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Rick Moquin

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I'm looking for Carl's article on photography. I thought I had a link, can't seem to find it. All help appreciated.
 

Smoke

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Unfortunately most of the information on most digital camera tutorials, (including Carl's) are useless unless you hve a 35 mm SLR digital. I had a Fuji S2800 when Carl wrote that article and while his article says that these hints will work with all camera's they will not.

No matter how well you frame the picture you will always have mega distortion because of the fisheye lens included in most non SLR digitals. When shooting trees on a table or in a Tokonoma the straight edge of the table or Tokonoma will bow and make the picture look funny.

These pictures taken below are with my old Fuji 2800. Good pics, clear, in focus and good color. Terrible representation of the table though. The picture looks as though taken through a globe. The small 28mm lens just can't let in enough light when backed up to help straighten out the photo. When taking the image up closer to gain enough light to get proper exposure, the small lens fisheyes the image to get the large field of view into a photo size image.
 

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Smoke

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In these two photo's, the subject was appx. about 12 feet from the camera when I took the picture. At this distance the 55mm lens is able to capture enough light to shoot a respectable image of the subject without the distortion. Since it is a SLR the line of site is through the lens. What you see is what the camera prints. On the Fuji what I saw is not what was represented in the final print. You look though a viewfinder and not through the lens.

In these photo's I have purposely left in the edge of the table to exhibit the no distortion excellance of a SLR camera's effective shooting capibilities.
 

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Smoke

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On SLR's the white balance is adjustable in many formats while color tempature is changable. ISO speeds can be changed as well as many different shooting options outside of AUTO. Most non SLR digitals must be used in auto mode to focus the camera. On an SLR the cameracan be put in manual, focused and the ISO changed to take a longer exposure picture to capture image possibilities just not capable on a non SLR camera.

These photo's were taken in manual mode with front fill lights useing 5000K spiral flour. lights in two clip on light fixtures and adding a third light from behind down low with different color tissue paper over the back fill light. The camera was on a manual setting, "P" on my Nikon D-50. This allowed me to experiment using longer exposure times to allow the camera to read the color of the back fill light.

A normal point and shoot will just flash and capture the available light while washing out all the fill. It just can't shoot slow enough.

Good luck with future photo's, I am always eager to see any photo of a tree.

Cheers, Al


EDIT: these are all shot with a black background!
 

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Smoke

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BTW in the last photo of the weeping cherry, the tree had one clip light with 5000k spiral. The background was lit with a hand held fill from above with red tissue paper and a clipped on fill to the table with blue tissue.

I just knew that the tree was not going to show up with much detail. I was really amazed that the white Japanese pot with fine delph pictures on it and the light tatami matt showed up so well in the picture while all the while maintaing a good focus. You should see the photo at 2 megs like it is on my hard disk. It is amazing.

If you know anything about photography that is a pretty amazing photo with all the details. I know the tree ain't much but I am damn proud of the image.

Good shooting, Al
 
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Carl's article is still one of the best on the subject there is, he has a updated article planned but he has been busy lately. Robert Kempinski has written an excellent article on bonsai photography, the first part has been published in the ABS journal and the rest will follow soon. The complete article will be posted hopefully at AoB soon for those who do not subscribe to that excellent publication.


Will
 

Rick Moquin

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Thanks to all who have responded.

Carl's article does indeed teach the basics of good photography. I had lost the link and thought that he covered in greater detail exposure and aperture, these words are Chinese to me. Another discussion ensued some time ago with Walter at IBC where he discussed F stop, white levels etc... Finding that post would be like finding a needle in a hay stack, as it wasn't a thread on photography, but a question on the quality and depth of Walter's photos, where, Walter could bring out a 3D representation on a 2D image (better than most).

There is no doubt that any point and shoot camera removes the flexibility often needed in bonsai photography. These cameras are great for taking pictures in nature or family vacations and settings, but leave us flat when photographing bonsai.

Unfortunately most of the information on most digital camera tutorials, (including Carl's) are useless unless you have a 35 mm SLR digital.

