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Decisions on Settings for Trip

edited March 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum

I will be taking a trip to NYC this summer & I bought your cheat cards; they have been a big help! I was just wondering which lens (18-55mm or 55-200mm) would be the best to keep on the whole trip so I don't have to interchange them constantly? What would be the best settings to leave it on for great pictures of architecture, people, the skyline, and indoor shops? I'm hoping not to leave it on automatic. Would you have any suggestions on keeping my camera safe so I don't damage it while having it out all day?


  • edited March 2015
    In this instance, I would take both. The 18mm is ideal for landscapes, skylines, indoor shops and architecture. The 55-200mm is ideal for capturing candid photos of people and zooming in on distant objects - the Statue of Liberty springs to mind.
    As for settings, I personally would leave the camera on Auto or Program. When on a trip like this, the emphasis is on getting photos, not figuring out settings for every shot. Some may disagree, but this is my opinion. Although professional photographers don't freely admit it, you would be surprised at how often they rely on one of the Auto modes.
    As for safety, do you have UV filters for your lenses? They don't really make much difference to your photos as pictures without them are often 'cleaner'. However, a scratched filter is cheaper to replace than a lens.
    Also, do you have lens hoods for both lenses? Hoods can go a long way towards protecting the front element.
    In a crowded city, I always wear my camera across my body and support it with my hand or the crook of my elbow to help take the weight off my neck. This method will help deter would-be thieves. You can, of course, buy purpose made slings and harnesses, but they are not cheap and personally I don't see the need for them. In a crowded city, common sense and awareness are more important. Once again, I am sure someone will disagree with me, but as I said these are my opinions and I hope they have given you something to think about.
  • edited March 2015
    If you're going to stick with one lens in the city, the 18-55mm is the one I'd use. The 55-200mm will not go wide enough for buildings and interiors most of the time.

    For my own preference in this kind of situation, I like Aperture priority. For general shooting leave it at about f/8, keeping an eye on the shutter speed and upping the manual ISO as needed. When you're shooting people, you can open up the aperture a bit for better out of focus look, and up it to f/11 or so when you need a bit more depth of field at the long end. Higher than f/11 will get you more DOF but may lose some overall sharpness to diffraction. It's a trade off, but f/8 is the 'sweet spot' for that lens with decent depth of field. Since it will usually get your picture, it's a good starting point. If you want to spend less time checking things, put the camera on auto ISO, and it will up ISO automatically when the shutter speed goes low. Its default is 1/30 second, which may be higher than you're capable of shooting with VR on, but it's safe. If you have a very steady hand, you can change that in the menu.

    In P, A, S and M modes the flash does not deploy automatically, but if you pop it up it will function as a fill flash, which is useful for interiors and difficult shadows.

    Manual mode gives you more control, especially in odd lighting situations, but if you're constantly changing views and light it can slow you down.

    Most of the time matrix metering should work well, and most of the time, I think autofocus settings of "A" and "dynamic area" work best. Make sure you keep track of the focus point, which is easy to move accidentally. The OK button will center it again, and it's a good habit to hit that button from time to time before you even look.

    If you leave it on auto white balance and normal picture control you can modify the colors later in post as long as you shoot in Raw mode, along with minor exposure adjustments.

    For camera safety, there's not too much you can do if you're going to have it out all day, but one thing I'd recommend is a lens hood. I use an older metal HN3 hood that was designed for 35 mm full frame lenses that screws on, and that protects the front of the lens pretty well. A collapsible rubber hood that screws in can offer a fair amount of protection as well. The stock Nikon lens cap is designed to snap inside a hood, so you can still use it with most hoods in place.

    The other suggestion is that when carrying the camera over your shoulder, sling it so that the lens points toward you, instead of out. Though it won't be quite as handy to use, it won't keep banging the lens against things.

    Make sure your battery is charged up and if possible that you have a spare. If you find yourself running short of memory you can switch to small JPG and still get something, but if your battery dies, you're done.

    Set in A mode with a few things like aperture and ISO preset, and you're in a kind of "almost point and shoot" mode, in which the camera's AF and metering will make decisions, but you have taken over the rest.
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