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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!

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Beginners Question

edited January 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
Hey! I heard about you on Pinterest and this is my first DSLR camera. I'm 16 and I work at the local newspaper and also freelance blogging so I needed a camera that would help complement my work.

I'm wondering about your cheat sheets for the two different lenses I have; the 18-55mm and 55-200mm. What do they offer? Would they help me figure out how to create settings off auto mode? Plus, if I'm trying to blur out the background on a photo does the cards tell you how to do so?


  • edited January 2015
    Would you recommend which videos and what forms or literature of yours to read so I can better understand how to use my camera?
  • edited January 2015
    The cheat sheets are specifically designed to get you out of auto mode. Since you are in control of the camera, you can vary them, and experiment. Many use the manual mode, and others aperture-priority. The portrait recommendations suggest settings that emphasize background blur without losing focus on the subject, but the issue is not addressed specifically in those terms.

    The relatively slow lenses you have will not provide background blur as easily as faster lenses, but it is possible to overdo this too. You have to find a balance between getting the shallow depth of field you want and having it so shallow that your subject is not all in focus. Much of this is a matter of technique involving what you have for background, and how you place your subject.

    One could go on and on about this, but one of the best ways to learn about depth of field is probably just to experiment. Find a subject, such as a mailbox or a lamp or a mannequin head or anything you can focus on that stands more or less apart from its surroundings. Now try photographing the same thing in many different ways. Remember this is a digital camera, and you can take many many test shots and just delete them.

    Depth of field depends on three factors: lens opening (aperture, f-stop), lens focal length, and distance from the camera.

    If all factors but the one in question are equal, it goes like this:

    The widest opening (smallest F stop number) will give the shallowest depth of field.

    The shortest distance will give you the shallowest depth of field.

    The longest focal length will give you the shallowest depth of field.

    If you set your 18-55mm lens at 18mm, and your F stop at 16, almost everything in its field will be in focus unless you are right on top of it.

    If you put on the 55-200mm lens and zoom in to 200mm, and leave the F stop at its most open position, almost nothing except what you aim at will be in focus unless it is very far away.

    Put your camera on Aperture Priority mode, so you can control the aperture of the lens while still allowing the camera's meter to set correct exposures. Now go out and try shooting the same subject at different settings, different distances and different levels of zoom. You will soon start to see the difference. If you go to the camera's menu, you can set the playback to provide you with more information. Every shot you make will have, embedded in it, information on what your focal length, exposure mode, aperture, etc. were in order to help you recall what changes have been made.

    The more isolated from near and foreground objects your subject is, the easier it is to tune them out. If you stand a person up against a brick wall, the bricks will be pretty sharp. If you move the person so the brick wall is ten feet behind, the bricks will be blurry.
  • Hi @Caitlyn598 - Yep, the cheat cards were created to get beginners out of auto. This puts you in control of the exposure, which is especially helpful with difficult subjects or lighting. The cheat cards for the 18-55mm and the 55-200mm are much different, not only in regards to the settings, but also the situations since the lenses have varying zoom ranges.

    Yes, as @bruto mentioned, the "Portrait" settings emphasize background blur. As always, feel free to ask questions here in the forum...someone is bound to give you a good answer. All the best!
  • So would it benefit me to get both cheat cards?
  • edited January 2015
    Thank you so very much for all the help!
  • edited January 2015
    I have a Nikon D3200 and I can not get my shutter speed to go faster than 1/200. What am I doing wrong?
  • edited February 2015
    @newtoit, what is the camera set at? If you set the camera to shutter priority, the selection wheel should select any shutter speed available up to 1/4000, regardless of other settings.

    Disregard the meter briefly and just set the camera to "S" on the top dial. See if you can select a shutter speed faster than 1/200. You don't even need to take a picture, or even take the lens cap off. Just look to see if you can change the shutter speed. If you cannot, then your camera has a problem. If you can, then the camera is working properly, and whatever aperture you're using, combined with low ISO, will limit shutter speed. In relatively low light, even when the lens is wide open, the proper shutter speed will be relatively slow.

    Proper exposure depends on aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, and all work together. Correct exposure is determined by the three factors: how much light comes in (aperture), how fast it comes in (shutter speed) and how sensitive the sensor is to light (ISO). For any given amount of light, many combinations of these three factors will give correct exposure. If you want a faster shutter speed (shorter time) you must compensate by increasing the quantity of light (larger aperture=smaller F number) or the sensitivity of the sensor (higher ISO) or both.

    I should add that if you are using the flash, the shutter speed will always be limited to 1/200 or less. This is the maximum shutter speed that will synchronize with flash, and when you pop up the flash in any mode at all, shutter speed will be set to 1/200. If you are using an AF lens, you can override this only by changing flash settings. If you did attempt to use a higher shutter speed with flash, the wrong operation of the shutter would crop the image severely.

  • Hey @new2it - As @bruto mentioned, you're flash is probably up. When using flash you're limited to a shutter speed of 1/200. There's a long technical reason as to why, but you can rest assured that this is a limitation and not a problem. In order to get faster shutter speeds, just lower the flash or disable it. All the best!
  • edited February 2015
    Hi, I'm new here and have a question. I have an in-camera edited photo and when I go to upload my photos the normal picture shows up but not the in edited camera picture. How do I get the in-camera picture to show up when I'm transferring onto my computer? Thanks.
  • edited February 2015
    In camera editing saves a copy of the file rather than overwriting the original. In camera editing always leaves the originals untouched. If you have saved it properly, it will show up with a number starting "CSC" instead of DSC. If you are editing a raw image, make sure that you save it properly. After you have done all the processing, you must arrow up to the menu option "exec" to finish the save.

    If you start with Raw, the save will be in the highest quality large JPG. If you start with JPG it will be the same level as the original.
  • edited February 2015
    I can't get true colors on my wife's abstract art. My iPhone 6 plus does it perfect but I need the Nikon lens versatility. I have tried white balance adjustments and everything I could find. Still not even close.
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