The Camera Land Blog

"The difference between them and us is us."

Category: Learning

Key Lens Features Easily Explained

This week were covering the key lens features. Knowing your lens and all its capabilities is important to ensure you’re getting the most out of your lenses.

Lens Mount

The lens mount allows to the camera to communicate with the lens on compatible cameras. It enables electronic communication between the lens and the camera to ensure accurate exposure and focus. Each camera system uses its own unique mount that may limit compatibility between the different manufacturer’s cameras and lenses.

AF/MF Switch

The AF/MF switch allows you to select either autofocus or manual focus mode. With just a simple switch, you can quickly switch between auto and manual focus while shooting, without having to change your holding position.

Zoom RingSony Lens

Some lenses come with a zoom ring, which allows you to mechanically alter the focal length of the lens by rotating the lens to either extend or retract the lens.  You can change the focal length in real-time as you’re shooting.

Distance Scale

The distance scale is useful for calculating depth of field. The distance scale becomes especially useful when taking landscape shots because you can make use of hyperfocal focusing to ensure front-to-back sharpness.

Focusing Ring

The focusing ring enables you to manually focus the lens by hand. Focusing is usually performed automatically on most lenses, but a focusing ring allows you to override this when needed.

Filter Thread

Most lenses have a small thread that runs along the end of the lens. This thread allows you to screw-in filters.

Lens Hood

Some lenses come with a lens hood, while other times it is an optional feature. Lens hoods act as barrier by preventing peripheral light from striking the front of the lens and causing lens flare.

Image Stabilizationoptical stabilizer lens

Some expensive lenses come with an extra feature that allows for optical image stabilization modes. Some have two modes, one for general camera shake and one to correct vertical shake when panning across an area.

Want to learn more about your lenses? Have additional equipment you need assistance with learning and handling? Here at Camera Land we’re here to help! Stop in store to talk with an expert or check out our Camera Land Learning Center:

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December’s ‘Super Thursday’

Camera Land December's Super Thursday


Come join us! This is a FREE event!

This monthly group has been a great success for everyone involved.
Not one month has gone by that I don’t get comments from attendees about the knowledge they gain speaking to other like minded photographers, and viewing each others photos. Even if you don’t bring in photos that month, there is a great exchange of ideas amongst everyone.

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5 Secrets to Sharper Images

It’s disappointing to come home after a day of shooting and realize your pictures aren’t as sharp as you would have hoped. It can be difficult to see on your small camera screen while you’re out shooting, and once uploaded into your computer and seen on a larger screen, it can prove that your images are a little ‘soft’. This unwanted ‘softness’ can usually be attributed to camera shake, motion blur from moving subjects, or imprecise camera settings. Today we’ve come up with 5 secrets to help you take sharp images and feel more confident behind the lens.

1.  Minimize Camera Shake

A. Shutter Speed vs. focal length

It takes a lot of practice to shoot with a stable and steady hand. When hand-holding your camera, practice using the following: try to use a minimum shutter speed of 1/focal length of the lens to achieve your sharpest image. Camera shake is more noticeable with the longer the focal length, so a 50 mm lens would need a 1/50th of a second shutter speed, while a 200 mm lens would need a 1/200th of a second shutter speed to reduce camera shake. Consider this a starter place and experiment with shutter speeds.

B. Holding the Camera Properly & Using a TripodCamera Tripod

Objects that aren’t moving often appear out of focus due to camera shake from holding your camera. An obvious answer to minimizing this shake is using a tripod. For the sharpest results when using a tripod, remember to always turn off the stabilizer and use a remote. Need tripod options? We have many options here at Camera Land.

2. Reduce Motion Blur

When shooting a fast-moving subject, if your shutter speed is too slow, you’re going to see some motion blur. It is important to use the correct shutter speed to keep up with the movement of your subject. In order to freeze motion, try shooting at a shutter speed of at least 1/1000th of a second.

3. Adjust the Focus Point

If you’re not familiar with this feature, it can be a great discovery. Instead of focusing on your subject and recomposing your shot, first compose the shot, then move the focus point around until it hovers over your subject. This will ensure your focus point is exactly where it needs to be. This tip works best with stationary subjects. Need help with focus points? Check out our Camera Land Learning Center for available classes and workshops.

