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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.

1. I am wondering what is the best way to document on the back of my photos with the who, what, when, and where and not jepordize the integrety of the photo?

2. Can you reccomend any way to keep negatives organized so that they can be easily matched up with the photo's for reprints?

Thank You,
Brian Johnson

In order to document photographs, if you want to write the information by hand, Light Impressions sells archival pens that are available in a variety of point sizes in black and red. If you are going to use these, don't get a fine point and be sure not to press too hard. They also offer ink jet labels in three different sizes that are repositionable and do not leave adhesive smudges behind. You can check out Light Impressions at

One of the easiest ways to keep negatives and prints together is to use Print File page style PF464M25. This style will allow you to keep a strip of four negatives in the same page as 4 4x6 prints. These pages will fit in three ring binders or three ring style photo albums.

Hello; I have a Nikon F5, with a couple of Nikon lenses and an SB-28 speedlight. I am planning on buying the 20-35mm and a 35-70mm lenses. My question is how does the Tokina ATX AF PRO series lenses compare to the the Nikon AF-D lenses. Will the Tokina lenses supply all the funtions of the D series Nikon lenses for a Nikon camera? Metering, Flash, etc? I am presently looking at used Nikon lenses and the prices are as much or more than the Tokina lenses are new. Your expert guidence would be of great assistance.

Thank you, 
Dick Capps

Tokina ATX PRO lenses are extremely good lenses. They will provide the information that is needed to deliver an accurate exposure. My personal experience though shows that when comparing the same shots with the Nikon D lenses and a D lens from other compatible manufactures, the Nikon still seems to have a more accurate exposure. Some of this may be attributed to the Nikon glass, but I have been able to see the differences at the pro level.

I'm going to buy a "good" lens for Canon EOS 300, but it's difficult to choose between Canon 28-135 IS f/3.5-5.6 and Tokina AF 28-80 AT-X Pro f/2.8. Which one is better for my camera?

Tadas Steiblys

Either lens should be a great addition to your system. The biggest thing to consider between these two lenses is to decide which is more important to you, the 135mm focal length of the Canon IS lens, or the speed of a constant aperture. Also keep in mind that the Tokina is about 11oz. heavier and does cost about $150.00 more.

As we have found many times in evaluating third party lenses, some of them don't feel as comfortable to operate, for this reason I would suggest, if possible, to find a camera dealer who stocks both of these lenses, put them on a camera and see how they feel to you.

What kind of camera would I need to use to become a professional photographer? Or can I use the camera I already have, and still do professional photos? The camera I currently have is a Minolta Maxxum STsi with the AF 35-80mm lens and the AF 70-210mm lens. With the Sunpack Auto 355Af thrystor flash. Can I add acessories to this camera and have professional photos?

Priscilla Camacho

The most important equipment that one needs to be a professional photographer is a good eye and a good understanding of photography. Any camera that produces a good, sharp image is all that would be needed. If the camera that you have is capable of giving you quality images that would meet the needs of a potential client, then it is adequate. I personally know of a photographer who shoots with a 35mm "point and shoot" style camera. His clients are thrilled with the images that he produces.

Keep in mind that as you start doing more professional work, your equipment needs may change. It is important to determine what kind of photography you are going to do and decide on what equipment you need to do it. Then look at what other lenses are available that you may need in the future as you start doing more professional shooting. If after evaluating these points it looks as if your system will do the job, then keep with what you have. If it does not look like the tools you would need are available for that system then it may mean you have to find a different system.

I have been researching the purchase of a studio lighting kit. I would like to keep it in the $ 2,000.00 -- $ 3,000 dollar range, could you make some suggestions? I would like to purchase one with 4 heads.

Another question would be what type of remote monolight to purchase?

Thanks for you suggestions and advice,
Linda Carter Dallas, TX

Deciding on the correct lighting kit can be a difficult decision. There are several companies that offer 4 light kits in your price range. Look at Speedatron, Photogenic, and Norman. The first thing to consider in choosing your system, is how much power do you need. The power packs can vary widely in the output capability and this will also cause changes in the price of your system.

As far as remote monolights, SP has several different models with slaves and different power capabilities. Another good company for remote monolights would be White Lightening. These lights are available on-line at

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