13 April, 2011

How to Safely Buy Photographic Equipment on Internet

Someone told that photography is an expensive hobby. Many agree and it means photographic equipment is expensive. Even a cheaper lens costs around 200$. Now a days a lot of shopping happens online. You go to sites like amazon, ebay etc and buy things in matter of minutes, and your shopping is done.

Buying photographic equipment is not so different from buying your gadgets online. The only difference is the price of items. The DSLRs and Lenses take the major portion of your investment in this hobby. The DSLRs range from several hundreds of dollars to a few thousand dollars. And so do the lenses. Surprisingly (and painfully) some lenses cost more than your car.

When buying such expensive things should we take some care before paying with your credit cards? I say its worth considering the below points.

  • Trustworthiness of the selling party/parties
  • Security of your credircard information
  • Guarantee and Warranty on the products
  • Is your money protected against any fraud?
Now lets look into each scenario...

Trustworthiness - Obviously we want to put our hard earned cash in the hands of trusted people only. The no.1 thing to check is if the seller can be trusted for doing the business. Sellers like amazon.com, adorama and B & H Photo Video have built tremendous trust among the buyers. Their order fulfillment, query resolution centre are second to none. And it's no surprise that they have huge customer base.

If you are buying from auction sites like ebay, you need to consider more things before buying. Why? because ebay is not taking your orders for fulfillment. It's only a market place. You got to research on the merchant thats selling you the goods.

Many people fall prey to the ebay seller ratings and pay little attention to what they have been selling over the period of time. Recently did the merchant fulfilled orders that are worth greater than your current order? Did he grabbed all good ratings by selling a thousand 1$ products and suddenly listed big items (suspicious)? Did he offer cash and carry, if you are willing to do that?

Why this much care? Because if you lose money on auction sites, there are very less chances that you get it back. Don't fall for low prices even if you won the auction. No one, including you, is willing to lose so much. Just common sense. Be prepared to pay the price from a trustworthy source.

Security - Who wants to let their credit card details out in the open - sure way to get robbed? Once again the agency you are dealing with, their infrastructure should be able to conceal these details. Otherwise you would be the loser. I would depend on the reputation of the payment processor before giving my card details. Sense any trouble? Just keep away.

Guarantee/Warranty - Please make sure if the piece of equipment you are buying comes with manufacturer warranty (by default) and guarantee of replacement in case of malfunctions. Although it is very rare that these expensive equipments come out with defects, it is not unusual. There are many instances where the manufacturers recalled products, free services etc. If you happen to attract any such bad item (I wish not) you should be able to get it replaced immediately. The big players in the market are far ahead than the small vendors. This risk will be higher when you are purchasing online, simply because many small vendors can not afford the costs incurred in getting it replaced. Don't get lemons!

Your Hard Earned Money - is the most valuable thing for you. You want to make sure that it is well spent. What if the vendor doesn't fulfill your order in the given time? Do you have any opportunity to get a full refund? What if you got a different product than the one you bought? Many times the third party payment service providers doesn't give any or little help in such cases. Think about it. Its a matter of thousands or at least few hundreds of your dollars. Once again rely on the customer feed back and the reputation of the vendor.

I hope these precautions, if considered, will save you from being ripped off.


12 April, 2011

Nikon D7000 Review

(Although I didn't own this camera, lot of data from internet is gathered to put before the below views)

The camera giant Nikon unleashed it's new flagship camera D7000. The industry was surprised with D7000, even though it was expected to be the successor of proclaimed veteran D90, as it outshines the D300S. Ok, then what are the key features of D7000? Here they are (according to dpreview.com)...

  • 16.2MP CMOS sensor
  • 1080p HD video recording with mic jack for external microphone
  • ISO 100-6400 (plus H1 and H2 equivalent to ISO 12,800/25,600)
  • 39-point AF system with 3D tracking
  • New Live View/movie shooting switch
  • New 2016 pixel metering sensor
  • Scene Recognition System (see 2016 pixel sensor, above) aids WB/metering + focus accuracy
  • Twin SD card slots
  • 3.0 inch 921k dot LCD screen
  • Full-time AF in Live View/movie modes
  • Up to 6fps continuous shooting
  • Lockable drive mode dial
  • Built-in intervalometer
  • Electronic virtual horizon
  • Shutter tested to 150K actuations
 Whats new?

