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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Taking It Slow

Water Done Softly • Time-Lapse Drama • Getting More MMs • Traveling With The Big Glass

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips
You can create the illusion of panning and zooming in standard time-lapse captures by using the Ken Burns effect in video assembly software. It's available in even basic programs such as Apple iMovie and Adobe Premiere Elements. In reality, the effect is achieved by cropping into (zoom) or moving a crop across (pan) a sequence of images, so to maintain the quality in a pan or zoom, you need to capture the time-lapse at a resolution higher than it will be rendered in the final movie. High-definition video is 1920x1080; if you capture the individual images that comprise the time-lapse as small JPEGs on a typical DSLR, you'd have resolution of 2784x1856, allowing you to crop into the images without observable loss of quality. I'm using Apple Final Cut Pro, which offers more options and more control over the final output.

Getting More MMs

Q I keep hearing about increasing my lens magnification by using tele-extenders. Then I hear that the image quality goes away and they're not worth investing in. What's your take on the 1.4X and 2X converters?
B. Allen
Seattle, Washington

A I use tele-extenders regularly on both telephoto lenses and macro lenses. Sometimes, I even stack the 2X and 1.4X converters together to extend my reach. The end result can be excellent, but there are several conditions to consider.

It's at the extremes that the quality of your equipment is tested. With extenders, you'll lose light, so start with a camera body that's capable of high-quality capture at up to ISO 1600 to allow faster shutter speeds and smaller lens openings. Placing a tele-extender between your lens and camera body will, in and of itself, reduce the quality of your capture slightly. Alleviate this by starting with the best available prime lens and extender. By stopping down the lens, you'll be using the lens at its optimum capability. The faster shutter speeds enabled by the higher ISO will mitigate camera movement or vibration. Using Live View or Mirror Lock-Up modes will help control camera vibration at capture.

The most vexing problem with higher magnification is precise focus. The greater the magnification, the less depth of field and the more critical the need to place the focus precisely. Shooting in Live View and magnifying the image on the LCD (up to 10 times) before capture will help with focus placement. It's even better to use a loupe like the HoodLoupe (www.hoodmanusa.com) to view the screen under bright conditions. A recent innovation that enables me to place critical focus at very high magnifications (up to 4280mm telephoto and 24X macro) is the CamRanger (www.camranger.com), which sends a wireless signal to my Apple iPad, turning it into a large-screen viewfinder. With this system, vibrations are eliminated because all the controls are managed on the iPad.

Traveling With The Big Glass
Up until now, I've always had to pack my long lens (500mm ƒ/4) into a separate carry-on bag, and with my computer bag and camera backpack, that puts me over the carry-on limit. We've resolved this by sending the big lens along as Kathy's second carry-on, but you can imagine how well she likes that remedy, since she has camera and computer equipment of her own to deal with.

Recently, I was introduced to a photo backpack that allows me to carry my Canon EF 500mm ƒ/4L along with my normal complement of cameras, lenses and accessories. It even fits in the overhead compartment of small regional flights. The Gura Gear Bataflae 26L (www.guragear.com) works because of its compact depth and two-sided design. One side holds the 500mm with a camera body attached, and the other holds the rest of my essential photo equipment. You can access each side separately, if you wish, or open both at the same time. The harness (straps) tucks away, making it easier to stow. The bag is lightweight, but still protects the gear. I like it. Kathy likes it, too.

Follow George Lepp's exploits, see his latest photographs and be part of the discussion on his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/georgelepp. Lepp is part of the OP Blog at www.outdoorphotographer.com/blog/author/glepp.


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