November 4, 2019

If you have a lens that generates that dreaded hotspot in the middle of your photos when you try infrared photography, you may want to try this trick.  LightRoom offers the “radial filter”, which you can use to make that hotspot disappear.

Most modern lenses are quite poor at infrared photography, because manufacturers no longer take care to use proper internal anti-reflection coatings that are effective against infrared light....

July 27, 2019

Many people have a fundamental confusion about Nikon memory banks on their “pro” model cameras.  Nikon keeps the distinction as clear as mud.

The “Photo shooting menu bank” is found in the “Photo Shooting Menu” (the little camera icon). You can assign up to four of these (A,B,C,D) to have unique settings in each. You can also name these banks to be something meaningful. I have settings for “Sports”, “Landscape”, “Manual”, and “...

July 11, 2019

Did you ever wonder how they decided upon camera lens f-stop numbering?  Are there any other numbering schemes that could be useful?  And did you know that the ‘F’ stands for “focal ratio”, which is “the ratio of the system's focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil”. 

Nikkor Noct f/1.2 (half-stop faster than f/1.4)

F-stops by the numbers

F-stop progression

Did you know that the standard F-stop numbering scheme come...

June 19, 2019

The more you understand about how stuff works, the more amazing it is. I had heard long ago that lenses with optical stabilization use “gyros”, but I never gave it much thought.  I had heard of “gyroscopes”, but spinning wheels aren’t what we’re talking about. The name gyro has the Greek root gyros, meaning rotation.

A typical lens optical stabilization unit (a Canon lens)

The picture above shows a stabilization unit, which move...

June 5, 2019

There’s a Lightroom mask called “Radial Filter” that seems like something that is of little use. There are times, however, when it is exactly what you need.  Have you ever seen something that was essentially in silhouette, and you wished you had a giant spot light to illuminate it?  The “Radial Filter” may be for you.

Washington Monument with a giant fake spotlight

The shot above shows my vision of the Washington Monument,...

May 19, 2019

If you buy Sigma’s USB dock to reprogram their lenses, it gives you the option to not only update their lens focus firmware, but also which focus algorithm(s) to choose.  It’s almost like buying a new lens.

If you have never programmed your Sigma lens using their dock, then your only focus choice is “Standard AF”.  You get to choose among three different “AF Speed Settings” if you program their lens via the “Sigma Optimization...

May 1, 2019

If this idea hasn’t occurred to you, it’s possible to make a rugged and perfectly functional flash diffuser for free.  It won’t even take much time.  What have you got to lose?

Flash diffusers are a really good idea to soften your harsh flash output. Even with a diffuser, it’s a good idea to still tilt the flash head for a bounce flash.

You can buy diffusers that are essentially a plastic bottle, but why not just try a plas...

April 18, 2019

Here’s a little trick to get your lens focus-calibrated quickly. This discussion is only relevant for phase-detect focus.  It’s well known that “Live View” focus is quite accurate, since the camera sensor itself is used, bypassing any mirrors and separate phase-detect sensors. This article doesn’t, of course, have any relevance to mirrorless cameras.  There are some cameras that can focus-calibrate themselves, so this doesn’t...

March 20, 2019

Lens resolution measurement is a combination of software and special flat targets that get photographed and then measured by the software. It’s very important that you properly align a lens resolution target. Otherwise, it’s the old adage of “garbage in, garbage out”.  Alignment falls into two categories: parallel to the camera sensor and no rotation error.

Rotational alignment is the easy part; you can use the edge of your vie...

March 6, 2019

Have you ever had a lens that you’d swear you had perfectly focus-calibrated, only to experience lots of missed-focus shots? It might not be your fault.  Many zoom lenses change focus at different focal lengths, yet you can only perform a focus fine-tune calibration at a single focal length. Lenses with really fast apertures (like f/1.4 and f/1.2) typically have significant spherical aberration, which causes the focus to shift...

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