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Digital SLR Guide News - Great SLR Gift Ideas
October 30, 2007
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Digital SLR Q & A
Question: Which lenses are compatible with the different camera models?
When talking about lenses, there are really two types you need to consider: manufacturer-specific and third party.
Manufacturer-specific lenses are made by the camera companies: Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, etc. Third party lenses are made by three main companies: Sigma, Tamron and Tokina (there are others, but these three produce the highest quality for a variety of camera models).
A manufacturer-specific lens will ONLY work with a camera from the same manufacturer. Canon lenses are only compatible with Canon cameras, and cannot be used on a Nikon or Olympus camera.
By contrast, the same third party lens can be found for a variety of cameras. The key that makes this work is something called a lens mount.
The lens mount is where the lens attaches to the camera body, and each manufacturer's lens mount is a slightly different size (which is why you can't swap lenses across manufacturers). Third party companies produce the exact same lens with a variety of lens mounts.
For example, Tamron has some lenses that have different mounts for Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony. Only the most popular third party lenses come with this many different mounts. The vast majority of third party lenses are only compatible with the two most popular camera makers: Canon and Nikon.
Olympus and Panasonic are off in a world all their own when it comes to lenses. These two companies - in a partnership - have made their cameras according to a standard called the 4/3 system.
Lenses made for 4/3 cameras CAN be used across manufacturers, because the lens mount is identical. In this case, an Olympus-made lens can be used on a Panasonic camera and vice-versa. Sigma also makes a variety of 4/3 lenses that you can choose from.
To date, Olympus and Panasonic are the only two companies that use the 4/3 system.
Before we wrap up here, let's talk about legacy lenses. These are those old lenses that you have lying around in some hall closet from back in your film days before you made the switch to a compact digital and never looked back.
Many old film SLR lenses are 100% compatible with their new digital SLR counterparts, but there are some exceptions:
Whether you're just looking at lenses for the first time, or want to upgrade to something new, I recommend that you work through my 6-step process to find the best digital SLR lens.
Digital SLR TechniqueFor more digital SLR camera techniques, please browse through the back issues of this newsletter (especially helpful if you find me rambling about something that makes no sense).
Last month we talked about white balance, and how setting the white balance manually can help you capture accurate colors for the duration of a photo session.
That was the tech-talk - now let's chat about a technique that has less to do with your technical ability and more to do with how you compose a photo.
What I'm alluding to here is a technique that I like to call "Color Complements".
One way to improve the visual impact of your digital photos is to find subjects and scenery where the colors complement each other.
This is a lot like getting someone with good color sense to decorate your home: colors that go together will create an environment that's pleasing for the eye, while colors that fight with each other will make you want to leave the room and go look at something else.
This is not to say that every image should have colors that go together like a custom designed living room. The point here is simply to train your eye to look for complementary colors, or to deliberately arrange a balanced color palette if you have the opportunity to do so.
Let's take a look at two examples.
The first one is from a recent trip to the pumpkin patch with my son (it's that time of year). He was decked out in his orange T-shirt for the occasion, so I knew that there were going to be some good photo opportunities.
As he ran through the piles of pumpkins, I kept my eye out for any situation where I could balance the colors of the pumpkins with the color of his shirt.
While this shot is not the best of the bunch, the color of these pumpkins is almost identical to the color of the shirt (others were close, but didn't match quite as well). This is an example of a situation where the color complement occurred naturally and I just happened to be there with my camera to capture it.
The second example is a situation where I've intentionally done some color matching to create a more pleasing image.
I had been taking a lot of photos of my daughter out on the living room floor but just wasn't thrilled with the results. Her expression was fine, the exposure was correct - so what was it about the photos that was bothering me?
I finally figured it out - the color of the carpet COMPETES with the primary subject (my daughter).
The solution? Eliminate that carpet color by laying down one of her many blankets. While I could just pick a plain white blanket (which is substantially better than that carpet color), why not find something with a bit of color to complement her outfit?
