Taking our new camera for a spin

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by davidfromoz, Oct 24, 2007.

  1. davidfromoz

    davidfromoz TPF Noob!

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    Hi All,

    After _a lot_ of deliberation we bought our first DSLR last weekend. We upgraded our Canon S40 which has served us well for 5 years and got a Nikon D80 with a 18-200 lens with vibration reduction. We're very excited!

    Anyway, this weekend we are going into the mountains to try it out. The autumn colors are beautiful here at this time of year so I hope we get spectacular results. We'll be shooting mountain landscapes and I'd like to get some advice from some people here how to get the best results. Any suggestions would be a step up from where we are now. We are short on artistic, technical and operational knowledge here :-(

    I think the lens is a good general lens. And we overshot our budget a lot when we got it so I think we won't be getting a second lens for now. Not sure what the ideal lens is for landscapes. I had thought to get a simple 50mm lens due to its compact size at some time. I got a polarizing filter which I believe can help in landscapes if its bright.

    The camera has a mode for automatically taking landscapes. It will make all the settings. Though I want to try controlling them myself. Is it fair to say that I should use a smaller aperture (bigger number) to increase my depth of field and use the lowest ISO setting I can manage.

    I'll probably mess around with multiple different exposure compensation settings to see how they compare on at least a few shots. There are some advanced image settings too that I'll probably leave for now. (I believe many can still be achieve with RAW files later).

    We didn't buy a tripod, but might pick one up on Friday night before heading out. We hike a lot so weight and folded size is a big factor. Any suggestions? With vibration reduction could I get away without it on a nice bright day?

    I will shoot in JPEG and raw probably at the highest quality settings incase I take a magnificent photo and want to print it out nice and big. I'll download some free RAW image processing software to try out, though I suspect that will take a long time to get the hang of.

    Thanks in advance. I'll link photos and ask for comments after the event!

    cheers,
    david
     
  2. TwistMyArm

    TwistMyArm TPF Noob!

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    Hey David, welcome to TPF and congrats on the new camera. I think You'll find there's plenty of knowledgeable people here to help you out.

    Anyway yes a polarizing filter will be beneficial when shooting landscapes. It will give you a deeper blue when shooting the sky. It will also remove reflections on water and other reflective surfaces.

    Using a smaller aperture (eg F16,F22,F32) will give you greater depth of field when shooting landscapes, which basically means more of the photo will be in focus.

    As far as the image settings you refer to yes it may be possible to adjust some of these later if you're shooting in RAW. White balance being one example. Before going out I'd recommend reading through the manual to see what each of these settings is used for.

    I'd recommend a tripod if you're shooting landscapes. Otherwise you might need to resort to a higher ISO to prevent camera shake and that could result in more noise. If your lens has vibration reduction you might be able to get away without it, but I'd prefer to use a tripod myself.

    I'd shoot in RAW. It requires a little more processing time, but you do get more room to play after the photo has been taken. I have the ability to shoot in both RAW and JPEG at the same time, which isn't bad if you want to share the photos right away, but for the most part I'd rather just have the extra space on my memory card for more images.

    Anyway I'm tired and need to head to bed so sorry if I didn't answer all your questions or wasn't clear on the answer. Have fun with the new camera though.
     
  3. DSLR noob

    DSLR noob TPF Noob!

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    avoid the "landscape mode" all of the modes that aren't P, Av, Tv, or M ( I thiknk Nikon may be a tad bit different but similar) Throw it in P to get started off and it isn't all that hard as you' think. The camera will take care of everything for you in P except for the ISO, which you pick. Other than that, it's basically an Auto mode with a lot more control (turn the control wheel to change the shutter speed to aperture stop- ratio that the camera sets up for a bit more control. (I.E. in auto, it just take s apicture no questions asked, in P it gives you a shutter speed and aperture value for an image when you press halfway, if you adjust the shutter speed down one stop, your aperture will open up one stop, keeping a constant ratio)
     
  4. You're definitely on the right track. When shooting nature, the closer stuff can easily be done hand-held. Sweeping majestic vistas are even better when captured with a tripod... but it's your first outing, there's enough to work with right now. You can bring a tripod the next time.

    You can comfortably shoot at ISO 400, that will give you quicker shutter times. Lower ISO is always better though as a general rule.

    Smaller apertures (uh... the ones with the bigger numbers, as you know) will lead to a bigger Depth Of Field so you'll get more in... but it leads to longer exposures (slower shutter times) which mean camera shake. A handy rough-guide rule is not to exceed the shutter speed as it matches the focal length... so if you're zoomed in to 200mm, you're not going to want to shoot much slower than 1/200th... roughly. The VR will help a good amount, you'll see what you can get away with once you get home and check the images on the computer. Don't kill your battery by checking out every shot in the back display. You won't see that much detail there anyway.

    ... and remember, if you spend all day shooting and end up with two keepers, you're doing well.
     
  5. Hill202

    Hill202 TPF Noob!

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    That makes me feel better, thats about my ratio.
     
  6. davidfromoz

    davidfromoz TPF Noob!

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    Thank you everybody for your advice. What a fun weekend!

    On Saturday we got up really early to take advantage of the "magic hour" and get some fantastic photos. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty overcast. As we arrived at the site it started raining and not long after that it started bucketing down. It kept up for the rest of the day. I learned that larger lenses get water on them more than point and shoot lenses and that a lens hood can be used for more than keeping light off them. I also learned that while soft directional light is great for taking outdoor photos, rainy conditions are superb for buying photographic equipment. I went and bought a tripod and a flash.

    So armed with our tripod we set out on Sunday to capture our autumn photos. Here are our favourite shots from both our new SLR and our old point and shoot.

    http://www.zooomr.com/photos/davidfromoz/sets/24401/view-detail/

    What we learned:
    • Scene selection and picking the right lighting are by far the most important things.
    • For the most part, a DSLR wont improve your casual shots markedly over a point and shoot.
    • We shot mostly in aperture priority selecting first aperture, then ISO and making sure the shutter speed was high enough. We could shoot at ISO 100 a lot of the time. We played a bit at ISO 400. It was noisier, even for our untrained eyes.
    • Aperture 8 or 16 are good choices if you have foreground in your shots.
    • Mornings and afternoons are best if you want color and clarity (in Tochigi, Japan)
    Now we really need to learn about raw file processing and how to speed up the whole thing. It was our first time, but it took much longer to get our photos filed and posted with the new setup.

    I wrote a bit more about what we learned in post here:
    http://fromoz.com/photograhpy/first_day.html
     
  7. LAW2

    LAW2 TPF Noob!

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    I think you did well for your first time out with a dslr. Your photos show you have an eye for composition. If you continue to learn about your camera and photography you will have a hobby for a lifetime.
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    With a new camera, especially a new dSLR, thats so true. The first week I had my D200, I had no keepers at all. I was very frustrated and seriously wondering if I had made a huge mistake.

    After I spent a little time learning and playing, things improved drastically in a short time. My "keeper rate" now is about 95%... problem with those 95% is that I am now a LOT more critical and pics that I see as keepers before are now unacceptable. That pushes me down to about 50%.

    Its a vicious cycle, I tell you! :lol:
     

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