Category Archives: Technology

electronics, science
Synonyms: applied science, automation, computers, electronic components, hi tech, high tech, industrial science, machinery, mechanics, mechanization, robotics, scientific know-how, scientific knowledge, technical knowledge, telecommunications
Any item that relates to the technological background or techno-speak, techno-standing, techno-meaning of something. Can be interpreted widely.

How to make a digital camera

How to make a digital camera

How to make a digital camera

A lot goes into making a digital camera.

Canon have made this video to explain the key processes and ideas that lie behind camera design and production. The video is Canon focussed, but the concepts apply to any digital camera.

All the key processes are mentioned in the video. It is particularly interesting to see the considerable technology that backs the manufacturing itself. Camera production is very high tech and the degree of precision involved is considerable.

Despte the complexity of the actual technology the video is a simple and easy watch. The ideas are explained in easy steps and the diagrams make it easy to see what is going on. No mad scientists were involved in making this video! Simple clear ideas and demonstrations are used throughout.

I found this a very useful video to watch. I am sure you will find it interesting and eye opening. Enjoy!

Published on 13 Apr 2012

Two great gift ideas for photographers

Christmas Bonanza

Gift Bonanza


Love and friendship is about giving!

The lead up to any major festival is always a bit frenetic. So you can use these ideas to take the pressure off. See what you think. I can recommend these things from my own personal use. I think you will find they will make great gifts.





Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision (Voices That Matter)
David DuChemin is not only a great photographer he is also a visionary. In this book he speaks about his vision and how it relates to his photography. It is much more than a personal journey however.

DuChemin is a talented and sensitive photographer who has a compelling vision passionately expressed in every photograph. His book is aimed at helping the reader to understand what photographic vision is and how it relates to the photograph. He looks carefully at the way each of his images is created and provides some excellent photographic tips and his professional advice too.

The essence of the book is aimed at helping the reader get past the purely technical aspects of photography. His main point is that any photographer can learn to visualise great images and then go on to create them. DuChemin is giving away a gift in this book – how to see your photograph with a passion and create it with a passion and vision of your own.

The book is a pleasure to read and is filled with many of his wonderful images. His emphasis on street and travel photography makes the book all the more colourful. The current interest in street photography also helps make the book a relevant buy.

The book was published in 2009 and it has already become a classic. He has written a number of other books which follow on from this one. All are worth reading. The book provides a great grounding for beginner and expert alike. Great tips, great photographs and wonderful insights make this book the perfect gift for a photographer. Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision (Voices That Matter)

Rogue large Flashbender
I just love this great flash diffuser. If you have an off-camera flash this is the best. It is the most adaptable diffuser I have ever used. You attach it to the flash with a wrap around grip. The big diffuser stands up above the lens of the flash.

The white fabric diffusion surface is used to reflect the light where you want it to go. It is really controllable. The fabric is reinforced with very versatile but highly bendable backbones. These can be bent to give any shape of deflection so you can point your diffused light almost anywhere. It will allow you to point the deflection up, down or to either side. More to the point you can control the light intensity because you can wrap the sides in a bit to control how much light can get out of the gap. You can even roll it up and make it a snoot, a really directional focus for your flash.

While this diffuser is only of use for off-camera flash, it is very simple to use. It is a great way to prevent those nasty highlights that spoil flash shots. It is also a daylight matched colour so the diffused light will not have any colour cast.

I have used this in many different types of portrait and group shots. I have also used it in studio and still life situations. The material is very robust and resistant to damage. The white diffusion surface can be wiped clean and is very durable too. The whole thing is extremely light and I keep it rolled up in my camera bag ready for any time I need it. I would not be without this diffuser now. Another great gift for a photographer. Rogue large Flashbender

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Colour depth and aspect ratio – Simple explanations

Digital cameras have their own screens.

