Great Ideas and advice from our readers
Stealth Camera Bag
Tired of worrying about getting your expensive gear stolen? Try carrying it in a diaper bag. They're available in a variety of sizes and shapes. The baby bottle holders on the side are just right for a lens or a flash. There are lots of pockets. The inside is lined with plastic, so it's waterproof. Mine came with a little plastic case for carrying wipes that's great for lens cleaning cloths and memory cards. And nobody ever steals a diaper bag.
League City, TX
Pump it up
I've found that an electric soccer ball or basketball pump is excellent for cleaning a digital camera sensor. It blows a strong, constant blast, and its metal needle lets you aim the output with some precision. Moreover, because the needle is small, you can get it into cramped corners. Your best, though not cheapest, choice might be the Airman Cordless Multi-Purpose Air pump [ActiveTool USA, Inc.], which is handheld and supereasy to transport. It goes for about $35 at store.yahoo.com/satorsoccer/airman.html.
When I buy a new camera, I go to the manufacturer's website and download a digital copy of the manual. This provides me with a copy in case I misplace the paper original, and it's always with me on my laptop or, when I'm traveling light, on a USB drive.
St. Paul, MN
For you film shooters…
Occasionally, numbers on film strips are inconveniently located for ordering prints. Two similar numbers, like 5 and 5a, might straddle two different frames, leading to uncertainty or confusion when ordering. You can elimi- nate such uncertainty by loading the film in a way that ensures that 5 and 5a are always located under the fifth frame. I can't speak for all cameras, but for my Nikon N80, lining up the eighth sprocket hole with the raised marker at the top of the track results in perfect frame numbering every time.
Ft. Worth, TX
Soft Focus Forever
RE: Your diffusion filter article (How-To: Effects, March 2006). An easier way to hold the stocking in front of the lens is with an embroidery hoop. Available in many sizes at most craft stores, they're very cheap and made of either wood or plastic. Just stretch the stocking over the inner frame, snap the outer frame over it, clip off any excess, and you're ready to shoot. Also, unlike a soft-focus lens, which has a sharp area exactly in the center, the hoop filter lets you cut a small hole anywhere in the stocking.