Buying a Tripod

A good sturdy tripod is probably the next best investment, after a good camera and lens. Regardless of what people might say, nothing works as well as a tripod when it is required. The lack of information and the choice of brands (including many unheard of names) becomes a nerve-wrecking experience. So much so, that after browsing the overwhelming choices available, many photographers just let it go and stick to whatever aids they had been using earlier.


(Waterfalls – Nikon D200 with Nikkor 18-35mm, 1/8 sec)

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Neutral Density Filters

There was a time when the film was not too sensitive to light and manufacturers were trying their best to boost up the sensitivity. These low sensitivity films required long exposure times and huge amount of light. No wonder that the old portraits had all serious looking people. Imagine being made to stand for many minutes in one pose and sometimes under bright uncomfortable lights! With the advancement of film sensitivity rose another requirement. There were times when the overall light entry had to be reduced without increasing the shutter speed or constricting the aperture too much. This is when the dark filters stepped in.

Waterfalls CloseUp

(Waterfalls – Nikon D200 with Nikkor 50mm, 1/4 sec with ND filter)

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Batteries come in all shapes and sizes and work on different principles of chemistry. The common batteries used in cameras and speedlights are AA in size though the smaller version called AAA is also becoming quite popular. I will restrict my discussion on these batteries since this is where we are faced with choices. The odd shaped batteries that come in DSLRs and some other cameras are made as per camera specifications and we really don’t have much choice there. I do not recommend using cheap third party batteries after having invested a huge amount in your camera.

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Flash Modes

One of the first flashes that I owned was a Vivitar 283 flash. It was a manual flash with an ‘Auto-thyristor’. I could set the flash intensity manually or automatically based on aperture and subject distance. I learnt about guide-numbers, filter factors and a lot of interesting stuff while using it. I do miss the good old days.

Now I have speedlights that have complicated menus and functions which I set and forget. Some of them I don’t even use. My favorite speedlight now is Nikon SB600 for reasons of my own. I also have some camera bodies which have built in flash. (I use the words ‘flash’ or ‘speedlight’ to indicate the strobes found in the camera as well as sold separately). In this article I will try to give a basic explanation of various flash modes available on the camera (directly or through the menu) as well as some of the modes or features available on speedlights. I am leaving out the usage guidelines of manual modes since most manual flashes from yesteryear can cause harm to the present-day electronics.

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