Monday, October 7, 2013

How to Download Full/High Resolution Photos from or Picasa (Google)

Flickr is a prominent photo website on the Internet. It mainly attracts professionals and photo-enthusiasts to upload, share and display their work and hence you will be able to see eye-popping photos there. Flickr is not known or promoted as such, until recently, as a photo sharing website where you can share photos with friends or family members and also let them download high resolution copies. On many websites like Facebook or on Instagram, you can share photos with your friends but there is no way for them to download high resolution copies on their computers.

Though Flickr allows users to download photos, it is not obvious for many of us how to download a friend's photo. To help you, I have put this simple step by step guide which can teach you in less than 30 seconds all you need to know. Now to help your friends download your photos, you can email the link to this web page or email them this short link . After they click on this link, they will also be able to learn with step by step instructions how to download any photo on Flickr.
Please note that if the photo owner has disabled the download feature, you will not be able to download it.

Step 1: Open the photo that you want to download on Flickr and click on the 3 dots at the right side bottom of the image as shown in screenshot below:
Step 2: After you click on these 3 dots, a pop-up menu will open up. Click on View All Sizes as shown below:

Step 3: Select the image size. If not sure, click on the biggest size or Original size as shown below:

Step 4: Click on the Download link as shown below and your browser will prompt you to select the directory where you want to save this photo.

You are done downloading your image. If you want to download any more photos, repeat this process.

So next time you need to share photos with your friends or family members and you want them to be able to download full resolution photos, use

How to Download Photos from
You can download pictures and entire albums from Picasa Web Albums onto your computer.

Download a photo:

  1. While viewing the photo you'd like to download, click Actions > Download photo.
  2. If necessary, select Save File in the window that appears.

Download an album:

  1. While viewing the album you'd like to download, click Actions > Download to Picasa.
  2. In the window that appears, click the Download button.
Albums downloaded from your own account will appear in the 'Web Albums' collection, while albums downloaded from friends and family will be visible in the 'Downloaded Albums' collection.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Which camera should I buy? Canon T5i, 60D or Nikon D7100? Or a point and shoot camera?

Most camera buying guides are either too generic or too techie. They miss to address one critical thing for most entry level digital SLR camera buyers. These days most SLR camera bodies are very capable. You can buy a Nikon, Canon, Sony or Pentax and there will be very little difference in picture quality. Many times we get disappointed with our camera but it may not be camera's fault. It may be the light. Or the settings on the camera. Low light level can create issue to even capable cameras. In good light, a $100 camera may give you a shot that is clearly better than a shot taken in low light with a $10000 camera!!
After using several models of cameras, I am indifferent to camera bodies these days. We end up spending too much time in deciding whether to buy Nikon D7100 or Canon T4i but in my opinion, it is the lens that gives an edge to your photos.

Buy the right lens with your digital SLR:

Ask yourself of the primary use of your camera. If you are going to use it to take day to day photos of family members, people and many times indoor or inside photos, you can improve quality of your photos with a fast prime lens. For portraits and for photos of people and pets, you can get nice bokeh / background blur with a fast prime lens that is generally difficult to achieve with a kit lens on the same camera body. Fortunately, you can get some prime lenses at a great price. Canon and Nikon offer  35mm or 50mm lenses with F1.8 or F2 for under $200. These lenses will also let you take nice indoor or low light photos.

Please remember that these lenses do not zoom in or zoom out. They are fixed focal length lenses so please be aware of this limitation. However zoom is not an issue in most cases as modern cameras take up to 24MP photos so if you are taking a landscape photo with a fixed 50mm lens, take photo in full resolution and crop it out. Please note that our 1080p HD TV needs only a 2MP photo to show in full HD. If you are posting online or on Facebook, it will not make difference to your viewer if photo is 4MP or 40MP!!! Most computer monitors also do not have more than 4 million pixels.
Now if you are talking about selling your photos and getting paid, you really need a high resolution photo but then  you are a professional and you should not be reading such articles or advice ;) Here I am trying to help people with their consumer grade DSLR purchase.

If you are going to take photos outdoor and landscape, your kit lens should serve you just fine. You can use your kit lens everywhere and if you are able to buy one more lens, buy a 50-200mm or 50-300mm lens and a good tripod. Ideally for landscape it helps to buy a wide angle lens too but that is a bit expensive for any brand and here we talk about amateur photography, we would skip expensive wide angle lenses.

Avoid 18-200mm or 18-135mm lens:
Many consumers want to buy DSLR but they hate to change lenses so they prefer to buy a lens like 18-200mm or 18-135mm which work as a wide angle as well as a zoom lens. If convenience is your prime objective and the quality of photos come later, you will be happy with such a lens. However these lenses are expensive and also they are not that fast. Normally these lenses will not work as good as a prime 35mm or 50mm lens for portraits or indoor photos.

Seriously consider Micro Four Thirds or Mirrorless Cameras: 
In my humble opinion, in this time when airlines charge fees for every bag we checkout or even carry in, no point in carrying a camera big with you! That big bulky SLR body needs to be left to professionals. New M43 or Mirror-less cameras are tiny and equally capable. Many of them have the same sized APS-C sensor that is found in bulky cameras. As there is no mirror in the body, the size of the body is tiny. Take a look at Canon EOS-M camera body! Most of my friends don't take this camera seriously until they see the photos taken with it. Mirrorless cameras have another advantage. They are easy to use in live preview/LCD mode!!
Also, it is easy to carry around! Plus most such cameras excel in video shooting. They auto-focus!
Please note that these cameras, as they have no mirror, are slow in focusing and also not that accurate at time in focusing. This is particularly an issue in low light or in darkness. I get annoyed with them at times but the size and form factor benefit is so outstanding, I live with this shortcoming. 

I started with kit lens and was find in the beginning. Then added a zoom lens and it worked fine too. Then I got on prime lenses and now most of the time, on my cameras, I have prime lenses. I rarely use 18-55mm kit lens or 55-300mm zoom lens these days. On my Pentax K-01 and Pentax K30, I have Pentax 50mm FA F1.4 lens and on Canon EOS-M, I have 22mm F2 STM kit lens or 50mm M42 Super Takumar F1.4 lens.

Two best camera kits in my opinion these days are Pentax K-01 with 40mm F2.8 XS lens and Canon EOS-M with 22mm kit lens! For less than $500, both of these are wonderful camera kits particularly for indoors and for portraits. If you try to buy this Pentax lens separately, it will cost $250!! No kit lens retails for more than $100 in my experience. Most of the kit lenses are not that great.
Canon EOS-M comes with a kit lens 22mm F2.0 STM lens. This is nice tiny camera which is as good as big bulky Canon consumer grade digital SLRs. It suffers with slow AF but the touch screen, AF during video, and the size that is so convenient to carry around, it is one of my favorite cameras I like to go out with these days.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What is this f word (I mean f number) in photography?

F is popular not only in Hollywood movies as some word but f number is even more popular among photographers!

