Custom Search

Monday, September 27, 2010


The new digital cameras have all sorts of capabilities that are not immediately obvious so, to those of you who are as backward as myself, I suggest you start experimenting with all those buttons and controls you normally don't touch. Although I've been using my latest camera almost daily for over six months I just discovered that it has an interesting and useful function I hadn't even imagined. It's a built in digital 2X teleconverter. This is like being able to double the magnifying power of whatever lens you're using. Above is a photo that is a first experiment with this function using the 300mm telephoto lens times 2 to yield a whopping 600mm. Lenses with this power typically sell for thousands so this is a very nice feature. It also means that I can carry fewer lenses around with me since I can, if necessary, extend the focal length of the lenses in my bag through the use of the built-in teleconverter. I write "if necessary" because, although Sony says,"The system reproduces pixels on a 1:1 basis so there's no degradation in picture quality," it seems to me that there is a bit of image degradation. But if one needs that magnification it's nice to have the option without always carrying around a heavy telephoto lens.

What's normally on my camera or in my camera bag?

  1. The Sony kit lens - an 18-55mm zoom, or some other mid-range zoom

  2. 90mm macro lens for closeups

  3. 10-20mm wide angle

  4. 75-300 or 500mm prime telephoto

I usually have some idea what I'll be shooting before I leave the house so the telephoto or the macro may get left behind. I get a little choosy now because this stuff is heavy and if you spend all day lugging around two or three lenses that never come out of the bag you start to try to think ahead a bit. The flip side, of course, is missing a great shot because you don't have the right lens with you. The teleconverter mentioned above probably means I won't carry around a telephoto lens unless I know I'm likely to encounter some wildlife or some other special situation requiring telephoto or I'll carry a shorter-range, lighter telephoto like an 80-200mm.


JoJo said...

That's a fantastic photo!! My friend Renee is a professional photog too, and she shot some incredible closeups of the moon with her lens. Over the weekend she posted pics on Facebook of Jupiter and 2 of it's moons!!!!! You couldn't see the detail of Jupiter's red banding, but it was clearly a huge planet with 2 moons.

I am in the market for a good telephoto lens prior to my trip to Victoria next month. I have a Pentax digital camera, and my old Tamron lens fits it but I am unhappy with the quality of the photos taken with the Tamron. Any suggestions are appreciated. Since I don't know when I can get back to Victoria, I want to do it right.

Mike Laplante said...

I'm enjoying your discussion of camera specs.

When I made the switch from 35mm photography I opted for high end point-and-shoots for the sake of convenience.

I have a variety of cameras but I always carry a small Canon point-and-shoot as a backup.

I discovered that there is a community of geeks out there who have been hacking Canon software to greatly extend their abilities.

In their words:
"The CHDK (Canon Hacker Development Kit) software makes extra settings of a DSLR available on Canon's point-and-shoot cameras."

It turns out for example that my little knock-about Canon is capable of shooting RAW which was a nice little surprise. It's also capable of a much larger range of apertures and speeds that it has right out of the box, it turns out.

Sounds like you're a die-hard Sony fan, but, you might want to read about CHDK (Canon Hackers Development Kit)for interest's sake.

Dean Lewis said...

Not hard to imagine that you might like to have as many optional lenses with you at any time, not knowing what you might serendipitously come across.

From carrying my heavy portfolio bag each day to and from work, I know that a single-sided shoulder strap means more strain on the back.
Wonder if a backpack camera carrier/bag/case is available that would divide the weight evenly.

Randy said...

All I can say is WOW!

SRQ said...

Terrific capture. Where is the teleconverter setting on your Sony? I have a Canon....and haven't heard of such a thing. But, you've really piqued my curiosity.

Benjamin Madison said...

JoJo - I admire anyone who can even find Jupiter.... As for Pentax lenses - I can't advise you but what I do is Google for an appropriate forum - Google "Pentax lens forum" and you will come up with some good expert advice.

Mike - I am still discovering the standard features of my camera - hacking the software sounds interesting but way beyond my limited abilities.

Dean - there are some interesting camera backpacks that are made so they sling around to the front for easy/quick access - but they cost a bundle so I don't have one...yet.

Thanks Randy and SRQ. SRQ - the teleconverter button is on the back - not hidden away - I just ignored it because I didn't know what it did. I suspect it's one of those things the engineers realized that they could do just by adding another button and a bit of code so they threw it in as a bonus. It's a nice bonus (see today's seal pup photo).