Digital camera accessories
Problem No. 24: Should I use a skylight filter on my lens?
Skylight filters have two jobs. One is to reduce the cool, slightly blue colour cast that you might see in some of your shots, especially those taken in shade under a blue sky. With the sophisticated white balance abilities of today’s DSLRs, this is less critical than it was when photographers were using film (especially slide film).
However, skylight filters play a second role, protecting the front element of the lens from accidental scratches and splashes. If your camera resides permanently in an orderly studio, this might not be an issue, but if you do most of your photography in the great outdoors, it certainly will be. Replacing a filter is a lot cheaper than writing off a lens!
Problem No. 25: Is it possible to use a Skylight or UV filter and polariser at the same time?
UV filters are less important than they used to be, because DSLRs seem less sensitive to UV light than film cameras are.
However, many photographers like to use UV filters to protect the lens’ front element. In theory, you could use a UV or Skylight filter and polariser together, but there are two possible drawbacks. One is that using filters can cause slight degradation of image quality, so fitting two will make that worse.
The other danger is vignetting, also called corner shading, which happens when filters extend too far in front of the lens and the mount starts to appear in the corners of the picture. So why not use the polariser on its own? If you’re concerned about protecting the lens, it will be just as effective as your UV filter.
Problem No. 26: I’ve bought a circular polarizer filter to darken blue skies, but it only seems to be working on a small section of the scene. Why is this?
Circular polarizing filters are very direction-specific, and when shooting skies, they work at their best at an angle of 90 ̊ to the sun. After you’ve rotated the filter for maximum effect, there should be a pronounced darkening when using lenses with moderate focal lengths.
But with wide-angle lenses that take in a larger area of sky, the effect can be much stronger in one section than in others.
Problem No. 27: Can I use yellow, orange and red filters on a DSLR for increased contrast in skies when shooting in black and white?
It’s a much better idea to shoot in raw mode, which captures colour images anyway, and to post-process the images on a computer. You can then apply increased or decreased gain in different colour channels independently, for greater control when creating all manner of coloured filter effects at the editing stage.
Problem No. 28: I want to get a fill-in reflector to use when taking portraits, but which size and colour is best?
When it comes to reflector size, bigger is usually better. Larger reflectors will create a softer quality of light that’s more flattering for portraits. White reflectors give the most subtle effect, whereas silver reflectors make for more dynamic results. The advantage of a gold reflector is that it warms up skin tones.
Problem No. 29: I want to buy a tripod – should I buy one with three leg sections or four?
Tripods with four or five telescopic sections per leg usually extend to a generous height while also folding down to a relatively small length. However, each joint is a potential weak point, so fewer leg sections generally give greater rigidity (check out our 4 tips for sharper shots when using a tripod).
Problem No. 30: Should I have one tripod leg facing the rear and risk knocking it as i move around, or should I have one leg out front and the other two legs either side of me? Which is more stable?
For longer, heavier lenses, it’s best to have one leg out in front as there’ll be less chance of the tripod toppling over. For wide-angle lenses, positioning the lens over the gap between two legs reduces the risk of a tripod foot ending up in the picture.
Problem No. 31: I’ve never been into shooting video before, but the HD capabilities of my DSLR have won me over. The only thing I’m disappointed with is the poor sound quality. How can I improve it?
Apart from entry-level models such as the Canon EOS 1100D, most DSLRs have an audio socket for attaching an external microphone. This will radically improve sound quality and will also prevent the in-camera mic from recording clicks and thumps every time you touch the camera. Expect to pay upwards of £100 for a quality microphone.
Want to know more about HD video, see our guide to How to set up your DSLR for video recording.
Problem No. 32: I’ve bought a couple of extra lenses and now I can’t fit all my photography equipment into my bag. Would you recommend a bigger camera bag, or is a photo backpack a better option?
There are pros and cons for both large camera bags and photo backpacks. One of the major things to consider is how long and how far you’ll be carrying your camera kit. Backpacks help to spread the load, not only with padded shoulder straps, but also because much of the weight rests on the back of your pelvis.
The downside is that, in most cases, you need to take the backpack off and lay it down so that you can open the main compartment and remove your camera and whatever lens you want to use. This can make for slow access, you may end up with a muddy backpack to put back on, and the fuss may result in you missing your shot.
By comparison, you can quickly delve into a camera bag without even needing to take it off your shoulder. Messenger-style bags can offer a good compromise
PAGE 1: General Photography Problems
PAGE 2: Using lenses
PAGE 3: Digital camera accessories
PAGE 4: Digital camera settings and controls
PAGE 5: Camera exposure
PAGE 6: Using flash
PAGE 7: Photography technique
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