Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mitsubishi develops "flutter shutter" for deblurring pics

This new tech from some Mitsubishi tackles the motion blur problem thanks to a relatively simple "flutter shutter" attachment on the actual camera. Their device uses a coded exposure sequence to cut a normal exposure into short burst, allowing processing software to sharpen any fast moving objects in the picture. The prototype is based on an 8 megapixel Canon PowerShot Pro1, but the method can apparently be applied to any camera, and would even work as a built-in feature on a consumer cam -- though it'll probably be a few years before it trickles down that far. In the more immediate future the tech seems a great fit for security cameras, since the system can help decipher blurry license plates. Senior research scientist Ramesh Raskar likened the method to a UV filter or a polarizing filter, and based on Mitsubishi's examples of the flutter shutter in action, the tech could really be a boon to all sorts of photography.


Monday, August 28, 2006

How Paparazzi Work

by Robert Valdes

The worldwide obsession with celebrities spawns one of the most fascinating and feared by-products of pop culture -- paparazzi. Paparazzi are photographers who tirelessly hunt celebrities, public figures and their families for the opportunity to photograph them in candid, unflattering and at times compromising moments. What began as simple "street photography" is now a high-stakes game of cat and mouse that plays out in the everyday lives of the paparazzi's celebrity prey. As our cultures' voracious hunger for celebrity snapshots grows, so do the prices of these photos and the risks paparazzi take to get them. Many ethical, legal and privacy issues arise out of this questionable business.

How do paparazzi get those shots? How do they sell their pictures? To whom do they sell them? How do they get away with what they do? In this article, HowStuffWorks looks at those questions as well as the laws surrounding this issue and how celebrities are fighting back.

What's in a Word?
The word "paparazzi" is derived from a character in the Fellini film "La Dolce Vita." The character, a photographer named Paparazzo, reminded Fellini of "a buzzing insect, hovering, darting, stinging."

Fellini's inspiration for the character was the famous Italian "street photographer" Tazio Secchiaroli. Fellini consulted Secchiaroli for research while developing the script for his classic film.

Secchiaroli became famous as a photographer when he captured candid photos of the former Egyptian King Farouk turning a table over at a restaurant in rage. On the same night, Secchiaroli also snapped photos of actor Anthony Steele in a public spat with actress Anita Ekberg. These photos started a trend in European publications, moving away from posed promotional shots of celebrities and toward surreptitiously captured candid photos.

The Hunt
At the most basic level, paparazzi hang out on the streets and in public places waiting for an opportunity to photograph a star. In public, the paparazzi can snap away unhindered by laws. But for a paparazzo who wants to make the big bucks, this method is far too inefficient. Paparazzi must make sure they are in the right place at the right time to get the shot.

Paparazzi work a lot like private detectives. Each paparazzo culls a network of informers to help keep tabs on celebrity targets. These informers can be people who work in businesses frequented by celebrities, such as restaurants, shops or salons. The paparazzo often pays for this information. In many cases, people who work for the star might be bribed to divulge the whereabouts of their employer.

Paparazzi also work with autographers. Autographers basically stalk celebrities, approach them in public places and ask for their autographs. They make their living by selling these autographs to fans and resellers. Paparazzi pay the autographers for information on the celebrity's whereabouts. As an added bonus, when the autographer stops the celebrity on the street, the paparazzo gets the opportunity to take the shot.

The key for the paparazzo is to get the information and get the shot before other paparazzi do. But hunting stars is just one aspect of this highly competitive industry. Once the paparazzo knows where the target is, there are various tactics he or she may use to get a photograph.

The tactics of the paparazzi center on this principle: Get a shot by any means necessary. The individual paparazzo is only limited by his or her resources, craftiness and nerve.

Technically speaking, in order to get the photo free and clear, the paparazzo must get the star out in public, away from a private residence or business. If the star is in a private area, the photo must be taken discreetly from a distance and with the photographer standing on public land.

In more extreme cases, some paparazzi have taken photographs from rooftops or tree tops. They have shot private events from rented helicopters or boats. In some cases, if the event is in a sealed building, paparazzi have staged fire alarms or bomb threats to cause an evacuation of the building that forces their subjects onto the streets.

Is that legal? The answer is no. But with the lucrative nature of the business, legal expenses have become part of operating costs and have contributed significantly to the high price tag on such photographs.

Throwing false alarms is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the illegal methods used to get a photo. Paparazzi have done much worse:

A paparazzo intentionally had a car accident with Catherine Zeta-Jones to force her out of her car.
Actor Sean Penn was intentionally provoked many times into physical confrontations to get photos and create lawsuits.
Paparazzi posed as Michael Douglas's family members to gain access to the hospital where his son was born.
Susan Sarandon found a paparazzi camp hidden on her property.
Britney Spears and her mother were surrounded at a pet store. Britney's mother injured a photographer fleeing the scene in her car.
An English tabloid published Gwyneth Paltrow's daily route while she does her household routines, as well as the location of her new house, based on information gathered from paparazzi.

Paparazzi Price
Paparazzi sell their photos to the highest bidder. Depending on the quality, subject and situation, photos can go for anywhere between a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The celebrity-photograph business is highly competitive and risky to both life and limb. Very few photographers make their fortune as paparazzi: Often, it costs more to get the shot than they'll make selling the photo.

In essence, paparazzi are freelance photographers. Once they have a photo, they must shop it around to the different publications. To offer a photograph, the paparazzo can e-mail a low-resolution copy of the photo, with a watermark embedded in the image, to prospective buyers. These precautions keep the digital photo from being stolen. If the buyer is interested, the price of the photo is negotiated. Some of the negotiating factors are:
Who is the celebrity?
Is the photo verifiable?
What is the celebrity doing?
How high is the quality of the photo?
What is the availability of similar photographs from other paparazzi?

More successful paparazzi have agents who will find buyers. This allows the photographer to focus on his or her work. The very successful paparazzo has an agent, a lawyer, drivers and additional photographers who all work together as a team to get the best shots possible so they can sell them at the highest price.

