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Tip on how to shoot more

edited October 2014 Posted in » General Discussion
I’ve a tip for everyone on how to greatly improve your photography: shoot more.

That’s obvious, isn’t it. I suggest to you that you’re not shooting nearly as much as you should be, and the primary reason is you don’t have your camera with you all the time. Or if you do have your camera with you, it’s not easily accessible. Maybe you have it in your bag and by the time you can get it out, the moment has passed.
So how can you shoot more? Try the following and see where it takes you!

1. Mount a compact/light-weight lens on your camera, perhaps a 35mm or 50mm prime lens or a normal zoom like the kit lens. Leave your heavy tele and other lenses at home.

2. No camera bag. Find a comfortable way for you to carry your camera safely and securely with no camera bag. There are numerous ways to go about this.
- Just have it in your hand with no strap or grip. This is the cheapest but also not very secure since you risk it slipping out and dropping it.
- Use a hand grip. This is a bit more secure but this means that your hand is never free.
- Use the neck strap. This is secure but it’s uncomfortable.
- Wear the neck strap diagonally across your body as a sling. A lot of people do this. It’s secure, but I find that it’s uncomfortable and the camera lens protrudes from your body so you risk bumping it into things.
- Use a comfortable third-party sling strap. It's secure and comfortable and highly recommended. A popular brand is Black Rapid. I happen to use Peak Design.
- Use a belt clip. Secure and comfortable. Highly recommended. Peak Design also makes them. Another popular one is the SpiderPro from Shai Gear.

3. Remove the lens cap. A lot of people cap their lenses religiously when not in use. This is just not necessary and only slows you down because now you have to remove your lens cap and stow it away before every shot. Put the cap in your pocket and leave it there.

4. Either mount the lens hood in the forward position or leave it at home. Don’t mount it in reverse when out-and-about. Just like the cap situation, having it on reverse just gets in the way and slows you down.

5. Keep the camera powered on. You don’t save that much battery power by turning it off after every shot. You’re just wasting time and risk possibly missing a shot as you wait for the camera to turn on or try to take the shot with the camera off.

6. Set up your camera to minimize tinkering with settings. Some of you are comfortable enough with the buttons and dials on your camera that you can adjust settings on a whim. That’s great. The rest of you need to be more careful with this. You don’t want to bring your camera to your eye to shoot only to realize that you left the mode dial on Shutter Priority and had the shutter speed set to 2 seconds.
My fool-proof suggestion would be Auto-ISO, Aperture Priority, Continuous release, AF-A, 3D-tracking AF Area with center AF point active.

If you’ve done all that, this means that your camera is instantly accessible and ready to shoot at all moments. Then all you have to do is fire away. You’ll shoot more, learn more, be more comfortable with your camera, and inevitably become a much better photographer!


  • edited October 2014
    You can use a tighter hood on DX than on FX, and Nikon hoods are pretty conservative anyway. A perfect fit on the 18-55mm kit lens is the HN3, a metal screw-in hood made originally for FX 35mm lenses. It's secure and compact and I leave mine on all the time. It's threaded on the inside, and Nikon caps are made to fit inside a hood (not all are - other brands that is). So if you like the lens cap too, you can snap it in without ever removing the hood.

    Remember the famous photographer Weegee, when asked what photographic rule he would recommend, "f/8 and be there".

    Buy a spare battery and always have it charged and within a reasonable distance, and you need never be nervous about leaving the power on.

    One of the inconveniences of the D3200 is that the focus point is easy to move by accident. Hitting the OK button will recenter it. Get used to doing this before you even bother to look.
  • edited October 2014
    I’ve always thought that DX hoods are longer than FX hoods for lenses of equivalent focal lengths due to the crop factor increasing the effective focal length. Anyway, the point is either keep the hood on in the forward position or leave it home.

    Anyway, I thought I’d elaborate a bit more on lens caps and why we shouldn’t hesitate to leave it in our pockets.

    What’s the purpose of a lens cap? It protects the front element of our lens.

    What’s the purpose of a clear/UV filter? It protects the front element of our lens. Back in the film days, filtering out UV rays was a real thing. Today with digital sensors, UV is a non-issue.

    What’s the purpose of a lens hood? It’s primary purpose is to minimize flare, but the nature of the hood means it also serves to protect the front element of our lens.

    You can probably see where I’m going with all this. You have 3 things that protect the lens front element. I would propose that using all 3 is overkill and that if we had to give up one of these 3, the no-brainer would have to be the lens cap.

    Regarding the filter, I suppose it’s impossible to not mention the merits of it in terms of impact on image quality. Using a filter will degrade your image quality. That’s indisputable since light has to pass through an additional layer of glass before it reaches your sensor. I would argue that the difference is negligible, especially on higher end filters. You really have to pixel peep to be able to see the tiny bit of difference.
  • edited October 2014
    I prefer to ditch the filter because it often has a slight issue with flare, which can lessen contrast in a picture without being directly visible. Since I carry my camera in a bag in the car, I keep the hood and cap, and lose the filter. All Nikon caps are designed to snap inside an installed or inverted hood. The latest are easy to get in and out, even when reached deep inside a fixed hood. So they go on while the camera is in the case, and off when I pick it up to carry.

    My cap definitely comes off when walking around.
  • edited December 2015
    I'm grateful for this information. Being new to photography I am über paranoid about damaging the lens. I am one that turns the camera off and puts the cap on after almost every picture. Pain in the neck, but now that I know the hood will not affect the quality of pictures, I will definitely be leaving cap off and hood on. Thank you!
  • edited December 2015

    On your #6, you don't mention what your settings for the auto ISO would be.
  • edited December 2015
    Ohyeahar hasn't been around much recently. He traded up to a D750.

    With regard to the use of Auto ISO (which I generally do not do) I would suggest that you always start at the lowest ISO if auto is on. Since it will adjust as needed, there is really no reason not to. The upper limit will vary depending on the kind of shooting you're doing and how important high ISO noise is.

    At least on the Nikon, you can select the slowest shutter speed before ISO is boosted. The default is 1/30, which may be faster than you need if you are steady with a VR lens. You can also set an automatic shutter speed that varies with certain lenses, but defaults to 1/30. It's easy to experiment to find your comfort level.

    If you are using a Nikon, at least the D3xxx and its ilk, you should know that the upper limit of auto ISO, which you can set, also constitutes the upper limit of manual ISO choice whenever Auto is enabled. In other words, if you set Auto to a limit of 800, and leave Auto on, you cannot select a higher ISO manually even though it appears you can. This limitation is not documented, and the unused ISO speeds are not grayed out on the dial. If you want to set a higher ISO than the auto limit, you must turn off Auto.

    This is one of the reasons I don't use Auto. I would be more inclined to leave it on Auto if I could keep the usual limit at something like 800 or even 400 in normal use, but still be able to pop it up to a high number for dark shots. But the only way to do that is to go to the menu, either to turn off Auto or change the max. So off it stays.
  • Wow great tips thank you!! :)
  • Thanks a lot for sharing the tips, guys :)
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