Readers Questions

Hi Steve,

Long time, no email.  Hope your photography business is doing well.  I believe the last time I emailed you, I was debating whether to buy a Nikon D300 or a Canon 5D.  Got the 5D with the 24-105L.  

I'm heading to Thailand on vacation next week and will be taking the 5D along.  Can't wait!  Especially since L.A.'s been unusually cold.

Krabi is on the itinerary and possibly Trang, so I need to get a polarizer for the beach shots. Do I really need a $250 77mm B+W Kaesemann MRC circular polarizer or will a cheap one do?  Will image quality be compromised with a crappy one?  I've read so many positive comments about the B+W brand and how the Hoyas are also good but are tough to clean.  Which do you suggest?

Sukhothai was on my places to go to photograph list, but I'm now leaning towards Ayuttaya after reading your InFocus article and also because of its close proximity to Bangkok. I've been to Ayuttaya before, but only with a p&s camera.  So if I wanted to do a tutorial session with you in Ayuttaya, how much do you charge and how much advance notice is required?

One last question, is there any truth to the 50L back-focusing problem?




JP –

Thanks for the questions.  Great news on the Canon 5d.  I think for your purposes (travel, portraits and landscapes) the Canon 5d is a much better choice than the Nikon D300.  The 5d’s full frame sensor will provide much better image quality in all types of light and for your needs the faster handling of the D300 wouldn’t be that much of a benefit.

Let me answer your questions in order:

Polarizer’s:  I used to use these religiously with film cameras and lenses 28mm and wider.  Now, with digital and digital post processing we can relegate the use of polarizer’s ONLY to the removal of unwanted reflections from water, shiny surfaces, and glass buildings.  I carry several in my bag, a Hoya Spro1 which is a standard circular polarizer of very high quality and less than half the price of the B&W you mention.  I also carry a Singh-ray blue and gold polarizer which if used effectively can produce some very interesting images.

I find Hoya’s no more difficult to clean than any other brand.  And certainly you’ll want a circular polarizer.

Polarizer’s on lenses wider than 28mm will result in incomplete coverage of the entire skyline.  This looks terrible so I don’t recommend their use for darkening skies (besides, we can do that better in digital now) but they can still be effective for removing reflections with wider lenses IF the area in the scene is smaller than the frame.

Individual workshops are baht 10,000 per day.  We work as many hours in a day as you want, often going 12-14 hours.  This might sound expensive on first look, but consider the same level of workshop in the west is at least twice this much and often 3-4 times as much.  The cost covers all expenses, the vehicle, insurance, entry fees, and even meals.  These last few months not much advance notice is required as tourism along with everything else has decreased, but the more notice the better the chance I’ll be available.

50mm F1.2L backfocusing:  With ANY very wide aperture lens you’re going to get a significant number of people (all on photography forums it seems) complaining of focusing issues. 99/100 the real problem is the person doesn’t have the experience to properly use this type of specialized lens at its maximum aperture.  The 50mm F1.2 like the 85/1.2 and 135/2, require special techniques when used wide open and are very rewarding to use.. but only under special conditions.

JP, I hope I’ve answered all your questions and even more during the workshop we enjoyed together.  I hope you’re having a great time in Krabi and Trang and that you take some great images and share them with our readers.  If you’re back in Bangkok before your flight feel free to give me a call and stop by to use the computer to view and process your images.  I’ll be happy to answer any further questions that come up about Lightroom or postprocessing.

Great shooting!


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