Olympus Essential Camera Handbook

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Fantastic images have never<br />

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unlock the best shots you need to know<br />

your camera inside and out. Aperture, ISO,<br />

white balance – terms like these have left<br />

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What do the controls<br />

on my DSLR do?<br />

I bought a DSLR but<br />

Q it’s more complicated<br />

than I expected. Could<br />

you explain what the buttons<br />

and dials around it do?<br />

Moving up from a basic compact<br />

camera or smartphone to a DSLR<br />

opens up a whole new range<br />

of photographic possibilities.<br />

Not only will a more advanced<br />

camera give you increased<br />

control over the settings you use,<br />

but with a little know-how you’ll<br />

be able to achieve creative effects<br />

such as long exposures and<br />

blurry backgrounds. Of course,<br />

this added functionality means<br />

extra buttons and dials that may<br />

seem pretty alien to you when<br />

you first pick up the camera...<br />


Our advice is to start in full auto<br />

mode. Here, your camera will<br />

behave like a point-and-shoot<br />

compact and you won’t have to<br />

worry about settings. Next, move<br />

on to P mode, which is similar<br />

except you’ll be able to change<br />

the balance between shutter<br />

speed and aperture and turn<br />

off the flash. When you’re more<br />

familiar with the camera, you<br />

can move on to semi-automatic<br />

and manual. Let’s take a look at<br />

what some of the key buttons<br />

and dials dotted around your<br />

camera actually do...<br />

Mode dial<br />

Here you can set your<br />

shooting mode, from fully<br />

automatic to manual.<br />

AF assist lamp<br />

This light illuminates your subject<br />

in dark situations to assist AF.<br />

Command dial<br />

Flick this to adjust your shutter<br />

speed, aperture or ISO value.<br />

Lens release lock<br />

Pop-up<br />

flash<br />

This injects<br />

light into the<br />

scene to help<br />

you get a<br />

sharp shot.<br />

Hold this button down to release<br />

the lens before twisting it off<br />

your camera’s mount.<br />

Dioptre settings<br />

For short- and long-sighted<br />

photographers, dioptric<br />

adjustment gives a sharp<br />

viewfinder image without<br />

the need for glasses. When<br />

you first buy a camera, look<br />

through the viewfinder and<br />

fine-tune the dioptre for<br />

your eyes.<br />

LCD screen<br />

Digital cameras have an<br />

LCD screen that allows<br />

you to compose in Live<br />

View and also review your<br />

shots instantly. Use it to<br />

zoom in on them to make<br />

sure they’re pin-sharp.<br />

Hotshoe<br />

A camera’s hotshoe<br />

can hold a plethora of<br />

accessories, including<br />

flashguns, remote triggers<br />

and microphones.<br />

Video button<br />

Most DSLRs now shoot up to 30<br />

minutes of continuous Full HD<br />

(1080p) video footage with a<br />

fast enough card. Video settings<br />

are accessed through the menu,<br />

and recording is started and<br />

stopped with this button.<br />

Menu and<br />

Quick menu<br />

To save you trawling<br />

through the camera’s<br />

main menu system, the<br />

Quick menu only displays<br />

the most frequentlychanged<br />

settings,<br />

including exposure comp,<br />

ISO, white balance and<br />

metering mode. This gives<br />

you fast access to core<br />

camera settings.<br />

Exposure<br />

compensation<br />

If your image is too bright<br />

or too dark, you can tweak<br />

exposure with this button –<br />

simply hold it in while turning<br />

the finger dial. A plus figure<br />

(+) will brighten the image<br />

and a minus figure (-) will<br />

darken it. Not available in<br />

auto modes.<br />

Display<br />

setting<br />

Some beginner<br />

photographers<br />

prefer to have their<br />

settings permanently<br />

visible on the screen<br />

during shooting.<br />

The display button<br />

also brings up vital<br />

image information,<br />

such as a histogram,<br />

if pressed when<br />

reviewing images.<br />

ISO speed<br />

setting<br />

AF operation selection<br />

The higher the ISO, the more<br />

sensitive the camera’s sensor.<br />

On the plus side this gives<br />

you fast shutter speeds,<br />

which eliminates blur, but<br />

it introduces digital noise.<br />

Always use the lowest ISO<br />

setting you can.<br />

If you want your DSLR to focus once when you halfpress<br />

the shutter, use single shot. If you want constant<br />

focusing to keep a moving subject sharp, select<br />

continuous. Some models also have AF tracking.<br />

White balance<br />

Drive mode<br />

If you’re shooting sports or<br />

wildlife, you may wish to<br />

take several shots in quick<br />

succession. With this button<br />

you can switch to burst mode,<br />

which is usually between 4fps<br />

and 8fps. You can also set<br />

self-timer here.<br />

This is how you tell your camera what it should consider pure<br />

white in order to remove colour casts. There is an auto white<br />

balance setting, but you may need manual settings in tricky<br />

lighting conditions.<br />





What is sensor size?<br />

Q<br />

Can you help me<br />

compare camera<br />

sensor sizes?<br />

Before investing in a new<br />

camera, you’ll want to do<br />

plenty of research to ensure<br />

you’re getting the best model<br />

for your money. The most<br />

important feature to find<br />

out is the sensor size, as this<br />

has a big impact on dynamic<br />

range, effective focal length<br />

and depth-of-field. When<br />

you consider that the iPhone<br />

sensor is around 55x smaller<br />

than the sensor in a Nikon<br />

D750, it’s easier to appreciate<br />

why image quality is so much<br />

better. But it’s often shrouded<br />

in jargon like 1/2.7in-type<br />

Live MOS, or confusing<br />

acronyms like APS-C.<br />

So let’s lift the fog now,<br />

with our list of the most<br />

common sensor sizes used,<br />

alongside life-size diagrams of<br />

the sensors themselves. Every<br />

camera will list its sensor size<br />

in its specifications table.<br />


SHALLOW: f/2.8<br />

LARGE: f/22<br />


ISO<br />

SLOW: BLUR<br />


SPEED<br />



Aperture,<br />

shutter<br />

speed and<br />

ISO work<br />

in unison<br />

to create<br />

the perfect<br />

exposure.<br />

1/2.3IN<br />

This sized sensor is commonly<br />

used in entry-level compact<br />

cameras, as well as some<br />

advanced smartphones<br />

and action cameras.<br />

APS-C<br />

All entry-level and enthusiast DSLRs use the<br />

APS-C sensor type, as well as many advanced<br />

CSCs and premium compact models.<br />

1IN AND CX<br />

These two sensor types are<br />

virtually the same size, and tend<br />

to be found in smaller CSCs,<br />

including Nikon and Samsung, as<br />

well as some advanced compacts.<br />


Only used by Panasonic and<br />

<strong>Olympus</strong> compact system<br />

cameras (CSCs), this sensor is<br />

closer to a square shape than<br />

the other formats.<br />


Full-frame sensors are only generally found in<br />

professional-quality DSLRs, though some advanced<br />

CSCs and advanced compacts also have these.<br />





What is the exposure triangle?<br />

I’ve been told that the exposure<br />

Q<br />

triangle can help me understand<br />

how my camera works. What is it<br />

and what do I use it for?<br />

Understanding your camera is really important<br />

for improving your photography. Once you make<br />

the jump from full auto to the semi-automatic,<br />

shutter-priority and aperture-priority modes,<br />

a whole new world of techniques will open<br />

up to you. Using the semi-automatic modes<br />

successfully requires you to have a basic<br />

understanding of the three variables that<br />

control exposure, which are perhaps best<br />

illustrated using the exposure triangle above.<br />

On one side of the triangle is shutter speed,<br />

which describes the length of the exposure.<br />

Short exposures (fast shutter speeds) freeze<br />

fast-moving subjects, and long exposures (slow<br />

shutter speeds) blur them. On the other side<br />

is aperture, which describes the size of the<br />

opening in the lens. A small opening lets in<br />

less light, but also gives a larger depth-of-field<br />

(more in focus). A wide opening lets more light<br />

in but less will be in focus. A balanced exposure<br />

can be achieved with either a small aperture<br />

open for a long time or a wide aperture open for<br />

a short time.<br />


The third variable is ISO. Increasing it makes<br />

your sensor more sensitive to light, allowing<br />

you to achieve faster shutter speeds and smaller<br />

apertures in low light. High ISOs also means<br />

increased noise (grain), so using lower ISOs is<br />

always preferable if possible.<br />





Should I shoot manual?<br />

I’m quite new to<br />

Q<br />

photography and feel that<br />

I should start shooting in<br />

manual. Will it improve my shots?<br />

There’s a common misconception<br />

that learning to shoot in manual is the<br />

key that will unlock the door to more<br />

professional-looking images. In reality,<br />

most pros work in aperture-priority<br />

mode for the majority of the time.<br />

The difference between manual and<br />

the semi-automatic modes (aperturepriority<br />

and shutter-priority) is that<br />

the latter balances the exposure for<br />

you by taking control of one of the<br />

three exposure variables. In other<br />

words, in shutter-priority, you control<br />

shutter speed and ISO, and the camera<br />



At gigs, lighting conditions are<br />

erratic, especially at indoor and<br />

night-time events where there’s<br />

no natural light. This can play<br />

havoc with your camera’s metering<br />

system, so in the semi-automatic<br />

modes where exposure is balanced<br />

automatically, you tend to get<br />

unreliable results. In manual mode,<br />

the exposure won’t change from<br />

one shot to the next, so you’ll get<br />

more consistent results.<br />

balances the exposure with the<br />

correct aperture. This tends to<br />

be a faster way of working, and<br />

you can easily use exposure<br />

compensation to brighten or<br />

darken the shot if desired. You also<br />

don’t need to worry about tending to<br />

your settings every time you recompose<br />

slightly – the camera will make sure<br />

your exposure is always correct, even<br />

if the light intensity changes. However,<br />

unlike in manual, the camera will judge<br />

the exposure every time you press<br />

the shutter, which isn’t always<br />

ideal. Below are three shooting<br />

situations when manual is<br />

the best option. Or, if you feel<br />

more comfortable working in<br />

a different mode, stick to it.<br />


When working with studio heads<br />

and flashguns, the burst of light<br />

occurs in the precise moment<br />

when the shutter fires. This means<br />

the camera does its metering<br />

before the strobe goes off, and<br />

so the exposure is only correct<br />

for the scene without the light. In<br />

semi-automatic modes, this causes<br />

overexposure. Manual mode allows<br />

you to set the exposure for when<br />

the light fires.<br />


Above<br />

The MASP<br />

modes give<br />

you greater<br />

flexibility.<br />

TIP<br />

Get a rough exposure<br />

in aperture-priority,<br />

then punch the very<br />

same settings into your<br />

camera’s manual mode<br />

to lock them off.<br />


The semi-automatic modes are<br />

likely to overexpose your shots. This<br />

is because the camera meters for<br />

the scene, sees that there’s a lot of<br />

very dark sky, and tries to adjust the<br />

exposure to brighten it up. As you<br />

want the sky to stay black, it’s best<br />

to take full control of your exposure<br />

in manual. This is also true when<br />

shooting lunar images, as the<br />

surrounding black sky will cause the<br />

moon to overexpose.<br />

5 blades 9 blades<br />

What is aperture?<br />

I’m buying a new lens.<br />

How does an aperture work<br />

Q<br />

and does the number of<br />

diaphragm blades matter?<br />

The amount of light that passes<br />

through a lens and reaches the sensor<br />

is governed partly by the size of an<br />

opening in the centre of the lens barrel<br />

known as the aperture. By default,<br />

the aperture is completely closed off<br />

until you take a shot, when it opens<br />

for a certain period of time that we<br />

commonly call the shutter speed.<br />

The aperture itself is created by the<br />

movement of a set of blades that make<br />

up the diaphragm. In this illustration,<br />

the lens has five diaphragm blades,<br />

which is generally the minimum<br />

number found on mainstream lenses.<br />

So how exactly are the number of<br />

diaphragm blades significant? In terms<br />

of overall image quality, the impact is<br />

relatively minimal and not really worth<br />

worrying about. However, the number<br />