Paparazzi Technology
Paparazzi benefit from the digital age. The obvious weapon of the paparazzi is the camera, and new digital technology stacks the odds in favor of the celebrity photographer. With smaller digital cameras, it is easier for paparazzi to conceal their work. Digital photography also lowers film costs considerably and makes distribution of the photos for sale much easier. Even if the shots are taken with a traditional film camera, the paparazzo no longer has to rely on the mail or (even more dangerous) his own two feet to shop the photos around.

Camera phones help paparazzi get their equipment into events when no cameras are allowed. With camera phones growing more prevalent, certain places may have to adopt a "no phone" policy to curb unauthorized picture-taking.

Wireless video cameras are also becoming a regular staple of the paparazzi arsenal. Paparazzi can either wear the cameras or plant them to capture celebrities unaware. The tiny cameras sport increasingly powerful transmitters that broadcast digital video to receivers. Paparazzi can sell the video footage or else pull good photo stills from it.

Common specifications for many of the wireless video cameras on the market include:
300-foot range (91 meters)
Full-color image
Hours of operation off of 9-volt batteries
60-degree field of view
15 frames per second

Anti-paparazzi Tactics
Some stars develop some pretty imaginative ways to combat paparazzi. Russell Crowe beat the paparazzi at their own game by scooping them on his 2003 wedding. Crowe authorized his own photographers to shoot the wedding and then released the photos and video in exclusive deals with publications and networks.

Supermodel Heidi Klum took a similar approach to keep paparazzi away from her daughter. Celebrity children are a favorite of paparazzi -- "That's why I released the photos of her, instead of having photographers hunt for them," Klum told USA Today.

Everything from disguises to decoys are used to avoid recognition in public places. At times, celebrities use multiple cars to cover travel routes. False press statements and an alias can cover a celebrity's whereabouts. More low-tech solutions involve canopies over outdoor events and good old-fashioned bruiser security to keep the paparazzi at bay.

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas took perhaps some of the most famous and extreme set of measures to keep paparazzi out of the picture at their wedding:
All of the caterers, help, suppliers and any other vendors associated with the wedding had to sign confidentiality agreements (even the ones that didn't get the job).
No wedding guests were given the time or location of the wedding until the last minute.
The day before the wedding, special tickets were hand-delivered or couriered to the invited guests.
Each ticket had a code in invisible ink alongside a special design. Only one person, wedding planner Simone Martel Levinson, knew what that design looked like. Before allowing each guest entry, Levinson personally authenticated the design on that guest's ticket.
Once admitted to the wedding, guests swapped the tickets for a gold "guest" pin designed by Jones and Douglas. The ticket swap and the pins were kept secret until the event.
No guests were allowed to have cameras inside the event.
Other hotel guests staying at the Plaza Hotel were not allowed anywhere near the wedding rooms.
Up until the moment the wedding started, all wedding rooms were swept several times for hidden audio or video recording devices.
The New York Police Department and Fire Department were on board for security. All of the hotel's fire alarms were monitored by personnel throughout the wedding to make sure no one would pull them during the event.
Three private security guards patrolled the corridors at all times.

The security bill for the wedding equaled more than $66,000, but even with all of those countermeasures, paparazzo Rupert Thorpe managed to infiltrate the wedding and snap shots of the bride and groom that he later sold to publications Hello! and The Sun.

As you can imagine, this boiled the blood of the newlyweds, who pursued legal action and won a nominal settlement against the publications.

Are there laws that protect paparazzi's rights to invade privacy in the name of a photograph? This becomes the central question when discussing how paparazzi work. In the next sections, we will look at laws related to privacy, photography and paparazzi.

Right of Privacy
The laws on the right of privacy vary from country to country. Under U.S. law, the right of privacy is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as:

1. The right to personal autonomy. The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly provide for a right of privacy or for a general right of personal autonomy, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that a right of personal autonomy is implied in the "zones of privacy" created by specific constitutional guarantees.

2. The right of a person and the person's property to be free from unwarranted public scrutiny or exposure. -- Also termed right to privacy.

So, if we are to understand that the law upholds our right to be "free from unwarranted public scrutiny or exposure," then it would seem paparazzi are not allowed to do what they do. There is, however, a loophole in the law. This loophole comes into the picture if you are legally defined as a public figure.

Public Figures
Celebrities, public officials and private citizens involved in newsworthy incidences are all legally defined as public figures. Public figures actually have far fewer rights to privacy than an "ordinary person." Public figures break down into three types:
Public figure: A person who has achieved fame or notoriety or who has voluntarily become involved in a public controversy. A public figure (or public official) suing for defamation must prove that the defendant acted with actual malice.

Example: Movie stars like Brad Pitt or Gwyneth Paltrow fall into this category.

All-purpose public figure: A person who achieves such pervasive fame or notoriety that he or she becomes a public figure for all purposes and in all contexts. For example, a person who occupies a position with great persuasive power and influence may become an all-purpose public figure, whether or not the person actively seeks attention.

Example: A company executive such as Michael Eisner or a politician like George W. Bush fall into this category.

Limited-purpose public figure: A person who, having become involved in a particular public issue, has achieved fame or notoriety only in relation to that particular issue.

Example: People involved in a controversy, such as the parents of JonBenet Ramsey, fall into this category.

These exclusions of the law give the paparazzi their rights. That is not to say that paparazzi don't break laws in the pursuit of a shot. But as long as there is a high demand for what they do, breaking the law becomes an acceptable risk. Us Weekly's editor-in-chief, Janice Min, says, "A celebrity is like an elected official. If you're getting paid $20 million a movie, you have to rely on public goodwill to stay in office. You have to accept the fact that you're a public commodity."

The Laws of Photography
The laws regarding public photography have always been a gray area. In the United States, photographs that are taken for editorial use in a public place generally enjoy Constitutional protection under the right of free speech. There are exceptions, however. Here are just a few of the gray areas:
While taking a picture in a public place is almost always legal, any public place can become a secured emergency area in the event of a police crime scene, disaster, fire or riot. In this case, photography is not legal without permission.

Even editorial photographs can come under scrutiny when a caption is added. If the caption implies something false or slanderous about the person in the photo, then it is no longer protected. And the gray area becomes even grayer when you talk about photos as fine art. That is especially true if the artist intends to sell the photograph.

