D3100 Setting

edited August 2014 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
Hi, I'm new to DSLR and I have the 18-55mm lens kit. I'm wanting to shoot products in a light-box and I'm wondering what settings are the best to use?


  • edited August 2014
    That's a very vague prescription to start out with, and hard to address.

    For starters, I'd point out that since the DSLR is digital, you can take a million pictures and delete them all. Experiment!

    What works best is going to depend on what kind of light you're shooting in to, and whether you need your subject to be evenly in focus or parts out of focus.

    In general, the closer you are and the more wide open your aperture, the shallower your depth of field will be. So if you want focus to go soft with distance, shoot close and open. If you want more uniform sharpness, close down the aperture and get as far away as you can. If you're shooting a product it will all be evenly focused if you shoot straight down onto it, and less evenly focused the more you bring the camera down onto a plane with what you're aiming at.

    As an example, put a plate on the table. Shoot straight down at it. Now move your camera at a progressive angle until you're near the table top, shooting toward its edge. If you make a dozen shots as you progress you'll see the effect instantly. Do that once with the lens wide open and do it again with the lens stopped down to something around f/11 or f/16, and you will again see the difference immediately. If you use the smallest apertures, you may sacrifice some clarity to gain depth of field, owing to diffraction loss, but you can judge how the compromise suits you by trying it both ways.

    If your light box has its own illumination, I'd skip the flash. The built in flash will illuminate everything rather brightly and harshly and there's little you can do to vary it. Use a tripod if possible and experiment with different settings. My usual preference for many things is aperture priority. You can immediately see in the display what a change in aperture does to the exposure time.

    Use a tripod if you possibly can. If you need the maximum dynamic range, make sure Active D-lighting is on, shoot in neutral color mode, and use the lowest ISO you can. If you find you're not getting enough contrast, turn off Active D-lighting to get blacker shadows. The automatic white balance of the camera tends to be a bit cool. If you want warmer, more vivid colors, try different white balances.

    If you are able to use Nikon's View NX2 or the new replacement NX-D that they give away on the web, do so and shoot in RAW mode, which gives you some powerful post processing options that can be reversed without any loss. Among other things, you can adjust exposure, change the white balance, change the color mode and save your results to another format, and revert your RAW file any time without penalty. The program is not fast, but shooting in RAW mode allows you do do a lot of fiddling on a picture without ruining it.
  • edited August 2014
    Just to clarify what @bruto said about shooting “close and open”, he means “close” as in distance to subject and “open” as in aperture setting.

    See the last 3 links in this post for examples.
    (see here)
Sign In or Register to comment.