SLR vs Prosumer P&S;

This is a question debated by many who are thinking of taking up photography as a hobby, or are getting more serious about photo taking.  Digital SLR’s obviously provide more flexibility, more control, and more options, while the new generation of Prosumer Super Zoom Point and shoot cameras offer lenses with exotic names such as Carl Zeiss, 10x optical zooms, and compact size.  So which camera is actually right for you?

Well, there is no one answer.  Ask yourself this.  Is photography something you really want to pursue as a hobby? If you answer yes, I would lean towards the Digital SLR.  If you just want to take “snapshots” and think an extra zoom might be helpful than the Super zoom point and shoot camera is probably right for you.

There are tons of websites that compare images between various prosumer and entry level digital SLR’s.  I’m going to instead focus on some things that might not be apparent to the new photographer.

Fact: Most Digital SLR’s have image sensors much larger than a Point and shoot camera. The reason this is important is probably not apparent to most consumers. The reason this is so important, and especially to me is that a larger sensor gives you more range of Depth of Field (DOF) control.  DOF controls what is in focus in your photo.  In portraits for example it is often desirable to have the person you are shooting in complete focus, while the background is Out of Focus (OOF).  DOF is mainly controlled by the aperture of your lens, but with a tiny sensor such as those on P&S cameras, it is near impossible to throw the background out of focus.

The image on the right was taken with a fast lens with my SLR. The background is nice and soft. The image on the right however you can clearly see the background and it distracts from the photo. In fact it’s just a couch cushion.

Manual Focus Lenses on Canon EOS

One of the great things about Canon EOS SLR’s is that they have excellent clearance between the mirror and lens mount, which means you can actually mount Leica R, Carl Zeiss, Visoflex, Nikon F (MF and AF), Pentax M42, Contax/Yashica (RTS), and Olympus OM Lenses to a Canon body with a simple relatively cheap adapter.

Replacing Canon’s Eyecup

I’m sure most people have this problem with their SLR cameras.  You have to press your eye right up against the camera, and all the grease and oil on your face smudges the LCD on the back of your camera.  It’s even worse if you have glasses, or if there is some glare from behind you.  I’ve even heard of peoples noses hitting buttons and controls.

Desaturate your background

One of my favorite techniques to make an object really stand out is to desaturate the background.  In this tutorial I’m going to show you a very easy method to separate an object from it’s background just be giving the background a little desaturation in Photoshop.  You can adjust the effect to your taste and the photo. I’ve done complete black and white backgrounds with this techniques, as well as just muting the colour a little bit.

Giottos Rocket Air Kit

Cleaning your camera, lenses, mirror box and CCD or CMOS, has become frustratingly annoying. Now with the digital age I find cleaning off dust has become more annoying than ever.  Whereas previously dust would be cleaned off automatically with each slide of film your CCD and CMOS sensor never change.  Now that I shoot more photos, I change lenses more often and my lenses get even dirtier.  I needed a better solution to cleaning my lenses and camera than just a simple lens pen.  Enter the Giottos Rocket Air Cleaning Kit.

The entire kit consists of several items.  The Rocket Air blower which I’ll talk more about later, Multi Optical Cleaning Solution, Micro-fibre Magic Cloth, Retractable Brush, and Cotton swabs with Paper Shaft.

The Cleaning solution I spray on the Mico-Fibre cloth to take off finger prints and smudges off my lenses. This is an excellent combo and I don’t think my lenses have ever looked cleaner. It’s defiantly much more effective than using a simple lens cleaning pen that I have been using for years.  Surprisingly I rarely use the dust brush.  The reason is I find it a lot easier to blow off dust with the blower than using the brush which can sometimes just move dust around or add dust onto a lens.

The Cotton swabs are excellent; I save them for special use.  When I have stubborn dust on my sensor that I cannot remove with the blower, I wet the swab with the solution and very gently dab the sensor area affected.  So far no scratches, smudges or streaks have occurs as a result.  I do not press; it’s more of a light touch.  Imagine trying to brush at the surface of water without breaking the surface.

After cleaning the CMOS sensor I usually use the same tip to clean out any stubborn dust in the mirror box, as well as the viewfinder.  Very few things fit in their, and this one doesn’t do too bad a job.