Photographers cannot take pictures of a person in a public place without permission if that photo is going to be used to promote any goods or services.
Moreover, it is important to note that not all places that seem public are public. Malls, hospitals, restaurants and hotels are all privately owned businesses.

Anti-Paparazzi Legislation
In a 2003 interview with The Guardian, Ewan McGregor spoke out against paparazzi and the publications that buy their pictures:
Heat magazine's a dirty, filthy piece of sh-t and I'd like to put that on record. People shouldn't buy it because it sucks… If a guy comes up and asks me, 'Can I take a picture of your daughter?' that's one thing. But if he's hiding behind a bus and he takes a picture of me and my daughter he's legally allowed to publish that photo in the press. I have no rights to stop him and I think that's wrong. I think we should encourage people to beat up paparazzi.

More and more stars are taking paparazzi to court. McGregor won a case in the United Kingdom on breech-of-confidence and data-protection laws.

Michael Douglas and Katherine Zeta-Jones won their settlement on a separate legal issue. They had official wedding photographers and a deal with OK magazine. When Hello! and The Sun bought and published Rupert Thorpe's photos, they broke trade laws by destroying the exclusivity of the couple's deal with OK.

More and more stars are able to turn to other laws to protect themselves from paparazzi since their rights of privacy are contested. Specific anti-paparazzi legislation has gone into effect in various countries. France has very strict anti-paparazzi legislation. In the United States, California passed anti-paparazzi legislation into law after the death of Princess Diana. That event alone caused many governments to reexamine their paparazzi laws.

The controversy surrounding anti-paparazzi legislation is the question of where to draw the line between legitimate newsgathering and invasions of privacy. If laws are left as they are, a celebrity's privacy and, in some cases, his or her life will continue to be endangered by the ruthlessness of some photographers. On the other hand, if the laws become too restrictive then the freedom of the press could be jeopardized. The solution remains unclear.

So the question arises -- what is the source of the problem? While the tactics of paparazzi are repellent to most people, the same people clamber to buy magazines that carry such photos. Are paparazzi the problem or merely a symptom of a voyeuristic society?


Point & Shoot: Photographing Fun

by Lynne Eodice

Beyond simply shooting someone's portrait, taking a picture of a concept like "fun" can be a real challenge. A photograph that makes a statement like this must make its point immediately—the viewer should get the message at first glance, and not have to guess at what you're trying to say.

The most obvious way to convey this message is to show people enjoying themselves in your pictures. A look of joy on a child's face while riding on a swing, or the gleeful look on someone's face as they play a practical joke says volumes about the fun he/she is having. And this idea isn't only restricted to children. Some of the most fun people pictures are those in which adults are caught off-guard, just being themselves.

There are always times when we step away from our controlled adult ways and behave in silly ways. We make faces in the mirror, wrestle with the dog, and play with our kids. We can relate to the spontaneity and good times people are having in these photos—the challenge is in successfully capturing the moment.

More opportunities to photograph people having fun occur during leisure-time activities and sports. Much like freezing action at a decisive moment, getting a great image of a contestant's face is a matter of timing and paying attention. When trying to capture the spirit of an event like this, you must work quickly.

Photographing someone winning a sport—such as a runner reaching the finish line first—can yield some jubilant facial expressions. Some ordinary sports pictures can become very compelling if the athlete's face reflects their enjoyment of the event. You might also take pictures of winning teams, like a group of Little League baseball players with their trophy. Encourage them to wave and shout, which will translate into exuberant team spirit in your photos.

One of the keys to documenting fun, candid moments is getting your friends and family used to being photographed—not only on holidays or family get-togethers—but most of the time. This way, they'll view the camera as a normal part of everyday life, and you'll feel more comfortable about pointing it at them. But be prudent when photographing people's activities. You don't want angry people who won't allow you to take pictures of them in the future.

To capture spontaneous moments when shooting film, it's best to shoot with fast film; ISO 400 or greater. You'll also need quick reflexes, and to constantly look through your camera's viewfinder so you won't miss anything. If your camera has a sports mode, you can use it to be more spontaneous. If your compact camera has a zoom lens, set it on a telephoto setting to allow you to work at a distance from your subjects. A fairly long lens will also enable you to isolate a subject in a crowd.

Although faces are usually key in conveying the idea of fun, you can move back and use your lens on a wide-angle setting to reveal the sport or activity in which your subject is participating.

If your photo session involves being around water, snow, or mud, you'll need to protect your camera. If there's a lot of splashing going on, keep your point-and-shoot camera inside a plastic bag and bring it out only when you're ready to shoot. If you get water on the outside of your camera, wipe it off immediately with a soft cloth, and be careful not to scratch your lens or the finish on the camera.

And finally, don't restrict your "fun" photo project to only taking pictures of people. Amusement park rides, funny signs, and comical pet behavior can all be good subjects for fun photos.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

10 Common Photo Mistakes

By: Scott Bourne

Everyone makes mistakes. Even Ansel Adams through some of his negatives away. But what causes those mistakes? They are usually caused by lack of concentration. So here's a list of mistakes that many photographers make. By studying them, you can avoid them.

1) Blurry Pictures

Blurry photos are usually the result of camera shake. The simplest way to remedy this problem is to buy and use a good, sturdy tripod. If you can't shoot with a tripod, remember to use a faster ISO on digital cameras or faster film on film cameras. This allows you to increase your shutter speed. The faster the shutter speed, the less likely you are to suffer from camera shake. A rule of thumb for handholding is to use a shutter speed that is 1/lens focal length or faster. In other words, if you're shooting a 200mm lens, you need 1/200th second or faster. Don't forget to compensate if you shoot digitally. If you use a 200mm lens on a Nikon D100, it is the equivalent focal length of 300mm, so you will need to shoot at 1/ 300th of a second if you want to handhold.

2) Contrasty Pictures

These come from high contrast lighting situations. Learn to recognize them. Photographing in the forest on a sunny day is an example of a high contrast situation. Photographing at Noon on a bright, sunny day is a high contrast situation.

