Newbie with Questions!

d70girl

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First of all, I want to say hi! I'm new here. I've been a TPF user for all of an hour, so forgive me if I'm asking redundant questions. :oops: I'm fairly certain most of you are going to read this and either laugh at me or think I should sell my camera and buy a Kodak Funsaver, but hey... gotta start somewhere. :mrgreen:

I just bought a Nikon d70s Digital SLR. This is the first "real camera" I've ever owned or used, and for my skills (I am COMPLETELY NEW to photography), it's great. Photography is something I've always wanted to do, and I seem to have an eye for it, so... I decided to buy a camera and see what happens.

Problem is... this camera takes fabulous pictures... when it's on the Auto settings. ;) When I shoot in manual, everything comes out grainy. I know this HAS to be something I'm doing or not doing, but I'm trying to figure out what. I'm also fairly sure it's to do with the ISO/aperture settings, because I'm still new at that. I'll try to describe what's happening so that hopefully someone can help.

When I take the picture, there's a little scale at the bottom of the viewfinder (light meter, maybe?) that lets you know whether you're overexposed, underexposed... and I try to adjust the ISO and aperture so that I'm in the middle, close to the "0" mark.

As for what ISO/aperture I'm shooting at, it's usually ISO 50 for indoors, anywhere between 100 - 400 for outdoors, depending on how bright it is, and aperture varies, as I still suck at it.

When I upload the pictures to my computer to view them, they usually look way darker than they did on the LCD of my camera. So I try to lighten them a bit, but then I get this grain -- like little tiny colored dots all over the picture. ??? Sometimes it even looks like lines going across the picture. ???

What the heck am I doing wrong? Is there hope for me?

Any help or tips that anyone could offer would be super. (I might just have to break down and take a class, right?)
 

DepthAfield

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Welcome aboard D70girl!

We all had similar questions with our first “real” camera; so don’t feel silly asking for answers. You’ve chosen a dandy camera to learn on… The D70s is simple enough for a beginner, yet it’s a camera that you can grow into.

YouÂ’ve also chosen a great forum to join! There are many knowledgeable and talented photographers among our ranks here at TPF who are always willing to share that knowledge.

As for help with your cameraÂ… My first recommendation is that you spend some quality time with your new camera and itÂ’s ownersÂ’ manual. The manual no doubt, appears to be written in Greek at this juncture, but it will start making sense as you become more familiar with the camera.

I would also suggest purchasing a book to help you learn about exposure… “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson is excellent. It can be found on Amazon.

And finally, let me tackle this:
d70girl said:
When I upload the pictures to my computer to view them, they usually look way darker than they did on the LCD of my camera. So I try to lighten them a bit, but then I get this grain -- like little tiny colored dots all over the picture. ??? Sometimes it even looks like lines going across the picture. ???

What the heck am I doing wrong? Is there hope for me?

Your images have been underexposed... Unfortunately, the LCD screen on your camera (or any digital camera) cannot be trusted as a measure for proper exposure. Learn to use the histogram function (itÂ’s in your manual). The histogram (which will appear on the LCD) is a far better indicator of proper exposure than just the image on the screen.

OhÂ… And reverse your thinking on the ISO setting. Very generally speaking, low ISO numbers are better suited to outdoor lighting conditions, while higher numbers are better suited to indoor or low light conditions.
 

jemmy

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:heart: hey there!! im pretty new here too but thought i'd put my 2 cents in... my camera is a canon 350D... my first real camera too and i've fallen in love all over again..... my poor hubby:heart: ... anyway, i'm only book-taught (will be doing some short courses soon) and like to think i have an eye for it too!xx I like to shoot on the AV mode and just wind it to the widest apeture (smallest number!...i think they are just trying to confuse us here!!!:lol: ) and snap away... .because my main subjects ( ie. my kiddies!) are 4 and 2 i usually just shoot on auto focus.... they're just too bloody quick and i figure if i muck around focusing manually, i'm bound to miss some moments!! hope ive been of some help?! xx look forward to checking out your first posts! xxand beware.... this site is addictive! x:p
 

Rob

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d70girl said:
First of all, I want to say hi! I'm new here. I've been a TPF user for all of an hour, so forgive me if I'm asking redundant questions. :oops: I'm fairly certain most of you are going to read this and either laugh at me or think I should sell my camera and buy a Kodak Funsaver, but hey... gotta start somewhere. :mrgreen:

Quite the opposite here :lol: We're more likely to be encouraging people to get an SLR!!

I just bought a Nikon d70s Digital SLR. This is the first "real camera" I've ever owned or used, and for my skills (I am COMPLETELY NEW to photography), it's great. Photography is something I've always wanted to do, and I seem to have an eye for it, so... I decided to buy a camera and see what happens.

Good choice!

Problem is... this camera takes fabulous pictures... when it's on the Auto settings. ;) When I shoot in manual, everything comes out grainy. I know this HAS to be something I'm doing or not doing, but I'm trying to figure out what. I'm also fairly sure it's to do with the ISO/aperture settings, because I'm still new at that. I'll try to describe what's happening so that hopefully someone can help.

Grain is usually because the ISO is set too high (for your taste). Very generally speaking, you probably won't be able to tell the difference between 50, 100, 200 and 400 on a dSLR, so pick the one that works with the lens you've got. I usually shoot at 200 or 400 as I tend to have my 100-400 on and it's long and dark so I need a fast shutter speed to avoid blur.

When I take the picture, there's a little scale at the bottom of the viewfinder (light meter, maybe?) that lets you know whether you're overexposed, underexposed... and I try to adjust the ISO and aperture so that I'm in the middle, close to the "0" mark.

