IntroSensorLensFocusExposureRecording • Examples • CompareShare

Photographic Image Quality:

Six images illustrate the extremes of our discussion. The first was shot specifically to post on my SmugMug site as a link to this article; the second is from a project two years ago at the Orange Empire Railway Museum. The third was taken at Yosemite National Park, the fourth at a concert, the fifth at a friend's house, and the last from a local park.

Small subject


Zeiss 35mm Lens

Subject: Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon T* ZM lens, mounted with an adapter on a Sony Alpha NEX-7 (APS-C) body. This is an old-fashioned but very high quality lens, with manual aperture control and manual focus. Actual length from back of mounting adapter to front of lens hood is 2¼". Lighting is a single small LED "movie" light at the left, with a white card reflector on the right to fill in the shadows.

  • Sensor: Full-frame, 21Mp, Canon 5DmkII
  • Lens: Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro, the same as our example in the lens discussion
  • Focus: Manual, with image center enlarged on the LCD screen
  • Exposure: Manual; f/2.8 for miminum depth of field (the out-of-focus "Fotodiox" label is only 5mm in front of the plane of focus), 1/250th second (1/2 stop underexposed to preserve highlight detail), ISO 200.
  • Recording: RAW file, with minor adjustments in Lightroom

Large subject


Baldwin 2-6-2

Subject: Baldwin 2-6-2 steam locomotive; this one is still in working condition. Lighting is from the overhead skylights and from an open door behind the camera. There is some light reflected from a diesel locomotive to the left of this image.

  • Sensor: Full-frame, 21Mp, Canon 5DmkII
  • Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 L IS, at 24mm
  • Focus: Manual
  • Exposure: Manual; f/14 for depth of field (combines with wide lens to render whole image sharp); 5 exposures at 0.8, 1.6, 3.2, 6, and 13 seconds (on tripod); ISO 100
  • Recording: RAW files, combined in Photomatix, extensive development in Photoshop

Nature from a distance


Lower Yosemite Falls

Subject: Lower Yosemite Falls, Yosemite NP, CA. This was actually taken from the parking lot of the Yosemite Lodge—there's one place sort of in the middle of traffic that provides this clear view through the trees. Work fast. Mid-morning light from the right side.

  • Sensor: APS-C (1.6 FOVCF), 15Mp, Canon 50D
  • Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS, at 200mm (FF equivalent 320mm)
  • Focus: Manual
  • Exposure: Manual; 1/10th second (on tripod, water blurs), f/16 for depth of field, ISO 100
  • Recording: RAW file, cropping and contrast adjustment in Lightroom and Photoshop

Low-light action


Fiesta Noche del Rio dancers

Subject: Dancers at the Fiesta Noche del Rio, San Antonio, Texas. Stage lighting, picture taken from audience seats that are actually across the river from the stage (with tour and dinner boats going by in between). Small/light "travel" camera kit that still can produce high-quality 16"x20" or larger prints.

  • Sensor: Micro 4/3 (2.0 FOVCF), 16Mp, Olympus OM-D E-M5
  • Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 (FF equivalent 150mm)
  • Focus: Auto
  • Exposure: Shutter priority; 1/160th second (slowest that I'd trust to stop action here), f/5.6, ISO 1600 (to allow enough depth of field without excessive noise)
  • Recording: RAW file, minor adjustments in Lightroom



Feeding Tori

Subject: My friends Dave & Dee's dog Tori, taken when I was visiting them in Arizona. Indirect lighting solely from the patio door. Especially funny since spaghetti is not often thought of as a dog food! Lucky shot, and an important one to the family with the dog now gone.

  • Sensor: Full-frame, 21Mp, Canon 5DmkII
  • Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.4
  • Focus: Auto, center-point AF, focused on the eyes, focus held, recomposed, shot (almost instantly)
  • Exposure: Shutter priority; 1/60th second (slowest possible to handhold with 50mm lens), f/1.4 (which also gives limited depth of field to emphasize subject), ISO 800
  • Recording: RAW file, cropping and contrast adjustment in Photoshop



Fashion Island

Subject: Fashion Island and Back Bay, Newport Beach, CA. Panoramas are generally taken by rotating the camera around the lens axis to provide an ultra-wide-angle view. This one uses a lens designed for medium-format (6×6cm) film, with an APS-C sensor slid both horizontally and vertically behind it. The composite image is equivalent to having a 112Mp sensor, a technique probably most useful for a commercial photographer whose client requires extreme enlargements for wall display.

  • Sensor: APS-C, 24Mp, Sony α NEX-7 (six images)
  • Adapter: Fotodiox Vizelex Rhinocam
  • Lens: Hasselblad Sonnar 250mm f/5.6 (FF equivalent 156mm on medium format camera)
  • Focus: Manual
  • Exposure: Manual; 1/1000th second, f/22 (bright hazy sunlight), ISO 100
  • Recording: RAW files, six images stitched together with Photoshop's "Photomerge" utility

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