fridge or freezer?

Also between regular and "pro" films is there really a big difference? If so what? Such as Afga Vista vs. Optima or Fuji HQ vs. Reala? (35mm format) and lastly if refrigerated how much more life can you expect storing film?

Thank you oh wise film guru. 
Your humble reader, admirer. 

Professional films should be refrigerated. Most of the films recommend a temperature below 59 degrees F (check the recommended temperature on the data sheet of the film that you are using, they will vary from film to film). The purpose of refrigerating the film is to slow that aging process, improving color accuracy from roll to rolls especially if they are to shot over an extended period of time.

In general professional films have more saturated colors and finer grain than consumer films. Specific differences will vary from film to film between the pro and non-pro versions. The major film manufactures (Fuji, Kodak, and Agfa) all have data sheets on their websites for specific comparisons. Also check out our cross-reference table for other information. You can find it in our September 2001 issue at It has a good comparison of Kodak and Fuji Pro and consumer films.

However in some cases the same emulsion is available in both professional and consumer versions. In these instances the chief difference is in the quality control and refrigeration that are maintained throughout the manufacturing and shipping process.

Have you ever reviewed the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DF DG lens? Or do you do any equipment reviews? I'm new to your site and have signed up for your free subscription. I just purchased a Nikon N80 and find Nikon Lenses a bit out of my range. I have used other Sigma Lenses in the past and have great results. I need the extra wider angle for architecture photography and take a lot of city shots. Any input is appreciated.

Thank You 
Elaine Carbone

We definitely do equipment reviews. The good news is that every article we've ever run is available in our back issues section at

We haven't reviewed this particular lens yet, but here is a list of Sigma lenses we have reviewed to date: 

28-70 f2.8 EX Pro 
50-500mm  f4-f6.3 EX APO RF HSM 
17-35 f2.8-4 EX 

In general, you're likely to get a good lens if you're buying pro-level lenses from a major lens manufacturer.

It's always important to try out a lens at a dealer if you can, even taking a couple of photos with it in the store so you can check it for sharpness. Many dealers have a 30 day return policy without a restocking fee. So when you get your new lens home run a few rolls through right away to make sure you're happy with the results.

I'm doing long exposures of the New York skyline using stacked color filters to experiment with different effects using Fuji Superia 800. I get the prints from the lab uncorrected so I can see the results and I've noticed that on long exposures of over a minute my negatives are noticeably underexposed. When exposures get closer to two minutes they're really underexposed. Is something wrong with the camera's meter? Is it being fooled by the colored filters? What I can't figure out is why short exposures (under 30 seconds or so) look fine with the same filters.

Rod Albertson
New York City
Never forget

It's not the filters or your meter. What you're most likely experiencing is called reciprocity failure. It happens because film exposes differently over very long time intervals and the times you mentioned fall right where this occurs for Superia 800. The data sheet for Superia 800 recommends that for exposures longer than two seconds you add two-thirds of a stop additional exposure. For exposures longer than ten seconds add one and a half stops. For exposures longer than 100 seconds add two full stops.

From reader Aaron Bredon -

In regards to the person who asked about palm software for photography, there are some programs on that are meant to help photographers. I found them by doing a search in the Palm OS area for 'photography'. There are a couple of depth of field calculators, a few programs that allow you to take notes about each picture you take, and others.

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