F or sometimes referred to as f/ number, it simply mean how much shutter opens up while taking a photo. Smaller the number, wider the shutter/aperture opens. f/1.4 means shutter very wide open.  Don't get confused by F 1.4 or f/1.4. They all refer to as aperture 1.4. The smaller the number, the wider the aperture opens. On a 50mm lens, f/1.4 means that shutter is around 36mm wide (diameter) open!!! On the same lens, f/8 means the shutter will open around 6mm and f/22 means shutter will be open around 2.3mm!

How does f number matter for photos?

Even though 22 number for f is 15 times bigger than f/1.4 as a measure of diameter, in terms of area or light allowed to pass through in x amount of time, f/1.4 will take in whooping roughly 225 times more light!!!
In other words to take in same amount of light as f/1.4 in 10 milliseconds, f/22 will need 2250 milliseconds!!!

This article can be very technical but I am going to keep it useful from practical applicability.

The aperture or the opening of the lens or the f number also determines following:
  1. The higher the f number the smaller the lens opens. The smaller the f number, the lens opens wider.
  2. To take in same amount of light (or to get same exposure), smaller f number will need the shutter to stay open for smaller time period compared to a bigger f number.
  3. Importantly, f number also determines Depth of Field. Depth of Field is nothing but how much distance is in focus in your camera. With a smaller f number, very narrow band of area will be in focus. Say for f/1.4, if you are shooting an object 2 feet away, only an inch can be in focus. Say like the between 23.5 to 24.5 inches away from the lens!! Now for the same object, if you change f to f/22, a good 5-6 inches can be in focus! As an example, from 18 inches to 24 inches can be in focus.
  4. If you taking photos handheld and if you need to have more depth of field, you will need smaller aperture (higher f number). This will require you or the camera to use higher ISO and this can bring in some noise in the image.
Here are 3 photos I took of a flower in my backyard. I used Canon EOS-M and a 50mm Super Takumar F1.4 lens. As you can see, at f/1.8, only the flower in the center is in focus! Nothing else! Background is blurred and it gives a nice 3D kind of view!
When I changed to f/5.6, the second flower also came in some focus and some top leaves too. Now see the third image when I took a photo with f/16. Both flowers, full plant and some of the wall is also in focus. In first photo, you can't even see that there is a wall behind the plant but in the third photo, you can clearly see it. Also with respect to point number #4 above, the first photo has ISO of 100. The image has no noise. f/5.6 required ISO to be at 1250 and f/16 forced the ISO to 5000!! If you see carefully, in the last photo, you can see some noise or graininess.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Canon T5i or T4i? EOS 700D or Nikon D7000? Which camera is good in low light?

Once you buy your first DSLR, you mostly get disappointed by indoor or low light photos. Probably you expected your sort of expensive purchase to do wonders but most of them with their ordinary kit lens can do little bit batter than compact cameras but when light is really insufficient, they don't have magic to take great photos. This then takes you in your next pursuit for a camera that can taken nice photos indoor or in low light. You can run variety of searches for low light performance of Canon 700D vs Nikon D3200 or T4i vs Sony NEX cameras. You will read conflicting opinions and will likely to get lost. In my opinion, there is not much difference between any Canon or Nikon, or Sony or Panasonic which have similar sensor sizes and are released in the market not much apart in time. I would advise you not to get lost in the war of Nikon Vs Canon.
Here is a 2 minute primer for you.

Which camera works better in low light?

Remember these quick rules for low light shooting. It is the sensor size and sensor technology that determines the performance of camera in low light.
* Bigger the sensor, the better the camera works in low light.
* Newer the sensor, usually the camera works better in low light. An APS-C sized sensor of Canon XS or XTi does not work as good as same sized sensor in Canon 650D or T5i. Canon XS photos with ISO800 may not be usable but T5i photos with ISO 3200 may be totally usable!
* For the same sensor size, the lower the mega pixels of camera, the better it is for low light shooting. Sounds stupid, right? However if you put too many mega pixels on the same sized sensor, the sensitivity of the sensor suffers and so does its low light performance. This is because each pixel becoming smaller and hence losing some quality with respect to light sensitivity. (Read this article about what is optimum MP that I should use on my camera.)

It is not the Camera body; it is the lens that does wonders in low light
Last but not the least, most kit lenses are very very slow. Most kit lens are F3.5 which are not that great when it comes to take in light. If you want to have better low light performance, you can buy fast 1.4 or 1.8 lens and your ability to shoot in low light will go up exponentially. What an F1.8 lens can achieve in low light compared to a F3.5 kit lens, spending even $1000 more on camera body can not do! If you are going to stick to kit lens only, your best bets are Canon EOS-M that comes with 22mm F2 lens or Pentax K-01 which comes with 40mm F2.8 lenses. I have both of them (and had some other regular DSLRs too) and I can say that they take much better photos in low light than T4i or D7000. Both of these camera bodies have top tier sensor size, technology and image quality. Now 700D (t5i) does have a good lens but it will cost 2-3 times more than the two cameras I have listed above. With the money saved, I would buy a fast 35 or 50mm F1.4 lens and most people would wow at your low light photos.
Your might like to read about my favorite DSLR value buy these days (2013)

Use Tripod
Now if you are taking low light photos, see what you are shooting. If you are shooting people or pets, even a tripod will not help you. Most of us move quick enough and will produce a blurry image. Now if you are taking photos of still objects, a tripod can come very handy. There is no simple set up for this but I would keep ISO to 100 (unless you are taking photos of plants where leaves can move or you are shooting the Moon of any even slow moving object), and f at 8-11 in Av mode. Or f at 2 to 5 if you need faster shutter speed and narrower depth of field. Will write more about this later some time but till then, please remember that it is not the camera that takes better photos; it is you who can take better photos with most cameras in most situations by becoming more pro-active.

Enjoy digital photography.
In last one decade more animals in the zoo are shot with digital cameras then the animals shot together over last 1000 years LOL. Once you buy a camera, it doesn't cost much to keep shooting.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Learn this simple button- EV compensation/ Exposure Bias

Many times when you take photos, they come out dark and people's face are also too dark (especially on a beach or in snow) or sometimes faces get washed out (particularly when background is a bit darker).

Camera is a machine and many times, it doesn't understand what is in front of the lens. It is programmed (particularly in AUTO mode) to take say x amount of light (light is measured in Lumen but it is hard to interpret). So on a beach when everything is too bright, camera tries to take in x amount of light but that is too less to properly expose human faces. That is the reason we look darker on a beach, on snow or on a bright day. Opposite happens in evenings or in dull light. Camera tries to take in x amount of light but that exposes the faces too much causing people in the photo to be washed out.

Probably you are not aware but somewhere on your camera, you will see this icon or a button with + and - minus sign as shown below. It is called EV (Exposure Value) button or Exposure Compensation button.
Please note that some cameras don't allow EV compensation in AUTO mode. If this is the case, hopefully, your camera has P (Program) mode and you can use it with EV compensation.
Sometimes it is also referred to as Exposure Bias. Click on it and it will open up a scale or a value on your LCD.

