03-27-2014, 09:16 AM
#1
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Hello ladies and gents of TSN,

With the help of Ravi and celestino, I picked out my first DSLR and began my photography journey with a bang. I bought a Nikon D7000, Nikkor 35mm/1.8g prime lens and started shooting. Since then, I've picked up a SLIK Mini II table tripod and I'm amazed at the difference.

Anyways, to keep things brief, I wanted to create a post where I can ask the more experienced photographers here questions without spamming the subforum.

To start off, my lightbox is completely throwing my light meter off in the camera. It's saying it's properly exposed and yet the pictures are not. To my understanding, I should use the exposure compensation for this? Does this do anything other than trick the camera into thinking an item is properly exposed? In other words, does it affect the image quality at all or does it only trick the meter?

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 04-21-2014, 08:08 AM
#2
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Well, no biters so far on my first question Smile. I guess it was rhetorical.

I'm in the process of figuring out what lens to get next for SOTD / close up product shots. I've talked to several members here about the Nikon 40mm/2.8g AF-S and the 60mm/2.8 AF-D.

The 60mm would be better for macro photography as I understand it - being close to the 105mm butter zone with my D7000. Then again, I don't think I'll need that 1:1 magnification. In addition, the AF-D doesn't have VR. Is VR important for handheld shots? I'm worried that I'll have to really sacrifice quality to offset the lack of VR.

The 40mm 2.8 AF-S looks really good - not ideal for true macro photography but would be a great regular lens with closeup viability. The added VR - nice touch. Inexpensive too - brand new. I've read that the bokeh is much better with this lens in comparison to my 35/1.8.

Should I check out alternative brands? I've heard Tamron is also good.

What do you think? Adoroma is graciously letting me return my 35mm 1.8g lens because it's not what I was really looking for in my first lens. Finances are tight now that I'm buckling down for a wedding / moving into a place of our own with my 2 future stepsons.

All feedback is appreciated Biggrin

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 04-21-2014, 10:00 AM
#3
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(03-27-2014, 09:16 AM)bmilcs Wrote: To start off, my lightbox is completely throwing my light meter off in the camera. It's saying it's properly exposed and yet the pictures are not. To my understanding, I should use the exposure compensation for this? Does this do anything other than trick the camera into thinking an item is properly exposed? In other words, does it affect the image quality at all or does it only trick the meter?

There's no tricking the camera. It will do exactly what you ask of it. No more, no less.

To answer your question, we need more info. Is the photo to light or too dark? What metering mode are you using? What are you metering off of?

The camera's meter gives a result that makes the metered subject a neutral gray tone. If you're metering something that's 18% gray, it will be perfectly metered. If you meter something that's white, like snow, it will seem to you as if it were underexposed because the camera's meter is trying to make it 18% gray. If you meter something black, it will seem overexposed to you for the same reason.

I'm going to guess that you're pictures are too dark because the camera is trying to make the white in your light box gray. Is this correct? There are several ways to correct this.

1. use manual metering and simply change the settings until you see what you like. This is probably the most fool proof.

2. use exposure compensation so the camera provides settings to make the picture brighter. For outdoor pictures in snow, I start with +1.5 stops of compensation as a starting point.

3. Meter off your subject, not the surrounding area. If the metering mode is not using a narrow enough portion of your frame, you can change to evaluative or even spot metering, depending on modes available to you. in tricky metering situations, such as concert photography, I like using spot metering and I will meter off something on the subject that is midtone,not necessarily gray.

One old photography trick is to figure out how many "stops" away from neutral gray the palm of your hand is, then you always have a reference for metering, as long as your hand is in the SAME light as the subject. (very important point). A description of this method can be found here:

http://digital-photography-school.com/ho...d-at-hand/

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 04-21-2014, 10:06 AM
#4
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Edit: I see 5savages beat me to it. Oh well, I'm leaving it.

Sorry, I didn't see the 1st question. Yes, using exposure compensation is one way to do it. It's probably underexposed, yes? So Ex' comp' is one way to do it. If your background is dark, the subject will be overexposed most likely.

OK, you need to understand why. Metering exposes for grey tones. Anyway, that's the way it works, it exposes and wants to make every picture that exposure of "grey". Your light box upsets that, especially if you include a lot of white or bright areas by including a large area in what is included in the metering. The bright or white areas want to be seen as grey by the meter and not white, so the camera compensates for the bright areas, and the subject itself will be underexposed by making the white areas "grey". You can narrow the area used for the exposure, that is, the subject, or use a spot metering function. Remember, the subject is what's important most times, not the light box. Expose for the subject. Or just leave things the way they are and as long as you don't have blown highlights most digital picture programs will allow you to fix it to a certain degree. Blown highlights are permanently gone and irretrievable. A precise exposure is always best though.

