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How to get truer color and better light with the Nikon D5100?

edited October 2013 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hi all. I'm new here, so I'm happy to see there is a forum to help.

For six years I had a Nikon D40X which I used with an 18-200mm VR lens. It was my first venture with a DSLR and to be honest the images were so good I never got off the auto setting. They were fantastic, point and shoot, sharp, clear, color perfect.

I had to buy another because my D40x was damaged so I did a lot of research and bought the D5100 to use with my 18-200mm VR lens as that has always been enough. I took it on a trip to Europe and because I didn't have time to read all the books and do much studying I kept it on auto as I always did with my D40X and the results were disappointing. My husband's Iphone and my Canon S110 compact were much better for sharpness, light and clarity.

When I got home I used it for the purpose I often do, flower photography. I am a botanical artist and I use these photos for reference pictures, but the results were terrible. The color was blown out, could not seem to focus well on the subject, and they were dark. I simply cannot use the images for my work.

I went back to the store and they said there seemed to be a focus issue. Had it repaired and got it back last week. I had to take photos of my artwork before being framed and the results were terrible. The colors looked almost fluoro and the paper too dark. I took the same images with my Canon S110 compact which were far better. The response from repairers was to play with settings, white balance, all sorts of things, which I am trying to do. I just don't understand why the auto setting is so rubbish. I know I should not even have a DSLR if I am not prepared to move off auto, but really, if it is such a superior camera to my D40X surely the auto setting should be superior?

I have had so many missed photo opportunities I am beginning to dislike this camera intensely. It has taken so much time from going back to the store, the repairer, reading manuals, finding sites online such as this one and trying to see whether it's me or whether there is something really wrong with my camera as the results of a lot of googling seems to bring up the blurry, dark, color issues over and over.

I am prepared to learn as long as the I know the camera is working as it should; I just don't feel it is. Do you have any tips to allow me to see truer color and better light (indoors is terrible where the D40X was really good)?

Thanks in advance.
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