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Beginner 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. 

What a great site to stumble upon! Your articles are extremely informative and I look forward to visiting this site often.

Please elaborate on the statement "If a lens length is the slowest shutter speed to handhold", I am assuming that this relates to a fixed lens. What about a zoom lens such as the Nikon 24-120?

Thanks in advance for your help.

The statement actually refers to focal length being used more so than a particular lens. In other words, if you are using a 24-120 lens, at 120mm, you would not want to below 1/120 (or in reality 1/125), at 60mm, you would want to stay at or above 1/60, etc.

Can you explain how to properly configure scanner/printer settings for digital images saved from the Internet? I have a Lexmark X83 all in one, printer/scanner/copy machine. My images never print out correctly, I don't understand how to set, and know, the proper settings for dpi, height, width, etc. I have a Kodak cx4200 digital camera and 5 different photo programs [none of which make sense to me] and I would really like to know how to set it all up properly. Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.


The problem you're having is most likely one of resolution. The greater the resolution of an image the larger the image file; images on the Web are low res to keep things flowing as quickly as possible. When an image is created for the Web it's only 72 ppi or pixels per inch. To get a good image from your printer you need a minimum of 240 to 300 ppi. Making matters worse is that when an image is put on the Web it is often run through an "optimizer". This compresses the image even further. You can't see the difference on the screen, but if you try and scale the image up to get a good quality print the result is usually a fuzzy image that lacks depth and tonal quality. There's really no good way around this other than contacting the Web site and asking if they are willing to provide you a higher resolution copy of the image.

To get a better understanding of resolution and what it means for printing and displays see Basics: Understanding Resolution.

Do you have any articles on the Fuji S2? I work from Mac OS X. Does your Pro 2 software convert Raw files to work using OS X ?

I have been shooting in Raw for a few shots and now I cannot convert them to view on my OS. The Converter that Fuji offers seems to only works in OS 9.1 and 9.2. I want to work from OSX and minimize switching back and forth.

I noticed that when I retrieve images from my camera it defaults to Nikon D-100 settings is my camera able to utilize Nikons converters? Any leads would greatly appreciated. I still have the monumental task of calibrating color settings in photo shop 7 to my Epson 2200 printer.

Thank you so much, 
Vanessa M Throop

Unfortunately the latest version of Digital Pro (2.0) doesn't support the Fuji S2 or Apple OS X (it's a Windows only application). Next I tried the Fuji Technical Support Web site). Drivers for your S2 can be found at There is a USB Driver Ver3.2 for MacOS 8.6 to 9.2 with the note "MacOS X is not necessary to use USB Drivers." So it looks like you're out of luck there as well.

We haven't had an S2 in-house for testing yet so we don't have a published review of the camera. I would guess that using Nikon file viewers to view S2 raw files is a very long shot at best. If you have access to the software give it a try by all means (and let us know if it works) but I would be surprised if it did.

Will a Quantaray QT 100 Travel Tripod fit a fuji finepix 3800?


Yes the Quantaray QT 100 will fit a Fuji FinePix 3800. The tripod threads in cameras today are universal so any tripod should work with any camera. The only thing to watch is the weight. The heavier the camera is, the heavier the tripod should be to adequately support it. The Fuji 3800 is pretty light so that should not be an issue for you.

I have a N65 Tamron lens 75-300 (1:4-5.6 LD explain these numbers)

also the part closest to me 
300 200 135 100 75 
32 22 16 11 8 5.6 4

at the end of lens 
4.9 7 10 15 25 50 ft 
1.2 2 3 4.5 7 15 m

I do not understand these numbers, 

The numbers 1:4-5.6 represent the maximum aperture (or lens speed) of that particular lens. At 75mm, your widest aperture will be f/4 and at 300mm it would be f/5.6. This is a measure of how much light the lens will let pass. f4.0 to f5.6 is a normal range for a lens of this type. "Faster" professional lenses have wider apertures such as f2.8

The LD stands for "Low Dispersion" which is a kind of coating on the lens that provides better color rendition and better contrast than a lens without this coating.

The numbers 300, 200, 135, etc. represent the focal length the lens is set at. When you have one of these numbers lined up with the index mark it represent the focal length the lens is set to. Another way to think about it is this is the amount of "zoom". The higher the number the greater the magnification.

The numbers 32,22,16, etc are the apertures or the lens. A minute ago we talked about the maximum aperture the lens can be set to. You can also set the lens to a smaller aperture. Why? To get greater depth of field. For example in a portrait only the person is in focus and everything behind them looks soft and out of focus. To get this effect you set the aperture wide open to it's smallest numerical setting or f4.0 in your case. To shoot a landscape where you want everything in the picture to be sharp you set the aperture ot the largest number or f32 in your case. You can also pick one of the in-between settings to control just what parts of your picture are sharp.

The last two sets of numbers at the far end of the lens, represent the focus distance. When the camera is focused, the camera to subject distance would line up with the index mark. These numbers are marked in both feet (ft) and meters (m),

Framing your photo is extremely important. Do you have some pointers for accomplishing this in various settings? (I know you do.)

Thank you. 
Joan Sattler

There are many ways to frame a subject while shooting. Be aware of everyday things that we tend to overlook. Things like a branch hanging down from a tree or tall grass or shrubs in the foreground can for or against you. It's all in how you use them. If you have a subject that you can see from a doorway or window, why not include the doorway or window in your shot. Be sure to meter for your subject so that the area around the door or window doesn't throw off your subject's exposure too much. The possibilities are endless. The key is to not concentrate specifically on your subject, but to look carefully at your surrounding area as well. Do surrounding elements compliment or detract from your shot?

If you haven't read it yet check out Gary's article Fine tuning your Photographs in Issue #10.

I have a Nikkormat FT2 with a basic Nikkor 50mm lens. I would like to buy a zoom lens - preferably with Macro facility for it. What should I be looking for? Does it have to be a manual focus lens - or can I use an autofocus one? The only battery the camera has is for the light meter, everything else is manual - focus, wind-on etc. I was given it about 18 months ago by my dad, and have had some excellent results with the existing lens, but would now like to extend the challenge a bit!! Also, any idea of any books that can act as an idiots guide for SLR photography?

Many thanks, 
Sandra Owen

When Nikon introduced their autofocus cameras, they did not change their lens mount. This means that the autofocus lenses of today will go on your camera. They will not autofocus because the camera doesn't have the capability for this, but you will have optical use of the lens. There are a couple of things that you will have to look for though.

One is that the Nikkormat FT2 uses a "prong" to index the meter and aperture. This lines up in the "fork" of the lens. Newer cameras do not use this kind of coupling. If you want to use the in-camera meter with your new lens, you will need to find a lens that still has that "fork" on it, otherwise, you can use a hand held meter to get accurate exposures. You may also find a local repair facility that can add the "fork" to your lens for you. These kinds of conversions were fairly common twenty years ago but it may be difficult today to find a shop that can still do it. If you are not opposed to a used lens, you should be able to find a lens that was made for that generation camera.

As far as an idiots guide, check out "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Photography Like a Pro" (2nd Edition) by Mike Stensvold; Alpha Books; ISBN: 0028643879

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