Yep, that's the way to do it. Try not to go over 400 ISO and optimal sharpness should be a couple of stops up from f-min. i.e. use the lowest f-number + 2, probably f4 or f5.6 or thereabouts.

As for what ISO/aperture I'm shooting at, it's usually ISO 50 for indoors, anywhere between 100 - 400 for outdoors, depending on how bright it is, and aperture varies, as I still suck at it.

I'd say, pick an ISO, like 400 and stick with it for the day's light. Aperture needs to be changed depending on subject, and aperture directly affects exposure. So, if it's dark ish, choose 400, if it's bright, choose 100 and stick with it for the day.

When I upload the pictures to my computer to view them, they usually look way darker than they did on the LCD of my camera. So I try to lighten them a bit, but then I get this grain -- like little tiny colored dots all over the picture. ??? Sometimes it even looks like lines going across the picture. ???

It sounds like you've possibly got EV or exposure compensation and it's under exposing, giving dark areas. Make sure your monitor is calibrated correctly - do a search here on monitor calibration.

What the heck am I doing wrong? Is there hope for me?

It's probably just a couple of small things which are causing you bother - you'll overcome them.

Any help or tips that anyone could offer would be super. (I might just have to break down and take a class, right?)

Look at shots which worked and read the EXIF information from them and learn which settings work for which situation. For example, I know that with a portrait, f4 gives me a nice DOF with the 50mm lens, I also can calculate the exposure by looking at it - it's just practise. Experiment, and post examples here in critique along with all your settings and asking specifically how to overcome something like the little coloured dots.

Good luck and welcome!!

Rob
.
 

ksmattfish

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Learn to read the histogram (just google it). You really can't trust what you see on your LCD to judge exposure.

You might want to learn how to adjust the brightness of your LCD screen. I'm not using a D70, but with my DSLR I usually turn up the LCD brightness outdoors, and then turn it down again in darker situations so that it more accurately shows me what I'm getting.
 

Alpha

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d70girl said:
I just bought a Nikon d70s Digital SLR. This is the first "real camera" I've ever owned or used

Welcome to the forum! People here are seriously crazy about photography, and always willing to help out. Make yourself at home. Seems like some other people already have your questions well covered. So i thought I'd just drop in and say what the other half of the board wants to say but hasn't. DSLR's are not "real camera"s.

MWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA
 

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Can I ask what method you're using to lighten your pictures? You might be getting grainy images because you're using the 'brightness / contrast' sliders. To lighten your images you should use the 'levels' sliders.

What software are you using to lighten them up? You could try downloading 'The Gimp' (google it, but don't click on anything that looks dodgy!), which has a levels function.

Hope this helps
 
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d70girl

d70girl

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bigfatbadger said:
Can I ask what method you're using to lighten your pictures? You might be getting grainy images because you're using the 'brightness / contrast' sliders. To lighten your images you should use the 'levels' sliders.

What software are you using to lighten them up? You could try downloading 'The Gimp' (google it, but don't click on anything that looks dodgy!), which has a levels function.

Hope this helps

I've tried and tried to download GIMP, but I haven't been able to download it and get it to work. I think I'm going to the wrong links or something. If you have a direct link that you've had success with, let me know and I'll try again.

For now, I'm using Picasa. It's not great, but it's free, and free is good. :mrgreen: As I can afford better software, I'll upgrade.

Thanks everyone, for your responses and tips! (And for the warm welcome!) I'll definitely try your suggestions, and I'm sure I'll be posting and asking more questions!

Cheers!
 
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d70girl

d70girl

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One more question --

Could part of my problem be that I'm shooting with a high definition macro wide angle lens?
 

clarinetJWD

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The LCD is brighter than the image usually on the D70. I keep my LCD brightness at -2 to -3 and it yeilds much closer results. Always shoot RAW, and use a program like RawShooter (free) to do the raw conversions. Using this, you can save a whole lot of previously unsavable shots. As for ISO, I always shoot 200 unless I need the shutter to be faster, in which case I'll bump it up.
 

ksmattfish

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MaxBloom said:
So i thought I'd just drop in and say what the other half of the board wants to say but hasn't. DSLR's are not "real camera"s.

MWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA

That's right! Plate cameras are the only real cameras. It's been going downhill ever since they introduced film, and roll-film made it so any yahoo could be a photographer. ;)
 

Soocom1

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First welcome to the loony bin..uh I mean forum.....lol.

Seriously, you have started off on the right track. Believe it or not, starting with 50 ISO gives you so much latitude to work with, its unbelievable. Try shooting a picture of the same thing with various settings on your camera. (use a tripod to keep everything in place.) Then, shoot to your hearts content. This will help you compare the photos, but keep a log of every thing you shoot. this will help you immensely, and will show you where your mistakes are. BUT!!! never ever think that all mistakes are bad... Sometimes mistakes win contests and are sold for $$$. But that will come in time.

As for the grain in your pictures, worry not, it can be one or several of many things. Including ISO setting, image size setting, white balance, shutter speed, and defiantly look for dust on the sensor and lens.

As for the lens you quoted, no it wont cause grain. But it is a fun lens, and can give you great photos.

Never give up, and for a good laugh, good advice, good time and a psychological roller coaster and set of poster people for labotomies... Welcome here... Have fun.
 

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ksmattfish said:
That's right! Plate cameras are the only real cameras. It's been going downhill ever since they introduced film, and roll-film made it so any yahoo could be a photographer. ;)

Matt, where do you get these silly ideas?
 

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