Site search Web search

Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
Home Systems: Great Deals from
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. 

Can you tell me a little about model releases? Do you know a good article that I could read on the subject? Are they required to publish a photo? Do you have one that I could see?

Daryl Custer

For information about model releases and a sample release get the book "The Photographer's Market" (Writers Digest Books ISBN 0-89879-912-0). This book also contains information on selling your photographs. You can also check out "Stock Photo Forms" (Allworth Press ISBN 0-9607118-8-0). This book contains sample of model and property releases as well as other forms for stock photography.

I have a Nikon 6006 and a Nikon N90S and can't figure out how to reset my setting to default.

J. Benedetti

On the Nikon N6006, to get back to the default settings, press any two of the four function "pads" on the top of the camera for about four seconds. This should reset the camera to its default settings.

As for the N-90s, if I remember correctly, there are two buttons that have green dots above them, press those buttons for about four seconds to get back to the default settings.

I'm thinking about taking a photography class at the community college in the fall. One of the things that my good for nothing ex-husband left behind when I threw him out was a camera. It is a Nikon FM2 with a Sigma Zoom-Master 2.8~4 f=35~70mm lens. Can I use this for the class? Is this a good camera or did he screw this up too?

Connie Mills

A Nikon FM2 would be a perfect and very reliable camera for learning photography and you have a good quality lens as well. Depending on what kinds of pictures you want to take you may want to get some additional lenses as well. I'd suggest going through the course. After completing it you'll have a better idea of what you want and what you want to shoot. As it stands, you have a great starting point there.

Now about that anger management class that's also offered at the community college…

I will soon be purchasing a 35mm camera, lens and flash. I take primarily outdoor portraits of children and I am leaning toward the Elan 7 due to cost, and feel it will be plenty for what I need. I have also been looking at the 550 EX flash to go with this camera. What do you think about this combination for outdoor children's photography?

Also, I am having a hard time making a decision on a lens. I had almost decided on the Canon 28-135mm IS but based on great reviews on the web, I have been wondering if the Sigma 70-200 2.8 would not be better. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations that might help me make a decision? Will I need 2 lenses or will one like the 28-135mm be enough? Also, will the Canon 3.5 aperture be enough in low light with 160 speed film?

Thanks for your input!! 

The Canon Elan 7 and 550EX flash would be a great combination to get going. As far as lenses go, you're looking at two different types of lenses. If you want to start with only one lens, you need to decide if you will need the wide angle capability of the 28-135 or if you will need more magnification than the 135mm. Ultimately, you will probably need both ranges of lenses. Both have great reputations and either should work very well.

As far as the speed of the lens, the 28-135 IS lens is f3.5 at 28mm and f5.6 at 135mm. With the IS technology, the slow speed will not be a problem in low light if you are shooting stationary subjects. When shooting people that are moving in low light, you may be better off with a wide angle zoom lens that has a constant f2.8 aperture. However, if your subject will always be within the range of the flash attachment, you should be fine with the 28-135 IS lens. It really comes down to how closely you like to work with your subjects.

Okay here it goes. I have the Fuji S2pro and I just bought the Nikon SB-80 flash. With my tokina 80-400mm lens I need to shoot at a high shutter speed to reduce blur, but I can't get the camera to sync at any hirer than 1/125 of a sec. So if I am shooting action sports or zoomed in to close up I can't sync to a faster speed. I read through the manual and it says the sync speed for the camera is 1/125, but I know that a flash is much faster than this and that there must be a way to override this.

Please help. 
Jeff Moriarty

The camera determines the flash sync. It is the fastest shutter speed that the camera can guarantee synchronization with the flash. You can't override the flash sync to a faster shutter speed. The Nikon D1x will flash sync to 1/500th sec, the D1h will also sync to 1/500th. The Nikon D100 will only sync to 1/180th. Faster flash sync speeds are usually found in higher-end cameras from any manufacturer.

My son has both the Nikon 1.4x and 2x tele extenders (with glass). If you want to use both of them, which one do you put on first?

Michael Miller

If you are going to use the two converters together, it really doesn't matter which one is put on first.

Let's assume you are using a 300mm focal length lens. 

300mm x 1.4 = 420mm x 2 = 840mm 
300mm x 2 = 600mm x 1.4 = 840mm

Light loss will also be the same in either order at around three to three and a half stops.

I hope you can help me, We were at my daughters graduation and it was raining. We were using our Nikon 35 mm One-Touch Zoom 90 with the zoom out and all of a sudden it stopped working. The zoom lens is still out and none of the buttons work. When I push the power button it reads on top n2. Would you know what this means and how we could fix this. Thank you so much for your time.


Usually when you get a strange letter and number code on the camera's LCD display, it is and error code that allows the service departments to troubleshoot the camera quicker. I don't know specifically what N2 refers to but I would start my quick check of the camera by taking the batteries out of the camera for several minutes then put them back in. This may reset the internal computer and my clear the error.

If this doesn't work, take the camera into you local camera specialty dealer and they can try a test battery to make sure it is not a problem with your battery. They should also be able to remove the film and salvage whatever pictures you may already have taken on that roll. Most camera stores should be able to do these two things at no cost to you.

If the camera still does not work they should be able to give you an estimate for repair. Most camera stores will provide a free estimate.

You can also try emailing Nikon's service department directly from under the "Service" link.

I can't afford to get a decent zoom lens eg. Canon AF 28mm-70mm f/2.8. My question is, how about third party lenses eg. Sigma 28mm-70mm f/2.8. Can it be trusted in term of the quality of the glass and the auto focusing.

Please help me on the decision because the difference on the price is about 7 or 8 times.

There is nothing wrong with using a third party lens if it is from a reliable company. Sigma is one of the largest independent manufactures of lenses and has been around for a long time. We have reviewed several of their lenses including their 28-70mm f2.8 and found it to be a high quality lens. You can read that review at

I just bought a Minolta 700si on Ebay. I can't get it into Auto focus mode. The display will not move away from the M. Focus no matter what buttons I push, especially the AF/M button on the bottom. When I do press the AF/M button, the camera does a slight whiz sound. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you, 

I'll assume that you have a lens on the camera. If not, that may be why it won't switch modes. If I remember correctly the Minolta Maxxum cameras will show "M focus" when no lens is attached. If you have an auto focus lens attached and it will not switch to auto focus, try removing the lens and putting it back on being sure to listen for it to click into place.

If you still have no luck, try another lens if you have access to one. If another lens has the same problem on the camera, then the problem will probably be in the camera. Try removing the batteries for several minutes to clear the computer. If the problem still persists the camera will require service. If another lens works fine, the problem would be in the lens that you were using or possibly the lens contacts. Make sure the contacts on both the lens and camera body are clean and damage free.

  Subscribe to Vivid Light 
Photography by email 

Tell Us What You Think

Vivid Light Photography, monthly photography magazine online

Site search Web search

Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online