of blades will impact on the appearance<br />

of the out-of-focus areas of your images,<br />

also known as the<br />

bokeh. It shows<br />

up most in<br />

the blurred<br />

highlights,<br />

which will<br />

take on the<br />

shape of the<br />

diaphragm<br />

opening. The<br />

difference is<br />

clear to see in the<br />

two images below.<br />

Most photographers<br />

prefer the look of more<br />

circular bokeh, which is<br />

created by lenses that have a larger<br />

number of blades. For this reason,<br />

most lens manufacturers also build<br />

their diaphragms with rounded blades<br />

(as in the illustration above), keeping<br />

the aperture opening as circular as<br />

possible. The quality of bokeh tends<br />

to be of most importance to portrait<br />

photographers, who shoot regularly<br />

at wide apertures for out-of-focus<br />

backgrounds.<br />

Above left<br />

A five-bladed<br />

aperture<br />

produces a<br />

pentagonal<br />

bokeh.<br />

Above right<br />

With more<br />

aperture<br />

blades, the<br />

bokeh is<br />

rounder.<br />





Can I use a wide<br />

aperture in bright sun?<br />

A lot of the portraits I’ve<br />

Q<br />

taken recently are suffering<br />

from really harsh lighting<br />

on the face. Obviously this isn’t the<br />

best look, but I’m not sure what can<br />

I do about it. Is there a solution?<br />

There is, and I believe it’s to be found in<br />

your aperture selection. Let’s assume<br />

you’re shooting a portrait on a<br />

bright day, and you want to<br />

isolate the subject with an<br />

out-of-focus background.<br />

You set your lens’ widest<br />

aperture of f/1.8. This will<br />

let in the most light, giving<br />

the fastest possible shutter<br />

speed. Wide apertures are<br />

ideal for freezing very<br />

fast subjects and avoiding<br />

camera shake in darker<br />

conditions. They also<br />

provide a shallow depthof-field,<br />

which gives blurry<br />

backgrounds that help<br />

make the subject stand<br />

out. But there’s a problem<br />

– even with the ISO on<br />

100, the exposure can’t be<br />

balanced. This is because the exposure<br />

time needed to do this is shorter than<br />

the camera’s fastest possible shutter<br />

speed – remember, that wide aperture<br />

is letting in a lot of light. If you’re<br />

shooting in aperture-priority mode,<br />

what you’ll see on your camera’s display<br />

is a flashing shutter speed value, and the<br />

resulting image will be overexposed.<br />

So what can be done? Well, the<br />

obvious fix is to choose a slightly<br />

narrower aperture, giving a slower<br />

shutter speed within the camera’s<br />

range, which is usually either 1/4000sec<br />

or 1/8000sec.<br />


The downside to changing the aperture<br />

is a larger depth-of-field, which means a<br />

less blurry background. So a better<br />

solution is to attach an ND<br />

filter to the lens, to cut<br />

out some of the light. This<br />

produces a slower shutter<br />

speed, but crucially means<br />

you don’t have to change<br />

the aperture. The result is<br />

the ability to achieve a very<br />

shallow depth-of-field in very<br />

bright conditions.<br />

ND filters are available in<br />

different densities, depending<br />

on how much light you want<br />

to block out. A 3-stop filter,<br />

which lets through oneeighth<br />

of the light, should<br />

do the job, even on the<br />

brightest of days. A decent<br />

budget option should cost less<br />

than £20, and they’re available as<br />

a screw-in fit or as a square filter that<br />

slides into a filter holder. There’s also<br />

a variable ND filter that allows you to<br />

change the density by turning the end,<br />

though these can affect image quality<br />

more noticeably.<br />

Right Shooting into the sun with a wide<br />

aperture is likely to cause overexposure,<br />

so use an ND filter to control the light.<br />

TIP<br />

When shooting into<br />

the sun, compose with<br />

your LCD display instead<br />

of the optical viewfinder,<br />

which could damage<br />

your eyes.<br />




A neutral density filter can be used<br />

for more than just shooting wide<br />

aperture images in bright conditions.<br />

Limiting the amount of light that<br />

enters the lens is also a great way to<br />

achieve long exposures for blurring<br />

moving subjects. One application<br />

might be getting a milky effect when<br />

photographing a waterfall, as without<br />

the filter the shutter speed may be<br />

too fast to allow the water to blur. You<br />

could also use an ND filter to achieve<br />

blurred clouds or people. To achieve<br />

longer exposures of several minutes<br />

or more, you might consider a 10-stop<br />

ND, which blocks out all but 1/1000th<br />

of the available light. Often called a Big<br />

Stopper, these filters are so dense that<br />

held up to the eye you can hardly see<br />

any light through them, meaning that<br />

all composition and focusing must be<br />

done before the filter is attached<br />

to the lens. Of course, the exposure<br />

time will be way longer than the<br />

camera’s maximum shutter speed, so<br />

a shutter release cable should be used<br />

in Bulb mode.<br />






When do I use<br />

shutter-priority<br />

mode?<br />



I’ve recently bought a DSLR<br />

Q and I’m experimenting with<br />

all the settings. What’s<br />

shutter-priority mode and when<br />

would I need to use it?<br />

To achieve a correct exposure, the<br />

perfect balance of aperture size, shutter<br />

speed and ISO are needed. In full auto<br />

mode your camera will take care of<br />

all three of those variables based on<br />

the available light conditions. Most<br />

DSLRs and CSCs also have two semiautomatic<br />

modes (shutter-priority and<br />

aperture-priority) that allow you to<br />

control two of the three variables while<br />

the camera automatically balances<br />

exposure using the third. In the case of<br />

shutter-priority mode, the user chooses<br />

the shutter speed and ISO while the<br />

camera selects an appropriate aperture.<br />

This is very useful when shooting both<br />

short and long exposures, as it allows<br />

you to choose a very specific shutter<br />

speed (usually between 1/4000sec<br />

and 30sec), without having to worry<br />

about balancing the exposure as you<br />

would when shooting in manual mode.<br />

Shutter-priority can be selected using<br />

the mode dial on the camera, and is<br />

usually represented by S or Tv. Once<br />

in shutter-priority, the shutter speed<br />

is selected using the camera’s finger or<br />

thumb dial. For shutter speeds longer<br />

than 30 seconds, Bulb mode and a<br />

shutter release cable should be used.<br />

Above<br />

& below<br />

Shutter<br />

priority is<br />

a semiautomatic<br />

mode that<br />

works out<br />

the aperture<br />

needed for<br />

a correct<br />

exposure.<br />



One of the most common long exposure techniques<br />

is light trails, where a moving light source makes<br />

a continuous impression on the camera’s sensor<br />

as it moves across the frame. The technique is<br />

sometimes used for shooting firework displays and<br />

vehicle headlights at night. It can also be used for<br />

photographing moving night sky objects such as stars,<br />

shooting stars and satellites.<br />


Shutter-priority mode isn’t just useful for selecting<br />

slow shutter speeds. It’s also an important tool when<br />

shooting very fast-moving subjects such as sports and<br />

wildlife, where a very fast shutter speed is needed<br />

to freeze the subject. A quickly moving subject like a<br />

barn owl requires continuous autofocus and a very fast<br />

shutter speed of at least 1/2000sec to eliminate both<br />

subject blur and camera shake.<br />


To give water a smooth, blurry appearance, a very slow<br />

shutter speed is needed, typically of between 5 and 30<br />

seconds. This long exposure technique is commonly<br />

used for photographing waterfalls, streams and<br />

coastal landscapes to convey a sense of movement<br />

within the scene. As with light trails, a sturdy tripod<br />

should be used to keep the camera perfectly still for<br />

the duration of the exposure.<br />


An effective technique for conveying a sense of<br />

motion is panning so that the subject is sharp but<br />

the background is blurred. This is achieved using a<br />

slow shutter speed, though nowhere near as slow<br />

as for light trails or moving water. Typically, 1/20sec<br />

would be ideal, though it depends on the speed of the<br />

subject. Shutter-priority is the perfect way to choose<br />

this precise shutter speed.<br />






What is metering & which<br />

mode is best to use?<br />



I’ve heard the term metering<br />

Q but I don’t know what it does<br />

and why it’s important. Can<br />

you explain what it is?<br />

When shooting in auto or the semiautomatic<br />

modes, your camera has<br />

to estimate one or more settings to<br />

give you the most balanced possible<br />

exposure. It does this by intelligently<br />

analysing the intensity of the light that<br />

comes down the lens and reaches the<br />

sensor. Metering is also active in manual<br />

mode, though this is purely to provide<br />

you with a lightmeter reading.<br />

The problem is, most scenes have a<br />

wide variety of light levels that go from<br />

deep shadows to bright highlights, so<br />

the camera often has a really difficult job<br />

producing an accurate overall exposure.<br />

Let’s imagine you’re shooting an indoor<br />

portrait against a bright window, for<br />

example. The camera doesn’t know<br />

whether you want a perfectly exposed<br />

face with a blown out background or<br />

whether you’re actually going for a<br />

silhouette effect.<br />



To help your camera make the most<br />

accurate possible exposures, all DSLRs,<br />

CSCs and serious compacts have several<br />

metering modes you can choose from<br />

to suit different shooting conditions.<br />

They work either by considering light<br />

from across the whole frame, or by<br />

placing greater or complete emphasis on<br />

one specific part. Once you know what<br />

these modes do, and when to use them,<br />

you’ll be able to get much more accurate<br />

exposures in any shooting situation.<br />

Let’s check out the four most common<br />

metering modes in more detail...<br />

Above<br />

There are<br />

some rare<br />

situations<br />

when it’s<br />

worth<br />

changing<br />

your<br />

metering<br />

mode.<br />


This is usually the default metering mode for most<br />

cameras, taking light into account from across the<br />

whole frame. It places greater emphasis on the active<br />

focus point, as this is the area you’re most likely to<br />

want exposed correctly.<br />


Partial metering is similar to spot, but takes into<br />

account around 10% of the frame area, ignoring the<br />

other 90%. The active area usually follows the active<br />

focus point. This mode is ideal for making sure the<br />

subject on your active AF point is correctly exposed.<br />


As with evaluative metering, the camera takes into<br />

account light from across the whole frame, but with<br />

more importance placed on the central area. The<br />

active AF point isn’t taken into account, so a bright or<br />

dark focal point is less likely to affect your exposure.<br />

SPOT<br />

This very precise mode takes readings from around<br />

3% of the frame area, ignoring the other 97%. On<br />

most cameras, this area immediately surrounds<br />

the active AF point. Spot metering is often used for<br />

portraits, though its results are very unpredictable.<br />





Which focusing<br />

mode is best?<br />

Should I just shoot in my<br />

Q<br />

automatic autofocus mode<br />

or is it best to select a<br />

different one? Could you explain to<br />

me what they all do?<br />

Getting your subject perfectly sharp is<br />

absolutely vital to the success of a shot.<br />

It’s most challenging when shooting<br />

with very wide apertures where the<br />

depth-of-field is extremely shallow, or<br />

with fast-moving subjects where the<br />

point of focus is constantly changing.<br />

Most DSLR focusing systems work<br />

slightly differently to those found on<br />

CSCs, but both are similar in that the<br />

frame is divided up into focus areas<br />

or focus points. These can range from<br />

nine on basic models, to over 200 on<br />

pro cameras. By choosing how you<br />

want these areas or points to behave,<br />

you can give yourself the best chance<br />

of achieving a sharp image. Or<br />

you might opt to turn them off<br />

entirely and focus manually<br />

for maximum accuracy. Here<br />

we take a look at the different<br />

focusing modes, and why<br />

they’re best for certain types<br />

of picture...<br />

Above The<br />

continuous<br />

autofocus<br />

mode is<br />

ideal for<br />

very quick<br />

subjects.<br />

TIP<br />

All DSLRs have at<br />

least one cross-type AF<br />

point, usually in the centre<br />

of the frame. Use them<br />

