Reynolds Photography: Blog https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog en-us (C) Reynolds Photography contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:36:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:36:00 GMT https://www.reynolds-photography.com/img/s/v-12/u54663192-o844731256-50.jpg Reynolds Photography: Blog https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog 120 70 RoxWil Boer Goats l {Dayton, Ohio Pet Photographer} https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2014/2/roxwil-boer-goats-l-dayton-ohio-pet-photographer This was truly an unbelievable experience!  I got to photograph the birth of baby goats (kids) and wow, what an experience it was! It amazes me that within an hour of birth, the does are nudging at the kids to get them to stand on their own... if they're not already.  And to see them with those long skinny legs wobbling around, they are just adorable.  Here are just a few of the images I captured.

 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Boer Goats Commercial Photography Goats Pet Portraits Rox-Wil https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2014/2/roxwil-boer-goats-l-dayton-ohio-pet-photographer Thu, 06 Feb 2014 17:31:02 GMT
Hank l {Dayton, Ohio Pet Photographer} https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2014/2/hank-l-dayton-ohio-pet-photographer Hank has had quite a journey so far in his life.  From a dark place of abuse to a loving home where he is cared for and protected from harm.  This gentle giant was a complete joy to photograph, and a natural poser to say the least... take a look for yourself!  :)  Please feel free to leave Hank some love by liking or commenting on his post.

 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Dog Great Dane Pet Portraits Photography https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2014/2/hank-l-dayton-ohio-pet-photographer Sat, 01 Feb 2014 14:29:02 GMT
Grizzly, Tito & Bandit l {Dayton, Ohio Pet Photographer} https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2014/1/grizzly-tito-bandit-l-dayton-ohio-pet-photographer Julie Reynolds Photography is going to the Dogs!!!  Yep, more and more of my calendar is filling up with furry critters, which I'm not complaining because I love working with the animals (but still also love the babies, children, seniors and families).  And this session was nothing short of a blast!  I came home so dirty - I even had a bug in my hair when I showered after rolling around on the ground with these three adorable, fun-loving dogs who stole my heart from the very start!  Let me introduce Grizzly (German Shepherd), Tito (Bulldog) and the late  and so darn loveable Bandit :( (Dachshund).  Rest in peace little guy!  Here are just a few of the images I was able to capture of this fun group.

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Bulldog Dachshund Dog German Shepherd Pet Portraits Photography https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2014/1/grizzly-tito-bandit-l-dayton-ohio-pet-photographer Wed, 29 Jan 2014 19:02:46 GMT
"This Little Piggy" Photo Contest https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2013/3/the-little-piggy-contest

 

Prepare yourself to be overwhelmed with chubby roly poly cuteness!  Julie Reynolds Photography is in search of babies who are at that age where they are mystified by their little pigs.  If you have a baby who cannot keep their toes out of their mouth, snap a picture of it and send it in and you just might win a free one hour session where we have the opportunity to professionally capture this adorable age.  Here’s how you enter…

Send me a picture of your little one paying extra attention to those pigs.  But please note you must be the owner of the photo and by submitting it to me, you grant me permission to post it on my page – pictures must be current and no professional photos accepted.  It can be as simple as a cell phone picture! Just send me a private message here on facebook with the photo attached, or e-mail it to Julie@Reynolds-Photography.com.  All photos must be submitted by Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 8 p.m.
 

On Monday, March 25, 2013, I will upload a gallery called “This Little Piggy”.  Once the gallery is up, I will tag everyone who submitted a photo so that you have the link on your wall.  Now for the fun part… you will want to tell everyone you know to do the following:

1. Click on the link for the “This Little Piggy” gallery.

2. Vote for their favorite baby by “liking” the photo.

3. And finally “Like” Julie Reynolds Photography while they are out there, otherwise they will certainly miss out on some fun stuff and sneak peeks of your little one’s portraits if your baby wins!  Also, each like could help the winner earn a free print credit as well.  ;)
 

The picture with the most votes (likes) by 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, 2013 will win a free session which will take place in the Dayton/Cincinnati area on or before September 15, 2013.  BONUS – if I reach 1,500 likes on my page by the end of the contest,  I will throw in a $25 print credit! To sweeten the pot a little bit, if I reach 2,000 likes on my page by the end of the contest I will throw in a $50 print credit!

But don’t hesitate!  Pictures are already coming in… don’t miss out on your chance to show off your baby’s cuteness.  And if you do not have a baby that falls into this age range, please share this link to anyone you know that may like to participate.  Thanks!  ~Julie

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Baby Contest Free Photo Print Credit This Little Piggy Photo Contest https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2013/3/the-little-piggy-contest Tue, 19 Mar 2013 00:48:46 GMT
"Look At Me Now" Photo Contest https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2013/1/look-at-me-now-photo-contest

Have you been busting your tail to stick to your health and fitness goals?  Whether you have reached your goal, or have made huge strides to get to where you are now, I’d say a reward is in order!  Let’s celebrate your victories!  And what better way to do that than with a fun photo shoot to show off all of your hard work.  One lucky guy or gal will win this fun prize.  Here’s what you’ve got to do…

 

  1. Send me a picture of how you look today… one that you are comfortable sharing on facebook!  (I know I have very few of those… :-] )  It can be as simple as a cell phone pic!  Just send me a private message here on facebook with the photo attached, or e-mail it to Julie@JulieReynoldsPhotography.
  2. If you are comfortable doing this, send me a before picture as well… this may increase your chances of winning if everyone can see how far you’ve come.  And what an inspiration you could be to so many that feel they can’t do it themselves!  Please note that if you only send me a current picture, tell me a little bit about your accomplishments so that I can put them in the photo description to try to help you gain votes.
  3. All photos must be submitted by Friday, February 8, 2013.
  4. On Saturday, February 9, 2013 I will upload a gallery called “Look At Me Now”.
  5. Once the gallery is up, you will want to tell everyone you know to go vote for you (and for Pete’s sake tell them to Like the Julie Reynolds Photography page while there out there so they can learn about cool and fun contests we will be having throughout the year)!!!  The contestant with the most votes by midnight on Sunday, February 17, 2013 will win a free session which will take place in the Dayton/Cincinnati area on or before September 15, 2013.
  6. BONUS – if I reach 1,000 likes on my page I will throw in a $25 print credit!  Oh what the heck… if I reach 2,000 likes on my page I will throw in a $50 print credit!  Now let's do this... Ready, Set, Go!
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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Contest Fitness Free Health Look At Me Now Photo Contest Photo Print Credit https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2013/1/look-at-me-now-photo-contest Mon, 28 Jan 2013 16:06:42 GMT
2014 Senior Portrait Giveaway https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2013/1/2014-senior-portrait-giveaway

 

Reynolds Photography 2014 Senior Portrait Giveaway is in full swing and we are currently accepting nominations for this prize valued at over $500.  We know that times are tough and so many people are struggling right now.  I'm sure we all know at least one family hit hard by the economy.  If you would like to nominate a 2014 Senior, who may otherwise miss out on this fun experience due to family hardship, please follow the rules outlined below.

 

The Rules

Please note that nominations are STRICTLY confidential, but very easy!  Simply follow these 3 easy steps...

