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Thread: Starting out

  1. #1
    Josh's Avatar
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    Starting out

    Hello everyone.

    I recently just purchased a Nikon D3200 and want to start learning about photography etc. And by that I mean everything from composition of the picture to the end result with some PP involved. However, my prior experience with cameras was an old point and shoot and never learned anything about settings (shutter speed, Apeture, ISO, etc). I have been reading on this forum for a couple of weeks and a few other sources so I understand the basic concepts. But I am curious if you would recommend starting out using manual mode the majority of the time or should I start with the Priority modes first? My goal is really to not use the "auto mode" or at least as little as possible.

    Thanks,

    Josh

  2. #2
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Starting out

    Josh - welcome to CiC. Unfortunately, there is no cookbook formula answer to your question. and you should try to master all of the modes. That is the only way you are going make the right decision for you in a particular situation.

    As a starting point, let me offer the following suggestion:

    1. If depth of field is important, i.e you want part of the shot to be in focus, while the background is blurred or you want the whole shot in focus, then go to aperture priority mode and select the f-stop you want to shoot;

    2. If you want to stop motion or blur motion, shoot shutter priority and select the appropriate shutter speed for what you are trying to do; and

    3. If you find yourself in a situation where you are not getting the result you want, switch over to manual and bracket the shots by changing the shutter speed and aperture to give you the result you are looking for.

    Do not forget the third variable. ISO. as you may have to adjust that to get the shot you are trying for. I tend to shoot at as low an ISO setting as I can get away with, as this will minimize image noise, will maximize exposure latitude and colour quality.

  3. #3
    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Starting out

    Josh, use whatever your comfortable with, the beauty of digital is it will cost you nothing other than your time, you may find it less to take in if you use one of the priority modes, it can be a bit of a struggle to get all your settings right in manual and compose the picture before the moments gone. so if you want to ply with manual id do it on something stationary until you settle in to you camera.

    take some pictures and put them up here (one at a time preferably for me!) and we will help you out bit by bit. welcome to CIC.

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    Re: Starting out

    It is good that you want to learn to use the manual controls of your camera but in the general picture they are less important than learning or seeing good images and using the wonderful aids that we have today is not a bad thing... the crux is learning to recognise when you need to use manual becuase the automatics are not giving you the right result. We all take different sorts of photographs but I rarely use Manual though from years of working with non-auto cameras I am familiar with it. Like a lot of things in photography it is good if one knows about them but you don't use them all the time. Digital is wonderful that you get immediate review and can change the way one is working if one didn't spot the problem up front.
    A very useful tool in this direction is the 'blinkies' where the camera tells you when it thinks you have over-exposed by flashing those areas on review. You then make the judgement call as to if that matters or if you need to make an adjustment, reducing the exposure, perhaps over several shots until you get the result you want. [ 2 or 3 anyway ]

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    Re: Starting out

    Hi Josh,

    I'm a newbie too so I don't have anything much to share with you except to welcome you I know you will appreciate this site because I haven't found so many helpful folks in all my online travels

    I just bought a camera with quite a few bells and whistles I am interested in learning about as well. For now, I have to stick with Auto Modes since I just don't know enough yet. I can try out things I am reading and learning though which is going to be a blast

    Enjoy your time here and again I welcome you!! Denise

  6. #6
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    Re: Starting out

    If I were to recommend settings for a new photographer to use, I would suggest setting the camera at ISO 160 (or 200 on a Nikon) for photography on relatively bright days and ISO 320 (400 for the Nikon) for dimmer days or when shooting action needing a very fast shutter speed. Night and lower light shooting often requires a higher ISO with which you should experiment before using it for any important images.

    I would select Programmed exposure. This will usually bring you right in the ball park as far as exposure goes. Always monitor your shutter speed and f/stop and see what the camera has selected. If you want more or less depth of field, P (at least on my Canon DSLR cameras) allows you to change the f/stop while still retaining correct exposure. If you want a faster or slower shutter speed, P allows you to modify that.

    After you become more familiar with photography in general and with your equipment specifically, you can alter your exposure modes. Most of the time I shoot in Av or aperture priority (using the same ISO as recommended above). Occasionally, but not often, I will shoot in Tv (shutter speed priority) or manual exposure mode. I have recently been experimenting with the use of manual exposure and auto-ISO. The jury is still out on that method!

    An excellent and helpful tool with Canon DSLR cameras is Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) in which you can automatically shoot one shot at the meter reading, one shot above the meter reading and one shot below the meter reading. After shooting with AEB for a while, a photographer can get a handle on when to trust the meter and when he or she must take control and provide more or less exposure.

    One example of this is when you are shooting in the snow or shooting a black cat in a coal bin. You must provide additional exposure to what the meter tells you for the light and bright snow areas and less exposure for the black cat! This is because the reflective meter in your camera wants to turn everything into a mid-range gray. In order to keep the white snow white, you must allow extra exposure and to keep the black cat black, you must decrease the exposure.

    However, having viewing multiple series of three shot exposure groups, a new photographer can learn what works exposure wise and what doesn't. Additionally, he or she will seldom blow any image because of bad exposure.

    I don't know how Nikons work with AEB. I understand that the entry level Nikons are less efficient in using AEB while higher grade Nikons are more efficient. All Canon DSLR cameras will allow you to shoot three bracketed exposures with each press of the shutter button and then stop shooting until that button is again pressed.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 29th October 2012 at 10:06 PM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    If I were to recommend settings for a new photographer to use, I would suggest setting the camera at ISO 160 (or 200 on a Nikon) for photography on relatively bright days and ISO 320 (400 for the Nikon) for dimmer days or when shooting action needing a very fast shutter speed. Night and lower light shooting often requires a higher ISO with which you should experiment before using it for any important images.

    I would select Programmed exposure. This will usually bring you right in the ball park as far as exposure goes. Always monitor your shutter speed and f/stop and see what the camera has selected. If you want more or less depth of field, P (at least on my Canon DSLR cameras) allows you to change the f/stop while still retaining correct exposure. If you want a faster or slower shutter speed, P allows you to modify that.

    After you become more familiar with photography in general and with your equipment specifically, you can alter your exposure modes. Most of the time I shoot in Av or aperture priority (using the same ISO as recommended above). Occasionally, but not often, I will shoot in Tv (shutter speed priority) or manual exposure mode. I have recently been experimenting with the use of manual exposure and auto-ISO. The jury is still out on that method!

    An excellent and helpful tool with Canon DSLR cameras is Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) in which you can automatically shoot one shot at the meter reading, one shot above the meter reading and one shot below the meter reading. After shooting with AEB for a while, a photographer can get a handle on when to trust the meter and when he or she must take control and provide more or less exposure.

    One example of this is when you are shooting in the snow or shooting a black cat in a coal bin. You must provide additional exposure to what the meter tells you for the light and bright snow areas and less exposure for the black cat! This is because the reflective meter in your camera wants to turn everything into a mid-range gray. In order to keep the white snow white, you must allow extra exposure and to keep the black cat black, you must decrease the exposure.

    However, having viewing multiple series of three shot exposure groups, a new photographer can learn what works exposure wise and what doesn't. Additionally, he or she will seldom blow any image because of bad exposure.

    I don't know how Nikons work with AEB. I understand that the entry level Nikons are less efficient in using AEB while higher grade Nikons are more efficient. All Canon DSLR cameras will allow you to shoot three bracketed exposures with each press of the shutter button and then stop shooting until that button is again pressed.
    Hi Josh,

    Welcome to this cool forum. D3100 newbie here.
    Moved over from P & S when my son gave me that D3100.

    Richard's post above is spot on. That's just about what I followed when I got my D3100.

    I also read the User's Manual many times. check out this D3100 Reference Manual from Nikon http://www.nikonusa.com/pdf/manuals/..._ENnoprint.pdf I guess it's almost the same for your D3200. ( but they may have one for your D3200)

    Followed Ken Rockwell's D3100 user guide ( D3200 in your case) and other tutorials on the web/youtube.

    Closely followed the advice of the experts here in our forum.

    Then, took many test shots of different objects - different light conditions/ modes: auto, program, aperture, shutter. Manual, too, following the "Sunny 16 rule". Remember film days, when the film boxes printed some guidelines like "sunny - f16, 1/250 etc."

    Yep, the nice thing about your camera is that it lets you take thousands of shots.

    Some of my "expert/technical " friends advised me to not use the "scene modes" because I will become just a mediocre photographer and so on. Don't mind them.

    Just keep in mind , we took up photography to enjoy taking shots of our family, landscapes, portraits and whatever you like.

    Meanwhile, just enjoy your new Nikon D3200. Congratulations!

    Vic

  8. #8
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    I recently just purchased a Nikon D3200 and want to start learning about photography etc. And by that I mean everything from composition of the picture to the end result with some PP involved. . .I have never learned anything about settings (shutter speed, Ape[r]ture, ISO, etc). . . I am curious if you would recommend starting out using manual mode the majority of the time or should I start with the Priority modes first?
    You should begin by understanding that in any of the three Priority Modes, (Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority or Program Mode) the Camera’s TTL Meter (Through The Lens Meter) is controlling the exposure.

    So I suggest that you first read through your User Manual and get a basic understanding of how all the METERING MODES work.



    Then I suggest it really doesn’t matter what Camera Mode you use – provided that you set out to MAKE A PHOTO WITH A SPECIFIC GOAL IN MIND, no matter how trivial the goal – and then interrogate the results and understand that interrogation such that you get some answers as to why it did work and as to why it didn’t work.

    ***

    For example (I shall use a specific example of a ‘problem’ a beginner had recently).

    The goal is to take an Outdoor Portrait of a three year old Child. The Photographer chose to use Aperture Priority to make a shallow Depth of Field and set the Aperture to F/4

    The outcome was, some photos were very nice with the background out of focus and dreamy and the Child in very sharp focus: yet other photos captured the child quite blurry.

    The Photographer was puzzled by this and at our lesson she said there was something wrong with the Auto Focus of her Lens. I suggested she interrogate the images and compare those which were ‘Good’ and which she thought was ‘Out of Focus’.

    To interrogate an image you first should -
    First look at the image – and ask: “what are the GENERAL CONDITIONS – i.e. describe what you see.

    Then look at the EXIF DATA and note:
    The Aperture
    The Shutter Speed
    The ISO
    The Lens Focal Length
    The Subject Distance (if recorded)


    We found that when we 'described the image' the ‘Out of Focus’ images were ALL when the Child was in Shade – all the images in the Sun were very sharp.

    When we looked at the EXIF we found that all the images in the Shade had quite slow Shutter Speeds and we concluded that as the Camera was in Av Priority Mode - in the Shady Photos - the Camera adjusted the Shutter Speed to around 1/30s to 1/60s – and Shutter Speed was too SLOW to arrest the Movements of the Child’s Head.

    The Solution to the Problem (and to still use Av Mode and F/4) was to adjust the ISO higher, so that when the Child was posed in the Shade there would be adequate Shutter Speed to ‘freeze’ any Subject Motion.

    ***

    That’s just an example – it doesn’t matter what exercise you choose provided you have set it clearly and simply and then think about how to do it and then make mistakes and then analyse the errors – and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

    I suggest one exercise at a time (even a very simple exercise) will reap volumes of knowledge – but only IF you take the time to analyse the results and seek to find WHY this bit worked and WHY this bit do not work.

    Here is another recent thread on this topic.




    So - What is your first exercise?






    WW
    Last edited by William W; 30th October 2012 at 07:16 AM.

  9. #9
    Josh's Avatar
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    Re: Starting out

    Thank you everyone for your feedback. This is one area where the more you learn the more you know that you don't know. But the good thing is that there is no rush just progress

    I will definitely ask for some feedback on some posting of my pictures. So I will try to get a Project 52 started with a picture that I took this weekend.

    As for exercises, I will probably start with Aperture Priority first this week when I am able to get out and shoot something. Then depending on how comfortable I feel I will move into shutter speed. However, I will probably also experiment with exposure a little more. I am going to look at the Nikon site (link above thanks Vic).

    But any additional recommendations I will definitely appreciate, and thanks everyone for being so welcoming!


    J

  10. #10
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Starting out

    Understanding theory is one thing, but putting it into practice is quite another. Getting out and shooting and then having your work critiqued is really the best way to go.

  11. #11

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    Re: Starting out

    Josh,

    I don't think you can go wrong with your decision to begin with aperture priority mode. As Manfred mentioned, make images and post them here for critique. Make a point of asking questions about your images. As you try using other capabilities of your camera, I strongly urge you to make only one change at a time. Otherwise, when things go awry (notice that I didn't write "if" they go awry), you may not know the cause and how to correct it in the future.

  12. #12

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    Re: Starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    Thank you everyone for your feedback. This is one area where the more you learn the more you know that you don't know. But the good thing is that there is no rush just progress

    I will definitely ask for some feedback on some posting of my pictures. So I will try to get a Project 52 started with a picture that I took this weekend.

    As for exercises, I will probably start with Aperture Priority first this week when I am able to get out and shoot something. Then depending on how comfortable I feel I will move into shutter speed. However, I will probably also experiment with exposure a little more. I am going to look at the Nikon site (link above thanks Vic).

    But any additional recommendations I will definitely appreciate, and thanks everyone for being so welcoming!


    J
    Welcome Josh,

    Great to know that you want to start with Av mode. Many people buy the most expensive DSLRs and never bother to move away from the Green mode (Auto). And then say, "Wow, look at the resolution. That's the beauty of using a 'single lens' camera. You know, less lens, more clarity..........." They even don't bother to check that the kit lens they are using is having multiple elements/no. of lenses. My point is if you want to shoot in Auto and resolution is the most important thing for you, then why buy a DSLR? Any good camera phone should do the job.

    You can do the following experiment:
    1. Chose a subject (stationary) in a well lit environment.
    2. Put the camera on Aperture priority mode and chose a fixed focal length. (changing focal length will effect DoF at same aperture).
    3. Put the metering mode on evaluative or centre weighted.
    4. Chose the base ISO, put IS / VR on.
    5. Select the centre focus point
    6. Select the minimum f-value (f/3.5 etc.: wide open) half press the shutter button to lock the focus on the subject.
    7. Now press the shutter button all the way to take the picture.
    8. Now chose the next higher f-value and take a shot.
    9. Take shots at every f-values all the way to the highest f-value (smallest aperture) Take all the shots from a constant subject to camera distance. Note the shutter speed coming down constantly with aperture becoming smaller and smaller. At some particular aperture, shutter speed might become considerably low to induce some camera shake (say, below 1/60the of a second). Always try to maintain a minimum shutter speed of above 1/100, raise ISO to 200 or 400 if required.
    10. Download the images to your PC and review. You will notice the chaning DoF with aperture (very shallow DoF for f/3.5 and large DoF for f/22 etc.)
    11. Post a couple of images for feedback from experts, and then work on their feedback. And the cycle goes on.................

    Apologies for the lengthy post, please ignore if not very helpful.
    Last edited by bedantabd; 30th October 2012 at 06:09 PM.

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