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Issue 2 (May 1998): Visual Eyes

column guide photography cameras

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#1 Mike Woeller

Mike Woeller


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Posted 01 May 1998 - 04:02 AM

Last issue, we discussed the different types of cameras and their pros and cons. This issue, we'll look at different features that many (but not all) cameras have.  Also, last issue I promised I wouldn't try to persuade you to buy a new camera. Well, I promise not to persuade in this particular issue, but...(if you do decide to buy one, make the trip to Vineland and see me :)

Most camera features are nice, but when applied to taking pictures of kites and kite related people and places, they can be divided into three different categories: Necessary, Sweet But Not Needed, and Utterly Superfluous.

So, without further ado, Kitelife.Com presents:

<div style="text-align: center; width: 90%; padding-left: 45px;"><b>The Mike Woeller Guide To Kite Camera Features
*=Applies to Single Lens Reflex (SLR) only <font color="white">.....</font>#=Applies to Compact only</b>

<table border="3" width="90%" bordercolordark="#3333CC" bordercolorlight="#6699FF" align="center"><tr><td width="100%" colspan="3"><p align="center"><big><strong><em>Necessary Features</em></strong></big></td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><p align="center"><big><em><strong>Feature</strong></em></big></td><td width="33%"><p align="center"><big><strong><em>What it does</em></strong></big></td><td width="34%"><p align="center"><big><strong><em>Applied to kite photos</em></strong></big></td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Auto Film Advance/Rewind</strong></td><td width="33%">A motor inside the camera moves the film after the shutter closes so that you don't have to. Also, the camera rewinds the film back to the canister after all pictures are taken</td><td width="34%">No more double exposures and wrecked pictures because you forgot to rewind the film before you took the film out on that beach. Essential for taking pictures fast, too.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Auto Flash</strong></td><td width="33%">The camera &quot;reads&quot; the view through sensors on its body and measures the light level. Then it decides whether or not to fire the flash and how much to fire it.</td><td width="34%">If you plan on taking pictures at the banquet, or of your friends on the field, you MUST always be conscious of light levels. This feature does it for you.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Autofocus</strong></td><td width="33%">The camera focuses the image to the film and is almost always perfect, as long as you stay within the guidelines in your manual.</td><td width="34%">Nobody likes an out of focus picture, whether it's kites or not.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>DX Coding</strong></td><td width="33%">DX coding has made photography much easier. The camera with this feature can detect what speed film you use, and adjust its own meter accordingly.</td><td width="34%">Another safeguard to ensure proper light levels for your kite photos.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Fill-In Flash</strong></td><td width="33%">Fill-In Flash fires the flash no matter what the camera wants.</td><td width="34%">Good for taking pictures in shade or back-lit situations. This feature will fire the flash even though the meter indicates &quot;no flash&quot;. This will prevent photos with dark silhouetted subjects against a bright background.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Zoom or Interchangeable Lenses*</strong></td><td width="33%">Zoom lenses act as magnifiers. Most compact cameras come with some sort of zoom. The bigger the number (I.E.: 70mm, 90mm, 140mm), the more the magnification. If your camera is SLR, you can buy separate zoom lenses and have wide angle lenses.</td><td width="34%">Most kites are flown well in the sky. Since that's their natural element and it's hard to walk closer, use a zoom lens to get closer.</td></tr></table>
<table border="3" width="90%" bordercolordark="#3333CC" bordercolorlight="#6699FF" align="center"><tr><td width="100%" colspan="3"><p align="center"><big><strong><em>Features You Should Have, But Don't Really Need, That Make Kite Pictures Better</em></strong></big></td></tr><tr> <td width="33%"><p align="center"><big><em><strong>Feature</strong></em></big></td> <td width="33%"><p align="center"><big><strong><em>What it does</em></strong></big></td> <td width="34%"><p align="center"><big><strong><em>Applied to kite photos</em></strong></big></td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Built-In Diopter<sup>#</sup></strong></td><td width="33%">Adjusts the viewfinder to your eye.</td><td width="34%">This feature, found only on compact, makes photography easier on the eyes of people with slight eye problems.</td></tr><tr> <td width="33%"><strong>Focus Lock</strong></td> <td width="33%">Allows the photographer to lock focus on an object, then recompose the shot.</td><td width="34%">Great for moving subjects or off-center work. Comes in handy for stunt kites and unstable single liners.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Lithium Power Source</strong></td><td width="33%">Lithium batteries last an incredibly long time, depending on how many other features it has to power. They could last upwards of 25 rolls of film.