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August 10, 2005

Camera Eye View

I was reading Cop Car's latest post about how HH was muttering about perspective and distortion when taking pictures of a quilt that was laying flat (instead of hanging).

That remark reminded me that I have a perfectly good 35mm camera that I haven't been able to use for many years. It's not a great camera, but a decent one for someone who doesn't plan to be a pro. It also has several filters with it (cuts glare from water shots and stuff like that). WS bought it for me for Christmas shortly after we moved up here. I can't use anymore it because I can't ever get it focused; when I think I have lines lined up - I don't. WS can use it, but he has no interest in using such a fancy camera (and really, prefers that I do that stuff - although he composes pictures much better than I do).

Distortion is the problem. My keratoconus screws up my vision just enough that I can't take a decent picture unless using an auto-focus camera.

I don't imagine I can even sell it since everyone is going digital, so it just sits in the workout room collecting dust. Maybe the Fantastic Niece would like it.

Posted by Bogie on August 10, 2005 at 04:05 AM in Keratoconus | Permalink


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Hi Bogie. Selling your camera is a bad idea. With the entry of digital cameras, a SLR camera without autofocus is practically worthless. Worthless for selling, that is. Because it is probably a very good camera for making good pics.

I don't think, however, that you should give up on your camera just because you cannot align the lines. If you want to make a sharp shot, start by calculating the distance to whatever you want to photograph. Then use the scale of the focus ring to the desired distance (in feet or meters or whatever you use). Keep in mind that a large aperture (= a small F-number on your camera) gives a very short depth of field, i.e. it is more difficult to focus perfectly. Whenever the light permits you so, increase the F-number (for example to F8.0 or more). This will set the objective to a smaller aperture, increasing your depth of field and your chances for getting the focus right. It is also more difficult to focus correctly on an objective when zooming in. Whenever possible, use the wider range of your zoom to capture your motives.

I hope these tricks enable you to shoot some sharp photos.


Posted by: Magnus at Aug 10, 2005 5:06:08 AM

Now, Magnus, you sound like Bogie's uncle--tsk, tsk. Bogie, can't you just hear your Uncle M say, "Oh, that's easy! You just estimate the distance....You can do it!" It's sort of like computers (come to think of it, cameras these days have embedded computers.) Most of us just want the darned things to do what we want them to do without their stopping us to ask questions. Camera: How far away do you want me to focus. "Photographer": Uh, let's see, it's about 16.732147 feet--give or take." Camera: How much light is there? "Photographer": Bright sun with sharp shadows, but part of the bear is in sun and part in shadows. Camera: Make up your mind...."Photographer": Never mind...the bear has gone.

When I had the Nikon, I started out using it in the full manual mode. After all, I wanted to be the master of my picture taking and do just what I wanted to do. Later, I started slaving to the chosen f-stop. Later, I put it on full automatic and let 'er rip! Then, I did what I should have done in the first place and gave the darned thing to Hunky Husband--when his Pentax bodies needed parts that were no longer available. Know what? I'm really, really happy to let HH wrestle with the cameras. Bogie, since you can't get WS interested in being the "Photographer", you will be a lot happier giving the camera to someone whose sight allows them to line up the reticles. Good luck. You get good pictures with your automatic camera!

Posted by: Cop Car at Aug 10, 2005 8:50:34 AM

I still have my first 35 MM, but can't remember all this
stuff, it's been so long since I've used it!

Posted by: Susan at Aug 10, 2005 6:51:54 PM

That would be great Magnus except most of the pictures I take I need to zoom (flowers, hummingbirds etc.). Believe me, I tried for many years to do the "estimation" thing, and it didn't work for me (I suck at that too).

After about a zillion horrid pictures (and sending the camera to the shop thinking it was out of kilter), I gave up and bought something I could use.

Posted by: bogie at Aug 11, 2005 4:07:21 AM

Don't get me wrong. The far easier option is using a camera with auto-focus in "green mode" (automatic). Canon has some awfully nice autofocus out there, I'm sure Nikon do as well.

So, if you already have a "better" camera, use that. (And give away the old SLR to whoever needs it.)

Posted by: Magnus at Aug 16, 2005 4:40:57 AM