Contrast can be mitigated with diffusers and fill-flash, depending on the circumstances. Usually the best solution is to wait for better conditions. Another trick is to shoot with low contrast film. Kodak's B&W Portra 400 is a good film to use in high contrast situations. It has nine stops of tonal latitude and that tends to compress the contrast ratios in the scene.

3) Underexposed Pictures (prints)

Underexposure often results from letting the camera make all the exposure decisions. Remember, the camera's meter wants everything to be medium (or gray.) If you do use the auto exposure functions, one common mistake comes from using auto exposure compensation and then forgetting you've done so. Make sure that you get enough light into the scene before you press the shutter. With print film, it's better to overexpose than underexpose, so when you bracket, do it to the high side, i.e., plus one stop, plus two stops.

4) Overexposed Pictures (slides)

Like underexposure, overexposure can result from letting your camera make all the decisions. With slide film, overexposure means blown out highlights and that means lost information. Basing your exposure on shaded or dark areas and letting the camera set the exposure is a formula for overexposed slides. Look for something medium to meter from or, better yet, meter the highlights. Just make sure your highlights won't be more than two and one half (2 ½) stops lighter than medium.

Since overexposing slide film is bad, bracket your slide film to the low side, i.e., minus one stop, minus two stops.

5) Red Eye

This is a common problem resulting from on-camera flash. Move your flash off- axis. Use a flash bracket and connecting cord. You can also bounce the flash off a ceiling or wall. You can also use remote flash triggers to fire a flash that is mounted on a stand or anywhere else, as long as it is not on camera.

6) Lens Flare

Flare occurs when direct light hits the front element of the lens and light starts bouncing around inside the lens. This causes the light to reflect off all the elements. This can reduce contrast and make your pictures look "hazy". Most commonly, it results in a series of round highlights across your image. Be sure to use a lens hood to help prevent this. Sometimes you'll need more than a lens hood. Try using your hand or a hat to shade the lens. If someone is with you, ask him or her to stand so that they cast a shadow on the lens.

Sometimes it's hard to detect lens flare when looking through the viewfinder; using your depth of field preview button will make this easier.

7) Obstruction

Be on the lookout for intruders trying to make their way in to your pictures. Branches, out of focus grass blades, telephone wires"¦.all these and more can act as distractions.

Most viewfinders show only about 92-95% of the image. Keep that in mind while photographing. You may want to try shifting your camera around to see what's at the edges.

Some intruders are hard to see in the viewfinder simply because they're too close and not in focus. When you get your pictures back you see things you didn't see before. Remember, you're looking through your lens at its widest aperture, thus the shallowest depth of field. Some things won't be in focus. Use your preview button and you'll see any intruders. If you don't have a preview button, try focusing throughout the range of your lens to see what may show up.

8) Vignetting

This is what happens when items encroach on the outside edges of your camera lens' field of view. It's often caused by stacking filters, or by adding lens hoods to lenses that have filters attached. Other accessories, like filter holders, can also cause vignetting. If your viewfinder shows less than 100%, you may not be able to see this happening. Run some tests. Put on all the different filter/hood combinations you can think of and photograph a blank wall. Take notes and look at your images when you get them back. The depth of field preview button will also help reveal when vignetting may be a problem.

9) Color Casts

Color casts can result from using the wrong film, outdated or spoiled film or shooting in deep shade.

If you use daylight-balanced film like Velvia or Ektachrome Elite and shoot indoors, you could get some very strange results. Under tungsten lighting, regular lamp light, you'll end up with a very warm color cast. If you're shooting under fluorescent light, you'll see a greenish cast.

If the problem is the wrong film, the solution is to use a color-correcting filter. For tungsten, use a filter in the 80 series. These filters are blue and will balance out the yellow of tungsten light. For fluorescent, use an FL filter. If you're using flash indoors as your only source of light, you shouldn't have a color-cast.

The other solution is to use the correct film. Tungsten balanced film is made for use under tungsten lighting and will result in the correct colors being recorded.

Shooting in the shade on a sunny day will result is a bluish cast. After all, the predominant light source is the blue sky. Use a filter in the 81 series. These yellowish filters will balance out the blue.

For outdated film"¦.well, good luck. You get what you get and the only way to correct color is after the fact, either at the lab or in the computer.

10) Tilted Horizons

Off-center or tilted horizons are probably the most common mistake that we all make and there are several ways to quickly solve this problem. Our favorite is to use a focusing screen with a grid etched into it. These are available for many cameras; check your manual. Two cameras, the Nikon N80 and the Nikon D100, even have grid screens that you can turn on or off as a custom function.

Another solution is to simply step back and see if your camera looks level to the world. Then take another look through the viewfinder. Sometimes we need to approach the viewfinder from an angle because of the camera position. Taking another look through the viewfinder with your head level will help too.

One of the easiest solutions is to buy a bubble level for your camera. These levels fit in the flash hot shoe. This way you'll always know that you're level.

There are times, however, when your camera may be level but the horizon will appear tilted. This apparent tilting results from receding shorelines; the closer parts of the shoreline are lower in the frame. Just be aware of this phenomenon so you can decide if it's something that will be a distraction or not.


Whether you are a seasoned pro or a new shooter, these ten problems can creep up on you. So review this list often and make a mental checklist to use every time you photograph. You will notice an immediate increase in the quality of your images


Monday, August 14, 2006

Top 10 List for Buying a Digital Camera

by Ed Krimen - Published December 2003

For most people, choosing which digital camera to buy can be like exercising: You know it's the right thing to do, but the process can be so painful!

I hope that the following summary and in-depth article will help improve your understanding of the technical terms and jargon associated with digital cameras. My goal is to help you understand the most important criteria so that you can find the right digital camera for you.

No digital camera is perfect for everyone, but considering the variety of choices available today, you should be able to find a digital camera that's close to perfect for you -- and you should be extremely happy with your choice.

1. Type of digital camera
If you want a digital camera that's easy to use, one you can put in your purse or pocket, a digital camera to quickly take pictures of friends and family, then you want a point-and-shoot digital camera -- or what may be more commonly called compact or ultra-compact digital cameras. In the Photobird Digital Camera Buyer's Guide, they are referred to as compact and tiny digital cameras, respectively.

2. Price
Luckily, most of the point-and-shoot digital cameras are in the $200-$400 range. You should be able to get a digital camera that takes excellent photos at that price -- photos that are at least as good as consumer film-based cameras.

3. Size
Checking the actual, real-life size of the digital camera you are interested in and even "test driving" the digital camera in person is extremely important. Be sure to visit a physical store that sells the digital cameras you are interested in, or, if you like your friend's digital camera, ask to borrow it for a while to see if it fits you.

4. Easy to use
Finding an easy-to-use digital camera is important because you won't use it if it's too hard to take pictures. For the most part, point-and-shoot digital cameras are easy to use: Turn it on, and start clicking the shutter button to take pictures.

5. Popularity
You don't want to spend a lot of time looking for accessories for your digital camera, or trying to find help to answer a question or resolve a problem with your digital camera. Therefore, it's a good idea to purchase a digital camera that is relatively popular.

6. Features you want and need
Of course, be sure to get the features you want and need. This area is where digital cameras offer the most differences between manufacturers and even different models by the same manufacturer. You won't be able to find a digital camera with every feature you want, however, so you'll need to prioritize your needs and make some trade-offs.

7. Battery type
Regardless of the digital camera you get, you need to make sure you have enough battery power at all times. It's always best to have fully-charged, extra batteries with you in case you need them. You don't want to miss any shots.

8. Memory card storage -- your "electronic film"
If you're buying a new digital camera, it really doesn't matter which memory card type your digital camera uses. Focus more on which digital camera features you want, as listed above in item #6.

Keep in mind though that the various memory cards are not interchangeable. For example, you cannot use a Sony Memory Stick in a digital camera that uses CompactFlash, and you cannot use CompactFlash cards in a Secure Digital device.

9. Megapixels
The number of megapixels your digital camera has doesn't necessarily mean that you will get better pictures. When using the highest resolution settings on a 3-megapixel digital camera, you will get very good prints at the smallest print sizes all the way up to 8"x10", and sometimes larger.

The photos on the left were taken with a 3-megapixel digital camera and were printed at 11"x14" by an online photo print service. When printed at their highest resolution, most people can't tell if the photos were taken with a digital camera or a film camera.

10. Picture quality
Picture quality is last on the list because it's one of the few things you need to worry about when purchasing a point-and-shoot digital camera. Most, if not all, of the digital cameras available today meet a minimum level of picture quality that is suitable for the average consumer.

Ultra-camera with the 30- multiple optical zoom

The Japanese company Kowa Prominar lets out, although most likely, were let out 30- multiple binoculars combined with the digital camera.

Name: Prominar TD 1

Site of the producer: Kowa Prominar

Price in Japan: $1900

Optics of the digital binoculars Prominar TD 1 with a thirty times zoom serves for the built-in it camera as powerful objective with an equivalent focal length of 1350 mm (standard 35-mm camera with such parameters it must have an objective with a length of more than meter). This gives the possibility to radically enlarge the possibilities of survey and to photograph even those objects, that to the naked eye they are seemed black points. Only do not forget to use support - with similar an increase the least trembling in the hands will lead to the loss of picture.

The matrix of the built-in the device camera has sizes of 1/2,5"and permission of 3,14 million pikseley. The size of photograph - 2048 X 1536 or 1024 X of 768 pikseley, compression ratios two, display 1,8- one inch. As the maps of memory are used most common Secure Digital. The camera is had manual focusing, but other tuning it is very small. The overall dimensions of device are 38,5 X of 13 X of 12,5 cm, weight - 2,3 kg.

For someone TD 1 will be expensive toy, for someone - by useful tool in the work. But in both cases it is possible to focus attention on the cheaper analogs: InstantReplay from Bushnell ($400-600), Digibino DB200 or DB100 from Pentax ($250) or Binocular DigiC@m from Trust ($120).

Friday, August 11, 2006

How to select objective?

Objectives Canon

With the development of their system Canon EOS engineers Canon placed motors for the focusing and controls of diaphragm directly in the objective. Therefore in bayonet Canon EF there is no mechanical joining whatever, all information is transferred at a high speed by electronic method. Each focusing motor is developed in accordance with the characteristics of objective, which ensures optimum operating characteristics and speed.

At the present moment in the majority of objectives EF of middle class is used annular ultrasonic motor (ring-USM). It is direct-drive motor without the mechanisms of transfer; therefore its work is characterized by rapidity and reliability. The advantages of ultrasonic motors are not limited to an improvement in the performance characteristics of self-focusing. The majorities of objectives of the type EF USM are equipped with the function of the constant manual focusing FTM (full- Tim manual), with the aid of which at any moment of time it is possible to correct the focusing, determined automatically, which makes it possible to obtain excellent effectiveness in the work. Only low-order objectives Canon EF (such as Ef28-90 mm f/4-5,6 USM) is used the simplified version USM- motor - micro-USM. Such objectives do not permit implementation of manual self-focusing, without being switched into the manual regime of focusing, or they possess the lower speed of focusing. Only objective with the focusing motor micro-USM, which possesses possibility FTM - this EF 50/1.4.

Among objectives Canon EF it is worthwhile to isolate the professional high-quality objectives of series L, which use the most contemporary technologies and possessing the highest technical characteristics.

Objectives Ts- e of 24 mm f/3.shchL, Ts- e of 45 mm f/2,8 and Ts- e of 90 mm f/2,8 have manual focusing. Reduction "TS" in the names of these objectives designates "tilt-shift" (inclination- shift) and reveals the method of using the data of objectives. Objective Canon EF 135 mm f/2.8 soft-focus makes it possible by optical means to give softness to image. This property makes it possible to obtain very beautiful effects, for example, during the photographing of portraits.

Extension rings (Extension Tube EF12 and EF25) and adapter lenses (Close-Up Lens 250D, 500D, 500) will be necessary by you, if you want to remove from the distance of altogether only of several centimeters from the object and to obtain photographs with the high level of an increase. Specially for the surveys on a scale 1:1 with use EF 50 mm f/2,5 Compact Macro it is proposed Life-Size Converter EF. An even large selection of equipment becomes accessible with the use of adapters for macro objectives FD-EOS - Lens Mount Converter FD-EOS and Macro Lens Mount Converter FD-EOS.

