Is a Nikon D40 right for me? Marine life photography (not underwater)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by ckusnierek, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. ckusnierek

    ckusnierek TPF Noob!

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    Hi all First post here :)
    I have always been a 35mm SLR guy and a few years back (ok more than a few) gave it up for the ease and instant gratification of Digital.

    Until now I could not afford a good DSLR (and still really cannot)
    I'm really a novice with the point and shoot (Kodak 10mp)

    I keep salt water aquariums and and have been trying for years to get
    a good macro with a point and shoot. I always have WB issues and over/under saturation.

    After much research I (think) I have decided on a Nikon D40.
    It seems it will do everything I want and then some. I would light a higher mp but 6.1 is more than acceptable.

    I am really hoping to fine one (body only) in the $150 to $200 range
    If you have one please PM me. ;)
    I have seen them selling in the mid 300's with lens(s) and accessories.

    Please feel free to suggest other "entry level" cameras.

    Here is what I will use this camera for.
    A few pics with my point and shoot.
    taken with a point and shoot

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And a pic of my aquarium ;) I'm very proud of it.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Darkhunter139

    Darkhunter139 TPF Noob!

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    Hmm you will be shooting in mostly low light no? Id probably save up for a D90 or D5000 if I were you honestly you will be able to shoot at higher ISO. If you really can only spend $150-200 and will not be able to save up any more then that I guess the D40 could do the job.
     
  3. Santa Gertrudis

    Santa Gertrudis TPF Noob!

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    I feel like a D40 with a 35 f/1.8 might do the trick in the low light. Cheap combo there!
     
  4. rallysman

    rallysman TPF Noob!

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    for aquatic photos it's hard to get anything really spectacular without a flash.

    I'm willing to bet that even a nice point and shoot triggering an above tank flash will yield better results than a DSLR with a fast lens. In order to get the maximum amount of light the lens will have to be wide open and your DOF will suck for anything other than extremely close shots. Also, if you want to take pictures of the fish you'll need to keep your distance to keep from spooking them away. Of course with corals this won't be an issue.

    I think lighting is more important than the camera at the point you're at.
     
  5. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    I guess you've never photographed through water. Shooting light into it will bring out every little particle floating around and if you try shooting flash through the glass you'll get mega glare.

    I'm no expert, but lighting is very tricky when it comes to 'in' water photography, whether you're actually in the water or just shooting through it.

    I'm really not sure if the D40 is your answer here, aquariums are pretty difficult to photograph well (at least that's been my experience).
     
  6. rallysman

    rallysman TPF Noob!

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    If you're referring to my post I have done a lot of shots through water. If there are particles you need better filtration (or knock 'em out in PP). At one point I had over 3000gallons of fish tanks in my house. Here's a few examples of shots using an entry level DSLR (D50) with a diffused overhead flash.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. JimmyO

    JimmyO TPF Noob!

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    You could also pickup a d50/d70 for cheaper then a d40, and they AF with more lenses.
     
  8. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    I stand corrected. :D

    Nice work! (and I'm envious) Would love to see your set up.
     
  9. ckusnierek

    ckusnierek TPF Noob!

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    Actually I'm shooting on VERY bright light. Not sure on Lux but the tank is lit by 3 250w metal halides

    I decrease the brightness because the colors look washed out
    I actually decrease the brightness and contrast and increase the saturation.
    That's how I get to those pics above.

    And yes a flash will bring out EVERY tiny spec.

    Here is an example of an unedited pic.
    Notice the blueish hue to everything. That disk and grate in the background is bone white. I either get blue or bright white. I can take the same pic on the same setting 5 times and get 5 different colors.
    In the end what I really want to to is have more manual adjustments. I want to upload RAW and correct WB.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. rallysman

    rallysman TPF Noob!

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    The color temp of the MH lights is probably quite cool. Is your tank acrylic? If so, you've lost image quality right there. That may be why they look a bit soft.

    I think you'll need to work on exposure as well as white balance, bit if you have manual control even a point and shoot (assuming it's decent) can produce nice images.

    Edit: After looking at the last image a good scrub on the interior surface would help as well. The glass/acrylic needs to be nearly spotless to keep from softening the image
     
  11. ckusnierek

    ckusnierek TPF Noob!

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    Tank is glass and that last pic is actually top down.
     
  12. rallysman

    rallysman TPF Noob!

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    What do you mean by top down?

    I'm not discouraging you from getting a different camera. In any event the DSLR would be advantageous but I don't want you to think that a DSLR is going to fix the issues you're facing now. If you have a stationary object then you'll get better images, but even the halides wont give as much "Umph" as an overhead speed light. A 1.8 or 1.4 lens will give extremely shallow DOF and for anything other than close shots or general photography it'll be nearly useless.
     

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