4. Select the Correct Focus Mode

Most cameras come with a few different types of focus modes. Choose the one that will best fit the type of subject you’re photographing. Single autofocus is when your camera will focus and lock on a single subject and will not deviate until you release your finger from the shutter. Continuous focus is used for continuously focusing on a moving subject. This mode allows you to push the shutter button half way, and the camera will focus on the subject as it moves around the frame.

5. Find the Aperture “Sweet Spot”

Most lenses are not consistently sharp at every aperture, and each one has an aperture “sweet spot” where it is the sharpest. Most likely, the “sweet spot” is two to three f-stops from the maximum aperture. The smallest aperture is also generally not the sharpest option either. Experiment with aperture to find what works best for the situation you’re shooting.

We hope some of these suggestions will help you take some sharp images. Check out our Camera Land Learning Center for more classes, workshops, and events at

Want to speak to a Camera Land expert? Call us today at 516-217-1000.

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Community Involvement: Girl Scout Troop 3051

On Monday, October 10th we did another 1-hour interactive class, in our in-store educational center, this time with Girl Scout Troop 3051. This has been an on-going partnership that has allowed the girls to have fun while learning about DSLR cameras.

Starting with a PowerPoint presentation and ending with a ‘hands-on’ demonstration, the girls learned about the different camera controls and how they affect the photos they take. Armed with a Canon DSLR, the girls then took pictures of items in the educational center, as well as each other, and learned how to properly use the equipment with assistance from our camera experts. One of the biggest discussions we had was learning the reasons and importance for using a real DSLR camera versus a smartphone camera. These classes have been enjoyable for both the troops and their group leaders.

At Camera Land we passionately believe in supporting programs that enrich the core of our community’s well-being and improving the education of the

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Autumn’s Unpredictability & How to Photograph the Weather

Outdoor photography is highly dependent on the weather and depending on where you live, you might be enduring weeks of rain, observing a thunder storm, or trying to beat the heat.

Every great landscape photographer needs to know how to make the best of any type of weather. Autumn’s unpredictability makes this especially so. Understanding how to make the most of light is an important photography skill to master to ensure that you are always prepared. Photography can sometimes even be more about the light a subject is in and less about the actual subject itself. In fact, bad weather can create some of the most beautiful lighting, imparting your images with a unique sense of feeling and drama. Also, if you’re the one venturing out to shoot while everyone else hides inside, you’ll be photographing scenes that nobody else will be capturing!


rainShoot towards the light to bring out the shine refracting through every falling drop. The shutter speed you decide on will depend on the effect you are looking for – either blurring the rain to show the trajectory and movement or “freezing” the water’s motion to look like you captured a moment in time.

Try taking advantage of the moment right after the rain has stopped. This moment can allow for some dreary, grey feelings or it might infuse your photo with rich colors, amazing reflections, or maybe even a rainbow. Rain often creates colors that are much more saturated as well. With that being said, consider using a polarizing filter to cut down on unwanted glare. If you’re interested in experimenting with macro photography, the drops left on leaves and flowers make for some great shots.


Dark rain clouds are extremely dramatic and as they part and move, they can bathe the sky in beams of sunlight. If you’re not impressed with your landscape options, try to look to the sky and see what kind of scenes the clouds are creating. Like suggestion above, experiment with a polarizing filter to emphasize the clouds.


fogFog can be magical. It is great for creating ethereal photographs or for emphasizing distance, space, and isolating foreground from background (due to the “thickness” of the fog in the foreground). The tiny, floating water particles that make up fog, diffuse the sun’s light and create a soft, hazy atmosphere with little contrast and no shadows. The light level is low so you’ll need to use longer shutter speeds or wider apertures to let enough light in to get the proper exposure.

The refracting light can sometimes confuse your camera. Experiment by adjusting your exposure compensation dial. Sometimes a little over or under exposure can yield a very dramatic image you may not get any other way.


sunCrisp Autumn days can also be full of sunshine and chilly temperatures. As the amount of daylight hours begins to decrease, consider getting out and photographing the sunrise. Instead of waking up at 4am, you can take advantage of waking up later and still getting a great shot. A sunrise over fall foliage can make for some majestic photographs. Looking to capture the sun in your shot and create a sunburst?  Make sure you use a small aperture.