I will have to disagree with you on this one Al. Albeit the information found in the owners manual is sketchy at best (they presume you know what they are talking about), the link I provided above goes into great detail in explaining the various intricacies of manual photography. Now having previously stated that most of these manual settings is Chinese to me, it seems that the areas are covered in greater detail than the short descriptions in the user's manual, which btw is understandable as they just list where these features can be found, not really what they are for and how to use them.

No matter how well you frame the picture you will always have mega distortion because of the fisheye lens included in most non SLR digitals.

Now they say a picture is worth 1K words, when we review the D50 (which I presume is an SLR) at DCRP, the D50 has quite a bit of barrel distortion, even for an SLR. My understanding about SLR (correct me if I'm wrong) was in the beginning of digital photography a need existed for professional even photo buffs to be able to use their previously acquired 35mm single lens reflex lenses, which in turn were quite expensive as we know and made of glass vice plastic, and just buy the camera body. It has long been known that glass lenses render a better picture than plastic. I have lived through the difference with an old 110 that took amazing pictures and was told by the processing shop that the reason was indeed the glass lens. A good portion of the photos taken could have been placed against many a 35mm photos taken by non professionals but I digress here.

Your pictures taken with the D50 do indeed show a straight edge on the table compared to the pictures taken with the S2800. My questions is you mentioned the D50 was set on manual, was the S2800 set on manual or full auto? Based on what I have read wrt barrel distortion of the D50, would the results be similar to the S2800, even though the D50 is SLR? Not being argumentative here Al, just inquisitive.

To get back to where we were, although my camera is not an SLR (don't have old lenses to use on it), so for me I thought it was a waste of money based on my understanding of SLR, it does possess the manual settings you have discussed.

My biggest criteria for selecting cameras, regardless of what they are (non professional) is that they must use AA batteries vice proprietary batteries. I have seen too many instances where folks cannot take a picture because their batteries were dead, and couldn't acquire one because it was unique. A case in point was my sister was down for the holidays, low and behold she couldn't snap pics because her battery was dead. The stores were closed (Xmas morning) and I couldn't help her out, I had tons of AAs.

My second criteria was it needed to have a view finder vice just the back LCD and optical zoom vice digital. The third criteria was "Macro" mode because of what we do and the intended use of the camera, this last feature was extremely important. As seen below I have the full gambit of manual features.

As Carl's article is well written but dated, perhaps the question should be. What are folks using for set up these days? The backdrop is a moot point, I like black myself, but perhaps lighting and camera settings? As previously mentioned Walter mentioned this in a thread, I am curious to discuss ball park settings for shooting bonsai. I suppose one can always experiment with different settings to see what each does, but that is time consuming and can only readily be seen once downloaded from the camera. Is there a good starting point? e.g distant to subject, base settings etc?
 

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Rick Moquin

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Carl's article is still one of the best on the subject there is, he has a updated article planned but he has been busy lately. Robert Kempinski has written an excellent article on bonsai photography, the first part has been published in the ABS journal and the rest will follow soon. The complete article will be posted hopefully at AoB soon for those who do not subscribe to that excellent publication.


Will
... looking forward to see it at A of B, or anywhere else for that matter:) anything that improves what we do is always welcomed.
 

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Most of Al's posts were completely inaccurate. Distortion is not a product of light as some of Al's posts suggest, rather its caused by improper engineering of the lens. Also, what is seen in the viewfinder of a(n?) SLR is categorically not 100% of what the photo will be. 95-98% is the norm here. Also, every non-slr digicam I've used has had white balance control as well as at least rudimentary ISO controls. Kodak, fuji (s3100), and HP (I think).

Rick's suggesting the the D50 has a lot of barrel distortion is just as errant. The particular lens that is used /MAY/ have some barrel distortion but the camera is just a means of recording what the lens reflects to the sensor/film.
 

