Moose's Cheat Cards for the Nikon D5100

Woohoo! The wait is finally over...I'm proud to finally announce (after many months) my 1st ever Cheat Cards for the Nikon D5100.


If you've ever been in a situation and wondered which settings to use with your camera, these nifty little cheat sheets will tell you exactly which settings I would start with.

My settings are specific to the Nikon D5100 and select Nikon lenses. This allows me to provide very detailed settings which will improve your odds of capturing a keeper.

Sound good? Click here for more info.

For this first pack, I created 17 Cheat Cards specifically for the D5100 and the Nikon 18-55mm kit lens combo. In the next few weeks, I'll be rolling out additional packs for other popular Nikon lenses mounted to the D5100.

In case you're wondering, these Cheat Cards can be printed at home or viewed digitally on an iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire or desktop computer. If you have more questions, check out the F.A.Q.

The funds I earn go directly to supporting my young family (wife & baby boy). Thanks for your love and support!


  • Hey @Irideon - Don't ever worry about asking questions, that's what I'm here for. I should probably specify that somewhere. Those numbers are referencing the manual in case you want to get a longer explanation or see diagrams. All the best! :)
  • edited November 2013
    Hi Moose,

    I purchased your cheat sheet cards, and while out I attempted a few different settings. With each one, my pictures just came out super white and I could barely see the true image. My white balance settings are already on auto, so I'm not sure what the issue is. I had to resort back to Auto for what I was trying to accomplish since I was capturing something that I had no second chances.
  • edited November 2013
    Hey @ladyb0ss - It sounds like the images were coming out overexposed (too bright). This is usually caused by an incorrect ISO setting. If you don't mind, send me a couple examples via email (support "at" I'll take a look at the exif data and let you know where you may have gone wrong. All the best! :)
  • edited March 2014
    I just bought the D3100 cheat cards, and now I'm upgrading to a D5200. Will the basics be the same?
  • Hey @copatlarge - Yep, the basics will be the same, however, there will be some differences for various settings. For instance, the HDR setup is much different on a D5200 compared to the D3100. I'm actually finishing up a set for the D5200 which should be out very soon. All the best!
  • edited March 2014
    Glad to see that you're answering a few questions Moose. It has been a really long time and there are several posts on Facebook with questions. :) Any recommendations for wildlife and bigger zoom lenses for the D5100 camera? The biggest I have is a 55-200mm and my friends use Canon's with a 75-300mm and some a 400mm and have great bird pictures.
  • Hi @elmerglue - I wish I could answer everyone's question in a timely manner, but life sometimes gets in the way. I'm a one man operation and also have two young kids who need my attention. Thanks so much for your understanding!

    As for recommended lenses, the 55-300mm VR will give you an effective focal range of 82mm-450mm when mounted to your D5100. I personally use this lens and love it. It's probably one of my most used lenses. It's great for birding, if that's what you're interested in capturing. All the best!
  • edited February 2015
    Hi, I just bought 2 sets of these cards and want to know if the 55-300mm cheat sheet will work with my 75-300mm lens?
  • edited February 2015
    If you have a 75-300mm lens, there will be some differences, because as far as I know, there is no 75-300mm that has an internal focus motor or VR. For this reason you will be manually focusing and you may have to use faster shutter speeds. Suggestions regarding Auto focus settings will not apply, and certain operations that benefit from auto focus will be difficult to duplicate.

    The VRII on the 55-300mm lens is quite effective, though Nikon's estimate of 4 stops improvement is a bit optimistic. The apertures of the lenses are similar, so I'd suggest that you use somewhat higher shutter speeds than the cheat sheets suggest. They're pretty conservative, so you may find you do all right, but you will likely have more bad shots to erase. The faster the better if you can afford it.

    Of course, any time you see 55mm suggested, you can't do that. You'll have to settle for 75mm, and there will be some differences in framing and distance as a result. The longer the focal length, the faster you need the shutter to be. So in intimate settings where the cards call for a relatively slow shutter speed with VR on as you track a moving subject, you'll have a challenge. Focusing will be hurried and you may also need a faster shutter speed.