  1. Currently D7000 holds the second highest position in terms of sensor size in all Nikon APS-C DSLRs. 
  2. A whopping 39 point AF system
  3. Shutter life time till 150000 clicks (Smiles...)
  4. Bulkier pentaprism view finder (compared to penta mirror) giving in brighter image through VF.
  5. New menu's, utilities, in-camera movie editing etc...
Where it Shines and Outshines?

  • High ISO performance
  • Maximum ISO range (256000) at full resolution
  • Dynamic range and good details
  • Full HD video recording with limited in-camera editing
  • Build quality
  • Image quality
  • View finder
  • Movie mode
What if you BUY it?

With the best feed back from the users of the DX format DSLR from Nikon, you would smile more often with pride as it's owner. By grabbing the Silver Award from DPReview.com, D7000 proved to be a promising DSLR both for amateurs and semi-pros as well.

Where you have to buy D7000?

Buy this promising D7000 from trusted source amazon.com

D7000 Kit

D7000 body only

Are you already a proud owner of D7000? Then know your D7000 more...



01 April, 2011

Mid-night Experiements

It is almost 2 days over since I got the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. After reading so many recommendations over internet I ordered it from amazon.com. I am very excited to read my first book on photography, with my lovely Fujifilm Finepix s8100 fd camera. I deeply immersed in the book and I am not feeling like going to bed. Why? I am getting lot of info on photography.

In one section Bryan was explaining about aperture and its effect on depth-of-field. So what is depth of field? Basically its the band of field-view which will be in clear focus, keeping the rest in out-of-focus. The range or depth of this band highly depends on the lens aperture and also on the focal length of the lens.

At some point in the book, there were some photos explaining the effect of aperture for a given focal length. The bottom line - the lowest f-stop number (like f1.2, f1.7 etc) produces a very thin depth of field, keeping the rest of the field in out-of-focus, creating an effect called bokeh. Vow thats a lot of info for me. Lets try that now (the time was 12:15PM in the cold night of December in Stuttgart).

I switched on my Fuji, arranged some objects on the dining table to shoot and switched on all lights. I turned the mode dial to Av (Aperture priority mode), chose the smallest f-stop number in that camera f2.8 and started shooting the objects on the table, expecting a pleasant out-of-focus bokeh of the background subjects.

I was asking my self when I looked into the photos on the LCD, "What the hell is this? Where the hell is the bokeh that Bryan was writing about?". I was disappointed and I got the proof that Bryan was wrong, atleast in this case. (What a joke it was).

When I was almost ready to write an email to Bryan (I don't think it can go to him) about his 'error', I continued reading the book the next morning. Few pages later, he explains something interesting. The bottom line is that I can not get that pleasant bokeh with my point-and-shoot camera. Why? Why not? After all I paid money for this camera to take good photos.

The reason? The aperture values on point-and-shoot cameras convert to a bigger f-stop numbers in comparison to a DSLR. Typically a f2.8 on my Fuji is equavalent to almost f9 or f11 on a DSLR. So the result - I get a tremendous depth of field, everything in focus. The chance for a bokeh is very very less.

I felt cheated with my camera. Does it mean I have to live with this everything-in-focus, boring camera? Why do they sell these cameras then? Atleast why the f2.8 on point-and-shoot is equal to f11 on a DSLR?

I am disappointed. :-(

(It was only in my later days I found that the the case may be true with the aperture. The lens diameter on a typical point-and-shoot is far smaller than the f1.7 aperture opening diameter. So I concluded my self that it is impossible to have a true f2.8 aperture on a point-and-shoot and the least possible aperture on p&p cameras is almost that of f11 on a DSLR lens)

Did I never get a bokeh with point-and-shoot? I got. Only at an equivalent focal lengths of 500mm or such.


You can buy this wonderful book from amazon here.