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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EOS Digital Cameras 
Thread started 07 Jan 2011 (Friday) 15:33
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Canon 40D recommendations (trying to get best picture quality)

 
jaguirrepaw20
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Jan 07, 2011 15:33 |  #1

Hello, I am new to photography but have gotten alot of practice with my canon 40d. I had some questions regarding how to get the best picture quality out of my 40d and what type of lenses would you recommend without breakin the bank. I have been shooting alot of portraits and senior photos as practice. The shots are coming out pretty nice, but I heard around that I could get better results from a nicer lens.


Canon 40d
Canon 430 EX II Speedlite
Canon Ef 29-135 mm

  
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robertwsimpson
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Jan 07, 2011 15:43 as a reply to  @ post 11593993 |  #2

learn how to expose to the right. it's the cheapest thing you can do, and it will make a world of difference.




  
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windpig
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Jan 07, 2011 15:51 |  #3

Post a picture.


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drigo
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Jan 07, 2011 16:23 |  #4

robertwsimpson wrote in post #11593999 (external link)
learn how to expose to the right. it's the cheapest thing you can do, and it will make a world of difference.

quick question...when people say expose to the right...how much?


7D/10-22/70-200L f/2.8/ 50 f/1.8 / Rokinon 8mm fisheye /  / 6D Mark II / 16-35L f/2.8 II

  
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jaguirrepaw20
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Jan 07, 2011 20:55 |  #5

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/png'


Uploaded with ImageShack.us (external link)

Canon 40d
Canon 430 EX II Speedlite
Canon Ef 29-135 mm

  
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HeaTransfer
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Jan 07, 2011 20:57 |  #6

Er.

Please resize that image (max 1024 pixels on the longest side). Once you do that it'll be easier to check out your photo.




  
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picturecrazy
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Jan 07, 2011 22:42 |  #7

the 40D is capable of so much. More than most here are capable of using to it's full extent. Start with improving your technique. Read, learn, practice, get critique, learn more, practice more. You can make unbelivable imagery with your current setup.


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apersson850
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Jan 08, 2011 07:09 as a reply to  @ picturecrazy's post |  #8

It's an established fact that to get the best out of the 40D, you have to shoot RAW and do the conversion to jpeg in your computer, for example with Digital Photo Professional. Or some other software, but DPP is for free, with the camera. The camera's internal jpeg conversion is inferior.

Exactly how to do that post-processing does of course depend on how you want your pictures to look.

By exposing to the right is meant that you expose as bright as possible, without clipping higlights. So your histogram will have data all the way to the right, but you don't see flashing highlight alerts in the picture. Or at least very little of them.


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windpig
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Jan 08, 2011 08:21 |  #9

apersson850 wrote in post #11597501 (external link)
It's an established fact that to get the best out of the 40D, you have to shoot RAW and do the conversion to jpeg in your computer, for example with Digital Photo Professional. Or some other software, but DPP is for free, with the camera. The camera's internal jpeg conversion is inferior.

Exactly how to do that post-processing does of course depend on how you want your pictures to look.

By exposing to the right is meant that you expose as bright as possible, without clipping higlights. So your histogram will have data all the way to the right, but you don't see flashing highlight alerts in the picture. Or at least very little of them.

To add to this, set your picture style to neutral and be sure your histogram is set to RGB. Neutral will provide a pretty close view of what the sensor has captured. Portrait and landscape will skew the colors towards red and/or another channel, the histogram will then not represent your RAW capture. RGB histogram allows you to be sure none of the channels are clipping (moved to far to the right).

Some may call it obsessive, but once you get into a routine it's not that difficult and you will benefit when shooting at higher ISO's, you will have less noise, especially in the shadows.


Would you like to buy a vowel?
Go ahead, spin the wheel.
flickr (external link)
I'm accross the canal just south of Ballard, the town Seattle usurped in 1907.

