Special guest host – Steve Simon.

If for some reason it doesn’t show up in your copy of iTunes, please refresh your feeds.

You can subscribe through iTunes free of charge at (Opens the iTunes App)

We’d prefer you subscribe via iTunes because it helps elevate our show on their list – that in turn lets more people find the show, but if you don’t have the free iTunes client or want to use iTunes, here’s our NON-iTunes feed. Thanks.

Direct download – Listen to this episode here.

Photofocus Episode 23

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we are starting things off with a question about Nikon lenses

Question One – Nikon Lens Recommendation

Domenico87 writes: I have the money for either Nikon’s 24-70 or 70-200, working w/ D300, shooting weddings and portraits. Which ONE is more versatile?

Steve: Tough question. I have both of those lenses and both are extremely versatile. If you could only have two lenses then those would be the two I’d go with. For me, generally speaking the 24-70 is the most versatile. As a wedding photographer you’ll need to be close to the action and the 24-70 will allow you to do that but also pick a spot that is unobtrusive enough and frame the image the way you want. The 70-200mm does give you that great compressed look and let you get some things you might not be able to get with the 24-70.

Scott: I agree with you on the 24-70 but for a slightly different reason. Working with the D300 he is using a crop sensor lens so he will be working out there at around 100mm with the 24-70mm. The problem with the 70-200mm on a crop sensor body is that it will be tough to get the group shots unless he is standing far back.

Question Two – Batteries for Flashes

MagicLightPhoto: Can you recommend some good quality rechargeable AA batteries to use in a flash? Are NiMH the best way to go?

Steve: I use a quantum battery for my flashes and those things will run all day. I use AA alkaline’s in combination with these battery packs.

Scott: I think that NiMH are the way to go. I use Eneloop batteries and they seem to hold their charge the longest. Realistically I don’t think it matters that much. I also recycle my batteries every year.

Question Three – Learning Basic Post Production

Daniel J Collins from Inland Empire, CA asks: Where is a good place to learn basic post-production for digital imaging?

Scott: and Steve, how do you like to learn? Workshops, books, or online self-paced training?

Steve: I think a combination of things like workshops, books, and online training is great. It’s a matter of use it or lose it. With busy schedules, places like you mentioned are a great way to learn. If you have an opportunity to take a leadership role to teach a subject, that will help you to learn the subject too.

Question Four – Color Shifts with Lee Filters

Rob Appleby writes: Am I likely to see color shift using the Lee Filters with my D700 and D300S?

Scott: Doesn’t matter what camera you use, you will see a color shift. I don’t have any particular experience with that brand. Lesser quality filters will create a color shift. The more expensive filters like B+W won’t have a color effect. The plastic filters generally do. There is a real quick test. Get a white piece of paper and lay the filter down on the paper and you should be able to see if there is a shift.

Steve: Whenever you introduce another piece of glass in front of your beautiful optics, generally there will be some effect but I’ve done some pixel peeping and haven’t noticed a huge difference with a filter on the lens. Where you’ll see some effect is in low light or if there is light coming in from the side causing flare. If you are going to use filters, spend the extra money and buy good quality filters.

Question Five – Suggestion of a Camera to take to Afghanistan

Jason Bower writes: I am in the Marines and headed to Afghanistan in a few months. I am terrified that I will break my 5D MKII if I take it with me – so much dust and harsh elements. Do you have any other suggestions for a camera that I could take with me? I am currently looking at the G11, as it is compact and I would have no problem carrying it with me everywhere.

Steve: First off, hats off to Jason for serving our country. My first instinct is to get your camera insured and then if you’re covered I’d take it with you. The destination provides some wonderful opportunities so treat it like a tool and not like a glorified object of adoration. It does make sense to have something small too like the G11.

Scott: Good tip Steve however war might be an exclusion when it comes to insurance. I would recommend against the G11 or any camera that has a retractable lens. In a dusty environment, that will bring dust into the camera and you can’t clean it. It will depend upon the kind of photography that you want to do. If budget isn’t a big deal, one of these new 4/3rd’s cameras like the new Olympus pen might be a good option. Another option to consider might be a good old film camera. If it fills up with sand you can just throw them out. A waterproof housing might be another thing to consider to protect the camera.

Addendum: Alan Lillich emailed us with a suggestion after the show aired. Here’s a thought for Jason Bauer’s question about a camera for Afghanistan. Pat and I have a Canon D10 that we bought as a tide pool camera. It is a compact that is waterproof to 10 meters, Canon says it can survive a 4 foot drop. Should be as dust proof as anything, and is ready for snorkeling on R&R. It has a moving lens, but it is behind a fixed glass plate. About $280, 12MP, 38mm to 114mm equiv, f 2.8 to 4.9, IS, does video. Joint winner in a DPReview group test of 7 waterproof cameras (“if you were shopping for a waterproof camera mainly to use in the water, then you can stop reading right now and go order the D10”):

Question Six – Ray Flash Ring Adapter

Lance Burns wrote to us to ask: You say all of the time to get the Flash off the camera but why would I want the “Ray Flash Ring Flash Adapter” Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of getting the flash off the camera? What situations should you want the ring flash on the camera?

