I had been working on a list of some of the more popular listener/reader questions and some answers to share for the podcast this week.  Since it is late getting out (notice the lack of a post at all yesterday), I thought it might be helpful to share an abbreviated list of some of the Q&A here…

1. What color space should I shoot in with my camera, Adobe RGB or sRGB?

A. Neither, shoot in Raw! Since defining a color space is only applicable if you are shooting in jpg rather than raw, if you shoot in raw, color space won’t matter. However, if you absolutely must shoot in jpg (or if you prefer to due to massive amounts of images for easier mass processing), use the widest possible gamut when you start for maximum flexibility. In this case, that means Adobe RGB. If your camera offers the Pro Photo color space, that is even wider so choose that if available. However, the best answer is to shoot in raw, and then specify your color space during post production.

2. What is the difference between full frame sensors and cropped sensors?

A: Full frame are built to mirror the traditional size of 35mm film, so the mirror is 24x36mm

3. What does “Bulb” mode mean on your camera dial?

A: The term “bulb” is a carryover from days of film when flashbulbs would have to be triggered manually after the shutter was opened but before it was closed. The process was to open the shutter, fire the flash, then close the shutter. Since advances in technology now allow us to fire flashes automatically as the shutter is also tripped, we no longer need to manually actuate the shutter in order to allow a flash to fire. However, we still may want to manually control how long the shutter stays open, so that feature persists.

4. What’s the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop?

A: I get this question a lot. At a fundamental level, Photoshop could be considered a pixel-based image editor where you have the ability to alter or edit the actual pixels of the image. Lightroom, on the other hand, is a vector-based editor where the information does not alter or edit the actual pixels. Lightroom would be considered more of a photo management software tool. While the latest developments have incorporated more features of photo editing in addition to the management tools, at its basic level, Lightroom is still a vector-based program, where changes are not made to the actual image, but to how vector based criteria are applied to the image.

5. What’s the difference between metadata and exif data?

A: Not much. When we talk about one set of data in this capacity the two terms are often used interchangeably. However, if you want to get technical, exif data refers to information about the shot such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO settings, camera body, etc. while meta data is more about other information like photographer name, location of photo, image editor used, tags that are applied for searchability, copyright information and other information that can be inserted into the tag fields for images.

6. What is geo-tagging?

A: Geo-tagging refers to adding the geographic location information to your photos, usually as a set of meta data tags. This practice has become more commonplace as GPS (global positioning system) units have come down in price and both hardware and software have seen developments where the information can be applied to images either directly in camera (from a GPs unit that is attached to the camera), or where it can be added afterward via special software programs.

7. What is sync-speed?

A:  Sync speed refers to the fast shutter speed you can set your camera to and not get the typical black bars from the shutter closing before the flash is finished firing. Typically the sync speed is 1/250th of a second, but with the development of high-speed sync, this traditional rule of thumb will likely become rapidly obsolete.

8. What color space should I save to?

A:  Another very common question – and the answer does depend on how you will be outputting your images. Because most web browsers are not color-space aware, they will default to the web norm of sRGB as it has the narrowest color space. So, if your output is to the web, sRGB is your best bet. If you are outputting to a printed version though, Adobe RGB is the best option. More and more though, as printers are able to print to wider gamuts, Pro Photo is becoming more feasible as well. However you plan to output your images though, it’s always best to work in a color-calibrated environment, so make sure you calibrate your monitors and printer profiles for consistency!

9. Which is better, APS-C, CMOS or full-frame sensors?

A:  None of these sensor types are inherently better than any other – but they serve different purposes. The full frame sensor is the digital equivalent of a single frame of 35mm film (although technically it is just a smidge smaller). An APS-C sensor is often referred to as a crop-sensor and generally has a crop factor ratio of either 1.5 or 1.6 depending on the vendor. APS-C stands for Advanced Photo System, type C and is just one of several different ways of building crop factor sensors. Other ways include the CMOS sensor and the CCD sensors (which mean Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor and Charge Coupled Device, respectively). The differences here are more in the manufacturing process, and really are technical considerations that most photographers shouldn’t even worry about. The only difference that 99% of photographers need to concern themselves with is whether they want to shoot full frame (where one substantial benefit is that due to the lack of a crop factor on their lenses, so wide angle lenses are really that wide) or on a cropped sensor (where one benefit is that zooms have an effectively longer zoom). Analyzing past this level is really something beyond the scope of most photography. With the differences explained you can hopefully see that one is not inherently better or worse than another – just that there are pros and cons for each, and those must be weighed against your needs.

If anyone has any questions that are not covered here, feel free to email or comment.  Thanks for all your continued support.  As always, happy shooting and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

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