You will see a number with + or - sign or a scale which has a value bar with values from -3 to +3 or -2 to +2 as shown below. Which scrolling button or with directional control buttons on your camera, you will be able to select any plus or minus values.

So what is the big deal about this?
By selecting a value here, you can tell your camera to take in more light or less light! This can come very handy to brighten up those dark faces or make those washed out faces more pleasant!!
To tell camera to take in more light, select any positive value. Don't rush to select too high of a value because that can wash out the whole photo! Start with +.3 or +.7 and camera will take in 30 to 70% more light. This can help get people nicely exposed in your photos.
To tell camera to take in less light, move the slider/value in the other direction. Start with -.3 and your camera with take in 30% less light!

To show this with some images, I shot the moon in the sky with my camera with different EV values or Exposure bias. With 4 different images, I can pick the one that comes out better. Probably I could have take photos of people on beach to show this more effectively. However with these photos of the Moon, you can see how camera takes in less light with my pressing of the EV button!
Luckily my Pentax K-01 took the right exposure in the AUTO mode but take out your camera tonight and try to take a photo of the Moon in Auto mode. Mostly it will be washed out. Then start with negative EV values and at some value,  you will have a nice capture of the Moon!
It is not the camera that always takes good photos! Many times it is a little help from the cameraman that helps camera take a nice photo.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Which is a great DSLR buy these days? It is Pentax K-01 or Canon EOS-M, for most of us

Having used several DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, I can say Pentax K-01 is a great camera- one of the best image quality out then in below $1000 cameras. Pentax used to sell for around $900 but their gamble with the style backfired so they are clearing them out. They currently sell for around $400 with a nice 40mm 2.8 lens.
Similarly, Canon was too late to enter the mirrorless camera world. They came in with Canon EOS-M with full APS-C sized sensor and started selling it for around $700. They put the fastest kit lens on this EOS-M camera compared to lens on any sub $1000 canon SLR. It comes with 22mm F2.0 lens!! This camera has same sensor and technology as Canon T4i but in much smaller body. This actually works very well for shooting HD video than most consumer Canon DSLRs. As of this writing (July 5, 2013), Amazon is selling Canon EOS-M for $299!!! Really a steal if you are buying it for less than $400. Let me tell you one major problem though! It does not come with flash! This can be a deal breaker for many and that is why I think Pentax K-01 can be a better deal for most of us.
Very shortly, both cameras are likely to be selling for around $500 or more. If that is the case, look for Used cameras too. Under $350, each of these cameras are great deals IMO.

Canon EOS-m or Pentax K-01

Check Canon EOS-M prices on Amazon.

Click on the link above and read the reviews yourself. Or see the summary here.
First, bad about this camera:
  • Lack of optical viewfinder- if you actively use viewfinder, this camera is not for you. LCD works fine for shooting but once in a while, in some bright sunlight, you will miss a viewfinder.
  • Orthodox style of Pentax k-01- see if you like the style. It is not bad as such. I see this style as an advantage. Most of my subjects don't take me seriously with this camera in my hand. They think this is a toy or some fun camera and I get candid photos. When I used to shoot with black bulky SLRs, mostly my subjects will become too serious or too conscious.
  • Flashy Yellow color- it is a bright nice color but if you don't like it, it comes in black and white color too.
  • Slow Auto-focus. Out of the box, the camera's AF system is slow but with firmware upgrade, it is comparable to most DSLRs. Howeve in plain contrast-less situations, like many other DSLRs, this one still struggles with AF. I immediately change to Manual focus mode and with focus peaking and Auto-zoom of the image on my screen, my workaround works very well.
Now the good about the camera:
  • The image quality is excellent. I have not seen such good image quality in any camera I have used so far which includes Canon T3i and Panasonic/Olymplus mirrorless m4/3 cameras.
  • With included 40mm lens, you can take impressive portraits and low light photos. If you like to take photos of people, this lens works out very well. In consumer grade DSLRs, Pentax K-01 has the best lens out there. Period.
  • If you like to take landscapes, the HDR mode does wonders. Easy to use and brings in details in shadows and highlight does not get clipped either.
  • With same K mount, in body Image Stabilization, and now Focus Peaking, using my Super Takumar 50mm 1.4 lens is easy and it helps get accurate focusing. K-01 body and Super Takumar lens (with combined cost of less than $400) help me take portrait photos that can compare very well with full frame $2000 plus DSLRs. 
  • Takes HD Video but use Super Takumar above in manual mode with wide aperture for video and you will love the quality and background blurr in videos.
  • This camera is compact and its odd look lets you take candid photos of people. Bulky SLRs many times make people too serious while being photographed but with box type camera, your subjects are less likely to take you seriously but when you show them the photos, they will be amazed.
Very likely, in 10 years, this camera will sell for more than what you are paying today. This is my humble opinion and don't base your purchase decision on it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why is my new digital camera so slow?

Many times, you buy a new Nikon, Canon or Sony camera and also buy an expensive class 10 memory card to make sure your camera can take faster photos. Then you see your camera take 5 or more seconds to save one photo and you start doubting your camera! Probably there is nothing wrong with your camera. The new cameras have faster processors. However manufacturers are adding more and more features in new cameras.
Nikons have smile detection, blink prevention. Sony cameras have background blurring and HDR in the AUTO mode. These are just some examples. Modern day cameras are so features-rich, sometimes we have to sacrifice certain other things. We have to bear with slower speed. That doesn't mean Sony or Nikon cameras are slow or have slow processors.
Sony camera models like DSC-HX10V offer background blurr where actually two or more photos are taken and they are combined to give you SLR like background blurr (bokeh). This can cause you to wait for 5 seconds. If waiting bothers you, turn this off if your camera has it.

Background Defocus

DSLR photographs are often beautiful because they blur the background, putting the emphasis on the subject. Now our point-and-shoot cameras can deliver this signature DSLR benefit. The system takes two shots, identifies the background and applies a defocused background keeping the subject crisp and clear.

Superior Auto mode
Get cleaner, more dynamic pictures and fewer missed shots. The DSC-HX10V automatically recognizes the correct scene mode, then quickly shoots and combines up to six shots to produce images with greater clarity, optimum dynamic range using backlight correction HDR technology and lower image noise using 6 shots layering technology. Superior Auto intelligently detects 33 scenes for still images and movies, making it easy to get the best shot. 

So instead of worrying about slower camera speed, you should look at what the camera is doing for you. If the slower speed bothers you, look into your camera menu and disable such features. You will note significant improvement in picture taking speed.

Also, to get better out of your memory card, format it within a camera. This way, the camera will optimize cluster size, allocation block size etc to get you optimum storage capacity and speed.

One more thing that effects camera's processing. It you are taking photos indoor or in dull light, sometime camera has to keep the shutter open too long. That can affect the speed of your camera.

Last, but no the least, if you have a 20MP camera, you don't need to take every photo in 10MP mode!
Read this article about how many MP you really need for most of your photos:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why is my iPhone or iPod not taking good photos?