  
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David ­ Ransley
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Jan 08, 2011 09:27 |  #10

I use DPP 3.9.3.0 and it obviously recognises the Canon Styles. I find that neutral works well and the new unsharp mask feature is great. In other words, RAW is the way to go. Beware of under exposure. One last feature I use a lot is the ability to adjust the highlights and shadow detail seperately in DPP.

I find myself using Manual on the 40D to prevent the exposure changing the whole time. It works well in tricky situations as long as the amount of light stays about the same - manual provides a consistent exposure - panning across a light source doesn't change the camera's mind. Also easy to adjust up or down in the 40D when you look through the view finder.

I use the pop-up flash only when required. It has the ability to destroy a shot very easily. In some cases it works well for fill-in - manually reduce the output values.


DRH

  
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amfoto1
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Jan 08, 2011 10:01 |  #11

Hi and welcome to POTN,

First of all, try not to get caught up in the endless cycle of buyng new equipment in hopes of improving your photography, without any clear idea what you need. That's an continuous loop and can get really frustrating.

In time you will probably want to add a specific lens or two, or make other equipment changes or additions to better meet your needs... However right now you probably can't really say what those needs are, what you really feel is lacking in the camera and lens you already have in hand. Both the 40D and the 28-135 lens you have should serve you quite well. (If you want to see a working professional's use of that lens, check out www.joefarace.com (external link) and/or see his articles in Shutterbug magazine.)

Every lens and camera has strengths and weaknesses. Skilled and experienced photographers simply learn how to get the very best out of their equipment, whatever they may have to work with. The wise photographer doesn't go looking for an upgrade without a very clear idea of what they need and why they need it. If you can't say what's lacking in your work, you can't really address the "need" and just have a case of "upgrade-itis". Be careful of forums and blogs like this one, where people will be happy to tell you what they just bought and encourage you to buy more stuff, too, whether you really need to or not. We're always happy to help you spend your money! ;)

Instead practice your skills, read books about photography, join a local photo club, go out shooting on your own, take a class. Gradually you will gain knowledge and skill and will have a better idea if the equipment you have is meeting your needs or not.

One book I'd highly recommend to start with is "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. Get it and read it thoroughly. It's a good read and provides useful information and tips for photographers at any level. I'd also suggest getting the Magic Lantern or similar guide book specific to 40D. These books pick up where the camera manual leaves off and can really help you get a good grasp on the controls and functions of your particular camera.

You specifically mention portraiture. There are many types of portraits and different tools for the purpose. In particular you mention Senior Portraits. Usually those are shot in a highly controlled studio situation. Perhaps a portable location studio, but still with highly controlled lighting, background and poses.

But there are many other types of portraits, such as available light, candid, environmental/journali​stic, formal, wedding, pets, children, maternity, newborns, etc., etc. The equipment used in each case can vary to some degree. Again, there are very likely books you can buy and read that discuss the specific types of portraiture you like or want to do.

For example, besides the obvious additional lighting and background equipment you are likely to need for posed portraits, your camera and lens needs might be different, too. Because you have relatively powerful studio lighting and control over the background, you typically don't need so fast a lens for this type of portraiture (a "fast lens" has a larger aperture, for more blurred background). And since you are not trying to get candid shots, you don't need to worry about the subject noticing and responding to the camera... in fact that might be desirable.

In contrast, a candid portrait shooter, working by available light or perhaps by available lighwill not have control over the background, so might want a large aperture lens to reduce that background to a blur. The photographer might want to go unnoticed and not interrupt or intrude upon the subject, so may want smaller, more unobtrusive and quieter camera equipment.

An example that somewhere in between, at least part of the time might be a wedding photographer. Some of their shots might be more posed, but on location, possibly with more limited portable flash (on-camera) used as fill. They'll likely have to use the location they find as the background, even for more formal posed shots, so often might want to be able to reduce background detail to help the subject stand out. That calls for large aperture lenses, too.