Creating Mood

Use the weather to your advantage and try to portray the mood through your photograph. Is the location feeling quiet and romantic? Use the light to create a soft photo. Try using a shallow depth of field or a slow shutter speed. For cold, wet, and dreary, try going for muted colors and low contrast. Crisp and brisk? Use faster shutter speeds, higher contrast, a cool white balance, and a smaller aperture.

Mastering Light

Want to expand your knowledge of photography? Need help understanding how light affects your photographs? Check out Camera Land’s Learning Center to see the class and workshop offerings:

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October’s ‘Digital Photo XChange’

Camera Land announces: Camera Land’s ‘Digital Photo XChange’.

A monthly group.

These first few group meetings were extremely productive.

Each attendee is invited to bring in a few images they want to display to the group. We discuss why we shot it the way we did, and discuss in an intelligent group arena, options for cropping, exposure, angle of view, perspective, lens choice and more.

The comment I’ve been getting most, is that these give and take sessions are a really great learning device.  The constructive input and positive criticism is a terrific way to grow one’s photographic knowledge.

Please know that you are not required to have images each time, everyone is welcome.


Camera Land’s  ‘Digital Photo XChange ’ We are offering a platform to share and expand your knowledge of digital photography.  This will be an evening event.

We provide an open, friendly, and honest environment to participate in the critique process. Make our Photo XChange your place to exchange creative energy with other like-minded photographers.

The ‘Camera Land Digital Photo XChange’ provides a forum for photographers who have an interest in keeping up with the ever growing world of digital photography. Monthly meetings will put the emphases on sharing and improving your digital photographic skills.  In addition, each month, Jeff will lead the group through informative demonstrations and discussions about current digital technology.  Jeff has a unique approach to teaching digital processing techniques and shooting techniques. Discussions on the equipment choices on your photos will also be included.  By utilizing audience image files using our large screen projector, we enter into friendly group discussions.

We invite each attendee to submit up to 3 images to be viewed and discussed by the group. All in attendance are encouraged to participate by offering input, sharing photographs and sharing technical advice. This open and relaxed environment creates a unique opportunity for an exchange of ideas and techniques about digital photography.*

We will have some evenings with guest judges. An evening with a judge, just to discuss how they make their choices and what they look for, and an evening where we can submit work to be judged. Each month you are invited to submit your digital photographs for the evening discussion.

Digital files must be emailed to Jeff at prior to the meeting.
File size: approx.: 3mb. ( 8×12 300dpi )
If you would prefer, we will supply you with a flash drive to bring to class.

Be sure to put “Photo XChange” in the email subject line.
Please limit your files to a maximum of three images.

The ‘ Digital Photo XChange ’ is directed by Jeff Mantell.
Jeff attended School of Visual Arts in the 1970’s and has been shooting and teaching photography even longer.
His passion for photography and patience for sharing his knowledge makes him a real resource for anybody interested in learning more about photography. Jeff is the Director of Education here at Camera Land.

Please feel free to reach out to Jeff with any questions you might have about photography. Thank you,

Jeff Mantell
Camera Land

*Note: You do not have to submit images to attend the meeting. Please come and participate in the critique. 

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The Importance of the ‘Rule of Thirds’

The ‘rule of thirds’ is an important tool in photography as well as all other aspects of design. The rule states that if you take a canvas (or in our case a photograph) and divide it into three equally sized horizontal sections and three equally sized vertical sections, the resulting grid provides a kind of “roadmap” that helps you choose where to place your elements. By thinking of your grid as “map”, you can use the spots where the lines intersect to indicate the prime focal areas within your photograph.  Putting a subject or element closer to one of these intersections will allow it to naturally stand out, while objects that are further away will be given less attention.


There are a few ‘rule of thirds’ ideas to keep in mind when you take photographs. At the basic level, it is best for the horizon in your photograph to line up with one of the horizontal lines on your grid.

_akb0941_dxoFor landscapes, it’s usually best to have the horizon on the top horizontal line, so that the picture shows more of the subject matter and less empty sky space.

If you’re looking to place focus and emphasis on a visually interesting sky (clouds or a sunrise), you can do the opposite and put the horizon on the bottom horizontal line.

portraitPortraits may work best when the person’s eyes line up with the focal points of the intersecting lines. Placing their eyes on one of these points can create more engagement than placing them in the center of the photograph.