Many people love their iPod, iPad, iPhone or any smartphone as such, for the nice photos it takes. It is true that in good light and in outdoor bright places, these instruments take nice photos. Also, they have very optimized display so even an okay photo will look bright and nice on any smartphone or on iPod/iPad. However in many situations, iPod or any camera as such will run into its hardware restriction. Because of its sensor's size and size/quality of lens, iPod/any smartphone can't work well in certain lighting situations. However if you are willing to help, you can still have better photos in some situations where your smartphone alone simply fails.

Here are certain things YOU can do to improve your photos in low light:

1) Shoot in good light. Avoid shooting in low light, indoor or in dark places. Outdoor and in well-lit places, your iPod will take nice photos but when light gets low, its tiny sensor and tiny lens can't take in enough light in 1/50 seconds which is required to take nice photos of people or moving objects.
2) In low light or  indoors, if possible, turn on artificial light. If you are in a room, turn on lights or use flash lights. If there is a flash on iPod, use it.
3) If you are shooting stationary items or very slow moving objects, put your iPod on some steady surface (instead of holding in hand) and that can eliminate blur in your photos.
4) Also, you can enhance photos with Picasa or similar software to some extent. There are many such software out there.
5) Not sure what kind of manual controls, iPod offers. If my iPhone5 is any clue, you can't do any thing to control iso, aperture or shutter speed. So except about tips, there isn't much you can do with your iPod.
You might like my blog where I write about such stuff.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Best Digital SLR for beginners? Canon T5i or Nikon D3400? Canon T6i or 60D? D3100 or D5500?

I keep coming across such questions. Which DSLR camera to buy? Canon or Nikon? Or a Sony?
Which model? Which one of the following is a better camera? Canon T5i, Canon 60D, Canon T3i, Nikon D5500, Sony NEX or Pentax K-5?

Most first time DSLR buyers spend a lot of time in making sure that they make the right purchase. They keep debating for weeks if not months to find out which camera is the best. They would visit for detailed editorial reviews or for user reviews. They go on websites like to compare specs. Now if you are one of them and you are reading this post, I am going to make your life easy. By the way, by looking for the best camera in your first SLR purchase, you are not doing anything wrong. I did it too when I bought my first DSLR in 2005. However having bought and used several DSLRs and Hybrid/Mirrorless Cameras over last 2-3 years, I can say that all modern day DSLRs or Mirrorless are very capable cameras. You won't go wrong buying anyone of them. Here is one example. I took photo of my son Arian recently with Canon's worst rated camera- Canon EOS M and a 40 year old Super Takumar lens. We were hiking and I rarely take big bulky cameras on a hike. So I had this tiny camera with me and the photo that came out in my opinion is stunning.

If you spend too much time researching or justifying a particular model, it is likely that you will not be happy in the end. Buyer's remorse is likely to haunt you. Even after your purchase, you will keep trying to justify it or feel sad that why you didn't buy the other model you were interested in. In reality, all modern SLRs have more than most of us need or will ever use. Please don't make your purchase unnecessarily complicated.

IMO, there are 3 important things behind a great photograph:
The light, the photographer and then comes the equipment. In the equipment category too, I think camera lens is a more critical factor than the camera body when the light is low or challenging. This is generally speaking. I am trying to keep this simple and useful.

War Between Canon Vs Nikon

If you go online, you will find a virtual war. People who have bought Canon cameras would recommend you a Canon DSLR. A person who has Nikon would keep bashing Canons!! I am often surprised to see why people become free sales-reps or marketers for these brands. They don't get paid by those companies! Then why do they fight among themselves like UCLA Bruins and USC Trojan fans? This puzzles me. It is good for the companies though. Who doesn't like loyal free workers/marketers? LOL. The only justification I have behind such consumer behavior is after having invested lot of time behind their own DSLR purchase, most consumers are probably still trying to justify if they made the right choice. So at every opportunity, they would stand up for the brand they have purchased. On Yahoo Answers, everyday you will see ten plus questions where a person is seeking an advice for buying the best camera. Look at the responses. Someone will recommend a Canon. Someone will recommend Nikon or Pentax. You will not find someone saying that Nikon and Canon both make wonderful cameras. So if a friend recommends you a Canon, don't blindly follow him. If a friend is not happy with Nikon, it may be because he doesn't know who to use or what to expect from a camera. Or he may be taking photos in low light.  If you were to believe me, please note that Nikon, Pentax, Panasonic, Olympus and Sony- they all make equally good cameras. Specs may differ a bit here or there but their sensors, image processing engines are very powerful for most amateur users, like you and I. If you are a professional who will be paid for the photos, I am sure you are not reading my blog LOL.

Nikon? Canon? Sony? Pentax?

* All modern day cameras have very good sensors and are very capable cameras. You will not go wrong buying anyone of them. We strive to buy the best entry level digital SLR but 95% of us, yes 95% of us, don't use more than 30% of what a camera has to offer. Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Sony, Pentax, Olympus- they all make very capable cameras.
* A Nikon lover may say that Nikons have bigger sensor than Canons (22.2 x 14.8 mm for Canon vs 23.5-23.7 x 15.6 mm in most Nikon, Sony or Pentax cameras). If you see the numbers, it is only a marginal difference. This marginally bigger size in Nikon cameras doesn't prove that Canon SLRs are worse than Nikons!! If  Canon T3i takes 5 fps vs T4i which let us say takes 7 fps. Should you care? Not really. Not 95% of us. Most of us rarely use this multiple shots features! Then why bother?
* Every camera has some strengths or weaknesses. Product differentiation, right? Let me help you choose a right camera for you. You can fall in one of the following two groups.
Group 1: Looking for the best DSLR out there.
If you are in the market for your first entry-level SLR and all you want is to buy the "best" camera, go to a deal website like or and see which camera has a good deal. If you like that camera, buy it. As long as you use your camera in good light, you will love it.
Group 2: Looking for the best DSLR **for you**:
If you know what you are looking for, you have a right to choose your camera LOL. Make a list of things you need and you are allowed 4 to 14 hours to do your research to find out a camera that best meets your requirements. Don't spend more time than that. Now you can spend 40 hours or even 400 days to wait for the camera to be available in your budget. Or you can go on and make your purchase.
* Mirrorless or Hybrid cameras are as good as bulky DSLRs. However they are easy to carry around and people are more likely to give you more candid poses in front of a small mirrorless camera or awkward looking Pentax K-01 than in front of a professional looking DSLR.
If you are an AUTO-only user, you should seriously consider latest Olympus, Panasonic or Sony NEX cameras. If you can look beyond Canon and Nikon, you should also consider Pentax cameras. They offer the best value IMO. I have photos with variety of cameras on my Flickr. Most of the photos are with cameras that costed less than $500 ;) See then below.

Cameras Are Not Bad. Sometimes they are used in bad light. Or in bad situations.