Candid portrait shooters might want to work with smaller cameras and lenses, in order to be less intrusive. A big old zoom lens can be intimidating or distracting to the subject, making it hard to get the shot you want. In this case, smaller prime lenses (not zooms) might be the ticket. On your 40D, with it's sensor size, a 50/1.8 (cheap but capable), 50/1.4 (a little more capable/durable, but more expensive) or 50/1.2 (pricey, bigger, heavier, most durable, capable but slower focusing) is a short telephoto that falls within the "traditional" portraiture focal lengths. An 85/1.8, 85/1.4 or 85/1.2 is at the other end of the "traditional" portrait focal lengths. This is not to say you can't use lenses outside this range... you can. The traditional focal lengths just offer the least distortion or exaggeration of facial features, for portraiture. You might want a wider lens - say 24 or 28mm - for full length portraits, or small groups... but have to be careful not to use it too close or to position subjects too close to the edge, if you want to avoid distortions. You also can use a longer lens - 135 to 200mm - to stand further from your subject and be less intrusive. You do need more working space, of course, and there will be some more subtle distortions (flattening of features). This is a "look" sometimes used in fashion photography.

You show an example of a pet portrait, which is yet another type. With small children and pets, personally I'd be more inclined to use zoom lenses to keep up with their frequent and erratic movements. You already have a zoom lens with a good, useful range of focal lengths for this purpose. If you are photographing them in a studio, your lens will likely suffice very well. If you often work outdoors in parks or at pet shows, you might want a longer telephoto lens to capture them in action from a greater distance. Perhaps one of the "best" lenses for that sort of thing is a 70-200/2.8, although it's big and heavy. A 70-200/4 is a a smaller alternative, but with it's smaller max aperture you will be more limited how much you can blur out the background. In both cases, since you are likely shooting handheld with these longer telephotos I also recommend Image Stabilization. For now, though, your 28-135 should suffice... just work at getting a little closer to your subjects.

So think more about the specific type of portraiture you like to shoot, and other types you would like to shoot. You can likely do very well with what you have now, so don't be too quick to add equipment.

Most digital photographers would do well, too, to learn post production skills and practices. A color calibrated, graphics quality computer monitor is an important tool to be able to produce consistent, high quality results. When shooting volume work such as senior portraits you might need some specialized practices and certain softwares. Get and read "The DAM Book - Digital Asset Management for Photographers". You don't need to copy everything the author does (I don't convert all my images to DNG, I don't use Macs, I use different softwares, and I name my files differently), but it gives you a good idea of what is needed.

If you haven't already done so, start to learn imaging softwares. I use Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS 5, and Canon DPP mostly. However, someone new to these softwares might want to start out with Adobe Elements. There are numerous books about each of these that can help you get started and up to speed quickly. Photoshop is the "big Daddy" of imaging softwares, way complex and might require the equivalent of a 4 year college degree to learn it all. However most of us never use it all, we just learn and use the portions of the program that we really need. Elements actually is a good starting point, sort of a scaled down version that combines some features from both PS and LR, a lot easier when starting out... and possibly fully adequate for whatever you will ever want to do.

One other things.... If you are shooting for pay - you mention senior portraits - you also need to think in terms of careful archiving of your images with proper backup. And you might want to have backup camera equipment, too, so that if something fails you aren't out of business and leaving your customers hanging.

And there are many little things you can do, to get more out of what you've already got. For example, if you don't have a lens hood, get one and use it. Do you have an inexpensive filter on your lens "for protection"? Remove it. It can mess up image quality and even effect focus accuracy. Use only good quality, multi coated filters. No "protection" filter at all is another option. They really don't serve much purpose.

