Book review: Fotograferen met een Nikon D3100 (dutch)

And there I was, in the possession of a brand new Nikon d3100 but with no knowledge of photography nor camera settings. Lucky for me I had a gift voucher and decided to buy the book Fotograferen met een Nikon D3100 from Dré de Man (blog|twitter) to get me started. The book contains 12 chapters starting to focus on the brand Nikon and the camera to the principles of photography in general:

Chapter 1: Inleiding en geschiedenis (Introduction and history)

A general chapter about the history of Nikon, it’s always nice to know the background of the equipment you buy. Certainly if you learn how it all started and evolved just untill now.

Chapter 2: Voor u begint (Before you get started)

The introduction of the chapter speaks for itself: “You will read things you already know, but also things you don’t know you don’t know”. And indeed you will read where the power button is, but you will also learn how to change lenses, what basic settings you should use. Indeed just everything you need to know about the camera itself. A lot of items will be described in more detail in the next chapters.

Chapter 3: Programma’s voor beginners en gevorderden (Programs for beginners and advanced)

Learning about the shooting programs on the camera. How they work, focus, process the pictures… So very valuable information. Also for future reference, once you start to try the “advanced” modes, you can lookup the settings of the “beginners” programs and tweak them from there.

Chapter 4: Sluitertijden en diafragma’s (Shutter speed and aperture)

The book is moving from the basics of the camera to more general photography principles. You’ll learn about the importance of light and the combination of the shutter speed and aperture. The most important thing I learned was “the depth of field” influence of the aperture settings. A real “ah that’s how they do it” moment.

Chapter 5: Belichting en lichtmeting (Exposure and metering)

At this point the book started to become too complex for me as a beginner. It’s interesting to know how the metering is done in the camera and how you can change some settings. It’s also interesting to learn how the “Auto” program can make the wrong conclusions. Certainly a chapter I will be reading again in a couple of months.

Chapter 6: Autofocus: vloek en zegen (Autofocus: curse and blessing)

Very interesting chapter on how the camera focuses on subjects, what type of focus sensors you have in the camera and how you can focus with the camera. Off course autofocus is only possible with lenses that support the feature. You’ll also learn how the “beginner” programs try to focus and what different settings you can have in the camera. The only thing I miss in this chapter is more details about the AE-L / AF-L button wich can help you locking on a subject. Certainly when the autofocus kicks in every time you press the shutter release halfway.

Chapter 7: Kleur (Color)

A rather short chapter that talks about getting color in your pictures and specially focusses on the various white balance settings.

Chapter 8: Objectieven (Lenses)

For me as a beginner it was interesting to read how a lens works, but the descriptions of some Nikon lenses was beyond my current interest. Probably a chapter to read when I’m ready to expand my equipment with an extra lens.

Chapter 9: Flitsfotografie (Flash photography)

It’s very interesting to read how the use of a flash can influence the results of the photo’s you take. You’ll learn that a flash is not only used in dim situations. Further on external flashes are reviewed in more detail, with maybe too much detail about the high-end flashes while the book focusses on an entry-level camera.

Chapter 10: Nikon à la carte

Just like in a restaurant, a complete listing of al the menu items in the camera with its explanation. Dry but very useful when you want to change something trough the various camera menu’s.

Chapter 11: Foto’s bewerken in en buiten de camera (Photo editing inside and outside the camera)

A promising title, I expected a lot on how and what you should do with your pictures. Instead I got information on how the camera processes its pictures, what the RAW format is and that you should edit your pictures afterwards. In dead also information on how you can edit the photo’s inside the camera, but who will do this on a 3″ screen? On the other hand there are so many photo editing tools, techniques, flavours… It would be impossible for the writer to describe them here.

Chapter 12: Bloopers en ergernissen (Bloopers and annoyances)

A little troubleshooting guide for when the camera is not doing what you want it to do or when the photo results are not what you expect them to be.

Conclusion

I’m glad I bought and read the book, I learned a lot of it mostly about the camera itself. If I had to describe the book, I would call it an advanced user manual with nice picture examples. Some chapters were a little too advanced but I bet I will read them again when I’m going to invest in an extra lens or flash. Concerning photography tips the book let me a bit down.

So if you just bought a Nikon d3100 and want to know all the ins and outs of the camera. This book is value for its money. Certainly because you will pick up the book when you advance in your photography and want to explore more possibilities of the camera.

The equipment

After 6 years and over 15K photo’s the picture quality of our Canon Powershot was decreasing. Also the children ran faster than the camera could focus and take the shot so it was time for something new. My wife always said that the next camera would have to be a digital SLR while I was not convinced at all. I wanted a real pocket camera for my comfort (she mostly shot the pictures and I dragged it the rest of the time).  On the other hand I knew that we would have more possibilities with a D-SLR. So the search began, we had a Canon and we really liked it  but it had no lenses so we didn’t have to stay with the brand.

The Body

Looking around most people we know had a Nikon or a Canon, so if we wanted to use somebody’s special lenses we had to stick to those 2 brands. The options were limited to the Canon Eos 1100d or the Nikon d3100. The Nikon d3200 was about to be released but in my opinion the surcharge to the Nikon d3100 wasn’t value for my money.

First I went to a shop in the neighborhood, to get some information. They told me the Nikon d3100 would be a better choice because of the bigger sensor and the video capabilities (keep in mind that the camera will be used as a family camera). Concerning the price, there was a difference but the Nikon d3100 was offered in a kit with a camera bag. Buying a separate bag would even out the price gap.

The next stop was the internet off course. The first google search showed me the snapsort website where both camera’s were standing next to each other with their features, pro’s and con’s. Next stop was the Digital Photography Review website where you can find in-depth information and articles about all kinds of digital camera’s.

The lens

The decision was tending to the Nikon d3100 but while reading and talking to others another question rose. Would we buy the camera body and lens separated, the body with the default kit lens (18-55) or the 18-105 kit? In the shop, they already told me that the default kit lens was made from plastic, good enough to get us started, but not as high in quality as the 18-105 lens.

More important, talking to some friends who all started with a 18-55 kit lens (Canon and Nikon), they told me that their first disillusion with the kit lens was the lack of zoom. They took their camera with the kit lens on a vacation with the family and realised they couldn’t zoom enough.  So they all bought a second lens after a couple of weeks. Typically a 55 – … lens. Off course they now had a big range but had to carry 2 lenses with them and even worse. If they wanted to shoot a normal picture of the family they used the 18-55 lens but from the moment they wanted to shoot a landscape or the environment they needed to switch to the other lens. Since the first purpose of our camera was a family camera and I didn’t want to switch lenses every 2 shots, the 18-105 was chosen.

Conclusion

After some reflection and discussion we chose the Nikon d3100 in a kit with the 18-105 lens. In the shop, they also advised me to take a filter to protect the pictures against UV-flares and the lens itself against dust and scratches. The final listing is:

  • Nikon d3100 body
  • 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-NIKKOR lens
  • Nikon CF-EU04 SLR System Bag
  • Marumi DHG UV Filter

A new life (for this blog)

A couple of months ago we bought a new photo camera. Of course we took it with us on our vacation trip and came home with over 1000 pictures. During the trip it came clear to me that I did not know anything about photography, coming home it made me realize that I don’t know anything about Photoshop. During the past couple of days and weeks I have been struggling with the camera and Photoshop and I think it’s a good idea to blog about it. Just to keep notes for myself where I found my tips or how I did certain things and maybe for some readers who are also struggling or like to give comments and tips on how I can improve my skills.

Have fun

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