Rick Moquin

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Rick's suggesting the the D50 has a lot of barrel distortion is just as errant. The particular lens that is used /MAY/ have some barrel distortion but the camera is just a means of recording what the lens reflects to the sensor/film.

Thanks for the response Wayne, refreshing to say the least.

My observation on barrel distortion as mentioned was more in line of the camera's review at DRCP, not my opinion. Al seemed to imply that barrel distortion (fisheye) was prevalent in non SLR cameras while non existent in SLRs, well at least my understanding of his post.

My question was and is. Since the D50 has barrel distortion (the review) and the photos taken were carried out in manual mode, would the "fisheye" syndrome appear if the photos were taken in full auto? The observation is based on Al's observation that SLRs do not have barrel distortion. Although, it is obvious to all that the S2800 shows this phenomena, how where these photos taken? In full auto? and second, did the S2800 have the options of going to manual mode, and if so, would taht have reduced the distortion? My first camera did not have these options (manual).

Wrt the engineering of the lens being the biggest culprit wrt barrel distortion, you will not find any argument here, as the same applies to rifle scopes. In closing, Wayne can you enlighten us wrt your perspective on the delta between SLR and non SLR cameras?
 
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bwaynef

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My assertion is that a CAMERA can NOT HAVE BARREL DISTORTION. A lens is free to do as it pleases ...as its the instrument that introduces the distortion. The camera can not. Either the review was errant, or your reading of it was.

quickly ...wikipedia makes no mention of a camera. Only of lenses that suffer from/produce any sort of distortion the two most common linked here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrel_distortion


edit: It was your reading that was in error. From the review: "Not surprisingly there's a fair amount of barrel distortion on that 18 - 55 mm kit lens. "
about ¾ down the page @ http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/nikon/d50-review/
 
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agraham

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Wayne is correct.It is the lens that causes distortion.My recommendation is to place the camera further away.Use a lens length around 100 mm for most digital cameras and 75 for film and digital cameras with a full size sensor.These lengths are slightly telescopic.Use a tripod and as slow a shutter speed as you can.Close down the aperture to increase depth of field with a plain background and increase the aperture to decrease depth of field when shooting against a confusing background.

andy
 

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It's true that all cameras be it point and shoot or DSLRs will have some barrel distortion, and of course the old saying "you get what you pay for" is so true. The more you spend the better the lens you will get. All cameras will have there limitations as far as light and exposure are concerned. Some will do well under low light and some very poor. Usually the high dollar ones will have a better High ISO capability with a small amount of noise which is good for low light shooting and action shots.

With that being said, anyone in the market in the near future for a new camera should do their homework and look at the reviews for their particular camera that they are considering buying. The site Rick mentioned is good but this site http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/ in my opinion is really good also as it gives you a birdseye view of the tests being done on each review and you can judge for yourself by viewing the results.

One mistake not to make is to buy what you think is good because everyone is using them and that is to automatically buy a Canon or Nikon. Nothing against either one of these as I also own a Canon, but also two Sonys and an Olympus. Get what you will be using your camera for and not what the other guy is doing. Following the camera brand forums on the site shown above will also get you info as to what weak and strong points each camera has by seeing what kind of experiences others who have already bought the camera are having. Don't spend a thousand dollars on a well known brand only to find out it doesn't meet your needs. Shooting pictures can be just as obssesive as bonsai and you might want to use the cam for more than just shooting bonsai.:D
 

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Wayne is correct.
Thanks Andy. You're not bad yourself.
It is the lens that causes distortion.My recommendation is to place the camera further away.Use a lens length around 100 mm for most digital cameras and 75 for film and digital cameras with a full size sensor.These lengths are slightly telescopic.
60-90mm effective length is whats recommended for portraiture but longer lengths would be even better. I'm a little concerned with the numbers you've posted in relation to digital/film (small sensors vs. full-size ....and the ensuing zoom involved) as 100mm on my d50 is effectively 150mm while 75 on a full-size sensor/film is effectively 75mm, but either way, these are well beyond the minimum required for portraiture.
Use a tripod and as slow a shutter speed as you can.
Always great advice.
Close down the aperture to increase depth of field with a plain background and increase the aperture to decrease depth of field when shooting against a confusing background.
Just to be clear, closing down the aperture means making the aperture smaller, but its somewhat counter-intuitive as to how to do that looking at the numbers (f1.4,f4,f8 ....). The higher the number, the smaller the aperture, the smaller the opening inside the lens that allows light to come through.