But there are useful filters too... For some types of portraits a softening filter might be good. I use a couple black mesh and black "splatter" filters. These reduce fine detail, such as skin imperfections, and because they are black do not add any tint or halos or ghosting to the image. However, sometimes it's best to use these with a larger aperture lens, set to a fairly big f-stop, so the filter is never seen. You might be able to get similar effects with software, during post production. Another very purposeful filter is a circular polarizer. These reduce reflections and in portraiture can be useful if your subject wears eyeglasses or if they have a shiny skin type. Darker complexions often show more shine and reflections. A circular polarizer does "cost" one f-stop of light or slightly more, so you have to weigh this against the benefits. And, again, get a good quality, multi-coated one so that it does it's job well, with little effect on image quality and doesn't add an unwanted tint. (Personally I mostly use B+W Kaesemann, but some Hoya, Heliopan, B+W MRC and others are also very good.) You would need 72mm filters for your particular lens.

If you don't already have one, you might want to get a vertical grip for your camera... a BG-E2N. This allows for an additional battery and twice as long shooting time, but for portraiture in particular it has another possibly more important benefit with its secondary, vertical controls. Often portraits are shot with the camera in the vertical orientation. This accessory simply gives you another grip and more controls that make that easier for long periods of shooting.


Alan Myers (external link) "Walk softly and carry a big lens."
5DII, 7DII(x2), 7D(x2) & other cameras. 10-22mm, Tokina 12-24/4, 20/2.8, TS 24/3.5L, 24-70/2.8L, 28/1.8, 28-135 IS (x2), TS 45/2.8, 50/1.4, Tamron 60/2.0, 70-200/4L IS, 70-200/2.8 IS, 85/1.8, Tamron 90/2.5 Macro, 100/2.8 USM, 100-400L II, 135/2L, 180/3.5L, 300/4L IS (x2), 300/2.8L IS, 500/4L IS, EF 1.4X II, EF 2X II. Flashes, studio strobes & various access. - FLICKR (external link) - ZENFOLIO (external link)

  
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jaguirrepaw20
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Jan 08, 2011 15:30 |  #12

amfoto1 wrote in post #11598164 (external link)
Hi and welcome to POTN,

First of all, try not to get caught up in the endless cycle of buyng new equipment in hopes of improving your photography, without any clear idea what you need. That's an continuous loop and can get really frustrating.

In time you will probably want to add a specific lens or two, or make other equipment changes or additions to better meet your needs... However right now you probably can't really say what those needs are, what you really feel is lacking in the camera and lens you already have in hand. Both the 40D and the 28-135 lens you have should serve you quite well. (If you want to see a working professional's use of that lens, check out www.joefarace.com (external link) and/or see his articles in Shutterbug magazine.)

Every lens and camera has strengths and weaknesses. Skilled and experienced photographers simply learn how to get the very best out of their equipment, whatever they may have to work with. The wise photographer doesn't go looking for an upgrade without a very clear idea of what they need and why they need it. If you can't say what's lacking in your work, you can't really address the "need" and just have a case of "upgrade-itis". Be careful of forums and blogs like this one, where people will be happy to tell you what they just bought and encourage you to buy more stuff, too, whether you really need to or not. We're always happy to help you spend your money! ;)

Instead practice your skills, read books about photography, join a local photo club, go out shooting on your own, take a class. Gradually you will gain knowledge and skill and will have a better idea if the equipment you have is meeting your needs or not.

One book I'd highly recommend to start with is "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. Get it and read it thoroughly. It's a good read and provides useful information and tips for photographers at any level. I'd also suggest getting the Magic Lantern or similar guide book specific to 40D. These books pick up where the camera manual leaves off and can really help you get a good grasp on the controls and functions of your particular camera.

You specifically mention portraiture. There are many types of portraits and different tools for the purpose. In particular you mention Senior Portraits. Usually those are shot in a highly controlled studio situation. Perhaps a portable location studio, but still with highly controlled lighting, background and poses.

