|Event-Fotografie A. Tofahrn|
|Sure, anybody want to know it, but in most cases the equipment used has
nothing to do with the final image. You can create great images with ordinary
equipment, analog or digital. You just have to learn how to use your gear
and to see motives. It's still the photographer who activates the shutter, there
is no automatism for making great images just because you own great gear. Sorry.
|Nearly the same is true concerning Megapixels. Of course it is sexy to have
tons of Megapixels, but if the builtin plastic-lens does not have the necessary
quality or if the last bit of sharpness gets lost due to bad JPEG-compression,
that quantity on the paper is useless.
The images on this page have 600x400 up to 1000x666 pixels, what's far less
than 1 (one) Megapixel. The 6 Megapixel of my D70 are enough to create great
posters with 50x70cm. So forget any Megapixel-discussion when you look at the
pictures only on a computer-monitor, television-screen or a 10x15cm print.
|Some of the pictures on this site really do need some special gear,
called lenses. Not because of resolution or sharpness, but for some parameters
which you normally won't see in advertisements or brochures.
AF-n 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5
AF-S VR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF
|One of these mystic things is called bokeh, which describes the behaviour
of a lens in the out-of-focus areas. Some lenses don't produce real softness in
these areas but some strange sharp edges in the background. If you're looking
for great bokeh you'll have to invest some money in your lenses.
|The two images above show the difference quite clearly. Location, illumination,
motive, background (a crumbled aluminium foil), whitebalance and framing are identical,
just the lens was changed (both stopped down one step). Another difference is a slight
variation in color tone.
Another factor is distortion, the bending of straight lines going not through
the center of the image. Especially with zoom-lenses it is normal to have some
distortion varying with focal length. To compensate distortion the lens-manufacturer
uses one or more non-spherical (aspherical) elements which are again expensive. When
you need a wide-angle-lens for landscape or architecture images, you probably want
to spend some extra money to get less distortion already from the camera.
|Of course I've tried a lot, even with my old manual lenses. But using
manual lenses on a D70 is not really for fun. Today my combination looks like this:
- Nikon D70
Ok, when using a D70 you'll notice on several details that this body is
designed for a low price. But as you can see from my examples, most images
here came out of the D70 and you really can make great images with it. Maybe
you'll have to adjust a little more depending on the situation.
I am working in program-mode (P) or manual (M) and set all camera-optimizations
to neutral (i.e. contrast) or off (i.e. sharpening). Only color-saturation is
set to enhanced to get more intense, vivid images. In general I like those
images more, if it is too much some time, you can simply reduce saturation afterwards.
Of course this one is depending on the personal taste.
Some of these settings require some more efford afterwards. But if the image
will be cropped on the PC, you also can do some sharpening depending on
the scenario etc.
The images here are nearly unsharpened, I only compensated the slight
softness from downsizing.
- Nikon D200
In the meantime a D200 body turn up in my foto-pocket. Of course, as I told you
before, a D200 won't automatically produce better images, but some things are
really simplyfied. One major thing is the improved metering-system which won't get
easily fooled by glaring colors (like the D70 does), some optimization on automatic-functions
like saturation and contrast (which I now can trust), a quality-controlled JPEG-compression
and finally, essential for my longtime exposures, a mirror lock up. And for my high-ISO-shots
I do welcome the nicer noise from the D200, since it is easier to handle.
However, most of the images on this site came out of the D70.
- Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm/3.5-4.5G IF-ED
This is a nice allround zoom. Of course it has some weaknesses in the wide- and tele-range,
but for it's size and price this is absolutely ok.
Actually the 18-70 was replaced by the heavyweight 17-55 below.
- Nikon AF-S DX 12-24mm/4G IF-ED
This lens is a must-have for every landscape-photographer. Due to the small DX-chip
with a crop-factor of 1.5 you'll get real 18mm focal length with mostly neglectible
distortion. It is far superior to the 18-70 in this range, concerning sharpness
and chromatic errors both are nearly same. As with any wide-angle-lens it is
not useful for getting natural images from persons or faces.
