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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. 

I have a Nikon 6006 camera and I use a Sigma 28-80mm lens and a Sigma 70-300mm lens. I am having some trouble when I use my 28-80mm lens. The minimum aperture for this lens is 22 and the maximum is 3.5, however the camera display will say that the min. is 32 and the max. is 4.8. What could possibly be the reason for this? This problem does not occur with the 70-300mm lens. I also replaced the 28-80mm lens with a newer version and the same problem occurs. Any ideas?

Thank you for your assistance. 
Thomas Dahl

Actually you aren't having a problem. I have a Nikon 6006 laying around the office and I picked it up to see what I found. I put an old Nikon 35-80 f3.5-4.5 lens on the camera and saw just what you saw with the Sigma. What you're seeing is a result of the light drop off in the lens.

The Nikon lens that I used has a maximum aperture of f3.5 at 35mm and f4.5 at 80mm. When I stopped the lens down to f22 at 35mm, it showed f22, when I zoomed out to 80mm, the camera displayed f32. You have less light coming through at 80mm than you do at 28mm. The camera is showing you the adjustment for this.

I have just bought a Olympus Trip 35 circa 1970s. The first roll I shot has turned out very blue. My question is, is this the fault of the camera, the lab or me? Another question would be concerning common problems with this camera, especially the light meter. Any help you can give me, thanks.

Philip Stevens

The first thing I would check is to make sure there is not a blue filter on the lens. If not the problem is probably lab or film related. Try a short (12 exposure) roll of film and have it developed at a good reputable lab. Typically an overall color shift is caused by the lab or by bad film.

I've just moved to a Canon Digital Rebel for my main camera. To check out the capabilities, I compared posed shots taken with my 20 year old Minolta X-700, a 5 year old 3Megapixel Epson digital, and the new Canon. I've never tried getting quality digital prints before. I burned a CD with all the Epson and Canon images, and took it to my local Target for printing.

I was appalled by the digital prints that came back. Canon and Epson both look bad, nowhere near as good as the film prints. Straight lines have obvious jagged edges, as if the pictures were downsampled to a low resolution before printing. On my computer screen, no such artifacts appear.

The question is whether I need to check out the lab's equipment if I want good prints, or is this likely an operator error? I'd like some hints other than to just try a bunch of different labs.

Don Sireci

There is no reason why you can't get photographs from the Digital Rebel that are just as good as you've gotten from the Minolta X-700.

The first thing to double check is the camera settings that were used. Make sure the resolution was not set low, though this isn't likely the problem as you said the images have no such artifacts when displayed on your computer. Also make sure that the compression was set for a higher quality (something like best, fine, or very fine). If all this checks out fine, we go to the next thing. What, if anything, was changed between the camera and burning the CD. Has the resolution been lowered or the compression increased? I am going to assume that you did not do any major alterations to the images when moving the images to CD.

At this point, we have to question the lab. As good as the digital labs have gotten, I have found the quality of training of the people running them falls short at a lot of places, this is especially true at large chain stores. It is for this reason that I'm still a firm believer that if you are going to get pictures printed, go to a place that whose business is photography. I have found that the level of training of lab staff in specialty stores is superior to most labs at "discount" stores. Try taking your CD to a camera shop and get just a couple of shots printed and compare the difference. If you find a big difference in the quality of the prints you've found your problem.

I am considering purchasing a canon EOS Rebel 300D digital SLR. I have Tokina 70-210 AF lens, will it work and will it autofocus? Any problems using this lens?

Thank you for your time. 
Bob Dornan

You should be OK with that lens on that camera. If in doubt I always suggest taking the lens into your local dealer and try it before buying just to be sure.

Just remember the 70-210mm will perform more like a 110-335mm on the digital due to the cropping factor.

I have an SB-80DX. It has started to act funny. It will intermittently not flash. Whether on or off the camera, with the red light lit, even pressing the "flash" button will not trigger the flash, although the red light will start to flash as if the picture was underexposed.

The batteries have been replaced with brand new ones and when compared to our other SB-80DX, it seems to be a malfunctioning flash.

Any ideas? 
Mike Hawker

It sounds like a problem with the capacitor or one of the electrical circuits. If you've had the flash less than a year, it should still be covered under warranty. If not, have an authorized Nikon Service Center look at it.

I love shooting landscapes and have been doing so for approx. 8 years. I usually use Velvia for slides (love the rich colors) and Kodak 160VC for prints. Recently, I was told by a lab tech that I should try Kodak 160 NC and Fuji Reala 100 for prints. I really like my landscapes to be as rich in color as possible. Which color print films would you suggest?

Thank you for your time, 

All the films that you mentioned are quite good. The biggest consideration with film is your own taste. The Kodak 160NC has a more natural color than the 160VC. To some people this would make it a better choice. Fuji Reala and Velvia have richer colors which makes them popular with many photographers. There's no right or wrong choice here - it's what you like best. Reala will be closer to the 160VC than the 160NC is. My suggestion would be to give the Reala a try and see how it works for you.

I am new to digital photography and I'm wondering how many times a compact flash card can be re-used (i.e. after images have been transferred to my computer or CDs). I currently presume that they begin to degrade afater a while. Is that correct? I'd hate to be "on assignment" somewhere only to find that my CFC was not giving the quality I need.

Many thanks, 
Charles Good

I have never heard about a "life expectancy" of compact flash cards. Many people that I know have been using CF cards since they came to be, are still using them with no problems.

One tip that I have heard to help prolong the life and capacity of your cards is to format the card periodically as opposed to always using the erase all option. This helps to provide a cleaner erase and eliminates any remnants of other files on the card.

One other tip - don't leave them in your pockets. I've heard of more people loosing compact flash cards to the washer than any other cause - though they'll often survive even that abuse!

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