But there are many other types of portraits, such as available light, candid, environmental/journali​stic, formal, wedding, pets, children, maternity, newborns, etc., etc. The equipment used in each case can vary to some degree. Again, there are very likely books you can buy and read that discuss the specific types of portraiture you like or want to do.

For example, besides the obvious additional lighting and background equipment you are likely to need for posed portraits, your camera and lens needs might be different, too. Because you have relatively powerful studio lighting and control over the background, you typically don't need so fast a lens for this type of portraiture (a "fast lens" has a larger aperture, for more blurred background). And since you are not trying to get candid shots, you don't need to worry about the subject noticing and responding to the camera... in fact that might be desirable.

In contrast, a candid portrait shooter, working by available light or perhaps by available lighwill not have control over the background, so might want a large aperture lens to reduce that background to a blur. The photographer might want to go unnoticed and not interrupt or intrude upon the subject, so may want smaller, more unobtrusive and quieter camera equipment.

An example that somewhere in between, at least part of the time might be a wedding photographer. Some of their shots might be more posed, but on location, possibly with more limited portable flash (on-camera) used as fill. They'll likely have to use the location they find as the background, even for more formal posed shots, so often might want to be able to reduce background detail to help the subject stand out. That calls for large aperture lenses, too.

Candid portrait shooters might want to work with smaller cameras and lenses, in order to be less intrusive. A big old zoom lens can be intimidating or distracting to the subject, making it hard to get the shot you want. In this case, smaller prime lenses (not zooms) might be the ticket. On your 40D, with it's sensor size, a 50/1.8 (cheap but capable), 50/1.4 (a little more capable/durable, but more expensive) or 50/1.2 (pricey, bigger, heavier, most durable, capable but slower focusing) is a short telephoto that falls within the "traditional" portraiture focal lengths. An 85/1.8, 85/1.4 or 85/1.2 is at the other end of the "traditional" portrait focal lengths. This is not to say you can't use lenses outside this range... you can. The traditional focal lengths just offer the least distortion or exaggeration of facial features, for portraiture. You might want a wider lens - say 24 or 28mm - for full length portraits, or small groups... but have to be careful not to use it too close or to position subjects too close to the edge, if you want to avoid distortions. You also can use a longer lens - 135 to 200mm - to stand further from your subject and be less intrusive. You do need more working space, of course, and there will be some more subtle distortions (flattening of features). This is a "look" sometimes used in fashion photography.

You show an example of a pet portrait, which is yet another type. With small children and pets, personally I'd be more inclined to use zoom lenses to keep up with their frequent and erratic movements. You already have a zoom lens with a good, useful range of focal lengths for this purpose. If you are photographing them in a studio, your lens will likely suffice very well. If you often work outdoors in parks or at pet shows, you might want a longer telephoto lens to capture them in action from a greater distance. Perhaps one of the "best" lenses for that sort of thing is a 70-200/2.8, although it's big and heavy. A 70-200/4 is a a smaller alternative, but with it's smaller max aperture you will be more limited how much you can blur out the background. In both cases, since you are likely shooting handheld with these longer telephotos I also recommend Image Stabilization. For now, though, your 28-135 should suffice... just work at getting a little closer to your subjects.

So think more about the specific type of portraiture you like to shoot, and other types you would like to shoot. You can likely do very well with what you have now, so don't be too quick to add equipment.

Most digital photographers would do well, too, to learn post production skills and practices. A color calibrated, graphics quality computer monitor is an important tool to be able to produce consistent, high quality results. When shooting volume work such as senior portraits you might need some specialized practices and certain softwares. Get and read "The DAM Book - Digital Asset Management for Photographers". You don't need to copy everything the author does (I don't convert all my images to DNG, I don't use Macs, I use different softwares, and I name my files differently), but it gives you a good idea of what is needed.