It is funny sometimes a prospective DSLR buyer not liking Canon T4i because his friend is not happy with it. Ironically, his friend may be using the camera, without knowing anything about it, in AUTO mode indoor or in low light. No entry level camera will do a good job in low light unless you know to boost up ISO or use a fast lens or a tripod (if you are shooting a landscape or a sun-set). A $100 camera, 5-6 year old model, off of eBay will take as good photo as a $1000 camera in outdoor good light. Even your iPhone will take good photos outdoor. However start using the same camera indoor or in low light and you will see most cameras start failing miserably. Doesn't matter if it is T3i, or D3200. Or even T6i!!!

Some Tips to get the best out of your first DSLR

Instead of searching for "best DSLR", you should spend your time to learn things that can help you take better photos with your camera.
1) Read photography blogs or tips online to be a better photographer. Any camera can do only limited things but with some tips, you will be able to take your camera to the next level. You will have better chances for better photos.
2) Buy some prime fast lens like 35mm or 50mm with F1.8 or so. For Canon or Nikon, you can get one for around $100-$150. With this lens, your DSLR will be able to take photos in low light too. Plus for taking photos for people and pets, they give nice bokeh- background blurring that you see in portraits taken by professionals.
3) Read your camera manual. You will be amazed to know how much your camera can do besides that AUTO button.
4) Work with your camera. Your camera can do only certain things for you. When you are taking a photo, it tries to guess what it is shooting and would set up Aperture, Shutterspeed, ISO, color mode etc to shoot a photo for you. Many times that piece of glass (I mean lens) and that sensor does not know that you shooting in backlight or in snow. It does not kow if you are taking photo outside in broad sunlight or indoor well-lit place. If camera does not know accurately what it is shooting,  it will probably give you a bad photo. Now instead of blaming your camera for a bad photo, if you are willing to work with your camera, your camera can take better photos for you. Learn some basic photography tips and help out your camera when it struggles. Set a proper mode like Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports and tell your camera where and what you are shooting. If your camera takes too bright or too dark photos, set the Exposure Compensation and tell camera to take less or more light. With your little help, you and your camera can make a great pair and together you will be able to take better photos.

Enjoy Photography. If you like this article, please share it on Facebook or Twitter. Free your friend who is deciding for last 6 months whether to buy Canon T6i or Nikon D3400!

-Jayesh Patel

Monday, April 15, 2013

Underexpose Your Indoor or Low-light Photos- A Better Photography Tip.

Many times in low light or for indoor photos, your compact camera or your kit lens on SLR may not take nice sharp photos. It is not your camera's fault. It happens because light is low so to get enough light in, camera has to keep the shutter open for longer time (slow shutter speed). Most cameras have lenses which don't open much wide open beyond their hardware limitation so Aperture/lens opening is not much of an alternative. So camera has two things to play around with.
1) Either keep the shutter open for longer time or increase ISO. Higher ISO can result in noisy image. Most compact cameras have distinct noise for ISO higher than 400. For ISO above 1600, most images are unuable. However if you really want to capture a photo, this ISO can come handy.
2) If shutter is kept slow so enough light can get in, this can result in camera shake in your hands or the subject in front of you can move too. This results in blurry or shaky image. Normally any shutter speed slower than 1/75 second can result in blurry image.
One more solution in such situation is to use Exposure Compensation and tell your camera that it is okay to take in a little less light. This will cause your photo to be a bit darker but camera will be able to use a bit faster shutter speed or a lower ISO. A bit darker photo then can easily be fixed in Picasa or any image editor software.
Underexpose your photos to -1/3 value or if in dark, you can even try with -2/3.
How to take underexposed photos:
* Take a bit underexposed photos. For indoor and in low light (and many times outdoor too), I use EV (Exposure Value) Compensation on the camera.
This is the button with +/- sign on it.
 I mostly keep it set at -1/3 value. Click on this button on the camera:

Then move the scrolling button or left and right arrow to set the value to -1/3 as shown in image here.

What is the benefit of doing this?
This setting tells your camera that it is okay to have a little bit darker image. This helps camera to take in less light so camera a can use a little lower ISO or a bit faster shutter speed. This causes the image to be a bit less noisy or it reduces camera’s shake or movement of the subject a bit lower as camera shutter speed is likely to be faster.
The drawback is a bit darker image. When I move such photos to my camera, I make the photo a bit brighter in Picasa.

The other logic behind this is that an underexposed photo (a dark photo) can be easier to fix in post-processing on the computer than an overexposed photo. In an over-exposed photo, if some detail is lost, sometimes you can’t bring it in but if the photo is under-exposed, you can probably add some light and make it look better.

Remember one more thing. We are talking about low light or indoor photos. As you might have read in earlier posts, one good alternative is to add some artificial light or use camera flash. Your camera will love this and with more light around, it will be able to take better photos easily. If with flash, the face is washed out, as it often happens with compact cameras, you can use the same Exposure Compensation and ask camera to take less light in. This will avoid washed out photos in flash photography too.

Enjoy your camera. Actually, your camera can take better photos even in tough light if you are willing to help it a bit.

Which one a good camera for video- Sony SLT-A57 or Canon 650D?

Which one a good camera for video- Sony SLT-A57 or Canon 650D?
I prefer Sony STL A57. It has much better auto focus abilities. Plus, Sony has lot of expertize in the video area.

Update: If you want to buy SLT A57, BH Photo has a great deal for $499!!…

****For 650D, as per DPReview:
While the results of these changes show noticeable improvement over the EOS 600D, AF in video mode is, unfortunately, still slow. In our time spent using the camera, we've not been able to reliably maintain focus on objects moving to or away from the camera at even a moderate walking pace. As it stands it's hard to envision situations in which continuous AF that is this slow has any practical benefits for tracking moving subjects. As with the EOS 600D, we still recommend shooting video in manual focus, or at the very least pre-focusing the lens with a half-shutter button press before you start recording.

*** For A57:…
Full manual control of shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation is possible when shooting video but there are some restrictions. You can only take manual exposure control in the A57's dedicated movie exposure mode (found on the main exposure mode dial), and this is incompatible with AF. If you want to take advantage of the A57's full-time AF during video, you'll have to shoot in program AE mode, at which point the camera will not select an aperture smaller than the lens' maximum (or f/3.5, in lenses with a maximum aperture greater than f/4). This simply reflects the fact that the AF system will stop working if the aperture is stopped-down smaller than f/5.6.

Speaking of AF, Sony's phase-detection AF implementation in current Alpha models is easily one of the best performing systems we've encountered on any stills camera. Focus acquisition is quick though not silent, object tracking is easy to employ while recording and works reasonably well across a central area of the frame. As you'll see in the video samples that follow, focus hunting rarely becomes a distraction during clips.

Pressing the Movie button when shooting in one of the PASM modes on the A57 will begin recording video in program AE mode, with AF operating continuously. AF can be locked temporarily by holding the AEL button (assuming it is so assigned in the custom menu), while ISO, AF area and object tracking can all be adjusted during recording. A digital wind cut filter can also be enabled.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Buying a camera? Forget Nikon vs Canon battle! Buy the best Camera Hardware you can afford.

