3 Ways to Get Good Sunset Exposures

July 7, 2007

Tutorial / Techniques
Tutorial / Techniques

3 Ways to Get Good Sunset Exposures

Who doesn’t love to take pictures of sunrises and sunsets? The tricky part is getting the right exposure: The extremes of the dark ground, the bright sun, and the variations in clouds can confound your camera’s automatic metering system. A camera with exposure lock or manual aperture/ shutter control is invaluable. Here’s how to use them:

3 Ways to Get Good Sunset Exposures

3 Ways to Get Good Sunset Exposures

1. Expose for the sky. To record vibrant colors in the clouds and sky, meter only on the sky: Exclude the ground by pointing the camera up, lock in the exposure (or set it manually), then compose your image, and shoot. The clouds will wind up with rich medium tones in the picture, a good choice. Sometimes a sky 1 stop brighter than medium tone is a better choice, achieved by adjusting the exposure manually or by setting the exposure compensation dial to +1.

2. Shut out the sun! If the sun is in the picture, set the exposure just as above, but absolutely keep the sun out of the frame when metering. If you meter with the sun in the frame, that supremely bright bad boy is going to fool your meter into saying “darker, please, darker,” and your photo will be underexposed. This is where a spot- or limited-area meter comes in handy — aim it at a light-to-medium tone in the sky and proceed as above. For the sunrise at Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald, above, I spotmetered the yellow clouds just above the mountains and added 1 stop of exposure.

3. Bracket, bracket, bracket! Bracketing means taking several otherwise identical shots at differing exposures. For sunrises/sunsets, bracket at least 1 stop on either side of your chosen exposure. One of them is bound to be good, and you can often get several different good images.

Picture Doctor: 3 Ways to Get Good Sunset Exposures


An analysis of EOS-1D Mark III autofocus performance

In our April 22, 2007 first look at the Canon EOS-1D Mark III, we described the camera’sautofocus as being blazingly fast at acquiring initial focus. So fast that covering women’s volleyball over several days was pure joy, thanks to an incredibly responsive autofocus system in the preproduction body on loan from Canon. We also found its autofocus to be quicker off the line in dim light than
any camera we’d used before.

Canon EOS-1D Mark III

Canon EOS-1D Mark III

But that wasn’t the end of the autofocus story. We went onto say:

In our April 22, 2007 first look at the Canon EOS-1D Mark III, we described the camera’s autofocus as being blazingly fast at acquiring initial focus. So fast that covering women’s volleyball over several days was pure joy, thanks to an incredibly responsive autofocus system in the preproduction body on loan from Canon. We also found its autofocus to be quicker off the line in dim light than any camera we’d used before.

But that wasn’t the end of the autofocus story. We went on to say:

  • Q. Is the autofocus better in the production EOS-1D Mark III than it was in the preproduction unit?
  • Q. What are the camera’s autofocus problems?
  • Q. You say the camera’s autofocus difficulties occur or are worse “under certain conditions” – what does that mean?
  • Q. You described the EOS-1D Mark III as being incredibly fast at acquiring focus initially, but you also describe the camera’s ability to focus initially as being a problem. Can you explain the contradiction?
  • Q. Doesn’t the EOS-1D Mark III have a feature that allows you to adjust the autofocus so that the camera doesn’t shoot out of focus pictures?
  • Q. How does the EOS-1D Mark III’s autofocus compare to the EOS-1D Mark II N?
  • Q. Will Canon fix the problems? Can Canon fix the problems?
  • Q. Should I return my EOS-1D Mark III or keep it while I wait for Canon to fix the autofocus?
  • Q. I’d like to test my own EOS-1D Mark III. Any suggestions?

Camera Test: Sigma SD14


Imaging: 14.1MP (effective, based on X3 sensor that has three
RGB-sensitive layers of 1760×2640 pixels each). 12 bits/color in RAW
Storage: CF Type I and II, Microdrive. Stores JPEG or RAW.
Burst rate: Up to 6 Hi-quality JPEGs at 3 fps (tested using a SanDisk Extreme III 8GB card and LCD turned off).
AF system: TTL phase difference with 5 selectable AF zones with center cross-type. Sensitive down to EV -1 (at ISO 100, f/1.4).
Shutter speeds: 1/4000 to 30 sec plus B (1/3-EV increments).
Metering: 8-segment evaluative, limited-area, and center-weighted average metering. No true spotmeter. EV 1-20 (at ISO 100).
ISO range: 100-800 (in 1-EV increments) plus ISO 1600 via custom setting.
Flash: Built-in pop-up with S-TTL metering and GN 38 (ISO 100, feet). Flash sync at 1/180 sec. Dedicated hot-shoe.
Viewfinder: Fixed eye-level pentaprism.
LCD: 2.5-in. TFT with 150,000-pixel resolution.
Batteries: Rechargeable BP-21 Li-ion; 500 shots per charge (CIPA rating).
Size/weight: 5.7×4.2×3.2 in.; 1.8 lb with card and battery (body only).
Street price: $1,600, body only.
For info: www.sigmaphoto.com.
Viewfinder Test

Accuracy: 98% (Excellent)
Magnification: 0.90X (Excellent)
Competitive Set

• Canon EOS 30D ($1,120, street, body only): Has tough magnesium-alloy
frame and faster AF system with better motion tracking, and faster (5
fps) burst rate. Produces less shadow noise at ISOs above 400, though
the Sigma’s RAW files show similar resolution and color accuracy.

