More photo questions for my Botswana trip

Apr 12th, 2009, 03:56 PM
  #1  
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More photo questions for my Botswana trip

42 more days!!!

I am working on learning the camera. I have a Nikon D-80. We decided on the the Tamron 18-270 lens for those that helped me with that question before. As it is a better lens, per reviews, image stabilization etc.

My new questions relate to ISO and image quality.

My plans for my pictures are to print some of them in 13x17 and a few in 16x20. I will also make a book through iPhoto.

What do you usually shout in Fine or Raw??

What ISO do you tend to use as your "default" setting??

thanks
amy
amycyma is offline  
Apr 12th, 2009, 04:28 PM
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amy,
Shooting in Raw is like making a digital negative that you can go back to and still have enough information to make into a good image. For examle if your light (white balance), contrast, highlights, or color are off, you can correct them more fully working on a raw image. It's a bit more work but not difficult. Actually it is kind of fun pulling the best out of your best images. Shooting RAW you can often save otherwise bad pictures and you can make the best fine adjustments for those enlargements you want. Having said that, many good photographers shoot in JPEG and get wonderful results, but even they realize they are giving up some flexibility. Keep in mind that you can set your D80 to shoot RAW and fine JPEG so that if you can get what you want out of the JPEG you can leave the RAW unprocessed. It takes a bit of memory but that is cheap nowadays. Next, Try and keep you ISO below 800, way below 800. If you can shoot at ISO 400 or less. The Nikons began to handle noise better with your model but still show too much noise for my taste at ISO 800. You are going to want sharp images to make the enlargements you are after so I suggest you shoot at apertures 1 or 2 stops smaller than fully open. This is because all lenses perform better when stopped down a bit. Doing this will give you a bit more depth of field so more will be in focus and what is in focus will be sharper than it would be with a wide open lens. You will get lots of opinions on what I have said as each photographer weighs things a bit differently. There is no real right or wrong, just what works for you. Don't be afraid of RAW, unless you just don't have the time to process it. I always recommend Andy Biggs Website for people serious about photography in Africa because he has done a nice job explaining depth of field, composition and preparation. I suspect someone will now accuse me of promoting Andy but I'll take the risk.
Have a Ball and take a lot of images-Chuck
safarichuck1 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2009, 04:37 PM
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Congrats on your new lens!

I usually use Large/Fine (Canon terminology) image recording. (I've enlarged images recorded at Large/Fine to the sizes you mention with very good results.) I use RAW primarily during night drives when incandescent spot lights, which can give your images a yellow cast, are used on the animals. The software on your computer can then easily adjust away the yellow. My experience has been that AWB (auto white balance) does a pretty good job and in most instances I don't need to play with light conditions that RAW best allows.

The use of RAW will significantly increase the size of your image file, so if you decide to go that way, you need to make sure you have adequate memory cards (or you need to bring along a laptop to download each day's or game drive's shots). Personally, I don't want to schlep a computer so I bring along much memory. You should know that if you shoot RAW you need to use your camera's software to convert the file to something like jpeg. Of course, if you want to cover your bets, I'm guessing your camera will allow you to record each image in both the RAW and Large/Fine jpeg modes at the same time.

ISO settings depend on the light at the time. In the middle of the day with full sun I'd use 100, at dusk/early dawn maybe 400 to 800. But if I had to give a default, I'd suggest 200.

Good luck, Steve
sdb2 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2009, 07:02 PM
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Ok, good lens decision.
You're looking for rather large prints. So I'd like to reiterate and emphasize what Chuck said about sharp images.

First thing is the image must look sharp. ISO, f-stop, shutter speed, AWB, whatever, you must get a sharp image. So, after a good camera and lens which you have, your image sharpness will depend on focus, the amount of subject movement, and camera movement during the exposure. Focus is critical and related to the depth-of-field and thus f-stop. "During the exposure" means shutter speed. The shutter speed must be fast enough to limit the un-sharpness caused by subject and camera movement. How fast - depends. The lens's IS or VC as Tamron calls it will help with camera movement. Subject movement goes from very little for sleeping lions to cheetahs running and birds in flight. I'd say 1/60 sec for flat cats and 1/1000 sec for big action and BIF.

For my Nikons I typically set them up for auto-ISO, ISO max at 400. F-stop at f8 and shutter speed depending on subject action. If light is dimming then ISO 800. But again, getting the sharp image is paramount, everything else is subordinate to that.

I shoot large fine JPG only. If you are comfortable or you DH is with processing RAW, fine, that can give you an edge. BUT what really gives your photos an edge is tweaking them in something like PhotoShop. Every "keeper" photo of mine gets massaged in Photoshop. Cropped, color corrected, maybe Velvia-ized, always sharpened more (than by camera), a bit of burning, etc. If I may, here is a photo of a leopard (taken at Kings Camp) before and after working it over in Photoshop. Original jpg and then the re-worked next image, (click on Next) -
http://tomgraham.smugmug.com/gallery...68_igH6i/Large
I don't claim this to be a great photo, several things not good with it. But I think a good example of making a so-so photo into one with much more impact.

And practice with the new to you D80 and Tamron. Do you have nearby a pond/lake with ducks? Ducks do everything, sit, swim, fly. Practice on those little critters in various light and light from various directions.

42 days, I envy you, I have to wait 142 days!!!

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2009, 09:23 PM
  #5  
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Many thanks all!!