The opposite is true for increasing the aperture. Low numbers mean a wide-open aperture which in turn means more light passing through (...which if you haven't guessed means the ability to use a faster shutter speed).


ThomasJ said:
It's true that all cameras be it point and shoot or DSLRs will have some barrel distortion
...no its not.
 
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Rick Moquin

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My assertion is that a CAMERA can NOT HAVE BARREL DISTORTION. A lens is free to do as it pleases ...as its the instrument that introduces the distortion. The camera can not. Either the review was errant, or your reading of it was.

quickly ...wikipedia makes no mention of a camera. Only of lenses that suffer from/produce any sort of distortion the two most common linked here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrel_distortion


edit: It was your reading that was in error. From the review: "Not surprisingly there's a fair amount of barrel distortion on that 18 - 55 mm kit lens. "
about ¾ down the page @ http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/nikon/d50-review/

I'm not disputing the points you have raised Wayne. Yes indeed the review did state that "this particular lens kit", I'm not disputing that. I also know that the final result has a lot to do with the lens itself (quality) vice anything else. The example I used was my old Vivitar 110, man that thing could take beautiful non-distorted pictures for a point and shoot.

The observation I raised was in response to Al's replies that you can only get non-distorted photos with SLR cameras, of which I pointed out the D50 review. Now mind you, Al has not exchanged further in this discussion and hence has not offered any further info wrt what was used and how. I am sure enlightenment will follow.

My question was and remains, if the points Al raised are erroneous then, what is the real difference between an SLR and non SLR camera, in your opinion?
 

Rick Moquin

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Wayne is correct.It is the lens that causes distortion.My recommendation is to place the camera further away.Use a lens length around 100 mm for most digital cameras and 75 for film and digital cameras with a full size sensor.These lengths are slightly telescopic.Use a tripod and as slow a shutter speed as you can.Close down the aperture to increase depth of field with a plain background and increase the aperture to decrease depth of field when shooting against a confusing background.

andy
Thanks Andy, I'll have to chew on that one for a while.

The further away part I got from a previous discussion wrt "it is better to zoom in vice placing the camera close to the subject". The part I'm confused about is "lens length", wrt shutter speed I got that one more or less and the use of a tripod for alleviate camera shake while taking slow shutter pics. The DOF I'm coming up to speed on that one.

Wayne,

We were posting our replies at the same time. Can you elaborate on what you and Andy are discussing??
 
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My question was and remains, if the points Al raised are erroneous then, what is the real difference between an SLR and non SLR camera, in your opinion?

The difference is the flexibility afforded by the SLR. You have complete control. Shutter speed, aperture, and iso (the film or sensor's sensitivity to light) are completely adjustable on an SLR. On my old fuji s3100 I had an semi-manual mode, but I was never able to adjust as finely as I can with my d50. You're also not tied to the lens you purchase. This further increases the flexibility and broadens the choices that you get/have to make.

I've contended that Al was wrong on a lot of his points, one of those points being the one that has you concerned (though I didn't mention it earlier). My old s3100 was able to take a wonderfully undistorted image in the lens' sweetspot. Even the 18-55mm lens mentioned as being sold in the kit for the d50 has a sweetspot/range that doesn't have any noticeable distortion be it pincushion or barrel. Read the distortion part at: http://kenrockwell.com/nikon/1855.htm

A fixed lens like most 110's that I'm familiar (not very familiar) is much less prone to distortion than a zoom. The tradeoff you make with a zoom is this very distortion discussed, as some concessions are made to afford you a range of lengths through which to zoom.
 
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