• Nikon D200 ($1,340, street, body only): Tougher body with water and
dust seals, superior AF system with better tracking, higher burst rates
and NEF RAW + JPEG mode. Has superior noise control and dynamic range,
plus smart Li-ion battery, but doesn’t shoot infrared.

Hands on and In the Lab Test by PopPhoto

Flickr Sigma SD14 Sample Photo



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Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 70-300mm F4.0-5.6

CENTER VALLEY, PA, June 26, 2007 – Olympus, a worldwide leader in lens technology, today announces its new super-telephoto Zuiko Digital ED 70-300mm (f4.0-f5.6) lens with a compact, lightweight design that is ideal for travel – a perfect complement to the two new portable D-SLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras, the EVOLT E-410 and E-510.

Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 70-300mm F4.0-5.6

Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 70-300mm F4.0-5.6

The lens’ impressive 140-600mm equivalent focal length (in 35mm photography) is excellent for capturing beautiful images in situations where getting close to a subject is not practical, such as photographing distant scenes, wildlife, sports and children at play. Additionally, due to its unique optical design and impressive minimum focusing distance, this telephoto lens enables consumers to get up-close (38 inches / 0.96 meters) to subjects when taking macro shots – essential for capturing the intricate detail of a flower or jewelry. The lens will be compatible with all E-System and Four-Thirds system cameras, and it will be available at an attractive price for consumers.

“Today’s active lifestyles demand compact lenses that can be taken to the action,” said John Knaur, senior marketing manager, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “Previously, consumers avoided carrying large, cumbersome lenses, ultimately missing photographs. Consumers can now get close to subjects while carrying a smaller lens that won’t weigh them down.”

Affordably Priced Super-Telephoto for Astounding Reach
When shooting wildlife or sports, the ability to zoom in and bring the action close can make or break the picture. Whether photographing a tiger in the wild or a young softball player at third base, the Zuiko Digital ED 70-300mm lens puts long-range capabilities in the hands of consumers at an affordable price. The lightweight, portable size makes it an ideal lens for travel, and paired with an image stabilized digital SLR like the EVOLT E-510 the photos are sharp and clear at any focal length, even at times when a tripod may not be available.

100 Percent Designed for Digital Lenses
Looking to the future and technology, Olympus lenses are designed to be 100 percent digital, enabling lenses to be seamlessly matched to the image sensor so that light strikes the sensor directly with even coverage for accurate color and sharp photographs edge to edge. Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses each house their own CPU and offer the user the ability to upgrade the firmware as new technology becomes available. The ability to upgrade firmware also establishes optimal communication between the lens and the camera body, enabling better compensation for common distortions such as “shading” (darkening of the edges of an image that may sometimes occur in photographs) or “barrel distortion” (the bowing of vertical lines).

Durable Construction
Designed to meet the needs of the enthusiast photographer, the Zuiko Digital 70-300mm lens uses advanced optical designs and the highest quality optical glass, including 3 ED glass elements, to provide rich color and crisp, clear photographs. All Zuiko lenses are lead-free, utilizing titanium within the optical design. The lightweight comfort and durability of this lens will give the user years of use no matter where in the world they may travel.

US Pricing & Availability
The Zuiko Digital ED 70-300mm Super-telephoto Lens will be available in September 2007. Estimated street price: $399.99


Lens Test: Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm f/2

Shooters committed to the Four Thirds System, take note. Here is Serious Glass. This pro-caliber 70-200mm equivalent zoom ($2,200, street) — the world’s fastest in its focal-length range — packs four elements of ED glass, one element of Super ED glass, and all-metal construction with rubber seals to keep out moisture and dust.

It’s heavy and — ouch! — expensive, but it
promises optical performance that, in many circumstances (low light
with moving subjects, for example), could give a pro a significant
competitive edge.

35-100mm (34.24-93.96mm tested)
f/2 (f/1.99- 2.02 tested)
21 elements in 18 groups.
Focusing turns 460 degrees counterclockwise.
Zoom ring turns 60 degrees clockwise.
Focal lengths marked at 35-, 50-, 75-, and 100mm.
•Diagonal view angle: 34-12 degrees.
•Weight: 4.04 lb.
•Filter size: 77mm.
•Mount: Olympus AF Four Thirds.
•Included: Lenshood, softcase, tripod mount.
•Street price: $2,200.

Flickr Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm f/2 Sample Photo