</td><td width="34%">You never know how long an event will be and how many shots you'll take; no one wants to be on the beach, in the middle of an event, and have to change batteries and miss the winning maneuver...</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Red-Eye Reduction Flash</strong></td><td width="33%">Fires a brief pre-flash to constrict the pupils of the subject and reduce retinal reflection.</td><td width="34%">When you're taking pictures of all your kite-friends, you don't want them to look as if they just walked out of a horror flick. This helps reduce (not eliminate totally) that nasty red glowing eye effect.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Self-Timer</strong></td><td width="33%">Delays the release of the shutter for 20 seconds to allow for other activities.</td><td width="34%">This allows you to get in the picture with your kite friends without drafting somebody else to take it. Best used with a tripod, but a table will suffice.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Weatherproof Casing</strong></td><td width="33%">Prevents wind, airborne dirt, and rain from damaging film and camera. Does not mean you can submerge camera.</td><td width="34%">Because you'll never fully know the weather beforehand, and because sand, wind and cameras don't like each other...</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Hot Shoe<sup>*</sup></strong></td><td width="33%">Allows you to attach a separate flash unit to your SLR camera.</td><td width="34%">Sometimes the built in flash is not powerful enough (or not there). Great for indoor events or after the day's flying is done.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Motor Drive</strong></td><td width="33%">Fires a succession of shots off. WARNING: Can tear through an entire roll of film like a buggier in a 50 mph wind.</td><td width="34%">Good for catching the sometimes unpredictable action of stunt kiting, power kiting, fighter kiting, buggying and such. The faster the frame rate (FPS), the better.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Multi-Pattern/Matrix Metering*</strong></td><td width="33%">Reads the image for the auto-flash in several sections as opposed to one large section, making flash more accurate.</td><td width="34%">Better for taking photos in uneven lighting conditions. This way, the kite and its maker or pilot will be properly exposed, as opposed to one being darker or lighter.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Program Mode*</strong></td> <td width="33%">Similar to auto-focus, but more complex. The camera takes all adjustment out of the photographer's hands and makes all the decisions for him/her.</td><td width="34%">You can just point and shoot. Great for fast paced events.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Quartz Dating Back</strong></td><td width="33%">Puts the date or day and time in the lower corner on the front of your picture.</td><td width="34%">Really nice for remembering events by date and day.</td></tr></table><table border="3" width="90%" bordercolordark="#3333CC" bordercolorlight="#6699FF" align="center"><tr><td width="100%" colspan="3"> <p align="center"><strong><em><big>Hobbyist / Pro Features.&nbsp; Not Necessary for Kite Photography </big></em></strong></td></tr><tr><td width="33%"> <p align="center"><big><em><strong>Feature</strong></em></big></td><td width="33%"> <p align="center"><big><strong><em>What it does</em></strong></big></td><td width="34%"> <p align="center"><big><strong><em>Applied to kite photos</em></strong></big></td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Single Lens Reflex (SLR)</strong></td><td width="33%">Camera that has the viewfinder linked directly through the lens. This allows you to see the exact picture the camera sees as opposed to an offset viewfinder that may cause unwanted &quot;cropping&quot; (loss of subject at the edges of the picture). Also, a main advantage of SLR is the interchangeable lenses and special effects filters.</td><td width="34%">Definitely the way to go if you take A LOT of pictures and really want to start a photography hobby. SLR's are much easier to use now than ever before, but cost about the same as a high end compact. If you only take occasional snapshot or kite photo, spend the extra on a high power, zoom compact.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Advanced Photo System</strong></td><td width="33%">A new format in photography with special features all its own. Most notable is fool proof loading, no negatives, and three picture sizes.</td><td width="34%">Still in its infancy, APS has some hurdles to overcome. Its features are nice, but for kite photos, not totally necessary.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Macro Focusing</strong></td><td width="33%">A secondary lens that allows for incredibly fine detail up close (within 1 foot).</td><td width="34%">Unless your photographing micro-kites or a sewing technique, not really useful for kiting.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Mid-Roll Rewind/Change</strong></td><td width="33%">Allows the film to be rewound back into the canister before the end of the roll. On some APS cameras, you can actually change the roll, take pictures on another roll, then put the original back in.