1. Like Julie Reynolds Photography Click Here

2. Share the Reynolds Photography 2014 Senior Portrait Giveaway link on your facebook wall (Click the Facebook button at the top of this post)

3. Send me a private message with the nominee's name, a little bit about them and a short summary of their situation.  The more I know about them, the easier it will be to make a decision.  Click here to send Julie a message

 

The Prize

One lucky 2014 Senior will receive the following:

Three - one hour photo sessions

One - 11x14 print

Three - 8x10 prints

Two - 5x7 prints

24 wallets (up to 3 poses)

 

Additional Info

The winner must be able to do their sessions within the Dayton/Cincinnati area.  But please share with everyone you know... maybe this will spark other photographers in other areas to do the same.  Please encourage friends and family members to like, share and nominate as well... again, the more I know about the individual, the easier it will be for me to choose a winner.  Nominations will be accepted until March 31, 2013 and the winner will be announced the first week of April.  Please share this information with everyone you know and help put a smile on someone's face that could really use this gift!  And as an incentive to participate by sharing the 2014 Senior Portrait Giveaway and "liking" Julie Reynolds Photography, if we reach 2,000 likes on our page by March 31, 2013, we will be giving a similar package away for Free Family Portraits.  ~Thank you~

 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) 2014 Beavercreek Bellbrook Free Giveaway Kettering Mason Oakwood Photography Portrait Senior Springboro Waynesville https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2013/1/2014-senior-portrait-giveaway Thu, 24 Jan 2013 20:29:44 GMT
Are your pictures safe? https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/12/are-your-pictures-safe Is It Safe?

Today's F-Stop Cafe post is all about the safe keeping of your memories.  In this day of digital everything, your memories are stored in bits and bytes on various kinds of devices.  The rise of digital media and the ease at which we can produce and store massive amounts of content presents a unique challenge to the long term storage and maintenance of our memories.

If you are already familiar with how your images are stored on your camera and computer and want to jump strait to how I keep my data safe jump down to the How I Do It section below.  Otherwise strap in its about to get a little bumpy.

What is it?

Digital data is stored on your media using a binary code where 0's and 1's represent the smallest part of your data, a bit.  Depending on the format of the image those bits are collected in various way to describe your image to the computer.  For example, in a typical image there are anywhere from 16 to 24 bits or more used to describe every dot or "pixel" in your image.  Today cameras are rated in megapixels which as you might guess means the approx number of pixels in an image where mega mean million.  If we keep the numbers small and talk about a 5 megapixel image, it has approx 5 million pixels in the image.   So if we assume the low end of 16 bits per pixel  we would have the following.

5,000,000 X 16 = 80,000,000 or 80 million bits! 

Now of course there is other information stored in your picture than just the image data, stuff that tells a computer what kind of image it is and a bunch of other stuff.  However, the lions share of the data is your picture.  Also depending on the raw format, if your storing raw files, they may store as much as 14 bits per channel or more!  Thats 16 x 3 + various other tidbits of information about each pixel.  So for example one of my raw files runs around 30 megabytes per image.  Crank out a reasonably complex PSD and suddenly I am looking at several hundred megabyte individual files.  Yikes! What to do what to do?

How's it stored?

Lets just talk for a bit longer about the geeky stuff in how the data is actually stored.  Hang with me as there is a reason for this.   Most consumer cameras today use those little SD cards.  They are basically memory chips that don't lose the data when the power is removed.     This is your digital "film."  All storage systems use a file system to store data and to promote commonality among devices so you can interchange the cards and cameras without worry of having to ask "will they work?"

Before we go any further I do want to stress one thing.  The media you put in your camera is the first point of potential failure. DO NOT SKIMP ON YOUR MEMORY CARDS!  Buy only the best from reputable manufacturers like Sandisk, Lexar, Panasonic etc, and make sure they are not fakes.   Using inferior product is just a matter of time before you get burned as I have in the past.

The actual data is stored in blocks of bits which are in turn stored in clusters of blocks and here in lies the devil in the details.  A cluster is the smallest element that is used to "reference" your data by the file system.  In you think of your home, the post office knows about your mailbox (your cluster) in which they can stuff your mail(your blocks of data) up to a certain point.  If you get more mail then your mailbox will hold you have to buy another mailbox.  It works the same way on the file system.  Larger capacity cards use larger cluster sizes for the data (bigger mailboxes).  In most cases the big cards, 16gig and larger, use 32k cluster sizes.  That 32k translates to 32,000 bytes of data, where one byte contains 8 bits.  Are you confused yet?  Its ok you dont need to remember all this, because your card will tell your camera and your computer all it needs to know to access your stuff.  However, understanding this bucket of bits and bytes will illustrate my main point in a few more sentences. 

If we put it all together now, this is what the math looks like.  Lets assume a 32k cluster size and a 5 megapixel 16 bit jpeg image from our previous example. 

Each cluster can hold 32,000 bytes of data or 256,000 bits.

From our previous example a 5 megapixel 16 bit image needs 80 MILLION bits just to hold the image data.

So.. 80,000,000 / 256,000 = 312.5 or 313 to 315 clusters of data stored per image. 

All of that and we are just talking about a cell phone image!  If you think about modern cameras today which are 12 to 36 megapixel, those clusters just jumped from 315 to over 1000 and more. 

Bits, bytes, buckets of bits and bytes.  Whats the point?

So all the techno gibberish earlier is there to stress one very important fact.  Your data is fragile. We all know about failed hard drives and system crashes etc, those are big hairy monsters in the room you cant ignore.  Most probably know someone who suffered through one, and the shock that sets in when they realize their data is gone.  And of course we have all accidentally deleted a file not realizing it until after you empty your recycle bin.   However, the more insidious, less overt danger is the potential corruption of a file.  File corruptions can go unnoticed for a long time.  Usually only revealing themselves when you need the file and find that its dead or in a state that is not able to render correctly.  What makes this even more dangerous is that some corruptions can be propagated, meaning the file data can be copied just fine but its bad data.  This means that unless you have some level of versioning in your backup methods you can, and I have, copy bad data over good to the point that no good versions exist anymore. 

How does this happen?  If we go back to the example above our modern cameras need over 1000 clusters to store their files.  The bigger the files the more clusters are needed.  Hard drives can and do have a cluster die from time to time and never skips a beat.  Modern drives have ways to realize the cluster is going bad and attempt to read the data and move it somewhere else.  However this is not always 100% successful.  All it takes is one of those clusters to not be 100% accurate and your image is now potentially trashed.  There are a ton of other ways data can get mutilated under normal every day activities.  The bottom line is digital data is fragile, way more fragile than film negatives or actual prints.  Proper redundant versioned backup processes are critical to ensure they last a for generations. 

One last word on hard drive failures.  Google once did a study on hard drive life expectancy and found some interesting data.  The take away from the study was that drives fail but most drives failed in the 3 to 5 year range.  Interestingly consumer drives have one to three year warranties and enterprise drives have five plus year warranties.  They also found that array drive failures were very correlated, thus calling into question the use of RAID, even the much praised RAID5.  More on this in a bit.

What to do?

Now that the nitty gritty of the dangers of data storage are out of the way lets chat about how to protect your data.  A little later I will discuss how I store and protect mine personal and my client data, but for now lets talk about basics.  To ensure you give your photos a chance to survive there are several levels of storage safety you can apply.  These are presenting in my personal order of importance, your budget and needs will obviously dictate how far you take it.

1. Multiple Copies Same Disk - At a minimum you should maintain a backup set of your images, even if you have a single hard drive, at least make copies to different locations.  One set to look at and play with one set to recover from if you hose the first set.  If your images are only on your phone or your camera you are at risk.  Your memory stick will fail.  Basically at this level you copy from your card to both locations before you begin to play with your files.  NOTE: Always copy from the source files if possible.  Each time the files are written there is a potential for corruption.  Sometimes it is unavoidable to not copy the copy but care should be taken when doing so.

2. Multiple Copies Different Media -  Same as 1 above except now your backup copy is on a separate piece of media.  This could be another hard drive (internal or external), a CD or DVD or even another media stick from your camera.  

3. Multiple Copies With Offsite - Same as 2 but now includes a third copy in an off site location.  This could be as simple as a external hard drive in your bank safe deposit box, or at a relatives house.  Or you could use one of the many cloud services as an off site backup.