for more consistent<br />

focusing.<br />




The camera will acquire focus only once when the shutter button is<br />

half-pressed. Usually, this is using just one AF point, though some<br />

cameras allow a cluster of points to be used. Most photographers<br />

prefer to select this point themselves, which allows pin-point<br />

focusing ideal for portraits and landscapes. Alternatively, auto-area<br />

AF forces the camera to choose the point automatically, usually<br />

selecting the object closest to the camera.<br />


In this mode the camera automatically detects whether the subject<br />

is moving or stationary, and selects either AF-S (one-shot AF) or<br />

AF-C (AI servo). This is a good mode to use if your subject is mostly<br />

stationary, but might move unexpectedly, such as a deer or a child<br />

playing. If you’re not comfortable switching between the two main<br />

focusing modes, this is the best option to use to get started.<br />


With the shutter button half-pressed, the camera continually<br />

acquires focus, which is ideal for any subject that moves towards<br />

or away from the camera. In this mode you can either have just<br />

one active AF point, which will keep whatever covers this part of<br />

the frame sharp, or choose a larger group of points. You can also<br />

activate 3D tracking, which will keep your subject sharp wherever<br />

it moves within the frame.<br />


As fast and accurate as modern autofocus systems are, there are<br />

occasions when you’ll get more accurate results with it turned off.<br />

If you’re into night sky or macro photography, for example, you’ll<br />

work almost entirely in manual. For really accurate results, activate<br />

Live View, use the zoom buttons to enlarge a section of the image to<br />

5x or 10x, then use the D-pad to choose the area of the frame you<br />

want to see in detail.<br />

1<br />

4 2<br />

3<br />




Q<br />

Will an APS-C lens work on my<br />

full-frame camera?<br />

All DSLRs have one of two sensor<br />

formats. Entry-level models have<br />

APS-C, and pro models have larger<br />

full-frame sensors. Full-frame lenses<br />

can be used on both formats, though<br />

will appear more ‘zoomed-in’ on an<br />

APS-C body. Let’s see when you can<br />

use APS-C optics on a full-frame body:<br />

Canon<br />

Canon’s EF-S (APS-C) lens range can’t<br />

be used on full-frame DSLRs as the<br />

mount is much deeper.<br />

Nikon<br />

DX lenses will fit on a full-frame body,<br />

and with DX crop mode on will use<br />

only the central part of the sensor.<br />

Pentax<br />

Pentax’ full-frame range is compatible<br />

with FA lenses, including some filmera<br />

models. APS-C K-Mount lenses<br />

can be used in a crop mode.<br />

Sony<br />

Sony’s full-frame DSLTs can be used<br />

with all A-mount lenses, but its APS-C<br />

lenses work best in the crop mode.<br />





Should I<br />

switch to<br />

shooting<br />

RAW?<br />

A friend told me I<br />

Q<br />

should be capturing<br />

my images as RAWs<br />

instead of JPEGs. Is this true?<br />

Most cameras (with the exception<br />

of entry-level compacts, action cams<br />

and most smartphones) offer both<br />

JPEG and RAW functionality. In the<br />

majority of shooting situations, you<br />

probably won’t notice a huge amount<br />

of difference between the two, except<br />

that RAW files are much larger so<br />

write slower and fill up memory cards<br />

faster. This doesn’t mean RAWs have a<br />

higher resolution, but they do hold more<br />

image information, containing all of<br />

the ‘raw’ data from the sensor. JPEGs,<br />

on the other hand, are quite heavily<br />

compressed, so some of the information<br />

the sensor collects is simply discarded.<br />

In this way you might think of a RAW<br />

file as the equivalent of a negative, and<br />

a JPEG as the equivalent of a print.<br />

So what information is actually lost<br />

during in-camera JPEG conversion?<br />

Well, most importantly JPEGs have<br />

a smaller dynamic range, so less<br />

image data is recorded in shadow and<br />

highlight areas. This means if you<br />

mis-expose an image at the time of<br />

shooting, you may struggle to correct<br />

it afterwards. In addition, JPEGs are<br />

converted to 8-bit from 12-bit or 14-bit,<br />

meaning significantly<br />

fewer shades of colour,<br />

which can be important<br />

when shooting blue skies or<br />

other large areas of similar<br />

colour. Other symptoms of<br />

JPEG compression can include a<br />

lack of control over white balance,<br />

ugly compression artefacts, oversharpening<br />

in-camera, and poor<br />

demosaic algorithms that reduce<br />

image sharpness.<br />


But while RAW is clearly a better quality<br />

format, JPEGs aren’t without their<br />

advantages. Their tiny file size allows<br />

faster burst shooting and takes up less<br />

storage space, and they offer a universal<br />

file type. JPEGs can be shared, edited<br />

or displayed anywhere without the<br />

compatibility issues of RAW. If you don’t<br />

process your shots on a computer, you<br />

might even prefer the look of JPEGs,<br />

which usually look a little<br />

punchier straight out of the<br />

camera owing to in-camera<br />

processing. RAWs offer top<br />

quality, but there are times<br />

when shooting JPEGs is<br />

more convenient.<br />

Above If<br />

you can’t<br />

open a RAW,<br />

Adobe’s<br />

free DNG<br />

Converter<br />

can switch it<br />

to a readable<br />

format.<br />

TIP<br />

Most camera’s allow<br />

you to shoot RAW and<br />

JPEG simultaneously. This<br />

flexibility is well worth the<br />

extra storage space<br />

required.<br />

How do I<br />

shoot in<br />

black &<br />

white?<br />

My new camera has a setting<br />

Q<br />

to shoot in monochrome. Is it<br />

better to use this in-camera<br />

setting or convert to monochrome<br />

while post-processing?<br />

Both methods have their pros and cons.<br />

Using your camera’s monochrome<br />

setting means that you can review<br />

images immediately in black & white.<br />

You can then make adjustments<br />

according to what your image looks like<br />

stripped of colour, such as changing<br />

your settings, adding filters or altering<br />

the composition. The danger is that<br />

if you shoot in JPEG mode, there’s no<br />

going back – your images will then<br />


In the adjustments on the right-hand<br />

side of the screen, click on Channel<br />

Mixer. This creates an Adjustment<br />

Layer and opens a Properties box.<br />

Tick the Monochrome option in the<br />

Properties box.<br />

remain in black & white forever.<br />

The safest option is to shoot in RAW<br />

and use the monochrome setting to<br />

review images on the LCD screen. As<br />

RAWs consist of the ‘raw’ data, they’ll<br />

hang on to the original colour too, so<br />

you have the choice of both colour and<br />

mono back at your computer. RAWs also<br />

retain a greater level of tones and detail.<br />

Whether you shoot JPEG or RAW, a<br />

camera’s monochrome mode is a great<br />

way to hone your eye and visualise the<br />

world in black & white.<br />


Open your pic and click on<br />

Enhance>Convert to Black and<br />

White. Now select a style from the<br />

options that appear, adjust Red,<br />

Green, Blue and Contrast to suit<br />

your image, and click OK.<br />

Above Use<br />

the mono<br />

preset on<br />

your camera<br />

to frame-up<br />

using just<br />

shape, form<br />

and contrast.<br />


Import your pic and hit D to go into<br />

the Develop module. Then select<br />

Basic from the list of options on the<br />

right and select Black & White from<br />

the treatment options. Your image<br />

will convert to black & white.<br />





How should I<br />

compose landscapes?<br />

I haven’t shot landscapes<br />

Q for some time and really<br />

want to get back into it.<br />

I remember there being lots of<br />

compositional rules that help<br />

produce more interesting images.<br />

Can you give me a quick recap?<br />

If it’s been a while since you<br />

photographed a landscape, and you<br />

feel a little rusty, recap with our seven<br />

compositional tips. Remember though,<br />

that these are guidelines rather than<br />

hard-and-fast rules, so don’t feel you<br />

have to stick to them if you have a good<br />

reason not to. And, of course, don’t<br />

attempt to include all seven at every<br />

single location. In reality, it’s likely that<br />

you’ll only need two or three to get a<br />

strong and impacting composition.<br />


Traditionally, landscapes are shot on<br />

wide-angle lenses, which enable you<br />

to capture a large proportion of the<br />

scene from a close-up position, and<br />

help create a greater feeling of depth.<br />

But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t<br />

sometimes consider other focal lengths<br />

that can give equally impressive<br />

results. A telephoto lens, for example,<br />

will encourage you to shoot from<br />

further away, producing a ‘compressed’<br />

perspective where the relative scale of<br />

the foreground and background is closer<br />

to reality.<br />

Above<br />

Lead-in<br />

lines and<br />

foreground<br />

interest work<br />

strongly here<br />

to create a<br />

professionallooking<br />

shot.<br />



Divide the frame into nine imaginary<br />

rectangles, then compose the shot<br />

so that a well-defined section of the<br />

scene fills either three or six of those<br />

rectangles. You’ll get a more balanced<br />

result, for example, if the sky fills either<br />

one or two thirds of the frame, than if<br />

the horizon is positioned halfway up.<br />

You can also place a vertical subject,<br />

like a tree, on one of the two upright<br />

lines, or a small single image element,<br />

like a rock or a boat, on one of the four<br />

points where the vertical and horizontal<br />

lines intersect. These are often called<br />

powerpoints.<br />


When shooting landscapes it can be<br />

easy to get caught up in the vastness of<br />

it all and forget about the foreground.<br />

But having something of interest in the<br />

bottom third of the image can really<br />

help to anchor the eye and draw the<br />

viewer into the shot. It’s sometimes said<br />

that foreground interest is the last thing<br />

a photographer thinks about but the<br />

first thing a viewer sees.<br />


Lead-in lines are a great way to draw<br />

your viewer into the scene and direct<br />

them towards the subject. You can use<br />

a fence, a path, a stream, or even a linear<br />

cloud formation, so long as whatever<br />

you choose directs the eye towards<br />

the centre of the frame. It’s generally<br />

accepted that lines emanating from<br />

the bottom right and left corners of the<br />

image are the most effective.<br />


If the area surrounding your subject<br />

is relatively devoid of detail, zoom out<br />

a little to include some of this empty<br />


space in your shot. Not only will this<br />

create a cleaner composition, it can also<br />

help you to portray a sense of scale or<br />

isolation. Negative space works best<br />

when there’s only one main subject,<br />

such as a single farmhouse nestled in<br />

the middle of a large field.<br />

6 RULE-OF-ODDS<br />

A photograph will generally appear to<br />

have more balance and beauty with an<br />

odd number of image elements. So if you<br />

have an even number of, say, trees in<br />

your shot, it’s best to recompose slightly<br />

so there is an odd number instead.<br />


If your landscape is very symmetrical,<br />

with one part of the scene strongly<br />

mirroring another, you have the<br />

opportunity to add balance and<br />

harmony to your shot. Compose<br />

so that a line of symmetry<br />

runs straight through the<br />

middle of the frame. This will<br />

mean you’ll need to abandon<br />

the rule-of-thirds, but this<br />

approach can produce a more<br />

eye-catching result.<br />

Above Here,<br />

the horizon<br />

falls in the<br />

middle of the<br />

shot rather<br />

than a third<br />

of the way<br />

in, but the<br />

symmetrical<br />

reflection<br />

adds balance.<br />

TIP<br />

Keep your eye on the<br />

work of landscape pros<br />

to see how they compose<br />

their shots and try to spot<br />

these seven rules in<br />

their work.<br />





How do I<br />

get a level<br />

horizon?<br />

TIP<br />

Some cameras have<br />

a built-in virtual horizon<br />

level that will help get an<br />

even horizon, but it’s best<br />

to use a tripod for<br />

accurate results.<br />

I’ve been really frustrated<br />

Q<br />

lately that all my landscapes<br />

seem to have a wonky<br />

horizon. What am I doing wrong?<br />

A slightly slanted horizon is a common<br />

mistake in landscape photography, and<br />

a sure-fire way to make an image look<br />

unbalanced. One reason this can happen<br />

is severe lens distortion – but by far<br />

the most common cause is the camera<br />

not being totally level when the shot is<br />

taken. This isn’t always obvious through<br />