In any camera purchase, there are two very important important considerations which most of us forget about while deciding over Nikon or Canon, or a compact camera or a dSLR!

Every digital camera is a small computer- some hardware and some software. While buying a computer, we mainly focus on hardware (CPU speed, memory, graphic card etc) and software (operating system, browser, word processing, etc.) comes next. Same logic can be applied in choosing a camera.

Camera Hardware
First, look for the best hardware that you can buy with your budgeted money. I am not asking you to spend $2000 and buy a full frame camera like Canon Mark II which has best sensor and camera body! I am asking you to look at the hardware of the camera models you are considering and choose the one that has best sensor and lens. Besides its build quality, look and feel, the most important parts in a digital camera are- Sensor (type and size) and lens.

Camera Sensor:
Prefer a camera that has better/bigger sensor. The larger the sensor, the image quality will be generally better. In many situations, you will not see the benefit of it but as you get into low light situations or fast moving objects, a bigger sensor can take you few steps ahead of others. 

Most compact cameras have small tiny sensors normally 1 /2.5”. Expensive compact cameras are likely to have bigger sensors which range from 1 /1.8” to 1/1.6”

As you can see, a dSLR has 13 times bigger sensor compared to a compact camera. The bigger the sensor, the camera will be able to take better photos for you. Also, newer camera models have better sensor technologies. They are more sensitive to light and are able to take relatively better photos compared to older sensors. In good light, this does not make difference but in low light, it does.

Camera Lens:

The bigger the lens, the better job your camera will do. How do you know a lens is a good lens? It is difficult. Most camera specs or online reviews rarely talk about lens. Look for the numbers on the lens. There will be generally two sets of numbers as shown in the picture below.

#1- This number shows how wide the lens opens. You can call it aperture number. It starts with ‘1:’ or sometimes with f or F. The smaller the numbers after ‘1:’ or f/F, the better the lens will perform in most situations.  1:2.8 (often mentioned as f/2.8) takes in more light than 1:4. A camera with 1:1.8 will normally cost twice as much as a camera with a lens that has 1:2.8 but will let roughly 4 times more light during same amount of time.

#2- This is the focal length, or range of focal length, of the lens. The bigger the numbers, the better it will be. Normally bigger numbers imply bigger sensor inside the camera. Please remember the weight on the word Normally in the sentence. Some camera manufacturers put these numbers as 35mm equivalent. Be suspicious if your compact camera has starting number bigger than 20!

Focal length is the distance between lens and camera sensor.

Now how to make sense between these two numbers. In example able, for a focal length 4.8mm, if it is f/2.8, it means that at this setting, the lens will open 1.74mm! If you take a photo without zooming and say the camera uses f/8 aperture, in simple language, this means that camera will open the lens 0.6mm!!! Do you know how tiny that number is? Can you imagine how much light can go through that tiny whole particularly when you are shooting in low light?

I often use a 50mm Super Takumar f/1.4 lens on Pentax APS-C (Digital or Mirrorless cameras). Btw, this is a 40 year old lens but try to hold it in a hand and you will see how much we are losing in terms of mass production in this plastic age! So when I shoot with 50mm and 1.4 aperture value, the lens opens staggering 36mm!!! Compare that to the 1.74mm the lens opens maximum for the compact camera that I was refering above.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Types of Cameras- Pros and Cons

A million dollar question for most of us. In my opinion, most of us have unnecessarily made it a million dollar question. In reality, it shouldn't be. Canon or Nikon- they start wars among their fans. Sony lovers will swear by Sony and so will Pentax lovers. Having used verity of cameras, I can say that most modern day cameras are very capable. Most of us spend hours and days in deciding which camera to buy and we read variety of reviews to justify our purchase but the unfortunate fact is that that most of us don't even use 20% of the features/capabilities most modern cameras offer. I am serious. A reviewer may say Nikon 5100 is horrible or Canon T4i sucks but it is possible he may be using the camera in low light or only in Auto mode. Most cameras fail in low light. Unless you take over and learn to use camera properly, you may get disappointed with any camera. Now if you mostly shoot in good natural light, a $100 camera will please you and you would find instances when your camera takes better landscape photos than an expensive Canon Mark II. Besides a camera, the light is one thing that crucially determines the quality of your photos. If you have light on your side, any camera will work. If you don't have enough light, more expensive cameras will do better as light level goes down.
Let me give  you some tips so you can decide what kind of camera is right for you.

These days digital cameras are grouped based on the size:
1)      Sub-compact, or Ultra-compact cameras- very easy to carry around, can be easily carried in most pockets. Have 3-5x optical zoom lens. Very easy to carry around and use.
2)      Compact cameras- Slightly bigger than Sub-compact cameras. Better lens and better cameras. Have up to 10x optical zoom lens. Still easy to carry but you really need bigger pockets if you want to keep in a pocket. Portability and easy of use are main benefits. They are generally better than sub-compact cameras.
3)      Mega Zoom cameras- Not sure you can still call them compacts but they have optical zoom from 15x to up to 40x. They are more versatile and generally have better sensors and optics than compact and sub-compact cameras. These cameras can be used in wide range of situations as you can take wide angle indoor photos as well use zoom in to capture wild life, birds, far-away photos or to take photos of the top of a hill or only part of a building. These cameras are very useful travel cameras.
4)      Hybrid or Mirror less interchangeable lens cameras. They are usually small in size but have capabilities of bulky SLR camera. They take better photos but size is still not as big as SLRs. These days you can buy tiny lenses too like Panasonic PZ series. These cameras work much better in indoor or in low light. However they are a bit inconvenient as you have to change lenses if you want to use in wide range of situations. They are however a good compromize between dSLR and fixed lens compact cameras.
5)      SLR Cameras- Big in size because of a mirror and large sized sensor inside. Normally, they do better job compared to compact digital cameras.

So ask yourself if camera size really matters for you. If yes, what size of camera you would like to carry around.