Of course all this sounds really simple but if your not organized and have a "system" it can quickly break down into a mess of not knowing what is where and if its backed up.  Also keeping the files synced up can get difficult.  If you have deleted a bunch from your working set why keep them in your backup eating space if you know you want them gone?   There are lots of tools to get this job done, I will discuss my favorites in the section where I discus how I do it.  Although at a basic level as a Lightroom user it can handle the initial copy to multiple locations seamlessly.

How I Do It.

First lets get the details of the software out of the way.  Storage wise my main editing workstation haves 4.5 terabytes of working disk space with a 1.5 terabyte exteranal drive as well.  My Windows Home Server has about 7 terabytes of storage at the moment.  Your needs may vary significantly from mine but the concepts remain the same.  One thing to note, All of my editing software is non destructive.  This means it does not affect the original files when I make changes to them in either Lightroom or Photoshop.  That is critical to know in my model, if your using a destructive editor you may need to take that into consideration.   My data management workflow includes the following software:

  • Adobe Lighroom - Not much needs to be said here - Lightroom is used to manage my catalogs of images and to maintain the metadata associated with the images, keywords, and all the non destructive edits done in lightroom.
  • Goodsync - Goodsync is a fantastic utility I use to manage the physical files themselves.  I goodsync because it does a very thorough job of validating that the destination files exactly match the source files.   This is a big step in ensureing I dont propagate corrupted files.
  • Crashplan - Crashplan is the service I decided to use because they let me manage multiple backup sets for different types of files, and they backup anything I specify.  However the really important feature is that they version all files backed up and they never delete anything while your account is active.  
  • Windows Home Server 2011 - Used to manage the storage on my server and to run unattended backups of my systems while I sleep.  Though that is not documented here as its not specific to photography storage.

Basically my data management workflow looks like this.

While the image above illustrates the entire process it can be broken down into a few simple steps. 

1. Import

When I finish a shoot the first thing I do is download the images off my camera to my primary machine into a temporary offloading directory on the primary drive. This kicks off a couple of processes that move data.

Sync the primary drive with the secondary drive and the secondary drive with the external drive if its on.  This copies new files to the secondary drive as well as deletes any files deleted in previous editing sessions.

The external drive is only turned on for imports and is normally turned off as a cold standby backup.

 

2. Background processes

2.A Server Copy

The second part of the process involves some automatic process' that runs at least once daily (I can force it to run more if I have a particularly heavy shooting day or editing day).  This process uses goodsync to sync changes on the secondary drive to my home server storage drives.  Most of the time this is a non-destructive one way copy without delete.  This means it simply copies new or updated files but does not delete.  I have a manual process that is identical but includes deletes for annual storage cleanup.  

If you remember the secondary drive is not cleaned up until another import is done.  So in most cases all imported files get copied over to the server prior to my post import culling process. 

2.B Cloud Copy

In addition to the automatic server copy process performed by Goodsync, my cloud storage client is always watching for file system changes.  When it sees new or updated files coming into the server it begins to copy those same files up to the cloud for automatic off site storage.  I use the Crashplan storage service but the destination could just as easily be an external drive at a relative or friends house.   One of the features I really love about Crashplan and that feature is free of charge.

 

Can I Sleep At Night?

It seems like a lot of work and for what?  Unless I have a catastrophic failure in my camera I have taken every effort to ensure that not only my client photos are safe, but my personal files as well.  My children's birth videos and pictures, birthdays and all the other moments captured so far.  It lets me sleep knowing that the data is safe for now.   And while there seems like a lot of "processes" to manage it really is not a big deal and most of them can be set to autopilot.  I just prefer to control some of the legs of the operation.   So in a nutshell what does the above get me?

1. On import I have 3 copies of all files, one set in a working state, one set in a hot standby state and one set in a cold standby state offline and safe.

2. With each import previous activities are replicated across the three physical locations (three physical hard drives).

3. On a continuing basis my files and changes are replicated to my server (two physical computers, 4+ physical hard drives).

4. On a continuing basis my files and changes are replicated to the Crashplan storage service (two physical computers, 4+ physical hard drive and geographically dispersed cloud off site storage).

5. Thanks to Crashplan at any time I can get to any version of files that do have destructive changes applied.  (PSD Files, rendered jpegs etc.)

6. Almost all of this activity can be set to happen automagically.

My Epiphany

I recently had a bit of an epiphany when I watched a short little film from a film maker in France called Lost Memories.  It really stirred something inside me.  While its a science fiction short story, I know from my background in IT that the potential for loss is real.  It caused me to think about my memories of my family and our lives.  It is what caused me to shore up my backup processes but more importantly it  made me think about what if?  While not probable it is possible to have a solar flair or EM storm strong enough to take out electronic storage in all but tempest protected equipment. 

So now I embark on my next level of protection.  I will be going back through my entire collection of images over 10 years of personal photos numbering close to 50000 images to hand pick the best to be placed in our generational books.  Real archival quality hand made books of our images to ensure that they will never be lost.  When that project is done it will close the loop from digital to physical and will truly give me peace of mind that my family will always have our memories. 

What about other options?

I have a RAID box on my network and thats where my files are safe.

RAID has been falsely hailed as a valid backup option, and that is completely false and dangerous.  RAID systems are used in enterprises to either increase speed of transfers or to provide fault tolerance.  There is always a backup solution to provide data protection for the content on the raided systems.  

All my pictures are stored on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. 

First these services compress and distort the images.  So they are not originals and to me are considered compromised.  Second, as was seen by the recent Instagram fiasco once uploaded, your files are free to be sued by these services as they see fit. Lastly, they have no obligation to ensure you get all your pictures if they decide to shut down or to shutter your account. 

What about Apples Photo Stream?

While I have not played with this a whole lot it does have promise.  In that it replicates the files to many places automatically but I havent played with it enough to know what it does with deletes and other activities.

I have all my stuff on DVD or CD, that's good right?

Yes and no.  CD and DVD media is relatively small and very slow.  Not to mention that the hundreds of years of data safety is a bit of a stretch.  Without proper care and handling the data on a CD/DVD can begin to deteriorate pretty quickly.  They can be a good secondary media but should not be your only copies of your files.

Bottom Line

The bottom line in all this is to remember that your data is fragile and can be destroyed in literally one keystroke.  Please make sure to at least make sure to get the images off your camera and on to your hard drive, preferably two copies off onto two hard drives so you reduce your risk of damage.   More than that is up to your budget and your needs.  LAstly there is always print copies, haul your stick to the local shop that does prints and get them printed, if you want archival quality you can find a professional photographer like myself to help you build and produce archival quality books to be handed down for generations. 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Backup F-Stop Cafe Information Photography https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/12/are-your-pictures-safe Sat, 29 Dec 2012 04:36:51 GMT
F-Stop Cafe - SLR, SLT, and Advanced Compact Cameras https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/11/f-stop-cafe---slr-slt-and-advanced-compact-cameras

All about the camera - SLR, SLT and Advanced Compact Cameras

I get asked a lot about the type of camera I use and what is the best to buy etc etc.  I almost universally respond with "it depends."  Then I usually launch into a series of questions around what kind of pictures you want to take.  I ask those questions because it can greatly change the perspective of your needs and which cameras will be suitable to your type of picture taking.  This post is the final post in the series discussing the types of cameras available today and their pros and cons to hopefully help you determine the best choice for your hard earned dollars.  This post will discuss the most advanced segment of the industry.  The SLR, SLT and advanced compacts.

SLR and SLT - whats the big deal?

