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Ace

Alpha300 Tips, Use, Help...?

12 posts in this topic

Hi all,

So, I'm new to the whole SLR camera setup. I read the basics post already for some tips, but I am still learning. Previously I had a cybershot 5 megapixel point and shoot, so I have a lot of learning to do.

The wife and I are heading to Hawaii over Christmas break and we picked up this camera to hopefully take some great pics of our trip. I don't know much about the camera other than the 'auto' setting is pretty handy:-) I have played with it some, and will be taking an intro class from NCE, but I was hoping you veterans out there could give me some tips or lessons learned during your experience. A lot of pics will be landscape, nature, animals, and some of me fishing:-), possibly also some pics from a helicopter, etc.

Any bits of wisdom that you have picked up along the way would be awesome, things to watch out for, techniques to try, etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated!! I know I really need to play around more to feel it out, but time is limited as we leave in 16 days. Also, anything I need to know in terms of care in the climate of Hawaii??

We picked up the 18-70 lens and the 75-300.

Thanks in advance,

--Ace.

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Ace,congratulations on the camera! You are on the right track by reading the basic sticky. I would stick with that for now and try and shoot as much as you can over the next few weeks.

If you want to post some of your work after you take some shots we can help you with suggestions at that time.

Climate care in Hawaii, the biggest thing to watch for will be the salt water. Be careful not to get spray on the camera. I keep a towel in my pocket at all times in a saltwater environment to wipe down the lens and camera. This is one of the few times I use a filter on the front of the lens.

If that gets etched you can throw it away with no damage to your front element.

Have fun and shoot pictures!

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Leave the camera home! I made the same mistake of bringing the camera with about 15 years ago, now everytime it gets cold out the wifey pulls the book out and whines that she wants to go back! Kidding, you did not state what island, but if it is Maui ( or ant other island) when you get off the plane look for a little book called the Island Guide. More discounts then you can imagine like we had $9.99 rental for snorkal gear for the week, then saw a coupon for a $25.00 cattermaran,dive 5hour trip. while on the way back a 60 foot whale cruised right under the cat then surfaced and flew about 20 feet out of the water. I was in such shock that I forgot to take a pic. Best $25.00 spent.

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Thanks for the info guys! The towel tip sounds like a good idea. Do I need to do anything special if I am going from shooting outside all day into a building with AC?

We will be on Oahu for 2 days, Maui for 2 days, and finish out break with 11 days on Kona. Hoping to see some great beaches, maybe some lava, and lots of wildlife/scenery.

Machohorn, I'm already afraid of the 'going back' part...The trip was conditional though, I told her I needed at least one full day of fishing and, believe it or not, I got it:-)

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I typically do the reverse of what we do in the cold. When outside put the camera in your case and bring it in and leave it there for an hour or so. It is just a bit less of a thermal shock to the camera. And it can be a shock!

I try and keep the camera out of direct sun or drape a white towel over it when shooting for long periods in hot sun. I've shot many games in Florida for hours per day in the sun. The towel keeps the camera surprisingly cool. If you have a white lens that really helps.

I've shot when the camera body literally was hot to the touch with no ill-effects so you should really have no problems at all.

When you are on the boat, keep the camera in a case as much as possible, that salt water and spray gets everywhere! Again wipe it down with a towel periodically.

Above all don't be afraid to use the camera! Just some occasional care and the camera will take an awful lot. Enjoy your trip! Make sure you share photos when you get back!

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What I think may be more important to you than working the camera is composition. If you want your shots to look like more than a typical tourist snapshot, take your time to make a good composition. Use the rule of thirds, which basically means, don't put your subject smack in the middle of your frame. I'll share with you the 3 step process that they are teaching me in my photography class. It works.

1.What is the subject of my photograph?

2.How can I focus attention on my subject?

3.Does anything distract from my subject? How can I simplify my photograph.

Think about those and it will help to make better photos.

The other and probably the most important thing is light. Lighting makes or breaks a photo. You'll get your best light in the morning and in the evening. It's hard on vacation to get the best lighting since you are where you are when it works with your schedule and you can't go everywhere in the morning and evening. Don't shoot directly into the sun. Try to get the sun at your back or the sides.

I hope that helps a little.

Good luck and have fun.

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Ace - you've got some great tips here - Since Hawaii is one of my very favorite places to visit and to photograph, I figured I'd add my 2 cents. I'm most familiar with Maui, but generally speaking "wildlife" is pretty scarce except in/on the water - if you can get on a catamaran you might see some pretty neat stuff. Also look for the geckos and birds - small stuff. On Maui, we always recommend the Haaleakala crater sunrise. It's spectacular - obviously it's the lighting, like Mike said. Our other "rule", on any of the islands, is to head to the less populated/tourist areas and the parks. You'll probably get to do that on Kona more since you'll be there longest. While your on Oahu, the monument at Pearl Harbor is a must. It's very touristy and takes some time, but IMO the impact is awesome and every tourist who can should get there once. The beaches are obviously spectacular as well. Geez, just thinking about it makes me want to get back there again soon!!!!

Have a wonderful time - be sure to post at least a few pictures when you get back, I know you'll take plenty and they'll be great memories - and you'll probably want to return as well. Have fun fishing too - cool

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I've been putzing around on line.. looking at all the accessories and lenses and stuff that I really don't need but think I should buy...and came across a 2X teleconverter for the camera. Is this a viable option rather than buying a bigger lens? Does it affect picture quality at all? Just curious, the one site advertises it as the greatest thing ever, but if that were the case, why would you ever buy a new lens? Thanks!!

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Ace, the teleconverter will degrade image quality noticeably, and you'll almost certainly lose autofocus and have to manual focus.

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Thanks Steve. So, if I see a lens kit, say a 250-500mm with a 2X teleconverter included so you get 500-1000mm, one would probably be better off not using the teleconverter? What effect does it have on the picture??

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Ace, what brand of lens/TC package are we talking about? If it's a cheapo, those combos make money for the companies that sell them, but even the lens itself won't have really good image quality, let alone with the TC.

Unless it's a quality lens, the images from just the lens will be a bit blurry, what we call "soft," and with the TC they'll be so soft as to be unusable. Only very few of the very top quality lenses out there offer nice image quality with a top-quality 2X converter strapped on.

Generally, to get a good quality zoom in the 200-500 range you're talking about the Tamron 200-500, which if memory serves is about $800. Sigma also makes zooms out to 500mm, but you're talking around $1,000 for one of those. Both lenses mentioned can be ordered to fit Sony Minolta cameras, so you are in luck there.

With lenses, it takes money to get really nice image quality, and while it's hard to cough up the jing, only with good glass will the ability of the camera sensor to produce stunning images really come through.

If budget does not allow a good zoom to 400 or 500mm, I'd probably stay with the 300 you've got and work hard at woodscraft to get closer to the subjects. Those techniques are good to know in any case.

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Thanks again, Steve. Just cruising the websites and seeing what is out there, and there's a lot. But, like you say, There is a big gap between the lenses I can afford and the ones that are probably worth buying. Other than the necessities, memory cards and such, I won't be buying for awhile...just trying to figure it all out! This site has been awesome for that so far. Thanks again Steve, and everybody!

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