Colour depth and aspect ratio are both important aspects of the final image. The camera screen is not the best place to assess the impact of your shot. Your shot is only a basic representation on the camera screen. You have to judge what a picture looks like before you shoot it. Is it going to be the same after the shot? No, it is a facsimile of the final shot.

The screen on your camera is an indication of what the image will look like. The actual image will probably be processed in an image editor, colour enhanced and possibly cropped. What you see on the camera screen is therefore a basic concept. It’s not an accurate representation. You can find out more about the general issue of screens in… “Of video graphics and cameras”.

Here is a little background to help you understand the idea of colour depth and aspect ratio.

Colour depth

This is the levels of colour that are found in a graphics display. Not just how many possible variations of Red, Green, Blue, (RGB) but also the full range of derivative colours and the tonal variations and brightnesses available. Colour depth involves a huge number of colours – potentially more than sixteen million colours. Not all of these are always represented on the screen on your camera. You should view the camera screen as a less than complete colour range. In addition the image on the screen is compressed to get the picture into a small space. This reduces what can be shown and how detailed it is. So the camera reduces colour and sometimes details. So be wary of what you seen on the screen. Read more about colour depth.

Aspect Ratio

Throughout the history of film, television, graphics and images through the last century aspect ratio has been of importance. The term is used to describe the shape of the screen. Historically a large number of formats for screen shape have been established. Aspect ratio is the subject of a full article in the Photokonnexion Photographic Glossary. The final shape of your picture is related to the aspect ratio of your sensor. Normally that aspect ratio is the same as the screen. However, when looking at your picture in the screen it is worth thinking about your final crop. The crop shape can significantly affect the impact of the shot. So do not rely on the aspect ratio you have been given. When using the screen think about your overall composition in the completed image.

Of video graphics and cameras

The history of video graphics.

While computers were developing the monitors were also undergoing considerable development. The significance of these improvements had an impact on the development of digital cameras. The modern LED display of the camera owes little to the original cathode Ray Tubes of the first monitors. However, the resolution of the displays and the aspect ratio was important.

Early Video Resolution

Prior to the 1970s most computer displays resembled big typewriters. They were noisy, mechanical units with wide paper (128 or 256 spaces across). Early video displays were pretty poor too. They were only able to display characters and visually limited graphical blocks. After the introduction of colour television in the 1970s computer screens did not improve much until after the invention of the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. Computers up until that time had little or no graphical display capability. However, Apple and Microsoft were racing one another to improve graphics systems. By the late 1980s computer graphics had come of age. The video graphic systems needed to improve to meet the new standards of computer displays being sought out for the new consumer market in personal computers.

In 1987, International Business Machines (IBM) released – VGA – the Video Graphics Array standard. This standard was quickly found to be insufficient and in 1990 IBM released the XGA – Extended Graphics Array standard.

Throughout the 1990’s the improvements in video standard moved rapidly. The release of flat panel displays and especially the LCD screens had a significant impact on digital camera technology.

LCD displays

Through the 1990s the video standards evolved. However, the developments of plasma screens and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens (flat screens) had begun. By the year 2000 Plasma flat screens had largely been used for large television displays, mostly those in excess of the 30inch standard. The more flexible format, the LCD screen, had been gaining ground in a variety of sizes. The first LCD displays for cameras went to market in the late 1990s. These began to have a significant impact on consumer interest in the camera market after the year 2000. LCD Displays are used today on nearly all DSLRs and most other consumer cameras.

Video Graphics after the year 2000

Following the growing use of flat panel displays in computing, and its adoption by camera manufacturers the video graphics standards continued to develop. After the year 2000 camera manufacturers have continued to try to get greater numbers of crystals (pixels) into the small screen on the back of the camera. Of course the graphics standards have also been developing. Most of the improvements had been based on the XGA Video standard.

