tracey medcalfe photography | You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Camera Lens Glossary and a bit of HDR

You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Camera Lens Glossary and a bit of HDR

September 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
You're Smarter Than Your Camera - Camera Lens Glossary and a bit of HDR
Good morning and welcome to the final blog on lenses and image formats! This week we will look at the different terms that come on the side of lenses and what they all mean. I will cover the Nikon lens abbreviations and naturally there are comparable terms for Canon and Sigma and others.  There is a link for the canon terms below.
We will also dip into HDR photography and discuss JPEG vs raw for taking those images.

Enjoy and thanks for reading,

How Can I Compare Lenses?

Last week we talked about the different lens options and what they were most commonly used for.  Lets look at the terms that are used to evaluate a lens this week. Starting with the general terms - 

Focal Length
Refers to the scope of the scene captured i.e. 70-200mm.  This lens zooms from 70mm (pretty normal viewing - similar to the human eye) to 200mm

Maximum Aperture
This refers to the maximum speed at which the lens can let light in - remember from last week.  The faster the lens, the smaller the aperture number and in general the more expensive.  E.g. f/2.8

This Setting on the lens switches from auto focus to manual focus.  There is also a setting on your camera that makes this adjustment and you would need to switch both to the desired setting.
Lets Look at the Nikon Options - 

AF DC_ Nikkor Lenses: This can be used to shape the out of focus elements in image backgrounds - booked.  Th defocus-image Control adjusts spherical aberration and thus the blur giving rounded blur effect used for portraits.   

CRC (Close-Range Correction): For fisheye, wide-angle, Micro, and limited medium telephoto, offering higher quality at closer distances.

DX Nikkor: This lens is optimised for bodies with smaller sensors - not full frame.

ED: Extra-low Dispersion glass. Superior sharpness and colour, correcting blue and red light travel.

IF: Internal Focusing. Normally when a zoom lens is used the length of the lens changes as you zoom in or out in this example lens, the lens length remains unchanged.

Macro: Lenses suitable for close up focusing.

G: The aperture can be adjusted by the camera body - I wouldn't go for anything else.

Nano Crystal Coat: This relates to a non-reflective coating on the lens resulting in clearer images.

VR: Vibration Reduction: Nikon’s version of Image Stabilisation to cut down the effects of hand shake - a great property of the modern lenses.

PC-E: Perspective Control for architectural photography.

RF: With Nikon's Rear Focusing (RF) system, all the lens elements are divided into specific lens groups, with only the rear lens group moving for focusing. This makes autofocusing operation smoother and faster.

Silent Wave Motor: Silent autofocus

You can get more detail from the Nikon glossary web page - 
Only get movement when you want to with vibration reduction lenses
Canon users can find information on the terms used for their lenses here - 
Another great website for comparing lenses and getting the basic lowdown on advantages and disadvantages of different lenses is 
Zoom Burst Technique
An interesting technique you can try with a zoom lens is to change the zoom during the exposure called a "zoom burst". It's best if you set your camera on a tripod and set the shutter speed to 1/12 or 1/15 of a second.  Then twist the lens's zoom ring - try not to move the camera at all.

This causes the subject to have increasing radial blur near the edges of the frame, with the center appearing more or less unblurred. The effect can be used to draw attention to a central subject, or to make the viewer feel as though they're moving rapidly.

The zoom burst technique is usually only possible with SLR cameras, but may also be possible with compact cameras that have manual zoom capabilities.
In this image the subject is the same distance away as the background so the effect is quite different
HDR Photography....JPEG vs Raw?

Finally a little light section on file format for HDR photography.  So if HDR photography is your thing...and if you have to ask what is HDR photography, it probably isn't!
Even if you aren't into HDR, it is interesting to look at how these images are constructed and we can learn a bit more about our cameras in this way. HDR stands for high dynamic range, remember dynamic range is the range of dark and light elements in the image you are trying to capture. There are occasions where a single exposure (one shot) will cover them all so that nothing is over or under exposed, but in many cases in order to capture the whole image with good exposure, the photographer must take maybe three or five exposures using bracketing ( we will cover this in a few weeks). Each shot is correctly exposed for different elements of the image and thus the whole dynamic range can be captured by merging the related individual images.
You may think that RAW format is the best way to go for shooting these images, and as we discussed in the format blog, there are advantages to this format. What is also true, though, is that one of the huge advantages of shooting in raw is that you can extract seemingly under or over exposed elements of an image (within reason). When you are shooting to create HDR images, you have already compensated for that by taking several images and so that advantage is not as important. In addition, shooting in JPEG allows you to manipulate your images faster as they require less processing power from your computer.
So go ahead....if you've always wanted to....have a go getting some HDR images with your JPEG format. If your not here yet....hold on for a few weeks and I'll go into the technique in a little more detail!
Next Time
Next month we will look at flash and other types of lighting as well as the 'bulb' setting on the camera.  Its a great one for Halloween and nighttime subjects so tune to find out more in October :-)
Your Challenge
Get your favourite zoom lens and have a go at the lens blur....I'd love to see the effects!!
Thanks so much for reading and as always, I would love to hear any comments or questions you have.  
Have fun with your photography,
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