By index "IS" (Image Stabilization, the stabilization of image) are designated the objectives, equipped with the stabilizer of image. The optical stabilizer of image makes it possible to use longer endurances during the photographing from the hands, without fearing to obtain "blurry". The stabilizer of image uses two gyro-sensors; signals from gyro-sensor are transferred to the compensating optical system, which neutralizes vibration.

One cannot fail to note the special protected version of bayonet O- ring. Canon EOS 1V with one of the new IS-superteleob7ektivov are connected practically air tightly because of it. This substantially improves the protection of camera and objective. For example, now they can completely safely be located even in the rain

Objectives Minolta

Quite high-aperture, best according to quality images and mechanical strengths objectives Minolta, intended for the use for professional purposes, are designated by index "G".

Objectives Minolta, which have in their name index (D), are equipped with the built-in decoder of the distance of sharp focusing, necessary for the valuable work on apparatuses Minolta Dynax 7, Minolta Dynax 5 and Minolta Dynax 4 systems ADI (Advanced Distance Integration) - control systems of the flash, which makes it possible to gain a maximally precise dosing of the light of flash under the most different conditions. Some of the objectives of series D (for example AF 24-105/3.5-4.5(D), AF 100-300/4.5-5.6(D) Apo, AF 100/2.8(D) macro and AF 85/1.4G(D)) - are equipped with the built-in mechanical switch, unlocking the drive of self-focusing with the focusing ring with the switched one auto-focus. This solution made it possible to make a ring of manual focusing sufficiently to wide and convenient, after avoiding inconveniences from the revolving ring of focusing with the use of auto-focus.

Abbreviation SSM in the name of recently announced professional objectives Minolta AF 28-70/2.8 G (D) SSM, Minolta AF 70-200/2.8 G (D) SSM and Minolta AF 300/2.8 G (D) SSM designates the presence in their construction of the built-in direct-drive ultrasonic motor of the type SSM (structurally close to the drives type USM, HSM and SWM from Canon, Sigma and Nikon respectively). This type of drive makes it possible to considerably improve dynamics and to increase the rate of conducting the process of self-focusing.

In long-distance objectives Minolta, which have in their name index "APO", special attention given the minimization of the chromatic aberrations, which worsen the clearness of the reproduction of small image details. Objective Minolta STF 135mm f/2.8 [T/4.5 ] - only in system Minolta Dynax objective with the manual focusing. This objective gives to photographer the unique possibility to govern smearing background independent of the diaphragm, with which the survey (first of all this possibility it is claimed in the portrait survey) is produced.

Objective AF 100mm f/2.8 SOFT FOCUS, also oriented in essence to the portrait survey, is capable to create image from the clear and the contrasting to the soft and the air. The adjustment of the degree of the "softening" of image is produced by the turning of ring on the objective, with

This degree of effect easily is checked on the image in the viewfinder. Zoom lenses Minolta of a series "- the xi", differ in terms of the ability to change focal length in the signals from the camera. The production of these objectives is at present ended, since none of the now produced cameras Minolta uses entirely the possibility of zooming motor.

Objectives Nikon

With marking of objectives Nikon adapt the following designations: D - the auto-focal objectives of series D transfer information about the distance of focusing into the camera. Therefore with the calculation of exposure the object distance of survey is considered that it helps to more accurately select the exposure parameters with the work with the flash.

G - in contrast to objectives D- type, objectives Nikkor of series G do not have ring of control of diaphragm, and, correspondingly, mechanically is not transferred the value of diaphragm to the camera. Therefore the objectives of series G cannot be exploited with the apparatuses with the manual focusing, but with the auto-focal apparatuses for earlier releases (F501, F601, F801/801s, F70, F90/90x) the objectives of series G they can be used only in the program regimes and the regime of the priority of endurance. The distance of focusing is transferred.

AF-S - in objectives Nikkor of the type AF-S is used the ultrasonic motor (Silent Wave Motor), with the aid of which is accomplished the self-focusing. Each motor is developed under the concrete objective, which makes it possible to in the best way ensure rapid and precise self-focusing.

M/A - in this regime objectives AF-S with can be practically instantly switched from the regime of self-focusing into the regime of manual focusing.

VR - the system of the suppression of vibration - one of the last novelties in objectives Nikkor, with its aid you will be able to remove from the hands without "blurry" the subjects, in which earlier could not be manage without the support.

DC (Defocus-image Control) - in these objectives is used the unique system for control of defocusing image. It makes possible for photographers to check the degree of spherical aberration in the front or rear track layout of rotating the established on the objective ring DC. in this case it is formed the round ring of defocusing, ideal for the portrait survey.

IF - system of internal focusing, because of it focusing is achieved due to the displacement of the internal groups of lenses. This makes it possible to decrease the overall sizes and the weight of objective, and to also produce survey on the shorter distances of focusing. The speed of self-focusing also grows.

RF - "rear" focusing. With use RF the focusing is achieved due to the displacement of rear, lightest, the groups of lenses. This also accelerates self-focusing.

CRC (Close- rank Correction) - correction for the survey at the close distance. This system assumes displacement with the focusing not only of the focusing lens component, but also independent from it displacement of the corrective component (usually locating v in the rear group of lenses). System CRC makes it possible to attain maximum image quality not only during the focusing to infinity, but also with the focusing to the closely spaced objects.

ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) - for decreasing the chromatic aberration in objectives Nikkor is used the specially developed glass- with the ultralow dispersion.

SIC (Super Integrated Coating) - the firm "super-integrated" multilayer coating of lenses decreases the effects of reflection and fulguration.

ASP - for eliminating the aberration are used aspherical elements.

Objectives Pentax

All objectives Pentax have the firm multilayer enlightenment SMC. the auto-focal objectives Pentax FA (in contrast to the earlier objectives Pentax F) they transfer into the apparatus the value of the diaphragm (for zoom obectives - with each focal length), with which frequency contrast characteristic (MTF) of objective will have maximum value. This information some apparatuses Pentax are used, selecting optimum diaphragm with the work in the program regimes.

