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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 D3200 Cheat SheetsCheck 'em out!

Cheat Cards D3200

I just purchased your Cheat cards for the Nikon D3200. On them you reference page numbers, what are those for?


  • edited January 2015
    Hello, I have the Tamron AF18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens on my D3200 body. Can I use the cheat cards for this combination?
  • Hey @Michel123, unfortunately no, but I am working on a set for the Nikon 18-200mm which will work with your Tamron. All the best!
  • Hi Moose, thanks for your feedback! Any idea when the cards will be ready?
  • Hey @Michel123 - I'm still doing some testing with the lens, so it will probably be around 6-8 weeks. All the best!
  • edited January 2015
    Just signed up today. Was wondering if you ever make cheat sheets for non-Nikon lenses. For instance, I have a Sigma 70-300mm lens and I'm looking for help. Thanks in advance.

  • Hey @kjny - Welcome to the forum! Good news, the cheat cards for the Nikon 55-200mm are compatible with your Sigma 70-300mm lens. The key factor is not the zoom range, but the aperture range. Both lenses share the same f/4-5.6 aperture range, so the cheat cards will work. As always, you're welcome to ask questions here or email me at support "at" All the best!
  • edited January 2015
    Do you have any cheat cards for sports/fast action daytime indoors? I just purchased both the cheat cards for the 18-55mm lens and the 55-200mm lens and didn't see that one on there, unless you recommend using the same one for all sports.
  • @sdelmonaco - The 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses are not suited for extreme low light photography. The reason is due to the maximum aperture of the lens or what we call the lowest aperture f/# it can reach. The 18-55mm can get down to f/3.5 at 18mm (wide) and f/5.6 at 55mm (zoomed), while the 55-200mm can get down to f/4 at 55mm (wide) and f/5.6 at 200mm (zoomed). So what do all these numbers mean?

    In order for the camera to freeze fast action in low light, it needs fast shutter speeds. In order to get faster shutter speeds, the camera needs more light. In order to let more light into the camera, you need to attach a "brighter/faster" lens. Generally speaking, any lens that can achieve a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or lower, is considered a great low light lens. Since neither of your lenses can get down to f/2.8, you'll be left with noisy/blurry images because the lenses are just too dark.

    You'll notice that my cheat card sets for the 35mm and 50mm f/1.8 have scenarios for low light subjects, like sports indoors (like basketball). This is because their maximum aperture is much brighter (f/1.8) and allows lots of light into the camera.

    If you plan on taking lots of sports/action shots in low light, I recommend renting the 17-55mm f/2.8 if you can walk the baseline. If you're shooting from the stands, then rent the 70-200mm f/2.8. I personally rent from They're based out of Tennessee and ship to all over the US.

    If you'd rather buy an indoor sports lens, Tamrom and Sigma both make copies of the two lenses I mentioned at about half the price. As always, feel free to reply with any questions. All the best!
  • edited March 2015
    One of the problems with slow lenses is their AF performance in low light. These days as cameras get better at shooting with high ISO, one could come closer to getting good indoor sports by raising ISO way up and settling for the noise (if people would only stand still). You'll find it difficult to lock focus on movement in low light. Between the blur and noise, you may be better off using a wider fast lens and cropping.

    It's hard to beat a long fast lens except perhaps with a longer faster one. Before deciding on how much to spend for reach, along with renting, I suggest you do some experimental cropping. Be realistic about what you can accept and how big you're going to print, but you may be surprised at how much you can chop off a D3200 image and still have something decent.
  • edited March 2015
    Hey Moose and all,

    I purchased the cheat cards for the Nikon D3200 with the 18-55mm lens and was reading the tips. Would it be possible for you to attach or send a sample photo of each part of the card? For example one for kids, one for baby's, one for sports, etc., just so that beginners like myself have a visual reference to adapt to? I know that it may not be 100% what I might shoot, but I guess some people are a little bit more visual when it comes to things like this. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it may help to get a somewhat feel for how the photo should come out.

  • Hey @karimmsakaan - Fantastic idea! I'll have to do some brainstorming to see how I might include some sample shots with the cheat cards. Thanks for the suggestion!
  • edited March 2015
    I think it would be a good idea. Those of us with set ideas and experience, right or wrong, can look at a shot and say why we like it or don't like it, and guess why certain choices were made. We might be able to guess how we might make different ones, but it would be helpful to show a good shot that came out as intended and explain what was intended and how those qualities relate to the decisions made.

    One of the things you won't find so much here, but that can be found elsewhere, is more abstract information on very specific things such as metering patterns, composition, color and the like. I mention this not because I think such things should be added, but because the internet is deep and wide, and much can be found there if you look.

    One of the better ones I've come across recently was Check out the "Technique" section for some nice clear explanations of some things. In the other sections is some useful information about equipment and color theory and the like. The "imaging" section has some nice clear explanations of different color schemes and how, for example, additive and subtractive colors can look the same without being the same.

