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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 recently shot some nudes of a friend just using window light at her house. I thought they came out really good and her husband loved the shots but she just focused on the flaws in her body. Since most women are really self conscious about their looks do you find that the women who come to you are just really comfortable with themselves or are you only working with models who don't worry about those sorts of things?

If a woman has a noticeable flaw in her body how do you let her know that you want to shoot around it without making her more self-conscious?

Amy S.

Joe responds: Everybody has flaws; Cindy Crawford has flaws.

To answer your question: If a model says she has a big butt or small breasts you do everything in your power to make her breasts look larger or her butt look smaller. For example, the attached image was made with a model that has an A cup. Doesn't look it because I had her loosen her bra, crunch her shoulders together and push her breasts together with her arms. She loved the shot.

The secret is you DON'T tell models you are going to shoot around their flaws. But that is exactly what you do. I promise models that I will "make them look as beautiful as I can." To that end, I use different focal length lenses, soft focus filters and high and low camera angles to accomplish that goal. Also the kind of lighting used is critical; shadows can hide flaws while highlights accent good features.

Please e-mail me one or two pictures from the session and I will give you some specific tips on how I would approach the model.

Has there been any word of Minolta coming out with a SLR that we can use the old auto focus lenses with. It seems that many of the other camera manufacturers have already done so.

Jim Coffman

The latest word I have had from Minolta is that there is no word of a digital SLR that will use the Maxxum lenses.

My guess is that someday Minolta will enter the digital SLR race, but we will just have to wait and see.

I decided about six months ago that I want to move from my N90s to a digital SLR but I'm not thrilled about spending $1,500 or more. At what point do you think the cost of a digital will come down to where I can buy a quality digital SLR for under $1,000? And I know everybody says that digital is great but can I really get the same quality from digital that I get from Velvia? 

Thank you,
Brent A.

The first sub-$1,000 digital SLR is here. See the review of the new Canon Rebel digital SLR in this issue. Since Canon and Nikon are very competitive I would guess that it won't be long before Nikon has a camera to compete with this new Rebel.

As for the quality of today's digital SLRs, frankly you'll be shocked by just how good they can be - if you take the time to learn and understand the differences between digital and film. Treat your digital like a film camera and you'll never use it's full potential. Check out some of the columns Gary has written on this Putting Film in Your Digital Camera, He Thinks He's Superman, Digital Learning Curves, & Exposure: Get It Right The First Time - Part II which is about getting proper exposure with digital SLRs. 

In these columns Gary writes about his specific experiences with the Nikon D100, but the techniques are equally valid whether you're using a digital SLR from Nikon, Canon, Kodak, or Sigma.

I have just purchased a Nikon F100. I had planned to use my Sunpak 433D (Nikon dedicated) flash unit. The manual advises against using non-Nikon flash units with my F100. The manual states that non-Nikon units may hurt the camera's electronics. 

What do you think?
H. Smith

All manufacturers put similar warnings in their instruction manuals. They don't test their equipment with third party manufacturers equipment so they will only guarantee that their own equipment will work.

My experience is that if you stick to a reputable third party company, you shouldn't encounter any problems.

I'm shooting with a Canon EOS 1V and I recently bought a Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 1.4 converter. I'm using it on several lenses, but primarily with the Sigma 50-500 mm EX Zoom lens (The one you did such a great article on). I'm confused regarding the concept of "One F Stop" of light lost. When I attached (the 1.4 converter) to my Canon camera along with the Sigma 50-500 lens, there is no change in the aperture, but rather the viewfinder reveals a one stop slower shutter speed. I guess my question is, "should the actual F stop difference be reflected in the change in aperture or a change in shutter speed?"

Should my viewfinder reveal only a change in the aperture side of the exposure equation? Kenko's response, which by the way was senseless, said that, "the communication between off brand telecoverters and specific brand cameras can very greatly". Any help you can give would be most appreciated.

Thanks in advance, Steve Ruffin

You camera's meter can accomplish a one stop change in exposure by shifting f-stop, shutter speed or a combination of the two. The difference between f/5.6 and f/8 (at the same shutter speed) is one stop just as the difference between 1/60 and 1/125 (at the same aperture) is one stop. The meter considers a number of factors, including your shooting mode, to determine the "best" combination of f-stop and shutter speed for the available light.

