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Cheat sheets

edited March 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5200 Forum
Hello. I was wondering if the cheat sheets would help me? I have a Nikon D5200 and have yet to move out of auto mode! I have the 18-55mm, the 55-300mm and just purchased a 35mm. I haven't gone out and tried different settings and modes because I am more of a hands on person; show me what to do and it sinks in. Reading something like a book or manual doesn't sink in. Am I a lost cause or is there hope for me? I like taking outdoor pictures of grandkids, scenery, etc. I also want to take nice portraits of my grandkids at Christmas indoors by the tree. Also wold like to be able to take night shots of fireworks, Christmas lights, main drag in Vegas (hopefully going back soon). Any suggestions?


  • edited March 2015
    The cheat sheets will tell you a set of settings that will give you a decent image under numerous conditions, and those particular lenses are covered. Once you have that starting point, if you like to experiment, you can vary one setting at a time and see how it influences the result. There are, of course, many ways to skin a cat, but those settings will get you out of auto mode.

    If you are experimenting with settings, it can help very much to open the camera's Playback menu (when viewing an image in the camera, hit the "menu" button). There you will find a menu entry "Playback display options". Hit "enter" and then right arrow into "Additional Photo Info," and check all the boxes there. From then on, whenever you view an image in the camera, you can toggle through a number of informative screens, which include important information for the experimenter. At a later date, if there is one of these screens you don't want, you can uncheck it again. I find it pretty convenient to have them all. When you view an image, use the up and down arrows on the back control to toggle through the different screens. Whatever screen you have chosen will remain the default until you decide otherwise, so you do not need to see all the info, but it will always be available.

    The histogram is a graph which shows your exposure. I won't go into it too far here, as there are web resources on this, but you want your exposure to occur between the two ends of the graph. If it is crowded to the left, it's underexposed, and if it is crowded to the right, overexposed. If it pushes against the right edge, you will have blown highlights.

    The Highlights display will flash areas that are blown out, very convenient to determine whether you have overexposed in a serious way. Nicknamed "the blinkies", this display can be very useful.

    The Image information will contain part of what is called the "EXIF" information, which all digital images contain. It will tell you not only what camera and lens you used, but the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and so forth. When analyzing an image, you can consult this information to see what you did right or wrong.

    And remember, this is a digital camera, with a shutter that's designed to last for something like 150 thousand clicks. Get out there and shoot, shoot, shoot, and erase, erase, erase. Sit on the couch and try fifty different ways to shoot the book cases. Try aperture priority and shutter priority to see how different settings make a difference.
  • edited March 2015
    Thanks Bruto!
  • Hey @trish - Everything @bruto said is spot on. The cheat sheets were designed to give beginners a starting point for getting out of auto, without having to fully understand shutter speed, aperture and iso. Over time, you'll begin to understand what each of those things are and how they interact with each other. When you're just starting out, it's better to experiment without having to be bogged down with an overwhelming amount of photographic terminology and principles. Happy shooting!
  • edited April 2016
    Hi Bruto and Moose,
    The cheat sheets are only for daylight, what about night shooting, especially indoor? What about the flash, should it be auto, on, or off? Any other settings that would help for night indoor shootings?
  • edited April 2016
    Hi @newbie_d5200 - Think of lenses like sunglasses. Some are darker than others.

    Imagine wearing dark sunglasses indoors or at night. That's basically what happens when you attach a lens with a maximum aperture around f/3.5 or higher to your D5200.

    Higher apertures (above f/3.5) represent "darker" glass. Lower apertures (f/2.8 or lower) represent "brighter" glass. Brighter lenses allow you to capture sharper images in low light, because it allows more light into the camera leading to faster shutter speeds which freeze subject movement.

    You'll notice the cheat cards for the 35mm and 50mm f/1.8G lenses ( include scenarios for low light situations. This is because of their bright f/1.8 aperture. The 18-55mm on the otherhand has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 55mm which is much too dark.

    For situations where it's extremely dark, you'll need to use flash. The only way to get creative looks with flash is to use an external flash and bounce the light off a ceiling (indoors) or use it off-camera outdoors. The Strobist blog ( has some great tutorials.

    When there isn't any ambient light left and all you have is your camera with built-in flash, you can just use Auto mode.

    All the best!
  • edited April 2016
    @MOOSE - thank you Sir for a prompt response!
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