The Digital Photo Guy

Monday Morning Tip – 08/17/09

by on Aug.17, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

Pala Band of Mission Indians Pow Wow

Saturday was a perfect day for the pow wow but it was a brutal day for photography. The sun was ablaze, directly overhead. There was so much glare off everything, I thought my sensor was going to throw up it’s photosites in despair. However, I was able to get the photos I had in mind. Below, from the left, are Greg Red Elk, William Buchanan and Michael Valenzuela.

I wanted people who looked like someone straight out of a Hollywood casting call for American Indians and I couldn’t ask for better than these 3 men. All three had the high cheekbones and aquiline noses characteristic of native Americans. I’ll have the rest posted as soon as I get caught up on some other things.

Red Elk William Buchanan Michael Valenzuela

I feel like the bumper sticker I used to give away that read, “Business is Great, People are Terrific, Life is wonderful!” Since my epiphany last week, I find it so much easier to get my priorities straight. Here, in no particular order, are some of the thoughts and ideas that struck me this past week. Remember, these are my opinions. If you don’t agree, you can post a comment or start your own blog.

UV Filters – I have no skin in this game so you can take it to the bank when I say it doesn’t make any difference to me, I’m just giving you my honest professional opinion when I advise against keeping an ultra-violet (UV) filter on the front of your lens as protection for the front element. For some odd reason, this seems to fall into the same category as religion and politics when on Internet forums. One can literally feel people seething with anger when I make recommendations contrary to their belief. I don’t get it.

Here’s a MMT about UV filters that I wrote back in 2007. It’s still valid and, below, I’ve added even more reasons that I believe bolster my position. If, after reading this, you want to continue using UV filters, it won’t hurt my feelings. Everyone has their own opinions and habits.

Reason 1 – If UV filters provide so much protection, why don’t photographers use them on the “big guns”, the super expensive, super telephotos like the 400/2.8, 500/4, 600/4 and 800/5.6? The answer is because there aren’t any available for such large front elements. Surely, if they were so useful, some enterprising company would have figured out a way to attach a piece of glass to the front of a $4000-$11,000 lens and charge a king’s ransom? Wouldn’t someone who just paid $11,000 for a Canon 800/5.6 pay $800 to protect it? Even a Canon 300/3.8L IS that only costs $4000 would be a candidate for a protective filter for $400 if they did any good. No one has developed such a product because there isn’t any demand. People who buy this sort of equipment know that a filter doesn’t offer any protection.

Reason 2 – “But (enter big name photographer) says to use a UV filter!” Anyone who advises so is getting paid to push products. In some cases, they actually design and market filters. In other cases, they push products carried by their sponsors. Whenever someone advises you to purchase something, the first question should always be, “Where’s the money trail.”

Reason 3 – The point of photography is to do everything possible to make the best possible photos. If you spend all your time obssessing over protecting your lenses, how can you possibly have time to actually make photos? It’s just a lens, an inanimate object made of glass and metal. It’s a tool, a means to an end. If I were to damage an $11,000 lens, I’d be upset but my first question would be, “Did I get the shot?”

Next, cleaning sensors. Dust on a dSLR sensor is a real pain, especially if it’s on the bottom half of the sensor where the sky will be after the image is inverted passing through the lens. Because it’s a real issue, many companies have sprung up to offer solutions. The original solution was called the “wet” method using methanol and a PecPad wrapped around a plastic spatulas. This quickly evolved into pre-assembled, single-use spatulas, each costing several dollars, not a very cost effective method. Once companies found that people were willing to pay outrageous sums for dubious devices, the flood gates were open. Each iteration seemed more expensive and less effective.

Here’s what I discovered after years of using the “wet” method. This new method is definitely faster, easier, more effective and less expensive than any other method I’ve heard or seen. You have to buy the kit from Artie Morris’ site because he’s the only one who includes the specific instructions for using LensPens for cleaning sensors. If you don’t already own a Giottos Rocket Blower, I suggest you buy the kit with LensPen, Giottos blower and microfibercloth. At $36, it sure beats weird little devices costing $100+. There are many LensPen knockoffs so be sure to buy from a reputable source. A knockoff may damage your sensor.

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