Pro 4 Hood Guide

The Pro 4 Hood was a  unique design that allowed four effects filters to be loaded up and quickly flipped over the lens before taking a shot.

Each of the four flaps has a clip frame  to hold a Cokin A series or other 67mm square filter.

Benefit as well as speed is once the filters are in place you don’t have to handle them so they don’t get marked as easy.

The hood was popular with medium format wedding and portrait photographers, but can also be used on 35mm and digital cameras.

You can buy one here: Pro4 Hood along with various size adaptors.

Here’s a video of how the Pro 4 Hood works.

6 reasons why you should use a lens hood

Rubber collapsible lens hood

1 The main reason to use a lens hood is it reduces flare when shooting with the sun in front of the camera. Sun rays catch the lens and bounce around the inner elements causing streaks, loss of contrast and blobs on the photo. The hood provides a barrier and as a result your photos will display more contrast.

2 Another less obvious use is to shields the lens’ front element from rain and snow.

3 There’s less chance of damaging the lens as the hood will protect the front of lens from knocks. Rubber ones are the best for this as they absorb the bump.

4 A lens hood is ideal for shooting through glass as it means you can put the lens right up to the glass and blocks out reflections from behind.

5 The hood can also provide a suitable rest / support when shooting through glass without scratching the front of the lens

6 And for the egos among us…adding a hood increases length of the lens to make it look a bit more impressive…but as we like to say – it’s not the size that counts!

View all kinds of Lens hoods for sale

How to Photograph the Moon

The best camera to use to photograph the moon is a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera. With this type of camera you usually have the most manual control, allowing you to fine tune focus and exposure to ensure a sharp and bright photo.

The Moon The moon photographed with an SLR and telephoto lens

An SLR usually has an interchangeable lens so you can attach a long lens (telephoto) to magnify the moon to make it much bigger in the photo. A standard zoom of 18-55mm that is normally provided with an SLR is not really long enough. You can use a lens like this but you will have to crop the picture dramatically to make it any decent size on your photo. The more you crop the less detail you will have in the moon.

The best thing to do if you want serious pictures is to buy or borrow a longer lens. A 300mm or above is good – Ideally a 1000mm or longer. You can do this using a 500mm with a 2x converter. The teleconverter sits between the camera and lens and doubles (or trebles with a 3x) the lens’ focal length / magnification. With modern digital SLRs the sensor is smaller than film and gives an effective magnification of 1.5x/1.6x too, so the 1000mm becomes 1500mm /1600mm. This is perfect for frame filling photos.

You will also need a tripod or other support for the camera to avoid camera shake if you are using a long lens, and a cable release / remote control to trigger the shutter. If you don’t have a remote release set the camera to the self timer mode and use that. The reason to use a delay or release mechanism is to prevent any hand contact with the camera that could cause vibration and the possibility of camera shake. This will be more apparent when using extreme magnification lenses.

Position you camera on the tripod or mount and set the lens to its longest setting.

Switch the camera to manual focus and adjust focus around the infinity setting so the moon appears sharp. If your camera has live view, switch to that and use the magnifier to help you focus.

You cannot use the camera’s auto exposure mode (P) because it will be fooled by the black surround of the moon which is really bright. A shot taken on auto will result in a bright blob of a moon with no detail. You need to switch to manual (M) or use exposure compensation.

Although it’s night time you don’t need long exposures the moon is as bright as daylight. Set the ISO to 100, and the aperture to f/11 and the shutter speed to 1/500sec and take a test shot.  Have a look on the LCD preview screen and see how the photo looks. If it’s too bright either increase the shutter speed to 1/1000sec and/or the aperture to f/16. If it’s too dark, reduce the shutter speed to 1/250sec and/or the aperture to f/8. Then take another photo. Repeat this until you have a perfect exposure.

See article on the Blood Moon

High Speed Photography

Want to take photos of balloons bursting, party poppers popping or water drops in mid drop? It’s all possible with a technique referred to as high speed flash.

Balloon bursting Balloon with small amount of flour added and triggered with Nero Trigger

Your camera may have an action stopping shutter speed of 1/8000sec, but often there’s not enough light to allow this sort of speed so the preferred option is flash. The camera can be set to the flash shutter speed of 1/125sec and the flash provides the action stopping speed by illuminating the subject at its flash duration which can be anything up from 1/500sec. Many go into the 1/20000sec area. The subject is illuminated in this quick burst which ensures it’s frozen in motion.

But there’s a bigger problem. How do you ensure that the moment you fire the shutter is the perfect moment. You can with either luck or incredibly good timing. Or better still take the guess work out and use a device that triggers the shutter at the precise moment required.

Such devices, known as triggers use sound, light or laser beam splitting to detect the trigger moment. They attach to the camera’s remote release socket using a dedicated cable. Some cameras have a simple 2.5mm jack others are more complex electronic connectors. The remote trigger will usually have cables to suit most popular camera fittings from Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Sony, Minolta, Panasonic, etc.

If you want to photograph a balloon bursting you’d probably switch to the sound detector. The trigger has a microphone that senses the noise of the balloon pop and fires the camera instantaneously*.

Photographing a drop of water from a tap would require the laser beam splitter mode and would fire the trigger when the beam was split.*

You would use the light sensor to record a streak of Lightning. The trigger would fire when it detected a change in ambient light levels.*

* the exact moment the shutter fires can be adjusted in milliseconds so the trigger can fire slightly after the detection of change. This means you can allow for various delays that may occur.

The devices available range from very simple triggers to highly advanced.

