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Monday, November 10, 2008

D-SLR Facts

10 things you should know about your digital SLR

This Article Features Photo Zoom

7. Internal Filter Flare
When shooting into the sun with a digital SLR, the sun can reflect off the low-pass filter that’s over the image sensor, bouncing onto the rear element of the lens and creating a ghost image.

Usually, the ghost image appears on the opposite side of the frame. You can erase a ghost image using the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop, but here’s another idea. Don’t shoot the subject as tight as you may like. That way, the ghost image may appear out of the final frame. When you crop the image, you’ll crop out the ghost image, which is what I did with this picture of a shipwreck off the coast of Namibia.

8. When Pixels Bloom
Here’s a fact about digital SLRs that I’d like to share so that you don’t freak out and think that something is wrong with your camera when you view a really big enlargement of a scene where very bright and very dark areas meet, as illustrated by this neon sign.

In this photograph, you see the light from the sign spilling over to the dark areas in the scene. That’s normal. That would happen even with film.

On a digital image sensor, where very dark and very light areas meet, the light from bright areas can spill over from the bright pixels to the dark pixels, creating a halo around those dark areas.

In digital photography terms, this is called blooming. You can’t see the blooming effect (different than the light-spilling-over effect) in this picture because it’s small on this page. When viewing an image like this on your monitor at 50% or less, you might not see the effect either. If you think there’s a chance of blooming in a picture, the first thing you should do is enlarge your picture to at least 200% on your monitor to check. Also keep in mind that when you increase the contrast and sharpness of the image, you increase the blooming effect.

9. Memory Card Info
This photograph of prayer wheels, which I took in the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan, is packed with details. It got me thinking about a memory card experiment you should try.

Format your memory card. Compose a scene with lots of detail—trees and grass and foliage in a landscape, or a headshot of a person with a beard. Take five exposures with your ISO set at 400. Now check your camera to see how many exposures you have remaining. Note that number.

Now, format your memory card again. This time, compose a scene with few details—say a sky with clouds or a baby’s face. Take five exposures with your ISO set at 100. Now, check to see how many exposures you have remaining.

As you’ll see, you’ll have more remaining exposures after your few-details/low-ISO setting. That’s because the amount of information in a file affects its size, and files with more detail and more digital noise (which you get at higher ISO settings) are larger than files with fewer details and less noise.

Something else you should know about memory cards: Always format them in-camera and not with your computer. In-camera formatting sets up the memory card for that particular camera.

10. Firmware Updates
Your digital SLR comes with built-in firmware that sets many of the camera’s functions, such as autofocusing and metering. From time to time, camera manufacturers update the firmware, optimizing the performance of their cameras. You can easily download the firmware from the camera manufacturer’s website to your camera via the cable that comes with your camera.

To update the autofocusing on my Canon EOS-1D Mark III, I simply connected my camera to my computer and downloaded the new firmware on my camera. Now I get a higher percentage of sharp action photographs, such as this picture of my son and his friend playing lacrosse.

All digital SLR owners should check the manufacturer’s website regularly for these updates. They’re important.

On a side note, also check the website for your inkjet printer. New drivers are introduced occasionally that will make your printer perform at its best.

Rick Sammon’s latest book, Rick Sammon’s Exploring the Light: Making the Very Best In-Camera Exposures, covers just about everything you need to know about digital SLRs. Visit www.ricksammon.com.


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