Real factor in deciding which camera to buy in my opinion is how much you want to learn and help your camera so you have better photos most of the time. You can use a camera only in AUTO mode and your camera will take nice photos 60-70% of the time but other times, the photos may frustrate you. This is a reality if you don't want to use your brain and rely solely on camera. Now if you want to take better photos most of the time, there will be times when you will have to help your camera a little bit. You don't need to take photography classes or read thick books. You just need to learn basic stuff to help your camera take better photos. So in my opinion, it comes down to how much you want to control on your camera and help it out when it struggles to take a nice photo. Keeping this in mind, I like to divide cameras in to different groups based on flexibility in shooting or access to change settings.
1.      Auto-Only Cameras (AOC): These are normally tiny sub-compact or phone cameras. They have few options or buttons. Many have only shutter release button and a button for photo preview or viewing.
This type of cameras, like all other cameras, have their own mind but they don’t let you mess with them. You have to take what they capture. You can’t do much if you don’t like a photo it took.
Recommendation: Avoid these cameras if you want to be able to take better photos. If you don’t like this advice, please stop reading this book and use your time somewhere else.
2.      Semi-Flexible Cameras (SFC): These cameras have all the functionality of an Auto-only camera but beyond that, they also have Scene Modes, Exposure Control, Time buttons etc. These cameras give you options to change exposure with Exposure Compensation but they don’t let you choose Aperture, Shutter speed and/or ISO.
With these cameras, you do benefit from Camera’s brain and capabilities but you can also help Camera by telling it about the photo that it is going to capture. You can use the Scene Modes to set it to Landscape, Portrait, Beach-Snow, Macro mode etc. You can set the mode to Sports/or Fast Moving Object, and tell camera that we are shooting a soccer game in which kids are moving faster. This helps camera’s brain to set shutter fast enough to avoid blur. Or, by setting camera to Portrait mode, you are telling many things to the Camera that you need the subject to stand out vs background, that nice skin tones are important, that the person is not moving as fast as a kid playing some sport. This helps a big way to camera to use its capabilities for the specific situation it is taking photo in. So in this collaboration mode, between human and machine, the picture quality improves significantly.
Recommendation: If possible, try to buy a camera in this category. If the camera didn’t take a good photo, at least, there is something you can try to take a better photo in the next shot.
3.      Flexible Cameras (FC): The cameras that fall in this category are flexible. You can use them in fully Auto mode, in Scene mode or in fully Manual mode where you can choose the Aperture value, or Shutter speed and/or ISO. You have full freedom to tell the camera what settings to use. These cameras have Av, Tv, S, M modes where can set various values. When used in Manual mode, camera doesn’t need to use its intelligence in guessing what is in front of the lens. It simply opens up the shutter for the time you want it to open, to open the lens as wide or as narrow as you want and when Shutter Release button is pressed, it simple captures the light on the sensor and give you a photo.
Now with FC cameras, you can do anything but now it is a sort of war between man and machine. The machine has brain of several engineers and photographers behind it. It has lot of logic and expertize programmed into it. Man, I mean you, on the other hand, is probably still learning. One day, you can sure do better than the machine but in the beginning, aperture values and shutter speed adjustments can ruin many of your photos. You have to pay your price before you get better than the camera.
4.       Fully-Flexible Cameras: These cameras, not only offer you full control over the functionality but you can also add more hardware on it. You can change the lens on the camera, or use an external flash unit. You can do auto trigger on it or you can also add an external mic for better sound recording. This type of cameras are for serious hobbyists or professionals.
So what type of camera should you buy? It depends on how deep your pocket is and how serious you are to take better photos. In low light and in some extreme situations, an expensive or bulky camera does help you. However for most day-to-day shooting, you should be fine with SFC cameras.
Summary:  If you are just the AUTO button loving person, buy any camera that has minimum buttons. Pick something that is rated well by other users. If you like to take over camera function sometimes, buy an SFC or FC camera. If you want the full control but don't want to go for a bulky camera, go for an FC camera. Now if you are serious about photography, you should go for FFCs. Many times, what some lenses can do can never be done just aby and AOC, SFC or FC camera.
To get the most out of your camera, I would recommend you to buy one that has at least all of the following options. This will improve odds for better photos significantly. 
·         Ability to set Picture or Scene Mode:  This will let you tell your camera what kind of picture is being taken. Is it a Landscape, a Portrait, a Sports or moving object photo or is a, Night Scenery. The more options the camera has the better.
·         Timer: Most cameras these days have it. This is a very useful feature.
·         Exposure Compensation: 
·         Multiple Shots (rapid fire shots)
·         Flash:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Video comparison- Compact Camera vs SLR/Mirrorless

These days we use our cameras to take videos too. Most compact cameras do good job with video too provided the light is good. However in low light, most of the sub$400 compact cameras will frustrate us. In low light, video will be very grainy.
I had a chance few days back to shoot video with a regular compact camera sensor as well as with a SLR like Mirrorless camera (with APS-C sized sensor).

Here is the video that I shot with a Sony Bloggie (actually supposed to be a bit better than most compact cameras when it comes to recording HD video because Bloggy is made from video recording perspective.)

I also had a larger sensor Pentax K-01 handy and as you can see, because of a larger sensor and with abilitiy to take better photos even at higher sensitivity, it did a decent job in same light conditions.

(sorry, the songs are in Hindi/Indian language)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When do I use my camera's flash?

Mostly for indoor photos when your camera does not take steady, sharp photos.

I was trying to take a photo of my son who had put on spy glasses and mustache. I took out Canon T3i and fired the shot. Camera needed .5s and that is too long for my hands to hold the camera steady. It is even more difficult for my son to be not moving for that much time!!
The result was a blurry shot as shown below.

I immediately turned the flash on and the Canon T3i bumped up shutter speed to 1/80 and result was a nice photo. In Auto mode, my camera was struggling but then I added a little command to the camera and asked it to use the flash. The result is in the photo below.
As I keep saying in this blog, you really don't need expensive camera all the time; just learn some basic tricks and you will be amazed by the photos you can take with the same camera.

Personal tip: When you are inside or in  low light and you need to take sharp photos, first think of using flash and if you decide not to use it for some reason, boost the ISO.

One more example:
I was inside Luxor casino/hotel in Las Vegas trying to take a photo with Pentax K100d. Due to strong backlight, camera didn't think it was necessary to turn on the flash.
Here is first photo in Auto mode:

I turned the flash on and you can see the how the photo turned out this time.

ISO- Why should I care about ISO?

ISO- All you need to know about ISO. Not Technically but in Practical way.

Yesterday I was visiting Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and was trying to take a photo inside. As happens most of the time, the inside was not very bright. Outside was bright and sunny so my camera was set at ISO 100 when I was shooting Civic Center, Dorothy and Disney Halls.

When I entered inside this beautiful cathedral, my camera. Pentax K-01, was set at ISO 100. When I clicked the shutter, it needed 4 seconds of exposure time! It was too long for me to hold camera steady for that long. As such, most of us can't hold a camera steady for more than 1/100 seconds. I mean one hundredth of the second and here camera wanted 4 seconds! There was nothing much I could do with Aperture. So my only option was ISO.
I let my ISO loose LOL. I set up ISO range to 100-6400 and let camera choose whatever it found proper. I didn't change anything else. I was in Av mode with f/8. Now camera chose ISO 6400, maximum that I allowed it to use, and this brought the shutter speed to 1/15. 60 times faster than it needed at ISO100!
See the great shift in the photo sharpness. The photo came out very nice. Also, compared to other cameras that I have used, Pentax K-01 does take nice photos in low light and with ISO as high as 6400, you would barely notice noise in the photos.

In short, in low light, ISO can help you take better photos which are almost impossible with hand holding of the camera at a fixed or low ISO.

