Several newbie questions (D80 and general)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Boden, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. Boden

    Boden TPF Noob!

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    Hello! I hope I'm not out of line, but I have a few questions that have probably already been answered here; I just don't know what to look for.

    I'm very new to this photography thing, and have recently acquired a Nikon D80 in a kit with a couple of cheap lenses: Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm and a Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm. Some of my questions are specific to the Nikon, and some are general.

    1) Starting right off with lens identification, what do I have and how I refer to them?

    2) My D80 has several image "optimization" settings. Are these optimizations processed after capture, or do they somehow affect capture? If I shoot RAW, do they have any affect? I'm would have assumed no, but when I shoot a black and white in RAW mode, it comes out black and white, although the histogram indicates color content. Hm.

    3) Color mode: "Chose la for portrait shots and IIIa for nature or landscape shots. [...] Mode II is the preferred choice for photos that will be extensively processed or retouched." What in the world? Why not just have "best color possible" mode? Again, does this affect capture or can it be adjusted by shooting RAW?

    4) P vs. A: so Aperture mode is self-explanatory, the camera adjusts shutter speed to expose properly at a chosen aperture. But it looks like Flexible Program mode does exactly the same thing. What is the difference?


    Ok, so some general questions now:

    5) I'm starting to really understand the limitations of photography, and how I have to learn how to look at and for things differently. One problem I'm having, though, is that all of my photographs seem to come out with very low contrast...as if you took a good image in photoshop and adjusted the ol' contrast slider down several notches. This happens when I'm shooting landscapes, stills, whatever. Tips?

    6) Whenever I shoot at 200mm, my images tend to come out blurry. Is this because I just happen to be farther away from the subject when I'm using the zoom? It seems to me that this could be the case because small movements in the camera would translate to large movements at the focal point (if I'm saying that right).

    7) What is the general consensus when it comes to editing / enhancing images in software? I come from an audio world where people often frown upon excessive signal processing, especially if the processing is intended to "fix" problems during recording. In the digital photography realm though it seems like people process the heck out of everything. I feel guilty when I use photoshop, as if the image should be almost perfect right off the CCD, and enhancing should only be used to get it ready for its final medium.

    8) What's the deal with previewing images on camera LCD screens? According to my LCD screen I'm the best photographer on the planet. When I look at the actual photos, however, my novice is exposed (no pun intended). Is there a market for thumbnail photographers? :)



    I'm going to stop now. These questions have been building up for a few weeks now and I just had to get them out. Much appreciation to anyone who is willing to help. Thanks!
     
  2. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Mkay

    1. Your camera body is a Nikon D80, Your lenses are the 18-55mm and 55-200mm.

    2. Optimizations like that make no difference at all if you shoot RAW. You'll only see them at work on your rear LCD, not your computer. The reason when you shoot in monotone and you see a color histogram is becuase it's not actually making the RAW file monotone, it's just showing over it. You don't want to shoot in monotone anyway, you get much more control if you convert to montotone on your computer.

    3. Different color schemes work better for different subjects. I shoot in sRGB and leave it alone. I shoot RAW so it doesn't mater anyway.

    4. Program is pretty much aperture priority and shutter priority in the same mode. I shoot Aperture priority 98% of the time, otherwise i'm in Manual.

    5. your images look low contrast because nothing has been done with them. A RAW file is not an image. It's a sensor dump. It's what your sensor saw when you made the image. It's up to you to give it contrast and edit it to what you want.

    6. that blur is a combination of you moving, you having a slow lens (f/5.6 at the long end), and both of those combined equal unsharp images. You're goign to have to shoot on a tripod/monopod or boost your ISO higher than you normally would with an f/2.8 pro lens.

    7. Editing is part of photography. It always has and always will.

    8. If you want your images out of the camera to match what's on your LCD, shoot Fine JPEG. It's got all the enhancements slapped onto it, but it's a jpeg, so you have VERY little control over what you can do with your image after the fact and it's got anti-aliasing blurring over it, so the image isn't really that sharp.
     
  3. Boden

    Boden TPF Noob!

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    Thanks very much!

    Ok, but... what lenses are they?" I know I have an 18-55mm lens, for instance, but not which 18-55mm lens.

    I'm still having a little trouble with this one. I'm looking at the chart in the manual that indicates how the camera chooses shutter/aperture combinations in P mode, and this makes sense. However, the manual also indicates that if I rotate the command dial in P mode, that I'm dialing in aperture. In this case it must adjust shutter speed to match my aperture selection.... in which case am I not just in aperture priority mode?

    I don't always shoot in RAW mode. So far I only do this when I have white balance issues. This lack of contrast thing I'm seeing happens in processed modes as well. I notice it in a lot of the images in the galleries here too. Maybe this is too vague to address and I just need to shoot more pictures.

    Ok, got it. So with a faster lens, I can get my proper exposure with a faster shutter speed, thus I should see less motion blur. To compensate without using a tripod, I have to find more light and/or up the ISO. Yes?



    Thanks again!
     
  4. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    Program mode makes it so the camera picks the exposure settings, if you dont like one, you rotate a dial to change your shutter speed, and the aperture is automatically compensated. But, if you want a certain aperture, you set that and the camera will change the shutter speed to adjust.

    For lenses, well you simply have the 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 (kit lens) and you have a 55-200mm the f/4-5.6. It's not like they have special names or anything, lenses are just named by their focal length(s), in your case 55-200mm, as well as aperture (f/4-5.6 for this lense), and then the, class? Not sure if that is the term, but DX in this case. AF-S indicates the motor is in the lens (usable on D40).

    If your pictures are looking bland, take a look at your Image tone. Chances are its set to basic, and you may be looking for a "vivid" tone. Sorry I dont shoot nikon so I cant really help with the names. Either that or bump your contrast or saturation in camera to get the JPEG effect you want.

    And you've got it with shutter speed, aperture and ISO. aperture is the opening, smaller numbers are bigger openings that let in more light. Let it more light and you need a shorter shutter speed to compensate. Close the aperture to very little light gets through and you may need to keep the shutter open longer to allow enough light to properly expose the image. ISO is how sensitive your sensor is, so increasing it means you can decrease the others (either decrease the time the shutter is open, or decrease the opening of the aperture). Whenever you can though, its good to shoot at the lowest ISO possible since high ISO leads to distortion, otherwise known as noise.
     
  5. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The Program mode simply provides an array of shutter/aperture combinations that result in the same exposure. You can cycle through them with the command wheel. It really is a combination of shutter and aperture priority. If you want to vary from the meter recommendation you simply use exposure compensation or move to the manual mode. That is the same as using A or S. A and S are old fashioned modes from the early days of expsure automation. They do nothing that P won't do faster and easier. It is probably time to eliminate them in modern cameras.

    The optimization settings are an in-camera substitute for post processing. They do some of the same things to a JPEG that you would do with Photoshop but they do it with less flexibility. You need to invest in some post processing software. Then you can ignore the optimization settings or just use the RAW mode.
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You shouldn't. Consider photoshop the mastering stage. Regardless of how good something is recorded it goes through an intense mastering stage. Mobile Fidelity, Chesky and all the snob brands do it too, not just standard recordings.

    Post processing is part of the art. You record, look, and if something needs adjustment then you do it. Just like music is recorded at much higher than CD quality, mastered, and then downsampled, if you photograph in RAW, edit the photo in photoshop, and then convert to standard JPEG you will still get a very top quality output.
     
  7. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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    Some general tips for someone starting out with the d80:

    1) Start shooting in "P" mode, set Optimize Image to "VI" (Vivid), image quality to JPEG normal, and image size to Large. Shoot a whole bunch of snapshots, both indoors and outdoors, near and far, some with flash, some without. Then make changes to the settings based on how you feel about the snapshots. After this, try shooting RAW (NEF) and see how it compares.

    2) If you are shooting handheld at 200mm, make sure that your shutter speed is at least 1/200 sec. This will reduce or eliminate blur caused by handheld camera shake. If you want to shoot slower, either get a tripod, or get a VR (vibration reduction) lens. I think the general rule is shutter speed should be less than or equal to 1/focal length.

    3) What software are you using to load the "raw" (NEF) files? Yes, I know, RAW is like a digital negative, blah blah blah, but the truth is that different RAW readers use slightly different algorithms for interprting the RAW data, so using Adobe Camera RAW may give you a different result than Microsoft's RAW viewer, or Nikon's Capture NX.

    4) Your camera already does a boatload of processing before you even get a "RAW" image out of it. It all depends on your sensibilities. Even tweaking white balance is a form of processing...it all depends on how much processing you feel comfortable with (and how much time you feel like spending on it). With the settings from #1, I tend to get prints that look good when taken straight from the camera. However, that's because they've been processed by the camera firmware before I even see the JPGs.

    5) Use the LCD for checking composition. Use the RGB historgrams (on the LCD screen) to check your exposure.
     
  8. Boden

    Boden TPF Noob!

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    For some reason this really confuses me. I was "window shopping" for lenses and filters online, and I have no idea how lenses are named nor how I'd know if a particular lens / filter / etc would work on my camera. Everything is named by the specification it seems like.

    So right, I have an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. But there must be many lenses out there that have these same specs.

    If somebody says, "what lenses do you have", do I have to say all that stuff? What's the proper lingo? I'm especially wondering about how to refer to them verbally.
     
  9. Boden

    Boden TPF Noob!

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    Still confused. This will probably be one of those things where I slap my forehead and say "duh", but I don't get it.

    I just set the camera up and focused on an object and cycled through a few settings in aperture priority, and then cycled through a few in flexible program (which allows me to adjust aperture only). The camera picked the exact same numbers in both cases.

    So P mode then must be good because..... it initially decides what aperture it wants to give you if you don't mess with aperture (at which point it becomes "flexible program")? This would make it good for just point and click? This seems worse than aperture priority if you know what aperture you want to begin with.

    Part of me wants to believe that P mode allows me to adjust either aperture or shutter speed, and the camera will adjust the other setting automatically. This would make a lot of sense because it would be like being able to cycle between A and S modes without an extra dial. Alas, this is not the case.
     
  10. Boden

    Boden TPF Noob!

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    I'm using the Adobe DNG converter to convert RAW to DNG, and then opening the DNG in Photoshop CS. Don't have the bucks to upgrade photoshop for camera support.
     
  11. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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    Officially, you lens is known as the "18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor"...telling people that you have the Nikor or Nikon 18-55 is usually enough, as there are no other Nikon lenses that are 18-55 (as far as I know).

    Tom Hogan's site:
    http://www.bythom.com/lensacronyms.htm

    18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor

    18-55mm - Focal length range

    f/3.5-5.6 - Maximum aperture (here it varies through focal range)

    G - No aperture ring (?)

    ED - "Extra-low Dispersion glass", to help correct chromatic aberrations.
    Zoom - Multiple focal length

    II - Version II of ED?

    AF-S - From Tom's site: "An autofocus lens with a Silent wave, integrated, coreless focus motor"

    DX - Specifically designed for the smaller (non-full frame) sensor in digital camera bodies.

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on any of these.
     

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