Just Getting Started!

Hi all! My mom has had her Nikon D3100 in her closet for years because she hasn’t been able to figure it out. I have recently decided that I would love to take photography on as a hobby, so I’m trying out her camera before I purchase my own. What type of pictures are best to take with the D3100 starter kit? I have the 55-18 lens as well as a 55-300 ( this one has 55, 70, 100, 135, 200, 300) not sure why the second one jumps all over the place. Could anyone shed some light on what types of photos are best taken with these lenses? Thanks!


  • The two lenses in question cover pretty much the whole range from wide angle (18 mm) to a respectably long telephoto (300 mm). A normal perspective comes at somewhere around 35 mm. Basically that pair of lenses can get you just about anything you want. The zoom lenses are both optically decent, if a little bit slow of aperture, and that means you'll get nice sharp pictures if you use them right, but may have difficulty in very low light. I have traveled the world with a D3200 and the same pair of lenses, and gotten nice (or so I think at least) results from glaciers to jungles.

    Both these lenses will zoom continuously through their focal range, but to avoid clutter and too much information only a select few of the intermediate lengths are printed on them.

    There are better quality (and higher priced) lenses around but the ones included are quite all right, and you will rarely need to go outside the very considerable range they cover.

    The D3100 itself is good camera, and although newer ones will have better low light performance and more sensor density it is capable of very good results, and I would not be in any hurry to supersede it until you've outgrown its capabilities (if you do) and decided what more features you might need.

    I'd advise as a first step that you get the full instructions for the camera. The Nikon website has the PDF of the owner's manual available for free, which can be loaded on a computer, and also includes an app for putting it on a smart phone. Read as much as you can and keep it handy, and read up on the web where there is a lot of good and bad advice. Ask questions as needed, consider cheat cards for getting settings for specific purposes, and most of all shoot shoot shoot.

    Remember this is a digital camera, which means you can take a zillion pictures and erase them. Experiment. If you don't know how one or the other setting behaves, try it.

    If you have access to a basically free D3100 for an indefinite time, you're in luck, and need not be in any hurry to get something newer.

    The 55-300 lens is a bit slower in its focusing than more expensive lenses, but it's reasonably sharp, and if you're in the right place at the right time, it will get a picture.....

  • Hi. Im just wondering if anyone could help me for the best photo out on a boat holding up a fish?

  • Assuming daylight, and assuming that the photo is largely documentary without a lot of arty intrusion, I'd expect the short zoom (18-55 or the like), at a medium focal length. You probably won't have a lot of choice on distance. Keep ISO low, middle aperture, appropriate shutter speed for hand holding, depending on what the meter wants. Keep the sun behind you, and if sun is high, watch out for shadows on a person's face which make eyes look dark. If light is very difficult or you can't choose where to put the sun (it can get pretty heavy!), try a fill flash - stick with the non-flash exposure in P,A,S or M mode, but then pop up the flash. You can also try exposure compensating a bit in the + direction if the surroundings are very bright. A bright boat with a lot of white, and a bright sea and sky, will tend to make the meter underexpose and the person will be dark. If the contrast is great, you may have to blow out the background a bit to get the person light enough.

    For a more comical effect to magnify the appearance of the fish, you might try having the person hold the fish in front of him/her, and go close with a wide angle. This will distort perspective and make the fish look bigger (but not likely very realistic either).
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