The second photo illustrates this approach: in this case, the color of the blanket complements the color of her clothes to create a more unified image.
Learning ResourceFor those new to the newsletter, I decided that this would be a good month to put together a list of some of the learning resources from the past year.
If you're about to buy a new digital SLR, then these web sites will serve you well once you've got your camera in hand. If you already have a camera, you can get started learning something new right now.
How and WhenThanks to a nasty cold toward the end of the month, I ran out of time for this month's How and When section. If there is some tip or technology that you'd like me to cover in a future issue of the newsletter please request a tip.
Cameras and Accessories
Latest Olympus Digital SLR
The E-3 is built on a foundation of recent Olympus technical innovations in the world of digital SLR cameras: a dust control system (Olympus cameras were the first to include one) and a live view LCD screen (also a first in Olympus cameras).
But the E-3 is much more than just dust control and live view. It's an extremely solid and weatherproofed camera that should not stop snapping away no matter how rugged the conditions.
The E-3 can capture 5 photos per second with its 10 megapixel sensor, and can store those images either on Compact Flash memory cards or the special Olympus xD picture card.
The most notable feature of the E-3 is its enhanced 11-point twin cross autofocus system, designed to be the fastest SLR autofocus in the world when paired with the brand new 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD lens.
Another notable - but more obscure - feature is that the viewfinder of the Olympus E-3 covers 100% of the field of view. On many digital SLRs, when you look through the viewfinder, you're not seeing EXACTLY what the sensor will capture. In many cases you're seeing 95% of what will wind up in the photo but there might be some "extra" elements around the edges.
The 100% viewfinder ensures that the shot you compose in the viewfinder is precisely what you get in your final digital photo.
The E-3 will be available in November of 2007 with a list price - without a lens - of $1,699.00.
Great Gifts for SLR Owners
With the holidays fast approaching, the question comes up: if I already own a digital SLR and lens, what else can I get to go with it?
You're already able to go out into the world and start snapping pictures with you camera. But there are several nice-to-have accessories that you can put on your wish list for the holiday season.
There is quite a lot of price variation when it comes to some of these accessories, so I'll put them in increasing order of extravagance.
LinksThe following collection of links will help to keep you posted about what's new at the Guide and in the world of digital SLR cameras.
Recent Updates to the Digital SLR GuideIn an effort to provide you with more comparative analysis of the cameras and companies that make up the digital SLR market, I'm adding a lot of new pages to the guide that will help you do side-by-side comparisons.
Also, a special announcement for all students of the digital SLR lessons: I've just completed my update to lesson four - completely re-written from the ground up with more photo samples to help you really understand what makes your camera tick. If you've previously registered for the lessons and don't have the e-mail with a link to lesson four, just contact me and I'll be happy to send it to you.
Other Photography Sites
In ConclusionThere should be a lot of new camera guides right around the corner. Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sony have all pledged to send me review units of their latest cameras within the next couple of months, including the Canon D40, Nikon D300, Olympus E-3 and the Sony DSLR-A700.
Knowing my luck, every single one of them will arrive on my doorstep on the same day, right in the midst of the holidays!
On the plus side, that will give me plenty of cameras to work with during the time that I usually take off at the end of the year, and lots of variety when it comes to this year's holiday photos.
Bear in mind that every one of these cameras is geared for the advanced amateur to semi-professional market, and they all come with price tags to match (well over $1,000 for the camera body without a lens). If you're just getting started in the world of digital SLR cameras or have a strict sub-$1000 budget, then don't wait for these guides to make up your mind about which SLR is right for you.
There are plenty of existing digital SLR cameras out there for you to choose from right now, and hopefully there will be some great bargains as the holiday shopping season really gets rolling.
Thanks for reading and happy picture-taking!
--Chris Roberts, Your Digital SLR Guide
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