I shoot entirely digital, but would like to enter my work in my local photography club, which requires slides. There are a lot of companies that will make 35mm slides from digital files, but the prices range from $2 to $8/slide and beyond. Do any of you have good experience(s) with a particular company?

Thanks Tom McGinn

I haven't had any experience with having digital file converted into slides. The best advice I can give you is to work with a local custom lab. I find that nothing beats face-to-face service. I have heard so many hot and cold reports about the "internet" labs.

If I hear great reports on any labs doing this, I will forward them to you.

I would like to improve my photography. I was at the recent Bassmasters Classic fishing tournament and the weigh-in was held inside on an elevated stage. It was held in the New Orleans Arena and lighting was dark where the stands were, but the stage was lit for TV (ESPN). I was sitting about 150 feet (rough estimate) from the stage and taking photos with My D1X and 80-200 AF zoom. It is not the faster f2.8 unfortunately.

I was disappointed with the results. Shooting at ISO 800 made handholding barely acceptable and it took the entire 200 mm to get an interesting image. Often shooting was at 1/40th. The lens, I can't recall, but I think it's an f4.5 and not fixed. The images were soft and the depth of field shallow.

I tried increasing sensitivity to the equiv. of 1600 and then 3200, but got the as-predicted noise or grain.

Another photographer was shooting with a faster zoom that went up to 300mm, a Canon digital and his shots were framed right and no noise and sharp. He, too, was handholding the camera.

My question now is to seek a better telephoto zoom. I have seen several zooms that rack up to 300mm on the market, a new Tamaron and then two Nikkors, the 70-200f2.8G VR and the 80-400 4.5 VR.

A Google search popped up one of your articles and a reference to the 80-400 lens. You'd taken fog and boat photos.

I'd very much appreciate your advice on this topic. Mike Walker

First you need to decide how much zoom you need and then how fast an aperture you need. The Nikon 80-400 VR might be the answer. It's 400mm magnification and VR technology will allow you to handhold longer shutter speeds than you can with a normal zoom and at 400mm you'll be able to fill the frame with your subject. This lens is a little pricey. Street prices are typically a little over $1400.00 US.

The Nikkor 80-200 f2.8D ED lens will cost a little over $900.00 US and gives you faster shutter speeds due to the faster apertures, but at shorter focal length. If you decide to use a teleconverter with this lens, you can regain the magnification, lose the faster apertures and not have the vibration reduction. In this situation I would probably spend the little extra and get the VR technology. Another trade-off at f2.8 is that you will further reduce your depth of field.

Now it's hard to keep track of every feature on every camera out there, but if I remember correctly there is a noise reduction setting that you can turn on in the D1X when shooting in ISO 1600 & ISO 3200 modes. Leaving it on all the time may muddy up shadows a bit in faster ISO settings so make sure to turn it off when returning to faster speeds. There is also a firmware upgrade (the software inside the camera) that may address your noise issues. You can download the free upgrade at There is also an associated memory upgrade available and upgrades to your Windows drivers, Nikon View software, and even a new GPS interface for your camera. It's a good idea to read ALL the notes on any of these upgrades before downloading and installing them.

I just bought a Canon 10D and every image I take with the camera has almost no contrast to my eye. I printed some images myself and had the store where I bought the camera print some images and they look the same - washed out and almost no contrast. The store tells me its because its digital and that I can just add contrast in Photoshop but I'm sure something is wrong. Pictures I see published in magazines from digital cameras don't look like this. I attached an image for you to look at. I've only had this camera for two weeks and I'm very unhappy with it.

What should I do?
W. Lee

The image you sent definitely didn't look normal to us. We'll assume that you've gone through the manual and checked the camera's settings for exposure and image quality, contrast, etc. If the camera was on the shelf and being demonstrated to customers the user settings could be way out of whack. 

Check your manual and see if there is a button combination or menu item that resets the camera to it's factory default settings. If not try taking the batteries out overnight which should reset the camera. That may cure the problem. If not take it back to the store and ask the store manager for an exchange. After all you've only had it two weeks and you've already made them aware of the problem. If they're uncooperative you may need to take the camera to a Canon service center for repair under the warranty.


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