For action shots, be careful not to cramp your subject and keep in mind the idea of your subject’s movement or the sense of movement you’re trying to create. Place the subject at one end of the grid and leave space ahead of them. In other words, try to leave at the other side for your subject’s “destination”.

After you’ve established a good understanding of the ‘rule of thirds’, it may be time to break the rules. While the ‘rule of thirds’ grid naturally sets your photograph up for perfect symmetry, and while humans are naturally attracted to symmetry, rules are sometimes meant to be broken. Creating perfect symmetry can set you up to go unnoticed because we’re so used to seeing it all the time. Creating an image that is asymmetrical can send a signal that something is different and unique, which can be incredibly engaging. While symmetry can be something to experiment with, balance is a necessity. The ‘rule of thirds’ grid can help you figure out how to use asymmetrical balance to your advantage by showing you which parts of your photo has the most weight and how to appropriately space elements and subjects.

The more you understand the rule and its effects, the easier it can be to disrupt the audience’s expectations. Experiment with other areas of the space and see what is possible. This can be a great way to open yourself up creatively.

Need more help with the ‘rule of thirds’? Consider signing up for one of Camera Land’s classes! We have great class offering that offer all kinds of classes, workshops and lectures.

Call us today at 516-217-1000 or visit the Camera Land Learning Center at:

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About the Camera Land Learning Center

Photography is a technical kind of art. The camera can be a tough tool to really learn and control, but here at Camera Land, we want to help. With this in mind, we’ve created a physical place where people can learn about photography from actual photographers that are also great teachers. We’ve established an educational space that is full of fun, offering easy-to-follow classes, all while providing a supportive environment for photographers to expand their knowledge.

Welcome to the Camera Land Learning Center. The Camera Land Learning Center is a reputable educational center where we teach, have fun, and make using your camera and its accessories easy.

Our basic classes help new photographers learn the technical aspects of digital photography. Brand new to photography and need to learn the basics? Consider taking our Digital Photography DSLR-101 class. Once you mastered that, take it a step further and take our Digital Photography DSLR-201 class to learn how to take control of your camera.


Shot with 16mm


Shot with 135mm






Our more advanced classes expand and push photographers that already have experience and skill. These types of classes are offered in workshop form and often feature experts and  professional photographers as speakers and teachers.


Adjust your shutter speed to “freeze action”


Adjust your shutter speed to give a sense of movement








From our DSLR 101 class to our brand-specific classes as part of our “Get Acquainted with Your Camera Series” (Nikon DSLR, Sony Mirrorless, Canon Rebel DSLR, Olympus OM DSLR, etc), Camera Land’s classes help all types of photographers hone their craft.

Camera Land likes to also feature monthly workshops that cover a variety of topics and supports experimentation and foster a sense of community among local photographers. We frequently host expert speakers and offer special events. Whether it is our monthly Super Thursdays that challenges photographers with a homework challenge for our Third Thursdays Club or our Digital Photo XChange meetings, the Camera Land Learning Center is a photography community that encourages learning, sharing, and general enjoyment.


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10 Camera Bag Must-Haves for the New Photographer

There are many items to consider purchasing to go along with your new camera, and this post serves to just highlight some of the most common and most useful ones. If you are just starting out, be sure to equip yourself with the necessary items to help you use your camera properly, all while taking the most professional photos you can – right from the beginning! We’ve rounded up our top 10 camera bag must-haves to help start you on your photography journey.


These thin filters are pieces of glass that fit over the front of your camera lens and can protect your lens. Use a polarizing filter to make clouds pop or eliminate glare from water surfaces, or use a graduated neutral density filter to shoot at wide under bright conditions. Consider variable neutral density filters if you want to be able to vary the amount of light entering the camera.


There is a reason they call this lens the “nifty fifty”. This lens is a great value and an affordable lens investment. It’s light weight, great in low-light, can produce a nice bokeh, and extremely versatile. In terms of compositions, the 35mm lens might be the closest to the focal composition of the human eye, and it is why it is commonly used in movies. You can’t be lazy with this lens (you’ll have to physically move around to get your shot) but it’s incredibly versatile – landscapes, portraits, travel shots, street photography, product photography – try it out and see.


