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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ask The Pros!

This Article Features Photo Zoom

This image of Niagara Falls was 26.59 MB as a CRW RAW file. When the file was opened, it expanded to 60.2 MB. The file was sized to 7x4.7 inches for this article, which made it 8.41 MB, and then compressed as a JPEG to 540.5 K using a quality setting of 8 to send over the Internet. You never know what size a file will need to be, so shoot with the largest setting at either RAW or JPEG.
Q. I’m shooting JPEGs with my 50D that are larger than 4 MB. How can I reduce size without compromising quality?

A. Kay,
You can choose a smaller JPEG capture size from the camera’s menu, but you’ll compromise the quality. Beyond this, the answer depends on how you want to use your files. If you want to make large prints, you want the largest file size possible so you should shoot in RAW or at the highest-quality JPEG your camera allows. If you want to maintain a high-quality file at a smaller size for sending or viewing over the Internet, bring your image into processing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Elements and compress it to a smaller JPEG after optimizing it. (I’d still save the master file at the initial capture size.) If your reason for wanting a smaller file is due to limited storage space, I’d opt for buying more storage rather than downsizing the files. I just purchased a 1.5 terabyte external drive for $109.
—George Lepp

Q. What would be a good, all-purpose gear setup for an amateur photographer on a budget?
—Steven Latulipe

A. Steven,
Budget means different things to different people. I think the best way to approach this is to have a very clear idea of how much money you’re willing to spend and that will help answer the question. Buy the best equipment you can afford—one D-SLR camera body (it doesn’t matter—Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony), one wide-angle zoom that gets you down to at least 28mm, one telephoto zoom that takes you to at least 200mm. A sturdy tripod with ballhead, a polarizing filter and memory cards. Photography today usually means computer equipment as well, most importantly the software and computer system you use to open and work with the images. I use Photoshop CS4, but it’s an expensive program. Photoshop Elements, Adobe Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture all are good options. You’ll have to invest some time to research these choices to see what might be best for your needs and budget.
—Daryl Benson

Q. Which do pros prefer, Canon or Nikon? Which is more common in the professional world of photography?

A. Ryan,
The easy answer is, of course, yes! Pros do prefer Canon and NikonÖand a few shoot Olympus and Sony, too. Truthfully, a pro could shoot with any major brand today. The reason for any preference has little to do with quality, but a lot to do with comfort with the gear and system needs. Pros who have been shooting a long time usually started with a brand years ago and are comfortable with it. Plus, it’s very expensive to switch brands. Both Canon and Nikon have a full range of cameras, lenses, flash and other accessories to make a pro’s work easier. Olympus also has been hard at work creating a complete system with that same range of gear, plus Sony is striving to do that, too.

I have shot with all of these brands, and the images all look good. My preferences are based on how the gear fits my unique needs as a photographer. I happen to like Olympus for travel because of the system’s size (and I do a lot of travel). I also like it for close-ups because of the tilting live LCD of the E-3. I still have and use a Canon system for when I need lower noise at higher ISO settings and for specific focal-length needs (such as a fast 85mm lens), but I could easily be satisfied with Nikon, as well.
—Rob Sheppard

Q.What would you say is the best type of camera for wildlife photography? Digital or film, and what brand?
—Elizabeth Pletzer

A. Elizabeth,
Brand is really not important, but the person behind the camera is. No secret, I’m a Nikon shooter, and the D3 with its buffer upgrade is the best machine for wildlife photography in my honest opinion. All cameras have bells and whistles, which are really easy to get lost in. Focus on the solid basics: weight, AF, speed in low-light situations, frames per second and write times, and you’ll be good to go!
—Moose Peterson

Q. What way would you start to promote your photos?
—Lucy VanSwearingen

A. Lucy,
The first things to consider are to whom you want to promote your images: local galleries and shops, specific interest groups (such as conservation organizations, bird enthusiasts or residents of a specific area), interior decorators, mainstream media, advertising agencies, etc., and what products you plan to offer (e.g., stock images, fine prints, illustrated articles or workshops). Knowing your target audience will help guide your marketing strategy, pricing and other business decisions. In all cases, maintaining a professional attitude is essential to success. Establish a business brand, register your business with the appropriate agencies in your area, print business cards, etc. These days, a professional-looking website also is a critical marketing tool and a great way to present your portfolio. You can start building your resume by submitting images and articles to local and national publications, exhibiting your work in local galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, or other venues in your area, or contacting local businesses that may be interested in using your work to decorate offices, brochures, etc.
—Guy Tal


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