Back to underexposures, and you didn't ask this... What follows won't be a precise exposure, but it'll certainly be very close. If you're shooting fast action and if your camera decides on an exposure too slowly, take an exposure on grass in the picture, or use an 18% grey card (but no one carries those today), Take the grass exposure in the same light as you'll be shooting in and exposure compensate +1 (or open 1 f-stop if using aperture priority). Lock that exposure in and just shoot. It worked for film, it works for digital too. Of course if conditions change you need to remeasure the exposure. No grass? Extend your hand and fingers should be extended yet together, thumb extended too. Take an exposure of your palm skin. This exposure is locked in at -1 since palm skin (Caucasian) is brighter than the grey the camera wants to expose for. The extended thumb? That's the reminder to change the exposure 1 value. It might work for other races, I just don't know. Or if using aperture priority, just close up one f-stop. Just remember, the exposure you take for this method must be in the light that the subject is in. If you add filtration, that changes the exposure.

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 04-21-2014, 10:08 AM
#5
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(04-21-2014, 08:08 AM)bmilcs Wrote: I'm in the process of figuring out what lens to get next for SOTD / close up product shots. I've talked to several members here about the Nikon 40mm/2.8g AF-S and the 60mm/2.8 AF-D.

My two cents is that if your main purpose is to use these pictures for posting the web, skip the extra cost of a macro lens and get a lens that is most useful to you elsewhere. The Nikon D7000 is a 16 megapixel camera, leaving you plenty of pixels for cropping for web use. You would rarely want to post full-resolution jpegs to the web so skip the macro and consider your other camera uses.

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 04-21-2014, 10:12 AM
#6
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Thank you guys for the fantastic info! Much appreciated. I really need to read up on photography Biggrin.

The majority of my photography will be shaving related - lots of Ebay & SOTD. I figured I'd tailor to those needs and get a macro. I'm thinking the 40mm will be great because it'll double as a nice portrait lens as well while still having good macro ability. Shaving is my primary focus though Smile. What do you think?

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 04-21-2014, 11:10 AM
#7
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40mm is typically seen as a a bit wide for portraits unless you're group photos. 85mm to 135mm is the more traditional focal lengths for portraits. I use a 100mm f2 but am considering getting a 85mm because I too have a crop sensor.

If you have your 35mm still, take a SOTD picture with it and crop it until fills the frame and see if that suits your needs.

With a crop sensor, *my* preference is an 85mm for portraits, 24 to 28mm as a good "walk-around" focal length.

If you're main concern is shaving photography, then I'd consider the 50mm f/1.8. The "nifty fifty" provides the best bang for the buck with respect to image quality in my opinion (at least for Canon, though I suspect the same is true for Nikon). It used to be the 50mm was the "standard" lens in camera kits. With that lens you have a high quality, prime lens that closer to the typical focal length for portraits than the 40mm you're considering. You don't get VR, but you also don't get the bigger price tag. If you're taking shave shots, VR doesn't really do much for you anyway. In the Canon line, the 50mm f2 is only $125. Not sure about Nikon.

Just something to think about. With a 16 megapixel sensor, I just don't see that macro really does much for you when cropping might get you want you want. Not that macro is a bad thing, I just wonder if going after it is limiting what else you might get.

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 04-21-2014, 12:37 PM
#8
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Bryan, I still think a 50mm f/1.8 lens would work very well for what you are planning on doing.
All of my SOTD shots are done with one. However, I don't have any experience with others except for the 35mm one that you already have.
Good luck, but I think you are putting too much thought into it. Just start shooting and working on your compositions! Biggrin

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 04-22-2014, 04:41 AM
#9
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Celestino - you are very right. It is in my nature to obsess about my hobbies lol. It's exceedingly difficult to make decisions especially with custom brushes!! So many choices - and sadly limited funds to try them all Smile

My 35mm wasn't as "crisp" and "sharp" as I had hoped - especially when cropped. I'm sorry that I'm not very clear as it's hard for me to describe with such a limited knowledge of photography. Tongue

Even with long shutter speeds, a tripod, f10-f22, proper lighting via a lightbox and post shot editing, I still feel like I did not get the proper lens for what I'm looking for. I want CRISP, super sharp images. I want to see every last detail Smile and I want to get in CLOSE. I have 20/13 vision so I can pick up on the slightest issues or discrepancies in an image - OCD tendencies too Smile. I can spend upwards of 15 minutes on a single photo in Photoshop or Lightroom until I get it JUST right - even then it's never quite where I want it.

Anyway, with that mind and knowing that I want to use my camera specifically for ebay and shaving pics, I'm pretty set in my mind on a macro lens.

I'm sure the 50mm f1.8 is an awesome all around lens and I'll most likely end up with one eventually. Celestino your SOTD shots are fantastic and I love them. I plan on picking one up eventually but there's something about macro shots that intrigue me XD

My concerns with the larger 105mm lenses is that I will be stuck with a tripod - that I won't be able to free hand it because I can't afford one with VR. I'd have to pick up the older AF-D. I don't think I could get one for under $300 either.

