Does the camera I need exist? Newbie

caroline94535February 5, 2010

Hi! I'm usually on the KT forum, but I need camera advice.

DH gave me a beautiful Nikon3000 yesterday. We will use it mainly to take photos of birds, wildlife, and the dogs while they're hunting.

I have an old Nikon Coolpix 5200.

I would like a camera with telephoto lens, say up to 200mm, and the easy use of a point and shoot.

The N3000 has me baffled. The book says I have to use the small viewfinder for my photos. Why does it have a huge screen on the back if I can't use it to frame my shots?

I'd like to download my photos directly to Photobucket.

Also, the Coolpix seems to have a "soft" focus. Every photo I take has to be adjusted in the Nikon program before I can transfere it to my computer.

Could you point me toward a digital or digital SLR that is very easy to use, and could function to take active wildlife photos, such as the dogs splashing through the sloughs.

Thanks so much, Caroline ~ (The last camera that I "understood" is my Nikon F!)

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The D300 has everything you need. The blunt honestly is you need to learn how to use it to get what you want.

Viewfinder. I still look through the small view finder - however I do think the D3000 has LiveView. The ability to use the screen to compose the picture. Look for the button That has a square with Lv inside of it.

Nikon has a 1.5x multiplier. So -pertaining to the lens focal length - in 35mm film format, you would be looking for a 200mm.

Take the card out and put it in the computer card reader. No need to use the Nikon software.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 10:19PM
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If you take the time to learn the finer points of exposure control and depth of field any camera can be used in a total "point & shoot" mode.

To prove that point I often have students literally tape their lens in a fixed position, preset the shutter speed and aperture and shoot 20 or 30 shots.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 1:54AM
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Joe and Lazypup gave you good advice. I'm going to give you sympathy. :-)

After a lifetime of using 35mm SLRs, I thought I'd have no trouble adjusting to my first DSLR. Wrong! I really need to put some time into reading the manual (more than once) and working on this.

I find myself reaching for my Panasonic Lumix superzoom most of the time because I know it's going to give me the results I want. I'm not sorry I bought the DSLR; it was something I would have to do at some point. But if I could afford it, I'd also get the latest version of my Panasonic.

So.......if you can afford it, and you don't have the time or patience to learn the ins and outs of your D3000, I can recommend the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 superzoom. The price is down to around $325, and all owners I've heard from are thrilled with it.

My older model, the FZ5, is good enough to have produced images good enough to have filled two exhibits last year.

PS: I recommend getting used to the viewfinder. Actually, Nikon viewfinders are supposed to be fairly large and clear. Holding the camera out to use the LCD screen just invites camera shake, among other things.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 10:59PM
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I am going to give you more sympathy.

I got my husband a Panisonic Lumix FS3 - 12x optical zoom, 10 megapixel point and shoot that fills his shirt pocket. He is most comfortable with the cameras from the 'old school' way of shooting, but has been using my Nikon SLR.(I still have not used all that the Nikon has to offer.) He talked about getting a small camera to take along on his bike rides so I thought I would surprise him at Christmas. Did I ever - he thought there were two cans of cashews in the box. He really likes it and the zoom capabilities are great. Not only is there a 12x optical zoom, but also a digital that seems to zoom forever. The digital zoom photos would not be that great to print, but it lets you see what is in the back of beyond, and if you can reach it in time you might have a great photo of a bear, deer etc. If I remember correctly, the screen is 3", plus it has many great features, one of which is recording voice. He feels it has been simple to learn how to use it, and it takes great photos. I am thinking of getting the S1 which has a slightly smaller screen, but it is also less expensive. I got my husbands camera from Adorama in New York at around $300.00 on their website. There might have been some websites that offered the camera a little cheaper, but my husband dealt with Adorama before. This camera takes the same media card as my Nikon so I did not need a new reader, or additional cards.

Nikons are hard to beat, but the Lumix is 'fun' to use.

Good luck. Jane

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 1:22PM
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I think I am misinterpreting what you wrote. What is there to learn by fixing the focal length, shutter and aperture? How does converting an SLR into a point and shoot make 'one' learn the finer points of photography? IMO; learning to manipulate the DOF and shutter speed are the finer points - not fixing. As I said, I am probably misinterpreting what you are saying. Heck, we might be saying the same thing.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 12:04AM
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Lazypup's post confused me, too. 'Splain, please. :-)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 12:36AM
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You are absolutely correct that learning how to manipulate the shutter speed and aperture to maintain the desired depth of field is the finer points of photography, but with the advent of auto focus and auto exposure controls that is rapidly becoming a lost art.

