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If you're just starting out in the world of photography and want to learn how to get the most out of your camera, then this forum is your new secret hangout spot!

Take better photos today with my Nikon D3100 Cheat SheetsCheck 'em out!

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  • just a quick hi!!
  • Just bought my first DSLR, a factory-reconditioned Nikon D3100, a few days ago and am noticing an immediate improvement in even my most casual shots! I like to shoot a lot of scenery, particularly when I vacation in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate NY, and my previous camera lacked the dynamic range to consistently get good shots (plus, its undocumented and non-defeatable "edge enhancement" often mangled foliage).

    I'm looking forward to learning more about both the D3100 and photography in general.
  • Hi all, a quick hello, Just got a 3100 for my birthday, looking forward to getting some good tips on here and to grips with this baby!
  • My D3100 is very slow to focus and I miss a lot of good shots. How do I set it to be quicker
  • Hi Folks!

    Loving my D3100 I got from Xmass. Been shooting whenever I can. Looking forward to sharing and learning with you guys.
  • @Keek
    Unfortunately, there’s no setting to adjust auto-focus speed (because there’s no reason for anyone to want slower AF). Anyway, make sure you’re shooting with the optical viewfinder rather than LiveView. Nikon’s contrast detect AF in LiveView is notorious for being slow. Phase detect AF is always faster.

    AF performance depends heavily on the lens. If there’s an focus hunting, then perhaps there’s just not enough light on the subject for the AF to lock on. You’ll need to put more light on your subject either with a flashlight or the AF-assist lamp.
  • edited February 2015
    With regard to focus speed, the auto focus engine in the D3100 and its siblings is not the very best (though it's not bad) which is, I suppose, one of the reasons this camera is such a bargain for what you get. You can work around some of this issue if you know in advance approximately where you will be focusing. If your last shot was far from where your next shot will be, the camera will often hunt all the way in the wrong direction before turning around and going back, which, of course, will slow things down a great deal. You can get around this often by prefocusing someplace near where you expect your next action to be. If you're waiting, for example, for a race car to come out of the woods, focus on the woods before it gets there. If you're trying to bag a bird in flight, focus on something approximately as far away first.

    If AF is very slow, then make sure you aim at something with a fair amount of contrast. The AF system will sometimes utterly refuse to lock onto a bland sky, for example, but it will hit a fleecy cloud or distant hills, and infinity is infinity as far as the image is concerned. At 35 millimeters and F2.8, an infinity setting will give you depth of field back to about 20 feet. At shorter focal lengths, it's even less critical. You must take great care with depth of field when shooting telephotos, and when you're up close, but the wider and farther you go, the less critical it becomes.

    I find also that it's often easier to lock focus on the D3200 when I have it set to single point or dynamic area AF. The focus point is always in that center square of your finder unless you change it. You can lock to your subject in the center, and then, while holding the shutter button half way to hold focus, recompose as needed. If you set it to AFA and dynamic area, you get the benefit of single point focus most of the time, but if your subject moves, it will hold focus.
  • edited April 2015
    I spent a little time this evening before dark experimenting with auto focus. I left the camera on my usual dynamic area, center point lit, AFA setting. I find that with the 18-55mm kit lens and any subject that is even moderately focusable, it snaps right in, and it seems able to do so in either direction. That is, if the first shot was medium, it will go directly to either a shorter or longer point without hunting. Even in waning light, it worked quite well. In the worst cases, I don't think the shutter lag was as long as a second.

    The 55-300mm lens also focuses pretty cleanly, but it is physically rather slow. Even if it does not hunt, it can take a good second or more to go from one end to the other. It definitely pays with this lens to pre-focus if you can, and even, under some circumstances, to go manual if shutter lag endangers your shot. As before, the camera seems quite able to go in the right direction if the focus point in question is findable, but the focal length range of 55-300mm is pretty long, and the motor is not blindingly fast.

    Where things get complicated is when the scene is sufficiently out of focus, and focusable objects not available, that the camera does not know which way to go. It seems though it's still an open question here, that when it does not know what to do, it heads for infinity first, then turns around and heads back.

    This can be a problem when aiming at a bug in a flower bed at a full 300mm, for example. If the AF doesn't catch the bug, it doesn't know what to go for next. You can solve that sometimes by widening the focal length of a zoom, getting at or near focus, and then zooming in.
  • edited February 2015
    Wow! Just found this group! Looking forward to the experience.
  • edited February 2015
    Just joined. Bought my D3100 today and looking forward to learning how to operate it and take better pictures.
  • edited April 2015
    I just bought my camera and I want know if the kit lens it comes with is good or should I get the 50mm f/1.8g lens?
  • edited April 2015
    The kit lens is quite decent and should get you good sharp pictures. A fast prime is nice but I think you'd do better to wait and see whether the 35mm or 50mm focal length suits you best.
  • edited April 2015
    Thank you @bruto, I'll stick with the kit lens for now.
  • edited April 2015
    Just joined and I'm excited to be here. I asked a question in a forum. Will I get an email notification when someone has replied? Not sure where to find this out. Thanks.
  • edited April 2015
    You will get notification if the person replying puts your forum name into the post. You should get a notification on this, if I remember to say it is addressed to @lhug143. Otherwise, though, the forum does not know to whom a post is addressed. But when you visit the forum, you'll see a "new" tag for any posts that have been added since your last visit.
  • edited April 2015
    Great. Thanks @Bruto.
  • edited May 2015
    Hi everyone! I just landed here and I'm very excited to join the group. Is there anyone in the Chapel Hill area in North Carolina? I would love to have shooting buddies!
  • edited May 2015
    At last, somewhere to go where everything is explained in plain English - thank you so much Moose! I have had my Nikon D3100 for three years now, and I can honestly say I have learnt nothing from the manual that came with it. I have just discovered your site and have taken in more information than I have in three years. I am looking forward to exploring your site further.
  • edited June 2015
    Just found this website/forum yesterday. I have had my Nikon D3100 with the 18-55mm VR Kit lens for a week now and I'm looking forward to buying your cheat cards and learning about photography. I bought the camera primarily for shooting vacation rental properties I managed, as a point and shoot wasn't cutting it. I do some hobby work as well. Some photographers recommended I go with the D3100 and the Sigma 10-20mm for wide angle shooting, so I started with a barely used D3100 and the kit lens as I'm new to DSLR. Hopefully your cheat cards could help me tremendously, thank you.
  • edited June 2015
    Though the 18-55mm gets moderately wide, a wider angle might be nice for real estate photos and interiors where you cannot stand back as far as you'd like. The wider you go, the more perspective distortion will be noticeable.

    If your camera is not level, and you aim up at anything, the perspective will be odd, with the object appearing to taper like a cone. The wider you go and the more off level you are, the worse it is.

    Once upon a time on film, about the only solution to this was a shifting lens, rather exotic and expensive, or tilting the enlarger when one made the print. You can now correct perspective in software, and there's even a setting in the camera for this (at least there is in the D3200). But when you do this, it shrinks some borders, so make sure your shots are a bit wider than you need.

    A surprising number of real estate shots aren't corrected, and they look bad.
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