While SLR's and SLT's share a lot of the same DNA I will discuss the major differences between then a little later, for the majority of this post I will simply refer to them as SLR cameras for simplicity sake.  So whats the big deal?  Why have they become so popular lately?  SLR cameras have traditionally been the domain of professional and advanced photographers primarily due to the cost of entry into the equipment and the complexity of their operation.  The cost continues to fall and the complexity continues to be obscured behind automatic modes that allow someone with no training to pick up a camera and use it with some level of success.  However, compared to the compact cameras they can still be quite daunting to use once out of the automatic modes.  The other reason that SLR's are becoming more popular is the idea that the image quality will simply be better than with the point and shoot.  With larger sensors, interchangeable lenses and more sophisticated image processors, SLR's certainly do have the potential to produce much higher quality images then most point and shoot cameras. 

How much better?

SLR's do have the potential to provide superior images to a standard point and shoot.  This is due to the fact that they generally have larger sensors, more sophisticated and powerful image processors and much more capable lenses.  SLR's also tend to be quite a bit more responsive in that they start up faster, take pictures faster and can crank off rapid fire bursts of exposures.  In addition to the raw performance capabilities there is the fact that they also have many different lenses available for very specific needs. Nikon for example has 75 lenses to choose from across both the DX and FX sensor range.  DX and FX you ask?  Yes we will discuss that later.  However back to the lenses, lens construction is all about compromises and there is not a single lens that does everything perfect.  SLR's are able to be configured to provide the best possible tool to capture an image.  Ultra wide angle to long range zoom, fisheye to macro lens there are choices to make when picking the lens for job, which gives SLR's every advantage in the ability to snap that amazing picture.  

SLR's also generally have multiple operational modes, scene modes borrowed from the point and shoot world and manual mode strait from the earliest days of photography.  Add to that the ability to choose form a variety of focus modes, exposure modes and release modes.  Some of the higher end systems are built like tanks and can take a fair amount of abuse and shoot in some of the harshest environments.  So yes they are a tool and when setup and configured properly can produce some absolutely jaw dropping images.  Many now also include a little mode on the dial called automatic which turns that glorious four pound beast into the biggest most powerful point and shoot you can buy.  

So the bottom line is this.  Can a SLR/SLT get you better pictures?  Yes, but not immediately.  Cameras on this end of the spectrum are tools, in some cases very complicated tools that require getting over a learning curve.  Even then, you will still constantly be learning how to use the tool.  If your going to stick it in auto mode then get a bridge camera it will work much better for you in the long run.  Having an SLR or SLT with interchangeable lenses requires work and effort to get the best images.  As of the writing of this blog post there are several bridge and Point and shoot cameras that have just as capable sensors in them as some of the SLR's they simply omit a lot of the control aspect.  I have seen it far to often, someone goes out and blows $5,000 to $6,000 on a great body and that smokin 85mm f1.4 and end up asking why their pictures look so bad.  :)  

Shameless plug time:  If you have found yourself with a SLR and cant really figure out what it does or how to make it work for you, I do offer a photography 101 class from time to time to help people learn how to use their cameras to get great shots.  

SLR or SLT?  Which system to buy?  There is a system? I am confused....

Ok so lets cut to the chase and get to the pros and cons of a SLR\SLT but before we do that lets get some basics out of the way.  So this whole SLR\SLT thing whats it all about?  SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera and SLT (coined by Sony)  stands for Single Lens Translucent (SLT) camera.  This all has to do with a mirror, when you look through the view finder in a SLR/SLT camera your view is bent via mirrors or prisms and you end up looking through the lens at your subject.  You see exactly what your sensor will see.  This is where the difference comes into play.  In an SLR, the mirror has to flip up and out of the way before the shutter can open and expose the sensor to light.  In an SLT based camera, the mirror is a pellicle (translucent is an inaccurate term but its what they chose) mirror which splits the light allowing a small amount of light to be sent to the view finder and the remainder to be sent to the sensor without having to  move the mirror.  I will discus the major issues here in the pros and cons list shortly but wanted to detail the difference here as they have a significant impact on the way the camera operates. 

Next we have to talk about buying into a system.  When choosing a SLR you should make your decision carefully because once you buy in you are pretty much locked into a particular vendor unless you have endless bags of money laying around.  Very few of the major players in the industry are compatible with each others stuff.  You cannot mix and match systems easily if at all.  While there are third party lens and accessory manufacturers they are not generic in that your Canon lens may not mount on your Nikon body without some form of adapter which will render many features useless.  So when I talk about a "system" its really a manufacturer ie you buy a Nikon camera you will forever be buying Nikon gear.  Its much akin to Ford vs Chevy in a lot of ways.  Each company has several models and performance levels and they also have their fair share of stalwart fans.  They all take great pictures and are differentiated in a variety of ways. To illustrate this concept of a system, the Nikon lineup today has seven bodies (D3200, D5100, D7000, D300, D600, D800 and D4) fairly evenly split between full frame (FX) sensors and crop (DX) sensors, more on that in a minute.  In addition to that add the approximately 70+ lenses available and you can see where this is going.  Its quite the tool kit.  Entry can be cheap with a low end kit (body and lens) costing only $500 to $600 of course with stripped features and performance and run up to the insane with the D4 body at $6000 all by its self and some of the fast large lenses in the five figure range for a single lens.

Deciding which system to step into should be evaluated on a variety of factors.  I suggest looking at feature set, compatibility and cost as well as how the bodies feel in your hand.  They do feel differently from vendor to vendor.  Something uncomfortable to hold will rarely find its way out of the camera bag.  However having said that any of the major players will produce stunning pictures once you get over the learning curve and learn how to use the tool properly and fine tune your technique.

FX or DX?

FX (full frame sensor) or a DX (crop sensor) or APS-C as its more commonly called?  This is not a very strait forward answer.  First a definition.  A full frame sensor is a that is the size of a 35mm film frame.  A crop sensor is a smaller sensor, a "crop" from a full frame sensor, usually around .5 to .6 that of a full frame sensor.  The following image is from a great wikipedia article about sensor sizes where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about the sensor formats.

In the past this would have been a no brainer, if your budget can support it you would have gained tremendous benefits from going to the full frame sensor.  However I would argue that today's APS-C (crop) sensors are very strong performers and for general use they do quite well.  So why would you choose one over the other?  There are several differences that could influence your decision which will be detailed in the pros and cons section later but I will try and summarize it here. 

Full Frame - Performance in many areas, better image quality and control, better low light (high iso) performance, and greater control over your depth of field.

Crop Sensor - Cost, effective focal range is increased, weight is reduced and decreased file sizes.

I left out a lot of other things but those really are the big hitters.  There are areas where those differences are shrinking but this is generally the case.   However A couple things I would like to point out is that at lower base ISO settings 100-400 the image quality of current sensors are pretty much the same.  However as the ISO goes up the full frame sensor generally starts to pull away from the crop.  Also the crop sensor changes the effective focal length of the lens that is attached.  All lenses are given focal lengths in terms of 35mm equivalent values.  So a 18-55mm lens common for crop sensor kit lens is giving you the field of view of what a 27 - 82mm lens would on a full frame sensor.  So in essence a crop sensor body has more "reach" over a full frame. 

General Positives 

  • Flexibility - as I said these are tools as such you have a tremendous amount of flexibility in terms of lens choice and camera control that lets you create what you can visualize in your head.  
  • Performance - In so many areas these bodies are usually much higher performing then their bridge or compact cousins.  Reduced shutter lag, focus speed and number of frames per second to higher performing processors inside the camera allowing the camera to simply work faster overall.
  • Rugged - The very top end bodies are completely encased in magnesium shells and are usually weather sealed to take a beating.  The entry level bodies are usually plastic but are generally more robust than your typical point and shoot unless its a specifically designed rugged version.  
  • Image Quality - Generally speaking SLR's have the potential to produce better images than their smaller cousins due to the sensor technology and the systems behind it and more importantly much higher quality glass in front of it.