Back in the mid 60's when I learned photography we all we had at best was manual focus and stop down match needle metering. Try shooting action shots at a football game when you have to manually focus and compute the exposure for each shot and you will rapidly find out the action is long gone before you even get a shot off. Add to that, we were working with fixed focal length prime lenses.

The solution was to go to the sidelines at mid field (50yd line) and select a lens focal length that would give you closeups at mid field or at either end of the field, typically a 200mm.

on the lens barrel you will see a center line that indicates the distance from the camera to the subject. On either side of that index you will see small lines that have an f-stop index number, one on each side of the center focus index. That is the depth of field scale index lines. The smaller the aperture the wider the distance between the index lines, and the greater the depth of field.

Rather than focus the lens on a set point, rotate the lens until the infinity mark is on a depth of field index on one side and look at the corresponding depth of field mark on the opposite side to see what the closest focal point is. By example, a 200mm lens at f-16 has a maximum depth of field of 24' to infinity. A 300mm lens at f-16 would give you a depth of field range of 90' to infinity.

The ISO or film speed index is equal to the shutter speed at noon daylight at the equator. As we move north or south of the equator the light falls off. On average, at noon in the USA the ISO number is equal to the correct shutter speed with the aperture set at f-11.

We need a minimum shutter speed of 250 and f-16 is one f-stop slower than f-11, so we would use ISO 400 film (slightly less than one f-stop faster).

With the modern digital cameras offering shutter speeds up to 1600 or 3200 it is much easier. Set the aperture at f-16 and set the ISO at 800 and you could shoot the whole game without making another setting on the camera.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 3:33AM
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I understand - and agree with- your argument. I just disagree with the technique. Just opinion. Your style, my style. As long as you enjoy your photos, that's what it is about.

I still pull out my AE1 to keep my skills up. I stick with the strict rule to never digitize my shoots from film. I do that so that I never compromise the photo knowing that I can "fix" it later.

Learning to use aperture, shutter speed, and ISO in unison enable a person to be as creative as they want. It enable the photographer to produce the image in the mind's eye.

I do get frustrated when 'artist' refuse to learn the technique - don't want to cramp their artist nature. Learning the science of light only enforces the artistic nature...


    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 10:40PM
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i don't mean to imply that the afore mentioned technique is the only technique I use. Quite the contrary. I push my cameras to their limits and beyond, by example, at 3am this morning I was out shooting available light landscapes on a snow covered meadow and it was so dark I had to use a flashlight to adjust the camera controls. Using f-16 to insure full depth of field I was using a Gossen Luna Pro light meter and getting exposures of 5 & 10 minutes, well beyond the capability of the cameras light meter.

The point I am making is that far too many people buy an expensive camera with control features far beyond their limited knowledge in the hopes that it will somehow automatically make them a better photographer, and when it doesn't perform to their expectations they bad mouth the camera and set off in search of a better one.

In this age of computer aided digital circuitry even the cheap point & shoot cameras have features that far exceed the top line professional SLR's that we had in the 60's.

My contention it that rather than belittle the camera that you have, take the time to learn the correlation between lens aperture, shutter speed and ISO index and you will consistently get the shots you want whether you are working with a top line professional DSLR or a 1940 Crown Graphic Press camera.

To prove my point, about a month ago a lady posted a complaint about her Pentax Optio and asked for advice as to which camera she should buy. I had her email me and offered to help her out. Since then I have given here a few simple 2 or 3 page lessons on the basics of exposure control and she is now happily enjoying her camera, and turning out some very fine photos.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 10:47AM
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Nikon has an online tutorial for their digital SLRs (big help for me when DH gave me a Nikon D40x). The Nikon D3000 should fit your needs but moving from a point and shoot does take some getting used to. The D40x (and the D3000) both have scene modes just like point and shoot cameras. But, unlike point and shoot cameras, they turn on almost instantly, and there's almost no delay from shot to shot, which would be an important feature if you're doing action shots. Check out the Nikon site and see if it helps.

BTW, the reason DSLRs use their viewfinders for framing and focusing (and not their big LCD, except through LiveView) is that the viewfinders are almost always brighter and will never blur (say when you pan your camera from left to right). In addition, not using LiveView usually provides much faster autofocusing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nikon Digitutor for D3000

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 2:03AM
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