Scott: When you use a ring flash you want to leave it on the camera. That is what it is designed for. The effect created depends on being directly in front of the person you are shooting and right at lens level. That would be the only time I’d say to leave the flash on the camera.

Steve: Yes, I like to get my flash off camera even if it’s on camera and by that I mean bouncing it off a wall or a ceiling. Ring flash does give you a cool shadow less but harsh effect. Ring flash is great when you have young beautiful people. I wouldn’t necessarily want my photograph taken with it.

Scott: The ring flash was actually created for doctors who work with skin conditions. I use it mainly with children and attractive models.

Question Seven – Scott’s Snow Leopard Situation

Justin Prather asks: Hey Scott, I was wondering if you could give an update on your Snow Leopard situation?

Scott: I do own Snow Leopard but I have not installed it on anything but a single test machine. I’m gray haired and this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m waiting for the next Snow Leopard update before I install it. There are some cool features we want to play with but that’s why we have it on a test machine and not on our production machines.

Steve: I’m more of a software bungee jumper. I just loaded it up and it seems to work fine. I haven’t noticed all that many differences. I do know that Nikon’s Capture NX2 is still not Snow Leopard ready so it does make sense to not jump in right away all the time.

Question Eight – The “F” Word – Film

Boyd Hobbs My question is about the big f-word: film. Do you ever use it? As a student cinematographer, 35mm film is still considered the ultimate motion picture medium. However as a photographer, I find many peers resistant to even the idea of using it. Do any of the big name photographers still use it? And is it worth me learn how to use it well?

Steve: I get questions over email about this from time to time and one guy emailed me recently and directed me to a web site so I guess this is what it has come to. The reality is there are still a lot of people using film. Many professionals who are doing work on large format like 4×5 have adopted digital but continue to use film. Digital is far superior in many different ways but students still want to learn about film. We’ll just have to see how long it’s economically viable for it to be available.

Scott: The young people who like to make things difficult in order to make art will keep film alive and the old guys who just don’t want to change but I shot film for more of my career than I’ve shot digital and I don’t miss it a lick. If you enjoy film, go for it. Unless you have a reason to shoot film, I don’t see a reason for it but that’s just my opinion.

Question Nine – Not Wanting to Make Money from Photos – Am I Weird?

Tim Ouimet writes: I love taking photos. I love reading about photography stuff. I love trying to make DIY flash modifiers. It’s a wonderful hobby. Is there any harm in me NOT wanting to make money taking photos? My family, friends and co-workers all think I should be a pro [granted, anything with bokeh makes them think I’m stellar…] but I love just doing this for the fun of it. Is that weird?

Steve: It’s actually an advantage of not having to make money. As a professional, sometimes the shine of your passion gets dulled with the reality of survival in the business. Just do it for the pure love of communicating visually. You are not weird.

Scott: I’ve been a pro since the day I picked up a camera but it sure would be fun if it were just a hobby.

Question Ten – Resources for Learning Aperture

Richard Hernandez sent us an email: I just recently bought my first DSLA – a Canon T1i. I also just bought Aperture. I enjoy taking pictures of my adventures in Manhattan, family functions, and vacations. I wanted to step up from iPhoto and decided buy Aperture. The problem is I’m a little lost with it. I never used a program like Aperture and don’t know where to start. What are some resources I can use?

Scott: Richard Harrington has written a great book on how to use Aperture called the Apple Pro Training Series – Aperture 2. also has a few Aperture training classes on their site two of which were done by me. Short of that, there are not a ton of Aperture resources which is one of the reasons why Lightroom seems to be picking up steam.

Steve: The Apple web site also has some great tutorials. Sarah France also has a training DVD available on Aperture.

Question Eleven – Tips for Getting Good Holiday Photos

Craig Dennis asks: Do you have any suggestions for getting good holiday photos?

Steve: Put the flash away and ramp up your ISO and let the natural light do it’s thing. Around this time of year, people’s homes are nicely decorated with lights so try to take advantage of that light for some pleasing family photographs.

Scott: Get your gear ready before your friends and your family come over. Don’t make your camera the star of the show. Get people relaxed and try to tell some stories. I see a lot of photos of people opening gifts but not very often do I see photos of people wrapping the gifts or giving the gifts. Maybe to try to get some photos of people’s reactions as they open the gift or after it’s been opened. I want to see the whole sequence of events.

Steve: That would be a wonderful gift if you could give that kind of coverage. Put them together and into a book which could be given as a book after the holidays or next year.

Scott: Make sure you print them or show them off somehow. There are so many web sites and places where you can show off your work out there.

Question Twelve – Aperture Support for D300s Files

Chris from Tacoma, WA writes: Is there any reason my D300s NEF files show as unsupported file in Aperture? I know there was some delay with the original D300 raw files, but understand that the D300 is now supported by the current Mac OS 10.5 update. Are the D300s files different than D300 files? Do I need Mac OS 10.6? Am I doing something wrong? I’m running Mac OS 10.5.8?