Objectives Pentax FA power zoom have a control capability of the zooming process both of the apparatus and by hand - by the built-in motor or by the turning of the zooming ring by hand. Entirely the possibility of objectives Pentax FA power zoom it can use only removed recently from production apparatus Pentax Z -1P.

In the objectives, whose name includes index LD, are used lenses from the glass with the ultralow dispersion.

The application of aspherical lenses, which make it possible to improve the quality of the image of objective with a smaller number of lenses, is mapped into the name of objectives Pentax by marking AL. Index [ IF ] attests to the fact that the focusing of objective is produced by the displacement of the internal components of objective, but not by front component. Internal focusing makes it possible to accelerate the process of guidance to the sharpness (due to the smaller mass and the moment of the inertia of moving elements), and also - to make a front objective lens of fixed, giving the possibility of applying the light polarizing filters and effective "Cruciferae" of blends. Quite high-aperture, best according to quality images and mechanical strengths objectives Pentax, intended for the high(ly)-class professionals, have in their name a symbol "*".

The objectives of series Pentax FA Limited are characterized by uncommonly compact sizes and very rugged construction with the high quality of image.

Objectives Sigma

Company Sigma lets out now the rule of the specular cameras Sigma SA, change optics and flashes to them. However, it is most widely known as the most fruitful and most active of the "independent" producers of change optics to reflex camera of other stamps. The rule of objectives Sigma consists in essence of the zoom lenses of different class, high-aperture wide-angle, long-focus and macro- objectives. In the construction of optics Sigma find use all quite advanced technologies - for example aspherical optical elements and lens from the glass with the ultralow dispersion. Also, in the number of the first, company Sigma developed and injected direct-drive ultrasonic engine in the drive of self-focusing (HSM - HyperSonic Motor - analog USM (Canon) and SWM (Nikon)). On the exhibition Photokina-2002 passed recently by company Sigma is presented the objective with the optical stabilization (SIGMA AF80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 EX OS), which acts similarly to similar systems of IS (Canon) and VR (Nikon). The distinctive special feature of all objectives Sigma are the convenient rubber-lined ring of manual focusing, the scale of distances with the hyperfocal marks, metallic bayonet. Bulk of objectives Sigma they are completed by the special blend (perfect hood), and some - even and by convenient case for the transport and the storage.

In the names of objectives Sigma adapt the following indices:
Aspherical - indicates the application in the construction of the objective of one or several optical elements with the aspherical surfaces. Aspheric makes it possible to decrease the number of lenses in the construction of objective, and consequently - to decrease the mass and the dimensions of objective. Also the application of aspherical lenses can improve the definition characteristics of optics.

EX - Excellence. The objectives of series EX are characterized by professional characteristics - high candlepower, convenient control, intensified by construction, high quality of image. Is separated them from the remaining mass of optics Sigma and unique design.

APO - apochromatic design. In the objective- apochromats special attention is given to the elimination of the chromatic aberration, which leads to worsening in the sharpness and appearance of colored edging of small image details. Apochromatic correction is achieved due to the application in the construction of the objective of lenses from the glass with the ultralow dispersion (SLD - Super-Low Dispersion glass), and also the specially calculated optical diagram.

IF (or RF) - the focusing of this objective is produced with the aid of the displacement of small over the mass and the dimensions of internal (or rear) lens component. This diagram of focusing gives the possibility not only to accelerate focusing and to unload the engine of the drive of auto-focus, but also it makes it possible with the large convenience to use effective petalous blend, polarization and shading filters.

HSM - indicates the built-in the objective ultrasonic focusing motor (Hyper-Sonic Motor). This motor in the comparison with the traditional has the high speed of focusing, best dynamics, minimum noise with the work. The versions of objectives Sigma with HSM- motor are produced for the installation to apparatuses Sigma, Canon and Nikon.

UC - separately compact objective (Ultra Compact), which has minimal sizes and weight.

DL - Deluxe. The inexpensive objectives of this series are equipped at the level of more dear fellows, for example they have the valuable scale of distances with the markers of depth of focus and the indicator of focusing for the IR beams, metallic bayonet, special blend.

DF - Dual Focus (the double focusing). The objectives of series DF are conveniently use both in the regime of self-focusing and in the regime of manual focusing. "craftiness" consists in the special construction of the ring of manual focusing. In the regime AF it remains of fixed, while in the regime manual focusing ring automatically will be unblocked and has characteristic "oily" motion with a certain effort (as in objectives with the manual focusing).

HF - Helical Focus. In the objectives with the helicoid focusing the front focusing lens component with the focusing does not revolve, what gives the possibility to use the shaded and light polarizing filters, and also - effective "petalous" blend.

DEG - Digital Grade - a series of the wide-angle lenses, which are intended for the use both on the tape and on the digital cameras.

Macro - this objective can be used for the survey on a large scale (to 1:4 or to 1:2). Specialized macroobiectives Sigma (50/2.8 and 105/2.8) make it possible to gain scale 1:1.

OS - Optical Stabilisation - objective with the device of the optical stabilization of image.

Objectives Tamron

The Japanese company of Tamron obtained reputation not only as one of the "independent" producers of optics for the reflex cameras of other firms, but also as the producer of objectives for the sredneformatnykh specular and ranging apparatuses Zenza Bronica. Among the production of company Tamron are very interesting the objectives of professional class with the best optical and mechanical characteristics (series of optics SP - super performance). This series of optics absorbed into itself all best contemporary optical technologies and 50 years experience of the opticians of the company Of tamron. However, in the assortment of firm Tamron there is one additional separately interesting part - this of "superzoom" (compact objectives with the very broad zooming band). In the development of this category of production the company succeeded so, that superzoom from Tamron are already traditionally considered best in their class. As one additional proof that serves the close collaboration of companies Pentax and Tamron with creation and production of some amateurish objectives Pentax.

In the names of objectives Tamron adapt the following indices:

SP - Super Perfomance. Professional series of the objectives, which are characterized by maximum image quality, by high candlepower and by extra-heavy construction.

Xr- Extra Refractive Index. In the construction of objective are used the lenses from the glass of special it is quality, that are characterized by the superhigh refractive index of light. Such lenses are more compact and light, which makes it possible to decrease weight and overall sizes of entire objective.

