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Beginner Questions
by Chuck McKern

With over 15 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. 

Bags.. Bags..Bags.. I am having a problem trying to choose the right bag.

I am carrying 2 35mm Konica bodies. 4 lenses, a 28-80 zoom, a 28mm fixed, a 50 fixed and a 80-205 zoom. Filters, 2 flashes, tele-convertors, batteries, film, tripod when needed.

I would like to carry that for trips as I want to use different speed film in each, possibly Fuji Velvia 50 in one, and Kodak or Fuji 400 in the other.

Now, I have a lower back problem, not enough to warrant surgery, but enough as to where I do not want to lift anymore then above.

Would a backpack be best? Or a over the shoulder that could have a backpack harness attached when walking say 3 miles max one way?

Living in suburbia, we don't have many places to take long hikes so we would be doing zoos, state parks, and the occasional trip to Banff, whereas that is more demanding then where we live.

Any thoughts to what would be the ideal bag, would be wonderfully appreciated.


I can relate to the bad back.

The backpack will provide you with better support and balance for longer hikes. This would be much easier on the back than using an over the shoulder bag that put all the weight on one side and can cause back pain on long hikes.

If you don't need quick easy access than a backpack would be the best answer. If you need frequent access to your equipment on occasions, then you may be able to find a good over the shoulder bag with the backpack harness for the long stints of walking. 1013.htm

Tamrac and Lowepro both have great versatile bags with harnesses. I have both over the shoulder bags and backpacks and move the equipment from one to the other depending on my needs on that outing.

Unfortunately, there is no one perfect bag out there, especially if you have back pain.

Hello dear Staff, 
I intend to buy a Nikon D100. The next step will be to afford a lens. I thought about the "Sigma 28-70 2.8 HF asph EX DF" which I tested yesterday in a store (extremely clear and sharp field in the viewfinder). Another alternative I thought about is a "Tokina ATX 24-200mm ". The result from a "Tokina 28-70mm SV PRO" (not from a shot) in the viewfinder was catastrophic: it was so unsharp (although I tried to set the diopter button on a F100)!

So I didn't have the opportunity to test the ATX 24-200mm. I would like to buy (I'm on budget!) a lens with sharp results?

What is your advice to me: the "Tokina ATX 24-200" or the "SIGMA 28-70 f2.8 DF"?

I have also read your reviews concerning your ATX 24-200. Which one of them is the - absolutely- best lens?

Marc Njoku

We had good results with both lenses.

There are a couple of things that you need to consider to decide which lens is right for you. If you do a lot of low light shooting, the Sigma lens has a wider aperture at f2.8, and it is consistent throughout the lens. The Tokina lens has a slower variable aperture of f3.5-5.6. This is fine for general shooting or low light with a good flash, but for available light shooting in lower light conditions, it may not be enough for you.

One nice thing about the Tokina is that you have more wide-angle and a lot more telephoto without having to change lenses.

Also, you should take in consideration the multiplication factor on the D100. The 24-200mm lens would be equivalent to a 36-300 and the 28-70 would equate to a 42-105mm.

You really need to weigh the focal range, lens speeds, price and your shooting needs to make the right call. Either lens should produce good sharp images for you.

I have a Nikkor-SC 50mm 1.4 lens I've owned since the 70's. Is there a way to use this lens with A Cannon AF film or Digital camera. I Know the auto focus won't work but that's not a problem to me.

Bruce Jenkins

The Nikon and Canon lens mounts are different so the lens can't be used on Canon AF bodies; and I know of no lens adapters that cross brands from Nikon to Canon.

I have a Minolta 300si that has some electrical problem and is being sent in for an estimate on getting fixed. I think I will need to actually purchase a new camera body since that will cost about as much as getting the 300si fixed and so here is my question. Will the accessories I currently have: (1) Minota Maxxum AF Zoom 35-80mm (2) Quantaray - MX AF Zoom 70-210mm and (3) Flash Sunpak auto 355AF on say a Minolta Maxxum 5 QD? I'd really like to upgrade but don't want to spend a lot of money.

Annette Palmer

The Minolta lens and flash should work with no problem. The 70-210mm lens you should try on the camera to make sure it will work. I have heard of some compatibility problems with some older third party lenses with the Maxxum 5. Your local dealer should have no problem with you popping your lens on the camera to try it out.

If you should need to replace that lens, you can get 70-300mm lenses for what you paid (or less) for your 70-210mm. Consumer lens prices have dropped significantly in the last couple years.

I have a camera that uses Advantix APS film. I just had 5 rolls of film developed and all of them have red eyes. What can I do to prevent this? Most were taken inside. I use 400 speed film.

Is it possible to have the film developed again in black and white?

Mary Grisaffi

Red-eye is very common in cameras with built-in flash units (especially compact cameras).

For starters, you can use the red-eye reduction feature in the camera. The red-eye reduction will help reduce the amount of red-eye caused by the flash. This feature is not very effective in young children and pets though, and it will cause a delay in taking the picture, so it is better used for posed pictures.

There are several other little tricks that you can try like keeping as many lights on in the room as possible when taking pictures. Also, try not having the subjects look directly at the camera. If they look slightly to the side you won't get red-eye.

You also have an option in film developing. Some labs have access to printers that can correct red-eye in printing. Ask your lab if they offer such a service, and be sure to ask if they charge extra for this as some labs do. The lab may also be equipped to print your color film on black and white paper if you want to go that route.

You also have the option of using black and white film. Kodak makes black and white film for APS cameras that can be developed at any lab that processes the APS format.

How do you pick a camera? I've been shopping around and it seems like everyone has a different opinion about what's the best camera. I'm looking for my first SLR and figure I'll pick something up during the after Christmas sales.


We get this question a lot. Check out our article on How to Buy Your First Camera.  


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