Q. The outside of my living room window seems to be a popular spot for extensive spider web construction. I would like to take pictures of the webs but only have a compact automatic camera. Is it possible to take such pictures with this nonprofessional camera? One web more than fills the upper part of the window.
A. As far as your compact goes, it's not only possible but quite simple. The most difficult thing will be for you to determine how that web is lighted. There are several things to think about: First, have you looked at the web after a rain? Frequently tiny droplets of rain remain on the individual web strands and make wonderful outlines and reflectors. The same effect is sometimes caused by a heavy morning dew.
Without rain, you have to watch the sun's position relative to the web. When you have slanted rays it can light the web with reflected light.
Set your camera on the "macro" (close-up) position if you have one. If not, consult your instruction manual and move as close to the web as possible. If shooting from inside, remember to use your focus-lock mode. Focus on a solid object, such as the window frame, hold the shutter button halfway down, and move the camera to frame the web.
If all else fails, take several sheets of foil and reflect light from the setting sun onto the web. None of this is easy, but it can give you some startlingly satisfying pictures.
Q. I have a Minolta SRT201 that I have enjoyed very much. It is still in working condition, and I am thinking about buying a 70-200mm zoom lens.
Do you think this is a wise investment? Should I buy a new camera instead? If I buy a new camera, I would probably buy another Minolta because I like this one and I have all the lenses to fit it.
A. I can see why you like your SRT201. It was a great camera. The problem is that it has been out of production for at least 10 years. Repairs and parts are becoming harder and harder to come by. I would be concerned about tying an investment solely to that camera.
If all of your lenses are Minolta lenses, you might want to consider buying a new X-700 model, which is readily available. Your other Minolta lenses will fit it, as will, of course, the 70-200mm zoom.
The X-700 is a more sophisticated camera than your current one. You will find it easier to work with and capable of doing more things.
Unfortunately, older Minolta lenses won't fit the newer Maxxum models. But be sure that, while you're shopping, you take a look at the Maxxum 7000-i.
FEEDBACK: "I read with great interest and some disagreement your discussion of the use of nonautomatic cameras for the teaching of photography students. You obviously feel that teachers who won't let students learn on these modern miracles are correct. I don't think so. This is like saying that a person shouldn't buy a Lincoln Town Car until he learns to drive and handle a Model T. I feel that formal instruction in photography should be expanded. It's nice to know certain basics, but let's teach modern accomplishment, such as auto-focus and auto-exposure, as well."
These are good points, but I still feel that you have to crawl before you walk. How do the rest of you feel about this?
FUJI HAS announced it will phase out its plastic film canisters. Fuji film, starting first with the amateur consumer packages, will come in paper canisters. How great! Fuji even plans to make its film boxes out of recycled paper.
When I wondered about how this will affect folks who send their film through the mail for processing, a Fuji representative told me that the company had increased the strength of its film cartridges several years ago, and has had no bad reports on shipping the film without a canister.
Write Carl Kramer c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.