New to the D3100 and photography world

edited June 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
Hi all,

I got a D3100 a little over a year ago and have tried playing with it a little, but honestly I am not sure what I am doing or how to get the best results. I am mainly interested in taking landscape photography, or photography of plants and architecture. I also have two nephews and would like to use my camera to capture them growing. I am looking into getting the 35mm lens to have a lens that is a little faster. Plus, I am interested in trying to take photographs that have the bokeh in them. The two lenses I have are the 18-55mm and the 55-200mm. If you have any advice on using any of those lenses, it would be greatly appreciated!

I was also curious as to what the best products are for cleaning and caring for your camera and lenses. Do you have any suggestions?

Also, are there any good websites to look at other peoples photographs to get ideas and inspiration?

Thanks for your feedback!


  • edited May 2015
    Remember a little dust on the front element of a lens will not show. Clean when you need to, but don't get obsessive about it. Do not attempt to clean the mirror or screen. The screen is delicate and the mirror is front surface coated and scratches very easily. Neither will affect pictures anyway, so leave that kind of cleaning to the pros if it gets necessary. Similarly, leave the sensor alone unless you really know what you're doing. A "lens pen" works pretty well with a brush for dust and a cleaning element for smudges. Good lens cleaning paper (never ordinary tissue which may have abrasives and will leave lint) and correct fluid will clean a very dirty lens. You can get those cheaply at many places.

    For landscapes you generally do not want bokeh or that much lens speed. You're better off with a tripod, so you can close down the lens and use a slow shutter speed, and get as much as possible in focus. Of course you can break that rule too, but generally speaking, putting focus blur in a landscape effectively is a challenge. For a portrait or a picture of some specific thing, you may well want only the subject in focus, so that it stands out. But in a landscape, usually the whole thing is the subject.

    Different people have different ways of approaching a landscape, some prefer to go very wide, while others zero in on details. A couple of things I'd mention though, are first to make very sure that you are looking at the whole picture. It's easy to get absorbed in a subject and not notice until later that you have some distracting problem, such as an electric wire, or a blurry blade of grass spoiling it. The other thing, which many people forget to do, is to get the horizon truly level. If you need a tilted horizon for effect, tilt it, but get it level if you don't. Nowadays you can correct that in post processing, but good leveling is a good habit.

    For bokeh in portraits and the like, the 35mm is decent (the 50mm likely to be better), and being a more normal focal length, may be more versatile.

    There are so many websites around that it's hard to think of which ones to recommend. One that has a lot of users' photographs is, which also has a forum, equipment advice and the like.

    Google is your friend here. If you enter a search "great landscape photos" or just about any relevant phrase you'll probably find something interesting.
  • edited May 2015
    By the way, I forgot to mention with regard to cleaning: There is a setup menu option for sensor cleaning in which the sensor is given a little shake to shed dust. It seems like a good idea and I have mine set to shake every time I shut down.
  • edited June 2015
    As far as the landscapes and portraits you like to take, the 35mm f/1.8 will work just fine. For a nice bokeh (blurred background), keep your f/stops low.
    When you have the time, try to google ''The exposure triangle'' and take in all you can on that.
    It may seem a little confusing at first, but take what you read, then go out and try some different settings in Manual mode and experiment.
    Good Luck and Happy Shooting !
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