Products available include:
Nero Trigger
Sabre Switch Triggersmart Motion Capture System
AEO Photo produce the Lightning Strike
The Time Machine


Polarizing Filter and cross polarization

If you have a computer with an LCD monitor and a camera with a polarizing filter on the lens you can create some really colourful photos like this:

Cross polarization

All you do is place a piece of plastic (the above is a cd case with ice on the surface) in front of an LCD screen and photography it using a camera that has a polariser attached to the lens (or held in front of the lens)
By rotating the filter you can increase the strength (saturation) of colours.

Try with cd or cassette cases, plastic glass, plastic cutlery, geometry items, filter cases and other similar hard plastic items.
The patterns revealed show stress in the plastic.

Stepping rings save you money

Stepping rings are really useful additions to your filter collection. They are slim rings that have a male thread on one side and a female thread of a different size on the other. They are designed to allow a filter with one diameter be used on a lens with a different diameter.

Hoya stepping ring Stepping rings come in a wide range of sizes

You may, for example, want to use a 55mm thread diameter filter on a lens that has a 52mm thread. A stepping ring is what you need.

Stepping rings are sold in two directions – up and down. The direction is always indicated from the lens. So a step up ring allows a bigger diameter filter to be used on the lens, while a step down ring allows a smaller diameter filter to be used on the lens.

Stepping up is rarely a problem, but stepping down can cause vignetting because the filter may starts to mask the optical path, especially if the stepping increment is steep or if the lens is a wide angle. It’s always safer to step up.

The advantage of using stepping rings is that you are often able to use just one size filter on a range of lenses. especially if you plan carefully.

Say, for example, you have the following three lenses:

A wide angle with a 58mm thread, standard zoom with a 52mm thread and a telephoto lens with a 62mm thread. You could buy a set of 58mm filters to fit straight on the wide angle along with a 52-58mm stepping ring for the standard zoom and a 62-58mm stepping ring for the telephoto.

PhotographyAttic has a range of rings covering threads from 30.5mm right up to 77mm:  Lens Stepping Rings for sale

Where to sell you camera equipment?

Sell to dealer

harrison-cameras Harrison Cameras in Sheffield is an example of a great place to trade in your old camera.

You can take to a high street dealer who will give you a trade in valuation. The pawnbroker type shops, offer to buy all kinds of things from Golf clubs to Guitars so they do not have camera specialists in store. As a result it’s a bit of a gamble whether they will over or undervalue your gear. As a rule this kind of shop will offer you the least. Reputable camera dealers, such as Harrisons in Sheffield, will offer more. They usually know what the item is and have a better chance of selling at a higher resale value. But in both cases what you get will usually be about 25-40% of what the selling price is unless you trade in to get a better deal. So if a camera sells for £100 you’re likely to get between £25 and £40. The shop will then put it on show for sale for £80 to  £100 and give a 3 to 12 month guarantee.

Advantage to you is you get it off your hands without any hassle, but you may get a minimal amount for it.

Sell to local
Another option is to sell through local classified ad service either online or local paper advert. Use the eBay selling price to get an idea how much to ask.

Advantage you get a good price, disadvantage is you will have to let someone come to your house/workplace to view and you may get messed around.

eBay is the most successful online auction site
eBay is the most successful online auction site

Sell by Auction

Auction sites like eBay take this aspect out of the equation. You can charge for postage and can send the item to the buyer so there’s no direct contact. The auction route is a bit of a gamble. Sometimes you’ll get far more than you expected other times it will go for less than you hoped.

If you don’t know how much your item is worth check out our tips on finding out how much your camera is worth

Tips to find out how much your camera is worth?

Is your old 35mm camera worth much?
Is your old 35mm camera worth much?

You may have a camera or accessory you want to sell and don’t know how much it’s worth.

If you’ve inherited the equipment and don’t know what you have in front of you, use Google to search. Look for any identifying features on the item. If it’s a camera it will have a make and a model number. These are usually enough to help you track down the item.

When searching Google switch to search by images. This is the quickest way to pinpoint your gear. When you find a photo that looks like your item open and view the web page. look for descriptive words that tie in with what you have. Sometimes there are different versions of the same product. The Vivitar 283 flash, for example, has been made in three different countries. Leica, for example, had many variations of the same camera differentiated by the serial number.

When you find the exact description of your item switch to eBay. Search items for sale using the description you’ve researched. Then click on Show Only > Completed Listings to get an idea what your item has sold for recently.

Now you’re ready to sell see our article of selling tips

Diffraction filters explained

The diffraction filter is a special effect filter that can be found in a number of filter brands’ ranges.

Diffraction filter The diffraction filter creates spectacular rainbow coloured streaks or star bursts from highlights.

Hoya made the effect popular back in the 70s with their group of filters called Spectral Star.

The Hoya Spectral Star is a conventional starburst filter that added a rainbow-like pattern to the streaks. Hoya had three filters in this range

The Hoya Andromeda is a single line through the photo used to create ghost-like blurs and multicoloured streak from point light sources.

The Hoya Pulsator is a colourful 8 point star burst.

And the Hoya Nebula is a multipoint filter for spectacular colour bursts

The French brand Cokin replicated Hoya’s effects with their series of Diffraction filters which are still available today

The Cokin Diffractor Cosmos 040 is like the Hoya Andromeda

The Cokin Diffractor Univers 041 is like the Hoya Pulsator

And the Cokin Diffractor Galaxy 042 is like the Hoya Nebula

And thanks to Cokin’s universal holder these filters can easily be adapted to fit a wide range of lens filter thread.

Hoya copied the system filter approach popularised by their version called Hoyarex.

The Hoyarex versions are easier to understand as they are named by the number of points. There are also more options to choose from including the following:

It’s not easy to recreate this filter digitally and is well worth adding to your collection. The filter works with glass, water, jewellery and any other item where you can get a sparkle of light to diffract. Some photographers also use them on lasers to create stunning painting with light effects.