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 have a Canon Rebel 2000 with a Quantaray
28-200 lens. The salesman at the camera shop told me I need a
Skylight filter on my lens. Do I really need it?
The biggest reason to use a skylight filter on a lens is for protection. The lens cap protects the lens from scratches when the lens is not being used. A skylight or 1A filter, protects the lens when you're using it. If you have never had an accident in your life, you probably won't need one. The rest of us need some protection against our bumping into objects or people.
Scratches can ruin a lens and in most cases repairs are very costly. Your Quantaray 28-200 lens probably cost around $250 (current price on Ritz Camera's Web site). Most lens repairs will be well over $100. Skylight filters can cost from $12 to $40 depending on size.
You should have skylight filters on all of your lenses. They can save you from a costly, unpleasant experience.
What is the best film speed to use use?
The general rule is: use the slowest film speed possible for a given light condition. The slower the film speed the better the quality of the photo. However, who wants to carry four or five different film speeds with them?
For most general purpose situations 200 or 400 speed is fine. When you are taking pictures at places like reception halls, restaurants, bars, etc. 800 might be a better choice.
If you are using one of the many small compact cameras, you should only use 800 speed film. These cameras are a lot less forgiving in dark situations with flash because their lenses don't let as much light through to the film as the lenses on their larger SLR cousins.
These general rules only apply if you're shooting for "normal" prints of family and friends. If you're after higher quality prints that you will frame as 8x10, 11x14 or larger this advice goes out the window and we get into a discussion of prints vs. slides, grain, and color accuracy. We'll be publishing an in-depth article on film types and brands in an upcoming issue but these are good guidelines for general shooting.
I purchased a top of the line point and shoot
camera with redeye reduction. Why do I still get redeye in my photos?
How do I get rid of it?
Redeye (green eye in animals) is when the eyes of the people in your photo appear bright red instead of their normal eye color. It is the reflection of the red blood cells in the eye illuminated by the light of your flash. Since light reflects at the same angle it is transmitted, redeye becomes more of a problem when the flash is near the lens since the light reflected by the eye is reflected straight back to the lens. This is the case with most compact cameras.
"Redeye Reduction" is a feature on your camera that attempts to reduce the amount of redeye. It is a flash mode that will either blink several times before the picture is taken or will emit a steady beam of light. Flash is normally used in low light conditions. When the light is low peoples pupils are dilated (wide open) which makes redeye worse. When your camera's flash blinks or emits a light the pupils constrict, reflect less light, and reduce redeye in the photo.
Does this always work? No. That's why they call it reduction. It will reduce redeye in some people, eliminate it in others, and do absolutely nothing for some others. Babies will gain the least from redeye reduction because the muscles in their pupils do not respond as fast as an adult. One trick that can help with or without redeye reduction is to keep as many lights in the room on as possible. This will prevent the pupil from opening as much. You can also instruct the person in your photo not to look directly at the camera, but slightly of to one side - this way light from the back of their eyes is not reflected directly back into the lens.
If you have a special picture that has red eye you can fix it with a pen available in most camera stores. The ink in these pens is specially designed to penetrate the plastic coating on photo paper and set into the color layers. This helps the correction look natural and not drawn in.
What's the best way to print pictures from the memory card of my digital camera?
Printing from digital cameras can be frustrating. One option is to print the images yourself from your computer. But if you don't have a good quality photo printer or don't want to spend the time to print them, you'll need to find a place to print them for you.
Many Ritz Camera Centers have a machine that will accept digital media cards and allow you to print from them. This will run you between ten and fifteen dollars a sheet. Only one image can be printed per sheet, but you may be able to get more than one print of that image depending on the size - so this is an expensive option.
A few labs have PC workstations connected to a traditional mini-lab printer. These will give you an archival print for about the same price as traditional reprints but you may be limited to four inch prints.
Some custom photo labs have installed very expensive printers designed to give you very high quality prints. Be ready to pay for these prints though. An 8x10 can cost you between $15 and $20.
There are web based photo labs that specialize in printing digital photos on traditional photo paper - these prints will last far longer then ink jet prints. Typically, you send the image files to them via the Internet. They print the images and ship them back to you. Several of these services advertise with us and you can get more information by clicking on their ads. The details differ from lab to lab. This technology is so new that no one has really emerged as an industry leader. I've also heard complaints that some of these labs have been taking their sweet old time delivering the prints. Shop carefully, ask questions, find the one you like and stick with them.
If you do decide to print them yourself remember that inkjet prints will start to fade in as little as two years if exposed to sunlight. The latest printers from Epson come equipped with photo quality archival inks but they are significantly more expensive then Epson's standard printers with list prices around $1,000.
If you have never had an accident in your life, you probably won't need one...
There are web based photo labs that specialize in printing digital photos...
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