Ah the inner battle wages on.

* I did find out that I wasn't using the ideal butter zone f-stop for that lens. That probably attributed to it as well. However, the 35mm is already out on the road back to Adoroma.

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 04-22-2014, 06:00 AM
#10
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I went with my gut and against most recommendations here and abroad, purchased the:

Nikon 40mm f2.8 AF-D macro lens :X. The reviews from owners seem to love it and the pictures speak for themselves. I don't see myself upgrading to an FX anytime soon (wedding / moving / family).

It's similar to the 35mm but with the ability for close up detail. I really liked my 35mm except for closeups - the 40mm seems to bring that to the table while also doubling as a good portrait. I will report back with my findings ! Biggrin

Sorry to frustrate all those who tried to help me. I'm stubborn as all hell.

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 04-22-2014, 06:04 AM
#11
  • Agravic
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  • Pennsylvania, USA
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(04-22-2014, 06:00 AM)bmilcs Wrote: I went with my gut and against most recommendations here and abroad, purchased the:

Nikon 40mm f2.8 AF-D macro lens :X. The reviews from owners seem to love it and the pictures speak for themselves. I don't see myself upgrading to an FX anytime soon (wedding / moving / family).

It's similar to the 35mm but with the ability for close up detail. I really liked my 35mm except for closeups - the 40mm seems to bring that to the table while also doubling as a good portrait. I will report back with my findings ! Biggrin

Sorry to frustrate all those who tried to help me. I'm stubborn as all hell.


I prefer the term 'passionately driven by nature' ... Biggrin

Congratulations on the new lens ... and happy photo journeys!

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 04-22-2014, 06:06 AM
#12
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Hahaha. Yeah! That!

Thanks, Ravi. Cannot wait to have a proper lens for closeups.

Included with the purchase is a FREE:

Vivitar 3-Piece UV/CPL/ND8 52mm Filter Kit
http://www.adorama.com/VVFKND52.html

What is this?

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 04-22-2014, 06:22 AM
#13
  • Agravic
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These are various UV and related filters ... use them to protect your expensive lens glass, if not for anything else.
It's much cheaper to replace a filter than lens!

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 04-22-2014, 06:24 AM
#14
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Very true! I am quite clumsy at times.

What other lenses should I consider picking up for a kit? I want to keep my kit at a max of 2-3 lenses. I really would like a nice zoom lens for general photography and one serious macro lens. I consider the 40mm to be in the middle.

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 04-22-2014, 06:30 AM
#15
  • Agravic
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  • Pennsylvania, USA
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85 and 135 ...

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 04-22-2014, 07:30 AM
#16
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Congrats on the purchase! I look forward to seeing the results!

(04-22-2014, 06:22 AM)Agravic Wrote: These are various UV and related filters ... use them to protect your expensive lens glass, if not for anything else.
It's much cheaper to replace a filter than lens!

To add to this, don't ruin your expensive lens by using a cheap filter. If you pay the big bucks for good glass, you don't want to ruin it by using cheap filters with poor optics.

I will offer an opposing opinion though. Bryan, for your purposes...Ebay and SOTD shots taken at home...there is little chance of any damage occurring to your lens. A filter, no matter how expensive, can never improve image quality, it will only take away from it. I understand now how important IQ is to you and therefor recommend not using a filter.

My favorite lens, a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, which cost me $1500 *used*, never sports a protective filter. I bought one, but decided I didn't like the every so slight softening of the image. I always use the monstrous lens hood when I use it, even indoors, so it's fairly well protected anyway.

In addition, dirt, dust and minor scratches on the front element of lens do very little to degrade the IQ. Your OCD may go crazy, but the IQ will not suffer. I'm of the opinion that frequent cleaning of the front element is worse for your images than the dust you're trying to remove.

A very enlightening thread can be found here:
http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-l...-club.html
and a shocking test can be found here:
http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2008/10/...-scratches
and here:
http://kurtmunger.com/dirty_lens_articleid35.html

Dust and scratches on the rear element are a different story.

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 04-23-2014, 08:01 PM
#17
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Congratulations on the new lens, Bryan! Biggrin

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 04-24-2014, 07:03 AM
#18
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Thank you good sir.

I am crazy and decided to get the 40mm f2.8 to compare. I will end up selling off the one that I don't prefer.

I like the 60mm but I don't like the distance I have to stepback in order to fill the frame with a SOTD shot. The 40mm may fit the bill perfectly and be lighter - even with inferior build / optics - it should be a fantastic lens.

TRUE macro photography isn't what I'm looking for. I did not realize how close 1:1 really is - esp on a DX.

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