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Photofocus Episode 45

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

This week we kick things off with a question about macro photography:

Question One – Video Quality of the 5D Mark II vs. G10

Why is the video from a Canon 5DMKII so much better than the video from my Canon G10? Susan Aldrich from New York

Vincent: There are many reasons but some of the main ones include the fact that the sensor in the 5D Mark II is about 10 times bigger than the one in the G10 or G11 so the quality is better and you get much greater depth of field. You can also use all of the Canon lenses on a 5D Mark II to achieve a variety of looks that you just can’t get with any other camera whereas you are limited to the fixed lens on the G10.

Question Two – Print Sizing for Images

I am starting to print my photographs, and I am curious what is a good rule of thumb for print size from an image from a APS-C camera. I’ve tried the WHCC 8×10 prints, and it made me wonder how large is reasonable before noise appears? Consequently, how much of a cropped image can be printed? John Pavlish from Seattle, WA

Scott: It will be image dependent. Dark images will show noise quicker. From an APS-C you can probably make poster size prints but easily you can make 11×14’s.

Vincent: There can be different sized sensors in the APS-C line so keep that in mind. I have blown stuff up that I shot with a 4 mp camera and they stand up quite well but some pixel peepers would say they are soft. I shoot most of my stuff today with a 21 mp camera and blow them up to 60×40 every single day but it’s all subjective. Some people shoot with 75 megapixel backs because they want the highest quality they can get but in the end a lot of it is subjective.

Question Three – Time Lapse Photography

Seth Walters asks: I’ve been interested in doing some time lapse shooting but not sure on the best way to go about it. Is interval shooting the best way or can I use the video mode on my Canon 5D mkII?

Vincent: Interval shooting is the best way to do time lapse photography. You can control the shutter speed and have people flow through. Also, if you shoot RAW then you can make corrections in post and changes that you simply can’t do with a video file. You can also crop into them so you can do fake pan and tilts. I cannot stand stationary time lapse so try to incorporate movement into your time lapse. I’ve been a big fan of Kessler dollys and cranes. Check out for some great time lapse videos.

Scott: If you are going to shoot time lapse with a Canon camera then you’ll need to pick up the Canon TC80N3 timer remote control. The high end Nikon cameras have this feature built in.

Question Four – sRAW and mRAW vs. RAW

Now that Aperture 3.0 supports mRAW and sRAW, I’d like to shoot those and reduce my library size. However, I’d read on forums (always a reliable source of information…) that mRAW and sRAW were not “true” RAW files. Can you explain the logic behind this? Also, understanding that larger files are better for editing (which I don’t do much of), is there any other drawback to shooting in mRAW or sRAW? Andy from MJ

Vincent: I have used sRAW for time lapse when I’m shooting 1000’s of shots and not doing any pan tilts. Other than that, I would kill myself if I shot sRAW. Take all the resolution you can get. Hard drives aren’t that expensive these days. You’ll have better colors and better transitions.

Scott: sRAW are RAW formats but they are reduced size so unless you need it for something like a time lapse, try to always shoot full RAW to get the most information as possible.

Question Five – Environmental Tolerances for Digital Cameras & Media

Back in the days of film, we learned not to leave our camera exposed to heat such as in the trunk of a car parked in the noonday summer sun. How does this apply, if at all, to digital cameras and media? What is the real world (not necessarily same as rated) tolerance of digital cameras and media to hot and cold temperatures during storage and during use? Sometimes the car trunk seems the most secure place to leave equipment during a visit to the beach, but I wouldn’t want to destroy my camera or lose images. Neil Steinmetz

Scott: Digital media isn’t affected as much but most camera manuals will tell you to not expose your camera to temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The problems come in with solvents and lubricants that are used in the manufacturing process. In extreme temperatures these solvents start to break down so don’t leave it in the heat. It seems to be less of a problem in the cold as long as you let them warm up slowly.

Vincent: The only time I’ve had a problem was in Dubai but I think you’ve answered it all by saying not to leave your gear in a hot trunk. If you’re going into humid areas, put your camera in a Ziploc bag and that will take care of humidity issues.

Question Six – Printing Panos with Odd Aspect Ratios

Would like to start displaying more of the panoramas that I am starting to take. I can get them shot and merged together using the techniques you have discussed previously on the show, but they come out at odd dimensions that do not lend them selves to printing at traditional aspect ratios. For instance they are not in a 1:2 or a 1:6 ratio you can get printed at places like WHCC and others (at least that I can find). How do you print a pano that is say, 1:10 or 1:12 in aspect ratio? Shawn from Milton, Ontario

Scott: WHCC can custom print for you with certain products such as canvas. Another option is to do them yourselves if you own your own printer.

Vince: If you buy rolls of paper and print your own, then you can print whatever size you’d like.

Question Seven – Finding Subjects for Photography

Scott writes: My girlfriend is tired of being the subject (victim, depending on how good my shots are) of my photos. Any tips on how to find other subjects? I look forward to hearing any tips you might have.

