Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Caring for Digital Camera Lenses

With all this talk about digital camera lenses, we cannot forget that such expensive equipment deserves expert care. Lenses that are well cared for will not only continue to take higher quality shots, they can last for years. Start by using a microfiber lens cloth to remove dirt and dust from the lens itself. Use gentle strokes working towards the outside of the lens. Stuck on dirt will require cleaning solutions, but only use those dedicated for lens cleaning. Household cleaners can easily damage it. While cleaning is important, there is such a thing as over-cleaning. Too much cleaning can scratch the glass and remove essential surface coatings.
Scratches are the worst thing that can happen to your lens. You can't really repair them yourself --just take precautions to prevent them such as using a filter. While many filters can add cool effects to your photographs, they can double as a protective layer along with your lens cap. Water is another mortal enemy of the lens. Water can not only damage the electronic circuits in the lens, it can get inside the internal lens and dry, leaving water spots you cannot get rid of. When shooting out in the rain or snow, use a rain hood to protect your camera.
To protect the lenses when not in use, it's imperative to utilize lens bags and cases or camera bags with plenty of cushioning. Sturdy, well-made bags will prevent shocks and damage. Consider using a few silica gel packets in the bag to protect your equipment from collecting moisture.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Teleconverter Lenses

We've gone over zoom and telephoto lenses in the past and today I'd like to focus on a lens of a similar fashion, the teleconverter lens --sometimes also known as an extender or multiplier. They can multiply the focal length of a lens by 1.4 to 2 times. But like any piece of equipment, there are pros and cons to choosing a teleconverter over a zoom or telephoto lens.

The obvious, and most important, pro is increased focal length. A 1.4x converter will give you an extra 40%, while a 2x converter gives you 100% more focal length. When you're not so close to your subject, it will come out much clearer with the converter. Teleconverters are also much lighter. A telephoto lens is awesome, but have you held one in your hand? They add quite a bit of weight to your lens bag. Lastly, they can actually come in handy if you don't have a macro lens and want –and can— get in closer to your subject.

One major disadvantage is light. When you use a teleconverter lens, less light gets in and your max aperture will be decreased. The more you multiply the focal length, the more the aperture decreases. So it might be better to choose a 1.4x than a 2x converter. Just like with any lens that increases focal length, you have to worry about camera shake. You can solve the problem by increasing shutter speed and using a tripod. Converters also slow down camera focus speed, especially in lower lighting. Switch to manual mode to help. And finally, the image quality will be reduced so opt for higher quality converters to keep image quality up.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Standards of Standard Lenses

Over the past few weeks we've spent a great deal of time talking about the different digital camera lenses. But what about the standard lens? What could you possibly do with something that seems so...standard? A lot actually! A standard lens falls in between a wide-angle and a telephoto. It will make pictures look just as they do with your own eyes, no exaggerations and distance between objects look normal.

So what can you do with a standard lens, or rather why would you want to use it? For starters, your photographs look natural. It's as simple as that. Using other lenses can draw your attention to particular parts of the photo while forgetting the rest. With a standard, your eyes are drawn to exactly what's in the frame. Standard lenses are also wonderful at letting in more light, especially if you go for more expensive ones. They have larger apertures which can nicely blur backgrounds, work in low light without flash, and improve image quality because you use a lower ISO. But you don't even need to spend a great deal of money to still enjoy these features, meaning you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Standard lenses are very versatile and they're perfect when you have room to play around with your shot. You can use them for full-length portraits, street photography, landscapes, group photos, and more. And let's not forget they are much lighter than their counterparts, making them ideal for travel.