General Negatives 

  • Heavy - While a entry level body and kit lens will not be much heavier than a comparable bridge camera as you build your kit of lenses and other accessories the bag will get much heavier.  However, stepping up to the more rugged enthusiast and pro level gear just the body and lens can get to be rather heavy.  Case in point my 24-70 lens alone is two pounds, that does not include the body.
  • Cost - While entry level kits can be had for $500 to $600 you will find very quickly that you are limited by that kit.  You want more reach?  Thats a new lens.  You want wider view? Thats a new lens.  You want better low light natural light capability? Thats another lens.   You start to see the picture.  While flexibility is a key advantage it can also be a disadvantage in that you have to buy all those things.
  • Compromises - Everything is a compromise.  Choosing lenses involves a compromise in speed, image quality and flexibility.  Deep pockets allow you to minimize some but it adds others.  For example the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens is fast focusing, fast in low light (f2.8) has vibration control (lets you hand hold a shot at lower than normal shutter speeds) and has incredible image quality.  thats the good stuff.  The bad is that it weighs 2.5 pounds, is all metal construction, costs $2500 and is 12 inches long ALL THE TIME! :)  In contrast you can get a 55-200mm lens for $400 its slower in focus and in light gathering (higher base f-stop) is significantly shorter (when zoomed out), weighs in at less that half a pound and has decent image quality but nothing like the 70-200.  This same issue of compromise appears in body selection as well.  All of this is why there are so many questions when asked what should I buy.
  • Image Quality - I put this as a negative because so many times I hear folks say I bought this SLR because I wanted better pictures  but they are WORSE than my point and shoot.  As I have said, SLR's have the "potential" to produce better images.  This is due to the fact that SLRs have a significant learning curve and their image quality is subject to so many variables.  For example, a typical mid to high end Sony point and shoot will have a very nice Zeiss lens permanently affixed to it.  Usually pretty fast too in the f2.0 range that the camera is optimized to take advantage of, making changes to photo setting you are unaware of to produce the best possible picture.  The SLR relies on you to configure the camera and fine tune your own technique based on what you have attached and what your shooting.  Putting your SLR on auto helps to some degree but it cant be as fine tuned as a point and shoot with a fixed set of variable. 

Lots to think about there so let me throw a couple more things at you.

SLT\SLR differences 

  • View Finders - SLT bodies usually use a lcd or led display as their view finders where SLR's use a series of mirrors and or prisms.  SLT use displays because the amount of light that is split from the incoming image from the lens is usually about 15 to 20% of the overall light.  Its simply not enough to be able to view properly so they catch it, amplify it and display it on the view finder display.  Simply put your eye has a far greater dynamic range than any display on the market today including those on the back of your cameras body.  This means that you can overload, or "clip" the displays so you dont see an accurate image of what your about to photograph.  This will get better over time but for now I prefer the traditional model in the SLR because I can see exactly what my lens is seeing with no distortion.
  • Mirror Speed - SLR's use a mirror to redirect the light to the view finder.  This mirror must flip out of the way for the image to be taken.  This physical action can and does limit the frame rate the camera can achieve.  In a DX the mirror is smaller so its a little easier to move it quickly, however in a full frame it is much larger and the mechanical challenges around moving that mirror quickly get expensive.  As an example the Nikon D4 can achieve 10 frames per second but it will cost you $6000.  Pretty much all Sony Alpha SLT cameras even the base model at $700 can achieve up to 12 frames per second because there is no mirror to move. 
  • Mirror Light Transmission - Because the the SLT camera does not move the mirror out of the way there is a permanent loss of light from the splitting of the light that happens with the pellical mirror.  This immediately hinders the SLT in lower light performance because it is by default working with less light.  It is rumored that the Nikon D600 and the Sony A99 share the same 24mp sensor. If that is true and assuming that the lens features are the same then the nikon is be default going to perform better.   However there can be some magic performed in the camera to crank up the base sensitivity of the sensor to accomidate for the light loss.  However, that would perform similarly to increasing ISO which in turn would increase noise.  So even if it could take the same picture in low light the SLT would need "help" in the form of noise reduction and other mystical pixie dust kind of things to produce the same image.  Once you start to manipulate the image in camera you lose control and some time quality. 

Model Differences

I wanted to talk briefly about the differences in models as you climb the ladder up the model line up of most system.  Generally speaking in the consumer to enthusiast line of cameras you simply start with a fairly reduced feature set body to keep the price point low.  From there they usually add features and capabilities, also changing sensors and so on to bring the over all performance of the camera up to match the cost of entry.  Some things that can be missing in the lower end bodies are focus motors (reduces lens compatibility), lower number of focus points (less sophisticated auto focus system), the use of a mirror for the view finder vs prisms in the higher end (makes the view finder a little darker).  You look at the highest end they no longer really strip features as much as create specific tools for specific needs.  In Nikons full frame line up there are currently 3 bodies the D600 24mp, D800 36mp and the D4 16mp.  The D800 is a very different animal from the D4 and while they share a lot of similar DNA they are radically different cameras and are designed for very different purposes.  The D4 is all about speed, every aspect of its design is to be fast and accurate.  It is the flagship professional body in the lineup and is the go to body for the photographer who shoots everything from sports to portraiture.  The D800 brings medium format pixel content to the SLR world, where it gives up the speed to the D4 it brings in incredible details that the D4 would struggle to reproduce.  Canon and Sony also have very similar lineups with very similar types of trade-offs.

Advanced Compacts 

I could not complete this discussion without talking about the new category of cameras called advanced compacts.  These are cameras that while small like the compacts and bridge cameras I spoke about in an earlier post.  However, they have one major twist to the design, they have interchangeable lenses like their bigger siblings.  They also have advanced processors in them to take some of the wizardry out of the photo making process.  Nikon and Sony both as of this writing have flavors of the advanced compact cameras in the Nikon V1 and V2 lines and Sony has the NEX series of bodies.  Canon is also working on a similar design.  I believe this will be a significant growth area for these companies because they provide the best of both worlds.  They are compact in size, yet provide the flexibility of multiple lens choices.  The advanced compact truly blends the worlds of the point and shoot with that of the SLR and puts them in single package.

So a quick summary of pros and cons in regards to the Advanced Compacts.

Advanced Compacts Pros

  • Size and Weight - MUCH smaller than your typical SLR body.  You can carry the body in one pocket and a lens or two in the other.  Try that with an SLR.  In addition to the size they are usually much much lighter as well simply due to their general size reduction over their larger counterparts.
  • Cost - Generally speaking they are less expensive for similar feature set as typical SLR bodies.  
  • Simplicity - Most of the advanced compacts are designed to be easily operated and provide some interesting features to help produce great pictures.  The Nikon for example has a mode where it takes 10 shots in succession and you choose the best of the batch.
  • Features - Because these are mainly targeted at the consumer buyer there are many features combined into a single body to make them all in one solutions.  Things such as HDR, Video, in camera editing, and a variety of other features make these some fo the most feature rich cameras out there. 
  • Speed - Usually employing a electronic shutter these cameras can out pace even some of the most expensive SLRs when it comes to speed, clocking in at 7 to 12 frames per second.

Advanced Compacts Cons

  • Size - While being small is great from a portability standpoint, smaller bodies can be challenging to hold properly for certain situations. 
  • Simplicity - Some of the models have removed several manual options in favor of more automatic modes which can limit some of the creative abilities.  Though this is usually mitigated by having a larger number of "scene" modes to choose from to match what you are trying to capture. 
  • Image Quality - Due to the reduced sensor size (some do use larger aps-c sensors found in many DSLR's) the overall image quality will be compromised as you move into lower light situations and the camera has to compensate for the lack of light by amping the sensor up.  However, as with all technology this is becoming less and less of an issue.
  • View Finders - As I mentioned before with electronic view finders they can become overwhelmed in high contrast situations.  Additionally, some provide a range finder type view finder which lest you frame the subject but its not a true representation because you are not looking through the lens.
  • Speed - While more responsive than their point and shoot and bridge cousins as well as some of the entry level DSLR's they fall short of the raw speed you find in the more advanced SLR models when it comes to responsiveness. 
  • Construction - Generally speaking the advanced compact is not going to be as rugged as some of the upper end SLR's and as such may need to be handled a bit more carefully.

