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Old Sep 12, 2004, 12:46 AM   #1
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I just got my new D70. It is probably overkill considering the only thing I really know about photography is to point and shoot. It was free, so I can't complain. I know it will be a slow process to learn this camera and how to take good pictures. One thing I have noticed is the built in flash does not seem to be very powerful. I have only used the camera in AUTO mode so far. Tonight I used it indoors at a church concert. The indoor lighting seemed adequate, but I soon realized that by passing the flash and trying to take pictures without one caused the shutter speed to slow way down. When I was up close with more light, it seemed to work, but standing back about 25 feet and zooming in was a no go. Everything was blurry. If I kicked in the flash, it seemed to actually darken the picture and subjects. I was hoping this camera would suit my needs without buying an external flash.

Should I just set the flash to fire at full power all the time? Even in Auto mode? What is the general rule of thumb about moving to an external flash. Anything over 15-20 feet? Will any external flash work?

I know these are real basic questions, so I thank you all in advance.
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Old Sep 12, 2004, 10:10 AM   #2
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Hi Chostinz,

I have a D70 and I had been using a canon G1. Don't be intimidated. Just start taking pictures and try out different modes. I ended up with the SB 600 b/c I figured I wanted all the options and distance for my light source as I grow. See Nikon Digital SLR forum. Go to page 2 and you will see "Which Flash..... " by Civil. I think this will help. I am not an expert by there was some good advice given. I use my external light source, it has made a difference for me, the built in is not enough for me. Keep referring to the manual. Good Luck, enjoy your camera.

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Old Sep 12, 2004, 11:19 AM   #3
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Congratulations! I put an eyeon the D70 but did not get it yet, for different reasons. I suggest you to go the the SLR forum, or flash forum since your question would be specific to the camera, that way you will have more resources.

About external flash, I would geta Nikon, or a close clone known to be 100% compatible (I wonder if those Sigma are ?)
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Old Sep 12, 2004, 11:54 AM   #4
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Sorry, I meant to say SB 800 not SB 600. Otherwise I paid more and got more options.

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Old Sep 12, 2004, 4:12 PM   #5
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I would recommend the sb800 as well. That is what I have. It's a nice flash too. It allows you to be more creative, such as bounce the flash off the ceiling or firing it remotely without wires.

The D70 is a nice camera, but the builtin just doesn't cutt it if your subject is more than 15 feet tops ... considering many SLR's didn't use to come with built in flashes though, I'm just happy it has one because it works fine in a pinch and great for fill flash too.
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Old Sep 12, 2004, 5:31 PM   #6
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Some of the answers don't address the main problem, which is aperture. I think you are going to have to get the manual out to understand all this but here goes. The kit lens, which I assume you have, reduces the aperture as you zoom, so it is quoted as an 18/70 F3.5/4.5 lens. That means that the lens reduces the aperture - or light let in - as you zoom, and since less light is getting in then the speed slows down to a point that you can't take a hand held picture. Right, one way of addressing this problem is to change the ISO rating, like when you used in the dinosaur days buy film. The higher the rating, the faster the film but the trade off is grain, nowadays called noise in digital photography.

So you could try increasing the ISO rating if you aren't too interested in printing the photos first of all. It might work enough. However, I doubt it. The built in flash is only for close up work, so using the zoom won't be of any use since the flash doesn't zoom with it. As for the differences between the SB600 and 800 I will, once again, reproduce the answer from Onyx a while back, which to my mind is qite explicit. He says:-

Aside from the differences in power and features you can read up anywhere, the two also differs in functionality.

The SB600 operates basically under 2 modes - iTTL auto and manual. The SB800 adds aperture auto, non-TTL auto, distance priority manual, and other modes that may or may not be helpful/useful to you. It has a light sensor on the unit, that can determine flash exposure independently from the camera body. This means it will work with older Nikon bodies that perhaps don't have sophisticated flash exposure sensors. It also means you have an alternative to iTTL metering should you face a situation that it cannot resolve adequately.

While iTTL is supposed to be an improvement on previous flash metering methods, you will no doubt have come across many dissatisfied users or those having issues with it (go browse any photography forums). With the SB800, you at least have the option(s) of other auto flash exposure methods available for these difficult situations. With the 600, it basically comes down to getting to know the iTTL metering method and knowing what its weakness are.

The lucky ones in the US have an easy choice - the 800 offers so much more for only a small additional cost to the SB600. Outside of the US, the SB800 commands a huge price premium - whether or not that's justified for you, only you can answer.


So my advice, and that of Onyx, is to buy the SB800 for much better features as you get more into the camera. You might also find, if you get interested enough, that a different lens might help, but that will be expensive, since I am thinking of an F2.8 lens to admit more light.

Finally, are you finding that there is a half moon shadow at the bottom of each picture? I realised I had the lens hood on - take it off!



Best of luck
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Old Sep 13, 2004, 1:31 AM   #7
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Thank you all for the good advice. I will start to look for a SB800 this week. Sounds like the best bet is too just experiment with some settings. From what you guys also said, it appears I will be able to get better results from using the manual modes on the camera and save the auto mode for the few times my wife wants to use it. Can anyone recommed any good interactive Cd's or photo guides to get me started?
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Old Sep 13, 2004, 11:37 PM   #8
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Whoa there! Buy the SB800 and you won't regret it, but let the camera do the work for you here. Just set it on auto and fire away - the flash zooms with the lens to compensate. As for general usage, try using the aperture mode and take a number of shots of the same subject at each aperture so that you can get to understand depth of field. The higher the aperture number, the more the background will be in focus. Like that you can learn how to do portraiture (which requires the lowest aperture rating) so the background is out of focus. I am sure you will have many happy hours finding out about it all, and best of luck.
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Old Sep 14, 2004, 11:09 AM   #9
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I appreciate the advice. It is nice to know there are resources and people out there to lend a hand. I moderate on a technical website for communications systems, so these on line forums are extremely helpful. I will continue to post questions as long as you guys and gals don't mind.

When I was taking some pictures the other day, inside, they were very dark when using the flash. Can I assume that I was standing to far away from the subjects and that the flash actually speed everyting up and did not allow enough light in for the exposure?

I am also going to shoot some indoor pictures at our church. Flash photography is not a popular thing during services. If I stand back 30-40 feet and zoom in, I get plenty of light, but the shutter slows way down. Would using a tripod keep the camera still enough to take the shot?

Last question of the day. We have another digital camera, a small olympus 5 mp camera. It seems to be a lot more forgiving in low light situations than this new digital SLR, why is that.

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Old Sep 14, 2004, 12:39 PM   #10
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Well, taking pictures in church from a long distance without flash is not going to be easy with thekit lens, if that is what you have. At the longer end you will be on F5.4 so the amount of light entering the camera will be severely restricted. A tripod will be necessary, but only if people are not moving at all, else you will get a blur. The shutter will be open quite a long time. The built in flash is only good for a few yards, and is designed to help out in marginal situations. I took a photo of a car the other day in a showroom, and the car was illuminated only half way back. You will need to buy the SB800 for the best results, and this flash is good for 40 yds! With that you won't need a tripod. Try playing with the ISO rating and you will get better results, but grainy like with high speed film. Strangely enough I have the Olympus 5060 also, which I find gives better results indoors than the Nikon, so I guess, though I haven't verified, that the flash is stronger. It figures really, since the latter is an all purpose camera, whereas the Nikon D70 is designed for an add on flash. When you get further into the camera, I would think of investing in a bigger lens, not a bigger zoom but one that has a bigger aperture, say F2.8. If you can't afford the Nikon 17/55 F2.8 (and most can't) look at Sigma. This will help out enormously. Like I said, the more light in the camera from a bigger lens, the quicker the shutter speed, so the better the photo. I have the Nikon 70/200 F2.8 to complement the kit lens, and it is fantastic, but if that is beyond your budget then Sigma make some good alternatives. But most of all, make sure the lens is F2.8 or better. Hope this helps
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