General queries from a Dummy

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New Member
Oct 11, 2006
Hi all at clubsnap!

I'm a new user of the Canon 40D with the 17-85mm kit lens and 50mm f/1.8. Looking to try out the Sigma 70-300mm before moving on to the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 by year end. Using the DSLR has been a fantastic experience thus far but I also have some questions pertaining to the general usage of the camera. No doubt they are amateurish so please pardon my ignorance for now. ;)

1. How can I store the camera as having a dry cabinet is not possible in the house at the moment? The store gave a dry box but the hygrometer was missing inside. The camera currently rests in the Canon bag placed in a relatively warm room and there's simply too many dogs' balls of fur around.

2. My puppy licked the lens when I got too close. Then, I wiped off the saliva with a soft cloth but under the lamp I can still see some tiny hairs stuck to it. Is it alright for the lens to remain in this condition?

3. How long can the camera be left without its lens cover? If dusts/hair gets in, can I still rely on the camera's self cleaning function to achieve clear shots?

4. Must the camera always be placed in cushioned bag? In my case, It'd be best if I can travel with one lens attached to the camera and stacked into my already waterproof backpack.

5. Do I switch off the cam each time I'm not shooting. Like in the case where I'm attending an event/excursion for very long hours yet wanna try my skills at anything interesting. Is it advisable to leave it at 'on' mode the entire time? I'm a real noob. :bsmilie:

Have not been able to shoot much indoors as the dogs hate the camera and lunges or snaps at it. Will update with more qns once I get them used to the sight of it. :sweat:

6. Composition qn. I've been reading up (and still confused) on AF, metering etc but I'm just curious how are the following scenarios usually shot at.

a) Candid shot - people (standing/sitting) on the left, center and right, quite scattered.

b) Group shot - up to 50 people.

For both egs, do I just use a small aperture to get everyone and the background in? Result - everything sharp = good?

7. Why do f. numbers go up so high? The smallest aperture I've used is f/11 and almost all the time at f/8 yet the image is already very sharp to my eyes.

Current book of reference: Langford's Starting Photography. Hope this is good enough.

Plenty of thanks in advanced to anyone who'd take the time to reply to the wall of text above. :lovegrin:
I really need solid advice here as there's no one in person I can forward my questions to.


Staff member
Jun 6, 2007
South Western Singapore
hi and welcome to clubsnap

1)not so sure about this,i just leave everything I don't use for a long time inside my dry box and stuff that I use constantly in my tamrac

2)I'm not so sure about this,but usually I have a filter,so if this happens to me,i would just take the filter off and clean it

3)what do you mean?if you're talking about leaving the lens cap off the lens,just use a blower to blow the dust or hair off,if you're talking about leaving the dismounted body,the sensor cleaning can clean some but not all the dust on the sensor

4)not sure about this either,for me,I even just carry my camera in a normal back pack,but most of the time in my tamrac,if not,i use my shirt to wrap around my camear

5)not sure about this,but even if you leave it on on mode,the camera will go into standby mode after awhile of not using

6a)I usually shoot candids from far away,either center weight or spot metering,AF usually center but differs from person to person and situation to situation

6b)never shot up to 50 ppl,but use about f8 to about f11,i read that pictures become softer as the aperture is stepped down too much,sweet spot around f8 to f11,use a wide angle lens,can't remember why,but even shot wide,wide angle lenses have a deeper dof than tele lenses

7)i wonder about this mysaelf


Staff member
Jan 3, 2008
Pasir Ris
1. I suggest keeping it far away from the dogs in a well-ventilated room, outside the bag. Especially if you don't go out shooting for some days. Fur and dust is the last stuff you want to get into your lens and cam. Even the self-cleaning will not help once the fur finds it's way inside. I once had a cat, I know how the fur finds it's way ...
Secondly: a warm place, a dark bag and lots of organic material (fur) is ideal breeding ground for fungus. In the long run you should seriously consider a dry cabinet also to keep your camera away from fur. The cabinets can be locked to prevent accidental opening.

2. There are lens cleaning tissues available in cam shops, use the wet ones. In the long run I suggest getting a UV filter as protection. If dirty just unscrew and rinse with water. B+W filters are said to be easily cleaned .. but they have their price tag.