Vince: There are many models out there looking to have their photo taken for free and in exchange you get images for your portfolio. Modelmayhem is a popular site which connects photographers and models. Be as professional as possible in your presentation and show your work and you will start a good business that way.

Scott: Go to places like that has photo groups and sign up for a Photo Walk or a Shoot Out. Ask folks at your local camera club and don’t be shy. You just have to ask and put yourself out there.

Question Eight – Advantages of a dSLR vs. a Point & Shoot

What advantages do you get with a DSLR as opposed to a point and shoot or compact digital camera? Elaine W. Nelson for Los Angeles

Vincent: One of the biggest advantages is that a dSLR allows you to look through the lens and see what the lens sees whereas you are stuck with the lens you are given and are stuck with an LCD screen on a P&S camera. It’s the ability to see your work and fine tune your composition that makes a dSLR a step up from a compact camera. There are some great point and shoot cameras out there as well.

Scott: You can get some great shots with a P&S but a dSLR just offers more flexibility.

Question Nine – 24 fps vs. 30 fps

What is the difference between video recorded on my Canon 5DMKII at 24 v. 30 fps Elliot Thompson from London

Vincent: Visually it’s a big difference. For the average person there really isn’t going to be that much of a difference. For the young filmmaker who wants that filmic look, they’ll need to shoot at 24 fps which means shooting at 1/50th of a second. The movement feels like film. At 30, it looks more stroboscopic and much like TV. The reason hi-end videographers shoot at 24fps, is that digital projectors in theatres cannot playback the video at 30 fps. Also, the academy awards will not accept films unless they are shot at 24 fps.

Scott: I agree with you but when I shoot fast moving objects like birds it can be easier to shoot at 30 fps.

Question Ten – Backup Software Recommendations

Can you recommend some backup software programs? Freeware would be great or at least affordable. How do you test the system to be sure that it will work in case of a failure? Dean from OR

Scott: There are tons of backup programs out there. There are lots of cloud based programs out there such as Carbonite. If you have a Mac, it comes with Time Machine to do automatic backups. Super Duper is a good program which you can get from Shirt Pocket. Also make sure that you get your backup offsite. is a great site where you can backup your files.

Vincent: Spend the money on a good program for your backups as they are important. I use a Time Capsule at the office and at home. Make sure that it is scheduled and happens automatically.

Question Eleven – Tips for Getting the Most from and Internship

Recently I have started an internship under a portrait photographer in Atlanta. What can I do to get the most out of the internship for me and her. Also what shouldn’t I do. Hunter White

Vincent: Try to take time each week for a review with your photographer to see how you are progressing.

Scott: You shouldn’t tell the person you are interning for how to make pictures. Best to be humble. Bambi Cantrell has a great saying – humility over ability.

Question Twelve – Tips for Better Vacation Photos

I will be traveling to Japan in the coming months with a friend who’s also into photography and our respective wives. I’d like to come back with something more than snapshots and would love it if you would discuss any tips, suggestions and advice you would have to help avoid the typical vacation snapshots and make photos that people wouldn’t mind sitting through a slide presentation after the trip. Jeremy from Sydney, Australia

Vincent: Check out a book by Henri Cartier Bresson who is one of the fathers of photojournalism. It often has more to do with the photographs that you don’t take. Slow down and try to ask yourself about what you feel or see and how can you capture that. Ask yourself, what am I going to include in the frame and what am I going to exclude from the photograph.

Question Thirteen – Cross Type Sensors

The specs say my Canon T1i has a “cross-type” sensor. What the heck is that?? Neil from Potomac, MD

Scott: Most autofocus sensors, have sensors that work horizontally. Typically, the centre autofocus point has a cross type sensor which is pegged to vertical and horizontal which makes it more accurate. Cameras like the Canon 1D Mark IV uses all cross-type sensors so it is faster and more accurate when focusing. If your camera only uses a cross-type sensor in the centre, try to focus using the centre point and then recompose.

Vincent: Be wary when using the other sensors outside the centre sensor as they typically aren’t as sensitive as the center focus point.

Question Fourteen – Exposing for a Range of Skin Tones

I recently photographed a football match (you Americans would probably call it “soccer”! ;). It was outdoors in bright sunlight. On the whole, I was happy with my pictures, but all the players with dark skin came out with very dark faces, to the point that you really can’t tell who was who. Raising the brightness in Lightroom gave an OK result, but introduced a lot of noise. Can you give any hints for getting a range of skin tones exposed correctly? – AJ Finch from Tunbridge Wells, UK.

Vincent: Frankly that is a tricky situation to photograph. If you’re shooting RAW then you have more room to work with. Never overexpose your hilites because you can’t recover them.

Scott: Photography is less and less about compromise but there will still be an element of compromise – do you hold your shadows or your hilites.

Skip’s Summer School

Be sure to check out Skip Cohen’s Summer school from August 8th – 11th in Las Vegas. It’s only $239. Kevin will be there along with Scott and 13 other great speakers from the photography industry. Check out for more information and to register.

Wrap Up

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

Vincent Laforet is at

Show notes by Bruce Clarke