Scott: The simple answer is that Apple and Nikon haven’t worked out the SDK for the RAW files for the D300s yet.

Steve: It is frustrating. You can shoot JPEGS as a workaround but that’s not ideal. You can also convert the files to DNG as well. My advice here is to be sure when you buy your new camera to check into the software that you use to see if the camera you plan on buying is supported and if it isn’t; decide if you can live with that.

Scott: This is becoming a bigger issue. Some companies are slow to release these updates and companies like Panasonic have been horrible. Once the manufacturer releases the SDK for their equipment, the various programs like Aperture, Lightroom, etc have to code it so it’s hard to say who is at fault in this. The norm when you buy a new camera, you have to accept that it might be weeks or months before it’s supported.

Question Thirteen – Tips to Keep a Camera Dry

CJ Pais on Twitter asks: Im going to England in December through January and I think it might be rainy. I have a Nikon D40 and that sure isn’t waterproof. I need something to keep it dry and I was wondering if you had any tips?

Scott: There are a million different companies that make camera raincoats. It’s tough to beat the free little shower cap that you get in every hotel or a small trash bag. A lot of the new camera bags may include a free rain cover. Even if it’s designed to fit the bag it may fit the camera.

Steve: I’m going to be covering a story on the Olympic torch relay up in Canada. I have a Kata rain cover that I’m not completely happy with. There is the Aquatek rain cover but it’s $200 and there is the Optek rain sleeve that is only $7.

Scott: ThinkTank makes a good cover for long lenses.

Question Fourteen – Card Recommendations for the 7D

Gene asks: I have a new 7D which I upgraded from a Rebel XTi. I know you are using the 7D for video while for now I will be using mine for photos. Do you have a recommendation for the size, style and brand of CF Card? The 7D shoots 8 frames per second, do I need a fast card?

Scott: You don’t need a fast card but it sure is nice. UDMA cards are nice – you’ll get better input/output. This is not a place to spend money if you’re not shooting video.

Steve: I do recommend buying a good quality card and steer clear of the cheaper cards. They’ll work but you can run into problems trying to view the images on the screen. CF cards are extremely reliable and will last you as long as your shooting. It makes sense to invest in a high quality card from one of the big manufacturers. I have used Lexar and SanDisk.

Scott: I would agree to stay away from the lesser known brands. Hoodman cards are also good cards. If you are shooting video then I recommend getting the fastest cards you can.

Question Fifteen – File Recommendations When Outsourcing Your Printing

Tom Gordon writes: Do online printing services, such as Mpix, do any adjustments to the photos before printing? If I’m not mistaken, didn’t the film printers make some adjustments to make the prints look their best? If I decide to use an online printer, should I sent them a jpeg or raw file from the camera or should I make adjustments in Aperture then send that file?

Scott: I can’t speak for MPix but I know that WHCC does not make adjustments. They rely on the photographer to get the print exactly the way they want it before they send it in. I’m sure there are online services that do make adjustments.

Steve: As photographers you want to be as in control as you can. Most of these services will let you download a profile that will let you match to your screen. I wonder what the future is for big printer manufacturers since a lot of this stuff is making sense to send out? Despite the advances in technology, you still have to know a lot to do your own printing. Do you think if the printer manufacturer’s made it easier then people would do more of their own printing?

Scott: Unfortunately I see prints going away as more an more people view photos online. It’s unfortunate because the print used to be a form of backup. I simply cannot make prints as quickly or inexpensively as online services like WHCC or MPix. If you really like the printing part, then that’s different.

Question Sixteen – Should I Care About Video

Jeff Sinon asks: Short and simple, as a new photographer, why should I care about video? Currently my Canon 40D doesn’t have it, but the next likely upgrade for me will.

Scott: I can’t tell you why you should care about video but I can tell you why I care about video. Number one, a couple of my biggest clients are demanding it. If I can’t deliver it then they are going to find another photographer. Number two, I think we are going to see a new focus on imagery and less of a focus on the tools used to make it. Chase Jarvis always talks about the best camera is the one you have with you and he’s very gear agnostic whether you are talking about a P&S, an iPhone, a DSLR, or a video camera. I’ll take it a step further and extend that to include that it doesn’t matter what brand you are talking about be it Canon or Nikon. We need to pay attention to visuals and less on the gear and the fusion of video with stills brings a whole new product in terms of expressing yourself, telling stories and having people consume them.

Steve: I care about video but I haven’t started to dive into video yet. I think it’s a question of communicating visually. It’s a different way of thinking if you are using video but I do feel that still photographers are in a great position to get into video. A lot of the talents we use as still photographers are used in video.

Scott: I think that moving visuals are the way of the future.

The Blog

Wrap Up

We want themes and questions from you. Be sure to visit the blog at for articles, how-to’s, videos and more. You can also subscribe to the blog on a Kindle. Email us at [email protected] follow us on Twitter. Don’t just take pictures – make pictures.

Steve Simon is at

Show notes by Bruce Clarke