Great info from all. I am rechecking out the Andy Biggs site which I had read a while ago, but now that I am practicing with the camera, it makes more of an impact, so thanks for bringing that again to my attention.

Me, comfortable processing anything on a computer, totally foreign to me, my DH (as you all refer to him) is totally comfortable, but now I have to decide whose pictures these are. Photoshop is something I have never used.

I am really interested in that most of you just use fine and not raw (DH is pushing the use of raw)

and Tom, 142 days really isn't that long, at least you have a trip to look forward to!!! and thanks for the leopard picture, it was a helpful reminder that creativity extend past the original shot.

I live near a lot of reservoirs, so finding ducks, geese, and swans will be easy, and thanks for the idea. (I have not actually gotten the lens yet, as I need to wait for the Passover week to be over and the store to open again, and also get in to NYC, my goal is by May 1 at the latest)

amy
amycyma is offline  
Apr 12th, 2009, 10:15 PM
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Don't use Photoshop? Here is a neat popular free program with which you can crop, change color, contrast, resize and more. It is easy to use, it's basically a jpg viewer. I use it as a simple viewer, view a screen of thumbnails for culling, and to quickly make color corrections.
http://www.irfanview.com/
Like say, free, very easy to use.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2009, 07:07 AM
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Another simple-to-use software is made available by Google (http://picasa.google.com/). Picasa is also free and fairly effective for something so easy to use. It works best for displaying pics in a slide show on your computer, for internet posting and for smaller prints. To make the larger prints you've mentioned I'd stay with something like Photoshop. Some reviews on Picasa can be found at: http://download.cnet.com/Picasa/3000...-10160334.html

Steve
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Apr 13th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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That darn ')' screws up everything. Link is: http://picasa.google.com/
sdb2 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2009, 08:40 AM
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I've always had Canons and shoot Fine/Large. Sounds like you have a Mac - iPhoto works well for editing, and I've used it now for four years. The "adjust" edit tool (not that automatic little wand icon, the one where you have all kinds of optional controls) gives you an incredible range in corrections for shadow, under/over exposure, etc. It take some getting used to, so you may want to play with it if you aren't already comfortable with it.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Apr 13th, 2009, 11:02 AM
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Hi Amy, me again.

Just FYI, here's a brief, simple, straightforward discussion of JPG/RAW: http://hyperphocal.com/?p=167

Steve
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Apr 13th, 2009, 06:34 PM
  #11  
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Again many thanks

My husband (DH-not going on the trip) has, and is well versed in Photoshop, and will patiently teach me the details. He is a graphic designer, so knows it quite well, and has explained all the differences to me, but I felt that I wanted to ask those that have "Been there done That" their opinions.

His newest suggestion, as he is the one that is strongly suggesting me to shoot RAW, is to buy a portable hard drive storage "device". His feeling is that I can't have too many copies of photos that I travelled half way around the world to take.

He is also suggesting that I recognize that I can alternate between RAW and FINE. Which now that I am practicing with the camera, I can do fairly easily!!

anyway, all your thoughts are greatly appreciated, as always.

amy
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Apr 13th, 2009, 09:45 PM
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I'm a believer of having two copies of camera images. About eight years ago we lost one of two copies (not safari photos) when we lost a laptop. But it really wasn't a big deal, never did anything with the photos anyway!!!

So for you perhaps take enough cards that you don't have to erase any and also a hard drive storage for a back up of those cards. The back up hard drives I use are no longer sold (surprise!) so I can't recommend a specific type/model.

FWIW, just to jabber more about RAW, the thing that bothers me most about using RAW is that you can process Nikon RAW with perhaps six different RAW converters. Nikon's own and other makes, including two by Photoshop, LR and ACR. And each one will give you different results. So seems to me you might as well skip that step and go right into Photoshop.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 04:54 PM
  #13  
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Steve-thanks for the link to the article, I found it helpful.

Has anyone ever alternated between RAW and FINE. or shot in both (though that seems like it uses so much space ont he memory card, has it been worthwhile to do so???

Tom-I will definitely get a backup hard drive, the last thing i wnat (after staying healthy) is to loose a picture

amy

PS MY DH just go the lens today, seems a bit noisy... but otherwise I am excited
amycyma is offline  
Apr 14th, 2009, 07:39 PM
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Hi Amy-

You're welcome for the link---glad it helped.

I've never really switched back and forth between RAW and Fine during a game ride---once the ride gets going I'm pretty focused on looking for things to photograph and much more concerned, as Tom mentioned, about the exposure (shutter speed, f-stop). Nor have I shot in both modes at once. I decide beforehand how to record and stay with it for the ride. On a safari early last year I spent about 3/4 of the time in RAW mode and the rest in Fine. Honestly, I couldn't see a difference in the images and I wasn't keen on converting the RAW images. The extra time is not huge, but it was more than I wanted to spend (this is just me). So on a more recent trip, I went back to Fine. As I've mentioned before, I would surely use RAW at heavy dusk/night when the spot lights come out to make sure I can adjust the cast easily.

It sounds to me that shooting in both modes would be the best solution for you---you certainly wouldn't have to give the matter a second thought. Adorama has a sale now on a three-pack of SanDisk 8 GB, Extreme III Secure Digital High Capacity cards (I'm not a Nikon man, but think this is the right ones) for $75. I estimate that's about 1500 images in RAW/Fine (though you can check your manual for its estimate), plus I'm sure you have additional card(s).

Not to add any pressure, but we're all going to look forward to seeing your shots!

Best of luck, Steve
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