Saturday, January 12, 2008

Lesson Four and Challenge

Lesson 4: Macro and Landscape Modes

In this section, we are going to cover Macro and Landscape. I was originally only going to work on Macro, but I’ve also realized that some cameras (or lenses) are not completely capable no matter how much you try to force it… trust me, I was trying… so, we’ll include landscape too. Incidentally, I am also touching on lenses and focal length a little, but we will do more on this later too.

Since both modes are based on aperture, here is a quick review: In lesson 2, we discovered that the aperture (the opening in the lens) affects the “depth of field”, the area which is in focus vs. the blurry area just before and after the subject. Remember that a small numbered f/stop (ie, f/4) is a larger opening in the lens which makes the background/foreground more blurry. The opposite is true for a large numbered f/stop (ie, f/22) which is a small opening in the lens which makes everything in focus. Remember, the common f/stops are – f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22.

When we covered the Portrait mode, the auto settings pretty much chose an aperture around the f/5.6 or f/8 range… sort of in the middle. This makes the background a little blurry and is nice for portraits of people, etc. It helps to keep the attention on the subject. So, since that was the middle of the scale, lets visit the extremes on each end of the aperture scale.

Macro Mode:

Macro mode is represented by the “flower” icon on the dial (or if you have a point and shoot camera and it is macro capable, then it will be either on a dial or on the back somewhere or perhaps a menu feature. So, macro mode uses the larger openings in the lens which are the smaller f/stop numbers (ie, f/2 – f/4, and some smaller than that). A macro shot looks like those extreme close up shots that you see in magazines of flowers or insects, etc where only part is in focus and the rest of the picture is blurry. This gives you a concentrated area of attention.

My Experience:

I have a Samsung s750 digital P&S and a Nikon D50 (SLR) with the following lenses:

Tamron 70-300mm with macro – this lens has a switch on the side to change from regular close up to extreme close up (normal and macro 180-300mm). So, I extend the length of the lens to its max, flip the switch, and then I have even more zoom. All of my macro shots to date have been done with that lens.

Nikon 70-300mm – this lens doesn’t have the macro switch. No matter how far I extend the lens, it just can’t seem to achieve a larger aperture than f/5.6 in macro automatic mode.

Tamron 28-80mm – this lens won’t achieve anything larger than an f/5.6 in macro mode either. Also no matter which mode I was working in (manual or auto), I couldn’t seem to make the background blurry. I believe this is due to the focal length (which we will cover more later).

Samsung s750 point & shoot digital – got this for Christmas and this camera surprised me right out of the gate on it’s macro shots. I think they will potentially seriously rival those of my Tamron macro lens! I’ll put up some examples of both as a comparison later for fun. On this one, you find the macro option not on the dial, but as an option on the directional button on the back.

Landscape Mode:

At the opposite end of the aperture scale, we have a small opening with an f/stop of f/16 – f/22. These openings are very small but all at the same time keep everything in focus. When you see a picture in a magazine of a mountain range and everything is in focus, then it was done with a small aperture (larger number, ie, f/22). You can find the landscape mode on your dial represented by a “mountain” type icon.

My Experience:

70-300mm lenses - I use these often when I’m far away from what I’m trying to take a picture of and trying to zoom in. I find that the 28-80mm is not really good for long distance shots even though there is a little zoom to it.

28-80mm lens – this one is good for those shots where you want to get everything in, say a wide mountain range. Even though the other lenses are great for zooming (which a lot of people are after), this lens has a ton of benefits too. There is such a thing as being too close to your subject. When you are standing somewhere and you are looking at a subject, our normal vision sees the world around 50mm (so they say). More than 50mm and you are zooming. Less than that and you are creating a wider angle which is like standing where you are but stepping back by a couple of feet. This lens is great for group shots or when you are in a small or confined space such as a living room. However so far, 90% of my experience has been that everything taken with this lens comes out clear (no blur). If I’m looking to blur the background, I switch to my 70-300mm. And, all at the same time if I’m taking a group shot with a 70-300mm lens, then I find that I have to move much further away from the subject (sometimes running a few yards).

All 3 lenses have their benefits and can be better suited to specific situations. Here’s the sort of neat part… each of these lenses can obtain a focal length of 70-80mm.

Samsung s750 P&S – I’m still looking for the landscape option on this camera. The manual that came with it pretty much only points out where stuff is on the camera but not how to change other settings. I’m still lurching around for that right now.

Challenge by Chel (1tufchick):

Macro - (since it is so wet here and perhaps trying to capture some water droplets and or dew on leaves/flowers and such

Landscape - focus on reflections

No comments: