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Old 01-14-2010, 07:58 AM
MadeToFly MadeToFly is offline
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Default How to get the most out of my camera?

I got a nice Nikon D3000 at christmas time and it has the regular 18-55mm lens.

I find it's just barely taking better pictures than my old P&S fujifilm camera, short of macro shots of course.

It's obviously something I've been doing but I find I'm not getting fine details like I was hoping for or great clarity!
Is there something I could try doing?
I change settings depending on things. For evening/darker house shots I turn the flash off and change my ISO to either HI or 1600. For riding shots in the indoor arena I usually put the ISO to 800 and without the flash, but usually end up putting the flash on. But the photos are amateur at best and not much better than P&S.

Any tips on how to get the best out of my camera?

Here's some pictures I've taken with it in different situations

















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Old 01-16-2010, 12:49 AM
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A DSLR definitely takes some getting used to, but you'll get there. You won't be able to get any outstanding shots indoors (or in low light) without flash with that particular lens though. Which it sounds like you're trying to do. I didn't know that either when I bought my camera, but quickly learned. The aperture doesn't open up wide enough for most lighting situations indoors. I have taken some pretty good photos without flash indoors with that lens before, but it's hard. The kit lens is a good starter lens for most people, but I hardly ever use mine now. I mostly use my Nikkor AF-S 55-200mm VR lens as well as my Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4 lens. The former also isn't great at indoor shots (or low light conditions) without flash -- I bought myself a speedlight for those purposes which I adore. The latter has a very wide aperture (f stop) which allows me to go without flash indoors/in low light. But it was very expensive, and I had my camera for almost two years before I bought that lens.

What settings are you using on your camera currently? Have you tried the manual settings to adjust your aperture? I'm not great at giving camera advice over the internet unfortunately (it's easier for me to actually show somebody and instruct), so hopefully somebody else will be able to help you further. In the mean time, read your manual (it will help! I didn't read mine for months, but finally did and learned a lot) and practice a lot. Lenses do make a world of difference in many situations, and the lens is often more important than the body. I don't really care for the 18-55mm that Nikon uses as their kit lens when compared to my other lenses, but it's still a good lens and you will be able to get really nice photos with it eventually. I also recommend joining a camera forum if you haven't already -- I joined the Nikon Cafe forums a while ago and they've helped me immensely. I don't really post there, but just reading other threads has helped me learn.

Anyhow, good luck! I wish I could've been a little more helpful.
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Old 01-16-2010, 07:46 AM
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I just want to +1 to the speedlight. I just bought an SB600, I haven't taken that many shots with it yet... but MAN can you tell the difference! It's AMAZING!

Also, learning the ways of photoshop helps a lot. I don't have it yet, so all of my pictures are straight from the camera... it makes me sad.
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Old 01-16-2010, 02:35 PM
MadeToFly MadeToFly is offline
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I have 2 versions of Photoshop so I'm good in that department and often play with contrast and lighting to get a bit more out of my pictures.

Out of curiosity, how much did those extra lenses cost? I'm aware they're not generally cheap lenses but how much IS "expensive"? I was looking at getting a telephoto lens (which was 55-200 as well, I believe) and it was on sale for $168 + tx. I didn't end up getting it simply because I had just gotten that camera kit (plus cam bag) for christmas, I didn't want to push for more.

I was playing with it a bit more the other day with more sunny weather and it does make a difference. I think I may look at that Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4 lens though, as I do indoor shows in the winter and it'd be nice to get some good shots inside.

For now though, is there any manual settings I could play with to get the best photos possible (without flash - not a good idea at shows!) for my indoor horse show tomorrow?
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Old 01-16-2010, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadeToFly View Post
For now though, is there any manual settings I could play with to get the best photos possible (without flash - not a good idea at shows!) for my indoor horse show tomorrow?
The first thing I'll comment on is the second and third shots you posted are very orange. Make sure you adjust your white-balance to suit the light you're shooting in. This will be very important when you're shooting an event in an arena. Don't rely on Auto White Balance as it will sometimes mess up.

For your settings when shooting in an arena, I'd suggest you put the ISO up to 1600 or higher. Shoot in Aperture Priority and set the aperture to f/5.6 (wide open) when you're shooting at 55mm. Make sure you're shooting at no slower than 1/30 of a second for the shutter speed. Otherwise you're likely getting some motion blur which is robbing you of sharpness. In fact, if you can get your shutter speeds up to 1/60th of a second, that would even be better.

When you're shooting at an event, also take a couple of moment to review some of your shots. If they appear too dark or too light, adjust your exposure compensation. The better your exposure is right off the bat, the better the quality will be when you're done post processing. If your photos are dark, when you lighten them in photoshop it will increase the noise (graininess) excessively.

Lastly, just shoot lots. Learn from what works and also from what doesn't. When you're post processing your photos, try cropping some of the shots to see if isolating the subject would work better and learn that way as well. The main thing is don't worry about your gear. Instead, enjoy taking photos. The gear will always be there if you need it later.
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadeToFly View Post
Out of curiosity, how much did those extra lenses cost? I'm aware they're not generally cheap lenses but how much IS "expensive"? I was looking at getting a telephoto lens (which was 55-200 as well, I believe) and it was on sale for $168 + tx.
My 50mm was about $600, which to me is pretty expensive, eventhough there are lenses out there for even more than that. The 55-200mm is reasonably priced. I got mine with my camera as the store had a good deal going on at the time, but even on it's own it's priced pretty good I think.
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:48 PM
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Unfortunatley without a new lens you aren't likely going to get good indoor horse show shots. Even say a big indoor show like the Royal there isn't enough light in the coliseum for 'basic' lenses (though I don't have Nikon I do have a DSLR)
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:03 PM
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Better Lens & a Flash You will be alot happier.
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:50 AM
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I'd suggest keeping your equipment as is for the time being, and focusing on your techniques. A good start would be Bryan Peterson's book "Understanding Exposure". Gives you a good jumping-off point into the manual settings of your camera and how you can use them to your advantage.

Good luck, it's addicting!
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