the viewfinder or even on the LCD, but<br />

once the pic is on a computer screen<br />

it can look seriously lop-sided. The<br />

problem is most noticeable on coastal<br />

landscape shots, where the horizon is<br />

perfectly flat, and not interrupted by<br />

mountains or trees. Here, even a tiny<br />

slant is very obvious.<br />


The good news is that this is a very<br />

easy problem to deal with. If you own<br />

a tripod, chances are that its plate, or<br />

the section immediately below the<br />

plate, has at least one built-in spirit level<br />

(a spirit level on the legs isn’t useful).<br />

Get this lined up, and you know your<br />

horizon will be perfectly straight. If<br />

your tripod doesn’t have this function,<br />

pick up an inexpensive plastic spirit<br />

level that slides onto the camera’s<br />

hotshoe. Alternatively, your camera may<br />

have a virtual horizon built in. You can<br />

check this by activating Live View, then<br />

pressing the Info button until you see<br />

the virtual horizon appear overlaid on<br />

the screen. Then simply adjust the angle<br />

of the camera until the line goes green.<br />


But what about images you’ve already<br />

taken? Don’t worry, you can achieve<br />

a straight horizon with a simple crop<br />

adjustment. Open your image in<br />

Photoshop, select the Crop Tool, then<br />

hover over any corner until you get a<br />

curved, double-ended arrow. Click and<br />

drag so the frame is ‘straight’ in relation<br />

to the horizon. You can do exactly the<br />

same in Elements and Lightroom.<br />

Above It’s<br />

easy to level<br />

your horizon<br />

both in<br />

camera and<br />

in software.<br />

HAMA 2-WAY<br />


For tripods without a built-in<br />

spirit level, this affordable<br />

hotshoe mounted option is<br />

ideal. It can be used on any<br />

DSLR, and its small size means it will<br />

slide into any accessories pocket.<br />


This lightweight aluminium travel tripod<br />

has a spirit level just above the ball<br />

head. It’s perfect for travel, boasting a<br />

maximum height of 145cm and weight<br />

of 1.5kg, which makes it easier to carry<br />

over long distances.<br />




If you’re sure your camera is straight but the<br />

horizon still looks off-kilter, your problem may<br />

be caused by severe lens distortion. This is<br />

particularly common on budget wide-angles,<br />

where straight lines near to the edges of the<br />

frame appear bent. It’s very easy to remove<br />

distortion in post-processing software using the<br />

lens correction tools. Let’s take a look at how<br />

this is done in Lightroom, Photoshop<br />

and Elements:<br />


You’ll find Lightroom’s<br />

Lens Corrections panel<br />

on the right of the screen.<br />

Simply click the Profile<br />

tab, then check the Enable<br />

Profile Corrections box.<br />



When opening a RAW file in Photoshop, you’ll<br />

first see the Adobe <strong>Camera</strong> Raw window,<br />

which has its own Lens<br />

Corrections tab. For<br />

JPEGs, which open<br />

straight into Photoshop, go<br />

to Filter>Lens Correction.<br />

In Elements, the <strong>Camera</strong><br />

Raw window doesn’t<br />

have Lens<br />

Corrections,<br />

so click Open<br />

and go to<br />

Filter>Correct<br />

<strong>Camera</strong><br />

Distortion.<br />





Which tripod<br />

legs do I need?<br />

I’ve been thinking of<br />

Q investing in new tripod<br />

legs but I’m not sure where<br />

to start. What do I need to know<br />

before I part with my cash?<br />

When shopping for a new tripod, many<br />

beginner and amateur photographers<br />

mistakenly assume all tripods are<br />

created equal, so simply purchase the<br />

cheapest option they can lay their<br />

hands on. But for most experienced<br />

photographers, choosing the right<br />

legs and head is a carefully considered<br />

decision, with a whole range of different<br />

factors taken into account. For example,<br />

a travel photographer will want a very<br />

compact and lightweight tripod that’s<br />

easy to carry around, whereas a wildlife<br />

photographer will need a very sturdy<br />

model that can cope with the weight of<br />

long telephoto lenses. Ultimately, it all<br />

comes down to what type of images you<br />

want to shoot, the weight of the gear<br />

you plan to use, how long you want your<br />

tripod to last, and how portable you<br />

want it to be. Some tripods come as a kit,<br />

so you get the legs and head together<br />

in the same box, whereas others must<br />

be purchased separately. Whichever<br />

you buy, resist the temptation to blow a<br />

disproportionate amount of your budget<br />

on the head – choosing the right legs is<br />

equally important. We’d recommend<br />

splitting your money roughly evenly<br />

between the two.<br />

On the right are the ten most<br />

important factors you’ll need to consider<br />

when investing in a new set of tripod<br />

legs. If you’ve already got a decent set of<br />

sticks, don’t worry. On the next page we<br />

check out the different types of heads<br />

that are available and help you to decide<br />

which is most likely to suit your needs...<br />

Above<br />

Tripod legs<br />

come with<br />

a variety of<br />

features,<br />

so brush up<br />

on the key<br />

points so you<br />

know what<br />

to look for.<br />



When your tripod is fully<br />

extended, you’ll ideally be able<br />

to look through the viewfinder<br />

of your camera without<br />

bending down, so if you can,<br />

invest in a tripod at least your<br />

own height.<br />


If you’re shooting macro subjects such as<br />

insects and flowers, you’ll need your camera<br />

quite low to the ground. Some better tripods<br />

allow you to mount your camera just a few<br />

centimetres from ground-level.<br />


It’s worth thinking about how<br />

small a tripod will fold up,<br />

especially if you want to try to<br />

fit it inside your kit bag. Folded<br />

length is most important for travel<br />

and landscape photographers.<br />

4 WEIGHT<br />

If you’re an outdoor photographer and<br />

you carry your kit over long distances,<br />

a lightweight tripod is crucial. Carbon<br />

fibre tends to be the lightest, followed by<br />

aluminium alloy.<br />

5 CENTRAL<br />

COLUMN<br />

Most tripods have<br />

a central column<br />

that adds a little<br />

extra height. Some<br />

central columns can either<br />

be inverted or flipped into a horizontal<br />

position, allowing you to get your camera<br />

mounted close to ground-level.<br />


On cheaper tripods, the legs are braced<br />

together at the bottom, which means if you<br />

move one leg, all of the other legs will move<br />

with it. On more expensive tripods, the legs<br />

are independent.<br />


More advanced tripods allow you to set the<br />

legs at several different angles. This is useful<br />

in situations when the ground is uneven.<br />


For landscape<br />

photography, and<br />

in particular<br />

panoramas, it’s<br />

important to be<br />

able to get your<br />

tripod perfectly<br />

level, so check there’s a built-in spirit level<br />

before you buy.<br />


Over time, quick-release leg levers can<br />

become loose, causing the tripod legs to sink<br />

under the camera’s weight. Check to ensure<br />

the levers can be tightened in case this<br />

happens.<br />


If you’re using an entry-level DSLR and kit<br />

lens, you should be fine with most tripods.<br />

But if you plan to use pro bodies and lenses,<br />

you’ll need a much more sturdy model. Check<br />

the maximum load capacity to ensure it can<br />

support your gear.<br />





Which tripod head do I need?<br />

I own some tripod legs<br />

Q but need a head to go with<br />

them. What do I need to<br />

know before I buy?<br />

Before making any decisions, think<br />

carefully about what you’re going to<br />

be using your tripod for. If you’re a<br />

landscape photographer, for example,<br />

you’ll want a lightweight, compact<br />

head that you can carry around easily.<br />

For studio photographers, on the other<br />

hand, size and weight aren’t a big issue,<br />

but the ability to make very precise<br />

adjustments is essential. It’s a good<br />

idea to buy a tripod head that can hold<br />

significantly more weight than you<br />

need, as if you decide to upgrade your<br />

camera to a heavier model in the future,<br />

you won’t be forced to upgrade.<br />

Above The<br />

heads of<br />

professional<br />

tripods can<br />

be detached<br />

and swapped<br />

to suit many<br />

photographic<br />

genres.<br />



FROM £25<br />

Ball heads are the best<br />

option for the majority<br />

of photographers, as<br />

they’re small, light and<br />

can be adjusted quickly and<br />

easily. The ball mechanism<br />

allows you to move the<br />

camera in any direction in<br />

a single adjustment,<br />

unlike pan-and-tilt<br />

heads where you<br />

can only move one<br />

axis at a time. Ball<br />

heads are not known for<br />

accuracy, so making precise<br />

adjustments can be difficult, especially when using heavy lenses.<br />


If you’re using your head to shoot video, it’s important it has a<br />

smooth panning movement. Usually fluid heads look very similar to<br />

pan & tilt heads, though generally only have one arm, and tend to be<br />

larger and heavier. The heads are called fluid because they contain<br />

a hydraulic system for a smooth and constant resistance.<br />

PISTOL<br />


FROM £90<br />

A pistol grip head is<br />

similar to a ball head<br />

in that it works on<br />

the same ball joint<br />

movement. However,<br />

rather than a lever to<br />

tighten and loosen the joint, there’s a trigger<br />

mechanism where the hand simply squeezes<br />

the grip to loosen the joint. This can be quicker<br />

and easier to use than a standard ball head,<br />

though pistol grips are usually larger and heavier.<br />

Some pistol grip heads have a trigger button built-in.<br />

PAN-AND-<br />


FROM £25<br />

Sometimes called<br />

2-way or 3-way,<br />

pan-and-tilt heads are slower to use than ball<br />

heads and bulkier. But they allow finer adjustments<br />

to be made on two or three different axes – pan, tilt<br />

and sometimes roll. They’re also fairly inexpensive<br />

to buy, and suitable for studio and macro use.<br />




Most decent tripod heads will be able<br />

to handle a load of at least 5kg. This<br />

equates to an advanced DSLR with a<br />

long telephoto lens. Be sure to check<br />

the maximum weight capacity.<br />


Most decent heads weigh around<br />

0.5kg, but some can weigh<br />

significantly more so double-check the<br />

specifications. Some heads are also<br />

quite large, which can make them less<br />

convenient to carry.<br />


Invest in an aluminium head<br />

if possible, as steel heads are<br />

considerably heavier. Try to avoid<br />

plastic, especially on the plate as this<br />

has to take considerable strain.<br />


A spirit level will help you get your<br />

horizons perfectly level, which is<br />

important for landscape fans.<br />





What’s the difference<br />

between sensor and<br />

image stabilisation?<br />

I’m about to buy a new DSLR<br />

Q<br />

but I’m confused by the<br />

different image stabilisation<br />

systems. Could you advise which<br />

type is the best?<br />

When shooting slower shutter speeds<br />

handheld, there’s always a risk of<br />

camera shake, where even a small<br />

amount of movement during the<br />

exposure can lead to a blurred image.<br />

But image stabilisation systems are<br />

designed to banish the blur.<br />


There are two main types of IS on the<br />

market – sensor shift and lens shift.<br />

Both systems are extremely effective,<br />

typically granting sharp handheld<br />

results when shooting 4 stops slower<br />

than usual. Some advanced systems<br />

even have different modes to<br />

eliminate movement from just one<br />

axis, for smoother panning.<br />

So what’s the difference between the<br />

two main stabilisation types? In-lens<br />

stabilisation, which is used by both<br />

Canon and Nikon, is where one or more<br />

lens elements are moved by tiny motors<br />

to compensate for the movement of the<br />

camera. This means that by the time the<br />

light reaches the sensor, the stabilisation<br />

correction has already been applied.<br />

Sensor shift stabilisation differs in that<br />

it moves the sensor itself, rather than<br />

using any mechanism in the lens. Both<br />

types of IS have distinct advantages and<br />

disadvantages, though to the average<br />

user both systems are more or less<br />

identical in terms of effectiveness. Let’s<br />

take a look at the key advantages of the<br />

two systems...<br />

TIP<br />

Without stabilisation,<br />

shutter speeds should<br />

be at least 1/125sec with<br />

a standard lens. But you<br />

can shoot much slower<br />

with stabilisation.<br />

Below<br />

Canon, Nikon<br />

and others<br />

build the<br />

stabilisation<br />

into the lens<br />

in the form<br />

of a moving<br />

group of<br />