Now the Rocket Air blower is the main reason for purchasing this kit.  It is known as being an excellent quality blower.  Because of its design it can stand on a table which is very handy when you’re cleaning all your equipment at home.  But there are also a couple of holes in the fins that you can attach a next strap or lanyard too.  That way if your shooting in dusty conditions such as an abandoned building or the Arizona desert for instance the blower is always in reach.  And I use the blower a lot! On everything, lenses, the mirror box, and my CMOS sensor.  It’s extremely powerful, and the long tip gets in anywhere you need it.

The Rocket-Air is so versatile it has become the first thing I reach for when I need some cleaning done and its well worth the money.

Creating Photo Frames in Photoshop

This tutorial will teach you how to create frames for your photos in Adobe Photoshop.  I like to keep mine really simple, but once you learn the technique you can experiment and add your own personal touches such as more layers, or wood finishes.  The process is really quite simple, and if you want you can save it as an action so that Photoshop will add the frame for you automatically.

  1. The first step to preparing your image for the photo frame is to figure out what size image you want.  When I post my images on the web I usually keep the longest edge less than 640 pixels.  Now I actually happen to know I want a frame of 40 pixels so I’m going to resize my image to a height of 600 pixels.

Note:  I know many people will just add the frame and than resize down to the size they want.  I do not recommend this as after resizing I always add some USM to the image, and their is no point to do that to the frame or your signature.

  1. Now that I have my image resized, I like to add a bit of Sharpening to it.  Recently I have started using the Smart Sharpen tool in Photoshop CS2, as I find it makes my workflow easier.  The USM tool I now reserve for Local Contrast Enhancement.  This keeps me from having to adjust my USM tool back and forth for the two similar but different techniques.

Replacing the Hard Drive of a JVC MP-XP741 for Ultra Portable Computing

A fellow member on Fred Miranda was looking for a truely portable solution for storing his photos.  His solution was to take an ultra portable 9 inch Subnotebook and upgrade it’s 40GB hard drive to a Hitachi 100GB 5400rpm drive.  This not only provides huge storage space for photos, but it also allows him to view and edit raw files on the go with a high resolution colour calibrated display, connect his camera to the unit for studio shooting, use the same workflow on the road as at home, and any other features a normal PC would have.

Like myself and a lot of photographers he looked at a lot of the cheaper units which allow transfering the contents of a memory card onto another device or a built in hard drive.   These do not allow to review or select which files to transfer.  There’s also a number of higher end units such as the Popular Epson P-4000 which I considered getting.  But my biggest beef with these is you are not getting a lot for the price.  You still have a low resolution screen which isn’t colour calibrated, and they are slow.

The specs on the laptop are:

  • Intel Centrino Processor @ 1.1GHz (Excellent power and battery life)
  • Wireless networking
  • Firewire, 2xUSB 2.0 slots, RJ11 (Network), PC Card slot, and a Mini VGA connector

He replaced the 40GB hard drive with a Hitachi 100GB version.

Disclaimer: This is meant as documentation for how Chrisko was able to swap the hard drive out of this model laptop with an upgraded unit which better suited his needs.  Neither Chrisko, I, this site, the hosts or anyone else associated with this site and project takes responsibility for any damage that may incur if you choose to modify your laptop.  Doing so may nullify your manufacturers warranty and we are not liable. 

The rest of this article is a step by step How-To written by Chrisko on how he replaced the hard drive in his JVC MP-XP741 which he purchased for under $1000 Euro’s at the time of writing. Let’s get on to the fun part!

How-to change the internal harddrive of an JVC MP-XP741 Subnotebook by chrisko:

What you need:

  • Good nerves.
  • Some electronic screwdrivers.
  • A very good speciality Bit Set (TORX bit TX7)
    I use the brand PROXXON INDUSTRIAL.
  • A replacement harddrive
    I used an Hitachi 100 Gb 5400 rpm drive MODEL HTS541010G9AT00.
  • An electrostatic shield
  • Some Time – I needed 4 hours, hope with this howto you need less.
  • Make a image backup per partition of the internal harddrive with proper tools.
  • Restore the image backups to the replacement harddrive.
  • Optional you can do a ram update too.

Note: this may work also on the JVC MP-XP731 or Asus S200(N) Notebooks, but i dit not test this.

Warning: This how-to is not for hardware beginners !

Warning: No Warranty that this how-to works for you !

Warning: You may loose manufacturers warranty doing this !

Warning: Do it at your own risk, device may be damaged doing this!

Warning: Take care on electrostatic charges, discharge yourself properly at work !