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How to overcome 5 common digital photo problems

We answer your questions on noise in high ISO photos

We've taken a look at some of the most common problems when it comes to taking good snaps with digital cameras and shown you how to overcome them.

Recovering lost images

Does Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows 7 have a way to recover lost images on a Secure Digital card? Recently, when I removed the SD card from my camera and inserted it into the computer, I received a message that the card needed to be formatted, and there are no photos to download. One thing that could have caused the problem is that the camera was on when the card was removed. What can I do?

I recommend that you always be sure your camera is turned off before you insert or remove a memory card. If your camera is using the card when you remove it, there's a really good chance your photos will be damaged.

But now that your card has been compromised, you do indeed have some options. There's nothing built into Windows to help recover photos from a damaged card, but free and commercial options abound.

Most free photo recovery tools won't work on corrupted cards, which it sounds like you have, so I suggest CnW Recovery Software. You can try this program in demo mode for free to see if it can find your lost photos, then get a 30-day licence for $20 (£12.65), which is handy for a one-time emergency like you are experiencing now.

Action photography at night

I have a Canon XSi with a 55-250 mm zoom lens (f/4 - 5.6 IS), which I have used to get some great action shots in sports mode. But now that it's getting darker, my photos are getting blurry. How can I get good action shots when it's darker outside?

You're bumping up against the laws of physics. Cameras crave light - a lot of it - and freezing action means using a fast shutter speed, which severely restricts the amount of light you can work with. There are two ways to fix this problem: Bumping up the ISO or using a faster lens.

You can definitely make some improvements by going down the ISO route. Crank your camera's ISO to its highest value. That will increase the sensor's sensitivity to light, allowing you to shoot at a faster shutter speed in low light.

If that's not enough, you might also consider purchasing a 'faster' lens. Photographers talk about lenses being fast or slow depending upon their maximum aperture. A lens that can reach f/2 admits a lot more light than a lens that can only muster f/5.6, and so the f/2 lens is a faster lens - mainly because you can use a faster shutter speed in the same lighting, which is exactly what you need in this situation.

That's the great thing about having a digital SLR - you can switch lenses without replacing the entire camera. I am guessing that you're probably working near the extreme telephoto end of your zoom range. Out there, at 200mm or 250mm, your current lens can only muster f/5.6, which is pretty slow (it doesn't admit much light). When you combine a slow f/5.6 aperture with low light, the resulting shutter speed will be sluggish, resulting in blurry action.

Consider investing in a prime telephoto lens - a lens that isn't a zoom, but is fixed at, say, 250mm. Fast prime lenses are a lot more affordable than fast zoom lenses, so you might be able to shoot several stops faster. Combined with a higher ISO, you'll be much better poised to capture action shots at night.

NEXT PAGE: Duplicate file names when formatting memory cards

  1. High ISO photos without noise
  2. Recovering lost images
  3. Duplicate file names when formatting memory cards

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