LD - Low Dispersion Glass - indicates the application in the objective of lenses from the glass with the ultralow dispersion, which makes it possible to make a reproduction of outlines and fine details along entire image field clearer.

IF - Internal Focusing the focusing of this objective is produced with the aid of the displacement of small over the mass and the dimensions of internal (or rear) lens component.

Aspherical - indicates the application in the construction of the objective of one or several optical elements with the aspherical surfaces. Aspheric makes it possible to decrease the number of lenses in the construction of objective (and consequently - to decrease the mass and the dimensions of objective) with best image quality.

Objectives Tokina

Objectives Tokina it develops and is produced the Japanese concern THK (Tokina-Hoya-Kenko), known also on light filters Hoya and Kenko, lengthen rings and teles-converter Kenko. Optics Tokina of all series is characterized by extra-heavy construction because of the wide application of light metallic alloys for preparing the hull details of objectives. The special interest cause objectives Tokina of the professional series AT- X AF Pro and AT- X AF. In the objectives of these series widely adapt the most contemporary achievements of rasschetnoy optics - aspherical surfaces of lenses, lens from the glass with the ultralow dispersion, the "floating" with the focusing optical elements, internal and the "internal rear" focusing of objectives. Also is very remarkable the design of optics of series AT- X pro. Deep incision on the rubber revetment of the zooming rings and manual focusing, ergonomic "rough" surface of the housings of objectives, disconnected ring of manual focusing "Focus Clutch Mechanism" and other design and ergonomic special features of objectives Tokina AT- X pro add pleasures with the work by them. The basic carrying structural parts of objectives Tokina of series AT- X are made from duralumin with the special coating, the contiguous details are covered with special lubricant. Therefore the ease of the motion of all moving parts with the minimum gaps remains over a wide range of temperatures, and the construction of objectives Tokina of series AT- X easily maintains long-term usage with the professional loads.

In the construction, the names and the descriptions of objectives Tokina are encountered the following designations: AT- X ("Advanced Technology-Extra.") - the concept of uncompromising counting and production of optics, using all most contemporary and perfect methods and materials. The objectives of series AT- X have high optical characteristics, durable, long-lived construction, and they are designed for the lasting operation under the quite severe conditions.

Focus Clutch Mechanism - the system of manual focusing, which made it possible to use with the manual focusing wide and convenient ring with the smooth "oily" motion. With the self-focusing this ring remains fixed, it does not interfere with conveniently being held for the objective and does not overload the engine of self-focusing. For the switching from the regime of automatic focusing into the regime of manual focusing it suffices to only move the ring of focusing to itself (in the direction of vehicle). The special construction of this mechanism completely excludes the possibility of random switching. In the construction of some objectives of the last issue (for example At- X 280af PRO 28-.80mm f/2.8), designed for the operation with cameras Canon EOS and Nikon AF, is used the extended modification of this mechanism, which was called name "One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism", which made it possible to pass from the regime of manual focusing into the auto-focal regime by one motion of the ring of focusing, without the need for on/off the regime of self-focusing by separate switch on the apparatus or the objective.

IF (Internal Focus System) - the system of internal focusing, i.e., the focusing of objective by the motion of small throughout the mass and according to the sizes to the internal group of lenses. Therefore the process of self-focusing is conducted more rapid and it is more dynamic, with smaller noise and load on the AF- engine, is excluded the unbalance of objective in the process of focusing. Furthermore, internal focusing makes it possible to prepare more compact objectives, and also - with the large convenience to use the polarization and shading light filters, to use the effective "Cruciferae" by blends. IRF (Internal Rear Focus System) - the version of the system of the internal focusing, when focusing is achieved by displacement in the last group of lenses.

AS (Aspherical Lens - aspherical objective) - in the construction of objective are used optical elements with the aspherical surfaces. Aspheric makes it possible to decrease the number of lenses in the construction of objective, and consequently - to decrease the mass and the dimensions of objective. Also the application of aspherical lenses improves the definition characteristics of optics.

SD (Super-Low Dispersion Glass) - indicates the application in the objective of lenses from the glass with the ultralow dispersion. Such types of glass make it possible to considerably decrease the chromatic aberration, and it means - to make clear a reproduction of outlines and fine details not only on to center sequence, but also along entire image field.

Floating Element System (system with the floating elements) it makes it possible to avoid worsening in the sharpness with the focusing to the close distances. For this in the objective is provided one additional mobile ("floating") group of lenses, whose displacement with the focusing makes it possible to compensate aberration and to improve definition characteristic of objective during the photographing on any scale.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gyrostabilizer for the camera

No so long ago I was found under the bed broken CD-ROM and I solved that from its remainders it is possible to attempt to make a mini-gyroscope, for the stabilization of camera. Idea was pleased to me, but further to idea it did not leave, since it stumbled on the problem insoluble for me, since the CD-ROM engine (little motor) approach not 2 wires, as it was expected, but 8. I.e., some controller for control of little motor is necessary. As a result it was necessary to search for, it can already eat the finished solution. After not long searches, was found the site of firm SkyEye Corporation, which manufacture gyrostabilizers and systems of remote chamber control. So that in all for $2000 it is possible to purchase to itself stabilizer, and to make a photos of everything which will be wanted, from the hands and to throw out its support. In Konektikute there is firm Kenyon Laboratories LLC, which already 50 years lets out stabilizers for the cameras. The smallest gyrostabilizer (Explorer KS-2) weighs about 700 grams. In it it departs 4-5 minutes, to that so that it will untwist to 22000 revolutions in minutes. Company clearly serviceman, since for the nourishment of this device are necessary 115 volts with the frequency of 400 Hz. there is truth automobile power unit with the adapter under prikurivatel'. Costs this achievement of the American of defense industry somewhat cheaper, only 800 dollars. But its fellow, the largest stabilizer (Admiral KS-8) costs already 3100, but it weight narrower than 2.3 kg.

Single-Lense Reflex Paper Camera

The Belarus LJ-user alejandros has decided to make impossible to make the mirror camera the hands. The results of his work you can see at his LiveJournal. As on me so it has turned out not badly.

For more photos visit the site of Single-Lense Reflex Paper Camera Project