Photography News 79 WEB

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Keep it clean

Blower brushes, lens brushes, wipes, tissues, micro fibre cloths and specialist sprays are all available for cleaning lenses and sensors. Buy dedicated lens cleaning kit and you can’t go too far wrong, and well- known brands include Zeiss, Lenspen, Hahnel, Lee, Rosco, Spudz, Kenro and Eclipse. Most of the time, all you need is a dry clean so use a blower/lens brush to remove any surface debris. But if your lens has fingerprints or water marks, you will need to do a wet clean. You could keep your lens pristine by using a protection filter and, speaking of filters, remember to give them a regular clean, too. Dirty sensors are common, but if you find the idea of sensor cleaning

daunting, you may prefer to pay for a professional clean – many dealers offer a sensor cleaning service. But if you find yourself with a mucky sensor when you’re out on location, a self clean is the only option, so being geared up is a good idea. Dust on the sensor may not be a problem, because of what you shoot. If you’re a portrait worker and shoot at f/5.6 or wider, dust spots won’t be visible, but if you are a landscaper shooting at f/11 and f/16, debris and marks will show up in areas of even tone. This is due to greater depth-of- focus, the zone of sharp focus behind the lens, at smaller apertures. Check how dirty your sensor is by setting the lens’s smallest aperture

and shooting a plain subject (ie a cloudy sky or a sheet of white paper). To make any dust stand out, move the camera during the exposure or defocus the lens. Or you could use a sensor loupe, which a magnifier with an LED light built in. Sensor cleaning brands to consider include Dust-Aid, Eclipse, Green Clean and VisibleDust. If you decide to clean your sensor, follow the instructions or head online – there are loads of how-to videos, so check a few out before you even think about it and take great care. Alpine Spudz - Green Clean –

Improve your light

Having a flashgun in your armoury is one thing, but you should consider the quality of light it delivers as there is a huge variety of accessories available to change their output if you prefer a different look. Modifiers come in all shapes and sizes, from moulded slip- on plastic diffusers to softbox set-ups that aim to emulate the quality of studio flash output. What suits you best depends on what sort of pictures you shoot and you may end up with a range of modifiers to suit different situations. There are no hard and fast rules, but a slip-on plastic diffuser is probably the sensible option for fast-moving situations, while a Velcro-based or magnetic system with grid, softboxes and diffusers will suit shoots where you have more time. Honl Photo –  Magmod – essentialphoto. Rogue –

ABOVE VisibleDust has a range of sensor cleaning products on offer. Pictured is its Arctic Butterfly in action. For lens cleaning, Spudz cloths are effective and very convenient, too

Solid support

Filter facts

Very good camera and lens image stabilisers are available, but a support is still an essential accessory, with the most popular and most useful being the tripod. If you need a tripod for occasional use, a £50 model might suffice, but for more serious use, a cheap pod is no good at all. As is often the case, the more you spend, the more you get. As a rough guide, £100 will get you a decent pod for smaller, mirrorless cameras and £150-200 will get you one usable for full-frame cameras. Tripods are available with aluminium alloy or carbon-fibre legs, the latter being lighter but more expensive. If you have the budget, a carbon pod is worth the investment and if looked after will last you a good long time. Buy a size that suits your needs – that doesn’t just mean what you like to shoot, but also your own physicality as there’s no point buying a tripod you can’t carry along with your camera bag. Aspects to consider other than material include maximum height (with and without using the centre column), minimum height, number of leg sections, feet options and the centre column design. For many photographers, the best option is the travel tripod. These combine excellent stability, good features and portability, and don’t be fooled by the ‘travel’ tag because some models are seriously substantial. Some tripods come with a head. However, most are sold legs only and you add a head. It is worth saying that there is no point getting a solid set of legs and topping it with a flimsy head. Low-cost heads don’t hold the camera firmly and come with

Carrying solutions You can carry your camera in a shopping bag if you had a mind to, but a purpose-designed bag offers the best protection and usability. Bags and cases come in all shapes and sizes, and you won’t be alone if you end up with several bags to suit various situations. So, you might have a sling bag for about-town shooting, a backpack for yomping around the landscape and a roller case for travelling or storing your kit at home. Key things to consider are capacity, build quality, access, protection levels, weight and comfort. The ideal way to check a bag’s potential is to physically get your hands on it and even load it up if Filters can protect your expensive lens or help you to achieve the right result in-camera. Two filter types are available: screw-in round filters and slot systems, the latter are often called creative systems. Screw-in filters simply attach to the lens’s accessory thread, so just buy the right size while smaller or larger filters can be attached with step- up/step-down rings. Protection filters, extreme NDs and polarisers are popular screw-in types. Round grads are available, too, though the fixed position of the actual gradation is limiting. Slot filters fit into a grooved holder, which in turn is attached to the lens with an adapter ring. Filters such as grads can be moved up and down to suit the scene. Polarisers can RIGHT Round filters from brands such as Hoya and Marumi and slot filters such as those from Lee are popular. While slot filter systems such as the Kase K9 holder shown here combine the gripping of power of magnetism and slots

also be used in slot holders and each manufacturer has its own solution as to how this is achieved. Lee Filters places the polariser on the front end of the holder, while Benro, Marumi and Kase Filters, among others, place it behind other filters and use a drive cog mechanism to rotate the polariser. For example, the Kase K9 holder shown below. A recent innovation is the use of magnetism to hold filters in place. H&Y offers a system to convert an existing holder to a magnetic system, while Kase has a round magnetic system, and filters in a magnetic mount attach to an adapter ring. Both brands also have magnetic slot systems. See this month’s Buyers’ Guide for a detailed rundown of leading filter suppliers.

plastic quick-release plates, which are hopeless. So buy a head that has a load-bearing capacity to cope with your heaviest kit and accepts metal quick-release plates Monopods are another support option, favoured by action, video and sport photographers who have to support long lenses or need mobility and speed of use. Some monopods come fitted with three feet for extra stability (or are available as options). But going back to tripods, we shouldn’t forget mini tripods including the GorillaPod with its ball-jointed wrap-around legs. There are plenty of really compact tripods around. ABOVE The Manfrotto Befree GT is a carbon fibre, travel-sized tripod with a centre column mechanism that makes shooting flatlays easy

LEFT The output from your flashgun can look much better with the help of a modifier, such as the Rogue Flashbender v3 Large Softbox shown here

you can, although that might not be realistic at the moment. Most bag suppliers offer help through their literature and websites, with illustrations of loaded-up products so you get a great idea of their potential. FLM –

RIGHT Snapperstuff is the UK distributor of MindShift and Think Tank kit. Pictured is the Think Tank Airport Advantage XT

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Issue 79 | Photography News 9

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