Here is one more example of photos with ISO 100 vs ISO 3200.
Photo with ISO 100.
 Same light but with ISO 3200:

Personal tip: For outdoor photos, I keep ISO to 100 and when I get in low light or need to shoot a fast moving object, I increase ISO to as high as 6400 on Pentax K-01 but on my Nikon S9300 or Panasonic FZ28, I would hesitate to use more than ISO 800.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nikon D3200 vs Canon T3i (600D)- comparison

Which camera is better? Nikon D3200 vs Canon T3i/600D

Both are capable cameras and should be more than enough for most consumers (not professionals) but if you want to make a more rational purchase, go for Nikon D3200:

Here are some advantages for D3200 over T3i
* Much better image quality 81.0 vs 65.0 More than 20% better image quality
* Significantly lower noise at high ISO 1,131 ISO vs 793 ISO. The D3200 has a slight edge (0.5 f-stops) in low noise, high ISO performance
* More dynamic range 13.2 EV vs 11.5 EV 1.7 f-stops more dynamic range
* Better color depth 24.1 bits vs 22.1 bits Distinguishes 2 more bits of color
* Significantly higher true resolution 24.1 MP vs 17.9 MP Capture more than 30% more detail in your photos
* Significantly less startup delay 400 ms vs 1500 ms 3.7x less delay when turning on
* Video autofocus Contrast detection vs None Automatically focuses shooting video
* Larger sensor APS-C 23.2x15.4mm vs APS-C 22.3x14.9mm Around 10% larger sensor
* Smaller 125x96x76 mm vs 133x99x79 mm More than 10% smaller
* Longer battery life 540 shots vs 440 shots More than 20% more shots per battery charge
* Slightly more focus points 11 vs 9 Set focus accurately within the frame
* Slightly more lenses available 169 lenses vs 162 lenses Almost the same
* Shoots slightly faster 4 fps vs 3.7 fps Around 10% faster continuous shooting
* Thinner 3" vs 3.1" Almost the same
* Lighter 505 g vs 570 g More than 10% lighter

On the other hand T3i/600D has a flip screen, LCD has better resolution and has built in focus motor.

As such, you will not go wrong with any one of them. Both of them are very capable cameras. Here is one interesting article about which DSLR to buy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What is 40mm, 50mm in Photography? How does it impact photos?

What is the mm on different lenses? How should I care about it? Normally mm is the distance between the lens and the sensor in the camera. It is called focal length. When it says, 50mm, the lens is 5 cm away from the sensor.

How does a 35mm lens differ from 55-300mm lens? What is a wide angle lens and why should I use it? Why 50mm Super Takumar F1.4 a nice lens on modern day cameras?
Here is a nice simulation that tell you everything you need to know without reading a single word. Thanks Nikon.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

White Balance- How to Use it to your Advantage

White Balance is essentially the color temperature in any picture, and most cameras provide some sort of functionality to control the White Balance in your shot. Because the camera sees differently than our eyes, it is sometimes important to "trick" the camera into capturing how you want color to appear in your photo.
1. If you are not sure, always start with Auto (AWB). The Auto White Balance (AWB) setting tells the camera to set the white balance for you automatically. This is a good place to start; if the photo turns out well in your preview, then there is probably no need to further adjust the white balance. But this setting can be hit or miss, so you may have to try another option.
2. If you picture has red or orange tint , the Tungsten setting (usually a light bulb icon) adds blue to the photo to compensate. Regular (tungsten) light bulbs give off an orange tint, so this is a good setting to use indoors when photographing under incandescent lights.
3. If your picture has greenish tint in it, use Fluorescent setting (usually a fluorescent bulb icon) which adds magenta into the photo to compensate for the green tint given off by most fluorescent light bulbs. Use this setting indoors under fluorescent lights.
4. If your photo has Blue tint, the Cloudy setting (usually a cloud icon) warms the photo up by adding orange to compensate for the blue tint given off by clouds. Use this setting when photographing outdoors in cloudy or overcast situations.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Which camera is better for concerts?

Compact Cameras:
If you don't have a pressing need for photos, my advice is to enjoy the concert instead of trying to taking photos or trying to shoot videos.
Shooting in a concert a tough battle for most people. Your enemies are too powerful LOL
* First, shooting in concert is always a challenge. Fast moving objects and flashy light.
* Most fixed lens cameras have tiny sensors which will fail to capture sufficient light to capture clear images.
* Many times we have seats far back so the camera will get even less light than someone in the front seats.
* Sometime we think a 36x optical zoom would be useful but if you zoom in, the shutter will be even slower and because of zoom, any small shake in your hand will be magnified.

So why not enjoy the concert and if needed, take a photo or two with your phone. However if you are determined to try and if there is good light, you may be in some luck. Here are some tips to get the best with your point and shoot compact camera.
* See if you can take along a tripod. If you are zooming in, a tripod can give you much needed stability for recording.
* It may sound tempting but try to avoid too much zooming in.
* Also try to shoot in 720p or lower instead of full HD like 1080p.
* Also if you can control fps, try to keep it as minimum as possible.
* Try to bring along a camera that has as big of a sensor as possible.
* A camera that has smaller F or f number will also work better than cameras with higher F/f numbers.
Good luck.

SLR cameras or Cameras with larger sensor:

Even most SLRs have tough time shooting in concerts. Said that there are few alternatives. If you can buy a Full Frame advanced Nikon or Canon camera that costs $2000 or more, and can buy some expensive lens, you will have better odds for good photos. Now with such big professional cameras, you are more likely to be stopped at the gate and told to leave the camera behind because most concerts don't allow shooting with professional gear.
Now here is a one cheap alternative that I have recently started using.
* I am going to recommend you a camera provided you like its style. However the style is not that bad and as such it can work to your advantage. Most concerts don't allow Professional cameras but this 'weird looking' camera can often be looked on as some toy or some old camera. It will have better odds of being allowed in. (There is another benefit with its boxy style. When I have T3i in my hand, my subjects become too serious seeing an SLR but with my boxy camera, I am able to take more candid shots.)
* I am talking about Pentax K-01. I have not seen any sub-$1000 camera do as good job in low light or with ISO as high as 3200 as Pentax K-01. It is currently selling for only $360 on Amazon. This camera used to be around $900 but Pentax's gamble with styling backfired and now they are clearing them out. This is a monster when it comes to image quality and low light shooting.…
* The kit lens on K-01 itself is worth $200.The other benefit is that with Pentax, you can easily use old cheap lenses like Super Takumar 135mm F2.5 which works awesome in concerts and games. It is a manual lens but unlike Nikon or Canon, Pentax K-01 offers AutoZoom with manual focus and Focus-peaking which comes pretty handy with manual focusing.
* On a cloudy day, I was shooting with K-01 and a 30 year old Super Takumar F1.4 lens and my friend was shooting with his Nikon, we compared photos from both cameras. Within a week, my friend bought K-01 and is now looking for Takumar lenses too. Here is a photo of her daughter with this $450 combo of Pentax and Takumar:…

* For video taping, Pentax does a nice job too. 1080p. Search on YouTube for Takumar 50mm and you will see that many serious minded SLR owners buy Takumar to take professional grade videos.

I will post links to some videos I have taken with this combination.