If you haven't already done so, start to learn imaging softwares. I use Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS 5, and Canon DPP mostly. However, someone new to these softwares might want to start out with Adobe Elements. There are numerous books about each of these that can help you get started and up to speed quickly. Photoshop is the "big Daddy" of imaging softwares, way complex and might require the equivalent of a 4 year college degree to learn it all. However most of us never use it all, we just learn and use the portions of the program that we really need. Elements actually is a good starting point, sort of a scaled down version that combines some features from both PS and LR, a lot easier when starting out... and possibly fully adequate for whatever you will ever want to do.

One other things.... If you are shooting for pay - you mention senior portraits - you also need to think in terms of careful archiving of your images with proper backup. And you might want to have backup camera equipment, too, so that if something fails you aren't out of business and leaving your customers hanging.

And there are many little things you can do, to get more out of what you've already got. For example, if you don't have a lens hood, get one and use it. Do you have an inexpensive filter on your lens "for protection"? Remove it. It can mess up image quality and even effect focus accuracy. Use only good quality, multi coated filters. No "protection" filter at all is another option. They really don't serve much purpose.

But there are useful filters too... For some types of portraits a softening filter might be good. I use a couple black mesh and black "splatter" filters. These reduce fine detail, such as skin imperfections, and because they are black do not add any tint or halos or ghosting to the image. However, sometimes it's best to use these with a larger aperture lens, set to a fairly big f-stop, so the filter is never seen. You might be able to get similar effects with software, during post production. Another very purposeful filter is a circular polarizer. These reduce reflections and in portraiture can be useful if your subject wears eyeglasses or if they have a shiny skin type. Darker complexions often show more shine and reflections. A circular polarizer does "cost" one f-stop of light or slightly more, so you have to weigh this against the benefits. And, again, get a good quality, multi-coated one so that it does it's job well, with little effect on image quality and doesn't add an unwanted tint. (Personally I mostly use B+W Kaesemann, but some Hoya, Heliopan, B+W MRC and others are also very good.) You would need 72mm filters for your particular lens.

If you don't already have one, you might want to get a vertical grip for your camera... a BG-E2N. This allows for an additional battery and twice as long shooting time, but for portraiture in particular it has another possibly more important benefit with its secondary, vertical controls. Often portraits are shot with the camera in the vertical orientation. This accessory simply gives you another grip and more controls that make that easier for long periods of shooting.

Thank you so much for all this info! All this information really helped in realizing it is not all about expensive equipment and more about mastering the equipment I have and getting quality images from it. I will continue to practice with my 40d and current lens, thanks for the encouragement!!!!!


Canon 40d
Canon 430 EX II Speedlite
Canon Ef 29-135 mm

  
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windpig
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Jan 08, 2011 15:44 |  #13

The 40D rocks!


Would you like to buy a vowel?
Go ahead, spin the wheel.
flickr (external link)
I'm accross the canal just south of Ballard, the town Seattle usurped in 1907.

  
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canonistul
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Jan 08, 2011 16:09 |  #14

i work with 40d ,it s a great camera!!! shoot in raw !!!and you;ll be happy!!!


http://500px.com/canon​istul (external link) Canon 60d; Canon 40d;Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM:Tamron17-50mm f2.8;50mm f1.8II;70-200mm f2.8 L;canon 580exII .

  
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focus.pocus
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Jan 08, 2011 16:13 |  #15

picturecrazy wrote in post #11596166 (external link)
the 40D is capable of so much. More than most here are capable of using to it's full extent. Start with improving your technique. Read, learn, practice, get critique, learn more, practice more. You can make unbelivable imagery with your current setup.

that was very presumptuous of you... maybe you should just say SOME and not MOST on here... thanks


I know, right? I'm just sayin'...

  
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Photography-on-the.net Digital Photography Forums is the website for photographers and all who love great photos, camera and post processing techniques, gear talk, discussion and sharing. Professionals, hobbyists, newbies and those who don't even own a camera -- all are welcome regardless of skill, favourite brand, gear, gender or age. Registering and usage is free.