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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
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. 

You and your team produce a high quality online magazine. I have learned many things from your articles, and I really appreciate the use of humor in the writing. I have a question regarding the use of a B&W film that is processed in C-41 (Kodak). I shot a roll of still life setups, and took the roll to my local Walgreens pharmacy. When I got the results back, the prints (4"x 6") had a purplish hue to them, as if I were using purple and white instead of Black and White. This is particularly noticeable because of the purple wall in my apartment, however the walls are all white. The same was true with the front of a white refrigerator. This has happened with several rolls. I shot two rolls of this product and had it developed at a camera shop (outdoor shots using natural light), and the prints looked like real black and white shots, with nice contrast, etc.

I know there are several possibilities for this. First, it is not my camera or lens combo. I am shooting a Nikon N80 with a Tamron 28-200 lens, and get fantastic results otherwise. I was using a bare 75 watt light bulb for my lighting (to get an ugly, harsh lighting). Should I use a filter to compensate for the tungsten lighting? Is it something in the printing, where the machines color compensate the whites in the picture, making them appear purple? Ideally I would use professional grade B&W film, and develop it myself, but this is much easier (and cheaper!). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I am very disappointed in these results.

Thanking you in advance for your time, 
and assuring you I am not colorblind, 
Ian Peek

Rest assured the problem is not with your equipment. Most of the "discount" labs such as drug stores, mass merchandisers, and grocery stores, do not handle this film properly. They print this film on color paper and do not color correct it. Most specialty labs, such as those you find in camera stores, will either color correct to be as close to true black and white as is possible on color paper, or they will print it on black and white paper.

Whenever you're not sure ask in advance how the lab will print it. And all is not lost for your purple pics. You can take those negatives to the lab that printed the film correctly and they can reprint the images on those negatives.

I am trying to decide what digital SLR to buy. With so many out on the market it is hard to know which one to buy. I have a choice between a Cannon 10D, it is a 6.3 pixel, or a Nikon D100 with 6.1 megapixels. I was also told about the Canon Rebel digital, but heard so many good things about the Cannon 10D. This is going to be for professional use.


My recommendation would be to buy a camera designed for professional use. In your case the EOS 10D or the Nikon D100. Both of these cameras are designed for a more advanced level of use.

Do you have a 35mm SLR camera now? This may help you with your decision. If you are using either the Nikon or Canon auto focus systems, the natural progression is to stick to that manufacturer as you can use your current lenses with the new Digital SLR (Nikon on Nikon, and Canon on Canon).

Don't worry about the difference between 6.1 and 6.3 megapixels. You'll never see the difference.

I am a beginner with an SLR camera. I have had a point and shoot and now want an SLR due to image quality. I have two small children and want to get good quality images of them and our travel experiences. I have been looking at the Nikon N80. As soon as I think I have my mind made up to what to buy I read another article and am confused all over again. The camera shop insists I will be happy with the quality of images from Sigma lenses. AF 28-90/3.5-5.6 and AF 70-300/4-5.6. I have since read to purchase Nikon AF 50/1.8D and AF 28-105/3.5-4.5D. Are the Nikon lenses worth the extra money? My other thought was should I buy a less expensive body? Since it is really the lenses that make the quality of picture good or not. That way I could buy more expensive lenses. I don't want to spend over $600 for the camera and lens. Your help will be very much appreciated.

Thank You, 

The Nikon N80 is a great choice for anybody who wants a good SLR with a lot of capability at a reasonable price.

Sigma does make some very good lenses. Most people would not be able to see a noticeable difference in images made with these lenses vs. the Nikons. However, if you think you may be doing a lot of enlargements of 11x14 or larger or you'll be doing professional work, you may want to invest in the Nikon brand lenses. In these situations, the differences may be more apparent. The 50mm f/1.8 lens is great for available light but is not as versatile as a 28-80 or 90mm lens would be. With the improvements in higher speed films today, you can compensate for the slower speeds of the zoom lenses by using a faster film.

If you feel you need to scale down on the camera body, you can go to the N-75. You will loose a few of the N80's advanced features, but will still have a great camera with quite a bit of flexibility.

I have a Nikon N65 with a 70-300 lens. I need to know what kind of filter I need for pictures that I take inside of a gym? The lighting varies depending on which gym I'm at. The pictures will mostly be action shots indoor and outdoor.


Unfortunately there's not one filter for all color correction situations. The trick to getting the correct color balance is to know what type of lighting is being used. Once you know that, you can find a correction filter for that lighting. Any good book on filters should have a conversion chart for types of light and types of film. Also, most good instructional books on photography have this chart. I've included a small portion of one of those charts below with information on Fluorescent and HID lamps courtesy of Kodak.