elements.<br />


● In-camera stabilisation means IS doesn’t<br />

have to be built into every lens, keeping lens<br />

cost, size and weight to a minimum.<br />

● You can use in-body stabilisation on virtually<br />

any lens, including older or cheaper lenses<br />

that wouldn’t normally have IS built-in.<br />

● Sensor stabilisation is generally quieter<br />

than lens stabilisation, so is better suited to<br />

videography or shooting in noise-sensitive<br />

environments like weddings.<br />

Above Some<br />

companies<br />

stabilise<br />

the sensor,<br />

so you get<br />

sharper<br />

shots with<br />

every lens.<br />




Okay, I’m confused. Someone<br />

Q<br />

told me the focal length printed<br />

on the side of a lens is incorrect. Help!<br />

The focal length printed on the side<br />

of any lens is technically correct. But,<br />

a camera’s sensor size will change<br />

a lens’ angle-of-view. So a 50mm<br />

lens on a full-frame camera would<br />

appear more ‘zoomed-in’ on an APS-C<br />

body. You’d therefore have to move<br />

further from the subject to achieve the<br />

same composition, altering both the<br />

perspective and the depth-of-field.<br />


The size of a camera’s sensor<br />

compared with a full-frame sensor is<br />

represented by its crop factor, which<br />

you can use to calculate the effective<br />

focal length of a lens. In other words,<br />

if you use a 50mm lens on an APS-C<br />

body, you can simply multiply 50 by<br />

its crop factor (1.5x on Nikon or 1.6x<br />

on Canon), to get the effective focal<br />

length, roughly 80mm. The crop factor<br />

for your camera will be listed in the<br />

specs panel on the manufacturer’s<br />

website. Personally, we’d like to see<br />

the equivalent printed on the lens<br />

barrel to make it less confusing!<br />


● In-lens stabilisation is more effective for<br />

longer telephoto lenses, so is better suited<br />

to sports and wildlife shooting.<br />

Full-frame<br />

● Lens shift stabilisation systems can be<br />

tailored perfectly to each individual lens,<br />

so tend to be more effective.<br />

APS-C<br />

● On DSLRs you can see the stabilised image<br />

in real time through the viewfinder before<br />

you take the shot, unlike with in-camera IS.<br />







What focal<br />

lengths do I need<br />

for different subjects?<br />


Most landscapes are shot wide-angle, which means<br />

around 15-25mm on a full-frame body or 10-18mm<br />

on APS-C. Longer telephoto lenses are also used to<br />

get a ‘compressed perspective’ look, which gives an<br />

attractive layered effect.<br />


As previously mentioned, a classic portrait lens of<br />

85mm (50mm on APS-C bodies) provides the most<br />

flattering perspective. 50mm is better for full-body<br />

shots. Wide-angle or even fisheye lenses can also be<br />

used to create really quirky results.<br />

Could you tell me which<br />

Q focal lengths are best to<br />

work with for the different<br />

types of photography?<br />

You’ve probably read or heard lots of<br />

advice about which lenses you should be<br />

using for a certain genre of photography.<br />

Often the advice is delivered as a hardand-fast<br />

rule that must be followed if<br />

you want professional results. In fact,<br />

pro photographers regularly use a very<br />

wide range of focal lengths in virtually<br />

every genre. This gives them a varied<br />

and creative portfolio that can stand<br />

out from the crowd. For example, a<br />

landscape photographer who uses a<br />

17mm lens to shoot every single image<br />

is going to end up with a very onedimensional<br />

body of work. So they may<br />

sometimes use a telephoto lens instead.<br />

All that said, there are some focal<br />

lengths that generally lend themselves<br />

best to certain types of shot, so you’re<br />

likely to use them more regularly.<br />

Head-and-shoulders portraits, for<br />

example, are usually taken at around<br />

85mm (or 50mm on an APS-C camera)<br />

as it’s deemed that this gives the<br />

kindest perspective for the human face.<br />

Actually, the focal length doesn’t alter<br />

perspective, but it does dictate where<br />

you stand to get the best composition.<br />

It’s this changing distance between the<br />

camera and subject that has the effect.<br />

For this reason the majority of your<br />

head and shoulders portrait images,<br />

though by no means all, will look best if<br />

taken with an 85mm lens.<br />

To the right we examine the focal<br />

lengths that generally work best for a<br />

handful of popular genres.<br />

Above There<br />

are a huge<br />

number<br />

of lenses<br />

available<br />

for DSLRs<br />

and CSCs,<br />

covering<br />

broad zoom<br />

ranges.<br />


Unless you can get very close to your subject, a long<br />

telephoto of at least 300mm is usually required.<br />

600mm is ideal for very skittish subjects. If your<br />

camera is very near the subject, perhaps being fired<br />

remotely, any focal length can work.<br />


Most street shooters opt for a 35mm lens, or 24mm<br />

on an APS-C camera. This gives them a slightly wider<br />

field-of-view than the human eye. However, others like<br />

to work from a distance using a 70-200mm, ensuring<br />

their shots are completely candid.<br />






Before<br />

After<br />



What is lens distortion?<br />


Open a RAW file into<br />

the Adobe <strong>Camera</strong><br />

Raw window. Simply<br />

click the Lens<br />

Corrections icon,<br />

select the Profile tab,<br />

and check Enable<br />

Lens Profile Corrections. This<br />

automatically applies the profile<br />

for your lens. For JPEGs, go to<br />

Filter>Lens Correction. Again,<br />

Photoshop will apply the<br />

lens profile.<br />



I shoot a lot of night sky<br />

Q<br />

photography but can’t stop my<br />

lens fogging up. What can I do to get<br />

around this?<br />

I’ve noticed that straight<br />

Q lines in my images appear<br />

to bend. Is this because of<br />

distortion? And if it is, what can I<br />

do about this problem?<br />

There are two main types of distortion.<br />

The first is perspective distortion,<br />

where a distant object appears smaller<br />

than a closer object. This is commonly<br />

seen in architectural photography,<br />

where buildings appear to lean<br />

inwards when shot from ground-level.<br />

Perspective distortion can be corrected<br />

by using a tilt & shift lens, or with<br />

distortion correction software such as<br />

DxO’s Viewpoint 2. The effect is most<br />

severe at wider focal lengths, and occurs<br />

irrespective of optical quality.<br />

The other type of distortion is optical<br />

distortion, which is reliant on the<br />

quality and design of the glass. It occurs<br />

because the shape and arrangement of<br />

the elements cause straight lines that<br />

run near to the edge of the frame to<br />

appear bent. Focal length has a huge<br />

impact on optical distortion, with<br />

wide-angle lenses producing barrel<br />

distortion (where straight lines bend<br />

outwards towards the edge) and<br />

telephoto lenses producing pincushion<br />

distortion (where straight lines bend<br />

inwards towards the centre).<br />


The easiest way to avoid lens distortion<br />

is simply to correct it afterwards<br />

in editing software. Lightroom, for<br />

example, has lens correction profiles<br />

built-in, which do the job in a single<br />

click. You can also adjust manually.<br />

Some cameras have lens correction<br />

built-in, though this is only applied to<br />

JPEGs and not RAWs.<br />

As a general rule, the more expensive<br />

the lens, the less lens<br />

distortion you’ll get.<br />

Finally, at 50mm<br />

there’s hardly any<br />

distortion on any<br />

lens, so if possible<br />

shoot at this focal<br />

length by adjusting<br />

your position.<br />

Below 50mm<br />

prime lenses<br />

are relatively<br />

free from<br />

perspective<br />

distortions.<br />

2 ELEMENTS<br />

Open your image in<br />

Elements, and if it’s<br />

a RAW file, make any<br />

basic tweaks in the<br />

<strong>Camera</strong> Raw window<br />

before clicking OK.<br />

Go to Filter>Correct<br />

<strong>Camera</strong> Distortion. Unlike in Photoshop and<br />

Lightroom, this won’t automatically apply lens<br />

profiles for your particular make and model, so<br />

adjustments must be done manually. This is<br />

very straightforward – just tweak the Remove<br />

Distortion slider.<br />


Import your image in<br />

Lightroom, then press D<br />

on your keyboard to enter<br />

the Develop module. On the<br />

right of the screen, scroll<br />

down through the control<br />

panels until you reach Lens Corrections.<br />

Click the Profile tab, and check the Enable<br />

Profile Corrections box. This will automatically<br />

select the right lens profile. If not, you can<br />

always adjust it manually using the<br />

Distortion slider.<br />

Condensation on the front element is<br />

a real problem for astrophotographers,<br />

especially when there’s a heavy dew.<br />

It’s usually most severe on low ground<br />

or near water. In severe cases, a lens<br />

can be completely fogged up just<br />

five seconds after being wiped clean,<br />

making longer exposures almost<br />

impossible to achieve.<br />

Fortunately, it is possible to<br />

alleviate the problem. The first<br />

thing to remember is that sudden<br />

changes in temperature can cause<br />

condensation to form, so allow your<br />

camera to acclimatise to the ambient<br />

temperature before you shoot.<br />

The next step is to invest in anti-fog<br />

gel or wipes. I’d also recommend a<br />

battery-powered hand fan to keep<br />

a flow of air moving across the end<br />

of the lens. This discourages droplet<br />

formation. Serious astro shooters<br />

often use heat straps, which are<br />

battery-powered heating elements<br />

that stop dew from forming on the end<br />

of the lens. Hand warmers secured<br />

with elastic bands also work well as<br />

a budget alternative.<br />





What lens<br />

do I need for<br />

wildlife?<br />

SIGMA 150-600MM F/5-6.3<br />

Sigma has released two affordable 150-600mm lenses with<br />

excellent image quality. The cheaper version (designed for the<br />

Contemporary line) has a less complicated optical design, is<br />

smaller and lighter, and has no weather-sealing. Aside from a few<br />

differences, the lenses are very similar. The more expensive S lens<br />

belongs to Sigma’s Sports line.<br />


TAMRON 150-600MM F/5-6.3<br />

Almost identical in spec to Sigma’s cheaper C-range 150-600mm<br />

lens, this budget telephoto with image stabilisation offers a very<br />

wide focal range, the equivalent of 225-900mm on an APS-C<br />

model. Advantages over the Sigma include wider zoom and focus<br />

rings and a slightly closer focusing distance.<br />



I’ve bought an entry-level<br />

Q<br />

DSLR, but there’s an awful lot<br />

of buttons and technical mumbo jumbo<br />

to get my head around. What’s the best<br />

way to grasp the basics quickly?<br />

I want to shoot more sports<br />

Q and wildlife but I only have<br />

a basic DSLR and kit lens.<br />

What lens do I really need to buy<br />

to get started?<br />

Focusing in on a particular<br />

photographic genre usually requires<br />

an investment in specialist gear. This is<br />

especially true for sports and wildlife<br />

photography, where a long telephoto<br />

lens is often absolutely paramount to<br />

getting a decent shot. Unfortunately,<br />

high performance equipment doesn’t<br />

come cheap, making fast-action<br />

photography a more expensive hobby<br />

than shooting landscapes or portraits.<br />


As a general rule, the price of telephoto<br />

lenses increases with focal length,<br />

although the maximum aperture also<br />

has a big impact. Most professional<br />

sports and wildlife photographers own<br />

a 70-200mm for close-up work, such<br />

as shooting a tennis match, and then at<br />

least one lens of around 400-600mm.<br />

Traditionally, the exceptionally high<br />

cost of these longer lenses has put<br />

them out of the reach of enthusiasts,<br />

but recently both Sigma and Tamron<br />

have introduced budget models that<br />

have opened up wildlife photography<br />

to everyone. I would strongly<br />

recommend you consider one<br />

of these, or if you’re on a<br />

budget, a 2x teleconverter on<br />

a shorter lens will suffice. Any<br />

other similar option will cost<br />

you in excess of £4000. Here<br />

are some of the best budget<br />

lenses for fast-action shooting...<br />

Above A long<br />

telephoto<br />

lens lets<br />

you get<br />

frame-filling<br />

images of<br />

faraway<br />

subjects.<br />

TIP<br />

A hide is a great<br />

way to get up close and<br />

personal with your subject,<br />

allowing you to get framefilling<br />

pictures without<br />

a long lens.<br />

NIKON 200-500MM F/5.6<br />

This very well-priced full-frame (FX) compatible telephoto zoom<br />

comes with Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system built in, reducing<br />

