Tuesday, December 18, 2018

What the heck is back button focus & why do I need to use it?

Nikon 51 point autofocus layout in Nikon D4 DSLRWhen most people make a photo with their camera, they aim, press the camera's shutter release button, wait for the camera to focus, then press the button the rest of the way. Whammo, the image is made.

While that's easy and direct, if you're using a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) or MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) camera, it may not be the best way to focus and shoot. Until 1989, it was the only way to activate autofocus and make a photo with an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera, the film based forbearer of today's DSLR and MILC cameras.

It wasn't until 1985 that autofocus was even available. That year, Minolta, having purchased Leica autofocus technology, released the first commercially successful autofocus SLR, the Maxxum 7000. Minolta configured the Maxxum autofocus system to work as most photographers know it today. Autofocus was activated by pressing the shutter release button.

Four years later, in 1989, Canon introduced back button focus. It removes the autofocus function from the shutter release button and assigns it to a button on the back of the camera. Hence the name, back button focus.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sensor cleaning update for DSLR and MILC camera sensors

Nikon D200 with lens removed to give sensor access for cleaningIn my NSL Photography Blog article, Essential camera gear protection and maintenance, I discussed the importance of keeping your camera clean to ensure it's ready for your photo sessions and whenever a photo opportunity presents itself. Part of keeping your camera clean is keeping your camera's sensor clean.

Today's DSLRs and MILCs have internal sensor dust removal systems. While they do a credible job, they aren’t 100% effective. Repair shops, and manufacturers offer “professional” cleaning services, but they’re often expensive. Some charge $150 or more, and it can take as long as 3–4 weeks to get your cleaned camera back.

Eventually every interchangeable lens camera will need to have its sensor cleaned, as every time its lens is changed, dust and dirt in the air freely enter its sensor compartment. At times, it may be necessary for photographers to clean the sensor themselves rather than wait for a professional cleaning, particularly when in the field.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Essential camera gear protection and maintenance

Nikon Z7 mirrorless interchangeable lens cameraIs there anything more frustrating than having a great photo opportunity, perhaps leading to the image of a lifetime, and your camera's not working because you didn't protect your gear well enough?

It's not that hard to keep photo gear in excellent working condition. While regular maintenance and precautions can't prevent every failure, it's been my experience that most can be avoided with some planning and commonsense measures.

Keep your camera clean

Photographers understand the importance of keeping the inside of their camera clean to keep their camera's sensor dust-free and prevent wear and tear on moving parts. It's important to keep the outside of the camera clean, as well. When lenses are changed, dirt on the exterior of the camera and lenses can enter the camera. Keeping the outside of your camera and lenses clean will keep controls, contacts and screens clean plus prevent dirt from entering your camera.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

2018: It's Standard Time — November 4

Clock in Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France
If your location in the U.S. changes from “Daylight Time” to “Standard Time” this Sunday, November 4, 2018, don't forget to change the clock in your cameras along with your watches and clocks at home and/or on the road 

To change to “Standard Time” set your clock back one hour.

On Sunday, November 4, 2018, most of the U.S. will switch from “Daylight Time” to “Standard Time.” That's most, but definitely not all of the U.S. Arizona, except for the Navajo Nation, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands don't switch to “Daylight Time” in the spring, and back to “Standard Time” in the fall. They stick to “Standard Time” year-round.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Before you switch from DSLR to mirrorless, know how they compare

Compare 7 key areas of DSLRs versus DMIL cameras

Nikon Z7 (Image courtesy of Nikon Inc.)With the new Nikon Z series full-frame, digital mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (DMIL) and Canon's new full-frame EOS R DMIL camera, Sony now has significant prosumer DMIL competition. Now that these manufacturers are fighting it out for supremacy in the quality DMIL market, I think we can expect that improvements in DMIL feature sets and image quality will accelerate significantly in upcoming years.

Major improvements are needed for electronic viewfinders, autofocus on fast-moving targets, battery life and low-light image quality, especially for future pro-level DMIL cameras.

If you're considering a move from DSLR to DMIL cameras, here are seven key areas you need to consider before making the change.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tickborne diseases increasing in U.S. due to greater tick density and expanding range

Deer TickAre you a wildlife photographer? Do you photograph wildlife in the Eastern half of the United States, especially in the Northeast, or along U.S. West Coast? That's prime Deer Tick territory.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of reported cases of tickborne disease in the U.S. has more than doubled over the past 13 years. Fully 82 percent of reported tickborne disease in the U.S. is Lyme disease.
According to a new advisory from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), tickborne diseases are likely to significantly increase.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

To chimp or not to chimp, that is the question

Nikon D5 with image displayed on monitor for review.Had the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon been writing about a renowned photographer rather than a prince, the famous soliloquy might have started, “To chimp or not to chimp, that is the question.”

Regardless of what the Bard might have written, that's a question I'm often asked.

In the early days of digital photography, as it began to supplant film photography for professionals and amateur enthusiasts, many photographers discovered a feature of digital cameras never possible with film cameras. It's the ability to review images immediately after making them on the small image display monitor on the back of digital cameras.

At that time, more than a few photographers seemed to constantly review their images on their camera's monitor screen. The practice became known as “chimping.”

Thursday, July 12, 2018

iOS 11.4.1 designed to foil GrayKey and other cracking tools

iPhone (Image courtesy of Apple Corporation)Since my announcement early yesterday that iOS 11.4.1 was released, I've been getting a steady stream of questions about what's in the release, if iPhone and iPad users should update their devices to it and how to use it's most important new security feature for travelers, “USB Restricted Mode.”

Apple mobile devices have been a premium choice for many photographers and those desiring Apple's iDevice leading edge security.

iOS 11.4.1, like prior iOS releases is compatible with the iPhone 5S or later, iPad mini's or later, the the 6th generation iPod touch or later. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

The travel photographer's checklist: 14 items to check-off before you leave

Philadelphia, PA Skyline looking southwest - Copyright © 2017 NSL Photography. All Rights Reserved.Before leaving on a trip, photographers need to prepare themselves and their gear so they'll be ready to shoot upon arrival and get quality images.

There is much that can go wrong that might end one's chance to take advantage of a great travel photo opportunity. It's impossible to predict everything, but research and a flexible plan to handle many if not most emergencies and gear failures can help you overcome problems.

I start to plan my journeys a month out, but my planning gets intense the week before I leave and with 24 hours to go. When planning is well thought out, pulling everything together before you leave should go smoothly.

Here are my 16 items to check-off before you leave on your travel photography journey.