 

Summary

Advanced compact cameras make a very strong argument for themselves.  They provide all the benefits of changeable lenses with many of the features you find in point and shoots and other consumer focused models.  They take the "work" out of taking nice pictures and given the right conditions can produce fantastic images and video.  The models range from smaller CX sized sensors up to aps-c and I am sure there will soon be a full frame as there is a full frame bridge camera now in the Sony RX100.  Small in size yet big in performance and  features they have definitely carved out a niche for themselves and absolutely deserve a look when looking for a new camera.

So what should you buy?

This is always a loaded question and I usually follow that up with "it depends."  I then usually start asking a lot of questions about the current intent as well as future goals for your photography.   What kind of pictures you plan on taking, under what conditions etc etc.   I then also reiterate that you are buying into a system.  This is no longer a simple camera choice.  You have to factor in the lens choice for what your planning to shoot.  There are lenses that are stellar sports lenses because they focus really fast, lenses with incredible detail but focus about as fast as rust forms.  So to say you need x camera would be a disservice without understanding what it is you want to shoot to help you get the right equipment in the first place.  


For most people who are most concerned with capturing family memories the new Advanced Compacts or an entry level SLR will definitely do the job.  They provide simplicity and let you capture the moment without having to decide what settings to put the camera in.  And in many cases will produce better images than many SLR's shot in auto mode because they are tuned differently.

If you think that by picking up a SLR you will magically produce professional quality images you may be sadly surprised.  Without significant expense in time and money your images can initially be much worse than those you were getting with your point and shoot.  these are complicated tools that require significant effort to learn how they work and how to use them properly.  With lots of practice you can produce some stunning work.  So as I always say leave the professional work to the pros, its why I don't do plumbing or anything that involves power tools ;)

However if you want the creative flexibility and capabilities that a SLR opens up, and are willing to put in the time then the rest of this post is for you.  When you get started the lions share of your initial investment should be in your glass as without good glass even the best body will produce weak pictures.  I can also say that if your considering just "getting in the door" with entry level body, save your pennies and look a little higher.  You will outgrow the entry level bodies if you want to do anything other than shoot in auto with the kit lens.  If the cost of a good first lens and a body to go with it is still a bit steep go find a used body made with in the last few years and get started with that.  See bodies will age and become obsolete much much much faster than the glass will.  And a competent body will really shine with a strong lens.  Just for reference one a couple of well regarded lenses in the Nikon lineup are the 50mm f1,8 ($200 full frame lens) and the 40mm f2.8 ($275 DX crop lens)   Pick up one of those and the used recent body D90, D700, D2, D7000, D300 etc and you have a fantastic kit that could produce professional grade images in a lot of conditions.  Moving up the quality line you will find lenses like the 24-70 f2.8 for $2000 and the 70-200 f2.8 at $2500 and therein you find the investment in glass.  See, Ansel Adams was quoted as saying " the single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it".   And while I agree with that statement 100%, having good glass gives you the flexibility to capture what your mind sees. 

Please understand that this is a perspective and that when you deal with SLR cameras cons can quickly become pros depending on the application.  Remember these systems are tools, I would not want to lug a five pound sledge hammer around to tap in nails with one shot due to the weight, however I certainly would not want to have to drive a fence post in the ground with a general purpose hammer.   

 

 

 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Cameras F-Stop Cafe Information Photography https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/11/f-stop-cafe---slr-slt-and-advanced-compact-cameras Fri, 09 Nov 2012 04:51:10 GMT
Spartan Season of Savings Special 9-21-2012 https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/spartan-season-of-savings-special-9-21-2012

Its Simple!

When the Spartans win, you win by getting a discount off my normal sports print prices and digital downloads by the amount we beat the other team by up to a maximum of 50% off.  

This week we won 89-20 so I have discounted the prices of all sports prints 8x10 or smaller and the digital downloads by 50%

Even simpler is nothing to remember, no coupons, nothing!  I will apply the discount to the site pricing so al you have to do is order before midnight of the following Friday where we reset the discount when our Spartans win again. 

Even better this discount applies to ALL sports prints not just football. 
 
I am also excited to announce that prices for sports prints are reduced this year.  Not only have I reduced the print costs I am now also offering web sized (800x600) downloads, which are perfect for you mobile device or to put on the web to share with family and friends. 
 
My new pricing is for normal sport prints is as follows.
 
$1 Web Download
$5 4x6
$7 5x7
$10 8x10

I will announce on my facebook page when the discount is in place so make sure you like it to see all the discount posts!  You can reach my page at http://www.facebook.com/kevinreynoldsphotography

Discounts apply to all prints 8x10 and smaller and web sized digital downloads

~ Kevin

 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Announcement Discounts Football Savings Spartans https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/spartan-season-of-savings-special-9-21-2012 Sun, 23 Sep 2012 02:38:21 GMT
F-Stop Cafe - Point and Shoot and Bridge Cameras https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/f-stop-cafe---point-and-shoot-and-bridge-cameras

All about the camera - Point and Shoots and Bridge Cameras

As I mentioned in the previous post on Mobile Phone Cameras I get asked a lot about the type of camera I use and what is the best to buy etc etc.  I almost universally respond with "it depends."  Then I usually launch into a series of questions around what kind of pictures you want to take.  I ask those questions because it can greatly change the perspective of your needs and which cameras will be suitable to your type of picture taking.  This post is a follow up to the first one and will discuss what is probably the largest segment of cameras available today.  The point and shoot and bridge camera segment. 

Point and Shoot

Point and shoots, commonly known in the industry as compact digital cameras, are the mainstay of most of the camera manufacturers today.  They are generally marketed using terms like smallest, lightest, thinnest etc, because the point and shoot is marketed as a camera you keep with you all the time.  In your purse, in your pocket etc.  These are typically some of the smallest cameras available and, with the exception of the cell phone camera, probably the most convenient to keep handy to snap those snap shots.   As I said in my previous post, "the best camera to use is the one you have with you" and these certainly make that possible.   As with any camera system there is almost always compromises to be made and you have to decide which you can live with for your intended purpose.

Nikon Coolpix S3300

One of there really neat things about compact digital cameras are some of the real consumer friendly The compact digital performance continues to march on as technology enables more capabilities with these little bodies.  Things like HD video recording, panoramic modes, waterproof and shock proof cases, and all kinds of creative modes to take the difficulty out of snapping that perfect pic.  In addition to the feature sets the size is hard to pass up as you can keep all that in your pocket ready at a moments notice.  Of course all this comes with some compromises as always and I will get into those in the pros and cons below.

Bridge Cameras

Bridge cameras are a term I like to use for cameras that are neither SLR nor simple point and shoots.  They tend tend to have the look of a SLR but without the removable lens.  I use the term bridge camera because they are a great stepping stone between a compact and a SLR.  Generally speaking they are more capable than the compact but also much more bulky and less portable.  Here we are with those pesky compromises.  Bridge cameras generally have a slightly larger sensor, some as big as a normal crop sensor SLR (crop sensor will be in another blog post when I discuss SLR's :) ).  However under the surface they are a larger format compact digital that provide some solutions to the standard small compact digital.  That's why they are included in this post so that I can compare and contrast them against their smaller siblings.  