When buying a memory card consider things like the capacity, reliability, speed, and always carry a backup card.


It’s good to know how to set the custom white balance on your camera so that you can get really true-to-color shots, no matter what sort of light you might find yourself shooting in. A white balance card in is a must-have in your camera bag and its sturdy design allows you to also tie it onto your bag for easy access. (It can also be nice to have a black and neutral grey card.)


Reflectors are used to bounce light from a window or other light source, and erases harsh shadows and uneven lighting. You want to get everything as perfect as possible before you get to the editing phase so that you’re only doing minor touch-ups, and getting the lighting right is extremely important.


If you’re going to be taking your photography seriously, you have to have a tripod. If you ever want to shoot in low light or with a slower shutter speed, shaky hands will ruin every shot. Also, shooting at strange angles or very low or high heights can make it difficult to replicate a shot for multiple images.


An extra battery will most definitely come in handy. You never want to be out, maybe traveling or shooting an event, and have your battery go dead on you. Instead, make sure you have a backup so that you don’t miss any moments or have to spend valuable time charging. Also, did you know batteries don’t last long when shooting in cold temperatures? Go prepared and back a second backup battery.


A remote allows you to take pictures of yourself without having to click the 10-second timer and sprint across the room. It is also useful for shots in low light or a slow shutter speed to reduce camera shake that comes with pushing the shutter release.


A solid understanding of off-camera flash (external flash) is one of the big steps you can take to elevate your photography to the next level. Your camera “communicates” with one or more external flashes to light the scene via a remote method.


After blowing the dust off your lens, use a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth to wipe off any fingerprints, smudges, or water droplets. Microfiber wipes are soft enough to prevent scratches and the alcohol evaporates really quickly without leaving residue on the lens. Bonus: They’re great for cleaning your glasses, phone, and computer screen, too!

Need help picking out your camera gear? Our in-store experts are happy to help you attain that professional look or answer any questions. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, Camera Land is here for you. Want to learn more about photography? Consider taking one of our classes. Visit our Learning Center for a list of class offerings. For more information, give us a call at 516-217-1000 or visit our website at  www.

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Tips for Shooting at the Beach

Summer is in full swing and that warm weather means trips to the beach. Here are six tips to help you capture those perfect shots when you and your camera hit the beach this season.

1. With Beach, Comes Sand

Sand and lotion can be a dangerous combination when it comes to cameras. Be wary of windblown sand and oily fingers, and use extreme care if you have to change lenses. Consider using a filter to act as a barrier and protect your lens from sand scratches. Sand made its way in anyway? Blow it off or come in to Camera Land and have one of our professionals clean it for you.

2. Timing Is Key

Timing is key when shooting at the beach. There are two main reasons why you should consider shooting early in the day or later towards the evening – first is so that you can get the best shot with the best light. Shooting when the sun is closer to the horizon reduces shadows on the face and allows you to play with backlighting and haze. Too much haze? Don’t forget your lens hood. Experiment with using a fill flash to light your subject’s face and add detail to darkened areas without losing highlights. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The second reason is that hopefully the beach will be less crowded early in the morning or late in the evening allowing you to capture shots without added or unwanted subjects.

3. Maybe a Silhouette?

Go for drama with a silhouette. Once again, hit the beach when the sun is near the horizon and shoot into the light. Check to make sure that your subject is isolated so the silhouette looks good, change your settings to spot metering and meter for the sky, get down low, and don’t forget the rule of thirds (keep the horizon line at the bottom third).

4. Don’t Forget the Details

Think sandcastles, sandy toes, water droplets and splashes, patterns in the sand, etc. Don’t just shoot the obvious and have fun experimenting.

5. Horizontal Horizons

Get your horizons straight the best you can. Shoot wide and leave enough room for straightening and cropping when editing your images.

6. Embrace Bad Weather

Less than ideal weather can produce some really stunning shots. Stormy dramatic skies and clouds can make for some really amazing images, while fog may produce some ethereal photos.


Shooting at the beach can be a lot of fun so embrace the weather and your surroundings, and have fun experimenting. Want to learn more? Visit our Learning Center or come into the store. Our in-store experts are happy to help you attain that professional look or answer any questions. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, Camera Land is here for you. For more information, give us a call at 516-217-1000 or visit our website.

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