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Help for a novice photographer

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by HC, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. HC

    HC Well-Known Member

    JR totally surprised me with my first DSLR camera - a Nikon D3300 with an AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140 mm lens. This is something I've always wanted but never asked for so this gift came out of the blue and I'm over the moon.

    Going to try it out for the first time today but does anyone have any suggestions - good books, helpful YouTube videos, etc. for a novice?
  2. Madhavok

    Madhavok Active Member

    I was an avid member on a Canon message board that helped me quite a bit years ago. I recently sold my Canon 7D and replaced it with an older Pentax 35mm film camera that is heaps of fun. Before that, my managing editor, my goodness, 10 years ago (we are both gone from the paper), gave me a crash course on my first day in manual mode - iso speed, f stop, and shutter speed. Let us know how it goes, I'm very curious!
    HC likes this.
  3. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    I bought an app from Better Book called "Understanding Your Digital Camera". I have it on my iPad and iPhone. I think it cost $5, or close to it.
    HC likes this.
  4. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    Sorry, it's called "Master Your DSLR Camera".
    HC likes this.
  5. HC

    HC Well-Known Member

    Cool ... thanks for all the suggestions. I have signed up for a 3-hr workshop at a camera shop that is specific to my model of camera and comes very highly recommended. It's for people that want to move from automatic to manual use of their camera. Seems like a good starting place for the basics.
  6. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Make sure the lens cap is off. That's the best advice I can give. :D
    HC likes this.
  7. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    Learn the three foundations of your camera (ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed) and how they relate to each other and that's seriously about 90% of the learning curve.
    In layman's terms, generally:
    ISO= The amount of light your camera lets in. The lower the amount (200 ISO as an example), the less light your sensor is letting in. The higher the amount (6400 as an example), the more light your sensor is letting in. With light, comes grain so if you can, shoot at the lowest ISO you can and your photos will look better. A photo taken at 6400 ISO will look a lot noisier and have more noticable muck in it than a sharp shot taken at 200 ISO.
    Aperture= How much of your area is in focus. To get the nice blur you see in photos, you need to shoot at a "low" aperture (I say this because the terminology, which is confusing, say it's the opposite). So if you shoot at F2.8, you're going to focus in on a MUCH smaller area than shooting at F8. Shooting at a "lower" number means less is in focus and more is out of focus. Therefore, if you're shooting a football game (as an example), shooting at F2./8 will focus in on the running back coming your way and everything else is out of focus. Shooting at F8 will make the running back and the three defenders chasing him come in focus.
    Shutter speed= How fast your shutter takes a photo. The higher the number, the faster the photo is taken, which is especially important in sports as you need to shoot at a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 (or 500 on your display) to capture action without producing blur.

    These three numbers all relate to each other and you need to learn how to capture a strong photo. As an example, let's say you're shooting a daytime portrait of your friend. Let's say you start at ISO 200, F11, 1/500 and you notice it's dark. You can:
    1.) Raise the ISO, which would let more light in but create more noise and wouldn't look at sharp.
    2.) Lower the FStop, which would focus in on less of the area around him and more on your friend or
    3.) Lower the shutter speed.
    There are plusses and minuses to all three approaches but doing any of the three would fix your photo (ideally) and learning how the numbers relate will be the hardest thing to master but, once you do, the way to get truly strong photos.

    Hope this helped. Whenever I help explain these things, I try to do so in a way I wish someone had told me. But good luck. Photography is a ton of fun. :)
    HC likes this.
  8. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    HC likes this.
  9. HC

    HC Well-Known Member

    Y'all are great! I've bookmarked this thread.
  10. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Good ideas here.

    My suggestion is this: shoot like tomorrow isn't coming. Each shot will teach you something new.
    HC likes this.
  11. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Understand that your 18-140 is going to adjust when you're shooting in A mode (a is "Aperture mode, not automatic, as most thing). The lens is likely a 3.5 at 18 mm and the aperture closes the further out you go, so at 140mm you're shooting at probably 5.6.
    Learn what aperture applies to each situation. If you're shooting a single subject, you usually want an aperture around as low (2.8 or 3.5) as possible. If you have two subjects, I've read you want to be at 4.0 or higher; three or more, 5.6 or higher; larger groups, 8.0 or higher.
    I'd highly recommend buying a 50 mm 1.8 lens. You can get a Nikon 1.8 for around $100 (if you get it with VR, it's closer to $200). It's a prime lens and it really helps you learn how aperture works. As shieza mentioned, a lower aperture gives you a smaller focal point, but you'll be so much sharper. You can adjust the aperture as you see fit and learn the difference between 1.8, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, etc by taking photos.
    Shutter speed is pretty simple. For portraits, family gatherings, you'll rarely need to be faster than 1/150. You can get away with shooting 1/80 because unless you're trying to stop motion, there's no point in jacking up the shutter speed.
    I've found sports need to be shot at 1/400 at the absolute slowest. For one, anything slower brings natural camera blur into play and you want to avoid that (tip I received - whatever the length of the lens is, multiply by 1.5 and that's the slowest you want your shutter at). In the summer, jack the ISO as low as you can (200 on some cameras, 100 on others), drop your aperature low and see how fast you can get your shutter going. It's a hell of a lot of fun shooting sports when you can stop everything still in frame.
    Like it's been mentioned, shoot everything possible. I've been shooting for a good three years and it's amazing how much better I am today than I was when I started. It's a hell of a lot of fun.
    HC likes this.
  12. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I'll second Rhody on an f/1.8 50mm prime lens -- if Nikon does one similar to Canon's. I don't know Nikon, but for Canon, they used to only be about $100 new, and it is probably the best bang-for-the-buck lens there is. You can't get a professional lens that is any better. Apparently 50mm prime lenses are particularly cheap and easy to manufacture. With the low aperture, it will be the fastest lens in your bag, and it's a light, small lense that you can use to shoot indoors when you can't use a flash -- for example, in a museum. And prime lenses take sharper photos. It will also teach you a lot about how to frame shots because you have to physically move your feet.
    HC likes this.
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