Nikon Coolpix L810

So without further delay lets talk about pluses and minuses as I see them in both the Compact Digital and then the Bridge Cameras in relation to the compacts.

Compact Digital - Positives 

  • Larger sensors - Over a cell phone most use sensors that are a bit larger usually meaning a few more megapixels and better light gathering.  Right of the bat you will see better image quality.  However as I mentioned the lines are being blurred and some cell phones are being packed with spectacular sensors capable of really amazing images.
  • Small and Lightweight - With the growth of smart phones, even some phones are bigger than some of the cameras in this category.  They are small enough to fit in your pocket or bag so they are always close.
  • Rugged - Many models are now very tough in their construction, some even capable of being used under water.  Great for poolside snapshots and videos, or for the adventure seeker who wants a camera to work in whatever conditions they are in. 
  • Simple and Automatic - They are not called point and shoot for a reason.  Most are incredibly simple and fully automated.  You turn it on and take the shot.  How much easier can it get?
  • Feature Rich - Because they are designed to be automatic and easy there are many modes and features that improve the users ability to get a shot.  Things like smile detection and face detection are now becoming pretty common place.  Basically these features can see faces and ensure that not only are they in focus but they wont take the picture unless everyone is smiling.  Pretty cool I think.
  • Cost - While the price range for these cameras can be pretty wide, it is generally possible to pick up a decent performer for a very inexpensive price. 
  • Image quality - Just like the price, image quality in this class varies greatly but not always based on price.  Against a cell phone camera in most cases the inexpensive point and shoot will do better still and video work then the cell will.
  • Zoom - Against a cell phone the compact generally will have a greater zoom capability.  Here though be careful because your only interested in the optical zoom.  Ignore digital zoom as it is really more of a marketing bullet item then a useful feature.  Most compacts have an optical zoom range that floats between a 35mm equivalent of 20-30mm to 100-150mm.

Compact Digital - Negatives 

  • Slow - Compact have never been considered speed demons.  And of course there are exceptions, but in general this class of camera have pretty slow shutter releases as well as start up times, focus and zoom speed.  Slow start up time means that while the event is happening you may be waiting for your camera to fully power on.  Slow shutter release means that the time it takes from the moment you press the button to the moment the camera takes the picture can be agonizingly long.   This one item is cause for more cut off heads, arms and other parts of the picture as well as blurry pictures, and completely missing subjects then any other cause.  Understanding the delay can go a long way to take wonderful pictures with these cameras. 
  • Zoom - Yep this was a plus but its also a negative.  While having greater optical zooms over cell phones, the thin construction simply limits the zoom range to a pretty narrow range.   Generally speaking they tend to start on the wider side and giving up some of the reach.
  • Low Light Performance - Capturing light is what your doing when you take pictures.  Contrasted to the mobile phone these sensors are larger and can capture more light.  However, as manufacturers stuff more and more pixels on those little sensors they also limit the low light capability.   Still in most cases better than a mobile phone, shooting in lower light will produce less than ideal image output.
  • High Megapixel Counts - Manufacturers know that most people thing more is better and are constantly stuffing more pixels on these tiny little sensors.  Under ideal conditions this will produce higher detail pictures but in most real shooting conditions there is not as large a benefit and in some cases can contribute to the noise issue with lower light shots.  Generally speaking 10 to 12 megapixels are more than sufficient to produce decent end user sized prints. 
  • Electronic/Back LCD View Finders - Using EVF's or the back displays only to frame and take your pictures has many drawbacks.  while the screen can be larger and let you enjoy the scene more, they can be washed out in bright sun and difficult to see.  Additionally holding the camera out away from the body is not a very stable position to shoot from, leading to camera shake and poor image quality.  Vibration reduction in the cameras can only do so much :)
  • Deep Depth of Field - Simply a side effect of the smaller sensor the depth of field(that area perceived to be in focus) is much deeper, limiting your ability for creative use of shallow depth of field.

Bridge Camera - Positives 

  • Image Quality/Sensor Size - Bridge cameras generally have sensors the range from slightly larger to significantly larger then their compact counterparts.  This translates directly into better image quality and lower light performance.  Some bridge cameras rival SLR's in terms of picture quality.
  • Larger more SLR like bodies - More ergonomically designed for proper technique when taking pictures.  More familiar like the older SLR bodies.  Larger bodies also provide more space for larger batteries meaning more shots between charging. 
  • Super Zooms - Bridge cameras have also been called super zooms because they have a more SLR like lens construction and generally speaking due to their larger size have an extended zoom range as well typically ranging between a 35mm equivalent of mid to low 20's up to 200mm+.  This gives you significantly more reach under good light but again there are compromises to get that wide of a range.  Some image quality is sacrificed to get the complex lens construction to get that kind of reach.
  • Faster glass - When a photographer talks about fast glass they are specifically talking about the lens ability to gather light.  Faster glass collects more light (I will discuss this later in a post as well).  Many bridge cameras incorporate faster glass in their designs to provide better focus speed and accuracy in lower light. As well as over all more light gathering ability in lower light which translates to better low ISO performance especially when coupled with a larger sensor. 
  • More Controls - Bridge cameras also tend to start to place more controls available to the user directly vs having to hunt through menus to get to them.  Many incorporate dials that let you switch from aperture priority to shutter priority to manual and program with the twist of a button. 
  • Faster response - Bridge cameras like their bigger cousins the SLR tend to also be more responsive.  Though still not lighting fast they do tend to help alleviate the slower start up and shutter release issues with the compacts and tend to focus faster.  Though many still resort to controls for zooming some let you control the lens directly to improve zoom performance.

Bridge Camera - Negatives 

  • Cost - Bridge cameras can cost as much as some very capable entry level SLR's.  Though the prices do have a fairly wide range and the ones at the top do perform a lot closer to that of a SLR.  
  • Fixed Lens - Even though the performance of the higher end bridge camera can rival that of entry level SLR's you are still limited with the zoom range of the fixed lens.  If you need more reach or need a wider field of view you have to move yourself to complete the frame and that may not always be possible. 
  • Size and Weight - Usually heavier and larger than compacts this can be a negative if your looking for a camera to always have around.  It means now you simply cant pop it into your pocket and go.  It also means that its not as convenient to have handy when the moment strikes.  You have to decide if you want to have your camera with you or not. 
  •  Electronic/Back LCD View Finders - Most bridge cameras still rely on the EVF or the back LCD for focus and framing which again suffers in bright light situations and can be inaccurate.  

Summary

So there you have it.  Point and shoots and bridge cameras certainly have their place in the world.  They can be incredibly convenient to have on your person.  Their image quality is superior to most cell phones, can rival that of SLRs and can be significantly less that a SLR from a cost standpoint.  Compacts are great to have on hand to capture those moments that arise on a moments notice.  While faster than the cell phone cameras of today they are not speed demons.  So if capturing anything fast paced you will need to consider the fact that there is an eternity in many of these bodies between pressing the button and the shutter actually releasing.  They are inexpensive and rugged so great to have around the pool or with inquisitive small children but can be challenging to actually capture those same children when they are on the move.  They can be very simple to operate as well as begin to open up options for more creative works. 

Bottom line is while they have their issues, once understood, most of the time you can compensate for them with good technique or by modifying your scene.  Climb the price ladder a little bit and you can have a camera that can produce pictures that rival entry level SLR's but have the limitations of a fixed zoom range and lack of extended features.  They can also take video that would rival many inexpensive dedicated video cameras.  All in all they are a great package to keep in your bag or your pocket when you dont want to lug around the "big rig" and your goal is to simply capture life as it happens. 

Come back for the next installment when we talk about SLR's, SLT's and Advanced Compacts.