In the last decade the video graphics situation became much more complex. High Definition systems (HD) have become important in all aspects of media, broadcasting and technology. The aspect ratio (see below), the number of pixels in the screen, the colour depth and the contrast capability of modern screens have all improved to a considerable degree. The extent to which these properties relate to different media has become differentiated. Video, digital camera image sensors, televisions, printing, and other display technologies have all evolved standards that are applicable to their specific requirements. HD has come to mean a high resolution (exceeding 1920 x 1080 pixels), ‘deep colour’ (billions of colour possibilities), high contrast, high refresh rate screen technology. The situation is confused by a large number of different national requirements globally. As a result the various graphics media standards have tended to be established more by manufacturer than by international standards and also by the broadcast standards accepted worldwide. Manufacturers have therefore tended to concentrate on making their equipment compatible with a wide range of common aspect ratios and compatible with local national broadcast standards.

The real meaning of HD for camera owners therefore relies on the specification of the equipment rather than an established standard. Equipment like monitors and screens on cameras are therefore best researched by comparison of specifications between models.

Three simple tips to help you buy camera equipment

Three components you should consider above all others...

Three components you should consider above all others… the camera body, the lens and you!

When buying new equipment your money is on the line.

And, camera equipment is expensive. To make the best purchase you need to consider three essential things above all else. These are the fundamentals of buying the best kit you can afford.

Seeing is believing…

The camera is NOT the most important purchase. Your lenses are the most important. A camera records light. If the lens is perfect the camera will record it. If the lens suffers from chromatic aberration, optical distortion, internal reflection, inaccurate element alignment or any one of many other defects your record will be affected. The lens is the critical component. The lens forms your picture. Buy a bad lens you will get a bad picture. The camera comes second.

Don’t purchase your equipment mainly around your camera. Think first of what you want to achieve, then consider what lens you need to achieve it. Next, work out what camera you should buy to record the pictures created by that lens. Future additional lenses you buy should be of at least the quality established by your original lens purchase. Lesser lenses would compromise your standards. The lens governs the integrity of your system.

Buy your camera for what you need

Don’t buy a camera body to impress others. Buy a camera body to meet the quality needs of your lens. A body that exceeds the quality of your lens is wasted money unless you know you will be able to afford to trade up your lenses later. You will probably spend more money on lenses than camera bodies for your hobby. So, buy the best possible lens you can afford. Then, with the rest of the money, buy your body to meet the quality standard established by your lens. Don’t buy the camera and get a cheap lens with the rest of the money! Look to the future.

Make sure your camera body is what you need. Modern cameras are pretty sophisticated. They have the ability to out perform the inexperienced user by a long distance. So if you are inexperienced at buying/using a camera, make sure you get the camera you need. If you are buying a camera that has everything then you may not be able to carry it. So consider size weight, functions and image quality – but most important consider what you want to do with it.

There is little point buying a Top-Of-The-Range professional camera, for holiday snaps once a year. There is little point buying a point-and-shoot camera if you want to do high quality macro work. Spend time listing what you are interested in and then look for the camera body to meet that need and match the quality of your lens.

Give yourself time

People often rush into buying a camera. A committed and experienced owner will probably have a pretty good idea from discussions with other photographers and some reading about their needs and aspirations. They will have spent months thinking about it and considering the options. Inexperienced user/buyers don’t have that background. Consider joining a club and talking with members for a while first. Get a range of opinions and try to understand the issues that make the purchase correct for you before buying.

Don’t just walk into a camera shop and hope you will get good advice. You will probably get great advice relating to the person serving you. A sales assistant will think hard about two things… her commission and what she would do in your place. Both those are not about your photography. Spend time looking carefully at your requirements before passing over hard-earned cash. Your judgement will be about your photography.

Take time, learn a few lessons and understand photography before making a big purchase. It has been said many, many times that you can make great photographs on quite cheap equipment. Great photographs are not created on expensive, feature-rich equipment unless you are able to use that equipment properly and have lenses that match its quality.

Photographer alert: beware the pop-up flash scam

Look out for direct and harsh light.

There is no doubt that one of the villains of photography is the pop-up flash. Your manufacturer has supplied it with scant regard for the outcome of your photographs. You can do something about it.