Color-compensating Filters & Exposure Adjustments for Fluorescent & High-Intensity Discharge Lamps

Use the color-compensating filters and exposure adjustments in the tables below as starting points to expose this film under fluorescent or high-intensity discharge lamps. For critical applications, make a series of test exposures under your actual conditions.

To avoid the brightness and color variations that occur during a single alternating-current cycle, use exposure times of 1/60 second or longer with fluorescent lamps; with high-intensity discharge lamps, use exposure times of 1/125 second or longer.

Type of
Fluorescent Lamp
KODAK Color Compensating Filters Exposure Adjustment
Daylight 50R +1 stop
White 40M + 2/3 stop
Warm White 20C + 40M +1 stop
Warm White Deluxe 30B + 30C +1 1/3 stops
Cool White 40M + 10Y + 1 stop
Cool White Deluxe 20C + 10M + 2/3 stop

Note: When you don't know the type of fluorescent lamps, try a CC30M filter and increase exposure by 2/3 stops; color rendition will probably be less than optimum.

High-Intensity Discharge Lamp KODAK Color Compensating Filters Exposure Adjustment
General Electric Lucalox * 80B + 20C +2 1/3 stops
General Electric
20R + 20M + 2/3 stop
Deluxe White Mercury 30R + 30M +1 1/3 stops
Clear Mercury 70R +1 1/3 stops
* This is a high-pressure sodium-vapor lamp. The information in the table may not apply to other manufacturers' high-pressure sodium-vapor lamps because of differences in spectral characteristics.

Note: Some primary color filters were used in the previous tables to reduce the number of filters and keep the exposure adjustment to minimum. Red filters were substituted for equivalent filtration in magenta and yellow. Blue filters were substituted for equivalent filtration in cyan and magenta.

Courtesy of Kodak

I have to document my artwork (sculptural) in order to apply to galleries for shows. There is a change in acceptable submission formats slowly going from slide to digital and there is need for both now. Unfortunately there are some galleries that still won't accept digital submissions (for a number of reasons).

The question is how do I transfer my documentation from digital image to slide format? And what is it going to cost me?

Thanks for your time.

S. Mazza

More and more custom labs are offering the service of transferring digital files to slide. Check with some of the local labs in your area. If they don't offer the service, they may know of one that does in your area.

Also, you can check out They accept files mailed on CD or emailed.

You'll find that prices vary widely from lab to lab.

I have purchased a Nikon D100 and am looking for a telephoto zoom lens for wildlife photography. Two lenses that fall into my budget are Nikons 80-400mm VR ED IF 4.5-5.6 and Sigma's 100-300mm EX HSM F/4 lenses. I like features of both specimens and wish I could combine both to give me the one I need for the money, but that would be a perfect world scenario. The most desirable feature of the Sigma lens in the f/4 constant aperture and the hypersonic motor drive, but no image stabilization. The Nikon has the VR feature and a longer zoom with internal focusing, but I have heard it to be a little slow in the focus department. 

Advice and experience with these lenses by seasoned users would be appreciated as my knowledge of photography continues to be added upon.

Kevin Mikkelsen

While we have not had the opportunity to use the Sigma 100-300 EX HSM lens. We have reviewed several Sigma lenses with some mixed results. I would definitely want to try one of these lenses on a camera prior to buying.

We have reviewed the Nikon 80-400 VR and found it to be a very good lens all around. We had not found any noticeable problems with the focus speed. In our opinion too much has been made of this in some online discussion groups. That said you will find the Sigma, with it's hypersonic motor, to focus faster.

Read the review for the Nikon 80-400 VR  

I have a Nikon N70 with a Tamron 28-300mm lens.

Can I use a Tamron 1.4 teleconverter in conjunction with the Tamron lens successfully?


You can use the teleconverter with that combination successfully. When using the 1.4 teleconverter, you will lose one stop of exposure. You may also loose autofocus operation on lenses that have and aperture slower than f4.5. You will maintain metering and all other functions.

I have just purchased a Canon A1 SLR camera and a Vivitar 283 flash gun. Is the flash gun fully dedicated in all modes for the Canon A1?

Many thanks for your help, 

The Vivitar 283 is NOT dedicated to any camera. It does however have some automation to it. The color coded settings on the front dial of the flash correspond to an aperture and ISO that you can read on a chart on the flash. You choose a color mode that will give you the flash range that you need, and then set your aperture according to that. The flash then uses a sensor on the front to adjust the flash output accordingly. When doing this, you need to set your shutter speed to your flash sync.

This flash will work well with the Canon A1, but it is not a dedicated flash.

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