Recently purchased a D3300 AF-P 18-55 for my new Dye Sub business

Hi, my name is Will and I live in the Isles of Scilly, UK. I am about to embark on a Dye sublimation business and decided to purchase a good digital SLR camera. I decided on the Nikon D3300 after reading the reviews, plus I want a camera with Panoramic, which is why I didn't purchase a more expensive model. I spent most of the summer photographing the islands, weather permitting. Sunny days with lovely blue skies and clear blue waters was what I was looking for. I had an old Minolta SLR many many years ago and this is my first digital SLR. So far I have ben disappointed with the camera, I guess the problem is me. Because I haven't done any photography for years and not understanding the array of controls on the camera I decided to keep things simple and allow the camera to make the decisions. For Landscapes I used the landscape setting, sometimes I used Auto. I also invested in a polarising filter, which did improve on some of my earlier pics by removing glare from the sea. But my biggest beef with the camera are that pictures have too much contrast, the shadow areas almost black, my greens not vibrant at all. The sharpness is excellent I have to say.
I have been unable to install the NX2 viewing software on to my new Mac as it is running El Capitan, so I have been using Apple's own Photo software to load them onto the computer ( Version 1.5 (370.42.0)
Digital Camera RAW 6.21 (879) Digital Camera RAW Support 6210 (256) ). I have then been taking them straight into PhotoShop CS6 to edit for use. But even then I have struggled to get the bright vibrant results I was hoping for. As it might be of importance the memory disk I use in the camera is a SCANDISK Ultra SDXC UHS-I Card ( 128 GB ). I have also set the camera to maximum fine quality.

I can post some photos if they help.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Will Evans - Isles of Scilly - UK


  • I don't think the storage medium will have any effect on the quality of the image, but the exposure will, and so will the mode and the picture control.

    It sounds a bit as if you're getting a bit of underexposure, and you might experiment with bracketing, by using the exposure compensation in successive shots. If you're shooting wide scenic shots, the camera's meter may be taking the sky into more account, at the expense of foreground, which will come out dark. If you increase the exposure you'll get a better foreground at the expense of sky, which may blow out some, but often when dynamic range is a challenge, you have to decide what you're exposing for.

    Landscape mode uses the landscape picture control, which supposedly cranks up the greens a bit, but also results in more contrast. A polarizing filter, while it also helps in some things, may increase contrast a bit more.

    I am not sure about the D3300 but the D3200 comes with "active D-Lighting" on by default. While this is actually meant to increase dynamic range and decrease contrast as a result, it is a setting that only Nikon software can recognize properly in Raw mode, and if you are using another program for post processing, I suggest you turn it off. If you are shooting in JPG mode it should work all right, and if it's off by default, try turning it on. Many programs allow you to lift the information in shadows, and make D-lighting a bit redundant, as it's easier to add the effect than it is to undo it. The Nikon programs include a post-processing D-lighting option.

    Nikon's auto white balance may also make for a cool image that lacks color pop. I'd try open sun and cloudy settings, and see if that makes your images look more vibrant. A warmer white balance with more amber and less blue will tend to make other colors pop a bit more.

    Some of this may also be a matter of perception, and of monitor brightness, but I would suggest that the first thing you do would be to experiment with bracketing exposure, varying picture control and white balance.

    The "vivid" picture control can increase saturation, but along with this it also may increase contrast a little more than you like.

    You also might want to turn off Auto ISO, if it is increasing your ISO too much. The higher the ISO, the less the dynamic range.

    You cannot take real command of some of these things in post processing unless you switch to Raw mode. If you do so, then you can readily change white balance, exposure, and picture mode without penalty.

    Check out Nikon's home page, and see if there is an Apple version of Nikon's Capture NX-D. It's free, as the NX-2 programs are no longer offered. This program can be a little clumsy and slow, but includes some good features for Raw processing, and of course it's designed to read Nikon NEF files correctly.
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