3. Self-cleaning only refers to the sensor itself. The lens has no cleaning capabilities. Dust is less critical in the lens than at the sensor. But you should make it a habit keeping the lens covered when not shooting. Fur is damn nasty and no self-cleaning helps.

4. The bag is the best place and once you have more equipment you'll appreciate if the gear is not mixed with socks and t-shirts in a normal backpack. Many of my friends wrapped a t-shirt around the cam and it worked well. But they only had the cam, no other gear.

5. Check the manual. There is a time out which can be adjusted from 1min to 30min. You reactivate the cam by simply pressing the shutter halfway.

6. It depends ;) - on what you want to achieve and how your shooting conditions are. Metering, aperture and shutter speed will follow accordingly. Do you want to freeze motion or want to have motion blur? Do you want to isolate the person from background or keep everything in focus? Is the light evenly or do you have harsh contrasts / shadows?
Read the manual first to see what metering modes are there and how they work. That will give you already an idea what to use in which conditions.

7. Apertures are a ration between the opening of the lens (and the amount of light going through) and the focal length. Depending on the construction of the lens you have a minimum and maximum aperture. There might be distortions of the image when the aperture is too small (f/16 and above).


Staff member
Apr 17, 2007
Somewhere North
Just my 2-Cents worth -

1) Get yourself a new drybox.... or use a portable hygrometer (buy at some DIY shop) for your present drybox..... your 'investment' in the camera and lense would be ruin should 'things' starts to grow...... highly suggest you keep your gears well away from dog (perhars inside a cupboard)

2) Put a U/V filter infront of the lens..... it also protects the lens from scratches during cleaning or using..... But I'm more worry about the 'Wetness' on the lens from your dog....

3) The self cleaning only remove/reduce dust from the sensor..... sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Also try to remount or replace the camera cap ASAP.

4) No really..... depends on how well you like to maintance your gears.... :bsmilie:

5) Yor camera will auto shutdown after some thime..... but don't see any problem in leaving it 'On'..... just waste abit of battery power only. But always 'Off' your camera before changing lens. :nono:

6) a - Depends on what effect you are trying to get.......

b - same as above..... sorry

7) I'm more of a TV (time value) mode user.... :sweat:


Senior Member
Jul 25, 2006
Hey, I just replied your PM awhile ago.

1. Storage: If you are going to be frequently using your camera, you won't have to worry so much about storage.

However, if you are going to have long durations of non-usage (that usually span 2-3 weeks or longer), you may want to invest in a electric dry cabinet. These are not that expensive nowadays, and will definitely give you peace of mind. For more info on dry cabinets, perform a simple search in Newbies Corner on "Dry Cabinet".

2. Your Puppy: You may want to keep it away from your lens in future, and get a filter to protect the front element. It's no joke how much it can cost you to replace a damaged front element group. As for now, what cloth did you use? Was it a common cloth?

3. Dust and your lens cover: Whenever I shoot events, my lenses are without their front caps, so I can change lenses and shoot straight off the bat.

Do note that your camera's self cleaning works on the sensor, not your lenses, but it is perfectly fine for a lens to gather dust after awhile. No lens is dust-proof.

4. Travelling with your camera: It is best protected in a padded case of some sort, but you can (at your own risk) just put it into your backpack. It's really not recommended.

5. On or off: leave it off if you can. You never know when you want a shot but the battery has run flat 'cause the camera was left on and running (instead of standby) in your bag due to your bag's compartments/padding pushing some button.

6. Composition

a) Candid shot - people (standing/sitting) on the left, center and right, quite scattered: I don't think many people will be shooting a large scattered group, as composition-wise, it's too messy. If you do want to get everyone in focus, use a smaller aperture opening.

b) Group shot - up to 50 people: small aperture opening will do.

7. Aperture numbers: For added DOF. DOF is not to be confused with sharpness. Yes, for most lenses you would have greater resolving power closer to f/8, which is a sweet spot for most lenses, but remember that as you stop the aperture down, you are getting more DOF, which you will sometimes need.

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