March 21, 2009

Twitter Q&A #2

Copyright Scott Bourne 1998 - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Scott Bourne 1998 - All Rights Reserved

Today I’ll answer some of the questions my Twitter audience posed to me this week via Twitter. I received lots of questions and can’t answer them all, but I picked some that were asked more than once figuring I’d help more people by using those questions as the basis of this post. It looks like this might be a regular feature here on the blog.

And if you’d like to follow me on Twitter go to

Question #1 From @WenyaMR

Do you have a favorite DSLR under $1500?

Well MY favorite DSLR under $1500 is WELL under $1500. It’s under $1000 in fact. The Nikon D90. That said, it might not be the best camera for you. When you are trying to determine what camera you should buy there are a myriad of factors to consider. Read this post. and this post and this post and this post

Question #2 From @rgustinella

My usual shooting time is during travel. Any tips for subjects around the house so I can practice more?

That’s easy. Shoot ANYTHING and EVERYTHING around the house. One of the things I constantly run into relates to people going on workshops with me only to find that they are completely unfamiliar with their gear. They only break out the camera when they take a trip. To avoid getting into that rut, make a pact with yourself to handle your gear every single day. Even if it’s just to take a picture of a beer can on the porch, handling the camera regularly leads to more success when it counts. So set up all your gear, practice with your tripod and changing lenses. Read your manual and know what you’re doing BEFORE you get out into the field.

Question #3 From @silverph

Why can I easily find 8×10 frames but not DSLR standard 8×12 frames?

This is simply a matter of knowing what to look for. Ask for diploma frames – they are almost always 8×12 and perfect for photos in that standard size. Here is an 8×12″ frame I’ve used in the past that I bought at Amazon. 8x 12″ Picture Frame

Question #4 From @paulatkins

Why is an iMac a good choice for a photographer when an EIZO CG is one of the few good monitors, why not Mac mini and EIZO?

First of all, I completely disagree with you that the EIZO CG is “one of the few” good monitors. There are lots of good monitors. While the EIZO are always highly rated, I’ve rarely (as in maybe three times) met a photographer who can take advantage of the difference between that monitor and any number of other monitors in that price range.

As to the second part of your question, the main thing that sends me to the iMac rather than a Mini every single time is GPU. Aperture, iPhoto and now even Photoshop take advantage of the GPU. You can get a faster GPU in the iMac than you can a Mini and there will be a TON of very noticeable performance. The GPU in the Mini also doesn’t come with as much video RAM. You’ll also spend a lot more. To get the MINI close to the capability of the iMac will set you back about $1050. Add the monitor and you’re spending $$$ for a slower solution. And if you go Mini, you won’t be able to buy a processor that’s as powerful as the one available for the iMac. You can also get 8GB of RAM in the iMac and that’s always a good thing when you’re working with photos.

I guess the ultimate answer to you is there’s more to consider than just a monitor.

Question #5 From @Jens_T

How much sharpening do you apply for different outputs (print, web, etc) in Aperture?

That’s a big question with too many parts to answer in this short post. But I’ll answer part of it.

When you apply sharpening to photos you intend to print, you need to think about where that image will be displayed. You’ll need to consider image size, viewing distance, paper type, even lighting. This is almost impossible to put into a standard formula, so I rely on add-on products such as Nik DFine or Noise Ninja since these plug-ins do all the hard work for you on output.

But there is a starting point. Divide the print resolution (let’s say you’re printing to an Epson 3800 which prefers a 360 PPI resolution) by 1/100th of an inch to get your sharpening radius – in this case 3.6. The amount of sharpening is to taste but generally to make it look good in print it has to be slightly TOO sharp on the monitor. Test prints are the best way to make sure.

A couple of other tips. Matte paper may need a bit more sharpening than glossy papers. Selective sharpening is usually a better choice than global sharpening.