    I think @ohyeahar has mentioned in the past, which is worth checking in to from time to time.

    Another worth a look is, which has some nice tutorials on various technical subjects. This site, by the way, is not related to the "Cambridge" that once was a reputable vendor of cheap equipment, and later became one of the most disreputable internet vendors.

    The above sites and many others will not tell you explicitly how to go out with your D3200 and get the pictures you want today, but after you've got that figured out here, they can be interesting for further research.
  • edited March 2015
    Perfect, I look forward to seeing those! I'm always reading and now shooting, trying to get familiar with my camera. I just bought a 55-200mm lens and the zoom is good enough for now! Took some snaps in a hockey arena during Disney on Ice yesterday and about 100 came out great (out of 1000), but oh well. It was a dark arena, fast moving objects and crazy light shows going. I shot manual and it was okay. Is there anywhere on this forum or site to post pictures for criticism?
  • No on site hosting. You will have to find a host and link to the images.
  • edited March 2015
    Moose, I have a Tamron af 70-300mm f/4-5.6 tele macro lens for my D3200. Do you have any cheat card suitable for this lens? Would the Nikon 50-300mm be useful for me or should I use settings from the 18-55mm cards? I am finding your cards for the kit lens very useful. Cheers!
  • Hey @crystalsheen - The Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 will actually be compatible with the 55-200mm VR set because they share the same aperture. The only difference will be the starting focal length. Anywhere it says to set your focal length (zoom) to 55mm, you would just set it to 70mm. All the best!
  • Thanks mate, I look forward to trying them out!
  • edited May 2015
    Hi, just got my camera a couple of months ago and I'm looking to purchase your cheat sheets. How secure is your site for ordering with a credit card? Also, when looking at purchasing a macro lens, what questions should be asked (if any)? I don't want a sales person to capitalize on my lack of info when I'm trying to learn. Thanks!
  • edited May 2015
    There seem to be a lot of tastes in macros, and some of what you decide on will depend on whether you want a general purpose lens that's good for macro, or wish to concentrate on the macro part.

    To begin with, you need to decide what level of magnification you need. A "true" macro should go to 1:1, but few do, and a lens is still considered macro at 1:2. 1:2 makes a big image in DX format, especially with the D3200 that can be cropped more. Most modern zooms will go to a sort of pseudo macro that's quite close, and you can get a sense for how much more you need by trying your kit lens first. A macro should have a flatter field and other advantages, but you can get pretty close up with the 18-55mm.

    A longer macro lens has an advantage in not blocking light and keeping a discreet distance from frightened animals. But what works best in a macro may be difficult for general use. The 105mm macro, for example, a grand lens, is a medium telephoto in normal use. In FX format, 105mm is a great portrait length, but it's less convenient in DX. If you're looking for good macro, though, something in the 100mm range is very nice. Nikon and others make macro lenses at 60mm and 40mm, but for either of those lengths you must get very close.

    You might want to look around the web and read some reviews to see what other people like. I've used the 105mm f/2.8 D macro and that's quite nice (my wife has that one, bought originally for her F100). It does not autofocus with the D3200 or have VR, but neither of those is as important in macro, where you usually want to fine focus manually anyway. Usually you will need a tripod.

    Again, whether you need AF and VR will depend greatly on whether you are looking for a useful lens that does macro, or specifically for a macro. Tamron and Sigma also make some good length macros, but reviews on these are all over the map, so you need to read carefully and make sure you know which versions of things you're getting, especially if you shop used. On the general forum here some time ago I posted a link to a web site that decodes many of the lens designations. Remember that for AF on the D3200 the lens must have its own motor. All Nikon AF lenses will meter, but not all will AF.

    For myself, I use various oddball manual choices, and also have the Nikon 85mm f/2.8D Micro which tilts and shifts. It's a 1:2 macro, has preset aperture and manual focus, is heavy and rather tricky to use, but beautiful when you get it right. For super macro, I have a microscope adapter and some flat field typesetting lenses that work very well, though they do not focus or have aperture settings. All focusing is done by moving the camera. Of course I don't show any of the ones I've erased.

    Although in general AF is less important for macro, it's very handy with the D3200, whose focusing view is rather small. When possible, use live view for greater precision or a magnifying eyepiece if you're doing it manually.

    One of the things you may run into, and should at least be informed on even though it is largely unavoidable and minor in consequence, is "focus breathing". Most lenses change their focal length at the closest focus, becoming effectively shorter. Mostly what this means is that what seems like a long enough focal length in normal use may be inconveniently short in macro, and framing can be difficult without a focusing rail. So when trying any lens in person, make sure you check how close you must come at the closest focusing distance.
  • edited May 2015
    Wow, thanks for the info! It will definitely help when choosing a lens. Back to my first question, how secure is your site to purchase your cheat cards?
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