</td><td width="34%">Good for the impatient who want to see their photos immediately. Mid-roll change is good for different speeds of film, but really, these features have no true benefit to kite photography.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Remote Control</strong></td><td width="33%">Similar to a TV remote, fires the shutter from in front of the camera.</td><td width="34%">A nice thing to have for taking remote pictures where you are no further than 15 feet away, but a self timer is cheaper and just as reliable.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Slow Flash</strong></td><td width="33%">Balances the natural lighting and the flash lighting of a scene.</td><td width="34%">Best used for night pictures or shady pictures. Worth the extra money if you take a lot of night flight pictures.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Aperture Priority Mode*</strong></td><td width="33%">Program on an SLR that allows the photographer to set the lens aperture and the camera compensates the shutter speed.</td><td width="34%">If you are an amateur or pro photographer and are looking for the effects of aperture setting, you need this feature. Otherwise, use the program mode.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Depth Of Field Preview*</strong></td><td width="33%">Shows the photographer exactly what will be in focus in the final print.</td><td width="34%">If you have a camera with Aperture Priority Mode, this will help you see the effect of your set aperture. A must for learning aperture.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Double/Multiple Exposure</strong></td><td width="33%">Allows you to take 2 or more photos on the same frame of the negative. Used for combining subjects.</td><td width="34%">Definitely filed under the creative category, this feature is really more harmful than beneficial unless you are skilled in its use or want to learn to take more creative photos.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Exposure Compensation*</strong></td><td width="33%">Allows the photographer to make the camera over or under expose the photo.</td><td width="34%">Another one for a more experienced photographer. Most camera meters are accurate enough to be left alone.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Manual Mode*</strong></td><td width="33%">Allows the photographer to make all settings and ignore the camera's recommendations.</td><td width="34%">Again, for the more experienced photographer. Good for obtaining certain effects with an SLR camera.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Shutter Priority Mode*</strong></td><td width="33%">Program on an SLR that allows the photographer to set the shutter speed and the camera compensates the aperture opening.</td><td width="34%">If you are an amateur or pro photographer and are looking for the effects of shutter setting, you need this feature. Otherwise, use the program mode.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Panoramic Picture</strong></td><td width="33%">Setting on newer cameras and APS that takes a 4x10 print, as opposed to 4x6. It creates a nice wide view, but is more expensive to process.</td><td width="34%">It' application to kiting is slim, but nice. Good for taking a nice view of the entire event or maybe a vertical of someone flying a kite, but that's about it.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Specialty Modes</strong></td><td width="33%">Special programs for certain conditions, like night photography, portrait, macro, landscape, and sports to name a few.</td><td width="34%">There are few program modes available that are really useful to fliers and spectators outside of the sports mode.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>TTL Metering*&nbsp;</strong></td><td width="33%">Places the sensors for flash and such inside the camera rather than outside on the casing to provide truer meter measurements for the settings of the camera.</td><td width="34%">If you can afford a camera with this feature it is an absolute must. But the cost is only semi-justified if all you need is a point and shoot SLR.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Intermittent Snapshot/Security Mode</strong></td><td width="33%">The camera will take a picture every 10 seconds or so.</td><td width="34%">Like a web cam, only without the web. Not very useful to a flier unless the have a lot of time and film and want a pseudo-time-lapse series of an event.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>ASA/ISO Override</strong></td><td width="33%">Allows the photographer to override the DX Coding of the film canister for push processing.</td><td width="34%">Not of any use to the average photographer. Only good if you process your own film.</td></tr><tr><td width="33%"><strong>Eye Controlled Autofocus*</strong></td><td width="33%">Links the focuing system to sensors placed inside the viewfinder. This allows the camera to focus on the section of the viewfinder you are actually looking at. Found only on Semi-Pro/Pro Canon SLR Cameras.</td><td width="34%">Without a doubt, THE absolute coolest feature out there. The camera knows what you look at and focuses there. Great for tracking stunt kites and off center composition. But with a <em><strong>starting</strong></em> price tag of about $600, it's not a feature for most people. Put that money into some nice spars or kites if you can't justify that price.</td></tr>
Mike Woeller

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