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Old Feb 25, 2010, 11:25 AM   #1
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Default Total DSLR noob needs help with Nikon D5000

hi guys,

after many researches, reviews and thanks to the forum users, with plenty of advice, i have finally gone and bought a Nikon D5000 with 18-55II lens kit. The trouble is that i'm totally clueless and need your advice on the best settings for this.

I just hope its much better than my previous panasonic TZ7 choice and i hope i don't end up regretting paying over 500 for it.

Last edited by amateurman; Feb 25, 2010 at 11:39 AM.
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 11:40 AM   #2
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Nikon has some online tutorials you may find useful.

http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Ex...otography.page

But, unless you have an understanding of why you're changing settings, I'd stick with the defaults using Programmed Auto for a while and get a better understanding of how the camera behaves that way, looking at the settings it used in the image EXIF to determine why a photo looked better (or worse) with those settings. Keep in mind that the Engineers spend a lot of time trying to figure out the defaults that work well in most conditions. ;-)

Then, if you have a photo you want some advise with (on how you may be able to do something different to make it better), post a downsized sample and members can help you determine if something could have been done to make it better (for example, using a different Aperture setting for better depth of field, increasing ISO speed and/or using a wider aperture when faster shutter speeds are warranted, setting a custom white balance to match the temperature of the lighting, etc.).
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 11:43 AM   #3
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thats a good idea. can the nikon save custom settings? If so how many?
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 11:46 AM   #4
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Off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you. I could look it up for you. But, it would probably be better if you did it, so that you'd learn more about what features your camera has available and how to use them. ;-)

http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Ex...ra-Manual.html
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 11:48 AM   #5
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P.S.

You may also find your camera's review here to be a good resource, since it goes through the menus and tells you about the available options.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/camer...lr-review.html
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 11:57 AM   #6
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thank u very much jim. I've put the battery on charge, which will take approx 1.5hrs to fully charge...its only after that i'll have a play about with it. I might as well get some jobs over and done with and then i'm free later on tonight.

chat soon!
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 12:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amateurman View Post
I just hope its much better than my previous panasonic TZ7 choice and i hope i don't end up regretting paying over 500 for it.
Let me just add on to Jim's comments. The D5000 is a better TOOL - capable of producing results your old camera was NOT capable of doing. But like any tool, you have to learn how to use it. And I don't mean how to operate it either. A table saw is very simple to operate. But learning how to operate it doesn't mean you can build things.

If you want better photos you have to learn photography. There are no magical list of "settings" to use. No one can say -
for outdoor photos here is how to set up your camera
for indoor flash here is how to setup your camera

It's just not that simple. There are some CONCEPTS that are important however. Learning these will help you use your new tool to achieve better results:
  • Exposure and it's triple constraint - ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed. Learn how all 3 work together and interact to create a proper exposure
  • Metering - once you have a basic understanding of exposure learn about the different metering modes your camera has and what portions of the image the camera "looks at" to determine exposure. Then learn and practice how elements in that area can affect exposure (e.g. bright backgrounds, bright skies, dark shadows - etc...)
  • Quickly get an idea of how depth-of-field (DOF) works. How focal length and aperture and distance to subject affect depth of field. This is important - especially coming from a point-and-shoot because DOF with your new DSLR will be less. So less of any given image will appear in focus.
  • Learn how shutter speed affects motion blur. Study, experiment and learn what shutter speeds are needed to freeze a person in casual conversation vs. a kid playing or any other type of photography you plan on doing.
  • Spend some time reading about composition and what types of composition guidelines are beneficial for certain types of photography. After all, the best exposed photo in the world could still be total garbage if the composition is poor.
  • Learn about the various focus modes your camera has and practice each so you can learn WHY you would use one mode over the other.
  • Armed with all of that - try to learn WHAT AND WHY the various scene modes on the camera operate the way they do. Because guess what? Those scene modes simply adjust focus mode, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and metering. If you have an understanding of those elements you'll be able to use the creative modes (aperture priority, shutter priority or manual) to take photos. And why would you want to? BECAUSE, the camera isn't 1% as smart as YOU are. The camera's guesses at what all those settings should be will be wrong. How often they are "wrong" will depend on how challenging your situation is and what level of quality you want. But if you know the above "stuff" you'll be able to make adjustments - "wow, this shot is underexposed" - oh, I get it - the camera is metering off the whole image and that bright reflection directly to the side of my subject is throwing off the metering. I need to ADJUST the exposure (exposure compensation say) or select a different metering mode.
Anyway, you get the idea. But don't get too worried it's not too bad. You just have to learn to be a carpenter and not learn how to operate the saw.
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 1:32 PM   #8
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thank u very much John. Whilst the battery is charging, i've had a quick glance of the manual. There is definately a lot to learn.

I've noticed one issue though. The manual says that the 18-55mm lens is supposed to have a VR (Vibration Reduction) button on it, but this is missing from my lens and the only button is A-M. Does that mean that i don't have any sort of image stabilisation option?
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 2:00 PM   #9
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As John pointed out, there is a lot more to it than learning how to operate the controls and settings. ;-)

That's only part of the battle. Learning what to change and why is another story. LOL

Some of those tutorials at the link I posted earlier may help you get started (as they go into Basic Exposure, using Aperture to Control Depth of Field, use of different focus modes, Composition, etc.).

As for your lens, where exactly did you buy your D5000?

Nikon does make an 18-55mm lens both ways (with and without VR). But, the D5000 kit (at least in the U.S.) comes with the VR version. Was the dealer an authorized Nikon USA dealer?

If not, you may have bought a gray market camera, and Nikon USA will refuse to service a gray market camera (one not intended for sale in the U.S.), even if you are willing to pay them for the service. Or, the dealer may be trying to pull a "fast one" (swapping out the VR lens for a non-VR version if you bought a Nikon USA kit including a lens, versus a kit a dealer put together).

What dealer was it? Not an Ebay dealer with a low price I hope (as most of those do sell gray market gear).
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Old Feb 25, 2010, 2:05 PM   #10
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I just noticed you mentioned the price as being "over 500", so I guess you must be in Europe.

I'm not sure how Nikon Europe bundles them. But, we should be able to find out real quick by checking their web site. It could also be a Dealer kit versus one bundled by Nikon Europe. Did the listing for it say it included a VR lens?
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