the risk of camera shake when used handheld. Unlike the Sigma<br />

and Tamron models, the 200-500mm has an aperture of f/5.6<br />

through the whole zoom range. Focusing is powered by Nikon’s<br />

Silent Wave Motor for virtually no noise.<br />

Practical Photography’s <strong>Camera</strong><br />

School is designed to help you get<br />

to grips with the essential core skills<br />

needed for great results with any<br />

creative camera. The next sixmodule<br />

<strong>Camera</strong> School course starts<br />

shortly, and is packed with jargonfree<br />

techniques and projects that’ll<br />

challenge you and help you master the<br />

basics. Suitable for all photographers,<br />

it’s the perfect way to sharpen your<br />

skills. Stay tuned for Module One in<br />

the May 2017 issue, on sale 13 April.<br />




TIP<br />


If you only have one<br />

camera and it fails, you’ll<br />

be unable to shoot the<br />

wedding. So be sure to<br />

carry a back-up camera<br />

body on the day.<br />




SIGMA 50MM F/1.4 DG<br />

The 50mm lens is a staple for<br />

almost any kind of photographer,<br />

but it’s an absolute must for<br />

anyone shooting a wedding.<br />

It works well in almost any<br />

situation, but its real strength is<br />

portraiture. Use it when taking<br />

pre-wedding shots of the bride<br />

and groom getting ready for some beautiful candid<br />

photographs. The Sigma 50mm lens is compatible with<br />

Nikon, Canon, Sony and Sigma cameras.<br />

sigma-imaging-uk.com<br />

What kit do I<br />

need for weddings?<br />

TAMRON<br />

35MM F/1.8 DI<br />

If you’re a keen street<br />

photographer, you may already<br />

own a 35mm lens. Its ability to<br />

produce a full-length portrait that<br />

also showcases the background makes it essential for<br />

wedding photographers who want to show off a lavish<br />

venue. The 35mm lens is equivalent to the human eye,<br />

giving your images a natural effect. It’s available for<br />

different camera brands, including Canon, Nikon,<br />

Sony and Pentax. tamron.eu/uk<br />

I have been booked to<br />

Q shoot a couple of weddings<br />

this year and I need to<br />

upgrade my kit. What would you<br />

recommend?<br />

Weddings are a great way to earn<br />

money from your photography, but they<br />

shouldn’t be taken lightly and can prove<br />

stressful. In fact, they’re one of the few<br />

photographic genres where there really<br />

are no second chances – if you don’t<br />

capture it the first time, the moment is<br />

gone forever. In order to give yourself<br />

the best chance of getting a great set of<br />

images when you shoot a wedding, it’s<br />

essential you have the right kit.<br />


One of the main issues you’ll have to<br />

deal with are the low light conditions in<br />

churches and reception venues, which<br />

can make it difficult to get shake-free<br />

shots. As such, it’s important to have a<br />

body that can handle itself in low light,<br />

both in terms of ISO performance and<br />

autofocus speed. As a general rule, the<br />

more expensive the body, the better it<br />

will be in these areas. You should also<br />

invest in a flashgun, which will help<br />

Above<br />

A flashgun is<br />

essential for<br />

weddings,<br />

as it freezes<br />

the action<br />

and reduces<br />

blur.<br />

you to illuminate your subjects at the<br />

evening reception.<br />

But while camera bodies and<br />

flashguns are vital, any wedding<br />

photographer worth their salt knows<br />

that the right lens is the most important<br />

item in a kit bag. Ideally, you’ll need<br />

one with a wide maximum aperture for<br />

blurry backgrounds and faster shutter<br />

speeds. This often means prime lenses<br />

are the best option. Here’s our roundup<br />

of three key lenses that you should<br />

consider renting or buying in order to<br />

create stunning images of a couple’s<br />

perfect day...<br />

70-200MM<br />


Available in most fits, these lenses<br />

are much pricier than the rest of<br />

our selection, but the 70-200mm<br />

is an invaluable part of a wedding<br />

photographer’s kit bag. If you don’t<br />

have the budget to invest in one<br />

outright, you can always hire one.<br />

Other than the usual staged family<br />

photos, most of your time will be spent shooting<br />

candids. This lens gives you the ability to capture the<br />

important moments without drawing any attention<br />

away from the bride and groom.<br />





What flashgun features<br />

do I really need?<br />

I want to invest in a flashgun<br />

Q<br />

as I’ve outgrown my<br />

camera’s pop-up flash. To<br />

be honest, I’m not sure what all<br />

the features do and which ones I’ll<br />

actually find useful. Please can you<br />

shed some light on it?<br />

Your camera’s built-in flash is adequate<br />

for getting you out of a difficult<br />

situation, but it’s never going to give<br />

you very attractive results. Not only<br />

is the light extremely harsh and<br />

unflattering, but it always comes<br />

directly from the camera, so your<br />

creativity is limited. An external<br />

hotshoe-mounted flashgun, on<br />

the other hand, opens up all<br />

sorts of lighting possibilities,<br />

and can enable you to achieve<br />

very professional results. Before<br />

you invest in a new flashgun<br />

though, there are some important<br />

things you should consider...<br />

Above Most<br />

external<br />

flashes have a<br />

tiltable head.<br />


A flashgun’s guide number, often<br />

written as GN, describes its power<br />

output. It represents the maximum<br />

distance, in metres, at which you can<br />

correctly expose a subject, assuming<br />

a hypothetical aperture of f/1 and an<br />

ISO of 100. It’s important to understand<br />

that guide numbers are measured on<br />

a logarithmic scale, so if one flash has<br />

double the guide number of another,<br />

it kicks out 4x the light. Most pop-up<br />

flashes have a GN of around ten, whereas<br />

decent external units are more like<br />

40-60. Some manufacturers like to<br />

muddy the waters a little by using<br />

feet instead of metres, and higher ISO<br />

settings, which of course results in an<br />

inflated guide number. Be aware of this<br />

and check the specifications carefully.<br />

Look for a flash with a guide number of<br />

at least 35.<br />


Most external flashguns have a tiltable<br />

head, allowing you to bounce the light<br />

upwards towards a white ceiling. This<br />

is then reflected back down onto the<br />

subject. Bounce flash is generally more<br />

flattering than direct flash, as it vastly<br />

increases the effective size of the light<br />

source for softer shadows. Light coming<br />

from above also mimics normal daylight<br />

so it looks very natural. Some more<br />

advanced flashguns have heads that<br />

tilt side to side as well, allowing you to<br />

bounce light off a wall.<br />


When shooting at or around full power,<br />

it can take several seconds for some<br />

flashgun units to recharge for the next<br />

shot. Others can recycle in less than a<br />

second. If you’re shooting in a fast-paced<br />

environment, such as at a wedding,<br />

a very fast recycle time is<br />

important, so it’s worth<br />

checking the spec sheet<br />

before you buy.<br />


On most premium<br />

flashguns, the bulb is able to<br />

move backwards and forwards<br />

within the head to adjust the angle<br />

of the beam of light. For further away<br />

subjects, for example, the angle narrows<br />

so that all the light is concentrated on<br />

the subject. Most zoomable flashes have<br />

a zoom range of 24-105mm, and in TTL<br />

mode will actually adjust automatically<br />

to match the focal length of your lens.<br />

So if you’re shooting at 50mm, your flash<br />

will adjust to ensure no light is wasted.<br />

Some photographers use the<br />

zoom function manually for<br />

creative effect. By zooming in<br />

on the flash but using a wide<br />

focal length, you can achieve<br />

a spotlight effect.<br />


Most flashguns won’t fire<br />

off-camera without the use of<br />

a cable or wireless triggers.<br />

But some have a built-in<br />

wireless control so you can<br />

fire it off-camera. This is<br />

especially useful for portraits,<br />

as it allows you to use more<br />

flattering lighting patterns.<br />

Some flashes can be fired in a slave<br />

mode, which means the flash has<br />

a sensor on<br />

it that will<br />

fire the<br />

flash when<br />

it detects<br />

another<br />

flash firing.<br />

TIP<br />

Some budget flashes<br />

don’t have TTL metering,<br />

which means their power<br />

output has to be controlled<br />

by hand and not by the<br />

camera.<br />

Below<br />

Flashguns<br />

are much<br />

more<br />

powerful<br />

than the<br />

built-in<br />

pop-up ones.<br />



What flash modifiers<br />

are available?<br />

I use my flashgun a lot to<br />

Q<br />

take portraits, but I find the<br />

light is too harsh on skin.<br />

What can I do?<br />





My flash portraits are all blown<br />

Q<br />

out, causing the subject’s skin<br />

detail to be blown out to pure white,<br />

and I can’t recover it in my RAW-editing<br />

software. What am I doing wrong?<br />

Flash is an extremely useful tool for<br />

portrait photographers, especially<br />

when triggered off-camera, when<br />

attractive lighting setups can produce<br />

studio-like results. The problem with<br />

flash is that the light comes from<br />

a small, single bulb, which creates<br />

hard shadows and harsh, unflattering<br />

lighting on skin. To get around this, a<br />

light modifier can be attached, which<br />

in most cases effectively increases the<br />

size of the light source for softer, more<br />

even shadows and highlights. Other<br />

light modifiers, such as a snoot or grid,<br />

direct the light to a very small area, a<br />

little like a spotlight, for a punchy or<br />

edgy effect.<br />

There is a wide range of different<br />

designs on the market, and most can<br />

be attached to any model of flashgun.<br />

You can even buy small modifiers for<br />

your camera’s built-in flash, though if<br />

you want to shoot creative portraits<br />

you’ll ideally want your light source<br />

to be off-camera. Let’s check<br />