- Nikon AF-S DX 17-55mm/2.8G IF-ED
Let's get the point first, who expects a huge leap in optical performance
compared to the 18-70 or 18-200, may probably somewhat disappointed by this lens,
depending on your photographic demands. The kit-lenses already produce more
sharpness with proper light and slightly stopped down as a camera like the D200
can reproduce. Don't expect any improvements here. The 17-55 additionally is
not that perfect with chromatic aberrations or optical distortions at the wide end,
as one would expect for such an expensive lens. Even those one or two stops more
light are not that critical under normal situations (well, in dim light they are).
But, of course, there are some applications where this lens is an absolute
winner compared to the kit-lenses. The first point is this mostly uncompromising
sharpness even wide open and in the edges. But the most important point for me
is the wonderful bokeh from this lens. This makes this piece of glass my
first choice for person- or portrait-photography. For pure portraits some more
lenght may be helpful (i.e. the 28-70/2.8), but these additional 15mm are
not that essential.
And if you're using this lens for landscapes or architectural shots, there are
bargain tools, like the USD 15,- PTLens,
which corrects distortion and chromatic errors nearly invisible.
- Nikon AF-S VR 70-200mm/2.8G IF-ED
Not only the weight of this lens is impressive. Sharpness and bokeh is superior
to any other lens I have or had. An aperture of f/2.8 in combination with the
shake-reduction makes this lens my first choice for any live shootings. VR works
that well, that you can get sharp images even when walking. Remember, you get
300mm effective focal length with this lens!
- Micro Nikkor 105mm/2.8
This pretty old, manual-focus macro lens is still in use, but normally in combination
with some speedlight, since you have to stop down some steps to get more than a
few millimeters depth of field. Using in manual-mode on the D70 and the camera's
builtin speedlight you'll get a pretty controlled illumination even without
- Kenko Teleplus Pro 300 DG 2x Teleconverter
This teleconverter accompanies the 70-200VR. This converter is great, since image
quality is not degraded on the D70. You'll notice some softness on the D200 due to
the higher pixel-resolution. Of course this cost you 2 stops and with two additional
stops for some more depth of field you end up at f/11. To get sharp images under
this conditions with effective 600mm focal length you'll need good conditions
even with the VR-system.
- NoiseNinja from PictureCode
One of the principle problems with digital cameras is noise. Depending on the situation, exposure time and
ISO-setting noise is more or less visible. When fiddling around with the images afterwards noise
can be oddly amplified. Candidates for this is changing brightness, contrast, color-correction
and any kind of sharpening-filter.
There are a lot of tools around to reduce noise in your images, which work more or less effective. I've tried
several and finally choosed NoiseNinja (Nov. 2004). You have complete control how NoiseNinja changes your image
and results are very subtle when set correctly. Additionally it works with 16-Bit-images and
can be automated using Photoshop-actions.
NoiseNinja actually comes first my workflow with a very gentle setting for nearly any images, which
makes room for following adjustments.
- FocusMagic from Acclaim Software
Similar as my camera does not produce any noise, any image taken is perfectly sharp. At least as long
as you never seen FocusMagic in action. Contrary to the usual unsharp-mask, which simply enhances
edges and quikly produces nasty artefacts, FocusMagic removes softness mathematically. Sometimes you
can see Details clearly, which are barely noticeable before. Especially when preparing images
for the computer-screen you'll get softness within a 1-pixel-range which can perfectly
being eliminated with FocusMagic.
The same algorithms can be used to correct one-dimensional softness, which emerges from camera shake. Don't
expect big wonders, but your blurred images surely get better.
- PanoramaStudio from Tobias Hüllmandel
If you ever plan to create a panoramic image, you'll quickly notice that you can't do
that only with an imaging application. That is because any lens produces some distortion
and neighbored images never matches exactly, even when taken with a pricey panoramic mount.
There are several applications out there to assist you in creation of such images. Some of
them are a little hard to handle, others can create spherical panoramas. PanoramaStudion don't
fit into those two categories and creates perfect panoramas via drag-and-drop, even
when shot freehand. And when it won't fit automatically, there are several options for
manual corrections later.
Please note that for complex panoramic images you'll need a lot of memory. One image with 6 Megapixels
need about 18MBytes in your RAM. A cylindrical 360 degree panorama from 10 images require at least
180MBytes only for the source-images. During the calculation this value easily doubles, so this
would probably too much for a system with 512MBytes.