    Situations where you can turn off the VR (e.g. panning and tripod work) will be easier to duplicate, if you can focus fast enough.

    If you have focusing troubles you may have to change your approach altogether. On Auto ISO in S mode the aperture is allowed to go to maximum with the shallowest depth of field. For less finicky focus you will want it stopped down a bit. One approach might be to set both aperture and shutter speed in M mode and leave auto ISO on. Auto ISO will raise ISO if your setting threatens underexposure, the likeliest issue here. Find a fairly bright viewpoint and set a shutter speed and aperture you like. Say, 1/1000 and f/8, with ISO starting at 100. If the ISO is somewhere between 200 and 800 you're in pretty good shape for a picture in varying light.

    Manual focusing can be a challenge with the small viewing area on a DX format camera. When possible, use Live View to get more accurate focus on stationary subjects. You can gain a little with a magnified eyepiece (the DK-21M), but even then it's less than great. It takes practice.

    This is not to say you can't do it. I've used many manual lenses on the D3200 with success, including the old motorless 70-300mm AF-D, but it's not so easy for fast action. The 55-300mm spoils us.
  • Hey @Candiceno1 - With regards to the 75-300mm lens that you have, is it a Tamron branded lens?
  • edited February 2015
    In my narrow response it had not occurred to me that the lens would be anything other than a Nikon. Hmm. I've been kind of Nikon-centric for a long time, I guess, and tend to forget that there are other things out there that work.

    Obviously if this is another brand of AF lens and if it does AF with your rig, then my comments about manual focusing and its difficulties are off base.

    I would still be a little cautious about shutter speeds until you know what, if any, vibration reduction the lens has, and how effective it is. That on the 55-300mm is surprisingly good, and though Nikon is coy about it, it seems to be VRII rather than VRI. It's easy to hand hold in circumstances that may not be so easy in other lenses of the same length.
  • edited August 2015
    Just downloaded the cheat sheets for my D5100 and printed them out. Twenty cheat sheets at $10 makes it 50 cents a sheet. Can't beat that these days.
    Best to you and yours.
  • Thanks for the kind words @jabobjo. Feel free to reach out with any questions along the way. Happy shooting!
  • EddEdd
    edited January 2016
    Thanks for the Cheat Sheets. Bought them recently and they are a real life saver! My D5100 was just lying around collecting dust for about a year, but thanks to you, I will be photographing at my cousin's pre-wedding functions. :)
  • edited October 2016
    Hi Moose. I'm using a Nikon D5100, but I don't know what is the best setting to use for specific scenarios, that's why I always use AUTO. I hope you'll help.
  • edited April 2017
    Hi Moose,
    I am currently using the Nikon D5100. I have bought the cheat cards for the Nikon 50mm f/1.8, and they are a great help. I have just bought a Tamaron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD. Which cards would you suggest for this? Maybe next year I'll upgrade my camera body, hence why I have gone full body lens.
    In advance, thank you.
  • edited April 2017
    Hi Moose, we are planning to go to antelope canyon. I want try my D5100, but my friend said they don't allow the use of flash photography inside the canyons. What lens and setting would I use?
  • @shez - Hi Shez, I just sent you a complimentary set for your Tamron to say thanks for purchasing the 50mm f/1.8 set. Enjoy!
  • @jubillum357 - Definitely bring a tripod or at the very least, a monopod. This way you can ensure some stabilization when shooting in the darker corners of the canyon. I also recommend setting the image quality to RAW+JPEG, this way you can pull out more detail in the highlights and shadows when needed. As for the settings, I recommend the "Landscape" cheat card. Finally, I also highly recommend a circular polarizer. This will deepen the blue sky, give you more cloud detail and an extra punch of contrast. Enjoy your trip!
  • edited April 2017
    Just a quick message to say thank you for taking the time to put this site together. It has proved great for me to get more out of my D5100. Cheers!
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