out six of the best...<br />



This bulb-shaped plastic modifier helps<br />

diffuse and soften light for softer, more<br />

evenly-lit portraits. Available to fit<br />

most flashgun models.<br />

viewfinderphotography.co.uk<br />



This 6x7in softbox helps to give<br />

a softer, more even light on the<br />

subject, and folds flat for easy<br />

storage. Fits most external<br />

flashgun models. fjwestcott.com<br />

ROGUE<br />




This ultra-light attachment can<br />

be used as a reflector for soft<br />

lighting, or a snoot for a spotlight<br />

effect. Folds flat and fits all<br />

flashguns. rogueflash.com<br />

TIP<br />

The larger the<br />

diffusion area of your<br />

softbox, the more diffused<br />

and soft the light will be –<br />

smaller boxes will give<br />

you harsher light.<br />


This sturdy octabox is a large light modifier giving a<br />

very soft light. It folds up like an umbrella, so takes<br />

seconds to set up and fold down. Carry case included.<br />

fjwestcott.com<br />




This small, light and strong kit<br />

includes a universal bracket and<br />

a magnetic honeycomb grid<br />

for directional light.<br />

lastolite.co.uk<br />

ORBIS<br />


The Orbis will attach to<br />

most external flashguns,<br />

and reflects the light around<br />

a reflective ring. The result is<br />

attractive catchlights and punchy<br />

but even lighting.<br />

enlightphotopro.com<br />

A flash is an essential tool for<br />

photographers, especially when<br />

you’re working in low light conditions.<br />

However, you may find that it’s<br />

more of a hindrance than a help if<br />

you’re struggling with unwanted<br />

overexposure. The first thing you can<br />

try is simply moving further away<br />

from your subject – this will give the<br />

light further to travel, so it won’t be as<br />

strong. To get the same composition<br />

as before, zoom in a little on your<br />

lens. Alternatively, try using a flash<br />

diffuser. You can pick these up for a<br />

few pounds to soften light and reduce<br />

flash brightness. Diffusers<br />

are available for pop-up<br />

flashes or external<br />

ones. If you’re not<br />

looking to spend<br />

money and<br />

you<br />

already<br />

have an<br />

external<br />

flashgun, just tilt<br />

it upwards to bounce<br />

the flash off the ceiling.<br />

This gives a softer, more<br />

natural-looking result. But bear<br />

in mind the flash will pick up the<br />

colour of any surface it’s bounced off.<br />

And a high ceiling, such as in a<br />

cathedral, will be too far away<br />

to bounce off effectively.<br />




Should I buy a<br />

hard or soft<br />

ND grad filter?<br />

I’m not sure which neutral<br />

Q<br />

density grad filter to buy.<br />

In what way are hard and<br />

soft grads different?<br />

If you’ve ever shot around sunrise or<br />

sunset, you’ve probably noticed how<br />

difficult it can be to get the land and<br />

the sky exposed correctly in a single<br />

shot. This is because the range of light<br />

intensity is unusually large, and may<br />

even be outside of the camera’s dynamic<br />

range. Some parts of the image are<br />

simply recorded as pure black or pure<br />

white, devoid of any image information.<br />

To get around this problem, an ND grad<br />

can reduce the light intensity in the sky.<br />

ND grads are single sheets of glass<br />

or plastic that are tinted at one end,<br />

gradually<br />

changing to<br />

clear at the<br />

other end.<br />

This effectively<br />

reduces the light<br />

intensity range in the<br />

scene. It’s the same principle<br />

as the tinted strip that you often<br />

get at the top of a car windscreen.<br />

ND grads are most frequently used by<br />

landscape photographers to control<br />

bright skies, allowing them to expose<br />

the sky and the land correctly within<br />

the same image.<br />

There are ND grads to suit different<br />

shooting situations, so before you<br />

invest, think about which you’d get most<br />

benefit from. The first thing to consider<br />

Above There<br />

are several<br />

different<br />

types of ND<br />

grads on the<br />

market, with<br />

different<br />

strengths<br />

and light<br />

blocking<br />

abilities.<br />

No grad filter Soft grad filter Hard grad filter<br />

is whether to buy a hard or<br />

TIP<br />

a soft grad. This refers to<br />

how steep the gradient is Poorly manufactured<br />

ND grads often have a<br />

between the tinted and<br />

colour cast, so stick to<br />

non-tinted parts of the<br />

well-known brands like<br />

filter. In other words, how Cokin, Lee Filters, Hoya<br />

rapidly the tinted glass<br />

and SRB.<br />

becomes clear. If you’re<br />

shooting landscapes with a very<br />

flat horizon, such as coastal scenes,<br />

a hard grad, where the gradient is very<br />

small, is ideal. On the other hand if you<br />

shoot mountain environments, where<br />

the horizon is not so flat, the wider<br />

gradient of a soft grad is better.<br />


The second thing to consider is the<br />

density or ‘strength’ of the tint. Darker<br />

densities tend to suit sunrises and<br />

sunsets, whereas lighter densities<br />

tend to suit daytime conditions. If in<br />

doubt, invest in a grad kit with a range<br />

of densities and hardnesses. Cokin’s<br />

H250A ND grad kit is a good option,<br />

although as a P-size kit it won’t suit<br />

ultra-wide focal lengths.<br />

Below You<br />

can get a<br />

more evenly<br />

exposed<br />

landscape<br />

using soft or<br />

hard ND grad<br />

filters which<br />

can darken<br />

bright skies.<br />


B MODE ON MY<br />



I’m just getting to grips with my<br />

Q<br />

DSLR but can’t really figure out<br />

the B mode. What is this for?<br />

The Bulb mode allows users to set<br />

a very slow shutter speed for long<br />

exposure photography. In all other<br />

modes, the longest available exposure<br />

time is usually 30 seconds, but in low<br />

light conditions this sometimes isn’t<br />

enough to achieve a properly exposed<br />

image. In Bulb, you can keep the<br />

shutter open for as long as required;<br />

for several minutes or even hours.<br />

Bulb mode is useful for fireworks,<br />

vehicle light trails and astro work. It’s<br />

usually used with a remote shutter<br />

release, as users would otherwise<br />

have to keep a finger pressed on<br />

the shutter button for the duration<br />

of the exposure, leading to camera<br />

shake. A sturdy tripod is also needed<br />

to keep the camera perfectly still.<br />

When shooting in daylight, a neutral<br />

density filter will be necessary in order<br />

to achieve very long exposures. On<br />

some cameras, Bulb is represented<br />

by B on the mode dial, but on others<br />

it’s accessed by changing the shutter<br />

speed setting to beyond 30 seconds.<br />






How can I get the best<br />

from a circular polariser?<br />

I love my circular polariser<br />

Q but I’ve no idea how it<br />

works. Can you explain it<br />

to me in layman’s terms?<br />

A polarising filter is a key staple of<br />

the landscape photographer’s kit<br />

bag, filtering out light from certain<br />

directions. With careful adjustment,<br />

this enables the photographer to<br />

increase saturation and reduce glare<br />

and reflections from shiny non-metallic<br />

surfaces such as glass and water. This<br />

includes blocking scattered, polarised<br />

light from a clear blue sky, giving a<br />

much deeper colour. Polarisers can<br />

also be used to reduce the intensity of<br />

highlights, effectively decreasing the<br />

dynamic range of the scene.<br />


The main disadvantage of polarising<br />

filters is that because they block much<br />

of the light entering the lens, longer<br />

exposures are necessary, and therefore<br />

a tripod is often required. Polarisers are<br />

also only fully effective when the sun is<br />

at 90° to the camera. This makes<br />

it difficult to use polarisers<br />

around sunrise and sunset.<br />

If you’re not too sure how<br />

best to use your circular<br />

polariser, check out the three<br />

steps on the right.<br />

Above If you<br />

need to add<br />

contrast to<br />

blue skies<br />

or reduce<br />

glare and<br />

reflections,<br />

a polariser<br />

is the filter<br />

for you.<br />

TIP<br />

The thinner the<br />

polariser, the less<br />

vignetting it will cause on<br />

ultra wide-angle lenses,<br />

so look out for slimline<br />

models.<br />


For maximum impact, ensure your camera is perpendicular to the<br />

sun. To achieve this, point your finger directly at the sun with your<br />

thumb at a perfect right angle. Keeping your finger pointing at the<br />

sun, rotate your hand, and any angle towards which your thumb<br />

points is the ideal shooting direction. For landscapes, this makes<br />

noon, when the sun is highest in the sky, the best time to use<br />

a polariser.<br />

2 TWIST THE<br />


Once your shot is composed,<br />

twist the very end of the filter<br />

so one piece of glass rotates<br />

against the other. As you look<br />

through the viewfinder, you<br />

should notice a change in<br />

reflections, glare and haze,<br />

as well as in the saturation of<br />

greens and blues. You may<br />

decide to twist the filter to its full effect, but more often than not<br />

a halfway position gives a more subtle, natural-looking effect.<br />

Uneven effect<br />


Balance your exposure as normal and try a test shot. If your scene<br />

has a blue sky, check the image carefully to ensure the exposure<br />

is even across the whole sky. This is important when shooting with<br />

a very wide-angle lens, where the filter can have more of an effect<br />

on one part of the image than another, causing a dark band. If you<br />

notice a problem, adjust the filter slightly to reduce its effect.<br />



I’ve noticed my camera’s ISO<br />

Q<br />

can be set to auto. In what<br />

situations would this be recommended?<br />

While film had a fixed sensitivity to<br />

light that could not be altered mid-roll,<br />

digital cameras have the benefit of<br />

allowing adjustments to their sensor’s<br />

sensitivity at the twist of a dial. This<br />

sensitivity level is called ISO, and<br />

alongside aperture and shutter speed<br />