~Kevin

 

 

 

 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Cameras F-Stop Cafe Information Photography https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/f-stop-cafe---point-and-shoot-and-bridge-cameras Tue, 18 Sep 2012 00:44:04 GMT
Welcome To The F-Stop Cafe https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/fstop

Welcome

Welcome to the first episode of F-Stop Cafe.  Many of you know that as much as I love photography I love to teach people about photography almost as much.  My goal for F-stop is to discuss everything photography.  I plan to talk about all kinds of gear, techniques, ideas, advice, and the technical details behind taking fabulous photos.  My goal is not to make you a pro, unless that is where you want to go.  My goal is simply to give you the tools to take amazing pictures, and maybe to help you understand why you don’t so you can fix them.  Lastly, I hope to keep these posts short and sweet for bite sized morsels of photography goodness.

I get lots of questions about all kinds of things so will be using this forum to answer those questions so that others may benefit from the information.  Feel free to discuss the topics here in the blog in the discussion area and I will chime in from time to time help answer questions.   These kinds of things are most beneficial when there is active dialog.

All about the camera

Since you can’t take pictures without a camera, the first installments will be about the kind of cameras available and their pros and cons.  One of the most common questions I get is “what kind of camera do you use”, or the other variant “what kind of camera should I get?”  Let me go on record as saying the best camera to use is the one you have with you.  Yes it’s a cliché, but it is so true.  If you don’t have it with you, you can’t take the picture.  So what are your options?  There are several classes of cameras available today and the lines continue to blur but for the purpose of this particular post I will try and distill it into a few basic categories.

Cell Phones

Of course the one that is with you is the best one to use and your cell phone is usually with you all the time.  It’s true that cell phones have had cameras for several years.  However, the cameras in cell phones have traditionally been marginal at best.  Generally limited by their sensor size and other compromises in a nod to the phone functionality, cell phone cameras have steadily improved over the years and now are quite useable for simple snapshots and videos of family and friends.  One of the biggest drawbacks to cell phones is their low light performance and difficulty dealing with scenes of high contrast.  However, when I see a shot I want to capture and I don’t have my rig with me I reach for my trusty iPhone 4s and its 8 megapixel camera.    For an idea of what can be done with a cell phone with decent technique check out this gallery on Flickr with some wonderful examples http://www.flickr.com/groups/1659623@N23/pool/with/6665369943/#photo_6665369943

So whats the bad news about cell phone photography? Instagram! ;)  Seriously though the bad news about cell phone photography is many fold.

  • They use really small sensors - Less sensitive to light leading to very noisy pictures and pictures that by default have a very large depth of field.
  • They don’t have any real controls (this is changing with newer apps) - Basically a shutter button is all you get, but as I mention that’s changing as app developers get creative and provide greater controls.
  • Horrible ergonomics for taking pictures - A thin rectangular chunk of glass, plastic and metal is not designed to be held securely for taking pictures.  We will talk about his in later installments when I talk about technique.  But this is one of the primary reasons you have blurry cell phone pictures.
  • Slow shutter response - In addition to the horrible ergonomics the slow shutter release is also a contributor to your blurry pictures.  Slow shutter releases leads to pictures with half a body in them or a lost expression and other throw away pictures.
  • No real flash - The little blinky LED on the back of your cell phone is what they consider a flash.  Unfortunately unless your subject is within an arms-length from you , the flash on your cell phone will only lead to confuse the meter and produce a dark or poorly exposed image.
  • No Optical zoom - Since the lenses in cell phones have to be so thing you really don’t have a zoom.  You can “zoom” in by telling the camera app to focus on a section of the already tiny sensor and blow it up.  Generally speaking this leads to a poorer picture because of the small number of pixels being used to create the final image.  More importantly the lack of any real appreciable zoom limits the reach you can have with your pictures.

 

So what’s the good news about cell phone photography? 

  • Mobility - The single most positive features of cell phone photography is that is mobile and in most cases its on your hip, in your pocket or in your purse.  With a camera at arm’s reach at any given time you simply have the ability to capture life as it happens.   Many family memories have been captured on my iPhone that I would have missed without it.   And as I age, capturing them is very important if you know what I mean.
  • Accessibility - Because of their simplicity, mobility and ubiquity there is almost always a cell phone handy somewhere even if you don’t have yours.  Can you send me that picture has become a very common statement or even ice breaker today as more capable phone cameras become more prevalent.
  • Sharability (yes that’s not a word but it is a Kevinism) - Facebook has put the cell phone front and center in the world of social media, without it I think Facebook might actually have trouble surviving.   Some stats to chew on based on current 2012 statistics:

845 million active monthly users

425 million mobile users

250 million photos uploaded daily

Summary

So I think its clear to see that the best camera to have is the one you have with you.  Cell phone cams have their limitations and they are significant, but they are having and incredible impact on the world of photography and are ever increasing in their capabilities.  Is it the right camera for you?  There appears to be strong evidence that its “good enough” for a lot of people.  The only thing I worry about is the long term satisfaction of the images they produce within the limitations of their technology.  Good enough today may be a bit disappointing in 20 years.  However, in the right light, in the right conditions and working within their functional limitations they can in fact produce some wonderful images. 

Come back for the next installment when we talk about Point and Shoots and Bridge Cameras.

~Kevin

 

 

 

 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) F-Stop Cafe Information Mobile Photography https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/fstop Fri, 14 Sep 2012 03:44:59 GMT
Spartan Season of Savings Special https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/Spartan_Season_of_savings WHS Football

Its Simple!

When the Spartans win, you win by getting a discount off my normal sports print prices and digital downloads by the amount we beat the other team by up to a maximum of 50% off.  

This week we won 36-0 so I have discounted the prices of all prints 8x10 or smaller and the digital downloads by 36%

Even simpler is nothing to remember, no coupons, nothing!  I will apply the discount to the site pricing so al you have to do is order before midnight of the following Friday where we reset the discount when our Spartans win again. 

Even better this discount applies to ALL sports prints not just football. 
 
I am also excited to announce that prices for sports prints are reduced this year.  Not only have I reduced the print costs I am now also offering web sized (800x600) downloads, which are perfect for you mobile device or to put on the web to share with family and friends. 
 
My new pricing is for normal sport prints is as follows.
 
$1 Web Download
$5 4x6
$7 5x7
$10 8x10

I will announce on my facebook page when the discount is in place so make sure you like it to see all the discount posts!  You can reach my page at http://www.facebook.com/kevinreynoldsphotography

Discounts apply to all prints 8x10 and smaller and web sized digital downloads

~ Kevin

 

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Announcement Discounts Football Savings Spartans https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/Spartan_Season_of_savings Mon, 10 Sep 2012 01:39:01 GMT
Yes, we have moved! https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/yes-we-have-moved You might have noticed the new look and feel of our web site.  Well, you would be correct in assuming something has changed.  We have moved our site from our old hosting to a new host so we can better serve our clients.  The new site brings us a lot of things that we could not do with our old site, as well as greatly reduce the overhead to manage, which means more time to spend with our beautiful clients!

The new site also has big benefits to our clients as well. 

  • The purchase process is a bit more streamlined.
  • The client gallery management is much easier and all our clients will get easy to remember urls to their galleries.
  • We have now integrated several more quality vendors which means we can not only offer a wider array of prints, but also products that we have not been able to offer in the past.
  • We also now have an integrated blog!  Stay tuned here for more information because this opens up a whole new world for us to communicate with you.

So please take a look around, smell the new paint.  If you find some dust on the floor, please be patient as I haven't found it yet and will scoop it up as soon as I do.  You might be able to imagine the work it took to move our entire site and gallery content from one place to another, but its done and we are not looking back. 

~Kevin

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contact@reynolds-photography.com (Reynolds Photography) Administrative Announcement General https://www.reynolds-photography.com/blog/2012/9/yes-we-have-moved Fri, 07 Sep 2012 19:22:01 GMT