I am happy to announce that i have bought my first camera. as the title states its a Nikon D3100. it has a 16 gig sd card and a 18-55mm lens. I will be using it to get some pics at Comic-Con in San Diego in a couple weeks.
any useful info for a newb to get some decent shots, or should I just leave it on auto?
#1. "RE: just bought a nikon d3100" In response to Reply # 0
Congratulations on your new D3100. I suggest that you read Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. It will help get you up and running in Manual exposure mode. You should also read some of the articles in the Nikonians Resource section. There are many on Camera Basics > Fundamentals > like On Handholding Technique, Understanding DOF & Aperture & Shutter Speed Relationships, etc.....
#2. "RE: just bought a nikon d3100" In response to Reply # 1 Fri 05-Jul-13 02:34 PM by grnzbra
Congrats. Good luck.
Be aware that the kit lens you have will focus down to about 9 inches, so you can get some neat "macro" shots.
Don't know if the 3100 does this but the 5100 does. When you use the built in flash, it automatically runs the ISO through the roof resulting in very noisy pix which should not have been. I found the menu setting (you'll have to look; I don't remember where it is) that limits how far the camera can run up the ISO by itself and limited it to 800.
Keep in mind that you are not paying for film and developing, so experiment in manual modes and get a feel for what works for you.
See if the Nikon site has a downloadable pdf of the entire manual. As you look around here, you will find people referring others to a particular page in the manual only to have others not having that page because they've downloaded an abreviated copy of the manual.
Look at things from weird angles. Surprised a group of students when I lay flat on the ground in order to get a pic of the group and the entire dome of the capital in DC. Years ago, I was crawling under fences at Niagara Falls to get some dramatic shots. Parking garage roofs offer some interresting views. Shapes, colors, lines.
Oh, yeah! Don't forget about the video capability.
#3. "RE: just bought a nikon d3100" In response to Reply # 0
It's a very good camera and lens combination.
Auto takes away a bit too much control. Try using P(rogram) mode which will instill enough control with the camera but gives you some back to make creative and technical decisions. I know it's tedious, but I strongly urge you to read through the manual and understand the controls - both physical and software (menu) related. Since Comic Con is mostly indoors (although somewhat well-lit), remember to use the pop-up flash to fire a bit of fill light.
In parallel, your settings will also be dictated by your choice in Post-Processing. All photos benefit from some optimization on the computer following capture in the camera. If you are just starting out and don't have a preference, consider managing your photos through View NX2 (which should come with the camera, otherwise available for download via Nikon) until you have a better idea of what you want to do.
#5. "RE: just bought a nikon d3100" In response to Reply # 3
I second the suggestion of P(rogram) instead of Auto. Another good option is A(perture Preferred) mode. As you read through the manual, I suggest you experiment. Then you can decide on the mode that works best for you.
#9. "RE: just bought a nikon d3100" In response to Reply # 5
I also agree a good place to start for a beginner is (P)rogram mode. You can always adjust both aperture and shutter speed in (P) mode to experiment, as well as exposure compensation. As you get more confidence with setting exposure, many photographers graduate to (A)perture mode, where you can control depth of field more readily than in (P) mode. The disadvantage of (P) mode is that it often sets exposure settings with the lens wide open, which is not always the way to get the sharpest images.
Your have been given lots of good suggestions about reading. I'll also emphasize that the most important thing to learn is setting exposure. Even with excellent matrix metering in Nikon cameras, you have to always be thinking about subject exposure and you can tweak that with the compensation dial.
#6. "RE: just bought a nikon d3100" In response to Reply # 0
Congratulations! The D3100 was my first DSLR. You will become very fond of that camera body. It has a qreat sensor and a lot of "Bang for the Buck". You will be pleased with the detail that camera offers. Take LOTS of pictures... of everything. You will get used to the controls and what works (and doesn't) for you. Lots of helpful tips on YouTube from many sources. ...a lot for beginners. Most of all - HAVE FUN. That is a fantastic camera to carry around all the time. It's light and compact and once you're familiar with exposure, you will like the control the manual mode gives you over the pictures you take. The more you shoot, the easier it will become. Be sure to post some of your pix on this site, and take a look at the other's galleries. It will give you lots of ideas on what to shoot and how to frame a shot. I'm very excited for you, because I know how much fun that camera was for me. Good luck and looking forward to seeing your pictures.
For me I found "Auto" to give some surprising and unpleasant results - often "Auto" was fine - sometimes great. The D3100 has great dynamic range and thats where I think "Auto" worked best - but use your focus points well and experiment, practice so you know what to expect from your shooting.
I strongly suggest reading as much as you can about the camera and shooting the heck out of it to get used to how it works and learn what works for you. Back in the days of film I always shot manual. However, the D3100 only has one command wheel so changing aperture requires some dexterity.
The "kit" lens that comes with the D3100 has excellent optics - and focuses very close.
I hope this helps. Its been over a year since I shot with the D3100. I found it to be a very great camera for the money.
"Humans don't rise to the occasion. Instead, we fall to our level of training and experience". Archilochus, a Greek soldier and poet. The best photo advice I ever received was at a John Shaw workshop. "... Practice your craft... ... Pixels are free...Practice... experiment with your camera".