It is true that most consumer cameras are fitted with a pop-up flash or similar like a flash panels on the face of the camera. The pop-up flash unit is a Light source of very Hard Light. These on-board units are very small sources of light. The direct and harsh outcome causes sharp edged shadows, washed out colours and washed out skin tones. The result makes your subjects look like they could do with a good nights sleep.

In the video Mike Brown explains why the pop-up flash is a pretty poor way to use flash. He uses an excellent and graphic way to explain how the harsh light affects the shot. I really liked the explanation. More after the video…
Uploaded by photoexposed to YouTube on Sep 23, 2010

The idea of mastering the light in pop-up flash is not a difficult one. Understanding the difference between the harsh ‘hard light’ and diffused ‘soft light‘ takes a bit of experience. However, it is really worth working on it. The results are lovely soft shadows and pleasant diffused light.

Getting away from the pop-up flash

One additional consideration that was not mentioned in the video is that the off-camera unit Mike Brown mentions is also usable off-camera. You can use extension cords, or radio transceivers to put an off-camera flash some distance from the camera. Then you can use it as a remote light.

Mike also suggested that you need to have a dedicated brand flash unit for your camera. These are very expensive. In fact you can use flash units that are unbranded. They do everything that the branded units do. They are also up to ten times cheaper!

I use a number of studio lights to work in a variety of ways. However, there are none more flexible than off-camera flash units. That’s especially true where they are linked by radio. Here are some un-branded units for you to consider. You can also buy branded units if that appeals to you as well.

In “Off-camera flash” I explain the issues more fully. I have included a look at the way branded flash units have a lot of redundant features and point out how you can connect an off-camera flash to your camera for remote work.

Nikon ‘Speedlight’ flash units, or the Canon ‘Speedlite’ (EOS flash system) range act as an independent flash for use on the camera hotshoe or as a master to trigger other speedlights off-camera. To do the latter you need one flash on the camera hotshoe and another elsewhere off camera.

Nikon Speedlights… Nikon Speedlights  Nikon Speedlights - better than pop-up flash | External link - opens new tab/pageExternal link - opens new tab/page.

Canon Speedlites… Canon Speedlites  Canon Speedlites - better than pop-up flash | External link - opens new tab/pageExternal link - opens new tab/page

Flash sync cables External link - opens new tab/page are a simple method to connect to the camera. Use a short connecting cable for a flash bracket, a five meter cable is flexible for other use.

Flash radio triggers External link - opens new tab/page are available for off-camera flash. Radio increases the distance you can work with flash, gives more control and reduces trip hazards. Radio can control more than one flash too. They may have a variety of features depending on the model and price.

If you would like more information or have questions, please leave a comment below or you can mail me from the Contact Us page on this site.

How do you make a camera lens?

A lens is a high-tech piece of equipment

We don’t see what goes into their production and we also see straight through them. So it is easy to see why lenses are not appreciated as high-tech components. So when I saw these three videos I was suddenly intrigued. They are produced by Canon to show what goes into making lenses. Considering how much work and manufacturing technology is involved we should not be surprised by the cost.

The first video in the series especially fascinated me. I had no idea that creating the glass in lenses was such an involved process. It is not just glass, it is high-quality, high-technology, high production work all in one.

More after the jump…

The grinding of the lenses is also a very precise and time-intensive process. The coatings applied to lenses are high-tech processes too.

In the final video we see how a lens is actually constructed. There is a lot of very detailed and skilled work done by hand. The use use of a whole range of special tools and adhesives makes it inadvisable to take lenes apart!

A personal recommendation…
This little lens cloth is a very handy item. It hangs on any ring or strap right next to your camera. It’s completely out of the way until you need it and then it is right on hand. It is a quality cloth and because if is always near at hand reminds you to keep your lenses clean. Clean lenses have a longer life and your images will be free of dirt smudges.
Lenses are expensive. Protect them for the long-run. Buy now while you remember!