Editor’s note: The checklist presented in this post is also available as a text file for you to print out and carry along for reference. This post was first published here.
Almost all of the camera equipment I have ever owned was purchased used. While this isn’t something to be proud of, I do like to think I know a thing or two about cameras and lenses. I have run into the occasional problems with lenses, but I made sure I had the option to return them if they had issues. I have also purchased a few lenses and cameras from people on Craigslist as well and as long as you know what you’re getting and tried it out when you made the purchase, you should be covered. There are a few things that I always check and I’m putting them up here in the hope that you might find some of it useful.
If you’re looking to set up a portfolio website for your photography, New York-based photographer Dalton Rooney has
a nice WordPress template [Update: no longer available] you can download and install. We’re of the opinion that portfolios shouldn’t be flash-based, and this minimalistic design highlights your work in a simple and easy to use way. Of course, you can always use the template as a base and customize it to your liking.
Oh, and did we mention it’s completely free?
Cambridge in Colour is a great photography resource on the web for beginners and advanced photographers alike.
This site has a large number of visual and interactive digital photography tutorials that can help you fill in gaps in your knowledge of digital photography. Articles range from things as basic as “Understanding Depth of Field” to subjects as advanced as “Understanding Diffraction: Pixel Size, Aperture and Airy Disks“. If you’ve never visited this resource, it’s definitely worth a look.
Here’s a useful resource I found a while back that many of you might find helpful. SLRGear.com is a website that conducts comprehensive tests on camera lenses, and publishes them in the form of diagrams and illustrations.
One of the features my friends and I have found most useful is the blur index illustration that it provides. This interactive chart helps you find the “sweet spot” for your lens, showing you where the lens is sharpest as you choose a specific focal length and aperture.
From the screenshot above of the Canon 24-70mm blur index chart, you can see that there is a sizable “sweet spot” of sharpness in the center of the frame at 35mm f/2.8. As you move towards the outer edges of the frame, there is less sharpness and more blur. Most of the time you will find that lenses have the largest sweet spot at f/4.0 to f/5.6. If you increase the f-number beyond that, you start losing sharpness again.