is part of the exposure triangle that<br />

dictates how bright or dark an image<br />

will appear. Lower ISOs are less<br />

sensitive to light and produce less<br />

noise, while higher ISOs are more<br />

sensitive but produce more noise.<br />

Most DSLRs feature an auto ISO<br />

option where you can set a maximum<br />

ISO level and minimum shutter speed.<br />

The camera will then automatically<br />

adjust the ISO to ensure a well-exposed<br />

image within the chosen boundaries.<br />

When quickly moving between areas<br />

with different lighting conditions,<br />

for example inside and outside at<br />

a wedding, this function can be a<br />

highly useful tool for achieving correct<br />

exposure quickly. Should the camera<br />

fail to achieve a well-exposed image<br />

within the bounds set, only then<br />

will it begin to increase its ISO past<br />

the maximum level. This gives the<br />

photographer a far greater level of<br />

control when using aperture-priority.<br />







How do I clean my<br />

camera’s sensor?<br />

I keep seeing lots of black<br />

Q<br />

spots on my images,<br />

especially when I shoot a<br />

clear blue sky. Are there any steps<br />

I can take to fix this issue?<br />

There comes a time in every camera’s<br />

life when, despite your best efforts, the<br />

sensor surface picks up specks of dirt.<br />

This is more likely to be an issue if you<br />

regularly change your lenses outside,<br />

where dust, sand and water can easily<br />

get in. Even if you shoot primarily<br />

inside, such as in a studio, oil and grease<br />

from the inner workings of your camera<br />

can still splatter onto your sensor.<br />

You might find that you don’t even<br />

notice these little marks until you are<br />

shooting a clear and bright background<br />

that really shows just how dirty your<br />

sensor actually is. Some cameras have<br />

automatic sensor-cleaning systems,<br />

although they’re not always effective.<br />


You may decide that getting your<br />

sensor cleaned professionally is the<br />

best option, but this can cost upwards<br />

of about £30. If you’re on a budget, why<br />

not try cleaning it yourself? While this<br />

might seem like a daunting task, if you<br />

work carefully you can’t go wrong. For<br />

instructions on how to do this, follow<br />

the three steps on the right. If you’re<br />

looking to invest in a decent budget<br />

sensor-cleaning kit, The Dust Patrol<br />

Sensor Cleaning Kit is a great option.<br />

Check it out at thedustpatrol.com<br />

Above It’s<br />

easy to<br />

clean your<br />

camera’s<br />

sensor<br />

yourself<br />

when you<br />

know how.<br />


CAMERA<br />

The first thing you need<br />

to do is get your camera’s<br />

mirror out of the way. If<br />

you own a CSC you won’t<br />

have this problem, so you<br />

can go straight onto Step<br />

2. If you own a DSLR make<br />

sure your battery is fully<br />

charged, then turn your<br />

camera on and go into the Setup Menu. Click the ‘Lock mirror up for<br />

cleaning’ option and select Start. Once the mirror is out of the way,<br />

you can then remove the lens.<br />

2 CLEAN YOUR<br />

SENSOR<br />

With your sensor exposed,<br />

now use a manual air dust<br />

blower to remove the dust<br />

that is just sitting on the<br />

sensor. Ensure that you<br />

do not use any canned<br />

air or blow on the sensor<br />

yourself, as you will run<br />

the risk of making it worse.<br />

Once you have removed all of the dry dirt, you can try using a wet<br />

swab cleaner by following the instruction manual that will come<br />

with your cleaning kit.<br />

3 CHECK THE<br />


When you have finished<br />

cleaning your sensor,<br />

check that there are no<br />

marks that you have<br />

missed. Put your lens<br />

back on and turn off the<br />

camera in order to put your<br />

mirror back where it should<br />

be. Set your aperture to<br />

f/22, take a shot of a clear background and then check it on your<br />

computer. A clear blue sky works well for this, but a piece of white<br />

paper will also do the job.<br />




I’ve just bought a DSLR but<br />

Q<br />

don’t want to splash out on<br />

a new flashgun. Can I buy an old<br />

secondhand flash online?<br />

Buying secondhand equipment is a<br />

great way to save money, but with<br />

flashguns you need to exercise some<br />

caution. This is because flashes<br />

from the film days work on a much<br />

higher voltage than DSLRs, and can<br />

do serious damage to your camera’s<br />

circuitry. The simplest answer is to<br />

invest in a hotshoe adapter like the<br />

SMDV Hot Shoe Safe Sync pictured<br />

above. This regulates the voltage to<br />

protect the camera. The other option<br />

is to connect the flash to your camera<br />

using cheap wireless triggers, so if<br />

there is an issue it won’t damage the<br />

camera. The last option, and in my<br />

opinion the most sensible one, is to<br />

buy a cheap flashgun. With an influx<br />

of high quality third-party models from<br />

the East, it really is a buyer’s market.<br />

Yongnuo’s YN-565EX TTL is<br />

a fantastic budget option.<br />





What<br />

settings<br />

do I need<br />

for DSLR<br />

video?<br />

I want to start making some<br />

Q<br />

movies of my family on my<br />

DSLR. Is there anything I<br />

need to know before I start?<br />

Almost all modern DSLRs, CSCs<br />

and advanced compacts have Full<br />

HD video functionality built-in. The<br />

quality is so impressive that many<br />

leading video companies are<br />

using professional DSLR<br />

cameras for high-end TV<br />

productions, including 24<br />

and House. So if you own a<br />

modern DSLR, you already<br />

have everything you need<br />

to start shoot professionallooking<br />

video.<br />

The basic principles of<br />

videography are the same as they are<br />

for stills photography, therefore so long<br />

as you understand that aperture, shutter<br />

speed and ISO work together to control<br />

exposure you’re already halfway there.<br />

You’ll be shooting in manual mode, but<br />

the shutter speed stays the same for<br />

most of the time, so it is actually more<br />

similar to working in aperture-priority<br />

mode. This means that you only have<br />

to worry about ISO and aperture when<br />

balancing your exposure.<br />

TIP<br />

4K video has 4x the<br />

resolution of Full HD, so<br />

record in this format and<br />

you’ll be able to crop in<br />

and still have great<br />

quality footage.<br />


Your camera will have<br />

a built-in microphone,<br />

the sensitivity of which can<br />

be changed in the menu. You can<br />

buy higher quality external mics that<br />

plug into the audio-in port on the side<br />

of the camera. There may also be an<br />

audio-out port so that you can connect<br />

headphones and hear the audio as it’s<br />

recorded. Finally, take a quick look at<br />

the other video options in the menu,<br />

as there may be some useful features,<br />

such as wind reduction. Before you start<br />

shooting, follow these three steps to get<br />

your camera properly set up...<br />

Above<br />

There’s a<br />

wide range<br />

of video<br />

accessories<br />

available for<br />

DSLRs to<br />

improve the<br />

quality of<br />

your footage.<br />



1 SET THE<br />



Put your DSLR in<br />

movie mode and select<br />

the highest video<br />

resolution from your<br />

camera’s menu, which<br />

on most is Full HD<br />

(1080p, not 1080i).<br />

Choose a 25fps frame<br />

rate, or 50fps if you think you’ll want to slow your footage down.<br />

Next change the mode dial to manual, and set a shutter speed of<br />

1/50sec (or 1/100sec if you’re shooting at 50fps).<br />

2 BALANCE<br />

YOUR<br />


Select an ISO of 100<br />

for minimal digital<br />

noise and adjust the<br />

aperture while looking<br />

at the lightmeter<br />

through the viewfinder<br />

until the exposure is<br />

at 0. If you’re shooting<br />

in dark conditions, you may need to use a higher ISO to balance the<br />

exposure, though this will introduce noise. Note that wide apertures<br />

may not be possible in particularly bright conditions.<br />

3 FOCUS &<br />


While most cameras<br />

can now autofocus<br />

during video recording,<br />

manual focusing is<br />

more accurate and<br />

much smoother than<br />

an autofocus motor<br />

jerking back and forth.<br />

So flick the switch<br />

on your lens from AF to MF. While you’re there, also turn on image<br />

stabilisation if it’s available, unless your camera is mounted on a<br />

tripod, in which case it’s best to leave it turned off.<br />



50FPS?<br />

My new DSLR has Full HD video<br />

Q<br />

at 50fps as well as 25fps.<br />

Which mode should I shoot in, and is<br />

50fps better?<br />

As well as stills, most modern DSLRs<br />

and CSCs can shoot Full HD (1080p)<br />

movies. In the UK, most video is<br />

recorded at a frame rate of 25fps,<br />

which effectively means 25 still<br />

frames are flashed up consecutively<br />

per second, producing smooth,<br />

seamless footage. But if you slow that<br />

footage down 2x for slow-mo effects,<br />

then you’ll only have 12.5 frames-persecond,<br />

which will look a little jumpy.<br />

For smoother slow-mo, film at 50fps<br />

so that when it’s slowed down by 2x<br />

there are still 25fps to play with, and<br />

the footage still looks smooth. You can<br />

watch 50fps footage on a computer<br />

screen and some TVs, but as soon as<br />

it’s uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, it<br />

will be converted to 25fps. Watch out<br />

for progressive (p) and interlaced (i)<br />

too. Progressive records each of its<br />

25 or 50 frames as whole images.<br />

But interlaced only records half of the<br />

picture per frame, though you can’t tell<br />

when played back at full speed.<br />




I NEED<br />


Photographer: Gabrielle Motola gabriellemotola.com,<br />

gmotophotos<br />


5-Axis Image Stabilisation Re-developed exclusively for the E-M1 Mark II,<br />

the image stabilisation mechanism provides up to 6.5 shutter speed steps<br />

of correction performance for reliable camera-shake compensation.<br />

Find out why so many are making the switch at:<br />


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