Q. How can I tell if a negative is good enough quality to enlarge to poster size? I don't want to spend a bunch of money and get something back that looks lousy. Can you tell me any place to take my negative -- some place that specializes in this type of printing?
A. The best way to tell is by examining your negative with a magnifying glass. It should be at least 8 power and need not be more than 10 power. Agfa makes such a magnifier for about $5. It's really a worthwhile investment.
As to where to take your negative, most good camera stores will handle it for you. Eastman Kodak will make a 20-by-30-inch poster for about $16. PROFESSIONAL FILM
Q. Please let me know if you think there is any advantage for the "hobbyist" to use professional ISO 160 film.
A. Frankly, I don't think there is. Vericolor professional film doesn't have a lot of latitude and needs to be exposed carefully. It works well with electronic flash, but, again, calls for accuracy in handling.
Don't turn up your nose at the amateur film. It's best for most situations, and if you don't take a lot of pictures, you'll find it easier to use. SHOOTING THE COMET
Q. I'm, going to Peru to view Halley's Comet. Have you any special advice for photographing the comet (at 2 and 3 a.m.) from the heights of Arequipa (9,000 feet) and Cuzco (11,000 feet)? I have a Nikon FE with a 1.8 lens, skylight filter and motor drive. Would it be advisable to take my Tokina zoom lens (35- 105mm)? Also would you advise carrying a second camera, which is a Canon FT with 1.4 lens?
A. First of all, call your tour company and ask some questions: Will there be a photographic expert on hand? An astronomical expert? Hope that there will be.
As to equipment, certainly you shoud have a tripod. Even in shooting normal pictures at dusk, a tripod is needed; at night one would be a must. In photographing the night sky, time exposures from a tripod are the norm.
You should indeed take at least that second camera. I always advise taking as much equipment as possible on such a trek. In fact, if you're thinking of buying a new camera in the near future, do it now.
Then there's the matter of film. Be sure to take lots and lots. When you think you have enough, pack four more rolls. Buy a special container to protect your camera and film from airport X-rays. Take both fast (ISO 400) and slow (ISO 100).
As to your skylight filter, you'll want to remove it for any night sky photography. It can cause a reflection that will give you double images.
And for those of us who are staying closer to home for our comet viewing, here are a few reminders:
* Get as far away from the city lights as you can.
* Use the fastest "normal" or 35mm wide angle lens you have.
* Point your camera toward the southern horizon.
* Use a sturdy tripod.
* Use fast film.
* Set your camera on Time or Bulb.
* Focus at infinity.
* Try to locate the comet with binoculars and mark the direction of its travel.
* Make a series of time exposures beginning with 90 seconds and ending at about 3 minutes.
* Be sure you align your camera so that the comet will move across the full frame.